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.

○Slainté

Monday, April 22, 2019

17 Do's and Don'ts for your First Group Ride

Many Bikers who've been around the block a time or two have a routine down when it comes to going on a group ride. Most like to arrive early to meet up with old friends while making new ones. Others prefer to register for the ride first and plan where they'll be riding in the group.

If you're new to motorcycling or new to group riding, here's a list of "do's and don'ts" right from FXCHD. These tips are good to follow if you're riding with friends or on a larger charity ride.

DO start off the day with a full tank of gas. There's usually a gas station close to where the ride starts, so plan to fill up there. Nothing's worse than having the ride starting out and less than a mile into it you've got to signal you need gas.
DO get to know your group riding signals. Sure lots of riders have bike to bike communications, but not everybody! So it's useful to know how to use signals to communicate and understand.

DON'T forget to do a T-CLOCS inspection before even leaving the house. You'll be really embarrassed if a cop pulls you over because your tail lamp is out.

DO have water with you so you can stay hydrated as the day goes on.

DON'T be afraid to ask questions and speak up! If the person leading the ride isn't pointed out to you, ask who you're supposed to be following. If you know the route they're taking is tore up, let the group know ahead of time.

DO take lots of pictures if that's your thing. Not only will it help you to remember the fun you had that day, they also make great birthday or Christmas gifts later on.

DO ride up to the pumps and gas up when the group stops for gas. Only after filling up your fuel tank do you empty your bladder (unless it's an urgency) or grab a snack to eat. And, even if you think you don't need gas, fill up anyways because you never know.

DO ride your own ride (meaning ride with the group and reasonably stay within your comfort zone). The nice thing about riding in a group is you'll usually have more experienced riders that can tell you're ready to take your ride to the next level, so they might have you go through some twisties that you didn't think you could handle. That being said...

...DON'T be pushed too far beyond your riding abilities. Say you've never ridden on the interstate and the group is planning a 'turn and burn' out to Buffalo (speeding down the Thruway just to get there and then get back). If this is not your style then say so! Do not ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly.

DO make your last phone calls, texts, tweets and Instagram, Facebook, etc. posts well before the ride starts.
DON'T be "that guy/gal" to be putting on your helmet, gloves, selecting your radio station or getting your earbuds in, etc while everyone is already ready to ride and they're waiting on you. When the Road Captain says to get ready to ride, that is not the time to start an in-depth conversation or perform a T-CLOCS inspection. Go grab your stuff, put it on and start your bike.

DO take your rain gear with you. Even if the Weather Wo/Man says there won't be any rain, you might still find a need for it. Waterproof = Wind-proof. If it's not raining you can put on your rainsuit to help block the wind and keep you warm.

DO be familiar and be comfortable riding in a staggered formation. Most groups do this, it's only when Bikers have been riding together for years that are confident to ride side-by-side.
DON'T miss the Ride Briefing -with most rides they'll have a small period before KSU (Kick Stands Up) where they'll go over who the Road Captains are, what riding signals they'll be using, how they plan on handling stop lights & heavy traffic intersections, what the route will be, and what the road conditions are (if there's construction going on, gravel down, etc.). Sure you'll see it on the ride, but it is nice to know about it before hand as well.

DO wait for other members of the group on a ride. Keep an eye on your rearview mirrors and let members in the group ahead of you know if others have fallen behind. This can happen on small group rides with friends that you'll run into this situation (most larger charity group rides will also have someone riding 'sweep'). Someone maybe got a flat tire, stalled out their bike, or ran out of gas... If you no longer see them in your rearview, signal to the others, pull over and wait for them to catch up. If you don't see them in a few minutes, chances are you'll probably have to double back and go see what's going on.

DON'T drink and ride, group ride or riding on your own. First of all, the ride really is intoxicating enough. Second, most groups don't allow any alcohol before or during the ride - it's just not safe and puts others at risk. Third, if you do have an accident the police and your insurance will insist on a full investigation, and if they find you're legally intoxicated you'll be in for fines, license suspension, possible jail time, and increased insurance premiums.

Last but not least: DO take the time to enjoy the ride and make new friends. After all, you know you already have one thing in common: riding motorcycles! This is your time to relax, have fun, see new sites and roads, and maybe even learn a new thing or two.