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2013 Volume 19 No. 1


Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure

e l s I d l a r e m E e h r t e g n i d r i o l R Exp c i t l h e t wi C

2013 500 EXC: For all those who are forever seeking a little bit more. 2013 1190 Adventure: The most offroadcapable travel enduro in the world.

GIVES YOU THE FREEDOM TO DREAM 2013 1190 RC8 R: The ultimate power tool from KTM. 2013 690 Enduro R: Feels at home in the city and on rural roads as it does on gravel and tough terrain

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Whether you have an hour, a weekend, a week or more to leave it all behind, here's a new bold and blacked-out-styled machine to satisfy that urge to get away from it all—the brand-new Gold Wing® F6B. The blacked-out styling treatment with long and low lines gives the Gold Wing F6B an aggressive look, while large-capacity saddlebags, a comfortable gunfighter-style seat, premium audio system and more means there's no need to rough it on the road.

Celebrating 30 Years and Counting! 210 Route 10 West • East Hanover, NJ • 973-428-1735 NOW OPEN MONDAYS: 9AM-5PM

Celebrating 30 Years and Counting! 210 Route 10 West • East Hanover, NJ • 973-428-1735 NOW OPEN MONDAYS: 9AM-5PM 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. Gold Wing® is a registered trademark of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (MM/YY)

W H A T ’ S


MON THLY COLUMN S FREE WHEELIN’.................................................................................4

BRING ON THE DIRT .....................................................................22


BACKROADS FALL FIESTA 2012................................................34

POSTCARDS FROM THE HEDGE .................................................7


ON THE MARK ..................................................................................8

EXPLORING THE EMERALD ISLE...............................................49

THROTTLE BLIPS ..............................................................................9 GREAT ALL AMERICAN DINER RUN ........................................10 MYSTERIOUS AMERICA...............................................................12 BIG CITY GETAWAY........................................................................14 WE’RE OUTTA HERE......................................................................16 BACKLASH .......................................................................................19 INDUSTRY INFOBITES ..................................................................20 MOTORCYCLE MARKETPLACE ..................................................40

M OTORCYCL E REVIEWS HONDA NC700X ............................................................................27


UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR ...............................................41


WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE .......................................................44

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS ...............................................................46

Brian Rathjen • Shira Kamil ~ Publishers Contributors: Jeff Bahr, Evans Brasfield, Mark Byers, Victor Cruz, Mary Jo Gracin, Bill Heald, Robert Laford, Jeanae Washington, Dr. Seymour O’Life

BACKROADS • POB 317, Branchville NJ 07826 Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure

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. 2013. 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




PRESENT THIS AD AND RECEIVE: • $500 in free accessories with purchase of any new KAWASAKI * 10% off ANY service

KAWASAKI CARES: Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and proper apparel. Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Adhere to the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. © 2012 Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.


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FREE WHEELIN’ BRIAN RATHJEN The Backroads 250+ road Tour IT’s a Jersey ThIng Some eighteen years ago, when we started Backroads, our goal was to give you guys and gals, our fair readers, places to go and things to do. Even way back then Backroads was New Jersey born and bred and we love our state. From the first issue Backroads was created to let our fellow riders know that there was more to be found on their motorcycles than just short local rides and a burger run to the local pub. That there were almost an endless number of possibilities along the tiny roads that link this country together, and the best way to discover them was on motorcycle. A few seasons later we started holding our Backroads’ Rallies, in the hopes of dragging some of you along for the ride. This has turned out very well too. Since then we have held some 35 rallies from New England to Georgia, a number of Summer Squeezes in Vermont, and a few over-seas tours as well. But, we’re still young with plenty more to see and explore and, every so often, a new idea flits through my brain. It’s usually about a ride, tour or some kind of motorcycle event; and sometimes it can sit there for months or years till something bubbles it back to the surface to revisit. A few years back we did an issue on riding a lap around New Jersey. What we found was much of the state is truly beautiful and the roads wonderful to ride. Still, my adopted Garden State takes a bad wrap from the rest of the union. It’s hard to blame them when all our friends around the rest of nation see are the Sopranos and Jersey Shore. Add in the terrible devastation from Sandy and the state looks a little beat up and scary right now.

But, the New Jersey I know is far removed from the Turnpike exits, the Garden State Parkway or the clutter of its many cities. You folks from New York City and Long Island really want to throw stones? Nope - the New Jersey I want to share is full of winding roads, small towns, great restaurants, unusual sites and locations. It has miles and miles of uncluttered and mostly uncrowded roads; some pavement so old we think the state might have forgotten them. A few weeks back I spent an afternoon riding around our part of the state, basically heading down roads I had never ridden before, when that idea began to surface once again. And, the notion that resurfaced was to have us hold a road rally of sorts, all along the backroads and all in the boundaries of New Jersey. We have come to call it the Backroads 250+. The Backroads 250+ is a one-day road event, of a little more than 250 miles, that will start and finish in Augusta, New Jersey, and will be run on June 15, with a rain date of June 22. We rarely do rain dates, but we want you to have a great time. Sign in starts at 8:30am at the Chatterbox Drive-In at the intersections of Route 206 and Route 15, in Augusta, New Jersey. Nearby you will find hotels, restaurants and entertainment right in the area if you live a distance away or just care to make a weekend of it, which is always a great idea. You will find a hotel listing on the ad on page 58. There will be a $10 per bike charge with proceeds going to a local New Jersey charity. We will provide detailed Rip & Ride Route Sheets and also GPX files for those who want the route on their Garmin GPS. Although some roads might have seen better days we promise not to throw any dirt at you and you will have a number of great stops and restaurants along the way, as well as the Chatterbox Drive-In when the ride returns; complete with one of the best Car Shows in the region. So consider this an invitation to ride some of the hidden byways of New Jersey and join us on the Backroads 250+.

ROLLIN’ FAST Cycle Sports is your tri-state Victory motorcycle and Polaris dealer in New Jersey. We are a performance-oriented shop that specializes in all Victory motorcycles and Polaris side x sides and ATVs. We are the best-stocked dealer in the tristate area. Whether you are looking for a Victory or Polaris vehicle, parts, or accessories we have it. We offer all dealer programs including financing, extended warranties, and vehicle insurance. Our knowledge of Victory motorcycles and Polaris vehicles far exceeds our competitors. We stock just about every Victory and Polaris accessory in the catalog plus many more aftermarket accessories for Victory.

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908-236-9000 • Here to serve you Monday-Friday 9a-6p • Thursday 9a-7p • Saturday 9a-5p • Gone Riding Sunday 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. ©2012 Polaris Industries Inc.


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W H ATC H AT H I N K I N ’ SHIRA KAMIL new, new, new January 2013 – wow. If you’re reading this, the world has not ended, the fiscal cliff has either been jumped or leveled and the Holidaze are long behind us. All the sweets and fattening foods have been purged from the refrigerator, gym memberships have been bought and ignored and there dead carcasses of Christmas trees litter the streets of suburbia. More importantly, maps are being pulled out, event listings are being searched and plans are being made for all the rides to take place this year. As I’ve said many times, January is a great time to plunge into that bucket list, or any ideas of ‘places I’d love to see’ lists and make them happen. Near or far, put them on the calendar. No excuses – just get going. January is also the arrival of the International Motorcycle Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. For as many years as we’ve been publishing Backroads, we’ve always had a booth at this show. Sure, it’s a great way to meet the industry folk who normally keep themselves warm and happy on the West coast, but even more important is the time we get to spend

speaking to all of you who have helped to make Backroads what it is today. We truly look forward to meeting and talking with our readers, getting feedback (complaint department closed during show hours) and hearing about the great travels you’ve enjoyed. So make sure you find our booth, wherever they put us this year, and stop by. There is certainly enough to fill a day, or whole weekend, at the IMS; a boatload of great seminars throughout the days such as Adventure Riding by the folks from Twisted Throttle, Protection and Style from Brittany Morrow the Road Rash Queen, Yuasa’s Battery Technology and Ohlins Science of Motorcycle Suspension. Looking to play a little game while perusing the sights? Head over to the Allstate exhibit for the Rider Protection Project to pick up a scavenger hunt card. There will be several motorcycles on display throughout the show with riders missing a piece of gear. Test your awareness of “All the gear all the time” with this scavenger hunt. Once you’ve gone through and found everything, swing by the Allstate booth to pick up your prize. There’s the always eyebrow-raising Ducati Fashion show, Vintage motorcycles display and all the great vendors and exhibitors hawking their wares. The IMS also offers the opportunity to see the new offerings from the manufacturers be it motorcycles, gear, gadgets or other great doodads. With the 2013 models coming out in the Spring, there are plenty of choices for new, replacement or additional rides for your garage. For your plotzing pleasure, here’s a list of who will be present: Harley-Davidson, BMW, Honda, Can-Am, Suzuki, Triumph, Kawasaki, Ducati, Indian, KTM, Yamaha, Victory and Zero. There are some great new models being offered for 2013 such as BMW’s C600 Sport and C650GT scooters and F700GS, Honda’s CBR500R, CB500F, CB500X, NC700X and Gold Wing F6B, Kawasaki’s Ninja 300, Ducati’s Hypermotard and Hyperstrada, KTM’s 1190 Adventure, Yamaha’s FJR1300 and Zero’s FX to name a few. If you are just getting into motorcycling, the selection of ‘first bikes’ are tremendous. Honda’s offerings of 500s let you go for street or the occasional off-road dabbling. This size bike will let the rider build confidence while having a quality machine underneath them at an affordable price. The same is true for Kawasaki’s Ninja 300, priced at $4,799. If this is anything like their 250R, only better, I would be a very happy camper piloting this as my first ride. I happen to think that folks just starting to ride should get a used scoot to begin with. This way if it happens to take a small tumble or get scratched or dinged a bit, it won’t hurt as much. I remember my first ride – Honda’s CM400T. I had just taken the MSF rider’s course and came home with Want Ad Press in hand. I was ready to conquer the world and travel far and wide. I usually say that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous, and with my beginning knowledge of riding I was oblivious to the limitations of this particular ride. On one sojourn up to Vermont, I was cranking through the Appalachian Gap and, when we got to the bottom I mentioned to Brian that I thought something might be dragging, that I had heard a scraping noise. He walked around the bike, pointed to the footpegs and said, ‘Nothing wrong, you’re just dragging your footpegs in the turns. You’re supposed to do that.’ I rode that bike everywhere, through everything, and was quite sad when it was time to graduate to a bigger bike. But it went to a good home, that of another firsttimer. And that is the path it travelled for as long as I tracked it. For all I know it could still be putting around, giving someone a great introduction to the wonderful world of motorcycling. I just saw one heading somewhere on Route 80 in NJ. Happy New Year to all. May your days be dry and sunny, your travels be safe and adventurous and may our paths cross often.

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with me, because many years ago I had an electrical failure on a bike while on a trip (I believe I was just outside of Baltimore) that left me semi-stranded for a bit. BILL HEALD This is a great example of why a recall is an important thing to get taken care of. The nature of my recall is a regulator/rectifier that “can overheat and do you recall? prevent the motorcycle from charging.” This is exactly what happened with Mail is such an amazingly powerful thing. I another motorcycle near Baltimore all those years ago, although in this case speak of the actual paper variety of course, and it was the stator that overheated. There I was, motoring along on what I recall it’s not to say that an electronic missive can’t was an absolutely beautiful day without a care in the world, and all of the have great impact as well. But there’s still something potent about a letter sudden the bike just died. I bailed for an exit and ended up spending the next that you tear open violently to find out what in the world is going on. And 24 hours or so getting parts replaced and getting back on the road. Incidenone of the more fearful bits of moto-correspondence you can receive is a lettally, I remember that this ordeal included a lecture from a mechanic about ter that says RECALL NOTICE. OK, I will acknowledge that some correhow it was truly the devil’s work when the government mandated that your spondence from the Department of Motor Vehicles or the finance company headlights should be on at all times. “It puts too much of a load on the eleccan raise hackles, too. But recalls at the very least mean you’ll have to schedtrical system,” said the wrench. That may have even been true years ago, but ule a trip to the dealer perhaps when you didn’t originally plan to do so, and I think now the systems are considerably more robust, what with all the new on the extreme side of the spectrum could mean black boxes and all. there’s something flawed about your ride that is seri- This really struck a chord with me, because Receiving the recall in the mail and the nature of many years ago I had an electrical failure on a ous enough that it could be dangerous to ride. At the it brought back all these memories, and as a result as bike while on a trip (I believe I was just outside very least, even after the recall is dealt with it might of Baltimore) that left me semi-stranded for a bit. soon as time permits I’ll go get the required work cause you to lose confidence in your machine, at least done, which should take very little time at all. Charga little bit. If this particular defect has been found, what other dangers could ing issues like this are pretty nefarious as they can really sneak up on you, as be lurking on my motorcycle to reach out and bite me? most motorcycles don’t tell you if you have a charging issue unless you’ve I mention this because I just received a recall notice on one of my bikes installed a gauge to monitor it. This is changing of course as instrument sys(and, coincidentally, two of our automobiles). While a recall is a serious thing tems become more sophisticated, but for most of us if we’re riding, along that requires your attention, they are becoming more commonplace as manespecially on long stretches of blacktop, the failure of a charging system and ufacturers seem more willing to fix things sooner and avoid much more pothe subsequent draining of the battery can be a silent menace. This is clearly tentially dangerous situations down the road. More and more of these recalls something worth preventing. are voluntary in nature, meaning there hasn’t been a mandated government Which is ultimately why I am not terrorized by getting a recall notice, but safety issue but rather a potential problem that the builder of your machine instead welcome the opportunity to nip a potential problem in the bud. In the wants to eliminate from the picture before it causes the owner any real grief. past I would have been more freaked, but the fact is recalls these days tend In my case, the recall is electrical in nature (I’d be willing to bet most are, to come well in advance of any major problems, for manufacturers have reespecially as more and more of modern motorcycle’s innards are siliconalized it can save them a fortune if they address a potential issue before it based) and involves the battery’s charging system. This really struck a chord (Continued on Page 18)


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2013 CBR600RRs in stock and ready to go. Come in for your Best Price - Get Ready to Ride 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. CBR is a registered trademark of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (01/13)


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ON THE MARK MARK BYERS I wanna Be Bad With few exceptions, I’m a rule-follower. When I was a kid, if I didn’t obey the rules, I invariably got punished; therefore, since I also had a shred of intelligence, I learned that disobeying rules resulted in negative consequences to both my little self-esteem and my little ass. Similarly, I learned, through a series of misadventures, that the laws of physics must be obeyed because: 1) they are self-enforcing, and B) they don’t confine their punishment to the ass area. Nowhere are these two concepts of behavioral consequence more evident than in my biking career. I wasn’t blessed with much athletic ability. One of the reasons I’m a writer is that I was a reader. While the other kids were tearing it up on “Bike Hill” on their bananaseated wonders, I was voraciously devouring tomes on jets and rockets. On the occasions I ventured across the street with my fendered Schwinn, I usually came back bloody at the hands of physics thanks to a lack of confidence born of ineptitude. I distinctly remember one of the other kids coming over to me while I was on the ground underneath my bike and saying, “You can’t do that on Bike Hill.” Consequently, I’ve always envied those with the ability to defy physics and launch themselves off jumps, take flight, and come down without a shred of damage to bike or bone. I’ve always wanted to be the kid who took the dare of being the first one to ride his bike off the big rock and come away unscathed. That kid was invariably the “bad boy” of the neighborhood and therefore, King of Bike Hill. But it wasn’t just his athletic skill I coveted, it was his adventurous spirit, confidence, and disregard for the social conventions we call “the rules.” From the time I was a four-eyed, book-readin’, Schwinn-riding , little snot, I’ve wanted to be…BAD.

My desire for badness includes motorcycling. Perhaps the chief reason I ride is that I want to be one of THOSE guys: iconoclasts who seek to defy convention by choosing transportation that isn’t for the timid. I don’t want to be enveloped in steel, with puffy mechanical marshmallows that pop out should I err. I like being the guy at whom little kids stare from the confines of their plastic cocoons inside their parent’s metal ones. I stop short of being a white-collar rider who dresses and acts like he just got out of prison for killing his uncle, but I admit to a dark place in my soul that wants to own that vibe. I want to be crazy, sketchy, and dangerous. There’s my dark little secret: this ATGATT-espousing, training-conscious, uptight, pedantic engineer wants to be bad. I want to throw off the shackles of social convention and channel a combination of Hunter S. Thompson and Steve McQueen. In my motorcycling fantasy, I lane-split Sunset Boulevard at two in the morning while sky-high on acid and alcohol, wheelying a Ducati 900SS through oncoming traffic, wearing nothing but canvas high-tops and a cowboy hat, while Jim Morrison screams “LA Woman” from my mental speakers. I wanna run from the cops. I don’t just want to be socially incorrect, either. I want to be politically and environmentally incorrect too. I want to revive the Barstow to Vegas race and ride a ridiculously loud, smoking, oil-belching two stroke full of leaded, high-octane gas and castor oil at a hundred miles per hour across virgin desert, using massive, petrochemically-derived, knobby tires to spew sand all over cacti and Joshua trees while sending desert tortoises crawling for their lives. I want a whale-foreskin riding suit with seal-fur trim. I wanna be on a Greenpeace wanted poster. As a motorcycle rider/writer, I want to emulate “Bike” magazine’s mercurial Dan Walsh and write ridiculously entertaining, controversial, stream-of-consciousness prose while shacked up in some third-world, dive brothel/bar, staving off malaria with massive quantities of gin and tonic (hold the tonic). I want to fix the broken frame of my rat-bike adventure machine with a leaky acetylene torch next to (Continued on Page 18)

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THROT TLE BLIPS JEFF BAHR MoTorcycle ManufacTurers, geT down! After pulling my Kawasaki Versys into a parking spot I performed a rather dicey dismount. No, I didn’t drop the bike. At 5’9” tall with a 30” inseam, getting off of this breathtakingly tall machine (33.3” seat height) is always precarious. On this day, like most, my right heel caught the seat. I nearly fell as a result. If I had to rate this maneuver on technical skill I’d give it a paltry 8.5. But my artistic score should rate much higher. My butt didn’t kiss pavement this time ‘round. That’s worth something! When I finished my business I summoned the nerve to remount. With the confidence of Woody Allen at a gunfight, I thrust my leg high and went for it. A feeling of déjà vu gripped me when I realized that my foot had again merged with the saddle. Disgusted, I yanked it free and wobbled unsteadily in a feeble attempt to right myself. By now you’re probably wondering why I bought such a tall bike in the first place. It’s simple really - I didn’t have much of a choice. I favor middleweight sport bikes but my back and wrists can no longer handle the unforgiving riding position found on such machines. In a nutshell I wanted something with manageable weight, a short wheelbase, quick handling and an upright riding position. Unfortunately, pickings were slim. In fact, most middleweights that meet these requirements force the rider to lean forward to a degree. And so-called “adventure” bikes - like my Versys or Suzuki’s V-Strom - feature an upright position but they tend to be tall due to greater suspension travel. It’s a trade-off for the inseamchallenged but what’s a rider to do? Here’s another downer. Kawasaki didn’t design the Versys to accept a center stand. Had they done so a rider could deploy it, stand on one peg and climb onto this rolling camel. I suspect the rationale behind this focuses on

Page 9 weight and absolute lean angle. That strikes me as odd because this bike is by no means a racer. Fact is the majority of Versys riders treat the 400-pound, do-it-all machine like a farkle factory. It’s not uncommon to find them fitted with hard luggage, bolt-on accessories, and all manner of other weighty doo-dads. Mine certainly is. A few pounds in the form of a center stand would pose no problem at all. So why not include one? From a marketing perspective I’m baffled by these stratospheric seat heights. According to a 2008 statistics report from the Centers for Disease Control, the average height for an American male is 5’9-1/2’’. For a woman it’s 5’3-3/4”. This mundane yet meaningful marker plainly proves one thing: Seat heights greater than 32 inches will pose a problem for an enormous number of riders. There’s simply no getting around it. This brings two questions to mind. Why aren’t more machines with realistic seat heights and riding positions being offered by manufacturers, and why must adventure bikes like the Versys induce high-altitude nosebleeds? It’s been said that standard machines won’t sell but that can’t be true. Suzuki’s SV650 sold like hotcakes because it offered its own sense of style, great all-around performance, and a fairly neutral riding position. It also featured a contoured seat set at an unintimidating height. Flat-footing the SV was possible for all but the shortest of riders. As far as adventure bikes go consider this: Cerebral types have split the atom, put a man on the moon, and given us the computer era. So why can’t our industry’s slide-rule gang deliver suitable suspension without forcing riders into the stratosphere? Even Honda’s spanking new NC700X is saddled with a 32.7” perch. Come on! The bottom line is such changes will only take place if enough riders clamor for them. So, manufacturers, on behalf of those who’ve thrown their backs, fallen on their butts, and/or made complete fools of themselves while attempting to board/de-bike these rolling skyscrapers, I implore you to improve the state of the motorcycle art. Put seat height in sync with the inseams of the populace, then step back and count the profits. That’s the long and short of it.


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O’Toole’s Harley-Davidson Presents


tasty places to take your bike

old log caBIn Inn 47 rTe. 46, coluMBIa nJ 07832 • 908-496-4291 If you are a rider in northwest New Jersey, anywhere near the Delaware Water Gap then this month’s stop on the Great All American Diner Run is, more then likely, well known to you. The building has been around for decades but the restaurant and bar have been flourishing for more than three generations, all under one family. The Log Cabin Inn is located just east of Columbia, New Jersey on the old and rustic part of Route 46, just a stone’s throw from the Delaware River, and just minutes from the Pennsylvania border. On any good day the front of the Log Cabin Inn will be crowded with bikes, mostly from Milwaukee, but all two or three-wheels are welcome. When we were there so was the sweetest old Z-28 taking a prime spot. This is one of those regions in this state that still has old places like this and the old places are doing just fine. If you like old rough hewn wood then this is for you. We entered through the bar and made our way to the dining area that has plenty of tables for you or your group. All the staff were happy and upbeat, which I tell you is getting harder and




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Page 11 harder to find. Most of the customers were in good cheer, even when the power went out for ten minutes; as our visit was just after Sandy barreled through the state. The Log Cabin has a lot of the usual pub fare with all kinds of burgers, steak and cheese sandwiches. They also have some seafood with fish and chips and shrimp and chips available all the time. If you feel like a bite of Italian this day their chicken or meatball parmesans looked great. Getting a little deeper into the menu we found some great salads with mesclun, tossed and Chef’s all awaiting your order. Steamed clams, mussels and shrimp can fill your belly too. We have heard that the Log Cabin does a great nachos supreme but we’ll save that for another visit. Something else we will be back for is their legendary pizza. Actually the bar part of the Log Cabin is open on the weekends only, but the pizza parlor is open all week long and is a regional favorite and has received many accolades over the years. The waitress handed us the specials, all hand-printed on the back of an envelope. Some of the specials this day were Thai veggie spring rolls and shrimp dim sum. A great taco special serving up either beef or shrimp, hard or soft tacos. Crabcake or cod sandwiches looked good but our little cabal went for some other things. Being a basic guy I went for a perennial favorite and order the fried shrimp and chips (way too many chips I tell ya!) Shira ordered a bunch of smaller appetizers that were anything but small. In fact all the

portions would handle the biggest hungriest biker. She got the fried pork dumplings, spinach and feta perogies, of which I promptly purloined half. Our friend Glenn, being smart and healthy, ordered the tilapia salad – which also came with salmon if that floats your boat better – and I almost regretted not following his lead. Janet, thinking Tex-Mex or maybe just Baja - ordered the beef and bean burritos. All the food was served up quick, hot and delicious. Many times you will hear that you should stop where the trucks or police cars fill the parking lot. Here at the western edge of Route 46 we say stop and eat where all the motorcycles are parked. After all these years these hungry riders could not possibly be wrong. Although Route 46, which runs completely in New Jersey, starting in the middle of the George Washington Bridge and stretching a tad more than 75 miles to the border with the Keystone State, is the main highway here this region is littered with tiny backroads and we promise you a more than excellent ride to the Old Log Cabin Inn. Along these roads you will find deep forests, flourishing farms (they don’t call it the Garden State for nothing), small rivers, broad lakes and tons of critters. Please keep an eye out for them, ‘cause they are oblivious about you. A lot of these roads will be on the tight and twisty side so ride at your best please.


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Morton’s BMW Motorcycles Presents Dr. Seymour O’Life’s MYSTERIOUS Jeff Bahr grave hoppIng plaTInuM edITIon There’s a Honda motorcycle dealer located on Main Street in the town of Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania. It’s perhaps the only thing that distinguishes this ordinary settlement from others nearby – at least to a motorcyclist. But looks can be deceiving. Just a few blocks from the dealership a genuine Hollywood legend holds court. I wish I could say she’s a living, breathing legend, but fate intervened on that front long ago. Jayne Mansfield, the Va-va-voom platinum-blond sex symbol of the 1950s and 60s happens to be buried in this sleepy little town. Who knew? Let’s do a ride-by. Marilyn who? To better appreciate Mansfield and her rise to stardom, it helps to know something about her chief rival, Marilyn Monroe. Pursued by men and idolized by women, Monroe assumed the mantle of blonde bombshell from former Hollywood pinups Jean Harlow and Betty Grable. With her breathy voice, suggestive pout and trademark sashay, Monroe’s effect on people was pronounced. Many worshipped her beauty, some were taken by her innocence and fragility, but nobody was able to ignore her. It’s a lesson that wasn’t lost on budding starlet Jayne Mansfield. sex sells Making her move on Hollywood in the early 1950s, the equally sexy Mansfield had high hopes. Where Monroe was shy and insecure, Mansfield was forceful and driven. The former Vera Jayne Palmer married Paul Mansfield at 17. Their union produced a daughter (Jayne-Marie) but would end in divorce eight years later. Brimming with confidence and possessing a knack for self-promotion, Jayne Mansfield (“Jaynie” to her friends) built her career mostly on sheer will and determination, but her substantial physical assets sure didn’t hurt. The voluptuous woman possessed an impressively high I.Q. of 163— a grand contradiction to her dumb blonde image—but Mansfield cannily knew which measurements to play up. “They’re more interested in 40–21–35” she once cooed with a wink and a smile. Indeed they were. The birth of wardrobe malfunctions Always one to keep her publicity train rolling the actress occasionally experienced “accidental” clothing malfunctions. One standout incident occurred at a dinner party held to honor Italian siren Sophia Loren. While sitting beside the seductive actress, Mansfield leaned over the table in an extremely lowcut dress and the inevitable happened. Loren’s raised eyebrow was recorded for posterity by an alert photographer, and Jayne’s role as world-class sexbomb was solidified. Not surprisingly these “embarrassments” seemed to occur only at the most opportune times (i.e. when paparazzi were gathered in full force). Go Jaynie! fame at last This playful spirit garnered the actress a boatload of publicity, not a bad thing when hunting down acting gigs. In 1955, Mansfield’s big break came

A MER IC A when she was offered the part of Rita Marlowe in the Broadway play, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Well-received by reviewers, the vehicle turned Mansfield into an overnight sensation. In 1957 the actress reprised the role for a movie of the same name. It, too, received acclaim. In 1958, Mansfield married professional Hungarian bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay. Their campy, over-the-top union produced three children, and according to published accounts represented the happiest time in Mansfield’s life. The actress set her sights on a positively divoon (Jayne’s playful word for divine) future, both in Hollywood and at home. For a spell all went according to plan. Then everything fell apart.

reversal of fortune The 1960s were not at all kind to pin-up girls. “Cheesecake” actresses began to lose their appeal as newer, more sophisticated audiences looked for substance over style. As a result Mansfield’s acting offers dried up. Determined to get back on top Mansfield accepted show-business work wherever she could find it. This led to underwhelming stints working as a cabaret singer and an off-Broadway actress. Things on the home front were no better. Mansfield’s compulsion to succeed drove a wedge between her and Hargitay. Possessing an old-world mentality, the muscleman now saw her as an absentee wife. The two divorced in 1964, but their passion for each other carried on. By the late 1960s, Mansfield was coming off her third failed marriage to filmmaker Matt Climber. The union produced one son (Antonio). At this point she began a romance with her manager, Sam Brody. Furiously plying the dinner-theater circuit, Mansfield worked hard to resurrect her career. But fate had other things in store for the bombshell. a crushing end In the wee hours of June 29, 1967, Mansfield, Brody, and 22-year-old chauffer Ronnie Harrison were driving through Slidell, Louisiana on their way to New Orleans. Mansfield was scheduled for a television interview in the Big Easy – just the sort of publicity jolt that might put her back on top. Her three children from the Hargitay union (Miklos, Jr 8; Zoltan, 6; and Mariska, 3) and the family dog were also on board. As their 1966 Buick Electra proceeded through the dreary swampland, Harrison encountered a thick haze from a mosquito fogging truck. Suddenly,

BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 a slow-moving tractor-trailer appeared out of the mist, but it was too late. The Electra struck the rig with such astonishing force that it sheared the vehicle’s roof almost completely off. Mansfield and her adult companions were killed instantly. Miraculously, the three children riding out back survived with only minor injuries. The family dog wasn’t as lucky. He lay dead on the floor amidst shards of glass—jagged reminders of the accident’s ferocity. Mansfield was only 34 years old. The rumor mill Almost at once the rumors began to fly. The most persistent held that Mansfield had been decapitated in the crash. This wasn’t true. What appeared to be Mansfield’s severed head in police photos was actually one of her platinum blonde wigs lying beside the road. Some believe that Mansfield perished as a result of a curse placed upon her by former associate (lover?) Anton LaVey, the controversial founder of the International Church of Satan. Of course, something this macabre can’t be proven or disproven. What’s known for certain is that a vibrant, talented woman exited this life far too early and in a far too grisly manner. End of story. gravesite Fairview Cemetery may seem like an odd place for an anointed member of Hollywood royalty to ride out eternity, but Mansfield hailed from the area (she was born in Bryn Mawr, PA) so it makes sense. Besides, the bucolic setting which overlooks a nearby mountain ridge is nothing if not peaceful. Her oversized heart-shaped stone reads: “Jayne Mansfield: We live to love you more each day.” Every time I visit her grave I find fresh-cut pink roses lying beside it. It’s been forty-five years since Mansfield’s death and her effect on people is still profound. Such loyalty transcends mere publicity. Jaynie was the real deal.

Page 13 legacy Mansfield’s Hollywood connection lives on through her daughter Mariska, famous in her own right as Detective Olivia Benson on the hit television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but there is something else that remains as part of her legacy. The next time you ride up behind a truck take notice of the welded safety bar that hangs down from the back of the box or trailer. Dubbed a “Mansfield bar” this lifesaving addition became mandatory on trucks after her death. The sultry blonde bombshell gave up her life so that others might live. Even though this occurred by chance, the benefit to others has been positively divoon. We miss you, Jaynie. You were truly one for the ages! when you visit: Fairview Cemetery is located on Middletown Road in Pen Argyl, just off of Main St. Mansfield’s heart-shaped marble stone can easily be seen toward the right of the cemetery. Other members of the Palmer clan are also buried here. Before leaving town make sure to visit the historic Weona Park Carousel on Main St. Built in 1923, it features 44 hand-carved animals and a Wurlitzer organ.


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Woodstock Harley-Davidson® Presents


daytrip ideas to get out of the daily grind

hudson rIver MarITIMe MuseuM 50 rondouT landIng , kIngsTon, ny 12401 845- 338-0071 • There is not any doubt that one of the most beautiful areas to ride in the northeast, maybe the United States, is the Hudson River Valley. Although many of us have been on the river itself on a dinner cruise or private boat, the waterway was and is a great thoroughfare for commerce and transportation. The Hudson runs for some 315 miles from the Adirondack to finally empty into New York Harbor. Considered to be first explored by Henry Hudson, an Englishman working for the Dutch East India Company, it was originally called the North River by the Dutch, with the Delaware River called the South River. Eventually the Hudson moniker became the norm when referring to the river. Over the centuries much has happened and changed along the Hudson, but its vibrant history of shipping and maritime has stayed true and there is no better place to learn and experience this wonderful history than the Hudson River Maritime Museum, located at the confluence of the Rondout Creek and the Hudson itself, in the trendy city of Kingston, New York. We made it a point to drop by when we did our Wallkill River Expedition and were certainly glad we did. Although aware of the Hudson’s glorious past to have it right before you gave a true sense of the rich and varied history from ancient times to this very day. The Hudson River Maritime Museum was founded in 1980 by steamboat and tugboat men, as well as local citizens who wanted to preserve the shipping history of the Hudson River. Kingston’s role as the most important port between New York and Albany in the 19th century made it the logical place to establish a Hudson River maritime museum. Kingston/Rondout was the terminus of the Delaware & Hudson Canal which brought anthracite coal from eastern Pennsylvania from 1828 to 1898 to be transported on the Hudson River to New York and other ports at a time when coal was the dominant fuel in use. Kingston was also an important stop for passenger steamboats bringing vacationers to the area, many of

whom traveled on to the Catskills. In addition, Rondout Creek was the home of the Cornell Steamboat Company tugboat fleet, the dominant towing company on the Hudson from 1880 to the 1930s, a time when much freight was transported by boat. The mission of the Hudson River Maritime Museum is to collect, preserve, research, exhibit and interpret a collection of historical artifacts related to the preservation of the maritime heritage of the Hudson River and its tributaries. This is the only museum in New York State exclusively dedicated to this mission. The collected artifacts include appropriate vessels, objects, archival material and art related to river transportation, industries and recreation – paintings, prints, photographs, ephemera, blueprints, artifacts, ship models, a 100-year old shad boat, a life boat, lighthouse tender and ice yachts. The maritime heritage encompasses industries such as ice harvesting, brick making, boat building, bluestone quarrying, cement, coal and crushed stone. The steam era of transportation, which stimulated the growth of these various industries on the Hudson River, is emphasized; the 19th and 20th centuries are of primary focus. One of the most impressive displays is the 1898 steam tug Mathilda, sitting in dry dock alongside the museum.



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BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 The Mathilda has been a permanent feature of the museum yard since her arrival in 1983 courtesy of her previous owners, the McAllister Towing Company. One of the last few steam tugs in existence, Mathilda is undergoing cleaning and restoration in order to make her more accessible to museum visitors. Mathilda, though not originally local, represents the hundreds of steam tugboats which once operated on the Hudson River and around New York Harbor.

Not far from the museum you will also find another bit of Hudson River history, the Rondout Lighthouse, well worth searching out. You will also find a number of restaurants close by the museum and we highly recommend our Hudson River Rip & Ride up to the Kingston area from New York City, where you will be able to combine a great ride and some superb history at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. The museum is open seven days a week from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm from May through October, including national holidays and admission is $7 per adult. Special events sometimes take place outside regular operating hours. Check their events calendar for more information.

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Bergen County Harley-Davidson Presents


a weekend destination keeping you on the backroads

The red caBoose MoTel & resTauranT 312 paradIse lane, ronks, pa 17572 717-687-5000 • www.redcaBoosehoTel.coM Last year we came across a small hotel that featured a few caboose rooms alongside a more conventional hotel. We stayed the night and had a grand time, like we always do. But, we had heard of another such place down in Ronks, Pennsylvania, in the middle of the stunning riding area known as the Amish country. So while riding around the region we made it a point of searching out The Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant and, if we liked the first find, we were blown away by this place. Now, to be honest here, this is not the Ritz, but it is a ton of fun and the cabooses are pretty neat as well. Here is the story on how this came about… It all started in 1969 when Don Denlinger was dared to bid on 19 old cabooses being auctioned off by the Pennsylvania Railroad. To his surprise, he won them for $100. He moved them to a parcel of land near the Strasburg Railroad and turned them into unique train lodging in the heart of Amish countryside. He continued to add to his collection of train cars over the years, and the Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant became a fun, family-oriented Pennsylvania lodging offering the chance to sleep in real railroad cars.


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Lancaster County’s Red Caboose Motel is now owned by Larry Demarco. The Red Caboose offers a little bit of train history tucked away among the peaceful Amish farms of Strasburg, PA. Under Larry’s care, the railroad cars have been restored and repainted to feature the authentic colors of the railroads they represent. The Red Caboose has been mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most singly owned cabooses. You see there is a lot more here than just an unusual sleeping arrangement. For breakfast, lunch and dinner on the weekend, they have two huge refurbished 80-ton P-70 coaches with railroad music playing in the background and lots of train history to take you back in time. Looking out the window you have a great chance of seeing a steam locomotive roll by and to the other side the General Store, with its large and elaborate scale model trains, will keep you watching too. The Red Caboose silo viewing tower offers an unrivaled view of Amish farms, nearby valleys and beautiful Lancaster County countryside, as the Strasburg Railroad passes by the property throughout the day, and you’ll frequently see the Amish neighbors out for a drive. They also have sales of Amish baked goods on the property. In the summer, the barn becomes an outdoor movie theater. Bring a blanket, sit on the lawn outside and enjoy family movies under the Lancaster County skies. The kids, or those who think like kids, will delight in the small petting zoo with sheep, goats, chickens, and ponies. And, they’ll be able to feed the farm animals. The Red Caboose has a full 9 1/2 acres of farmland including a playground and plenty of open fields for playing ball, flying kits, tossing Frisbees, or just enjoying a relaxing stroll through Amish countryside. You can even take a Buggy Ride along the backroads. We think places like this are rare and getting rarer. They offer a simpler, and maybe more fun time, even if they have wi-fi in each caboose. We really enjoyed our stay here, as the roads are enjoyable as long as you stay away for the bigger touristy ones like Route 30 and the people are nice. The nearby towns of Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse (stop giggling) have tons of quaint shops, the ‘well see and be warned’ tourist traps and some very interesting museums; not to mention some of the most pleasant riding in this part of the United States. We do recommend making reservations for The Red Caboose Hotel as they book in advance during the riding season. There is plenty to see and do and a few days riding down here will do your soul good so what are you waiting for – get packing and get riding cause we’re outta here!

Long Island Kawasaki 67 North Broadway • Route 107 • Hicksville, NY • 516-935-6969


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TH OUGHTS FROM THE ROAD The $600 MIsTake The pain was so severe that I could barely get off the bike. It hurt to move, but staying on the bike for another mile marker seemed Herculean. I just picked up a custom red 2007 BMW K1200 GT touring bike from Milwaukee and was riding it back home to Boston via Canada. I never assumed the after-market seat would be trouble. Worse, the Sargent seat nearly killed me. Really, the amount of pain it caused had the power to compromise safety. Discomfort is a great distraction and distraction flies in the face of rider safety. It didn’t make any sense. Never before did I have trouble with an aftermarket seat. A new bike made almost unrideable. Luckily I had an Air Hawk to use. It helped, but I didn’t like the way it separates you from the bike with that bit of quarter inch elevation off the seat. Then, while on the Mass Pike approaching a bump in the road I stood up on the pegs just enough to clear a hard hit and away flew the $79 Air Hawk. What an idiot! (I never strapped the thing down.) I called Sargent and they told me to check whether the seat was a lowered version. A sticker would indicate that. They use less foam on those. Nope, no sticker. So I bit the bullet and ordered a Corbin, rider seat only. I noticed the Corbin was a lot heavier than the Sargent. Since the Corbin was made to conform to a Corbin passenger seat, a big gap was left wide open between 1269 DOLSONTOWN RD MIDDLETOWN NY 10940

Victor Cruz the Corbin and the rear Sargent. I would have to spend another $200-plus on top of the $480 to make the seats match. I hated the thought, given how much I had already spent buying the K bike. Another problem was the windscreen. The stock did not raise high enough to cut out wind noise, which was one reason why I wanted a bike with an electric windshield. This was because the previous owner had inserted an extension plate that brought the handlebars further up and towards the rider. Although the stock bars on the K12GT come with three height positions, the previous owner found it too low. I went on and bought a taller, wider, thicker Cee Bailey for $120. I found it reflected too much ambient light, making it hard to see through. But it cut out wind noise and, should the bike ever run out of gas, I could always sail it home on wind power. I was now into it for $600. When the Corbin arrived I slapped it on and took a spin. After two hours, the seat was equally as painful. What was left? Going stock or buying another Air Hawk. I hated the thought of throwing good money after bad. I had a beautiful red bike where long rides were a pain in the rear. Oh wise reader, can you see the cause of my dumb misapprehension? Did you ever once think of relating bar position to seat comfort? With nothing to lose, I removed the extension bar-riser plate. Then I set the bars down as low as they would go. Problem solved! Who would’ve thought? Weight transferred from pelvic to back of leg. There was never anything wrong with the Sargent or the Corbin. They both build good products. With the bars lowered, I could re-install the stock windscreen too. Got a problem with your butt? Check your bars.

845-343-2552 • WWW.CYCLEMOTIONINC.COM Cycle Motion is your provider of motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, snowmobiles, and utility vehicles by Kawasaki, Suzuki, Polaris, Yamaha and Can Am. With a large parts department, qualified service technicians and a full shop full of parts and accessories, we're here to meet all your power sport needs.

posTcards (Continued from Page 7)

For every rider - on or off road, whether they like doing it in the dirt, carving the twisties, or cruising the backroads, we have their weapon of choice.

Cycle Insurance Agency Inc. Recreational Vehicle Specialists Agents who ride and understand your Motorcycle Insurance Needs

A frequent contributor to Backroads, Victor Cruz is secretary of the Yankee Beemers club of Massachusetts.

becomes a full blown mess. There is also so much more feedback from owners to both dealers and the home office that the companies find out about potential defects well in advance of when they used to, and they’ve become really good at tracing problems down to particular parts suppliers and ultimately specific models that were built using the potentially defective component in question. And shoot, what’s better than getting brand new parts and some service to install them free of charge? One thing is a pretty sure: when they replace a recalled component odds are you will never have to worry about that particular part/parts again. That, too, is another good reason to deal with your recall as soon as you can.

on The Mark (Continued from Page 8) MEMBER


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a drum full of high-test gasoline using a coat hanger as a welding rod. I want to have natives haul me and my bike, Helge-Pederson-style, across a raging brown river full of crocodiles and piranha. And then, there’s reality – the part where I get to be a responsible citizen whose most egregious sin of record is riding a Bavarian sport-touring bike seventeen miles per hour over the limit on a rural road while wearing full protective regalia. I guess I’ll never be King of Bike Hill, but that won’t stop me from dreaming about being a bad, bad boy. But who knows: perhaps there’s a little bad in me after all. I have a little harlot of an SV650 in the garage who encourages me to do naughty things. Remember, I said “sin of record.” I’m not sayin’ and she’s not talkin’.


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BACKLASH Memories of Economaki Dear Shira, With as much travel as I/we do, I don’t always have the chance to read my mail very promptly. This morning as I was reading the current copy of Backroads at breakfast, your column caught my eye. It was a wonderful story and gave your loyal readers a little history lesson while being very poignant. It was very touching. Boy, were you ever lucky to be in the right place at the right time in terms of your early days of learning with the Macintosh, and a place to begin your newsletter. How fortunate for all of us who have traveled with you and Brian and if not physically with you, then by reading about your worldly adventures! Thanks for including all of us as your armchair adventurers! By the way, while I occasionally just stick my Zumo 550 in the little recess for it in my tank bag, most of the time, it is hard wired into my bike’s electrical system. Yes, it is old, but I have yet to have a battery failure. Glad to know how easy it will be to replace the battery when I need one. Burt Richmond Vintage Motorcycle Festival – Tacoma Aug 24, 2013

I Fought the Law… Hey Backroads, I read Mark’s response to Halverson’s article. Well done but the fact still remains, Federal Judge Sharp says the checkpoints are legal and do not violate the Constitution. Mark is learning the same harsh lesson law enforcement officers have been dealing with for decades; just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s illegal. Peter Miller - The Man (retired) Hi Shira and Brian, Haven’t been in touch with you folks in awhile. Just had to tell you about reading Brian’s column in last month’s (Nov. 12) mag. I had saved that issue to take with me on a bus trip. It was thru the work-

Letters to the Editor place to a large outlet mall and I decided to go. Here I am sitting on a bus with a bunch of ladies. I did know a few of them and one of them is a motorcyclist to a certain degree but not what I’d call diehard way of life “eatsleepbreathe” motorcycles kind of person. Did I feel like I was out of my element and not amongst my fellow tribeswomen/men/people? Oh, baby, did I ever. All these nice middle-aged ladies that didn’t know from diddly squat about what I consider to be “our world and way of life”. It struck me as very ironic to be reading what Brian had come up with on the subject and being where I was reading it. It was a tad eerie when I think about it but surely did tickle me pink! As Ever, Sindee Lou Good afternoon Shira, I know it’s November and I am just getting back to you, so sorry for the delay but we have been slammed this year (which is a good thing). I did receive the issue of Backroads Magazine with the Wallops Island story in it, thank you so very much!!! It has been passed along through the office and to the higher ups. Thank you again and I hope we cross paths again soon. Take care and have a wonderful day! Susie Salusky - Education Coordinator Wallops Flight Facility

Christmas Spectacular Brian and Shira, That holiday ish of Backroads? one of your best covers EVER! Looks really slick and inviting. Good work and kudos, as we say around the campfire, to whomever got it done (ed. Thanks Shahram for the great image), and also to the other one who married that person, for having good tast. Don

Got something to say? We’d love to hear it. Letters may be edited, never censored, to fit. email:


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News from the Inside



What’s that? You want to discover the beauty of the Northeastern US, but need a bike to ride? No problem. You can now rent a motorcycle from Twisted Throttle. Motorcycle rentals are available at the Twisted Throttle World Headquarters in Exeter, RI. Twisted Throttle is one of the few places in Rhode Island currently offering motorcycle rentals. Whether you need a bike for a daylong jaunt through the hills and along the southern New England shoreline, or for that epic weeklong journey of a lifetime, we can help. We maintain a dedicated rental fleet of bikes that will accommodate most riding styles. Our rental lineup currently includes some of the Twisted Project Bikes from BMW, Kawasaki & Suzuki, with more to come. These bikes are outfitted with premium luggage and accessories that are proven tough and reliable. Rates start as low as $99 per day (plus tax and $15.00 for insurance). We welcome all licensed motorcycle riders over 25 years of age and with a minimum of 2 years riding experience to reserve one of these fine machines. It’s never too early to make a reservation! Give us a call or visit our website. For more details on our rental program please visit:

Although the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called upon states and the federal government to pass motorcycle helmet laws for all riders, this year’s annual “Top Ten Most Wanted List” of the agency’s most important safety priorities no longer lists any motorcycle safety concerns. After making the hit list the past three years, which are recommendations to government bodies that are often put into place through further laws and regulations, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman indicated that “Safety areas are dropped from the list when meaningful progress has been made.

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SCENIC MOTORCYCLE TOURS ANNOUNCES TOUR DATES FOR THE 2013 SEASON Scenic Motorcycle Tours, a provider of value-priced, professionally guided, all-inclusive luxury tours of abundantly beautiful rural New England has announced the release of their 2013 tour schedule. “As this year’s touring season winds down and many begrudgingly prep their bikes for a winter nap, it is uplifting to be able to announce the upcoming touring season schedule” said Graham Sampson, Scenic Motorcycle Tour’s Director. “The greatest thing is that our guests can now lock in a tour or two for 2013, have something to look forward to, in addition to providing added incentive for getting all geared up for next year’s touring adventures. Being able to look forward to the next touring season makes everyone happy” Graham said. The timing of the announcement of the 2013 tour dates coincides with the release of the touring company’s brand new fully interactive e-commerce website. The new website includes a blog, allowing anyone to know what is going on at SMT, to be connected to upcoming events, in addition to being able to follow along via real time updates during the tours themselves. Twitter and Facebook further support this real-time connectivity, to everything Scenic Motorcycle Tours.


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“After a person signs up for a tour the only thing they need to do is show up, ready for four days of fun and great riding”, Graham added. “We plan everything and our attention to every detail is 1st class and second to none.” Riding on incredible roads, enjoying beautiful scenery, rewarding a day’s ride with superior accommodations at a luxury resort that provides wonderful meals centered upon the regional Farm to Table food network is at the heart of a Scenic Motorcycle Tour. For more information, visit or call Graham Sampson at 1-973-291-6152

MARCH MOTO MADNESS 2013 ADVENTURE RALLY MARCH 21-24, 2013 For those who like to ride motorcycles, camp, eat and have a great time with friends. March Moto Madness started as that and hopes to continue expanding the circle to others that enjoy doing the same. March Moto Madness began by getting out as early as possible after winter, packin' up the adventure motorcycles and ridin' /campin' with friends for a few days in the mountains of east TN. It’s been an annual event in Tellico Plains since 2006. It’s primarily been dual sport oriented but the areas great diversity of roads has broadened the range of riders. Great twisty asphalt (Cherohala Skyway, the Dragon), groomed gravel (the Dirt Dragon) or gnarly single track (trail 81 or 82). Food is always great thanks to Cigar Man Don's culinary prowess and Lt. Dan's nearly famous Huevos Rancheros. $45 Pre-registration will get you GREAT RIDING, 3 nights camping with camp fire each night, dinner Friday and Saturday and breakfast Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Coffee as needed. Showers and Port-A-Johns on site, RV sites available (hookup charges extra) Charging station available. Bike rentals available from Site: 801 Steer Creek Rd, Tellico Plains, TN. Close to Tellico Plains (nice if you need to make a run to town for beverages). We're sure a lot of new friendships will be kindled around the campfire this year and stoked again in the years to come. For full details and registration visit:

BEL-RAY PREPARES FOR 400MPH Continually leading advancement in powersports lubrication technology, Bel-Ray is pleased to announce their association with Sam Wheeler and his motorcycle streamliner project. Wheeler’s quest is to top 400mph and break the current motorcycle land speed record of 376.156 MPH. Considered by the industry as the best designer/constructor/driver in motorcycle land-speed record competition, Wheeler will draw upon his 50+ years of experience to build and pilot the machine. Powered by a single Vance and Hines-built Suzuki Hyabusa 1300 engine coupled with a turbocharging system supplied by Mr. Turbo, the machine will arrive at the Salt Flats with more than 500 horsepower. With optimal weather and salt conditions, the odds are positive that Wheeler will capture his goal. In order to achieve a world record, Wheeler must complete the 12-mile course, once in each direction. There must be less than 2 hours of elapsed time in between each run. Using the times determined in the center timedmile section, the two runs are combined and a top speed is determined. Poor salt and weather conditions postponed the original fall 2012 attempt until spring 2013.

DATES ANNOUNCED FOR 2013 AMA VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE DAYS: JULY 19-21 AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days will take place on July 19-21 at the world-class Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Tickets went on sale to the general public Dec. 3, and will be available from Advance ticket prices are $45 for a weekend pass, and $25 for a single-day pass. The event is family-friendly, and children 12 and under get in free with paying, supervising adults. AMA members who buy tickets directly from the AMA before May 28 receive an exclusive price discount. AMA members can call (800) AMA-JOIN to purchase a weekend pass for $35, a $10 savings off the regular advance rate, and a one-day pass for $20, a $5 savings off the regular advance rate. Additionally, there is no service charge for AMA members when purchasing through the AMA. All proceeds from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days benefit the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The goal of the Hall of Fame, located on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio, is to tell the stories and preserve the history of motorcycling’s legends and heroes. For more information, call (614) 856-2222, or visit the Hall of Fame’s website at

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Jeanae Washington I lay awake watching the clock, 30 minutes to go before the alarm is set to go off. Normally I would easily roll over with total contentment to grab the extra 30. Today it is no use to sleep, I am too filled with excitement, or nervousness, I decide on a little bit of both. I took this idea my friend Tracy had at GS Giants, of getting some women together for a ride at the 2012 BMW MOA International Rally, but then I made it a whole lot crazier. Let’s not just do a ride with a bunch of women… let’s do a ride with a bunch of women with shiny GS’s that haven’t experienced the joy of dust and grit. My partners in crime, Tracy Novacich and Dawn Hein, loved the idea. They had their hands full with the GS Giant Challenge, a multi-day event with complicated scoring and a final Challenge course at the MOA Rally. So with their blessing, I ran with the new vision for the ride. This ride was going to be by women, for women. That meant that the lead, the support and the sweeps would all be women. The goal, to build the confidence in the team work and support, that women can offer each other with off road riding. The root of the idea stemmed from a friend asking to take her out and me coming to the realization that as much solo riding as I had done…I had never gone off road without a man there. I couldn’t believe as accomplished as I was in so many aspects of my life…I was a little fearful of going off pavement with all women. But let’s face it…with women entering motorcycling and GSing specifically, coupled with the fact that we still live longer than our male counter parts, it is almost a necessity that we get comfortable with riding with all women off road! (semi joking). So I say “by women for women”, what does that really mean?

SHOWING SOME STREET RIDING LADIES HOW TO GET A BIT DIRTY Let me take a moment to acknowledge that there is no accomplishment in history that wasn’t achieved without the network and support of both genders. There is no gender war…hell; there is too much fraternizing with the enemy if there was a war. And so too, this great accomplishment came with a lot of support from my male friends. When you take BMW training you run into the trainers again and again at BMW events. They love to hear about how their training has brought you literally down new roads in your life, and how your skills improve each year. You in some way develop a friendship with them. So I didn’t think twice to call Bill and say…”Hey I have an idea! How about getting a whole bunch of women who have never ridden off road and take them off road! I heard you have a new women trainer…you can give the Clinic but then you have to scram…the ride needs to be 100% women.” He was all in. So I post it to, and to the Facebook pages: GS Giant, Vermont MOV and MOA. As a first time event and in order to meet the ride objectives of a safe learning environment, and a small ratio of new riders to experienced coaches, we needed to limit the number of riders. Luckily we only went over by 3. The event was a living and breathing organism that evolved as it took life. As women signed up, they expressed the desire for more training; so to accommodate, we rearranged the schedule and the GPS route to provide more training, and a shorter ride. So now it is that dreaded morning…filled with excitement and trepidation. I ask myself, “What have I done!” 17 women have placed their trust in me, I have never done anything like this before! Not to mention that I myself have only just recently become comfortable with the F650GS on gnarly trails. I show up at the sign in…15 gloriously brave women! All there for a va-

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BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 riety of reasons, some to conquer their fears, some to talk to other women about their GS and others to memorialize milestones like turning 50. Every face is glowing with excitement. They gather and I tell them when you see Liz Allen, the instructor from BMW Training, get on the bike and ride it over to the training site- you follow. They mount up. I see Liz take off and the rest of the 15 follow. I smile…it has begun. The group listens intently as Bill instructs. We start with what we all fear the most, dropping the bike. Liz, 5’4”, drops a R1200GS followed by my 2006 F650GS and shows how to pick them up solo and as a team. This teaches us the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Now we can accept this as “no big deal” and move on to the next lesson, riding posture. One rider later tells us, that she listens with a knot in her stomach as Bill explains that the best riding position is standing on your pegs. As Bill speaks, our ride leader Liz demonstrates. Each demonstration she does helps to build the confidence level of the group. The day is heating up and it is expected to be 100 degrees, but you could not tell it by these faces. Determination shows in their eyes as they follow Liz’s every move and twist through the field. Coaches cheer them and instruct, stay up on your pegs. Next is the braking exercise. This is an exercise in finding just the right amount of stopping power of your front brake. I have wiped out a couple times while learning this, and we have a couple of falls this time as well. Following each fall, the riders get up, and laugh with a “no big deal” attitude. One woman said “I bought my bike pre-dropped and I have fallen before!” I knew this was going to be a great ride. I have never worked with such a passionate group of people, completely full of determination. We all line up and ride out of the GS Giant area. I look at the 18 bikes, all women lead support and sweep, going out before me and again, I smile; heads turn as we wind through the fair grounds and head out the gate. After

Page 23 a short ride through Sedalia and some country roads we get to the gravel roads. Bail outs were always important to me when I was learning to ride off road, so we designed the ride to intersect with pavement often. Although we planned for bail outs, we decided not to “offer them” as much as to wait for them to be “asked for.” We wanted the women to know they could do this. As we suspected, they never did ask for the bail out. As we sat in the shade of the second gravel stretch, we announced, “Ladies, the bailout was several miles ago, no one asked to get off this ride…you are officially GSers…or as my husband likes to call us She S’ers.” A hoot came up from the group. We did about 30 miles of gravel roads with slight down hills and up hills with some turns and mild washboards. We had no falls. Think about this, at least half the riders had never been off road before. We head back on some curvy country roads. Again I see 20 new riders to the dirt. I smile for the third time. My heart swells as I think about the future adventures these women have before them, and I breathe a heavy sigh, one filled with the joy of a vision that has become a reality.

DIRTY GIRLS • MaryJo Gracin I’ve been riding on the street for a little over 10 years now and have wanted to learn how to ride off-road for the past 4 years, but never put the deposit down for the classes because the time was always wrong. I had already registered for the BMW MOA rally in Sedalia MO when I was forwarded the email invitation to a women’s only GS ride at the rally, to be held on Friday morning. It was just too convenient to turn down. Now I am not a fan of gender segregation, but I was excited by the thought of not only NOT being the only female in a group of riders, but actually meet-




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JANUARY 2013 • BACKROADS ing and learning from a whole BUNCH of skilled women. Outside of beauty salons and department stores, when does that happen? Only 5 minutes after receiving that email, while standing in the shade in the park on a hot Summer Saturday morning, I was confirmed as an attendee and ready to join the ranks of the “Dirty Girls”. When I showed up on Friday morning at GS Giant stadium, there was a crowd already there, women, tall and short, some with off road specific gear, bikes big and small, as well as the curious on lookers, the GS Giant campers and passersby who could not help but watch a rarely seen gathering of women riders, all on their own bikes. In the middle of it all, Jeanae Washington, the organizer was busy signing everyone in as women riders from all over the country met and discussed bikes and riding experiences. A show of hands revealed that a little over half the riders had never ridden off-road before, which made me feel very comfortable. We started with lessons on how to pick up a fallen bike. To my surprise, the instructor, at 5’ nothing, had no problems with an R1200GS, That made me feel good; if she could do it, at 5’9”, I could too. Next was the standing on the pegs and controlling the bike in turns skill. After about 5 minutes, my calves started to hurt. I had the wrong foot position. A small adjustment of the foot and no more pain. Next skill, positioning hands to cover clutch, brake, and throttle, while standing. At this point I realized that my bike, although comfortable for riding 1,000 miles in 24 hours on pavement needed a bunch of adjustments to make it comfortable for 30 miles off road. I decided to address that another time. Next, how to brake. I have long ago come to rely on and love my ABS, but now it was a hinderance and I had to separate the front brake from the back brake and learn to use each in specific situations. I later learned what happens if you mix them up. The instruction was clear and patient, and the demonstrations were well done and professional. But with all learning exercises, doing was a lot harder than watching. We each rode around the grassy field set up with cones to practice each of the new skills under the watchful eyes of the instructors. It was quickly obvious who had done this before and who had not. “Yes sir, my knees are hugging the tank for a reason, oh, press on my foot pegs instead? Well that works, thank you.” “Yes, I do need all 4 fingers on my front brake for emergency stopping. Not in the dirt? Oh, use the back brake and throttle to stabilize the bike? Oh, I knew that”. By the time we got to the braking exercise, sweat was pouring down my face, my helmet saturated and my hands were trembling. It was time to ride. If you’d like to take the plunge into 20 people on a ride is a big group, so it took a little time to get the dirt, here are some suggestions: through town with the group intact. Once we made it to the dirt part, Planet Dirt - Plympton, MA we gave a thumbs up, turned off our ABS, and off we went, over roads unpaved. Feeling the bike hop around and pushing it into turns was a lot easCoach 2 Ride - San Diego, CA ier to do standing than sitting and it was fun! I traveled in 2nd gear and even tried 3rd gear for a little bit on the straightaways. I got into Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School the leaning forward part when going uphills, but the shifting my Pahrumph, NV • weight back on downhills did not work for me, changing the position of my hand controls would have probably been a good idea. ThankRawhyde Adventures - Castaic, CA fully the hills were small. I made a point to shift to first gear at the top of each hill to minimize the need to brake on the downhill. I was really starting to enjoy myself when it happened....we ran out of dirt. That was it? But, it was so short and my hands just stopped shaking. Alas, I was bit. Dirt was in my future. We gathered at a nearby gas station, chatted about our experiences, what worked, what didn’t, how to adjust. We took photos of our new companions and exchanged contact information. It was definitely a bonding experience. The return trip was all pavement: sweeping back country turns, on uncongested roads, so much fun. When I got back to my campsite, I could not stop talking about the experience. It is a rare honor and a privilege to be a part of this group. Thank you to everyone who made this happen!

Backroads will be taking CLASS both days at VIR • May 30+31 • JOIN US!

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Doing some 2013 Ride Planning? Don’t forget to put the Backroads’ Spring Break and Jersey 250+ on your calendar. SPRING BREAK • THURSDAY, MAY 16-SUNDAY, MAY 19 • COOPERSTOWN, NY JERSEY 250+ • SATURDAY, JUNE 15 (raindate June 22) • START: AUGUSTA, NJ Find all the info in the ads on page 58. And check out some other great events in our calendar on page 41.


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Concept Bike • HONDA’S


words: Evans Brasfield • images: Kevin Wing and American Honda un and practical are two words that most motorcycle riders would generally not expect to be seen together. However, the combination is exactly what Honda sought when it designed the NC700X. Honda believes that this “new concept” in motorcycles could—hopefully—bring more people into the sport. To complicate matters, Honda also wanted the NC to appeal not only to moto-novices, but also to attract experienced riders alike, creating a need for a delicate balance between non-intimidating power and responsiveness. Consider this: Fun on a motorcycle is often equated with top end power, but the simple reality is that most motorcycles spend very little time in this range.


Page 28 So, if you’re looking for a way to make a motorcycle practical (read efficient), wouldn’t you want to find a way to add fun to the ride when you twist the throttle? Honda’s engineers worked hard to appeal to real world riders by delivering immediate, accessible performance in the bottom end and mid-range in the form of a 670 cc parallel-twin that produces torque off idle and peaks at 4750 rpm. Novices will like the ease with which they can launch the NC700, and seasoned riders will appreciate the snappy response in daily use. The efficiency component was designed into the combustion chambers of the 73mm x 80mm bore and stroke, four valve per cylinder engine. In addition, special attention was paid to making the mill as compact and light as possible. The intake and exhaust ports are branched within the cylinder heads, allowing for the use of a single 36mm throttle body and exhaust header. The compact packaging allows the catalytic converter to be mounted next to the port itself, utilizing a smaller, more efficient unit. Further engine compactness is achieved by the camshaft driven the water pump and the counterbalancer shaft driven the oil pump. Frictional losses are minimized by the use of aluminum roller rocker arms in the valve train and friction-reducing coatings on the pistons. All this results in an impressive, claimed a 64 mpg for the standard 6-speed model.

JANUARY 2013 • BACKROADS Since learning proper clutch control can be a major hurdle to new riders, Honda’s second generation Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) provides them with an automatic transmission riding experience. Although the Drive and Sport modes still determine the aggressiveness of the transmission’s shifting, Honda has taken what was learned from the DCT on the 2010 VFR1200F and given the rider the option of temporarily overriding the DCT with the shift paddles on the left grip. The ECU will return to the automatic mode after a short period. With a new “learning function,” the ECU constantly monitors a variety of sensors to determine the riding environment and anticipate what action will be required next, allowing the shift points to vary within the same mode. For novices, rolling away from a stop is just as easy as twisting the throttle. Gear choice is left up to the Engine Control Unit (ECU). As their experience level increases, the DCT’s paddle shifting manual mode gives more control. Whether using the manual transmission or the DCT, the seamless fuel metering from the NC700X’s EFI supplies both fun and practicality. (The DCT only drops the fuel efficiency to 61mpg.) The manual transmission’s easy to modulate clutch combined with ample bottom end torque make


launches a breeze. However, short shifting is required to keep the engine in the meat of its power. The DCT’s Drive mode seems focused on user-friendly performance and fuel economy. Rolling on the throttle moves you past traffic without drama. Whacking the throttle open causes quick downshifts to occur, helping the acceleration. Experienced riders will note that temporarily overriding the DCT by downshifting manually before rolling on the throttle shortens the engine’s reaction time significantly. The Sport mode changes the gear selection and downshifts come sooner, giving the benefit of engine braking entering corners. Experienced riders will grin, as they thumb a couple quick downshifts on corner entry, roll on the throttle, and let the DCT do all the gear changing work. Out on the interstate, the engine turns a comfortable 3500 rpm at 65 mph. Engine vibration is minimal, starting around 4500 rpm. Around town, the NC700X feels balanced and stable. The rider’s upright position is perfect for negotiating traffic. Steering response is immediate and predictable, even when changing lines mid-corner. The Metzeler Roadtec Z8 tires offer plenty of grip for cornering the NC700X is capable of achieving. While the styling and long travel suspension (5.4 inches front and 5.9 inches rear) may look like they’re ready for light off-road use, the NC has no such aspirations but is more than capable at handling the road irregularities found in the concrete jungle. The soft front end dives under the initial application of brakes, but not excessively so. As long as the pace is kept within the parameters for which the suspension was designed, it works well, though midcorner bumps do occasionally upset the chassis. Ignore journalists who

Page 29

complain that the NC won’t corner like a sportbike. It wasn’t meant to. Like the transmission, the NC700X’s brakes come in two varieties. On the standard model, the single front 320mm disc is squeezed by a two-piston caliper while the 240mm rear has a single-piston caliper. However, as part of the DCT package, Honda’s Combined ABS links the front and rear calipers to the brake pedal. When the pedal is depressed, the rear brake is activated and a proportioning valve varies the percentage of power delivered to the front wheel in an effort to optimize the use of both brakes. Lightly applying the brake pedal feels as if the proportioning valve is initially only sending power to the rear, but increase the pressure and the chassis attitude reflects the effects of both brakes being utilized. The front brake is controlled independently by two of the caliper’s three pistons. ABS kicks in if either wheel reaches a threshold for impending lockup. Both the standard and ABS brakes are easy to modulate and confidence inspiring. Riders who are accustomed to sportbike binders may feel they are under powered, but they are more than capable of getting the job done with a firm pull at the lever. When trying to attract new riders, perhaps, no feature is more important than how balanced a bike feels on the showroom floor. Honda clearly had this in mind when it developed NC700X’s extremely low CG. The bike feels much lighter than the claimed 474 lbs. wet weight (505 lbs. for the NC700XD). Although the 32.7 in. seat height may give shorter riders pause, the narrowness of the bike combined with low CG keep the NC700X from feeling top heavy. To achieve this, the engine’s cylinders cant forward 62-

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Page 30 degrees to make it shorter and flatter. The 3.7 gallon tank is located under the seat, low and forward next to the engine, creating extra space and contributing to mass centralization. Since friendliness and utility were two major design goals of the NC700X, Honda chose to make a storage area out of the space normally reserved for the gas tank. This waterproof compartment is large enough to hold some XL full face helmets and can be upgraded to include a 12V power outlet. To further the NC700X’s utility, Honda designed $600 accessory hard bags concurrently with the rest of the bike, complimenting the adventure touring-inspired bodywork. (Though you will want to add the $90 aluminum look panels to the saddlebags for a fully integrated look.) With the bags and the trunk holding 29 liters and 45 liters, respectively, the NC has the makings of a fun weekend tourer. The NC700X’s fashionable styling doesn’t look like that of a motorcycle whose base price is $6,999 ($8,999 NC700XD). The instrument cluster sports big, easy-to-press buttons on the sides of the pod for scrolling through display options. The DCT/ABS model also receives a gear indicator that displays DCT mode. Honda has managed to deliver a great combination of fun and efficiency at a reasonable price—and even threw in some cool DCT/ABS technology for a little more money. Whether Honda new concept motorcycle has found a way to attract a different group of people into the motorcycling fold remains to be seen. The NC700X does, however, deliver a good value for the money. If the European market is any reflection on how the bike will be received stateside, the NC700X should sell well.


NC700X THOUGHTS Smooth. This adjective is all you need to describe Honda’s new NC700X. The Dual Clutch transmission works seamlessly; and that is coming from a non-believer who has been smirking since Honda released their VFR with this system a while back. But, I’ll get back to the transmission; let’s talk about the NC700X itself. What’s not to like? The machine is stylish and light and handles far better than its ‘little to adjust’ suspension would lead you to believe. The twin cylinder powerplant, although not the biggest, still can offer even the most experienced rider a big smile on the backroads and the single discs in both front and rear do a super job of powering it back down. The more I rode the NC700X the more I appreciated the cavernous storage area where the fuel tank isn’t and the fuel mileage offered appealed to my frugal side. To be honest the ‘Drive’ setting is somewhat boring, but ‘Sport’ is much better. To me the fun factor rose greatly in the manual paddle-shifting mode. I do wish I had a chance to ride the conventional 6-speed machine, but

BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 after a few weeks of getting used to the paddle shifting I found myself, Luddite that I am, becoming a believer. After a while I found myself ‘paddling’ like Sebastian Vettel around the Circuit of the Americas. As much as I still prefer a clutch and shifter I can se where this might go, and it would not be a totally bad thing. The future just might be here. I have not been on a bike that was shifting so smoothly since I went for a ride on the back of Reg Pridmore’s machine. I have read where other journalists have called this a great starter bike and the word ‘utilitarian’ has popped up here and there. Hogwash! The Honda NC700X, standard or Dual Clutch, is just an awesome ride. A great mid-size bike, with superb ergonomics, that can do everything from day to day commuting to weeklong trips and it is priced right too. Now if Honda would make one with the VFR’s 1237cc V-Four ~ Brian Rathjen This bike has enough power to be fun, but even in sport mode the smooth transmission upshifts too quickly. The only time the automatic mode would be useful to me would be in heavy traffic or during another post-hurricane gas crisis when I would need to save every ounce of gas. The engine has a pleasant sound to the rider, but it’s probably not loud enough to impress anyone else. The fork is set up perfectly, there is very little dive under braking and I couldn’t get it to bottom out over potholes on a short stretch of dirt road on my route. But the shock is poorly damped and the bike seems to be a little hesitant to turn and lean for a small bike with a wide handlebar and good

2012 SPECIFICATIONS Model: NC700X / NC700XD with Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission and Combined ABS Engine Type: 670cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin Bore and Stroke: 73mm x 80mm Compression ratio: 10.7:1 Valve Train: SOHC; four valves per cylinder Induction: PGM-FI with 36mm throttle body Ignition: Digital transistorized with electronic advance Transmission: Six-speed (NC700X) / Automatic six-speed with two modes and a manual mode (NC700XD) Final Drive: Chain Suspension Front: 41mm fork; 5.4 inches travel Rear: Pro-Link®; 5.9 inches travel Brakes Front: Single 320mm disc with two-piston caliper (NC700X) / Single 320mm disc with three-piston caliper; Combined ABS (NC700XD) Rear: Single 240mm disc with single-piston caliper (NC700X) / Single 240mm disc with single-piston caliper; Combined ABS (NC700XD) Tires: Front: 120/70ZR17 radial/Rear: 160/60ZR17 radial Wheelbase: 60.6 inches Rake (Caster angle): 27.0° Trail: 110.0mm (4.3 inches) Seat Height: 32.7 inches Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gallons Estimated Fuel Economy**: 64 MPG (NC700X) / 61 MPG (NC700XD) Color: Light Silver Metallic Curb Weight*: 474 pounds (NC700X) / 505 pounds (NC700XD) *Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride. **Honda’s fuel-economy estimates are based on EPA exhaust emission measurement test procedures and are intended for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you ride; how you maintain your vehicle; weather; road conditions; tire pressure; installation of accessories; cargo, rider and passenger weight; and other factors. Meets current CARB and EPA standards.

Page 31 tires. The brakes work well. I got the ABS to engage on the rear and it was very smooth. Except for the shock, all of the flaws I found with this bike are nitpicks. ~ Keith Hyche

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Come in today for your Winter fun and cleanup vehicles. ©2011 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ™, ® and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. Products are distributed in the U.S.A. by BRP US Inc. Features may vary by model. 1Based on warranty registration compiled by InfoLink. 2Based on internal testing of ECO mode at wide-open throttle against regular touring mode. Fuel consumption varies by model and engine package. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, models or equipment without incurring any obligation. Always ride responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. BRP recommends a minimum operator age of 16 years old. Always observe applicable laws and regulations. Respect the rights of shoreline residents, and keep a safe distance from other recreationists. Always wear appropriate protective clothing, including a Coast Guard-approved PFD that is suitable for PWC use. Always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. 2106975

©2012 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. In the U.S.A., products are distributed by BRP US Inc. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, models or equipment without incurring obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. BRP highly recommends that all ATV drivers take a training course. For safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: always wear a helmet, eye protection, and other protective clothing. Never carry passengers on any ATV not specifically designed by the manufacturer for such use. All adult model Can Am ATVs are Category G ATVs (General Use Models) intended for recreational and/or utility use by an operator age 16 or older. For side-by-side vehicles (SxS): Read the BRP side-by-side Operator’s Guide and watch the Safety DVD before driving. For your safety: wear a helmet, eye protection and other protective gear. Fasten lateral net and seat belt at all times. Operator must be at least 16 years old. Passenger must be at least 12 years old and able to hold handgrips and plant feet while seated against the backrest. ATVs and SxS are for off-road use only; never ride on paved surfaces or public roads. Always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. Never engage in stunt driving. Avoid excessive speed and be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Ride responsibly.

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Fall Fiesta 2012 • Back to the Amish After a string of brilliant weather for our rallies I was still more than optimistic on a great day’s ride even as I rolled the two bikes from the barn on a rainy and dreary morning on the first day of the Backroads Fall Fiesta 2012. A few years back we had sojourned down to the Amish part of Pennsylvania and stayed just outside the city of Lancaster, but after visiting the town earlier in the Spring and hanging with our friend his honor the Mayor Rick Grey we were convinced to make a return trip to this artsy city for this year’s Fall Fiesta. This day we met up with fellow riders Helene and Laura and after a bite to eat in western New Jersey we mounted up and headed across the Delaware River and down along a wide variety of backroads, both known and unknown. Any bad weather that had threatened us earlier made its way eastward and the cool morning morphed into an easy summer afternoon - even if the Autumnal equinox was the week before. Some old favorites were attacked and ridden well, with Irish Creek Road still remaining a perennial favorite. Early afternoon found us at the Franklin House Tavern, in Schaefferstown, where we had a simply scrumptious meal and got to watch R.A. Dickey move through some innings on his way to that 20th win of the year. As Mets fans we take what we can get some seasons. As we were preparing to get on our way, another group of Fall Fiesta ralliers pulled into the lot – the Hoffmanns and crew from Long Island. 3’ish found us riding up to the fabulous Arts Hotel in downtown Lancaster and right into a great surprise – Bob Henig, from Bob’s BMW who rode up to join us for the night. Settled in and showered we went down to the drive and courtyard and watch as the Arts hotel began to fill with bikes and riders, all part of this year’s Fall Fiesta. Lancaster has plenty of culinary experiences to offer, but this night we stayed at the Arts Hotel and their own organic restaurant, the John J. Jeffries, with the bar doing a brisk business as well this night. We had some storms overnight but the next day was bright and almost summer-like in the 80s. As with most of our rallies we had a number of riding options for our

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BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 attendees. A 100-mile covered bridge tour and longer ride that looped up north and then back to Lancaster, stopping at the Antique Automobile Car Museum in Hershey and a ride south into Maryland to the Ladew Topiary Gardens. Shira had wanted to go to the Ladew Gardens for months now so we headed that way this day. The route was superb, as it wound its way across the Mason-Dixon Line and into Maryland. We even had a few miles of good old slick mud just to make it interesting. The Gardens were spectacular as was the tour of the home itself. I can only

Page 35 imagine how much upkeep must go into a place as well groomed as the Ladew Gardens. We had a planned lunch stop at a local crab place but arrived to find the place had been robbed overnight and we were basically shooed away by the owner. We were looking for seafood and the Fisherman’s Wharf looked like it would fit the bill, except we didn’t know it would be attached to a bowling alley. Yikes! Nothing too good for our friends I say. As lame as the restaurant was the ride back was anything but, as Shira’s routing was spot on and we all enjoyed the twists, turns and elevation changes all the way back to Lancaster. Others headed in every different direction, with many stopping in to York, PA and the Harley-Davidson Open House weekend. The Factory was having tours and the town of York was packed with chrome of every configuration. Just a tad too crowded for us, but all who ventured there had a good time. That evening we had dinner at the nearby Checkers Bistro and were even Opposite Page: Heading down the road to Lancaster Some well-placed advertisement never hurts This Page: Bob Henig is entertained by our little stuffed friends Terry, looking like the regal lady she is The hunt is on at the Ladew Topiary Gardens Perhaps the crabs broke out from the inside?

Page 36 joined by Lancaster’s Mayor Rick Gray and his wife Gail. Many of the other attendees followed our lead and all had a most excellent meal. Rick has been a friend for years and folks really enjoyed that the mayor of this fine city took some time to hang with us as Rick returned a few times over the weekend, with different bikes each time, just to hang and be part of the Fall Fiesta. Now there is a politician for you. The following day Shira and I were joined by our buddy Vasilli, whom we toured Greece with a few years back, and went for a morning ride to Hershey to see the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Museum – which was one of the best I have ever seen. They even had a display of vintage dirt bikes on show and were running ‘On Any Sunday’ as well. While there we ran into a few others that had come to see the museum. From there we did our own version of a longer route and then made our way back to town a bit earlier than the previous day.

JANUARY 2013 • BACKROADS A large group went out early in the day and did the entire big route, which headed all the way north to Centralia – the town that still is on fire – and then doubled back to Lancaster. From the smiles it seemed that this group really liked the ride and with the weather cooperating all was well for the Fall Fiesta 2012. With all the various restaurants near the Arts Hotel our friends dispersed every which way for dinner, but all seemed to make it back to the Arts Hotel’s bar, for a few last hours hanging out before the ride back home that Sunday. One little snag along the way that evening was that the Backroads banner was hanging above the garage entrance, off a small porch that belonged to one of our group’s room. He, unfortunately had left that day, and we could not retrieve the banner. The guy at the desk did not seem too enthusiastic on helping us simply get it back from the empty room and stated he would try to see if we could get it sometime on Sunday. Not good enough for our early start. Thankfully the wiry and agile Ken (Olympic gold medalist we have heard) scaled the porch and liberated the banner. It was like dinner and then a show! The fellow at the front desk was not amused in the least. Many riders simply reversed the route Shira had posted down to Lancaster and rode back up towards New York and New Jersey along some entertaining roads and, although we had great weather the entire trip, we did get soaked for the last ten miles approaching Backroads Central. We’d trade that for a great rally weather-wise any day. For us we thought the Backroads Fall Fiesta was a huge success. Excellent roads, super hotel, wonderful city and all these great friends riding to Lancaster to share a good weekend with everybody else. We’re looking forward to our next Backroads’ event Spring Break 2013 in Cooperstown, New York. This will be our 15th anniversary holding these rallies and we promise a great time for all who attend.



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We love it when established companies, that already have exemplary products, continue to make advances in fit, style and technology; like the folks at Sargent Cycle Products. Sargent has released a new line of World Sport Performance Seats called World Sport Performance PLUS. This special edition series of motorcycle seats are as comfortable as their original standard seats, but feature extra-tough materials, extratough construction, and a bold, rugged look. We recently received the latest from Sargent and were very impressed by the solid quality of this saddle. Sargent’s lightweight seat base pan is precision designed and constructed and allowed for installation in just seconds. With Sargent’s new DURATEX seating area material and special side grip zones, these seats make an excellent choice for on or off-road use. DURATEX offers a strong, yet comfortable seating surface with just the right amount of traction, while the special GRIPZONE side panels offer extra gripping power during braking or off-road maneuvers; we did a bit of light offroad riding along some hidden hunting roads we know about in northwest New Jersey and can attest to this. And to top it off, they’ve constructed these seats with beautiful, extra-tough double stitching for a seat built to last with rugged good looks too. Our seat came with a nice red piping, complete with a little BMW- M swatches along the side of the twopiece seat. As with their other seats, which we had tested on numerous machines, the new World Sport Performance PLUS Seats uses what Sargent calls “Super Cell Atomic Foam Suspension,” and we call really comfortable and ready, out-of the box, for all day riding. On the road the World Sport Performance PLUS Seat was extremely comfortable from the time I snapped it into first gear till the end of the day when I turned off the keys. In fact it wasn’t till much later in the day that I remembered I was riding on a new saddle and that, compared to the stock BMW unit, I was in no discom-

fort whatsoever. My butt never crossed my mind, which it did with great frequency with the OEM saddle. Just the thought that I didn’t think about it tells you all you need to know. Although we took the standard seat height the World Sport Performance PLUS comes in a lowered version (dropping the seating position a full inch) as well. If desired you can also add an optional “heat upgrade”, which works phenomenally and makes a huge difference on those chilly Sunday Polar Bear runs. Our standard two-piece (rider / passenger) seat lists for $699, but other options come with different price tags and if you are a solo rider you can just buy the rider half of the seat alone. The initial release of the Performance PLUS Special Edition Series is available for select BMW Adventure Touring motorcycles but Sargent has seats for many popular makes and models. You can see what they have to offer on the elaborate website -, or call 800-7497328 for model availability and additional information.


Page 38

Event Recap

CHINCOTEAGUE’S 40TH ANNUAL OYSTER FESTIVAL Brian Rathjen Change is good. So I have been told. But, after traveling down each fall, a pilgrimage if you will, and attending a dozen or so Oyster Festivals on the tiny island of Chincoteague, off the Virginian coast, I was told that the venue had changed this year to the far side of the island and would no longer be held in the hallowed grounds of Maddox family Campground, but rather at Tom’s Cove Park. Hmmm, sometimes I resist change. Over the years I have explore much of this island, so I knew where Tom’s Cove was, but had never actually been in the large waterside RV park. Arriving the evening before the big party we took a ride around the grounds, a little recon, and I must say I was impressed. Expansive grounds, clean, plenty of electricity and water available. A large dock and pier complete with benches and a striking view of Assateague and the old lighthouse. Yes, this is the island with the wild ponies, and yes you can go see them. Tom’s Cove Park would do more than nicely, I thought. Unlike previous years where there was always a mad scramble for prime reality and tables for the fest, the next day Shira and I easily drove in at 7am and acquired 5 long tables in a row to handle the large group we knew would be arriving in a few hours. At noon the fire alarms went off and Chincoteague’s 40th Annual Oyster Festival was under way. The weather was beyond perfect with a cloudless sky and a nice breeze off the water shooing both flies and mosquitoes away. Soon one of the greatest party bands – Island

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Boy – was getting the rhythm going and there were long lines for all the food available. Steamed crabs coated with Old Bay, raw oysters, steamed oysters, fried oysters…. Hey, it was an Oyster Festival!

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There was also plenty of non-seafood for those who might not be into bi-valves; hot dogs, salads, hush puppies, Boardwalk French fries soups and some scrumptious cupcakes. We have written about this event many times, so we’ll keep this short, but let me tell you, for the $40 ticket price you will not find an event, crowd and musicians having such a fantabulous rocking time as the Oyster Festival that is held the Saturday of Columbus Weekend on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. We’re pretty sure we’ll be there again next year. Join us! Come join our table craziness - you just never know what theme we’ll come up with next year.

Saturday, October 12, 2013 Tom’s Cove Park, Chincoteague, VA Tickets: $40 for all you can eat and the best band you’ll ever hear rockin’ the day.

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UPCOM IN G EVENTS CAL ENDAR E V E RY M O N T H - W E AT H E R P E R M I T T I N G Every Sunday • Eastern Suffolk ABATE Breakfast Run. Crossroads Diner - Calverton NY. 10:30am. Eat and Ride After • 631-369-2221 Every Tuesday • The Ear - Spring St, NYC. Come meet some fellow riders and do some benchracing or whatever. 8pm-ish Every Wednesday • Chelseas Restaurant/Pub, 1051 Rte. 22 East, Lebanon, NJ 6-9pm, weather permitting all summer •

JANUARY 2013 4-6 • Advanstar’s International Motorcycle Show, Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. Get more info and ticket discount at 18-20 • Advanstar’s International Motorcycle Show at the Jacob Javits Center, NYC. Show features include the MotoGP Experience, American Motor Drome’s Wall of Death, J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show, Progressive Open Road Experience, Pit Stop Challenge presented by GEICO AMA Pro Racing, Suzuki Sweepstakes, Ducati Fashion Show, Strider Adventure Zone, great seminars all day, every day and, of course, the great marketplace and vendors for your motorcycle shopping pleasure. BACKROADS will be there again to greet you with the new issue and the BEST candy at the Javits. Don’t miss us - we’ll try to post our booth number as soon as we know it. Get more info and ticket discount at 19 • Bob's Annual Bus Trip to the International Motorcycle Show. Tickets will include round trip transportation to NYC, entry to the IMS and a snack for the ride home. Space is limited and we sell out every year. Details to come. 23 • Motorcyclepedia Museum’s Speaker Series begins with ‘How to Avoid a Ticket’ presented by Pete Miller, retires Police Chief and Motor Office with 34 years of police experience. Discussion of vehicle and traffic laws in NY and NJ and the controversial ‘motorcycle safety checkpoints’, equipment, safety and other topics. 7pm * $10pp • 250 Lake St, Newburgh, NY • 845-569-9065 •

FEBRUARY 2013 23 • Ramapo Motorcycle Club 95th Crotona Midnight Run. Sat., Feb. 23-Sun., Feb. 24. Sign in: 10:30pm • Key Time: Midnight - 12:00am. Location: Nathan's parking lot, Central Park Ave, Yonkers, NY. This is the longest running motorcycle event in the USA. Be part of History. More info at

MAY 2013 16-19 • BACKROADS Spring Break 2013. We’ll be heading to Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Farmer’s Museum and some great riding. This rally will feature a complete issue of Backroads’ columns in one weekend - Great All-American Diner Run, Big City Getaway, and, of course, Mysterious America. Our home base will be the Lake Front Motel, sitting right on Lake Otsego and walking distance from downtown Cooperstown. All the information for booking can be found on page 58. 16-19 • Concours Owners Group Northeast Spring Fling. Bedford, PA. Ideally situated with great riding in all directions, with little traffic and many scenic routes. Enjoy trips to central PA’s vast valleys, railroad history of Altoona, historic Gettysburg, Flight 93 National Memorial, Flood City/Johnstown and much more. Event fee covers cost of Saturday dinner. Sample route download available. Discount for club members. Contact Jason 814535-8669 •

POLAR BEAR GRAND TOUR 2012-13 It is not necessary to be a member of the Polar Bear Grand Tour to do these rides. There is generally food at the destination and if you just want to go for a nice ride and join other folks feel free to attend. These are general directions. Please feel free to use a GPS or a map to find a better route. Sign-in is from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm unless otherwise posted. Check the New Member page for general information about the Polar Bear Grand Tour. To check on Polar Bear cancellations & updates call A.M.A. Dis. #2 Ph. # 908-722-0128 Dec. 30 • IRELAND'S 32 RESTAURANT & PUB, 32 Orange Ave., Suffern, NY 10901 PH# 845-368-3232 • Take 287 north to exit 57A. Make a right at the bottom of the ramp onto Route 59 E (Orange Ave.). Go approximately 1.2 miles and the restaurant is on the left. Jan. 6 • De THOMASI's EAST 5 POINTS INN, 580 Tuckahoe Rd, Vineland, NJ 08360 Ph.# 856-691-6080 • Take Rt. 206 South to the end. Continue straight to Rt. 54 South to the end (12 miles); make left on Rt. 40. Go 0.1 mile. Make right on Rt. 557. Go 2.5 miles to DeThomasi's on right. Jan. 13 • WEARHOUSE GRILL, 161 Rte. 181, Lake Hopatcong, NJ Ph #973-663-2222 • Route I-80 West from intersection of 287, to Route 15 North; go about 3 miles and watch carefully for sign for Route 181 North -- it comes up fast on the right; you will cross Rte 15; take first right; Wearhouse Grill is about 1.5 miles on the left, immediately after the big blue Yamaha sign. Jan. 20 • SIR JOHN'S, 230 Washington Place, North Brunswick TWP, NJ. 08902 Ph # 732 297-3803 • From Rt 1, take Rte 130 South to the 82 mile-marker, get in left lane; make left at light at the Getty Station (Washington Place); go two blocks to Sir John's on right. Folks traveling Rte.130 North go past the 81 mile-marker; make a right at the traffic light at the Getty Station. Jan. 27 • THE EXCHANGE, 160 E. Main St., Rockaway, NJ 07866 Ph # 973-627-8488• In Denville on Rte. 46 West, go under Route 80; go 1/2 mile to light; go right on East Main St., Rockaway; go 1/2 mile; the Exchange is on the right. Feb. 3 • THE FRANKLIN HOUSE TAVERN, 101 North Market Street, Schaefferstown, PA 17088 Ph. # 717 949-2122 • Take Rte. 897 (also Rte 419) to Schaefferstown. It will be

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What’s Happening on your right at 897 and Market Street. Feb. 10 • PIC-A-LILLI INN 866 Route 206 Shamong NJ Ph. # 609 268-2066 • From the north take Rte 206 South, pass Rte. 70 go 9 miles Pic-A-Lilli Inn on left. From the south @ Rte. 30 & 206 go north on Rte. 206 for 8.5 miles Pic-A-Lilli on right. Feb. 17 • HOOTERS, 25 Rte 23 South, Wayne, NJ 07470 Ph# 973-837-1876 • At intersection of Rte 46 & Rte 23 take Rte 23 South (approx. 0.2 mile) just past the mall; Hooters is on the right. Feb. 24 • BAHRS LANDING, 2 Bay Ave., Highlands, NJ 07732 PH# 732-872-1245 • From East take Rte 36 West over Highland bridge; immediately over bridge make very sharp right turn down hill into parking lot. From West take Rte 36 East toward Highland bridge; Just before bridge, make right turn then a quick left turn down the hill to Bay Ave; make left turn under bridge into parking lot. March 3 • FIREHOUSE EATERY, 455 Saint Georges Ave. Rahway, NJ 07065 Ph# 732 382-9500 • Take G.S.P. to exit 131 (not 131A) to Rte 27; turn left on Rte 27 North; go 2.6 miles, take left onto Rte 35 (AKA St Georges Ave); go 0.3 mile; Firehouse Restaurant is on the right. March 10 • LONG VALLEY PUB & BREWERY, 1 Fairmount Rd., Long Valley, NJ 07853 Ph #908-876-1122 • From Rte 206 in Chester, take Rte 24 West (Rte 513); go 4.5 miles to Long Valley; Make left at light at Rte 517; immediately on right, first parking lot is the Long Valley Pub. March 17 • THE CHATTERBOX, #1 Rte 15 South, Augusta, NJ 07822 Ph#973-300-2300 • From South, take Rte 206 North to Rte 15, Ross Corner; The Chatter Box immediately on right at the intersection; enter from driveway about 300 feet before the intersection. From the North take Rte 565 to intersection with Rte 15, Ross Corner; go straight; driveway into the Chatterbox is on the left. March 24 • BRIAN'S HARLEY-DAVIDSON, 600 S. Flowers Mill Rd., Langhorne PA Ph# 215 752-9400 • PA. Rte 95 South take exit 44 (stay left) left at light on Rte. 413 - 2nd light make left on S. Flowers Mill Rd. PA Route 95 North Exit 44 stay to left - left at 1st light on S. Flowers Mill Rd. April 7 • CHEEBURGER CHEEBURGER, 100 Reaville Ave. Flemington NJ 08822 Phone # 908-782-9000 • From the south take Rte 202 north. Make right at the last light before the circle. Cheeburger Cheeburger will be on your left. From the North take Rte 202 through Flemington. At the first light after Northlandz (Grate American Railway), take the jug handle across Rte 202 onto Case Blvd. Stay on Case Blvd. It becomes Reaville Ave. Cheeburger Cheeburger will be on your Right. Cheeburger Cheeburger April 14 • CAPE MAY V.F.W. post #386, N .J. 419 Congress St., Cape May, N .J. 08204 Ph# 609-884-7961. No Web site.


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

Listen Hear Robert Laford Do you remember that head-banging concert you saw when you were 19 and your ears were ringing for the next two days? Your ears still remember that. Do you remember those fireworks, that police siren, or that fire alarm, that made you shake your head because it made your ears ring? Your ears still remember that. Do you remember when you spent all day riding your motorcycle at highway speeds and at the end of the day you were mentally wiped-out and your ears were ringing? Your ears remember that. As we age, many of us experience a reduction in what we can hear. Many of our spouses think that it is selective hearing loss, but the reality of the reduced hearing we have is mostly preventable and mostly because of the abuse that we have inflicted on our ears over our lifetime. Every time we experienced that ringing after being exposed to increased sound levels we have damaged our hearing. The inner ear has some very delicate workings with the smallest bones of our body and with tiny hairs that receive the soundwaves and send it to our brain for interpretation. When any of these components are damaged, either with an acute sound or a long-term exposure, we lose some acuity in our hearing that will never return. In the working world there are safety regulations in place to help protect us. In regards to hearing there are documented levels of sound that we can safely be exposed to and others that require taking measures to either protect our hearing or reduce the sound levels we are exposed to onthe-job. The decibel (dB) is the measurement used for noise and 80 decibels is the threshold - below this

point it is unlikely to cause hearing loss. Above this, hearing protection regulations begin to limit the amount of time we can be exposed to noise. At 85 decibels hearing protection regulations for the workplace start to take affect to protect our hearing. The “time weighted averComparing Decibels age” for noise exposure for a 24 hour period is: 8 hours for 20 dB Ticking watch 90 dB, 6 hours for 92 dB, 4 40 dB Refrigerator hum hours for 95 dB, 3 hours for 97 dB, 2 hours for 100 dB, 90 50 dB Rainfall minutes for 102 dB, 60 min- 70 dB Washing machine utes for 105 dB, 30 minutes for 110 dB, and 15 minutes or less 80 dB Alarm clock (two feet away) for 115 dB. 85 dB Average traffic Pain begins at 125 decibels, and even short term exposure 100 dB Blow dryer, subway train can cause permanent hearing 105 dB Power mower, chainsaw damage at 140 decibels. 110-115 dB I-Pods at 80% volume What does this mean to us as motorcyclists? We may think 120 dB Rock concert, thunderclap that we personally ride a bike 130 dB Jackhammer, jet plane that is not too loud, but the volume of the exhaust is not what (100 feet away) affects our hearing as riders. The silent killer of our hearing is the wind noise. A number of studies on sound levels regarding motorcyclists have all reached similar conclusions. At 30 mph the wind noise inside a full-faced helmet is routinely 90 decibels. At highway speeds that reading rises to 110-115 decibels. If that was our work environment we would be limited to riding our motorcycle to 15 to 30 minutes a day (without hearing protection). And those readings increase if wearing an open-face helmet, or no helmet.

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Noise is all around us, whether we are on our motorcycles or not. We cannot sit in a sound-proof room all day listening to the silence. But as riders we need to consider taking an active role when riding so we can hear the silence, and those sounds in our world that are soft. Otherwise our hearing will continue to diminish and instead of being able to hear the quiet sounds, we will only hear those with a higher volume level. For us riders there are a multitude of ear plugs that can be worn while on the bike that will assist in attenuating the wind noise, and reduce the level of the hearing-damaging sound. There are a number of different shaped designs within the world of disposable foam ear plugs, and they are all very inexpensive. When first trying ear plugs it is good to get a few different styles to see what works and feels best for you. What is most surprising when you first wear ear plugs is what you CAN hear. You can still hear traffic, your engine, car horns and sirens. You can even still hear your intercom and music. You can actually hear your intercom and music clearer because what has been reduced is the wind noise. After wearing the ear plugs, the next fact you will come to realize is how tiring the wind noise is to you mentally. By reducing the wind noise through hearing protection you will also reduce the mental fatigue that you feel at the end of a long ride. Like any other form of personal protection, ear plugs also become a habit. Have you ever altered what you normally wear for personal protection? Just a few blocks down the street from your starting point and you realize that something is not right. Something is missing. Riding without your hearing protection will be the same. It won’t feel right. Many people who faithfully wear hearing protection while on their motorcycles will use the disposable ear plugs forever. But there is a more personalized option in custom fitted ear plugs. These plugs, although more expensive, are molded just for your ear canal. They fit snugger and stay in your ear canal better, are more comfortable than the foam plugs, and offer

greater noise attenuation over the foam plugs. Dealers for these products can be found through a local audiologist, where hearing tests are done and hearing aids are sold, and many larger motorcycle rallies will have custom ear plug vendors that will make your custom ear plugs while you wait. Your local audiologist could also answer questions you have about different disposable ear plugs and how to properly wear them. Whether you decide that the foam ear plugs are for you, or you want to go to custom fit ear plugs, the ability to reduce the hearing-damaging wind noise on your motorcycle is well worth the investigation into adding this personal protection to your riding arsenal. Hearing loss can be caused by factors other than the noise we are exposed to during our lives as well. If you are experiencing hearing loss, take measures to protect the hearing you have left; but also, see your doctor to investigate if other means are contributing to your decreased ability to hear.

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Schuberth Rider Communication System Now Available for the S2 Full Face Helmet S2 customers have been eagerly awaiting the SRC-System™, Schuberth’s inhelmet Bluetooth® communication system which is based on the Cardo Scala platform. The S2 full face is the only motorcycle helmet in the world with built-in FM and Bluetooth® antennas which plug directly into the SRC-System and enhance the communication distance between paired helmets as well as the FM radio reception. The SRC-System™ allows up to three riders to communicate wirelessly with each other simultaneously and supports Bluetooth®-enabled peripheral devices such as cell phones, GPS units and MP3 players. The most important functions can also be operated by voice commands. The system is integrated into a replacement neck collar that is a ‘snap’ to install and fits into the helmet perfectly. The S2 SRC-System™ and S2 helmet are available now from authorized Schuberth dealers. Visit www.schuberthnorthamerica.comfor full details.


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PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS GERBING’S HEATED LINERS AND HEAT SOCKS Gerbing’s the world leader in heated motorcycle clothing, is growing more than ever. Not only has their patented Microwire Heating System set new standards with its “Thinner, Lighter, Stronger, Faster” list of advancements, but Gerbing’s is now making their Jacket Liners in their new factory in the U.S. “The demand for our products has always led the industry,” says company president, Jeff Gerbing. But our growing commitment to bring jobs back to America and to make our products in the USA has struck a chord with the motorcycling consumer, and the demand is reaching incredible levels.” The new heated Jacket Liners continue to feature the Microwire system, which is so thin you can’t feel the wires, yet incredibly durable and tough. And because of that, Gerbing’s backs its heating systems with a Lifetime Warranty. “Our customers know that they can count on us to make products that keep them warm, and to stand behind them like no one else,” said Gerbing. Gerbing’s heated Jacket Liners come in 21 sizes, including regular and long sleeves, for that great fit that delivers the ideal heat transfer. They’re great whenever the weather is cold. For the ultimate in cold-weather foot comfort, you can’t beat Gerbing’s Heated Socks. First, these heated socks feature Gerbing’s patented Microwire heating system, that’s thinner, lighter, stronger and faster to warm up. The socks wrap snugly around each foot, with heat that starts underneath, then travels up to the toes, wraps over them and continues on top of the foot. And to maximize the warmth, Gerbing’s Heated Socks are cut with a specific Left Sock and Right Sock, so the heat follows the taper of your toes, delivering that soothing warmth evenly all the way across. And their tall, over-calf design helps them stay up and stay comfortable all day long. For the kind of warmth that makes riding an all-day pleasure, you can’t do better than Gerbing’s Heated Socks, from the leader in Heated Gear. $99 from

AVON 3D ULTRA SPORT TIRES Over the last few decades we have seen so many technological jumps in the motorcycle scene with computers, suspension and everything else that the huge jumps made in tire research and development almost get overlooked. When we heard about Avon’s new 3D Tires, with their multiple compound rubber, we grabbed a set and had them mounted on a machine that we thought would be best to give them an all around test – the Kawasaki Versys, a bike a little bit sport, a little bit adventure and a whole lotta fun. The Avon 3D tires are available in three different versions - the Ultra Xtreme for track purposes, the Ultra Super Sport for both road and track riding and the Ultra Sport, a high performance, all conditions, sport road tire. This was more what we were looking for, as this magazine has always been about real world, day to day, riding. The 3D Ultra Sport, being an all-around sporting road tire, is built with a higher concentration of multi-compound Super Rich Silica

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and combines multiple tread compounds throughout the tire. Utilizing a harder rubber compound in the middle for increased mileage and better handling characteristics on the straight-aways and softer, more pliable compounds on the sides for better feedback in the tighter roadways the tires have a great and tractable feel to them. Combine this with the 3Ds large footprint at extreme lean angles and the specifically designed 3D siping, with interlocking three-dimensional points, to improve stability and grip and limit tread flex which allows the tire to warm up quickly and evenly and the 3D is a very solid tire indeed. On the road we found the Ultra Sport tires to be solid and reliable and they offered great handling characteristics and feedback to the rider. If this is Avon’s street version we wondered how well the two higher level tires would be, especially in go-fast track riding? Back in the real world in the number of rain storms we encountered the Avon 3D Sport Sport tires were flawless and always inspired confidence. With the Avon 3D Super Sport tire you have an excellent choice for those looking for that magical combination of great handling, superb wet weather capabilities and decent mileage all in one tire. For more info on the Avon Tires log onto


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For many riders the yearly tradition up here in Northwestern New Jersey for the first ride of the year is Dale’s Chilly Chili Run. This past New Years Day was anything but chilly and saw wonderfully warm temperatures and nearly 700 riders filling up the Odgensburg Fire House as well as other parking lots and the streets of the town. This annual event raises money for the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice and is only the start of what the Blue Knights IX accomplish each year and they have been doing these sorts of events for decades. Yes, the ride was a huge success and the chili and dogs a great way to break any dietary resolutions you might have made. But, another thing that makes this even more fun is the plethora of classic and antique motorcycles that riders bring to this event. Walking along you will

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Exploring the Emerald Isle I have never thought of myself as a vagabond, but the Irish poet Goldsmith seemed to have a different thought on this. Still, the revelry from three floors below filtered into my room. In the darkness I reach for my trusty Timex Expedition watch and pressed the button, the green glow illuminating my face…1:50 am. Holy Mary Margaret – will these people ever go to bed? It had been a long day and it seemed that just hours before we had been back in New Jersey closing up the office and heading to JFK and the relatively quick flight to Ireland. After checking into the Morgan Hotel and grabbing an extra hour sleep, the day had been spent exploring the city. Trinity College and the famed Book of Kells, searching for a version of Sherlock Holmes in Irish, a drop by Ireland’s oldest tavern – The Brazen Head – and the required visit to the Guinness Storehouse.

A man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is a vagabond. -Oliver Goldsmith


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By evening time Shira and I were in a horse drawn buggy, clip clopping our way back to the Temple Bar section of this old city where we would meet Richard and Jane Singer, the other half of our riding team for the next week while we toured the ancient and beautiful isle of Ireland. But, right now I really needed to get some shuteye; but it seemed the massive party below could care less. Before heading back to the hotel that night the crowd and party almost reminded me of Bourbon Street, in New Orleans, on Halloween eve, but there was no holiday this night. No, it was simply Dublin on a Saturday night. Welcome to Ireland. Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter. Lullabies, dreams and love ever after. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes... That’s the Irish for you.

-Old Irish Blessing

Dublin to Donegal The next morning we had a typical Irish breakfast of eggs, pudding (not the pudding you are thinking of), sausage and a rash of hearty thick bacon before cabbing it over to see Paul Rawlins and Celtic Rider. We had been planning this trip for about year now and actually had to reschedule back in the spring while I was bouncing around on crutches. It was good to be back in Ireland and in a short time we were setting up our bikes and going over routes with Paul. Celtic Rider has a full shop and store and Paul seems to have single-handedly created motorcycle touring in the Emerald Isle. By late morning we were making our way north and west out of Dublin. For the first hour or so we took a main road, but that soon faded away to be replaced by a nice two-laner, closely lined with wide overhanging trees and rolling farms. Our route brought us across the border into Northern Ireland, which we

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BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 crossed into hardly noticing. Only kilometers turning into miles and the Union Jack flying high in the towns let you know you were now on British soil; unlike the last time Shira and I crossed this border only to be stopped and questioned by soldiers. Heading towards the northwestern coast the terrain opened up and we rode along some towering hills, actually small mountains that ran along the fast running rivers to finally empty into the sea. This was the Ireland we had come to see. But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. -William Butler Yeats

Richard had visited the Writers Museum in Dublin and keeping with that flair we made a slight detour to the coastal town of Sligo, had a bite to eat, and then went in search of the great Irish poet W. B. Yeats’ grave which we found in a small church yard cemetery in Drumcliffe. This day we had a bit of everything, but Ireland truly is the only nation I

Page 51 know where it can be bright sunshine, yet be raining too. North along the coast we headed, in the general direction of Donegal. The bright sunlight was cutting across the large peaks, and the last of the day’s rain painting Ben Bulben, the famed Sligo mountain, with a stunning rainbow. From our angle it looked as if the colors lay across the mountain itself. In all my travels I have never seen anything like this. This part of Ireland must be famous for these as we saw not one but three great rainbows this day. We would see many such colors on this trip. Now where is that pot o’ gold? By early evening we slid into Donegal and stayed at a lovely guesthouse,

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In Ireland you can experience all four seasons in one day. -Irish Saying

He was a fiddler, and consequently a rogue. -Jonathan Swift

the Ardelenagh View, sitting on a high bluff overlooking the Atlantic, just a mile or two from the town’s center. We would be here for two nights, so we unpacked the bikes, showered and had a glass of wine to celebrate our first day in Ireland. Eileen and Tony, who own the Ardelenagh View, were kind enough to drive us into town for dinner. Donegal is absolutely the quintessential Irish town. Built along the river Eske that runs to the sea it has an old world flavor and charm you simply cannot recreate and dinner that night was an excellent way to power down after the long day. Later in the evening Shira and I found a local pub with traditional Irish music, or craic as it’s called. It was simply wonderful as young girls danced traditional steps and the house band let musicians that were traveling through play along. One young gal from Germany with a fiddle wowed the crowd and an older, very slight man from Boston blew all away with an incredibly powerful operatic voice. We hoped to return the next night.

Ireland’s weather can be a fickle beast at best. After a glorious ending to the previous day I awoke to hear a howling banshee of wind rushing in from the Atlantic. It blew so hard I was worried that we would find the bikes toppled over in the morning. Bands of rain held us at bay in the early part of the morning but there was something comforting too; hearing the patter of rain and the wind blowing while nice and warm inside the old farm house. In Ireland they have another saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes.” This couldn’t be more true this day. At ten to ten it was still pouring like all get out, but ten o’clock chimed and blue skies rolled in from the sea to the west and by 10:15 we were on the motorcycles and heading north. We rode through the town of Donegal and the Donegal Castle, built in 1474 and found in the very center of the town. We continued up along the two-lane N-15 through Barnes Gap. Here, back in the day, this tight pass had no large highway through it, rather a tight twisting road that wound its way through the gap. It was a good place for an ambush and Barnes Gap was known for its highwaymen and rapparees. We passed with no worries this day. Continuing north we rode through the

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fairly good-sized city of Letterkenny and then through the Derryveagh Mountains and past the birthplace of St. Columba. As is our way we found some tiny Irish backroads on our ride to Glenveagh National Park, the tight farm and marshlands crossed by tight lanes and old stone bridges. Glenveagh, from the Irish Gleann Bheatha meaning “glen of the birches” is the second largest national park in Ireland. The park covers 170 square kilometres of hillside above Glenveagh Castle on the shore of Lough Veagh. Here you will find the most stunning of Irish castles and a wonderful walking garden as well. The estate was established by John Adair, who became infamous for evicting 244 of his tenants and clearing the land so they would not spoil his view of the landscape. Nice guy. The gardens and castle were presented to the Irish nation in 1981 by Henry P. McIlhenny of Philadelphia who had purchased the estate in 1937. Although some will tell you that Henry Plumer McIlhenny was part of the Tabasco family in Louisiana, he was not. But, that does not stop all the locals from telling you such. He was, however, a friend of McIlhenny Company president Walter S. McIlhenny, who once visited Henry’s castle, Glenveagh, in County Donegal, Ireland. Despite the absence of a genealogical link, Walter and Henry referred to each other jokingly as “cousin” and kept up a correspondence for many years. The park is home to the largest herd of red deer in Ireland and the formerly extinct golden eagle was reintroduced into the park in 2000. We parked the bikes for a stretch here and took the small shuttle bus to the castle and gardens. Sometimes it pays to walk around a bit, as the valley, with its high cliffs and the lovely lake and castle, looked like something from a J.R.R. Tolkien book. Back on the BMWs we ran along towards the sea and the coastal roads. Stopping in one seaside town we found a little place for seafood chowder and bread and Shira walked the beach for a spell finding a bunch of riders on horseback enjoying the rocky coastline of northwest Ireland. We were ready to park the bikes again and join them. From this point we turned back south and did our best to stay as close to the water and cliffs as we could. We did a pretty good job at it.

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We stopped for some time at the area the Irish call Bloody Forelands. It sounds far more dire than it really is. No battle or feud was fought here; rather it speaks to the way the sunset’s light plays on the cliffs shading them with a dark red that resembles blood. Continuing on to the east we could see Mount Errigal that looked, to all the world, like a volcano about to erupt. Errigal is well known for the pinkish glow of its quartzite in the setting sun. Another noted quality is the ever-changing shape of the mountain depending on what direction you view it from. Errigal was voted ‘Ireland’s

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Donegal to Westport

Most Iconic Mountain’ by Walking & Hiking Ireland in 2009. We just thought it striking and a little out of place. I had planned a route that would hug the coast and assumed it would all be fairly good-sized roadway and adequate pavement. Not to happen, as the route wound up a mountain and quickly shrank from two-lane to one-lane to a semi-paved two-track with a lawn down the middle. Nearly 40 kilometers of up and down, twist and shout, offering the most spectacular views of the northwest Irish coast. Wrecked towers, abandoned farms, the occasional home carved into the very rugged and rocky side of these cliffs. I wouldn’t have traded this part of the day for anything. We finally ran back into civilization and from here it was a short ride back to Donegal and the B & B. The day, that had started out so badly, had turned into an absolutely smashing venture. An hour or two later we were showered and dressed and ready for another night of pints, dancing and traditional music in Donegal.

We were due to leave this part of Ireland this next day, but there were still a few things I needed to see for myself. Near the hamlet of Ardara you will find the Glengesh Pass. Paul had told me this was a must ride, if at all possible, as the views, the ride and the region were remote and as natural in beauty as the Emerald Isle gets. I was intrigued so I rose early at dawn and rolled the bike out of the barn and down the hill so as not to wake the others. Some 45 minutes later I was rolling past Ardara searching for the tiny road sign I was told would point me to the Glengesh Pass. Paul did not lie, as the pass wound up and over the rocky green peaks. Sheep barely moved out of my way and the only other person I saw on the entire ride was the milkman out for his early deliveries. In typical Irish fashion a nasty black storm cloud rose over the peaks as I hit the summit and I got the first pounding of rain that day. This road dropped me near the folk village of Glencolmcille; well worth the stop and I vectored back in the direction of Donegal, once again on a one-lane road with grass and weeds running down the middle. These grassy roads demanded attention but paid off with views of an Ireland rarely seen by visitors. Adventure bikes have a distinct advantage here. Rolling back to the sea I could see the giant sea cliffs, called Slieve League, just to the east. Considered the highest in all of Europe, they are stupendous and are more than two and a half times higher than the more famous Cliffs of Moher to the south.

BACKROADS • JANUARY 2013 On the road heading east I passed through the deep sea fishing town of Killibegs, which seriously reminded me of Ushuaia, Argentina. So many of these fishing villages look the same with great homes surrounding them and heavy industry ruling the main part of the town. I made it back to the B & B in time for a late breakfast. By mid-morn we were back on the road and heading south. Passing through Sligo we waved at Yeats, but he didn’t wave back… hmmm poets…and then went in search of something very, very old. How old, you ask? Well the stone burial tombs at Carrowmore were started 2,000 years before the first stone was laid at Egypt’s pyramids. Let’s take a moment here and think that one through, shall we? So Christ and the Apostles were walking around Jerusalem and then we fast forward

to men walking on the moon. That is two thousand years. After that the Pharaoh woke up one morning and said, “Hey, I had this crazy idea…!” 6500 years ago the people of this land created Passage Way Burial Tombs. Around 30 megalithic tombs can be seen in Carrowmore today. The tombs were almost universally ‘dolmen circles’; small dolmens each enclosed by a boulder ring of 12 to 15 meters. Each monument had a small leveling platform of earth and stone. One of the secrets of the dolmens longevity was the well-executed stone packing set around the base of the upright stones. The combination of 5 of these orthostats and a capstone enclosed a pentagonal burial chamber. The boulder circles contain 30 to 40 boulders, usually of gneiss, the material of choice for the satellite tombs. Sometimes an inner boulder circle is present. Unlike any place in the United States you can freely roam the grounds and reach up and touch something that is as old as humankind itself.

Page 55 It was humbling to think of the time that has past since primitive men and women created these tombs. Right about then our streak of decent weather took a left turn and the rains that had been flittering about the atmosphere saw us and made their charge. About twenty heavily soaking minutes later we rode out into bright sunshine and began that long drying out process every touring motorcyclist knows of. We found lunch right after we crossed into County Mayo in the seaside town of Killala. Hearty soups, salmon and crab made the day and we even did a bit of shopping in the town’s center.


Page 56 Our route this day would, once again, stick to the coast as this offered the most enjoyable roads and that spectacular Irish ocean view. Along the high cliffs we came upon the Céide Fields Visitor Centre, near Ballycastle. Another significant area the Céide Fields are the oldest known field systems in the world and change all of science’s paradigm about stone age people. They also have some of the prettiest cliffs we had seen in Ireland yet. Heading further south we crossed along a road that went along the Nephin Beg Mountains and through Ballycroy National Park, with smashing water views on a road that ran along a wet grassland spaced by the occasional peat bog that had bags of peat dug and cut and drying for use as fuel. The views were too good to just speed by, so we found a small restaurant and stopped for a bit and a got a cup of coffee and a chair on a deck and sat back and soaked it all in, reaching for our inner leprechaun. Our destination that night was the busy port town of Westport, along the Clew Bay. And, although I don’t mind the occasional busy town, I was glad we were staying at a comfortable B & B just outside Westport with a thatched roofed pub across from the bay a short walk away.

The lobster, mussels and clams tasted strongly of the sea from which they had been plucked earlier that day and we found it hard to order lamb or beef when there was so much salt in the Irish air.

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going, and the insight to know when you’re going too far. -Old Irish Saying

We had a steady dose of friendly weather so far in Ireland, as rain is a common, but usually a fairly swift event as westerly winds from the North Atlantic push the weather fronts through quickly. Today our Irish luck ran out and when the local postman stops his truck to simply tell me that we might reconsider getting on the motorcycle today you might want to listen. Rain is one thing in this country, but an ocean storm coming hard into Ireland is another beast entirely. Still, undaunted by the dire warnings from the locals we suited up tightly and took off in search of something one might not expect in Ireland – a fiord. We approached Killary Harbor from the seaside and immediately the winds and rain picked up, pelting us with heavy, sharp drops. The wind caused the rain to move sideways and visibility got tougher by the mile. Still, the scenery seemed happy and beautiful in its natural moist environment and we continued on down along the bottom of the fiord’s valley. Killary Harbor is Ireland’s only true fjord and extends 10 miles from the Atlantic to its head at Aasleagh Falls. Here we found the border between Galway and Mayo and it boasted some of the most spectacular scenery in the west of Ireland and we had already seen so much. Killary Harbor and the fiord is fairly deep, over 150 feet at its center. This offers a very safe, sheltered anchorage, because of the depth and the mountains to the south and north. It is a center for shellfish farming, and strings of ropes used to grow mussels are visible for much of its length. Mussels and clams grown in Killary Harbour can be found in local markets and on menus for miles around.


Page 57 to get all Fred Rau about the situation, but indeed this was more than just any storm. The woman at the bar showed me the day’s newspaper that said the very thing. The “weatherguy on the telly” was saying that the monster off the coast was showing the lowest barometric pressure in Ireland in the last 26 years and all the news and papers could talk about was this great Irish tempest. Great. They say timing is everything. By early evening the sun was back out, with another perfect rainbow in tow, although the hard winds refused to fade away. Still, we had high hopes for far better riding weather the next day. We’d see as our route continued ever southward along the Irish Atlantic coast.

Westport to Doolin

We knew this first hand as we had our fill the night before. By the time we reached the top of the fiord, at Aasleagh Falls, the winds had picked up from simply annoying to dangerous. Sheep were scattering across the fields and cliffs and the sky became as dark as they get. Rounding another turn the water cascading off the cliffs covered the roadway. Instead of just a splash I ran into a crater on the road jolting my teeth loose and almost pulling the bars from my hands, putting a goodsized dent in the GS’s front rim. That one would cost me, but better that than another foreign ambulance ride. Through the pelting we saw the brake lights of the car ahead of us come on as the driver made a quick run to the far side of the road, avoiding a tree crashed down across the road just in front of him. We followed his move and made our way around the fallen tree and decided that maybe today discretion was indeed the better part of valor and we called it an early riding day and set our course back towards Westport.

With a good part of the day still ahead of us we did some Backroads’ housekeeping and then took a cab ride into Westport proper. Here we found a great seaside town with a good deal of shops, galleries and just one or two pubs and pints. Sitting at the bar we watched the rain come down in torrents and heard one fellow comment he was waiting for Noah to float on by. Another woman said it was the worse storm in years. Being that we got caught in the middle of it that morning, I was all ears. Shira and I have been caught I some wild weather situations over the years, but today was pretty bad and not

The day rose the next morning bringing with it the sun and clearer weather. Sort of, but with the sun doing its best we had …yes, another rainbow over Clew Bay.


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Because of the storm the previous day we had missed out on a loop of the famed Connemara National Park so we double back on some of the ride we did the previous day, looping around the fiord, which was a bit brighter this day, and then down to Clifden. We stopped at the Connemara Visitor Center and learned a bit about the area and the history of the Irish Peat Bog. For thousands of years they have been farmed, drying the peat and burning it for duel. In ancient times the bogs were incredibly dangerous to travel through and locals made wooden roads called Tougher Roads – maybe the very first highways of the world. These days, the supply of these ancient bogs is dwindling and the Connemara Park bogs are now protected by the Irish government. Our loop brought us out of the park proper and along some tiny roads that Shira had laid out with the GPS. As usual she did a super job and some of the tiny roads we traversed brought us to parts of the peninsula that most tourist and travelers rarely see. Heading back east we crossed by the range known as the Twelve Pins, which were as striking as they come, especially now that the day had cleared and it was perfect Irish riding weather… cool in the 60’s and sunny. So the I.R.A.’s in this too, huh? If it were, Red Will Danaher, not a scorched stone ‘o your fine house’d be standin’. A beautiful sentiment! -The Quiet Man – 1951



raindate: Saturday, June 22



charity donation

JOIN US ON THE ONE AND ONLY BACKROADS 250+ A motorcycle road tour exploring the best and sometimes hidden backroads of New Jersey. This entire event will be run within the state boundaries of Jersey with plenty of sights, stops and points of interest along the way.

I grew up in New York City and every Saint Patrick’s Day WPIX, channel 11, would show The Quiet Man on the 8 O’clock Movie. For those of you who have never seen this marvelous John Ford film it is about an American boxer – Sean Thornton, played by John Wayne, who returns to Ireland after killing a man in the ring and swearing he will never fight again. Once there he meets and falls for Mary Kate Danaher, played by Maureen O’Hara. Thornton eventually gets the girl but not before making a serious enemy of her brother Red Will Danaher, portrayed by actor and fellow motorcycle enthusiast Victor McLaglen. Not to give it all away but the donnybrook at the end is a classic, as is the entire film.

Start: Chatterbox Drive-In, Rtes. 15/206, Augusta, NJ • Sign-in starts @ 8:30am End: Sprinkle Shack, 640 Rte 15, Sparta, NJ Area lodging High Point Country Inn, 1328 SR 23 North, Wantage, NJ• 973-702-1860 • Holiday Inn Express Newton, 6 North Park Dr, Newton, NJ• 973-940-8888 • Econolodge Newton, 448 SR 206 South, Newton, NJ• 973-383-3922 • Holiday Motel Andover, 708 SR 206 South, Andover, NJ• 973-786-5260 • Alpinehaus B&B, 217 McAfee Vernon Road, Vernon, NJ• 973-209-7080 • Glenwood Mill Bed & Breakfast, 1860 CR 565, Glenwood, NJ• 973-764-8660 •

LAKE FRONT HOTEL 10 Fair Street, Cooperstown, NY

607-547-9511 Rooms for 3 nights including tax: 1 Queen: $327.04 • 1 King: $341.60 2 Doubles: $384.16 • 2 Queens: $430.08 MUST ASK FOR BACKROADS GROUP FOR DISCOUNT RATE

The Lake Front Hotel is sold out. Please call for hotel references or to put your name on the waiting list.




SPRING BREAK 2013 • MAY 16-19 A very special rally indeed as the rides and routes will be the very best of Backroads itself. We’ll have a We’re Outta Here, Mysterious America, Big City Getaway and Great All-American Diner Run all in one rally. Our Host Hotel will be the Lake Front Hotel on Lake Otsego, walking distance from downtown Cooperstown. As we always say, rooms are limited, which they are, and the cutoff date for reservations is

JANUARY 15, 2013 2013, so make your reservations NOW and we’ll see you in May.

The Quiet Man was filmed in and around this region and the main scenes were filmed in the tiny village of Cong. We had been here a decade ago, but it deserved a return trip for the beef stew and soups across from Cohan’s Bar and the stone Duffy Celtic Cross. Those of you who have seen the movie know what I speak of. After lunch we made our way around the city of Galway and then headed for something very different from what we had experienced so far in Ireland – Burren National Park. This massive region is composed entirely of limestone karst and dates back some 10,000 years. The road that wound up through the park was far dif-


Page 59 ferent than the rest of our trip and was more moonlike than anything resembling the Emerald Isle. These limestone pavements with criss-crossing cracks known as “grikes”, leaving isolated rocks called “clints”. We spent some time high above Galway Bay on this lunar landscape and then headed back down towards the sea and one of the high points of our Irish journey - the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs take their name from an old fort called Moher that once stood on Hag’s Head, the southernmost point of the cliffs and at nearly 700 feet their arresting beauty bring in over one million visitors each year. The cliffs stretch for a full 8 kilometers. We hiked up to O’Brien’s Tower, built in 1835 by a local landlord named Cornelius O’Brien, to take in the views and then spent some time at the excellent visitor’s center. From Moher it was a short ride to the tiny hamlet of Doolin and our guest house for the night. Wouldn’t you know it but not five minutes after we parked the bikes the skies opened up reminding us, once again, of the fickle nature of the Irish weather.

As with most of these guest houses, a great local pub was nearby and we strolled through the sunset and the light rain drops for dinner.

Doolin to Killarney

Brilliant sunshine greeted us this morning and stuck around for the entire ride this day. I have always thought that all successful motorcycle journeys always needs a bit of a water crossing involved. Ferries usually work well and they would this day as well. To go around the long way to cross the Shannon River would take nearly 100 miles, but the 20 minute ferry at

Killmer cut that time and mileage right out. We even got a chance to see a pod of dolphins following in the ferry’s wake. We had planned a lengthy route along the Dingle Peninsular; so in the town of Tralee we headed west along the northern part of this large spit of land. If Backroads had a patron Saint it would be Saint Brendan the Navigator.

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As a young man Brendan was known for his acute sailing skills and legend has it that he was the very first European to sail to North America. In fact Christopher Columbus, on the eve of his famous voyage to the West Indies said, “ I go seek the promised land of Saint Brendan.” Or, so another legend says. Regardless In 1976, Tim Severin, a modern day explorer, built a leatherhulled boat based on the vessel described in the manuscript, and on the Currach still used on Ireland’s West Coast. He and his crew then made the voyage with stops on the Aran Islands in Galway, in Co. Donegal, the Hebrides and in the Faroes, over-wintering in Iceland, before sailing onward to North America and proving it was possible for St. Brendan to have made the voyage to Canada in such a craft. Brendan is also known for spreading the Christian faith through Ireland and along our day’s journey we stopped at Ardfert Cathedral, which was founded by Saint Brendan back in the 6th century. The cathedral is now a combination of architecture, faiths and styles and lies mostly in ruin, but was well worth the stop. One thing that I had noticed in this land is the great respect folks have for their elders and I had seen many people, around my age, walking with far older relatives; mothers, fathers or grandparents. When we approached the motorcycles leaving the cathedral a woman about 60 was walking with a woman well into her 90’s. The older woman smiled


at me and asked me if I “would be wanting a passenger?” She might have had the weight of years on her but her smile and her eyes showed a powerful love of life. I told her, “Mother, you are so welcome to ride with me!” She laughed and told me I was a sweet man and she hoped that God would bless me and Shira on our ride. It’s funny, when an Irish woman says something like this, with that lovely Irish lilt in their voice, you can almost believe God is actually listening. I got on the BMW falling in love with this land. The north and south in Dingle are far different from each other and are cut down the middle by high sandstone cliffs, the Slieve Mish Mountains. One could ride around the land; but why would you when the Connor Pass cuts up and through those very same peaks? The Connor Pass was everything we had hoped for; tight, twisty and offering stupendous views of the land in all directions. For those who love a sporting ride the Connor Pass is for you. The far side of the pass led down to the town of Dingle. We made our way through the bustling tourist town and picked up the road that looped around the very western edge of the peninsula – the Slea Head Drive. Up until now we had been mightily impressed by Ireland’s rugged coastline, but this loop took our breath away. High jagged and rocky cliffs dove down into a crashing sea. The high peaks were lined with large stonewalls


that must have taken generations to build. Along the southern end ancient stone bee hive cottages still stood where they have been for centuries. In the distance it seems that the Irish coast and the many islands that lay on her shore went on forever. We found a small restaurant along the way and had lunch and then continued on around the tip of land’s end, enjoying the occasional sheep herd, stopping now and again for that digital moment and riding through the occasional waterfall; as they simply let the water pour over a section of cobblestone and down the rest of the cliff. By late afternoon we were speeding towards Killarney, and the very fine Crystal Springs Inn, which would be our home base for two nights. That night we were met by our friend John Connolly. We had met John and his club, Celtic M.C.C., years back and have stayed friends since. John brought us out on a Friday night in Killarney, showing us the town and a good number of pubs. It seemed that in every Irish port o’call for us there were a number of great local bands playing everything from traditional Irish to traditional rock. Music rules in Ireland. A great night it was! But, alas this Irish sojourn was starting to wind to an end, but we still had many miles to go on the Emerald Isle before we were through. How sweet must Paradise not be, that knows not earthly cares nor ills, when it can bring more happiness than gazing at Kerry Hill. -M. V. Reidy 1901 How can one have a free day in Killarney, a motorcycle and blue skies and not go to ride the Ring of Kerry? One cannot. After a breakfast of the best oatmeal porridge we have ever had (Eileen the owner told me the secret, but, well, you know I can’t tell you), we got going towards the Ring of Kerry and the wide mountain range called MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. The Ring does a loop of the Iveragh Peninsula and we had heard that the tour buses do this loop in a counter clockwise way. So we, not wanting to spend the day passing these hated behemoths, went clockwise heading down the coast roads, and to the south of the mountains, with the most spectacular views of the mighty range to the right and

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the ocean to the left. If at all possible one lookout stood out from the other vistas. Ladies View, so named after Queen Victoria’s Ladies in Waiting, who expressed their pleasure at this sight during a visit back in 1861. Riding south along the peninsula’s shore we stopped for coffee across from the beach at Castle Cove and watched the waves and the rocks for a time before carrying on through this spectacular land. Rounding the westernmost point the sandstone cliff, that poured into the sea, were cast in a shade of deep purple and atop one hill I spied a stone pillar megalith, a testament to this part of Ireland’s ancient history. Rounding the northern part of the Ring of Kerry we took a short cut The valleys and the peaks Brought back the time she broke my heart In Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.

-Warren Zevon

along some tiny one-lane roads that wound through farm and horse pastures. We were making our way back towards MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the brilliant Gap of Dunloe. The Gap of Dunloe, hewn two million years ago by giant, slow moving ice is probably the finest example of a glaciated valley in Western Europe. We found it to be a stunning and very technical ride. The roadway is only ¾ a lane wide and it is a two-way road.


Page 62 The real problem for motorcyclists is that the first part of the pass is full of hikers, bicyclists and pony and trap (horse drawn cart) that people hire to experience the reeks and the gap the way they were crossed back in the day. Most of the hikers are brain dead from the arduous walk and will march right into you, the pony drivers feel they own the entire gap and the bicyclists are just plain oblivious to the slowly approaching motorcycles. With just so much room to deal with we pulled over often to allow the ponies to trot by, while being given the evil eye from the drivers and cars and vans coming the other way. You had to be very alert of what was happening around you during this ride through the gap. Still, the tough ride was worth it as the Dunloe Gap through MacGillycuddy’s Reeks was truly one of the most magnificent and outstanding places we have ever ridden through in our travels and the Gap of Dunloe is worth heading to Ireland all by itself. This pass opens up to the region called Moll’s Gap which wound in a ¾ lane fashion around some more peaks and eventually dropped us back at the main road and the short ride back to Killarney for our last night on the road.

Killarney to Dublin

I am sure some Irish poet has said it better; but all good things do end. Our ride today would be our final one in this land, as we would need to cut across the island nation from the southwest to the northeast to Dublin. We could have simply taken an M-road, but we had all day and the day looked good so why not make the best of this last jaunt in this land of cliffs, valleys, rainbows and music? We followed the rising sun east and rode through the town of Blarney. Here you will find the Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that if one kisses the Blarney Stone, which you will literally half to bend over backwards to do, you will receive the “Gift of Gab”, which is the knack for eloquence in flattery or persuasion. I thought I had enough of that already and any more would be a touch of overkill, so I passed and my close friends celebrated. The final route brought us along the east coast and through some of the larger port cities and towns such as Waterford, home to some of the most beautiful crystal on the planet. Once near the eastern coast we dropped off the N-roads and headed towards Dublin on the smaller and more enjoyable R-roads. It was a Sunday and like everywhere else in the civilized world motorcyclists were out enjoying a ride. They didn’t call the film “On Any Sunday” for nothing. On the tiny R-roads that sped us towards Wicklow National Park we ran by dozens of local riders out enjoying the day. Both Shira and I thought the same thing; we must have picked the right roads for this day, ‘cause if the locals are riding them then we wanted to as well! Just before heading down from the mountains into the busy city we had one last gift to give ourselves and we rode across the Sally Pass for one final mountainous jaunt up and over some exceptional Irish cliffs and valleys before we were done. 138 Orange Ave (Rt. 202) The Wicklow Mountains form the largest continuous Suffern, NY 10901 upland area in Ireland. There are dramatic remains from 845-357-1190 Ireland’s early history to be found in the Park. Tombs, cairns, standing stones, rock art, and bullaun stones have all been found. More recently, charcoal platforms, millstones, and ironworks have left their mark. The pure water that comes from this magical place is the very same and only water used in making Guinness Stout. All too soon we found ourselves in Dublin traffic and winding our way back to Celtic Rider’s garage to return the machines. Our ramble through the Emerald Isle had, sadly, come to an end. We had only been on the road for a week but had seen so much. Mighty sea cliffs and limestone moonscapes. Castles, both noble and in ruins. We met wonderful people and tasted superb food and had more than a few pints while listening to heavenly traditional music and voices that always seemed to go with the pints. We had ridden to the far reaches of this land and found that Ireland, although it has its share of fine modern cities and fair old villages, also has a vast and wild side that seems untouched by modern man. The rocky cliffs and majestic mountains filled in by so many verdant valleys, streams and rivers seem unchanged since before the Normans came here. This island nation, which is so close to us, just a few hours flight from the United States, is a grand place to visit and what better way than by motorized twowheels. This had been our second time to this stunning land and I dare say, sometime soon, there will be a third. Ireland is calling…Céad míle fáilte!


Celtic Rider

The Easy Way to Ride Ireland A short ride from the city of Dublin, and just as close to the airport, you will find the headquarters of Celtic Rider. Located in a quiet industrial complex, the large garage holds a bounty of modern, and well-maintained motorcycles. For years Paul Rawlins and Celtic Rider has been providing motorcycles for motorcyclists and travelers from around the globe. Celtic Rider can provide everything from cruisers to sport machines and a number of adventuretouring machines as well. Their self-guided tours are well thought out and offer a few free days to explore even more. All bikes are fitted with Garmin GPS to get you to your accommodation without the hassle of getting lost. Also, the Garmins can easily be set to avoid main roads and highways; this guarantees to keep you on the wonderful Irish backroads. The choice is up to you. Paul offers tours from 3 to 13 days and custom tours are always easily handled. If you’d rather just rent a bike and take off and explore on your own, that’s fine too. If you are concerned about riding on the left side of the road Celtic Rider has a rider course that gets you comfortable and up to speed in no time. Paul and Celtic Rider is the only motorcycle rental company in Ireland and Paul knows his land well; the great roads, the sites of interest and its deep and wonderful history. Personally I can’t speak highly enough of Paul who was key in getting our tour together and off the ground. And, when we had any bit of problem or concern he handled it quickly and easily. If you have ever thought about riding the Emerald Isle don’t hesitate. Drop Paul an email or phone call and plan that Irish tour that you will remember the rest of your life. I promise you will not be disappointed. Check out their website at

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January 2013  

Ride the Emerald Isle with Celtic Rider. This great travel story plus our usual monthly columns, product reviews and so much more.

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