Saturday, January 11, 2020

How Bikers Survive The Winter Months

When your passion is living a life on two wheels, but you live in an area where snow dominates the landscape four to six months out of the year, you learn certain survival skills. 

Here are some crafty ways we in the north endure:

Making plans to escape:
There are numerous motorcycle rallies throughout the year: from Daytona Bike Week to Laconia, from Laughlin River Run to Sturgis, and all the small town rallies in-between. Our own local bike rally, the Thousand Islands River Run takes place in Alexandria Bay, NY every June. 

There's also weekend trips, week long, cross country - how ever we plan on riding, Bikers are plotting where and when we'll be riding to this upcoming season.

Windows into other worlds:

Even though we're surrounded by snow covered hills, we still have ways to ride - it's just through others in print or on the screen. Reading books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, your H.O.G. Magazine, The Harley-Davidson Reader allows us to escape through our mind's eye.

Or there's television series, documentaries and movies that provide a nice break. I recommend Harley and the Davidsons, 21 Days Under the Sun and The World's Fastest Indian. If we can't ride, then at least we can watch other people riding.

Out and about:
Riding ATVs and snowmobiles - for some of us just the fact that we are outside and moving is enough to help us get through. At FX Caprara Harley-Davidson always has events throughout the winter as well. 

Adding that special something:

Now is the time of year most of us have our bikes up on a lift adding new exhaust, a sissy bar backrest, doing an engine upgrade, adding extra speakers to our sound system so we're ready to spring from winter's lock down. 

Saving some dough:
Hotels, dinners, gas, gear and the like - bikers tend to save some extra money now to help offset the expenses later. Having a friend cut our hair or just cutting it ourselves, grabbing a free cup of coffee at the dealership rather than at the dinner or coffee shop, taking on a side job or two -all ways we keep our expenses light so we can live large in the Riding Season.

Do you have a way to get through winter? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

3 Things to Know as we get into the Shopping Season

Since Halloween is happening pretty quickly, and the fact that I already put my bike up in Winter Storage, that means the Holidays will soon be upon us. And with that, holiday shopping is about to kick-off.

This list is to help you get through the so-called 'silly season' and keep your sanity intact.

1) Shop early, shop often, and get it done

It's going to be a looooong November and a short December. What am I talking about?? November still only has 30 days, while Deceber has 31... BUT, this year Thanksgiving comes late, November 28th, right at the end of the month. So there's only 3 full weeks in December before the week of Christmas. The sooner you can get done with your shopping, the better off you'll be.

2) Love 'em? List 'em!

In the interest of time, I am definitely creating my lists of who I'm shopping for and what I'd like to get them. And when it comes making THAT decision, I go to one of my favorite guidelines: Want, Need, Wear, Read.
  • Want -something that THEY say they wanted and not something you think they will want. There is a difference! I was given a book once for my birthday -not from any of my favorite authors or on a subject matter that I usually read... but the person who gave it to me said, "But you love books!" Which I do, it's true. Although when it comes to giving a gift, I want mine to be in line with what they person has said they actually wanted, not just what ever is "hot" at that time.
  • Need -it might not be fun or fancy, but if it's something they need then the gift will truly be appreciated. Spark plugs and an oil change kit might not seem sexy, but if they need it to help get their bike back on the road, then wrap that shit up!
  • Wear -pretty self explanatory... although this is your chance to get something that speaks to that person's style. See a scarf that'll go perfectly with that new dress? Get it. A dress-up Harley-Davidson shirt for him to wear to the party? Absolutely. The only caveat is to get a gift receipt so that they can return it for the right size if needed. 
  • Read -again, pretty self explanatory. That being said, a cookbook is still a cookbook guys. If you're loved one really loves Harley history, then I'd suggest getting her a book like "The Harley-Davidson Reader" and NOT "50 Shades of Grey" (yup- looking at you Mom!). Get them something from their favorite author, or a subject matter you know they enjoy.  They don't have enough time to read? Audiobooks would work in this instance.
Another favorite guideline is the Holiday 50/50 Rule for the other side of the coin (them shopping for you): one for them, one for you. For each gift you're giving your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, you also treat yourself. You're there anyways, it'll save your significant other the trip and the time, and you know it's something you'll like.

3) Protect and Defend

Even though I work at a traditional brick & mortar store, and would absolutely love it if you came in and do all your shopping at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson, I know that's not going to happen. It's far more easy and less time consuming for you to go online and get at least part of your list checked off.

However there are just as many bad guys out there waiting to take advantage and steal your money. Phishing scams, fake websites, and those rip-off artists who have pirated a brand name to 'sell' you items that don't exist. Here's some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Pay with a credit card rather than using your debit card (easier to dispute transactions).
  • Don't save your credit card info online. Some sites will offer to keep your card info in order to speed up the check out process on your next purchase, but remember those data breeches over the last year or so? Yeah- enough said.
  • When buying, selling or even checking your bank account do not use public/open Wi-Fi. Just imagine someone looking over your shoulder whenever you think about doing a quick purchase while on Starbucks open network.
  • Check the website address -bogus sites subtly substitute similar characters (AMAZ0N.com versus AMAZON.com). 
  • Same with the brand logo - I once got tricked by a Harley-Davdson jacket I bought online (well before I started working at a dealership of course) because my mind saw what I thought was a complete logo.
  • The price is simply too good to believe. Cuz if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Check the seller -if an individual has 20 of the same handbag just in different colors, you should definitely think twice. Individuals are not licensed by the manufacturer to sell, they're most likely selling fakes.
Of course the best way to get a good deal online, along with the real product, customer service, and easy returns, is to shop with an authorized dealer. Go to that brand's website directly, like H-D.com/store or RalphLauren.com. 

And, to be ultra secure and know for sure that you're getting the real thing, head over to the actual, physical store location. You'll get a more personal shopping experience as well as an actual human interaction. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Wheel Keeps on Turning

Today I'm reminded of the song by Journey (one of the great rock bands of my youth): Wheel in the Sky. You remember that song, right?
Ooh, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning 
I don't know where I'll be tomorrow 
Wheel in the sky keeps on turning... For tomorrow
Why? Because here we find ourselves at the end of September... already. 

SPOT CHECK: Where are you on your New Year's Resolutions? 

Most bikers I know have only one "New Year Resolution": to ride more miles in the new year than they did the previous year. Last year I rode a total of 8,465 miles, and I've almost reached my goal to surpass that this year... 'almost' being the key word. I haven't reached my goal just yet.

With Halloween on the horizon (which kicks off the holiday trifecta) some of us living in the North Country might think that the Riding Season is over. Think again!!

I'm here to tell you that there's still time to get out and go ride!!
Yes you can squeeze every mile out of the Riding Season. Windproof gloves and jackets, heated grips, jacket liners, waterproof pants & seats, and face masks or neck gaitors (to name just a few). All to keep you comfortable and warm while you're riding.

And, of course, all available at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson. Along with our staff -most of whom ride as well- to give you the right recommendations for what you need.

PS- for those H.O.G. (aka Harley Owners Group) Members logging miles for the Mileage Recognition: remember to have your mileage verified with me, Dawn at FXCHD, or at your local Harley-Davidson dealer.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Forward Thinking Way Back When...

Last year saw a lot of firsts for me: my first new Harley, my first trip 'home' to Milwaukee, and my first week-long motorcycle adventure to celebrate 115 years of all that is Harley-Davidson.
This year will find me back to Wisconsin, my first solo trip by motorcycle, and my first Annual Dealer Meeting in Milwaukee. In fact this year marks the 100th Anniversary of Dealer Meetings.
First Convention Booklet Cover

Just before the annual motorcycle show in Chicago, the founding fathers invited dealers to Milwaukee -that was November 1919. In the years prior many dealers flocked to the factory, since it's close to Chicago, and conveyed what their customers wanted as well as to get technical training.
Dealers getting briefed on the 1936 EL, November 1935
The first ever National Dealer Convention was quite noteworthy!
"It was truly a successful event... from the standpoint of the dealers and those who troubled to pack their kits to come to Milwaukee, as well as from the standpoint of the promoters of the idea." ~Motorcycle and Bicycle IllustratedNov. 27, 1919 
A welcome as BIG as it gets!
Harley-Davidson recognized even back then that their dealerships are 'on the ground' with the customers, and were quick to listen to what they were saying.
Legendary "Dot" Robinson and a 1957 K Model
With that in mind, fast forward to today: What is it you'd like us at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson to convey to the MoCo for you??

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

5 Things You Do Not Need to Take on a Motorcycle Trip

Taking a long trip by motorcycle is a wonderous thing! No matter if you're going it alone or with a group of friends, you're going to have the time of your life.

Although you might be a seasoned traveler, successfully navigating through airports, TSA, flight delays and lost luggage, trekking by bike is something else all together. 
Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash
I remember when I first started traveling by motorcycle, packing everything I could fit into my bag, straining it to the seams. Now, nearly 10 years later, I know exactly what I don't need to take with me. And they are:

1. Hair Dryer
Why? Because your hotel room will have one and space is a precious commodity on a motorcycle.

2. Towels
Again, your hotel room will have them and the more space you save the better. There's only one towel you need to bring, a small one - or better yet a travel chamois cloth - to wipe the morning dew off your bike. 

3. Books
You might be thinking you'll have time to read once you check into your hotel. And then you realize you just got to your destination -where are you going to eat dinner. Oh -and there's that live music you just found out about. Planning to read in the morning before check out? Remember that you'll be packing your stuff onto the bike... Unless it's your H.O.G. Touring Handbook, you're not going to have time to read it.
Photo by JJ Jordan on Unsplash
4. Clothing that doesn't do double duty
You'll want to bring a sweatshirt you can wear on cold days while riding and cooler temps at your location. Not that special cashmere sweater or silk blouse that cost over $100 and you plan on wearing only once. 

5. Too many shoes
This is a hard one for me! But I have to remember I really only need 3 pairs: my riding boots, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of flats. The temptation will be there, so just remember you're going to want to save as much space as possible. And also remember to put your socks and/or underwear inside your shoes -again, to save space.

I think it must have been a biker who came up with the phrase, "Less is More," because it is absolutely true on a motorcycle!
My 2018 Heritage all ready for our next adventure!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Going out doing what I love... My Passion

Call me crazy, but I have dreamed of my death. In my dream I'm old, probably in my 90s, laying in a bed surrounded by my children and their children. Which is all well and good, but that's not how I wish to depart this reality.

All of us will eventually shuffle off, leaving only the memory of us in the ones we love and who loved us.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Although, technically I'm not even supposed to be alive! As a child I was diagnosed with All Lymphatic Leukemia, and back in the early 70s the survival rate wasn't exactly the best. At one point the doctors told my father they needed to operate to remove the lymph nodes in my neck, and when he refused the doctors proclaimed I would die. "We are all going to die... No one gets out of this alive,"  was my dad's reply

Obviously I survived... they never did operate and a little while later I finally went into remission. That instilled the mantra into my head as I grew up: 
It doesn't matter how we die, only how we live.
Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash
Last weekend, while I was in Alexandria Bay at the Thousand Islands River Run, I heard the news from New Hampshire. Word of the accident spread quickly through our biker community not only because we're somewhat close to the area (just a day ride), but also because we've got Fort Drum Army Post literally in our back yard (and most of the victims were former Marines). 

Going back to my youth again, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 80s and 90s, I had quite a few friends pass away from a terminal illness that left their bodies weak and frail. For some it was all they could do just to sit up in bed. There was no way for them to do what they loved, even if that was just a walk in the park.

This past weekend there was also news from Hawaii: a plane carrying skydivers had gone down. In the news coverage, the girlfriend of one of the victims had said, "...he loved what he did and he died doing what he loved, so it was beautiful." 
Yes, both accidents were tragedies. And yes, both should never have happened. However, that is as much a part of the circle of life as life itself: birth, life, death, repeat.

And, if given the choice between a long suffering illness where my body and/or mind could betray me and I'm left virtually helpless, or a quick accident where I was doing something I enjoyed, I'd take the later. If at all possible, I'd like to go out doing what I love.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bottoms Up!

The sun is out, the bike's are out of their winter storage... The new Riding Season has begun!!

The Biker Life is usually depicted in movies and television series as "Ride. Drink. Party. Repeat." And honestly, that's not too far from the truth. 

After all, one of the main reasons why we ride motorcycles to begin with: the Freedom it gives us as we fly along. That feeling that you can do anything!! The community, the family, and the freedom all rolled into one passion that bonds us together. A life on two-wheels.

So, when we get off the bike, we want to keep that feeling and the fun going. Most feel that a beer or two while on your lunch break, with your cheeseburger and fries, is ok... it's no big deal to then get back on the bike and finish the rest of the ride. More than a few times I've even heard the old joke, "You can't get better at drinking and riding without practice!" 

I myself have pushed the envelope more than once in this area. My reasoning was that I probably wasn't 'legally' intoxicated (which in NY means having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or higher), so I was fine to ride or drive. 
I was sh*ttin' kittens folks!! Hands at 10 & 2, 
cruise control set at 55... the Whole. Way. Home.

And there was the last time I went to dinner with friends and drank A LOT of rum & cokes. I guessed I probably was over the legal limit, but I wasn't really that drunk... so I drove home anyways (my truck, not riding my bike -another calculation in my poor perception)... 

That was before I knew what I know now:

  • Alcohol affects a Rider's ability to "SEE" -the acronym we learned in our basic rider's course to Search ahead for potential hazards, Evaluate how much of a threat that hazard is, and Execute an action to avoid the hazard that could possible injure us.
  • Even with a BAC of 0.01%-0.04% your reaction time is slowed. And having a BAC of 0.05% increases your chance of getting in an accident by a factor of forty... Whoops!! Remember the scenario I started this blog off with? I'm drinking and riding with a group of friends... now the danger far outweighs any reward.
  • That New York State Law voids your PIP (Personal Injury Protection/no-fault) when you're driving your car while intoxicated and get in an accident. So any medical coverage is coming from your medical insurance... How much is your ER co-pay??
Of course, if you've been to any of the NNY H.O.G. Chapter's Annual Motorcycle Insurance Check-Ups (held every April at FX Caprara Harley-Davidson), you know that Motorcyclists do not fall under the no-fault rule while riding, and motorcycle insurance does not provide PIP coverage. You can get medical payments coverage, and when that runs out your medical insurance may pick up the balance... but again, how much is your co-pay??

What it all boils down to:
How much are you willing to risk?

"Oh, I know myself. I know how to handle a bike (or drive a car) - I've been doing it most of my life!" you say to yourself. "I know how much is 'too much' - I've got good judgement. I 'drank responsibly' as they've asked me to." 

But here's the thing: Yes, when you're sober, you have good judgement. But add alcohol to the mix and your judgement becomes impaired. You are less critical of your own actions. So your so-called good judgment is now bad judgement, and you're no longer in a place to make that judgement call.

Remember the time I knew I was legally intoxicated but choose to drive home anyways? Yeah... between Watertown and Natural Bridge (25 miles) I had either a Watertown Police Officer, a Jefferson County Sheriff or a NY State Trooper, right behind me for 23 of those 25 miles. I was sh*ttin' kittens the entire time folks!! Hands at 10 & 2, cruise control set at 55... the Whole. Way. Home. I was praying to who ever was listening, "If I can just get home safe I promise I'll never do this again!!"

I didn't want to have to pay one of those "DUI Guys" a large sum of money I didn't have in the first place. I didn't have the money for increased insurance payments. I didn't have the time off of work to appear in court, or to get counseling, or to go to jail. I didn't want to really be behind bars!!

Luckily for me I didn't get pulled over that night. My prayers were answered and I've kept my promise. 
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying you can't have any alcohol (or other things to get you impaired...). Drink up me hearties, yo-ho!! Drink to your heart's content. Drink till the cows come home. [Insert medical warning here.]

I've got DNA proof I'm Irish, so you can believe me when I say I enjoy my fair share of drinks. It's just that now I only drink at home when my bike (or car) is parked for the night. Or, when I'm out & about, I have a plan to get back safe -Uber, Lyft, Taxi or the Designated Driver. 

Please, enjoy your libations my Biker Family and non-riding friends alike! If that's your thing, then by all means, party-hearty. AND have a plan to get home safely and/or stay home.

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