Well, truly the second, I suppose. We went out for a short and bumpy ride a few weeks ago. It took that long for my tailbone to recover from the frost heaves…ah, New England roads in winter!

On Saturday, we took the R1200GSA out for a bit. It was nice when we left–around 45 degrees or so–but as the ride progressed the temperature dropped fairly steadily. Good thing we wore electrics!

First stop: fuel.

Fill 'er up!

I’m not going to gripe about the price of gas. We still get it a heck of a lot cheaper than many parts of the world, and it’s a small price to pay (literally) for a day of fun on a bike, right?

Right?

Right??

It wasn’t warm and sunny, but after a long winter with a lot of snow, it’s nice to be outside on two wheels.

Time to plug in.

We did stop to plug in the Gerbing gear. I don’t know why we resist doing this at the outset, it is so much more pleasant to ride when you aren’t wondering if the feeling will ever return to your arms. Seriously, it’s like traveling along in a warm, comfy blanket once the heat is on.

Let me eat my lunch, dang it!

Lunch was at Wild Willy’s burgers in Rochester, NH. This was one heck of a dee-licious burger. I had the Rio Grande, which has green chilies and cheddar cheese. YUM. Kinda spicy, with a nice kick of heat. Andrew had the Buffalo Bill, a bison burger (no horseradish).

Andrew's burger

Much happier after I have a bite or two...

Highly recommended burgers on both counts. Very tasty!

Wild Willy's

Nice ride for first of the season. Looking forward to many more!

Renting a bike when on vacation can certainly be a ton of fun. But, like many things in life, sometimes you learn best by experience–of what to do and what not to do when renting a bike.

We went to Italy in 2009, and had a fabulous time. While we were there, we decided to spend a day out and about on a bike, and what bike do you rent when in Italy? A Ducati, of course.

These certainly are pretty bikes, and look great. There’s just something about a red motorcycle, yes?

Ducati

But, honestly, after riding on the back of a BMW R1200 GSA? This bike is very, very uncomfortable for a passenger, in my humble opinion. You can’t see it in the above shot, but we were riding the bike with the top case. The passenger seat on a BMW has handles next to the seat. The Ducati’s? They are behind the seat.

When you are hanging on for dear life heading through Italian traffic, holding on to handles with your arms at that angle for hours on end? Not comfortable. Not in the least.

So, in my estimation, Rule #1: Know the bike you are renting.

This was certainly a pretty bike, and very Italian, but I would have been far more comfortable (physically and mentally (if you have ever been through Italian traffic, ‘mentally’ will make sense)) on a BMW. If I have my way, any bike we rent on vacation from this point forward will be a BMW.

Next, you need to feel comfortable about the company from which you will be renting. We did the cursory check, and the shop seemed fine. However, upon our arrival, the bike had not been set up for 2up, even though we’d made that clear when we made the reservations and rented the bike. Andrew made the needed adjustments on our first stop that morning. Not a big deal, but…it did say something about the overall attention to detail.

So, Rule #2: Research the heck out of the place, and make your expectations clear. It might seem obvious that when riding 2up you’d expect the bike to be set up for 2up, but saying so takes another element of guesswork out of the equation.

If you are renting gear, ask questions about that too. We were assured that there would be no problem finding equipment to fit me. I’m pretty tiny, but most of the jackets I’ve tried on have had European sizing, some of which are too small for me. So, we assumed we’d be okay.

Twisty roads.

The jacket I rented was quite large, and didn’t quite fit right. I tried not to think about how ill-fitting gear probably wouldn’t be as protective when hurtling around the twisty corners in Italy.

Rule #3: When renting gear, especially overseas, check size availability if it might be an issue. Those of you with typical/average sizes probably don’t need to worry. Pfft.

Finally, Rule #4: have fun no matter what. You are on a bike and on vacation! How awesome is that?

Even if your guide does say that the only thing worse than carrying luggage is having a passenger. (Oh, yes, he did.)

Setting that aside, the rental place did get us reservations at a fabulous restaurant. Traveling the roads in Italy, on a motorcycle, with a terrific dinner afterward? Priceless.

Dinner, yum.

Things have been a bit quiet here–no surprise, really, it is New Hampshire and we have at least a foot of snow on the ground. Not ideal 2-up weather, although Andrew is anxious to get out riding on the ice. The tires on the 450 are scary-looking covered in spikes, and he’s ready to go.

We went to vacation over the holidays in Arizona, and while we didn’t rent a bike (this time) we have done so in the past. It’s fun to be on vacation, and it’s fun to be on a bike, so vacation + bike = awesome vacation.

The first time we rented a bike on vacation, we rented a BMW R1200 GS when we went to Arizona in March of 2009. Great fun–we took the bike up to Sedona, and a few other adventures.

We rode quite a bit, and stopped along the way. I think this cafe was in Jerome? Regardless, they have a sense of humor:

I’d be happy with an espresso and a free puppy…hmm….

As always, you get to meet the nicest people when you are on a bike. We met the couple that were riding this bike and sidecar combo:

I believe this next one was taken on the Apache Trail:

We had a great time, and I would definitely rent a GS again–in fact, I kind of wish we had rented one when we went out to Arizona in December. The trick is to rent a bike that you are comfortable on and enjoy. Some other time I will post about the *other* vacation rental, which did not work out quite so well.

 

It’s that time of year, when we look back and reflect on what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished, and how that will inform the upcoming year.

A motorcycle Year In Review, compiled by Andrew:

Lots of fun coming up for next year! Already on deck are the Sandblast Rally in South Carolina, and a track day here or there. And hopefully more hill climbs, and rides along the beautiful roads here in the Northeast…

Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Joy-filled New Year!

The Killington Sports Car Club runs the Hill Climbs that I’ve written about before on this blog–and as I’ve mentioned before, they’re some of the nicest people in the Northeast. The bikes were first invited to participate back in 2008, so we’re a very recent add to the club.

Which is why it was so nice of them to include us in their annual holiday party and meeting. TJ, Joe, Sandy, Andrew and I all headed to Charlestown, NH last night for fun, food, and general merriment.

There was a LOT of food.

Joe and Jimmy chatting.

Everyone had a great time, and there was plenty of really good food. No rubber chicken catered affair, was this. Homemade food prepared by the group was on the menu–ham, lasagna, an enormous Taco Salad from Sharon, and much more. Sandy’s curry dip was a huge hit.

Dinner time! Um, nom, nom...

Next came the awards presentation–a variety of serious (Rookie of the Year) and not-so-serious (award for person who doesn’t participate from year to year as the car is “fixed”) awards were presented.

The Golden Jackstand (Go Fix Your Car) Award

The final award of the evening is presented to a person who embodies and demonstrates the spirit of good sportsmanship. As far as I’m concerned, in this day and age of thrown bats, court-side temper tantrums, bench-clearing brawls at Little League games and whatever else appears on the tee-vee, there can be no higher honor than being recognized for demonstrating sportsmanship.

And I couldn’t agree more about who the club selected.

TJ wins the Walt Rowe Sportsmanship Award.

For those who don’t know TJ, he’s one of the nicest young men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is generous to a fault, the first one to volunteer to help out, and has a laugh that fills the room. And he makes great lasagna.

Congratulations, TJ. You deserve this!

For the last eight years or so, MAX BMW has been hosting a pre-Thanksgiving Day dinner at the store as a thank you to customers. And, it was still nice enough for a ride, so Andrew and I went over on the R1200GSA.

R1200GSA

Plenty warm enough!

And, off we went. It was a nice ride over, and warmed up quite nicely.

One of the best road signs to see when you are out riding.

We arrived in plenty of time…and there were quite a few folks there already! It’s a popular event, and seems to grow every year.

Mike was already there when we arrived. Along with a few other folks...

We spent some time visiting with friends, including some of the crew at MAX’s:

This is Nicole, modeling a new color and style.

We visited the 1966 R60/2 while we were there…it needs a little bit more attention, and should be home soon. Meanwhile, it can hang out with other vintage bikes at MAX Heritage Service.

Doug looks at the /2, while I...stand around.

Wow, what a crowd! Lots of hungry motorcyclists.

Dinner time!

There was a ton of food…turkey, all the expected sides and fixin’s and, of course, PIE!

Mmmm....pie.

It was a wonderful event, and a lot of fun!

Wonderful day at MAX's!

Next time, you should come! Until then, here’s the ride:

A sunny and unexpectedly warm weekend for November in New Hampshire means…time for a ride!

Andrew took the newly refurbished 1966 R60/2 out for a spin–Max, Joe, and Mike joined him on vintage bikes for a quick ride up the seacoast.

The R60/2 out for some sun and a ride...

The post detailing the work done on the /2 is coming soon–we’re really very pleased with the job done by MAX BMW Heritage Service.

Getting ready to head out.

What a beautiful day out, and these bikes are fun to ride.

Out for a ride...

This about sums it up, doesn’t it? What a great picture:

L to R: R60/2, R60/2, R27, R69S

It’s so nice to get these bonus days in November!

One of the more fascinating things, to me at least, about BMW motorcycle owners is that they seem to have considerable wanderlust. Perhaps it is the “go anywhere” nature of the GS that inspires riders to tackle parts of the planet that have rather dubious “roads” by our sanitized American standards. Maybe it’s just the fun of being on a bike and exploring. But, in any case, quite a few set out to ride north to south, or east to west, across wide sections of the globe.

And then, they come back and tell us all about it and we start trying to figure out how we can do something similar.

This was the case for a Saturday presentation at MAX BMW by WorldRider Allan Karl.

We of course headed over on the R1200GSA, as it was a perfect autumn day. Yes, it was a bit chilly at the start, but that’s what the Gerbing Gear is for…right?

Why yes, that *does* say 32 degrees.

Andrew knows all of the back roads to and from Max’s (of course he does), so those are the roads we take. Far more interesting than heading over on the highway. And, we get to see a lot along the way. For example, seasonal depictions of important events. Like the following display, which commemorates the tale of when the Great Pumpkin arrived. His Gourdish parents were journeying to the local farmer’s market to be counted, and there was no room at the inn, so they were welcomed into a manager for his emergence. They were later visited by the two wise scarecrows and random skeleton.

Evidence of SDAC: Seasonal Decor Application Confusion.

You haven’t heard this story? Perhaps it is a local fable.

More delightful scenery:

Broken barn, great light.

After breakfast with Mike and Leigh, we headed to MAX BMW for the show. Allan had a great presentation–fun delivery, great pictures, and the running commentary was interesting and entertaining.

Presenting at MAX's

I thought the presentation was very interesting–he probably could have filled two hours if he’d detailed the whole trip. His presentation focuses on a few key areas: the why and how, travel through Colombia, travel through Bolivia, travel through Africa, and travel through Syria. Missing from the presentation was the portion north in the beginning, travel through Europe, and taking only the backroads across the U.S. He probably does this to a) keep it manageable, and b) expose people to areas they likely haven’t seen and might wonder about.

Answering questions...

Allan was gracious in answering many audience questions.

It was a great event, and I highly recommend seeing Allan Karl’s presentation if he’s appearing at a BMW dealer near you.

The trip home was pretty spectacular too.

Autumn in New Hampshire.

Last Sunday, October 10, a friend of ours got married. We’ve been on a number of rides with Jim, who rides a BMW R1150GS, so I was not at all surprised when Andrew said he wanted to take the bike to the wedding.

Of course, this presents some issues for attire, especially for women. How does one dress appropriately, and yet remain as wrinkle-free as possible under gear? How does a gentleman wear a jacket and tie beneath gear?

Andrew’s solution was to pack his jacket in the side case and wear his Aerostich Roadcrafter One Piece Suit over–if you’ve never seen one of these, they are amazing. I just wish they made them in petite women’s sizes.

I elected to wear a skirt made of a wrinkle-resistant fabric, in a length that ended just above the knee. I was able to roll the skirt up, put my gear on over it, and look presentable on the other end of the journey.

Arrived fairly wrinkle-free.

It was a lovely wedding, on a gorgeous day. Also, there were lots of dogs in attendance! Which is always a good thing.

Is Bella interested in the food or the wine?

Malcolm performed! And wore a kilt!

Acoustic Kilts. Sounds like a band name, yes?

Everyone had a great time…and where else would you get a shot like this one?

Happy Couple.

A hint for a smooth departure: try not to hit one of the tent poles with the side case. Ahem.

Congratulations, Jim & Stephanie–many happy years together!

Andrew loves to participate in the Hill Climbs and the Rallies, and usually I’m happy to be right there with him. When Team MAX participates, I usually have plenty of company hanging out with other motorcycle-traveling spouses, significant others, and assorted entourage.  At the hill climbs we usually volunteer to help; the rallies are a bit different so we wait in the main rest/repair area.

Occasionally I can’t make it for one reason or another–usually work, but sometimes other commitments–and Andrew competes and has just as much fun anyway. At the Black River Stages Rally, Andrew wasn’t the only one without a spouse there, it turned into a bona fide boys weekend.

Should this really need instructions?

Max assembling sandwiches. Apparently with supervision.

Never too early to start learning.

Okay, so pictures of babies and food…maybe I should add a few of the bikes and the rally?

Getting ready to go.

Waiting to run a stage.

There is a LOT of waiting at stages rallies. As a spectator, the hill climbs are more fun–the stages rallies have only a few areas set aside for spectators, and (zoom) that’s all you see of the participants pretty much the whole day.

Night stages.

It’s exciting for the participants, of course. And it’s great to see the bikes all lined up, and being there to support the team is great.

Nice autumnal day...

There are always a few mishaps. How the mishaps are handled separate the…people who finish from the people who don’t finish. Or something like that.

Yes, this actually worked.

It's a Major Award!

Name the movie. I’ll give you a hint–this Major Award is not Fra-gee-lay.

From what I understand, everyone had a great time. I wish I could have been there–maybe next time. There’s always next year! Results from BRS are here.

A view from Andrew’s drive home: