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One Last Ride Capturing the rides of the past with Pop

PRT School at NY Safety Track Taking your skills to the next level

Monthly Columns • Products • Events

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W H A T ’ S


M ON T HLY COLUM N S FREE WHEELIN’.................................................................................4 WHATCHATHINKIN’..........................................................................5 POSTCARDS FROM THE HEDGE .................................................6 ON THE MARK ..................................................................................7 THROTTLE BLIPS ..............................................................................8 THOUGHTS FROM THE ROAD......................................................9 INDUSTRY INFOBITES ..................................................................10 BACKLASH .......................................................................................12

FEATURES PRT SCHOOL AT NY SAFETY TRACK.......................................15 TAKING YOUR SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL IN A MORE INTIMATE FASHION SOUTHERN ITALIAN SOIREE ......................................................22 ROME TO SICILY WITH EDELWEISS BIKE TRAVEL ONE LAST RIDE..............................................................................44 CAPTURING THE RIDES OF THE PAST WITH POP


MYSTERIOUS AMERICA ...............................................................14

NONOISE HEARING PROTECTION.............................................37

BIG CITY GETAWAY........................................................................16

BEARTEK MOTO GLOVES ............................................................39

GREAT ALL AMERICAN DINER RUN.........................................18

RIDIN’ IN THE WIND BOOK SPOTLIGHT ................................42

WE’RE OUTTA HERE .....................................................................20

2014 KTM 1190 ADVENTURE R .................................................42

UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR ..............................................40

WIPE NEW POLISH........................................................................42

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE........................................................41 Brian Rathjen • Shira Kamil ~ Publishers Contributors: Richard Baker, Jeff Bahr, Mark Byers, Victory Cruz, Bill Heald, Dr. Seymour O’Life Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure

BACKROADS • POB 317, Branchville NJ 07826 Phone 973.948.4176 • Fax 973.948.0823 • email • web

For Advertising Sales Information: 973-948-4176 BACKROADS (ISSN 1087-2088) is published monthly by BACKROADS™, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. BACKROADS™ may not be reproduced in any manner without specific written consent from the publisher. BACKROADS™ welcomes and encourages submissions (text and photos) and suggestions. Include phone number with submissions. BACKROADS™ will only return material with enclosed sufficient postage. The written articles and opinions printed in BACKROADS™ are not necessarily those of the publisher and should not be considered an endorsement. The Rip & Rides® published are ridden on the sole responsibilty of the rider. BACKROADS™ is not responsible for the conditions of the public roadways traversed. Please respect the environment, read your owner’s manual and wear proper protective gear and helmet. Ride within your limits, not over them.

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Cuban SandwiCh Just 90 miles south of Key West you will run into the largest island in the Caribbean – Cuba. With over 11 million residents it is the second most populated island as well. Most Americans know this place has been offlimits to us for decades. For sure Cuba has been a focal point of American and international politics for generations. And now, Backroads has become embroiled in this mess. How? By printing a story on touring the Caribbean island nation. We have always tried to keep Backroads out of the political arena but, with our distaste for Communists and our love of the First Amendment and the opportunity to portray the ‘real’ people of Cuba, we found ourselves smack dab in a “Cuban Sandwich” of sorts. We have heard from our readers and have lost some due to this story. With the fallout from the Cuban revolution and their links to the Soviets, back in the day, many of our ‘right leaning’ readers took great offense to Backroads running a cover story on riding around Cuba. On the other hand our ‘to the left’ readers celebrated and many Hispanic riding clubs thought it was a brilliant article. That being said there are some things that must be followed up on. Let me clear the air of the smell of political bullshit. Despite how I feel about politics, this magazine cares not for governments or political agendas, but about riding this planet, experiencing its people and exploring the land. Cuba has been a mess, including the fact that the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul and, especially, Che Guevara, were murdering bastards. Sure Che is on t-shirts around the world, portrayed as a revolutionary and freedom fighter. So if you are one of those who worship at the “Altar of Che” let me tell

you this. The U.S. State Department has estimated that 3,200 people were executed from 1959 to 1962. Other estimates for the total number of political executions range from 4,000 to 33,000. Whoever’s number you believe they are all unacceptable. Know Guevara and the Castro brothers were behind these political killings. Che was a brutal murderer. He trained and commanded firing squads that executed thousands of men, women and children deemed enemies by the new Castro regime. Homosexuals did not fare well in Che’s Cuba. He mounted a campaign to have them jailed and many executed. You might want to use that Che t-shirt to wash your bike. We are very aware of recent Cuban history. Our December story “Tasting Forbidden Fruit” was penned by David Taylor and brilliantly photographed by my friend Don Toothman. The tour was created by Skip Mascorro and Moto Discovery, who also led a tour to Iran in 2006. Skip cares little for geographical politics either. It is people, culture and riding he in interested in. Neither Shira nor I rode in Cuba. But…. I would in a heart beat. The story was not just about Cuba’s terrible political past, but about the real Cuba. People, land and culture. Was politics brought up? Of course it was – it is part of the total picture. Before the Castros came along Cuba was a shining jewel in the Caribbean with one of the highest standard of living in the region. After the “Revolution” – not so much. Why, just recently, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will have the right to buy new and used vehicles from the state without government permission. Progress is slow in Cuba and I dare say the American embargo isn’t helping in the least. My thought has always been to show the Cuban people freedom and capitalism and it will take seed and flourish on its own. Castros be damned. This story was not glorifying the Castro regime. It was not elevating Guenext page vara to god-like t-shirt iconism.

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TurTle and The hare During our many hours of traveling time, and the miles of conversations we’ve had over the years, Brian and I always seem to light on rider’s skills and abilities. There are those we ride with who are just a joy to watch - smooth movements, clean lines and effortless manipulation of the machine. There are also the very few who, when riding behind them, make you wonder why they even decided to get on two wheels. Most folks fall, in various degrees, between these two examples, which is pretty much where I see myself. Brian has always thought that I am a quicker rider then he. I think that is true, and I’ve had the documentation to prove this. It’s not that I’m in a hurry, I just don’t like to be behind other vehicles - motorcycle, car, truck, buggy. He often likens me to the Goony bird graceful in flight but don’t watch it land. I excel at speed, I enjoy track time, I love my long sweepers and not-too-tight twisties. Don’t put me in a parking lot and make me do figure eights. Herein lies the other half of the equation - the turtle. Yes, a motorcycle is a big gyroscope - keep it moving and it will function. That goes for slow speeds as well. I just haven’t figured out the science behind that yet. No doubt, I can probably do pretty well at the slow race competitions as a straight line is manageable. But put a curve, even the slightest, in that path and you’ll see the deer-in-the-headlight look come on my face. Brian, on the other hand, has become a master of this. Since he’s been doing more off-road riding, most with his R 1200 GS, he’s become quite excellent at slow. Transformation from pavement to dirt must flip the switch inside his head to slow and steady. When we’re riding with other folks, or even when it’s the two of us and I’m taking a bit longer to get going after a gas stop,

Brian will find a quiet section of the parking lot and do circles, in both directions. Practice is key. I’ve lost count how many head shakes and inner voice admonishments he’s given while watching me move my bike, make u-turns or navigate on tight hairpins. Yes, I know to keep the head up, look where I want to go and throttle on, but the head and the hands don’t always work together. This brings me to the point of this whole verbal blather. During one of the travel conversations, Brian said to me, ‘You may be faster than me, but I’m slower than you.’ Makes perfect sense, right. Almost any good rider can go fast well. Momentum keeps the bike upright (unless stupidity or obstacles interrupt), with ease and fluidity the moto’s progress is smooth. It takes real determination, concentration and, as said before, practice to be able to keep this ease and fluidity in slow motion. Like the Albatross, take-offs and landing may be ugly, but flight is graceful. My goal is to to lose my inner Albatross and to have Brian say to me, ‘Hey, you’ve gotten much slower, congratulations.’

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Free wheelin’ No. It was about the people and the land that makes up this stunning island. It is these very things that we try to share in the pages of Backroads. If I thought I could get away with, safely, riding the Sudan, Afghanistan or any of the Killamericastans around the world I would. Hell, I would ride North Korea as long as Dennis Rodman was not there. For I know all these borders, nations and governments were created by power, religion and ideology. The land and the common people, for the most part, are still there. There are different cultures to experience, wonders and sights to be seen and discovered, and best done by motorcycle. Forbidden Fruit highlighted the island, the culture and our motorcycle-riding neighbors just to the south of Florida. The political fact was just a reality check and background music. For those who were upset with a story on Cuba, please take a deep breath and see what this story was about.


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the years and it pains me to admit I still don’t have it exactly right when it comes to ultimate compromise of comfort and flexibility. Of course, if I’m fortunate enough to be on a gigantic touring rig with heated everything the BILL HEALD business of staying warm is much simpler, but I’m usually on one of my bikes where the only heat comes from me and the engine, not necessarily in The baTTle oF The bulky that order. Oh, and I can’t forget my electric vest, which is one of the greatest “Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its inventions known to man. But when it comes to my hands, there is a continsolidity. It is what makes nations great uing struggle between bulk and warmth because it’s all too easy to comproand marriages happy.” - Phyllis McGinley mise the dexterity you desperately need to safely ride the bike in the pursuit of keeping your digits away from the nastiness of Jack Frost. What’s even It’s odd in some ways, and very natural in others, to take the simplest things more critical in this situation is this time of year we have to be on our game we deal with in life and expand the conflict to have greater meaning. But even more than usual, thanks to things conspiring to steal our traction like hey, one of the reasons I like riding motorcycles (especially on long trips) is colder running tire temperatures (they don’t grip as well as in July), sand, the machine often locates and then releases thoughts that might otherwise go ice on metallic things that find their way in the road surface, and actual frozen unperturbed and therefore unexercised or expressed. It happens with disturbprecipitation itself. So we have that classic situation where at the very time ing regularity inside my helmet; where something happening with or about we need the most feel, nuance and quick tactile response in our control inthe bike serves as a metaphor for some grand truism of life. In the case I’m terface with the bike we have the least amount we’ll have all year. rolling towards today, it involves the nature of compromise when it comes I hate it when that happens. to seeking physical comfort while on the road. I find this time of year to be If you have heated grips, you are not only fortunate but brilliant. These the ultimate test in the battle of warmth versus flexibility while on the moclever electrical friends can reduce the necessary bulk of your gloves to torcycle, and while this is certainly always a concern it is never more progreatly reduce the compromise of reduced contact, and even if your bike has nounced than when you’re riding in really cold conditions. I’m not saying traction control every little bit helps when it comes to deftly rolling on the it’s been cold this winter, but (insert a favorite freezing witch’s body part power when exiting slippery corners. As for bikes not so happily equipped, here, and build your own metaphor). the key is being really judicial with your choice of glove and (if you use I need to preface this by saying I’ve ridden a fair amount in the cold over them) liners so you can minimize the bulkatude while insuring you’re getting the warmth and protection you need. We’re lucky as there are so many space-age new insulating fabrics being used these days that it’s really hard to keep track of them all. But no matter how thin the actual insulating material, it can be ruined by lousy tailoring and what I mean in this case is not a shot at any particular glove manufacturer but rather a shape and design that doesn’t work with your particular hands well enough to be a good choice. This is why I think this is one of those purchases you really ought to do in person at a dealer rather than online, because it’s the only way to see how the actual gloves you’re going to purchase actually fit. This is critical, because you can get two pairs of the same glove in the same size from the same manufacturer and they might fit differently. In addition to having the flexibility to keep your hand’s ability to finely control your motorcycle intact, good fit without any cramped spots can help keep your hands warmer, because circulation is all part of your body’s heating and cooling system, especially in the extremities. Another way of keeping the bulkies at bay is getting a thinner winter glove and using it with a tight-fitting silk liner, which can be very efficient in the way that only cold-weather layering can be thanks to adding a layer of air to the insulating sandwich. Once again, if ROLLIN’ FAST Cycle Sports you go this route buy the liners first, and wear them is your tri-state Victory motorcycle and Polaris when you’re picking your gloves at the dealership. dealer in New Jersey. We are a performance-oriYou’re building a system now, and proper fit is even ented shop that specializes in all Victory motorcymore important as it’s all too easy to take two thin, noncles and Polaris side x sides and ATVs. We are the bulky items and combine them to make a porcine mess. best-stocked dealer in the tri-state area. Whether you are lookOne other consideration is if you’re planning on a long ing for a Victory or Polaris vehicle, parts, or accessories we have it. We offer all dealer programs trip where cold rain could be an hours-long possibility, including financing, extended warranties, and vehicle insurance. Our knowledge of Victory rubber overgloves (again, carefully fitted) can be the motorcycles and Polaris vehicles far exceeds our competitors. We stock just about every Victory best way to keep the wet away. Most waterproof gloves and Polaris accessory in the catalog plus many more aftermarket accessories for Victory. do OK for a while, but with time and wear often lose some of their ability to stave off the wet. The gloves that have waterproof mittens that deploy from the gloves themselves to cover your fingers in rain are very clever; 104 Main Street, Lebanon, NJ just make sure they leave you with enough dexterity when in use before you purchase them. 908-236-9000 • Riding in the cold calls for special preparation and a Here to serve you Monday-Friday 9a-6p • Thursday 9a-7p • Saturday 9a-5p • Gone Riding Sunday sort of seasonal awareness, but if you plan well and Victory and Victory Motorcycles® are registered trademarks of Polaris Industries Inc. Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing and obey the speed limit. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Warning: The Polaris RANGER® and RZR® are not intended for on-road use. Driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s most importantly get the right kit for your mitts it can license to operate. Passengers must be at least 12 years old and tall enough to grasp the hand holds and plant feet fi rmly on the fl oor. All SxS drivers should take a safety training course. Contact ROHVA at or (949) 255-2560 for additional information. Drivers and passengers should always wear helmets, eye protection, protective clothing, and be a very special experience. Now, let’s tackle the latest seat belts. Always use cab nets or doors (as equipped). Be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Never drive on public roads or paved surfaces. Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. Check local laws before riding on trails. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. Polaris adult models are advancements in the war against fogged visors. for riders 16 and older. For your safety, always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing, and be sure to take a safety training course. For safety and training information


ROLLIN’ FAST Cycle Sports

in the U.S., call the SVIA at (800) 887-2887. You may also contact your Polaris dealer or call Polaris at (800) 342-3764. ©2013 Polaris Industries Inc.

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run SilenT, run deep Alanis Morissette once did something novel: in her song “All I Really Want,” she inserted a few seconds of dead air. Wrapped around that silence are the lyrics “Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this? [dead air] Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines, or when you think you’re gonna die, or did you long for the next distraction?” All day, we’re bombarded by cacophony, be it noise emanating from a myriad of sources, to any number of media to which we willfully subject ourselves and sometimes pipe directly to our brains through little white wires, the ends of which we stick in our ears. Heaven forbid distractions interrupt our distractions! A white-wired zombie nation strolls the earth, oblivious to their real environment, staring deeply into the twitterverse (life in 140 characters). Some people bring this audio universe to motorcycling. Tank bags frequently look like the back of a home entertainment center, with multicolored pasta running everywhere to feed electrons to the hungry matrix. At any moment, a rider can be subjected to: music; audio books; GPS commands; radar detector chirps, beeps, and alarms; cell phone conversations; CB or ham radio conversations; and scanner outputs. It’s audio ADHD; clearly, they long for the next distraction. Me? For the most part, I’m a silent rider. I have intercom systems on two bikes, both capable of accepting a myriad of inputs, but that capability is usually reserved for when I’m working a bicycle race or marathon in which I need radio communication. When it’s just my wife and me, the intercom stays largely silent as we absorb the sights and natural sounds of our environment. It also helps me hear the predatory tire whine of that big 4X4 in the next lane or the pounding rap coming out of the rice rocket with the wing and loud pipe. I’m certain the latter can’t hear me, and neither may see me.

Page 7 I’m seldom disturbed by silence unless I’m in a single-engine airplane or pulling into traffic. It’s more than just a safety thing, however, it’s a thought thing… a Zen thing. I love giving myself the gift of silence. Frequently, ideas for columns germinate and blossom into life while I’m riding. I’ll go over ideas and themes and even mentally write text in my mind as I slither down sun-dappled lanes on my way to or from work. I find my inner voice speaks more clearly when it doesn’t have to shout down other voices. I find the isolation relaxing. Last summer, I did a marathon ride in the middle of a “major media event.” The talking heads were in full cry, but not inside my Arai. After sixteen and a half hours of hearing just the engine and the wind, attenuated by helmet and plugs, even my thoughts were quieter and I was more at peace. I arrived physically fatigued, but mentally refreshed and I attribute it to the absence of input. Unplugging from the media monster liberated me. Silence is also an asset to me in the twisty bits. When I’m doing something that requires concentration, I don’t want the distraction of listening to lyrics or music, the latter of which is never in perfect time with the dance I’m doing with the moto. In my mind, I’m setting up for the turn-in point, searching my line, looking for hazards, and conducting my own symphony of brake and throttle and clutch and body. As much as I love Johnny Cash, I don’t need his help at that moment as I alternately walk the white and yellow lines. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a Benedictine Monk with a vow of silence. There is a time and place for music and conversation. When we were in Montana, on a mind-numbingly straight road, I cranked up the radio on the big LT and let the speakers boom some road music. It didn’t last long past the first set of sweepers, however. I don’t fault others for wanting accompaniment for their pavement dances either. Some people excel when their lives are set to music. My young employees certainly thrive that way. That’s just not me. I’m not petrified of silence - I revel in it. The vast majority of the time, I ride in it. Riding without the distraction of other forms of audio lets me bask in the swirl of the wind and the grumble of the engine. It frees my mind to think of the apex or a title or of where I want to go, not only on the ride, but in my life. For me, running silent lets me run deep.

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MoTo-Show no–Go By the time this column goes to press the NYC version of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show will be history. Held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in midtown Manhattan, the show has been a motorcyclist must-see since its inception. This is not to say that the show doesn’t have its ups and downs. Some years the joint is positively hopping with dealers, vendors and displays, and other years things seem decidedly leaner. This by no means, however, is a knock on the show. Commerce ebbs and flows and is dependent on which way the economic wind blows at any given time. During certain years when the business climate is favorable, more vendors turn out. During economic doldrums the opposite is true. That’s just the nature of the beast. But there is something that I believe is hurting this show – at least if complaints coming from many of my fellow motorcyclists count for anything. A riding buddy’s rant makes the case in no uncertain terms. “Why in hell did they put this thing in Manhattan?” he asks incredulously just about every year prior to show time. “That place is a major bitch to get to, especially dur-

ing winter, and it’s expensive to boot! Over the years I’ve taken my car, trains, buses and boats to get there, and I’m always aggravated, cold and broke when I arrive. They should hold it in New Jersey.” It’s an argument that’s tough to shoot down, and one that is shared by a great many people. Why indeed is a motorcycle event held at a venue that’s so darn inconvenient and pricey (from a transportation standpoint) to attend? I honestly don’t have the answer. But I do have a theory. The show obviously comes to NYC to make money. That’s a given. But it also comes to the Big Apple for its cache.’ I’m certain the show’s planners liked the sound of NYC more than, say, the Meadowlands. After all, New York is the city of diamonds; the city that never sleeps. And the Meadowlands? Goodness, don’t they bury dead bodies over in that godforsaken swamp? Here’s a great example. The New York Giants have played on Jersey soil for decades now, and they still refuse to call themselves The New Jersey Giants. See what I mean? Prestige goes a long way. If this is indeed the case, I believe the decision to locate the show in NYC was shortsighted and detrimental in the long run. Here’s why. According to Statista (an internet storehouse of statistical information) there are 346,000 registered motorcycles in all of New York State. New Jersey - a state roughly one sixth as large as the Empire State - has a whopping 330,000. Statistically speaking, comparing the two states is akin to a “wash.” Holding the show in New York offers no real advantage over basing it in New Jersey – at least from an attendance standpoint. In fact, the opposite is true. New Jersey is compact. This means that its populace is heavily concentrated. And where do you suppose most of its citizens live? Within a 50-mile radius of the Big Apple as it turns out. With a vast network of superhighways connecting the dots, getting to the Meadowlands is a super-easy proposition for most people in the New York/New Jersey metro area. A visit here is way cheaper (for most) when you factor in the extravagant tolls and parking fees that would be avoided vs. Manhattan. Here’s something else that seems to run counter to motorcycling ideals. Since when is a huge city a lure to the average rider? I mean, just the thought of it! Crowds, gridlock, tension - all vying for your displeasure when you make your way into Manhattan. Sheez! Obviously, I don’t speak for the organizers of this event. I’m certain they have their reasons for holding the show in Manhattan, and there are extenuating circumstances and behind-the-scenes details (I.E. money deals) that I’m not fully aware of. But as a motorcyclist who is based ten miles west of Manhattan, and one who has now been riding for over thirty years, I can tell you with great conviction that the lure of this show is dropping off big time, at least amongst the group of riders that I regularly mix with, and many others who I see periodically. For the above reasons, many don’t even bother to attend anymore. Is this damning? You tell me. But first you should know one more thing. Every single one of these riders believes that a northern New Jersey based show makes more sense; even those guys and gals who hail from Upstate New York. Rhetoric? I can’t deny it. But it’s still something to ponder.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE ROAD 12 STaTeS allow MoTorCyCleS To run red liGhTS On congested city roads, most traffic lights are set on timers. Out in the suburbs and rural towns, we’ve all had the ill pleasure of waiting and waiting for the light to change. Some riders get so frustrated by these slow pokes, they set their side stand down, hop off and sprint to push the opposing pedestrian cross walk button. These traffic lights fail to detect a motorcycle. And it’s not because of their low weight relative to autos. Inductance is the wizard behind the curtain when it comes to tripping the light fantastic green. There’s simply not enough heavy metal on motorcycles to flip the switch. At some intersections, you can see where the inductor loop is buried in a square shape. Some riders swear they can trip the light by setting their side stand on the compound. All these options are far from ideal. And that’s why a dozen states (and counting) have passed “safe on red” legislation that allows motorcyclists to run red lights. Yes, legally, and no kidding. However you can’t act like a hooligan and ride 50 mph through a red light without stopping. That would be a bona fide traffic violation. But in 12 states, as long as you come to a full stop, wait a few minutes, allow right of way, and the intersection is clear, you are permitted to advance on red. “Safe on red” regulation is designed to give bikers a sense that they have a brain that can make a decision all on its own, without the State doing it for them. (Well, not really, but you get the picture.) States that have passed “safe on red” laws include AK, ID, IL, MN, MO, NC, NV, OK, SC, TN, VA, and WI. Utah and Michigan are both on their way to red light nirvana. To cite two examples of these statutes: the Virginia (2011) statute 46-2833 reads: “Drivers of motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles may move with

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Victor Cruz caution through non-responsive red lights as long as they yield the right-ofway to others approaching the intersection, and have come to a complete stop for two complete light cycles or 120 seconds, whichever is shorter.” Minnesota (2002) statute 169.06 reads: “A person operating a bicycle or motorcycle who runs a red light has an affirmative defense if the driver first came to a complete stop, the traffic light stayed red for an unreasonable amount of time and appeared not to detect the vehicle and no motor vehicles or people were approaching the street.” According to rider Matt Piechota, “Pennsylvania (and I’d assume almost every state) has a “Malfunctioning Traffic Control Device” provision. A traffic signal that doesn’t change is malfunctioning. The law says to treat this and proceed as if it’s a stop sign. I keep a printed copy under the seat with my registration and insurance.” In a Facebook posting on this topic, rider Dawn Douglas commented: “If you know of spots that don’t detect motorcycles, you can always call the traffic division of that municipality and make a report. They will come out and adjust the signal strength to detect the motorcycle. In most cases, they will enlist your help in the adjustments.” What the heck! Who’s going to bother? We obviously need to get NJ and NY added to the list of these “safe on red” states. If you can’t wait on red, forget about waiting for legislation to pass any time soon. Your best option is to pick up a large rare earth magnet. Called “Large Ceramic Magnet” sold by Harbor Freight, 2 for $1.49. Spray it with clear coat so it doesn’t deteriorate in the elements and stick it on the bottom of your bike. Some riders swear by this, which is better than swearing at a dumb traffic light.

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INDUSTRY INFOBITES WHEN GOOD THINGS GO BAD TRAGEDY AT NEW YEAR’S RUN Each year when the calendars and clocks come together and proclaim it is time to turn the page many riders in northwestern New Jersey turn something else; the ignition key and head off to the annual event called Dale’s Chilly Chilli Run. On a good day this ride can drag hundreds of riders from their warm beds to raise money for the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice. On a frozen day, like this past New Years, you will still see nearly 150 riders show up to run a 30 mile course and then enjoy food, some drink and plenty of laughs and tire kickin.’ There’s also a chance to take home some prizes – 50/50 drawing and a brand new Harley-Davidson. We have attended this great event many times. All this came to be and all seemed well till the final seconds. One group, that had braved the cold miles all the way from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to the Odgensburg Firehouse, were lined up and getting ready for the return trip back to PA. Behind the group sat Michael Slaper, 66, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania. He, too, was part of the returning group but when he went to follow in his van something went terribly wrong and the van charged forwards running into and over his fellow riders. Bikes and people were tossed everywhere and many simply remained crushed under the vehicle. Patrolman Christopher Geene said one victim — Alyse Funk of Croydon, Pennsylvania — had to be extricated by the Ogdensburg Fire Department from a stack of motorcycles and flown to Morristown Medical Center. She sustained a broken wrist, but was flown as a precaution, Geene said. Two other victims — Sherryl Loughin of Chadds Ford, and John Bittner of Yardley — sustained minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Morristown Medical Center. Geene said that while the nature of the accident seemed quite serious, the injuries were minor. “It turned out that we got very lucky,” he said.

News from the Inside DATE CHANGE FOR AMA VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE DAYS AT MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE In a move that will help Midwestern motorcyclists get more out their summer events, the American Motorcyclist Association and MidOhio Sports Car Course have worked together to change the date of the 2014 edition of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days 2014 will be held July 11-13, one week earlier than previously announced. The new dates prevent a conflict with another event held in Wauseon, Ohio. “Providing a date for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is never easy, given that it often can only be set after many other dominoes get lined up, including schedules for MotoGP racing in this country, World Superbike races here, and AMA Pro Racing events,” said Jeff Massey, AMA vice president of operations. “We never like to wind up in competition with other motorcycling events nearby, and some years it’s unavoidable. But in this case, we were able to work with other groups in an effort to find a new spot on the calendar for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days that makes the most sense for the fans.” Advance tickets are available to the public at In addition, AMA members should stay tuned for news of a special ticket discount only for AMA members available directly through the AMA offices.

WWJR - POPE DONATES HARLEY To mark the 110th anniversary of the motorcycle brand, Pope Francis was presented with the 1,585cc Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide in June 2013. Now, the machine is to be auctioned for charity by Bonhams at the Grand Palais in Paris on February 6, 2014.

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BACKROADS • FEBRUARY 2014 The Sale, which is taking place as part of Rétromobile Week, will see the motorcycle raise funds for Caritas Roma, which works on behalf of the Roman Catholic church to support those in need around the world. It was donated to the charity by Pope Francis, who is famous for his work with the poor and his preference for modest modes of transport. Keeping charity and transport at the forefront of his mind, the Harley-Davidson, which has an estimated value of $16,000-20,000, is to be sold with no reserve in aid of Caritas Roma. Funds raised by the sale will go towards the renovation of the charity’s Don Luigi di Liegro hostel and soup kitchen based at Rome’s Termini railway station. The hostel opened 30 years ago to help the homeless, jobless and the poor, and the money raised by the Harley-Davidson’s sale will allow it to continue to provide food and accommodation to more than 1,000 people in need every day. Signed on the tank by his Holiness at a special ceremony at the Vatican in November, the machine is also offered with a certificate of conformity from Harley-Davidson. Ben Walker, head of motorcycles at Bonhams, said: “We are incredibly honored to be selling this item on behalf of Caritas Roma. We hope to be able to do both Pope Francis and Harley-Davidson proud by raising a significant amount of money for a very worthy cause.” The Harley-Davidson will be sold as part of Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde sale at the Grand Palais in Paris.

HELD NORTH AMERICA CLOSES Held North America Inc. announced that it closed its business on Dec. 20, 2013. The company did not provide further details about its closing. According to Tommy Kincaid, Held Biker Fashion GmbH of Germany should have new representation established for the U.S. soon.

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BOB’S BMW CUSTOM K1600GTL TRIKE Bob’s BMW Motorcycles is always looking for ways to keep riders choosing them as their #1 resource for everything motorcycling, so when new generations or styles come along, they always try to display the best examples of them to you. With the trend for trike motorcycles on the rise, Bob’s went to work and built a custom 2014 Magnesium Beige Metallic K 1600 GTL trike fully equipped with safety package: adaptive headlight, DTC, TPM; Luxury package: LED fog light, Electronic Suspension, Anti Theft Alarm; Bluetooth interface control; radio software; high seat; powerlet accessory; passenger armrests; topcase LED Brake Light; electric reverse; running boards; fully functional ABS, foot vents, stone guards. This amazing machine is on Bob’s showroom floor, ready for visitors— there is no doubt trike lovers will be in complete awe and for those haters out there, after seeing this conversion up close and personal, you just might become a lover. If you’ve gone from a bike to a trike or are considering doing so, look no further. The K1600GTL trike is luxury touring at its finest – you can see it at Bob’s BMW Motorcycles.

KITZHOF INN OFFERS RIDERS NEW BROCHURE FOR 2014 Our friends and members of Backroads Moto Inn Program have a new brochure highlighting their fantastic inn located in Dover, Vermont right on Route 100. The brochure has rates and group specials which include 2 nights, 2 breakfasts and a BBQ dinner – all for just $142 per person. To get yours give them a call at 802-464-8310 or visit them on the web at

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Letters to the Editor

Cuban Crisis Hello Brian, First of all thank you once again for all your support. What you and Shira do for us is deeply appreciated. Not everyone is privileged as you and I are to have traveled the world and to have the benefit of viewing it and its people through a more objective prism. Those who have objections to our travels (we got the same when we went to Iran in 2006) I find tend to rarely leave their own country and therefore have a more narrow perspective. That’s OK. They are entitled to their opinion. But I have difficulty understanding such positions especially in light of the fact that my dad among many thousands of American boys were hiding in foxholes in 1944, avoiding strafing from German Luftwaffe, aircraft made by BMW, and in another theater, Japanese Zeros made by Mitsubishi. Walk the aisles of Walmart and try to find something not made in China, a country with a deplorable human rights history. The lines are never as clear as we would like them to be. No matter the political stance one may have, we firmly believe that to engage is better than to isolate and that America, and Cuba, will in the long term benefit from us riding in the “forbidden land”. And I will take great exception to anyone who in any way questions my patriotism or love of my country. I know you feel the same. Controversy is not new to us. We maintain an apolitical stance on what we do and where we travel. Cuba is an especially politically charged topic and that is never going to change. Yet we had a number of Cuban Americans join us this last season to ride their old homeland. In the end we just want to ride, to explore and to discover the world beyond our borders. That is what we do. That is what we will continue to do and we won’t be deterred by those who can only opine from the sidelines without having first hand experience in what they speak of, which more often than not, is the case. Looking forward to sharing a road with you and Shira in the future Brian. Thanks again for all that you do and for taking the heat on this one. In the end I know you and Backroads will survive the controversy and will win the support of those who matter most. Regards, Skip Mascorro •

Mail: BACKROADS PO Box 317 Branchville NJ 07826

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Communist island in the sun, I’ve concluded that it has the same effect that a full moon does on werewolves. There’s no explaining the visceral kneejerk reaction. As Skip pointed out, we’ve had Cuban-Americans join our Cuba tours. Cuban Americans who, like our other tour participants, could see beyond the bigoted myopia of those who can’t seem to understand this singular point: attempting to restrict U.S. citizens right to travel freely (a core U.S. value) and determine reality for themselves puts us in the same boat as the repressive nations such myopic bigots denounce. As Skip pointed out in his reply, barring travel to Cuba based on a human rights argument (or “trading with the enemy”) would require that restrictions also be put in place on half the world’s nations, not least key U.S. allies and trading partners such as Saudi Arabia and China. All the best Christopher P. Baker Dear Brian and Shira, As a long time Backroads subscriber, I’m acquainted with Brian’s general political persuasion. So the December feature on the tour of Cuba surprised me, as have several features in the past. This is one of the reasons I subscribe

Hello Brian, I’m Skip’s “other” Cuba specialist tour leader as well as a full-time professional travel and moto-journalist. I was not surprised by the negative commentary to the story on motorcycling through Cuba. In my twenty years traveling to and writing about the

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to your magazine. The letter you printed in response to the article from Mr. Siegel, did not surprise me at all. The tour of Cuba story focused on motorcycles, people and food, like most good touring reviews. These help me get through the winter. I read a story about noble and creative people welcoming motorcyclists, and the motorcyclists engaging with the countryside. When the opportunities arise, I hope all of us can set local political demagogues aside and encounter visitors or hosts with as much generosity as was described in the December article. The last line in your response said it best. Thanks again for running the story Staying warm, Charlie • Ossining, NY Backroads, So I re-read Oct and Nov (no December yet) and I can’t find what he speaks of. However, Mr. Siegel is absolutely, 100% correct… about Che, Castro and Cuba. On the other hand, he has no clue of your politics, which as a subscriber he should know of from your obvious right-of-center take on the things, you write about mostly every month. He also doesn’t/can’t appreciate your position as publisher of keeping neutral on things that you didn’t personally write about - as I know you haven’t been there. Finally, Joe must live in a box at this point if he is going to so dramatically react to an article in a magazine. Unless his only other reading is the “National Review” he must live in a really sad place as pretty much EVERYTHING else for consumption is on the “Left” in this country. Michael G. Bellantone

holiday season and best wishes in 2014. Otto Siegler Chief Operating Officer Whitehorse Gear/Whitehorse Press Again, it was our pleasure Otto and for those who want their own Whitehorse Gear catalog - give them a call at 800- 531-1133.

‘Like’ us on Facebook for all the latest news, up-to-the-minute rides and events and just cool motorcycle stuff. We often do impromptu lunch or dinner rides, as well as weekend jaunts. Don’t be left out.

Fast & Furious Dear Backroads, Furious could also describe the fast riders. Backroads attracts lots of different riders of skill and state of mind. When the fast rider(s) approach the back of another group they don’t just dive bomb past. Most times they will spend miles following along just hoping the rider in front of them looks in their mirror to realize they are no longer the last bike in the group. When the fast rider finally makes his/her pass and comes to the next turn I don’t think it is directions they are offering. Most likely the rider was hoping the group that was just passed would wave the remaining fast riders by. We all have a responsibility for safely making it to the end of the ride. This includes sharing the road and using our mirrors. Respectfully, Spirited Rider EXCELLENT!!!! The longer people treat riding as a solo sport versus a team sport, even if you prefer solo riding, the harder it will be to gain overall public acceptance. Bob Henig Bob’s BMW Hi Brian and Shira Thanks for helping me find that fantastic story in your back issues. If you have a hard copy I would enjoy having that too and you can email me at this address. Thank you very much. Keep up the great work you do. Your magazine has been a great inspiration for my riding adventures since I first started reading it in 2006. Kevin Kevin, it was our pleasure and all should know that Backroads past issues can be found at Hello Shira and Brian, It was so nice to see you both at the show in the big city. Thanks again for handing out Whitehorse catalogs for us! Hopefully you got some good exposure for your magazine over the weekend. I hope that you have a splendid


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Morton’s BMW Motorcycles Presents Dr. Seymour O’Life’s MYSTERIOUS AMERICA airway beaConS The ForGoTTen arrowS oF The niGhT These days we seem to use our GPS’ for just about everything from backroad exploring to a ride over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. Like them or not - they have become part of America’s and our riding fabric. How would we navigate without them? Well, we seemed to always figure out a way. On August 20, 1920, the Transcontinental Air Mail Route was opened. Extending from New York to San Francisco, it was the first airway to cross the nation – basically following what is now the route of Interstate 80. In the early days of aviation staying on course, especially at night was difficult at best and things were handled in a much grander scale and way. It the early days of flight, before the days of reliable radio or the iPhone app, most flying was a daytime experience. Piloting at night was more than just a bit dangerous. The US Postal Service began a cross-country airmail service using army war surplus planes from World War I, many piloted by former army flyers. But, nighttime flight was still dangerous and they wanted the mail to get to where it needed to go and not crash and burn in the mountains or deserts. In 1924, the federal government began a plan to create huge concrete arrows to be built along the established daytime airmail routes to help the pilots and planes cross the United States in bad weather conditions and particularly at night, which was a more economical time to fly. What resulted was the first ground based civilian navigation system in the world. Beacons, with their 1-million candlepower rotating light were positioned every ten miles along the airway atop the 50-foot plus steel towers. Not far from the towers small houses were built – like the light keepers houses along the coast. These airway beacons are said to have been visible from a distance of 10 to 20 miles away, depending on topography and weather. Many Americans these days are unaware of these ‘Beacons and Arrows’, as were we, until one of our readers and fellow rider, David Nunnikhoven, brought this story of a lost bit of America to our attention. As you would think these ‘Beacons and Arrows’, all 1,550 of them, became commonplace and just another part of the American landscape back in the day. But, time and technology move ever onward. By World War II, radio was king and the airway beacons were quickly becoming obsolete. With the war spreading in Europe and the Pacific and the need in the United States for raw materials these towers were seen as a large source of steel and iron and now with the need to take anything they could get, the U.S. government took down the towers and recycled them as scrap metal for the war effort. Only the arrows still remain and can still be sought out along the roads of Mysterious America. It’s unknown exactly how many airway lighthouses remain, but one preservation program called Passport in Time ( has pro-

tected three beacon sites from falling into complete disrepair, saving the generator huts and a neighboring 1930s cabin that served as a residence for the keepers. Also, the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum, currently being developed, features two 1929 historic structures: a 55-foot airway beacon tower and its electric generator shed, as the initial display area. These beacons did run across the nation, but with the eastern part of the country being so built up in the last seventy years we were hard pressed to find one of the arrows right in the Backroads area as easily as they are located in the far west. We did locate an Historical Marker in Hanover, Virginia for Delta Marker 47. But, it seems the arrow is long gone. O’Life out!

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PRT School at NYST Cheryl Petersen My internal radar explodes every time I turn the key to start the motorcycle engine. I scan nearby vehicles, intersections, sidewalks, and the woods. It isn’t that I want to be a cautious rider as much as a savvy rider. So, when I heard about the PRT School offering motorcycle safety classes at the recently opened New York Safety Track, I asked for permission to check it out.

“Sure, Cheryl, come to the track, it’s a beautiful day,” said Greg Lubinitsky, Manager. In the town of Harpersfield, the New York Safety Track (NYST) covers 137 acres. I hear a cool breeze idling through the trees. The class is full, 15 students, following a curriculum that combines instruction and experience. Instructor, Bill Sink, takes a multi-dimensional approach. Talking, asking questions, and physically showing the students body positions that can make a critical difference on the bike. “A slight movement of the knee can affect your center of gravity and make that split second difference when riding,” says Bill, as he moves his knee. The subject of vision comes around repeatedly. “No matter what level of rider you are, the key is far vision,” says Bill. “Keep your vision on the line

of where you want to go. We go to what we are looking at.” He draws attention to a large map depicting the 2.1-mile, 18-turn, omni-directional track on the property, and starts an interactive 10-minute discussion. Bill then says, “Okay, let’s hit the track and practice the techniques.” The crew gets up and heads for their gear and bikes. Bill introduces himself to me and grabs a bull horn. He says, “I have 7 coaches here to guide the students on the track.” As Bill walks to the pit, I stay back and watch the riders systematically ride onto the track. Along the track are worker stations. Attendants are equipped with flags and a walkie talkies. An emergency service is also on site. “All students must wear a full leather suit, gloves, a helmet, and boots,” says Greg. “The PRT School expects students to have basic motorcycle knowledge, but the class is designed to allow graduates to obtain licenses and get riders to the next level.” After about 20 minutes of practice on the track, the attendants flag in the riders. Greg introduces me to Julie Infurna, rider and coach. She zeros in on why the PRT course is attractive, saying, “Let’s face it, riders need to take the motorcycle to extremes in emergencies. A safety course that includes practice on a track in a controlled environment is invaluable. Riders can safely practice extreme techniques such as braking hard, acceleration, or quick steering. Then we take what we learn on the track and translate it to the street.” Two days later, while I’m at a business meeting, a woman discovers I rode my bike across the United States a few years back. She tells me, “I’ve been through 3 safety classes, all given on a parking lot.” Intimidation keeps her motorcycle in the garage. She’s stoked as I explain the PRT School. nyST • 396 Zimmerman road, harpersfield, ny 12093 GpS coordinates: 42.4867•-74.7807 •

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Hanover Powersports Presents


daytrip ideas to get out of the daily grind

The peTerS Valley Fine CraFTS FeSTiVal SuSSex CounTy FairGroundS, 37 plainS road, auGuSTa, nJ Hidden in the northwestern parts of New Jersey, not all that far from the equally hidden Backroads Central, you will find the Delaware Water Gap and the Walpack Valley. Nestled in the northern reaches of the Walpack you will find Peters Valley. For years this gem of the Garden State has been home base for some of the greatest arts & crafts in the northeast. Their facilities, amid the fields, forests and streams of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, were once the charming and leafy farm village of Bevans. The news from their website says… “Through adaptive reuse, these historic buildings now serve as a gathering place for a thriving community of artists and environmentalists, thinkers and changers of the world.” Well, at least in the arts & crafts world we know they make a difference. In fact Peters Valley is one of the country’s premier craft centers, offering opportunities for artists, educational outreach programs as well as summer workshops for beginners to professional taught by prominent artists in 8 studios equipped for blacksmithing, ceramics, fibers, fine metals and jewelry, photography and woodworking. Instructors come from around the globe to northern New Jersey to pass on their knowledge and skills. What we know is that they, and their school, do

some great work up there and once a year they hold their Fine Crafts Festival – much to our benefit. Years back they held this festival in a field not far from the complex at Peter’s Valley, but things kept getting bigger and bigger and a move was needed to a far larger space, such as the Sussex County Fairgrounds. In the early fall of each year Peter’s Valley moves itself down Route 206 to Augusta, and the Fairgrounds. These days a hundred or so vendors line up in the fairgrounds’ ample spaces and buildings selling some of the best crafts you will find. Unlike other festivals of this type the Peters Valley Fine Craft Festival has just that – fine crafts! Since it is just a few miles from home we do our best to ride over each year and see what there is to find at the festival. For 2013 the Peters Valley Fine Crafts Festival was held the weekend of September 28 & 29th, which was a stunner weather-wise. The great weather brought out a large crowd, but the Sussex grounds could easily handle it and we never felt crowded while strolling the tents, booths and aisles. We spent a good few hours perusing the vendors, taking in the artwork, clothing, photography and high-end wares. It would be hard to take all this in and not end up purchasing something for yourself or as a gift for somebody else. We ended up with a sweet broom created from a natural tree branch, and some woolen goods for the winter and other trinkets for the holidays that were coming up soon. There were musicians as well, both on stage and strolling around, giving the taste of an old time fair indeed. As you would think there were a number of food vendors to sate the appetite and give strength for the continued strolling. The entire afternoon had a light and airy feel to it. Add into this the ride we give you to the fair from Washington Crossing State Park will be fun as well and you end up with a great early autumn ride that is sure to please. For more information on the classes at Peters Valley and the dates for the Fine Craft Festival in 2014 log onto their website at

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GREAT ALL AMER ICAN DINER RUN aliCe’S reSTauranT 24 nolan’S poinT park road, lake hopaTConG, nJ 07849 973-663-9600 • www.aliCeSreSTauranTnJ.CoM In northwest New Jersey you will find the state’s largest body of water - Lake Hopatcong. With over 45 miles of shoreline this lake is a mecca for the water crowd and over the years summer homes have morphed into yearlong residences. This has allowed a number of fine dining experiences to thrive along the shores of the big lake and this month on that ride we call the Great All American Diner Run we’ll feature one of the nicest ones – Alice’s. Now for those riders who are familiar with the west coast motorcycle scene you will know that there is another Alice’s Restaurant just outside San Francisco that is huge with riders and, of course, there is that tune by Arlo Guthrie – who also sang about motorcycles and pickles among other things. So we thought taking a ride to an Alice’s in New Jersey might just be in order. Although a bit crowded on the weekends, this region is great for riding and many in this region we call home know full well of Lake Hopatcong; so we’ll give you Long Island folks a great ride to this superb eatery on the edge of the Garden state’s largest pond. You will find Alice’s Restaurant nestled into the steep hillside that surrounds Hopatcong. The place has been here for years but was reborn when owner Alice Szigethy, a Lake Hopat-

tasty places to take your bike

cong resident, bought the restaurant and brought it to the level it is today. Bringing on celebrated chef David Drake helped a lot too. If this column is not about great destinations, superb scenery, magical roads and scrumptious food then what is, we ask? If you get there early for breakfast you will be sure to be pleased as the menu includes all sorts of things eggy – Benedict, steak &, shirred ranchero – this comes with chorizo and stewed plum tomatoes – and they also offer some serious pancakes as well. But, with the ride we’ll be sending you on you might be better off thinking lunch. Expectations will be fulfilled later in the day as well. Drake’s mac & cheese is pretty awesome with a creamy goodness and chucks of thick smoky bacon throughout. Chicken wings come in a classic spicy sauce or with a delectable chili lime glaze.

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Page 19 For you healthy salad types (damn you) you’ll have six to choose from chicken to chopped to Caesar and the house Alice salad. Most can be upgraded with your choice of salmon, shrimp or chicken. Well, not the chicken salad as that has chicken and that would be a bit redundant unless you really and truly like chicken. More to my liking were the entrees – fish & chips (there is a lake close by), Tio’s empanadas, barbeque pulled pork sandwich and the Alice’s burger, which is a half pound monster with everything delicious added on. They also offer a superb grilled chicken sandwich and a BLT that comes with avocado, applewood bacon romaine hearts and beefsteak tomatoes along with rosemary chips. Alice’s Restaurant also has one serious dinner menu to explore if you arrive later in the day or are overnighting in the region. It’s all very good here at Alice’s Restaurant, especially when you take your meal on the great deck that comes with that breezy view of the lake and the surrounding counties of Morris and Sussex. Next time you or your group are looking for a little lakeside time follow along with our Rip & Ride and enjoy all that Alice’s has to offer. We are pretty sure you will be back for more.

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Bergen County Harley-Davidson Presents

WE’RE OUT TA HERE bear MounTain inn 55 heSSian dr , hiGhland FallS, ny 10928 845-786-2731 • www.ViSiTbearMounTain.CoM Things sometimes take a long time. Like the refurbishing of the Bear Mountain Inn that took nearly a decade to complete. For years we had made a run to the Inn for their superb Sunday Brunch, but have had to wait patiently for nine years until our chance to overnight in this historic building. The Bear Mountain Inn was built some 99 years ago, in 1915, and has been called “among the earliest examples of a monumental rustic park lodge of a type that became common in state and national parks.” Although it took nine years to simply refurbish the inn today, it was completely constructed in just five years at a cost variously reported between $100,000 and $150,000. It was designed by the New York City firm

of Tooker & Marsh, in a style strongly influenced by that of Adirondack Great Camps. The refurbishing cost some twelve million dollars. Even back in the early 20th century the people behind the project were ‘green’ before

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a weekend destination keeping you on the backroads it became fashionable with the stone used in the foundations, wall facades and the two remarkably large fireplaces, obtained from old walls on the properties acquired for Bear Mountain State Park. Chestnut timber used for framing, certain trim, siding and floor covering, was also obtained from local parklands and milled on site. Despite appearances to the contrary, the building’s basic framework is constructed of steel. Whatever year it is the Bear Mountain Inn has always had a magnificent look. The Inn has a great sports history as it was originally built for winter sports but other sports found the Inn fashionable as well. At various times during the 1930s and 40s, the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, the New York Giants football team and the New York Knickerbockers basketball team made the inn and adjacent athletic facilities their training headquarters. Also during this period, entertainment headliners included Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, and some believe Kate Smith wrote her 1931 theme song “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain” while at the inn. If so, the mountain in question might be Anthony’s Nose, which lies to the east across the Hudson River. Madame Chiang Kai-shek spent two weeks “in seclusion” at one of the outlying lodges of the Bear Mountain Inn in the spring of 1943, meeting with Wendell L. Wilkie there April 25 before proceeding to the White House for a brief stay. Nowadays the Bear Mountain Inn has regained much of its old splendor and has 15 various rooms available and with all the modern amenities including HD Satellite TV and wifi. After a long day’s ride, exploring the magnificent Hudson Valley and the miles and miles of superb riding to be found here, why not book a massage

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and get a bit of relaxation and pampering at The Spa at Bear Mountain - an independently owned and operated Spa - located on the third floor of the Bear Mountain Inn. In the evening the inn offers a few dining options - Restaurant 1915 and Blue Roof Tapas Bar. Here the good gets even better as you are invited to sample the amazing work of award-winning Chef Michael Matarazzo, CEC. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, apprentice at the renowned Greenbriar Resort, 2010 ACF National Chef of the Year - these are just a few of the accolades Chef Matarazzo has earned over his illustrious career. With his creativity and firm base in local and sustainable ingredients, Chef Matarazzo truly takes Bear Mountain to a new level. The Bear Mountain Inn has something else that we like, and you do not have to stay the night to enjoy it. The Hiker’s Café. Located on the first floor of the historic Bear Mountain

Inn and featuring hand-scooped Perry’s Ice Cream the Hiker’s Cafe invites you to enjoy a local/organic inspired menu, beverages in a casual atmosphere. Hiker’s Cafe features lots of grab ‘n’ go options - perfect for the day rider needing a sugar & coffee fix before the ride home. Our favorite Sunday morning meal is back as The Bear Mountain Inn hosts the area’s most popular Sunday Brunch from 9:00am until 3:00pm each week. The 1915 Breakfast Brunch features fresh fruit, yogurt parfaits, scrambled eggs, traditional breakfast meats, and a weekly signature special. Enjoy breathtaking views while sipping your choice of complimentary sparkling wine, Mimosa or Bloody Mary and dining on gourmet cuisine. The 1915 Breakfast Buffet is $19.15 per adult and is well worth the Sunday morning sprint to the mountains. We’re glad the Bear Mountain Inn has returned. It has been a long wait but it was worth it.




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Southern Italy Soirée Rome to Sicily with Edelweiss Bike Travel

I have always heard that the traffic and the drivers in Rome are some of the most notorious on the planet. After spending a few days on the streets of the Eternal City, both as a pedestrian and a rider, I can pretty much say that the Italians are right up there with the best, or worst, of them. We had arrived a few days early and taken advantage of the guided city tour offered by Edelweiss. While we’ve always made our way around new places fairly well, we thought we’d see how the Edelweiss guides presented it to us. Starting with the Piazza Venezia, the central hub of Rome, we made our way above and below ground to all the sights one would want to see in a limited time – St. Peters Dome, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Fontana di Trevi and, of course, Vatican City. With plenty of time to stop, snap photos, sip some espresso or indulge in the ever-abundant gelato, the day was full and satisfying. Even with the traffic and crowds, seeing all this with our own eyes was a serious treat.

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If there is ever a perfect example of semi-controlled anarchy, then Rome might be it. So, it was with a happy sigh of relief that Shira, I and a friendly group from various parts of the planet slid through the morning Roman rush and headed more or less south, past the famed Seven Hills of Rome and along the Tiber River and into the more serious mountains to the south. We had just started 9 days of riding in southern Italy - from Rome to the isle of Sicily. If you are like us then you like to travel to places personally undiscovered and in the motorcycle guided touring world one company has you covered in more places than any other - Edelweiss Bike Travel.

Rome to Pompeii

On this trip Shira and I would be two-up on a new Ducati Multistrada S. When in Rome, right? Besides who wouldn’t want to pilot an Italian machine while exploring its native land? Other bikes on the trip included a few BMWs – some R1200GS and RTs and F700GSs as well. Our guides for this trip were Domenico Shiano, Florian Schmidbauer and Alan Magnoni – who we had ridden with on our Backroads Alps tour a few years back. Each day two of the guides would lead the groups and the other would handle the van and luggage. Like most Edelweiss tours you could ride with the group or on your own (as long as there were two machines) and you could count on your luggage being in your room that night when you arrived at the hotel. After an hour or so along the roadways we headed up to the summer home of the Pope, at Lake Albano, now Benedict’s, the Pope emeritus, year round residence since giving up his Papal charge last March to Pope Francis. Although we were unable to meet the Pontiff the views of the Rocco di Papa and the lovely lake worked well with

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Page 24 a mid morning café. There will always be mid-morning espresso, and perhaps a pastry or two, so get used to it. Continuing back down the mountains on twisty and slightly damp cobblestone streets was fun, as were the secondary roads that flowed south darting in and out of the tall hills and then down to the coast. All morning the weather had her fickle way with us, as we were either in bright sunshine or torrential and chilling downpours.

FEBRUARY 2014 • BACKROADS Either way life was still excellent as we were in Italy and heading further south with each kilometer. We had broken our rather large group into two more reasonably sized gaggles and by mid-afternoon there was a lunchtime reunion of sorts in the seaside town of Sperlonga, where fresh local fish pasta and pizza was the menu of the day. By evening time we rode under a bright setting sun with the mighty volcano Vesuvius just a few miles away. We got in just as the church bell chimed 6 and the gates to the archeological site closed but we would do the tour first thing in the morning. So it was a walk around Pompeii and an early dinner that night.

Pompeii to Acquafredda, Potenza On August 24, 79 Mount Vesuvius literally blew its top, spewing tons of molten ash, pumice and sulfuric gas miles into the atmosphere. A ‘firestorm’ of poisonous vapors and molten debris engulfed the surrounding area suffocating the inhabitants of the neighboring Roman resort cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. Tons of falling debris filled the streets until nothing remained to be seen of the once thriving communities. The cities and its people remained buried and undiscovered for almost 1700 years until excavation began in 1748.

Though the volcano’s last eruption was in 1944, it still represents a great danger to the cities that surround it, especially the busy metropolis of Naples. Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe, and has produced some of the continent’s largest volcanic eruptions. There was no way we could be so close to such an important part of human history and not see it for ourselves, so bright and early we were the first ones at the gates to the site. Later in this journey we would spend some time atop Etna, the real Italian monster. The site is large yet still only 60% excavated. All this has taken a few hundred years to accomplish and it may be done in the next hundred or so. This day we spent about 2 hours walking the site with a knowledgeable local guide who gave us a good deal of history on how these ancient Romans lived, the world they inhabited and how it all came to a horrific and smothering end.

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To think they have recovered bodies of some of the Pompeians that did not escape to the sea is incredible and boggles the mind as you look at their remains and plaster casts. Our early start at the archeological site caused a late start that morning on our ride south along the coast. The Italian Amalfi Coast, in the region of Campania, is known around the world for its beaches, small towns and high cliffs. To get around these cliffs the Italians have created a system of roadways that cling up and down the sides, through tunnels and down to bayside towns. In 1997, the Amalfi Coast was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a cultural landscape. The views were absolutely stunning, as was some of the high-speed approaching traffic in some of the towns. The Italians drive and ride with incredible aggression and it took us a day to get into the local groove of passing when you want and to be on a constant alert for tight squeezes and oncoming tour buses that will punt you into the wall, cliff or ocean without even thinking about it. This is not a place for meek riders. Along for the tour with us was our friend Chris Knight, from London, whom we had ridden with years ago in South America, and have toured northern Italy with a few years back as well. Here we were together again and exploring southern Italy, enjoying every mile.

We stopped along the cliff at a small café that was clinging to the steep rock walls for a quick coffee and some food and to take in the vista. We could see why the Italians love this coast so much. Continuing on we ran into the ultimate Italian roadblock! Three buses, one heading south, two heading north had gotten snafu’d on a tight hairpin. No one was giving or getting quarter so all traffic just came to an undignified halt with much gesturing, yelling and drama. After 10 minutes of waiting around we attempted to backtrack and head over the mountains on another route only to end up on a small cobblestone path that ended at someone’s home. We doubled back and waited for a bit before the driver finally agreed, with the help of the local police, and finally backed one bus out of the way and let the other two by, with scooters and bikes instantly mobilizing. Another hour or so later we headed into the larger mountains of the south

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Page 26 and into the region of Potenza along a spectacular high roadway that scooted through the mountains at dizzying height. This brought us down to the ocean, once again, and along a winding coastal road to the picturesque town of Acquafredda. The traffic from earlier in the day had now faded away and we motored along the coast and to our hotel we would call home for the next few nights. As night fell others from our tour slipped into the town and up the steep hill to the hotel. During this tour Edelweiss always chose the most excellent accommodations and the food here in this region of Italy was always delicioso! All in all, once out of Pompeii and heading south, an excellent day’s ride was had along the Italian Amalfi Coast.

Free Day Ride

You are in Italy. You have the keys to a Ducati. The surrounding hills are full of twisty roads. What to do, what to do? With a free day and no new destination on the menu for the day it allowed for our group to choose what they would like to do. Shira wanted to go take a walk around the town of Maratea, just a few kilo-

FEBRUARY 2014 • BACKROADS meters to our south, and I wanted to go riding into the mountains that line this region of the Gulf of Policastro. With a major rain heading our way this day many of our group chose to explore the town - but still we had a small cadre’ of riders heading out for the tight roads that snake through these mountains. Hey, rain happens. Our course brought us first along the Basilicata coast and through Maratea, with its large statue of Christ the Redeemer atop the mountain keeping a watch on the town and the sea. This coast gets its name in an honest way as we rode through fields of basil, the aroma wafting around the motorcycles as we zipped past. Soon we left the coast and the road rose into the peaks, with dark clouds closing in and squeezing the blue sky that we had started off under. Exploring the Parco Nationale del Pollino, even in wet conditions, was a joy as this part of Italy is quite striking and best to be explored by two-wheels. The roads were a bit on the rough side with the occasional frost heave, pothole or uneven surface (I am being kind here), but the Ducati Multistrada S, with its Öhlins suspension, did a good job keeping things thankfully planted. After a few hours, somewhere around noon, we found a little town with a tiny shop for coffee and some pastries. All the cakes were baked on premise and

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I made it a point of sticking my head in the bakery, much to the surprise of the women working inside. Pulling out a camera they all giggled with fright and tried to ward off any quick photos – laughing the way some women do when the last thing they want is their picture taken. Back on the road we had to change our route for the day as the heavy rains that had pelted the region overnight had caused a number of mudslides and a few of the larger mountain roads were covered with debris. We had our guide Domenico leading and I had my GPS with European maps loaded as well, so navigating Plans B, C & then D were easily accomplished. The rain that had been threatening finally arrived in buckets right as we found lunch in a mountain town’s hotel and by the time the plates were taken away the storms moved out as well. The rest of the day was under pristine skies and drying roadways. That would end any serious rain for the remainder of this tour, always a good thing. We arrived just about the same time as Shira, who was just back from a walk. And, with the rest of the day ahead of us we made our way back into Maratea’s port with our friend Chris for dinner. During the tour Edelweiss has got breakfast and dinners covered on travel days, but on the free days you are on your own for the night – which was fine with us as it gave us a chance to hang with a great travelin’ friend.

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Acquafredda to Tropea, Calabria For the first day since leaving Rome we had perfect weather - mid 70s in the morning to low 80s by afternoon. This day we had our choice of two routes, one longer and back into the mountains or an easy and pleasurable day’s jaunt down long the Tyrrhenian Sea on coastal roads that snugged the Calabria mountains just to the east and then scooted through scenic coastal villages, touristy beach towns and a deepening agriculture. Before leaving the Maratea region the entire group made a journey to the giant statue of Christ atop the mountain overlooking the town. The ride up to the statue was a work of art with the roadway first following up mountains in a familiar hairpin fashion and then onto a man-made version of the same that brought us up to the top of Monte San Biagioa and the huge statue. The 70-foot statue of Christ the Redeemer, or the Christ of Maratea, was cre-

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Page 28 ated in 1965 by Bruno Innocenti, a sculptor from Florence. It is built of pure Carrara marble and makes a stunning guardian for the town and region. Keeping with the religious theme Maratea is also called the town with 44 churches for the number of its churches and chapels. After our visit with the Redeemer we got back on the road south towards Sicily. The first part of the day’s ride followed atop the cliffs, with a constant left then right then left again. Further south the road straightened out and, once again, I was impressed by Europe’s use and design of incredibly long tunnels in their highway systems. We stopped in one town for the required coffee and after that Shira, Chris and I bid adieu to the larger group and followed the coastal roads south – just us three. Truth be told much of southern Italy’s larger towns had this rough feeling to it. While some towns, such as Tropea, had a wonderful and proud air to them, others had come off as post World War II urban blight. Whereas the cities in northern Italy, like Bolzano and Florence, had a lovely mix of old and new and a vibrancy to them, here in the far poorer south it seemed that some locals we happy just to close up shops in the middle of the day and let the towns sit

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and decay. Half built buildings seemed the norm in some towns. Despite the natural beauty, Italy has some work still to be done in the south – like many places…. they just need the cash. On a better note, we were told that Amantea was an excellent choice for lunch and by early afternoon we were rolling along the beachside searching for a restaurant we knew we would surely find. In no time we had lunch and view as, even this late in the season, the beaches were warm and friendly. High above Amantea, easily seen from our seaside table, were a series of ancient ruins. We were not sure if they were Roman, Greek or perhaps even Moorish as the style seemed a bit of each. Research later found it was the ruins of a Byzantine castle built in 839. Seeing things like this easily reminds you of the deep and rich history this part of Italy, and the world, has. Just as we were done with our meal and coffee, the rest of our group showed up in two waves, with lunch also on their minds. We were done, said goodbye and took off, once again ahead of the larger group. From here the road was fast and sweepy and with the Multistrada now in ‘sport-mode’ (Holy crap!) we soon were rounding the coast and back into small coastal towns and roadways. Although our hotel, a stunner that it was, was actually located in Paraghelia, it was a quick 5-minute ride to the coastal town of Tropea. We got in by mid-afternoon, and knowing the Italian shops were closed till around 5ish on this Sunday, we took a refreshing and needed dip in the pool and relaxed with a good sci-fi novel (Legacy by David Goleman) for a few hours.


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You would think that Edelweiss tours were all about riding from dawn to dusk but laying poolside, in a warm southern Italian sun, in mid-October ranks pretty high as well. As in most places in Italy there are miracles abounding and in Tropea they have their own. In the town there is a portrait of the Virgin Mary of Romania. It is of Byzantine origin, dating from around the year 1330. The legend says that a boat coming from the East-Byzantine (hence the name Virgin Mary of Romania) was driven by a storm in to the port of Tropea. The damaged repaired, the captain tried to leave but the ship still stood in the harbor. On the same night the bishop of the city, Ambrogio Cordova, dreamed of the Virgin Mary asking him to stay in Tropea and becoming its protector. The dream repeated for several nights. Eventually the bishop summoned the senior officials and the citizens, and together they went to the port to take the picture of the Virgin Mary. As soon as the painting was brought to shore the ship departed. The Virgin Mary promised to defend the city from the pestilence, earthquakes and war, and many events that took place since then seem to testify it. Nothing has touched this town since. Not earthquakes that rocked the surrounding regions of Calabria, nor bombs from World War II that all harmlessly fell into the same hole and have never, till this day, exploded. Sounds like a miracle to us. Come 5 o’clock we were rolling into town and seeing what else it had to offer.

buzzed the church and the crowds. It made for a great ending to our walk around Tropea, which is everything a small seaside southern Italian town should be. We returned just before 8 and dinner at the hotel. This next day we would leave the mainland and head to the island of Sicily, a place I have wanted to explore for many a year. Southern Italy was nice, but Sicily would rock!

Tropea to Taormina, Sicily After a quick breakfast we had our daily rider’s meeting ‘alfresco’ under a canopied porch. The morning plan was a simple one. A ride

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Page 30 down the coast, with a much needed Monday morning fuel stop as soon as possible, and one or two stops along the way before lunch and then the ferry into Sicily. The coast road was much like the previous days with a combination of towns, small industry and much agriculture. At one point we rode for a few miles in the middle of old olive groves, where the aroma of the trees was quite enticing. In Scilla we rode to the top of the town to take in the view of the sea and the island of Sicily from the heights. We parked all the bikes in the middle of the town square and from here we could see for miles up and down the coast. We were doing great on time this day so we rode back down to the beach, far below, and parked in front of a delightful seaside restaurant for mussel soup, fresh fish and pasta. Mussel soup. I had never heard of such a thing, but I do think it will be recreated at the Backroads’ kitchens soon.

FEBRUARY 2014 • BACKROADS From here it was just 10 minutes to the city of Villa San Giovani and the very large ferry across to Messina, Sicily. Upon landing, the group would have two choices. One was a run down the coast on smaller secondary roads to our two-night hotel outside Taormina and the other

around the island to the north and west along the Autostrada and then cutting through the country and the mountains to the hotel. We knew that on our free day and for the next few we would be riding into the mountains so we chose the first, following our guide Alan. Alan is a most excellent fellow and keeps up a good quick pace but, like Domenico, always keeps one eye on his flock. We rode south through the port town of Messina, which like most modern port cities, had that gritty urban feel to it but spattered with the beautiful decorations of the older buildings and magnificent sculptures and fountains. We rode up to the top of the Sicilian town of Forza d’Agro - one of the finer small towns.

At the top of yet another incredibly twisty roadway we found the town square and a small shop that served the most delicious cannolis, a Siclian native, with just a hint of lemon. Sipping my cappuccino I could almost see Michael Corleone and, his new bride, Apollonia laughing as they left the small church where they were wed in the film. The same small church I was staring at now. Walking inside I blessed myself from the small hollowed out stone stoup holding the holy water and took a stroll into this beautiful, yet humble, small church. After seeing some of the grandiose cathedrals in Rome and the Vatican I feel God might be more at home in a place like this.

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Page 31 Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and the largest in Europe. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 459 sq mi with a footprint of about 100 miles. It is one of only 16 ‘Decade Volcanoes’ on the planet. A volcano may be designated a ‘Decade Volcano’ if it exhibits more than one volcanic hazard, it has shown recent geological activity and is located in a populated area. People living near the Decade Volcanoes may experience tephra fall, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, lahars, volcanic edifice instability and lava dome collapse. Eruptions at any of the Decade Volcanoes may threaten tens or hundreds of thousands of people. These are the most destructive and potentially dangerous hot spots on the planet. Etna’s longest eruption began in 1979 and went on for thirteen years; its latest eruption began in March 2007, and is still ongoing. This day we would ride right to it. You can approach Etna from the north or the south. We first rode up along the north side, more a spirited romp for a few of us, and

What comes up… must ride down, so we mounted up and rode into Taormina for the afternoon fuel stop (always a good idea on tour) and then doubled back to our hotel - a most magnificent palace atop a cliff over looking the Ionian Sea.

Free Day in Sicily “Trapped in the shaft of an active volcano they rose through the ages of man to be finally expelled out on a mountainside riddled with tiny lava streams. Their journey was completed and they found themselves 3000 miles from their original starting point in Iceland. They had entered by one volcano and they had come out by another. With the blue mountains of Calabria in the east they walked away from the mountain that had returned them. The frightening Mount Etna.” - Jules Verne – Journey to the Center of the Earth

took a coffee break in a large pine forest, that looked more like the northwest in the United States than Sicily. But, at 6,000 feet the land tends to change. Here near Etna the roads were pristine and this day’s riding was the best on the trip by far. Riding back down and

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Page 32 around we crossed up the more touristy south side with its miles and miles of volcanic rock, dust and pumice. High atop the peak, at the top of the pass – not the volcano – we stopped to check

out the souvenir shops that are atop any popular peak and then to enjoy a great picnic lunch given to us from Edelweiss. Florian did a superb job with this picnic and enjoying a meal like this on the largest volcano in Europe was surely a treat. After lunch we took a cable car further up and then switched to 4-wheel drive buses that carried us even higher. Ever higher. Now at some 10,000+ feet the world is a different place, especially atop the

monster called Etna. There is nothing here but black dust and rock. Gale winds tore at our jackets and it was far below freezing. My words to Shira were swept away, by hard blowing gusts and I realized, for one of the few times in my life, I was truly out of my element. We followed a guide up and around one of the nearby craters doing our best to hear what he was saying about

the last eruption. Breath was hard to come by and exertion was harder still. This was by far the least habitable place I have ever been in my life and Etna was

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everything I thought she would be. And, soon it was time to leave. We hiked back to the summit buildings and then took the bus and cable car back down to the real world… and by evening we were back at our hotel, showered, human and ready for a cab ride into Taormina. Taormina was one of the nicest towns we had visited so far, with plenty of shops, restaurants and churches to keep you busy. We found a nice quiet restaurant and enjoyed an easy dinner of local fish before heading back and calling it a well deserved night. Etna…wow!!!!

Taormina to Cefalu Today we would head north and west to the other coast of Sicily across the peaks and valleys that make up this incredible island. If southern Italy’s boot failed to totally ‘wow’ us with riding…. that would not be the case here in Sicily. This island was made for riders, although don’t get too comfortable here as Sicily offers all sorts of pavements – from pristine asphalt to rough and tumble frost heaves and sand and dirt in some of the oddest places. If needed the A-routes are exquisite with their high bridges and massive tunnels eating up the miles between the mountains. It is a place for experienced riders who want a riding adventure. Our ride took us north around Mount Etna one more time so we could get

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one more look at this giant beast and then through a number of deep and very wide, bowl-like valleys ringed by rocky peaks. We’d ride up and over a peak or two, along whip-like asphalt (sometimes not in the greatest shape) and then down along the valley on sweet sweepers. Along the way we’d stop in a small town for morning coffee and then roll onward. We made it a point of visiting Sperlinga; a tiny valley town, with a huge sandstone cliff that, over the centuries, has been made into a fortress. A local guide took us on a tour and to the top where the vista went on for miles. Around this time I realized that my GPS was talking to me in an Australian female voice, that was phonetically saying, badly, the Italian roadways. I switched over to Italian and suddenly I had a sexy Sophia Loren whispering in my ear. “Sei un terribile motociclista e non tanto affascinante. Lo penso che ti farei perdere la strada.” I still didn’t know what she was saying but it sounded good to me.

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We had a late lunch just outside of the hillside town of Gangi. Literally built on the side of a large hill this town looked surreal clinging to the rock and grass. All during this trip we complained about the food. That there was too much food; and good food at that. This is not a bad thing, but today’s lunch was a bit much even by Sicilian standards. The antipasti kept coming, then the pasta and meats. Followed by gelato and espresso. Mama Mia, how were we to finish our day’s ride after this feast? Yes, naps were taken outside in the mid-day sun. Still the last 40 miles were the most technical of the day as we sped toward the Sicilian north coast. Torrante sign followed torrante sign and first, second and the occasional third gear was all that would be needed in this part of Sicily as the bikes knifed through groves of trees with their lower barks removed – cork trees. Just before the coast came up we ran under the large Autostrada and I was once again impressed with the incredibly high bridges with the road disappearing into a deep and equally imposing tunnel. Breaking out to the coast the view was far different than the other side of Sicily. Here the deep blue and green waters smashed into the rocky shore throwing up a huge spray that almost reached the roadways as it snaked around towards Cefalu. Edelweiss had found a splendid hotel, right along the crashing beach, and we soon had the bikes cooling under a palm leaf covered terraced parking lot as we showered and got ready for an easy evening on Sicily’s north coast.

Cefalu to Agrigento Breakfast was about as perfect as could be as we all broke the day on the cliffs overlooking the rocks and the bay, dining alfresco. A small kitten snuck up to us, meowing for a morsel, which we, being softies, were only too happy to supply. I spotted a small trail leading down the cliffs and followed it, in the same hairpin fashion that we had gotten used to, to the rocky shore below; spending a few quiet moments with myself and the Sicilian coast. I sat for ten minutes or so watching the waves crashing along the rocks. Sometimes it is a good thing to lose yourself in a place like this for just a bit. Sometimes, when you do, you might actually find yourself. After a poolside morning safety briefing we geared up and broke into two distinct groups- A & B. The plan was that the A group, led by Alan, would be a bit more spirited and the B group led by Florian would take a leisurely pace. (Nobody said fast and slow…I swear!) This worked out perfectly this day, as there would be lots of fast sweepers and technical riding to be had. We made our choice - best to run in hell than

to be swaddled in heaven. We rode up the north coast towards Palermo in and around the monster hills and deep rocky valleys that make Sicily home. The more I rode the more majestic this island at the bottom of the Italian peninsula was becoming. Just 100 miles from the north coast of Africa, this was a world onto its own. I would compare it to so many other parts of the world, but let us just say it was Sicily… and that should be enough. We followed Alan up to the top of yet another tight cobblestone village and parked the bikes in a large lot below an ancient Norman fortress. Situated with a view for miles and valleys around this must have been impregnable when first created. This day the mighty fortress was sitting there open to any and all who cared to visit. Dozens of small lizards were the only thing calling it home these days. Not far from there, along a good and deep stretch of the Ficuzzo forest, we found the Edelweiss van and our second planned picnic. With large horned cows grazing in a nearby glade Domenico served up an excellent lunch with cowbells ringing in the background. Sicily is known for many things but, for better or worse, it is known as the birthplace of the Mafia. Although a very real thing here, it has been amplified by books and movies and none as famously popular as The Godfather. Our route this day would bring us through the tiny, cliff rung hamlet of Corleone, where Vito and the family got their name. It was a very modest place indeed with high cliffs wrapped around its south and a wide valley stretching away into the distance. We stopped for a digital moment, decided to ask for no favors, and forged on. Continuing the theme we rode to Prizzi, where we had our mid-morning caffeine fix. As with most villages and towns here, during the day the men sat, smoked and played cards while keeping a watchful eye on the ‘motociclistas’. By the time the sun was beginning to drop we were almost to the sea on the other side of Sicily- a long hard and fast day. But, before we were done we had one last task at hand and that was to explore the Greek ruins outside Agrigento. This 4,000-years old Greek city of Akragas was one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece. Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia.

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BACKROADS • FEBRUARY 2014 Ancient Akragas covers a huge area — much of which is still unexcavated today — but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi or “Valley of the Temples.” They constitute some of the largest and best-preserved ancient Greek buildings outside of Greece itself and are listed as a World Heritage Site. This day was an amazing sight, as it almost glowed in the setting Sicilian sunset; a perfect way to end an excellent day of riding in this Italian isle.

Agrigento to Catania As they say, “All good things….” This would be our last day riding in Sicily, and we had planned a great last day crossing back over the valleys and mountains toward Etna and the city of Catania. In true Edelweiss fashion they still had a few things to show us, including one very special place. The Villa Romana del Casale. This Roman villa, built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located just outside the town of Piazza Armerina contains the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world, and it is one of forty four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. We were stunned by the size, detail and variety of these mosaics that depicted all parts of Roman life, including war, love, gods and even a large hunting trip to capture wild and exotic animals for Rome and the coliseum and the games. Such a happy world back then. After the Villa we rode through Piazza Armerina looking for a bite of lunch. After a lap of the town, and with the group parked, Shira and I decided we were going to take off on our own for the final afternoon riding in Sicily. Yes, we dumped the group.

Page 35 We followed our own route up and over the peaks and around the broad valleys. Just us two and the Sicilian road ahead of us. We stopped for our midday meal – a superb mix of antipasti and two different pasta dishes for the price of about next to nothing - and then put the Multistrada into first gear for the last time and motored towards the big volcano - as Etna, once again, dominated the landscape. Sicily is an agricultural breadbasket and this was very apparent as we rode through groves of olive, lemon, orange, cactus and miles of vineyards along our route. By late afternoon we rolled into our last hotel on Sicily, literally in the shadow of the mighty Etna. That evening we had one last dinner as a group, with emails exchanged and promises of riding together again made. Like many of these tours we think we once again made friends that will last for a long time. Most folks flew out the next day but Shira and I decided to stick around Sicily for another day to power down from the trip and to explore Catania, the second biggest city on Sicly. This tour was as much about history, culture and the land as it was about serious riding. From the Eternal City of Rome, down the Amalfi Coast to the bottom of the Italian peninsula we were immersed in what southern Italy is and was about. Crossing the short strait into Sicily, the riding grandly improved and we spent days exploring this island… just north of the African coast. A place that is part Europe, part Africa. We found we were not the first to come here looking for adventure, as we followed in the steps of the Greeks, Romans, Moors and the Normans. Sicily has long drawn wanderers, travelers and explorers. And, now it has captured us as well. Sicily is a marvel and it is no wonder that it has been searched out by people like us for the centuries. If you’d like to do your own exploration of Sicily, or any other part of the world, take a look at Edelweiss’ website. The possibilities are endless.

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It’s a fact that riding motorcycles can damage your hearing. If you ride for any period of time without hearing protection you are putting yourself at risk – wind noise over 60 mph (however good your helmet is) is around 95dB. After just 15 minutes at this speed you can suffer permanent hearing damage; damage increases exponentially as speed increases over 60 mph. Hearing damage can result in Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and eventually, hearing loss. Hearing damage is irreversible. NoNoise products have been clinically tested in independent labs. The average measured sound attenuation of NoNoise Motorsport Hearing Protectors is 29.6dB at the higher (most damaging) frequencies. Unlike traditional foam, wax or silicone earplugs, NoNoise Motorsport Hearing Protectors contain precision-tuned, ceramic filter technology. This new, patented technology ensures maximum protection from dangerous levels of engine, wind and road noise - yet allows conversation, sirens and horns to remain clearly audible, without the muffling effect of conventional earplugs. NoNoise filters are formed with a Venturishaped sound channel from high-grade ceramic material (zirconium oxide) at very high temperature so their internal aperture surface is perfectly smooth. This results in more precise sound attenuation than plastic filters that have a rough, uneven channel surface. NoNoise construction features make them comfortable to wear for extended periods as they are Silicone-free, Hypoallergenic and use a Thermoplastic outer construction. They are suitable for motorcyclists of all ages, and re-usable and they can be cleaned with warm, soapy water. NoNoise Motorsport Hearing Protectors can be purchased online directly from Twisted Throttle, at, and any of its North American dealers at a retail price of $29.95 per set. Each set includes an aluminum tube for safe storage, which can attach to your jacket or keys. Be smart and protect your hearing with NoNoise Motorsport Hearing Protectors from Twisted Throttle.

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If you have ever spent some time on your motorcycle using an iPhone for your music or trying to catch some flashy video via your GoPro Bluetooth-controlled camera then you probably know the frustration of actually stopping, starting and finagling these devices while riding your bike. To operate most of these devices safely it is best to stop and park the bike while setting up the gizmo in question. There has to be a better way. And, there is - BearTek Moto Gloves… BearTek Moto Gloves easily and remotely controls your Bluetooth device or GoPro Camera in a safe and easy manner, while you stay focused on the task at hand, piloting your ride. These feature rich gloves work by simply touching your thumb to the appropriate finger to activate the desired function on your device - without interrupting your ride or drawing too much of your concentration away from your riding. These well-made riding gloves are also constructed with motorcycles in mind - as they are armored at the fingers and knuckles and have an elasticized and long gauntlet to insure a wind tight fit. Even without the magic-like controllability at your fingertips, the BearTek gloves would make an excellent day-to-day glove by themselves. In the past we have found that pairing any Bluetooth device to be less than quick and easy. It can sometimes be damned frustrating. Not so with the BearTek Gloves that instantly paired with our iPhone. Turning on the music with the BearTek Gloves, a touch of the thumb to the finger tips of the index or middle fingers, and you can easily controlled the on / off and track selection, fast forward and rewind. You WANTED! Harley-Davidson® Service Technicians can answer or reject phone calls too. A YES! the Grass IS Greener over here! Are you being properly Come check out what we have to offer. second module is available that seam- compensated? Bergen County Harley-Davidson, a fast paced, high volume lessly controls GoPro Digital Cameras; dealership is looking to hire qualified, factory-trained technicians. We’re looking for the Best of the Best! Great Pay! With Bonus allowing for video, snapshots or burst. great benefits and more. What’s it like to work for The gloves can be charged via an opportunities, the best? Find out. adapter to any AC outlet or directly from Send your resume in strict your computer to the Sync Module located in confidence. Candidates must be well organized, efficient the zipper pocket of the active left glove. The and professional. Micro-USB charging cable is stowed in the zipper pocket Qualified candidates please of the inactive right glove. email your resume to: BearTek claims a charge will last up to 80 hours - meaning all day control. BearTek makes snowmobile and all-purpose gloves too. If you are a serious rider/videographer or just want to get a handle on your music while riding then the BearTek Moto Gloves are about as cutting edge as you can find and something to take a serious look at. You can purchase the BearTek Moto Gloves for $145. The Bluetooth or GoPro module, depending on your needs, is sold separately for $140. You can find the BearTek Gloves at

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UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR FEBRUARY 2014 1 • Bob’s BMW Seminar: Refurbishing on a Budget • 11am. Learn the tricks of the trade from a guy that’s been doing this for over 30 years, Bob Henig. 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 301-497-8949 • 1 • Morton’s BMW Gerbing Day • 9a-4p. Factory Reps will be on hand to show you the latest from Gerbing, fit the gear to you properly and answer all your heated clothing quesitons. Special sales, some refreshments and more. Morton’s BMW, 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Frederickburg, VA • 540-891-9844 • 1 • Harley-Davidson Long Branch Accident Scene Management Seminar presented by Bob Zurich, Paramedic & Program Director, Motorcycle Rider Training. As riders we are told to be prepared for anything - join us and learn how. Seating is limited, RSVP on Facebook • 671 B’way, Long Branch, NJ •• 732-229-8518 3-5 • North American International SuperShow, International Centre, Toronto Canada. The Big One by the Airport. or call 888-661-7469 8 • Bergen County Harley-Davidson Health Awareness Day. 10am-3pm. Free screenings for oral cancer, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes. Donate Blood. Tons of great info. ALL FREE! Free raffle and giveaways to first 200 participants. Bergen County Harley-Davidson, 124 Essex St, Rochelle Park, NJ • 201-843-6930 • 8 • Harley-Davidson Long Branch Seminar Packing for a Road Trip. Day trip or weekend jaunt, let our experienced tour riders suggest a list & provide tips for packing. Seating is limited, RSVP on Facebook • 671 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ •• 732-229-8518 10-12 • Motorcyclepedia Museum Swap Meet. Clean out your garage and closets and make some money. Check website or social media pages for times/dates of performances. Motorcyclpedia Museum, 250 Lake St, Newburgh, NY • 845-560-9065 • 15 • Harley-Davidson Long Branch Performance Seminar. Want to know how to get the ost from your engine? Learn about our dynamometer and how you can earn membership in our exclusive ‘100hp Club’. Seating is limited, RSVP on Facebook • 671 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ •• 732-229-8518 16 • Harley-Davidson of NYC + AMA Dist. 34 Blood Drive 2014. 10a-4p. FREE Winter blues-busting party with music by the Transplant Band, a bagel brunch buffet and raffles. H-D NYC, 42-11 Northern Blvd, Long Island City, NY. For more info call 516-478-5105 or • Partyline: 212-689-0063 15/16 • 96TH ANNUAL CROTONA MIDNIGHT RUN. Start/Finish: Nathan’s Parking Lot, Central Ave/Rte. 100, Yonkers, NY - Overnight parking available. $20/entry fee • Sign-in: 10:30pm • Key time: 12:00 Midnight. Longest running motorcycle event in the USA. NOT A RACE - Timed event with maximum schedule of 30mph. Total distance - 120 miles with mid-point layover to refresh yourself and socialze with fellow contestants. Trophies awarded. All qualifed finishers receive Crotona Midnight RUn Medallion.Computers/GPS NOT PERMITTED. District 34 point event.Dick Roberts 201-767-3594 • 19 • Harley-Davidson Long Branch York Factory Tour. We’ll meet and ride by car to tour the factory. Seating is limited, call for details and to reserve your spot • 671 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ •• 732-229-8518 22 • Harley-Davidson Long Branch Chili Cook-Off. Sign up for our 6th annual Chili Cook-off - prizes, trophies and bragging rights for the winners. Not a chef? Come out from noon-2pm, taste some chili, cast your vote for the best. Spcae is limited, chefs must register • 671 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ •• 732-229-8518 22 • Bob’s BMW Seminar: Riding 2-up • 11am. Not everyone wants to be the one twisting the throttle and that’s okay. We will discuss techniques and ways to make riding 2-up enjoyable and comfortable for both riders. 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 301497-8949 •

MARCH 2014 1-2 • Motorcyclepedia Museum Kids Weekend. Weekend of games, movies and fun for the kids. Scavenger hunts, games and rides, not to mention more than 500 antique, classic and unique motorcycles and motorcycle memorabilia to look at. All indoors. Adults $11/3-12 $5/under 3 free. 250 Lake St, Newburgh, NY • • 845-569-9065 7 • Cross Country BMW presents Rene Cormier Renedian Adventures Presentation. 7-9pm Rene Cormier is bringing his speaking tour to CCBMW to share his worldtraveling experience. • 732-906-9292 • 911 Middlesex Ave, Metuchen, NJ 9 • BMW Bikers of Metropolitan Washington Meeting and Tech Day. Club members will be able to use the shop before the monthly meeting of the largest BMW motorcycle club in the region. Take advantage of special sales and Morton’s BMW staff experience and advice. For times see Morton’s BMW, 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Frederickburg, VA • 540-891-9844 • 13 • University of Gravel Roads presentation by Rene Cormier at Morton’s BMW. Author and motorcyclist Rene Cormier will entertain us with a multimedia show of his travels, as well as autographing his beautiful coffee table book. 6pm refreshments • 79 presentation. Morton’s BMW, 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Frederickburg, VA • 540-891-9844 • 7-16 • Daytona Bike Week •

APRIL 2014 2 • Victory Metuchen Victory Demo Day. Victory Demo Truck will be on-site for demo rides. For full details please visit • 732-906-9292

What’s Happening 12 • Morton’s BMW Spring Open House • 9a-4p. Join hundreds of bike enthusiasts for one of the largest BMW open houses in the region, featuring demo rides, food, music, door prizes, sales and much more - ALL FREE. Morton’s BMW, 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Frederickburg, VA • 540-891-9844 •

MAY 2014 May 23-26 • Backroads Spring Break • Marion, Virginia. Info on page 48 4 • International Female Ride Day • 4 • Ramapo MC Spring Run. Most unique Poker Run combining marksmanship, hand/eye coordination, intuition or just dumb luck. $15/entry • Sign in: 9am. Rhodes Tavern North, Route 17N, Sloatsburg, NY. Charity benefits Helen Hayes Hospital. Info Dick Roberts • 201-767-3594 16-18 • Morton’s BMW 2014 Spring Fling Rally. A weekend of great roads, good food, interesting seminars, and terrific company, all at historic and scenic Natural Bridge, VA. $45 rally fee incl. vendors, seminars, route sheets/GPS data, scavenger hunt, door prizes, Sat. dinner and presentation. Optional Friday nite Brats & Brew dinner $20. Visit website for complete details • Morton’s BMW Motorcycles, 5099A Jefferson DAvis Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA • 540-891-9844 • 18 • Bergen County Harley-Davidson Freedom Run. For full details please visit website

JUNE 2014 1 • Morton’s BMW Off-road training - exact date and details TBD. Stay informed with our News & Notes e-newsletter or check our website. Morton’s BMW, 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Frederickburg, VA • 540-891-9844 • 2-7 • World’s Largest Touring Rally Returns. Americade, Lake George NY. For all the details and registration information visit 6-8 • AltRider Adventures Conserve the Ride Weekend. Ride the scenic, lush trails of Pennsylvania. GPS routes (created by the locals in Seven Mountains Conservation Corp.) for all skill levels on scenic off-road trails, 2 nights of camping at Woodward Caves in Central PA, 5 meals including a special pig roast + adult beverages, off-road seminars, live EnduroCross race on a custom built track, prize giveaways from our sponsors. Find out all the details at • 14-22 • 90th Anniversary of the original riding rally- Laconia Bike Week. Weirs Beach, Laconia, NH. • 603-366-2000 16 • RIDE TO WORK • 19-21 • Mid-Atlantic Women’s M/C Rally. Gettysburg, PA •

JULY 2014 2-5 • Wing Ding - Madison, WI • 18-20 • AMA Vintage Motorcycle Rally. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course - Lexington, OH •

SEPT. 2014 5-7 • Women’s Sportbike Rally VIII - Deals Gap, NC • 10-13 • Westchester Beemers NY Trio Tour 2014. Sport-touring ‘scavenger hunt’ event. 3 consecutive daily rides begin and end at Hampton Inn, Elkins, WV base location. Daily rides average 8.5 hours covering 350 miles. Limited to 33 riders. $50 incl. Sat. evening closing dinner, rider card and prizes for top three finishers. Discounted lodging arrangements in place at base location (304-630-7500). for full details call or visit 914-328-7909 •

POLAR BEAR GRAND TOUR SCHEDULE February 2, 2014 THE FRANKLIN HOUSE TAVERN, 101 North Market Street, Schaefferstown, PA • 717 949-2122 •

February 9, 2014 PIC-A-LILLI INN 866 Route 206 Shamong NJ • 609-268-2066 •

February 16, 2014 HOOTERS, 25 Rte 23 South, Wayne, NJ • 973-837-1876 •

February 23, 2014 BAHRS LANDING, 2 Bay Ave., Highlands, NJ • 732-872-1245 •

March 2, 2014 FIREHOUSE EATERY, 455 Saint Georges Ave. Rahway, NJ • 732-382-9500 •

March 9, 2014 LONG VALLEY PUB & BREWERY, 1 Fairmount Rd., Long Valley, NJ • 908-876-1122 •

March 16, 2014 THE CHATTERBOX, #1 Rte 15 South, Augusta, NJ • 973-300-2300 •

March 23, 2014 BRIAN'S HARLEY-DAVIDSON, 600 S. Flowers Mill Rd., Langhorne PA • 215 752-9400 •

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Welcome to the Jungle - The Art of Learning to Ride Skillfully A column dedicated to your riding survival

The Pass This subject has come up number of times in the pages of Backroads over the last year or so and with some of the letters, comments and parking lot conversations we have been part of I think our thoughts on passing need to be said again. Passing other vehicles on the road has to be thought out, planned and executed well and quickly. Making a pass, whether car, truck or even a number of other motorcycles, has to be done with authority, speed and skill. Have any of you been involved in a pass when the lead bike makes a ‘less than stellar’ pass only to slow down? Holy crap! And, you and your group are putting their bikes where in this scenario? If you are in the lead you must consider the riders behind you. Certainly, if it is a large group, you must realize only a few will Authority make the pass at that time. Riders should only pass when they feel comfortable to do so. I have seen some make a pass and then stop to point out the next turn. Or worse, make the pass and then slow down! Seriously? Keep your pace going! We’re all big boy and girls, but we have to get better at passing. Sometimes when we make a pass the driver or riders of the cars, trucks or other bikes might get a bit upset and call you an ass. But, when you pass, when you have made that decision and that commitment to go around that red 1972 Ford Pinto puffing its way ahead of you I want you to think ASS. Seriously. ASS - Authority, Speed and Skill! I am not talking riding recklessly. I am talking passing well. We all need to do this.

Pass with… Authority, Speed and Skill. When I ride with anyone and make a pass…. I commit myself and then do it as quickly and as smoothly as I can possibly do it. And then make sure there is plenty of room to spare for all. The passing goal is for me to get by quickly and then tuck into the right side of the lane, giving the rider behind me a place to put their machine if they choose to follow me. When riding with others always consider the rider behind you. Speaking of that – do some of you know you have mirrors on both sides of your bike. Use them occasionally. Please. That passing rider might not have been so aggravating to you if you were actually aware they were there and anticipated they were going make a pass. We would have far fewer problems if some riders • Speed • Skill understood some other riders are just – faster and run a quicker pace than you do. My good friend Jim Gardner, Navy fighter pilot extraordinaire, has told me that ‘situational awareness’ is key to survival in air battles and he feels it is also the same while piloting motorcycles. I think he knows from what he speaks. We need to be as alert as possible, aware of our surroundings and what is in our mirrors. What is behind you is a big part of your surroundings. I think we can all agree that it is better for us to be a tad more aggressive then passive or worse – fearful - when passing. We’re not talking speeding or riding recklessly but talking about riding positively and with confidence - not timidly or hesitantly. Once again… Pass with authority, speed and skill. Maybe some might think you an ass – but we know better. Pass smart. Pass well. Pass safely.



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PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS Ridin’ in the Wind by Peter L. Adamski We were approached by the author at this last motorcycle show in New York City and were asked if we would be interested reading and reviewing his new book ‘Ridin’ in the Wind’. We were and we did and found Ridin’ in the wind to be a well put together collection of short stories written by Adamski. Written in a light reading style, with a distinctive Harley/biker flair, the book makes for a quick and enjoyable read. As the book itself proclaims you will meet solid brothers, crazy women, sportsters, bike thieves, loving wives, super glides, runs and memories. If you are looking for some ‘biker fiction’ to fill your reading void then give Adamski’s ‘Ridin’ in the Wind’ a shot. It will keep your riding juices going till the season comes around. You can find ‘Ridin’ in the Wind on Amazon’ for $15.

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure R The 1190 Adventure R has the heart and soul of the original KTM Adventure - puristic, raw, sportily challenging for rider and machine. Each year KTM makes them better. For 2014 the KTM 1190 Adventure R also comes equipped for the first time with Bosch’s new MSC: Motorcycle Stability Control. MSC enhances the existing package consisting of lean-sensitive traction control and ABS featuring a combined braking function with a world first: the first ever lean-sensitive cornering ABS. Together with its sister model, the 1190 Adventure R has been turned into what is currently one of the world’s safest motorcycles - yet still with undiluted riding pleasure. This is increased in 2014 by a further optimised chassis with even greater reserves. KTM says its MSC will prevent wheels from slipping when braking while leaned over, avoiding low-side crashes; and minimize the motorcycle’s attempt to right itself when braking during a lean, thus helping decrease turn radius. Hence, the Adventure R is aimed at all those who take the term “adventure” even more literally. The 1190 Adventure R is one serious and great looking machine that looks like it can do it all. We will have a complete ride report in the upcoming months. At KTM dealers now.

Wipe New • A new shine for old plastic P. T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute!” I never much go for anything right off the bat, especially the “As Seen on TV” products, with their zany inventions over the top commercials. But, a few months back, I caught sixty seconds on a product called Wipe New. Wipe New promised to give new life to faded plastic trim, dashboards, panels,

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bumpers and the like. It sure did seem impressive on the wide screen, but I wasn’t picking up the phone in the next 5 minutes – even if they were going to send me two for one. I switched the channels searching for something with more substance like Ancient Aliens or Family Guy. The next day, while working in the barn, I took note that my old Kawasaki KLR’s fender, fairing and plastic parts – once a vivid green – had now faded into a light drabby olive, looking more like the swamps of Jersey. I thought back to the infomercial from the previous night and wondered if Wipe New could bring back the distressed KLR to a Kermit-like shine? Call me stubborn; I was still unwilling to order the stuff. This could be the end of this article…. But – wait, there’s more! I was in a local Rite-Aid and came across a section dedicated to “As Seen on TV” crap and what was in the middle of said crap? Wipe New! Still $19.99, but without the second box tossed in. Always willing to take a bullet for you guys, I anted up a Jackson and set about giving Wipe New a try. Following the directions I made sure the plastic on the KLR was free of any grease or chemicals and also to wear provided gloves and to use the supplied application cloth. The neat little extra micro-fiber cloths, which were included, were not used and stowed for day-to-day use on the bike. I considered it my bonus. As per orders I shook it for 10 or more seconds and put a small dab of the chemical onto the cloth - you only need a little. I then applied it to a small hidden section of the faded green plastic. Since this is our magazine I can say… Holy Shit! Wipe New seemed to work as advertised. I spent a few minutes getting the rest of the old bodywork in order. In just ten minutes time the KLR looked better than it had in years. Following the instructions I let the bike sit overnight to let it dry properly and, even dry, it kept this bright new looking finish. Wipe New claims it will keep shining for two years. I tend to think it might last less than that, but who cares. With just a miniscule of product used, I can invest ten more minutes sometime next year and the year after that. It has been nearly 6 months right now, after the first application, and the KLR’s bodywork still shines. Who would have thunk it? But, this stuff really works. You can most likely find Wipe New in the middle of the “As Seen on TV” products shelf at many local outlets and chain stores or log onto their website at if you feel the need to give your old plastic new life.

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ONE LAST RIDE Richard Baker We packed the old man’s ashes into a Mason jar and tossed him into the Beemer’s saddlebag. The view wasn’t the best from there but I figured he wouldn’t mind considering his present condition. Pop was always a practical man and enjoyed a good joke. He never complained about anything his entire life and I seldom remember him without a smile. Except for motorcycling and literature, he was a man without many passions because everything to him was a passion. His love of ghost towns was mostly an excuse to ride. Before he died he had only one request: he wanted his ashes to be taken from Washington and driven back to Chamberlain, South Dakota on a motorcycle and have them sprinkled over mom’s grave, with a few left to be spread near a creek on his father’s old farm near Woolsey. For twenty years Pop was an airplane mechanic in the air force and a stickler for maintenance. He must have changed the oil every month in his bikes, even during the winter when they had not been ridden.

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My son, Rick, much admired his grandfather and was anxious for the trip and to show his wife, Liz, some of Pop’s favorite haunts. He pulled up on his new Moto Guzzi V7 Stone, their gear packed and ready to go. The Stone is a beautiful machine with classic styling and an engine, originally designed by Lino Tonti in the 70’s, upgraded with 70% newer components over previous models giving it 50 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and over 42 foot pounds of torque, plenty of power to climb the Rockies with two up. Pop only owned one new motorcycle in his life, a Honda C-750. The Guzzi would have impressed him. Palouse Falls, in eastern Washington, is only four hours from home and makes for an easy afternoon ride and a good place to camp. We usually stopped there when traveling east. Anytime we went south, Pop always rode 800 miles down I-5 straight to his brother’s house at Dos Palos, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. He drove this 16-hour trip well into his 80’s. For some reason, traveling east was always more relaxing because he could stay off the freeway. His brother, Alvin, was also tied to a bike and we always took several trips a year together. Alvin went the way any biker would have appreciated. At the age of 84 he pulled his BMW K-bike into the driveway after dancing all afternoon at Bass Lake, and fell over dead from a heart attack. For a biker, it does not get any better than that. From Highway 261 to Palouse Falls the road is dirt and gravel. Pop always overloaded his bike and as he grew older he was more and more unsteady. Camping gear rose high above his head and he was prone to tip over at gas stations. On one of our last trips we turned onto the rough road in the dark. He was well behind me. Pop never rode fast preferring leisurely views of passing scenery over the constant attention of speed. I slowed down and kept my eyes in the mirror only to see his headlights turn down the road then erupt in a cavalcade of twirling lights. He had dumped the bike. I found him smiling on the dirt, his leg cut and bleeding. “Well, hell,” he said. “That’s one way to get off the bike.” He was 80 years old at that time although he neither looked nor acted old. He never acknowledged the bleeding leg and, at the campsite, found a likely age-appropriate suspect and wandered over to his campfire to relive World War Two. We meandered into Oregon enjoying the long stretches of winding open roads. This was Liz’s first motorcycle trip so Rick was careful to stop often, usually at abandoned farms and ranches that offered photo opportunities. Since Paluse Falls was out of our way on this trip, we backtracked west to Shaniko, Oregon. There is a nice state campground on

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Page 45 Highways 97 and 14 near the Columbia River and the town of Biggs, with motels and restaurants, sits just across the river. Maryhill museum sits on a ledge overlooking the river and is worth a look. The museum has a large collection of Rodan sculptures. Shaniko, has gone through many changes over the years and was one of Pop’s favorite stops. I started taking Rick there when he was old enough to ride. Originally a thriving town on a high plateau where several train tracks met to ship wool from local ranchers the town died when the railroads moved their lines to Biggs Junction, along the Columbia River. The town suffered from a lack of water and ground so hard that the cemetery was located many miles away because graves could not be dug. The only inhabitant we found on our first visit, almost 40 years ago, was Dave Gastman, the self proclaimed sheriff. The hotel had seen better days and at one time was a residence for mental health patients. The brick building stood in shambles, parts of the roof collapsed, the counter tipped over. During a visit years later we noticed the hotel greatly improved and in operation along with the cafe. Jean Farrell, a retired plumbing contractor, was making an effort to rebuild the town with the hotel and restaurant as showpieces. A few other people had moved in and opened several tourist shops. Shaniko is again in disrepair, the hotel deserted, almost everyone gone. A woman was selling coffee from a small trailer; the wagon yard, once bursting with equipment, was empty, and the grain towers, that could be seen from miles away, torn down because of liability concerns. The unique water tower had collapsed after attempts to raise money for its preservation had failed. The ghost town of Shaniko is again a ghost. Eastern Oregon is beautiful motorcycle country, clear air blowing though your helmet, solid empty pot-hole free roads winding over and around rolling hills, pine trees one minute, and desert the next. Most of the roads follow small rivers and streams inviting cool swims on hot afternoons. Watch out for bees in the higher hills where the air smells especially fresh. One knocked into Pop’s helmet only to awaken extremely agitated. I watched him in the mirror gesturing wildly until he evicted it. Places to camp in Oregon and Montana are numerous, almost anyplace beside the rivers with a flat piece of land to pitch a tent. They remain some of the few states where a person can experience real freedom without having to pay to camp. Food along the trail is numerous and plentiful. In Fossil,

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Page 46 on Highway 218, we hit up the church for a five dollar baked potato meal that consisted, not just of a potato with all the trimmings, but chili, fruit, cookies, and coffee. They were raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. That night we camped beside the Grande Ronde River after crossing back into Washington on Highway 3 and dropping deep into the river canyon. The road into the canyon has more twists than a pretzel and should put a smile on the face of the most ardent road racer. There is a small restaurant and store but it closes early. Meals only grew bigger as we continued the trip the following day moving east on Highway 12. At the Canyon Inn Café, near Orifino, Idaho, Rick ordered a pancake so large it flowed off the plate. My omelet was the size of a horse blanket. Bannack, Montana’s first territorial capitol, along with Bodie, in California, are some of the west’s best-preserved ghost towns because they are both managed by the state. Most ghost towns are little more than a scattering of twisted shacks ready to tumble over and an occasional foundation. Because they were erected with wood, they were not built to last. Also, sawn wood was expensive and people often tore down the buildings and hauled them away when the towns collapsed. Bannack was the home of outlaw and sheriff Henry Plummer and miners built the town high in the mountains beside Grasshopper creek. Pop enjoyed exploring the first territorial jail, a small sod-roofed affair, tucked behind the main street and built by Plummer. Metal rings attached to the

FEBRUARY 2014 • BACKROADS floor kept prisoners chained so they could not escape through the sod roof. Henry Plummer is a unique character in the west – both lawman and outlaw. Running from criminal activities in California, he arrived in Bannack. In Goodman’s saloon he encountered an old acquaintance, Jack Cleveland. The men got into a confrontation and Plummer shot him three times, once knocking him down, twice more as he attempted to rise. In a miner’s court, Plummer was found not guilty and elected sheriff because of his courage. Plummer, more educated and sophisticated than most miners, appeared to be a great sheriff. His charismatic character made him popular and he often hosted dances and parties in his home for various dignitaries. He simultaneously became sheriff in neighboring Virginia City. A period of violence soon followed as Plummer secretly formed a gang of outlaws who killed over 100 people while committing robberies. In order to save his life, captured outlaw, George Ives, confessed the entire operation to the newly formed Montana Vigilantes, who disposed of him anyway. On January 9th they arrested Plummer, dragging him from his house, and hanged him the following day. Plummer said he would trade his weight in buried gold if they released him. The Vigilantes simply laughed and watched him swing from the gallows he had had built to hang a recent horse thief. The gold has never been found. Pop knew the story by heart as he knew stories about every ghost town he visited. His timing for jokes, always his own, was impeccable and many of them accompanied the tales. Elkhorn was a favorite discovery of his. Although the town had been in and out of operation for almost 100 years, the first time he visited, the town was mostly forgotten and completely deserted. Few people visited because of its difficult twelve-mile access up a long deserted road and because of the altitude and the swarms of mosquitoes. The long grade is dusty and difficult but worth the climb. Much of the town was built on a long slope with the major mine at the far end. Peter Wys made the first gold and silver discoveries in the area that were later acquired by Anton Holter. (Holter had earlier escaped an attack by Plummer’s outlaws.) The Elkhorn Mining Company was formed and the town laid out in 1872 to house 2,500 people. The town rests on one of the prominent silver deposits in the state and mining shafts were first sunk to 300 feet, then to 800 feet where the silver seemed to diminish. Although the town had 14 saloons, most of the miners in the area were married men who had brought their families with them.

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The bawdy houses were kept discretely farther down the gulch. Two or three dances were held each week and the money seemed to be free and easy. The most striking building in town is the Fraternity Hall containing a unique balcony above the front door. Dances were held upstairs and people ate downstairs. During one of these dances two men got into a fight, one man wanting a waltz to be played, the other a square dance. No one emerged the winner. One man killed the other and the survivor was hanged in Boulder. Music does not always sooth the savage beast. Like many mining camps, illness and disease often struck the people. The cemetery high on a hill beside the town tells the story of a family that lost one child a day for five days. On the 6th day the mother died. It is a reminder of how treacherous growing to adulthood was at the time where only half the children born reached adulthood. The town is greatly diminished from when Pop and I first visited it in the 70’s. I took Rick to the town not long after he could ride and later, I took my grandsons who enjoyed shooting vicious outlaw tin cans with their BB guns. The town grew smaller after each visit. Weather has beaten down many of the buildings and Hilton Hern, owner of Montana Rustic Lumber, helped finish much of the destruction by dismantling what buildings remained and sold the lumber, some to a local ski resort. The state has stepped in to save two important structures - little compensation for a town so unique and recently intact. The town has found a few hardy new residents and several new homes have been built on the hillsides. The town has water and electricity and makes a nice vacation spot.

The state had not taken over Garnet the first time we visited. As usual, Pop wondered off looking for an outhouse while Rick went from building to building going into one door and out the other. In 1865 gold was discovered near here and mostly recovered through drift digging. Drift mines are dug horizontally into sides of hills and mountains to follow seams of gravel, rather than angled vertically. When the gold ran out, prospectors moved higher up the mountain and found three main seams. Garnet, with seven saloons and three hotels, sprang up quickly and by the 1880’s there were 1,000 miners in the town and over 50 mines sprinkled the hillsides. By 1881 the school had seven pupils and a stage ran daily to neighboring towns. Rick joined us later claiming he had heard music coming from one of the hotels. The hotel was open and we explored about inside, but heard no music. Pop enjoyed his imagination, having one of his own, but we later read a book that said many people had heard piano music coming from the hotel. Rick and I sat outside the hotel and talked to Liz about his grandfather and some of the stories he told. We had to pass through the Little Bighorn Battlefield, another place he never missed, on the way to Chamberlain, South Dakota to spread his ashes. Because he had hemorrhaged after a tonsil operation, Pop had lost his hair while in high school. When I was a boy he told me he had fought with Custer and managed to escape, minus his hair, during the battle. A one-legged Sioux Indian had helped him escape and gave him a single bean to eat. He used it for a week surviving on jerk-bean soup made by tying a string round the bean and jerking it through boiling water. Of course, as a kid I believed him knowing that my father would never lie to me; and Rick believed him later, for the same reason, after being told the story. Rick and I continued to reminisce as we visited more ghost towns along the way and talked about Pop and his love of motorcycles. He never admitted he was too old to ride, even when he bought his last bike and had me drive it home because he could not hold it up. As he lay in the hospital during his last days he told the doctor he did not want to be revived should he drift off. He then leaned over to me and said, “Be sure to change the oil on my bike. I might want to take a ride later.”


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MOTORCYCLE MADNESS is New Jersey’s LARGEST Pre-Owned Bike Seller, has a ridiculously HUGE selection of Mens and Womens Gear and A WALL OF HELMETS. Professionally Trained Mechanics will take the BEST care of your ride. 8 State Hwy 94 • Lafayette, NJ • 973-579-6088 • 877-252-9828

May 23-26


Join Team Backroads as we head to the southern Virginia Mountains where we’ll call the General Francis Marion Hotel in Marion, VA home for three nights. This region has some of the most serious motorcycling roads such as the Back of the Dragon and Claw of the Dragon, with hundreds of miles of incredible riding. In addition there’s quaint towns, deep history and phenomenal scenery. We hope you can travel south for what promises to be a superb weekend of riding and a memorable Memorial Day Weekend. Get out your maps and start planning now! Call for a free brochure 877-255-9928

Other lodging in the area • Walking Distance to GFM Collins House B&B • 278-781-0250 Lincoln House B&B • 276-781-0804 5 miles • Comfort Inn, 5558 Lee Hwy, Atkins, VA • 276-783-2144

Rooms are extremely limited so BOOK TODAY. Rooms are $84 - $145/night + tax and include continental breakfast. When booking please reference ‘Back of the Dragon Backroads Group’ for discount.

General Francis Marion Hotel • 107 East Main St, Marion, VA • 877-783-4802 •

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A bagger without all the baggage. With a 1261cc V-4 engine it has plenty of power. Its moderate weight, low center of gravity, nimble handling, and relaxed riding position make the CTX1300 a joy to ride wherever the day may lead, while its styling gives it a unique look that makes it stand out in a crowd.

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Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 9am-6pm • Thur: 9am-8pm • Sat: 9am-5pm SUNDAY: CLOSED - GONE RIDING

ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING. NEVER RIDE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, AND NEVER USE THE STREET AS A RACETRACK. OBEY THE LAW AND READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL THOROUGHLY. For rider training information or to locate a rider training course near you, call the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at 800-446-9227. CTX™ and Gold Wing® are registered trademarks of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (07/13)

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*Fuel economy estimates are based on US EPA exhaust emission certification data obtained by Yamaha. Your actual mileage will vary depending on road conditions, how you ride and maintain your vehicle, accessories, cargo, and operator/passenger weight. Dress properly for your ride with a helmet, eye protection, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves and boots. Do not drink and ride. It is illegal and dangerous. Yamaha and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation encourage you to ride safely and respect the environment. For further information regarding the MSF course, please call 1-800-446-9227. Professional rider depicted on a closed course. ©2013 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. •

February 2014  

Travel from Rome to Sicily with Edelweiss Bike Travels One Last Ride with Pop Monthly Columns • Product Reviews and so much more

February 2014  

Travel from Rome to Sicily with Edelweiss Bike Travels One Last Ride with Pop Monthly Columns • Product Reviews and so much more