Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Updates coming soon!

Hey MotoReaders!

I’m super busy at the moment, but I wanted to drop a quick post to let you know that I’ve been working (literally) and getting some fresh new content for the ole website while doing so. In the next few weeks, I’ll have some new ride reviews on the new 121ci vvt CVO Road Glide, the new Lowrider ST and the Pan America. I’ll also throw in an update on the status of the MotoWriter Dyna and I might even talk about some other cool stuff that I’ve been doing lately. 

Drop a comment and let me know which review you’d like to see first, then check back soon!

Till then- ride safe and make good choices!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

I Crashed


I don't think this will buff out.

I crashed the MotoWriter Street Bob

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- if you ride motorcycles, it’s not a matter of if, but when, you will have a mishap. I’ve had my share over the years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything serious happen… until a few nights ago. I was riding a road that I’ve ridden, probably a few dozen times, and I failed to heed the warnings. You see, there is one particular curve that, while it’s not crazy, it is dangerous enough that the county road department installed a sign warning “dangerous curve ahead” on the approach. If you’ve watched any of my earlier videos, you likely saw the one where I went into this exact curve in the least sexy way possible. It always has gravel in the apex… always. On this fateful night, there was no exception. 

An evening ride on a known road

I would venture to guess that, statistically, casually known roads are more dangerous to us than those that are brand new, or well known, to us. We tend to take it easier on roads that we're unfamiliar with, and get more relaxed on roads that we know (or think we know) well. It's the in-between roads though, that seem to be the ones that really get us in trouble. Those backroads that we know well enough to be comfortable on, but we don't ride on enough to be able to anticipate every curve. 

While taking an evening ride on one of those roads- one that I’ve ridden multiple times in the past, but is not one of my "regular" rides- I approached the aforementioned "dangerous curve." I was looking for the tell-tale signs of the ever-present gravel swath, but there was none… until suddenly, there was. I was over halfway through the curve, with a fair, but not too aggressive lean on the Dyna, when all of a sudden, a relatively thin (maybe 18” wide) swath of gravel appeared directly in front of me. It was laid out in the road, perfectly matching the exact line that I was in. I knew that going into the gravel would surely put me into the asphalt and high side me into the oncoming lane (I’ve seen enough crashes like this to know how that would play out- and the outcome of those were all bad), so I tried my best to apply enough brakes to get off the line I was on, which was heading toward my certain demise. 

I was able to successfully apply enough brake to stand the Dyna up and miss the majority of the gravel, but unfortunately for me, in doing so, it put me going across the center line and into the oncoming lane. By the grace of God, there was no one coming, so with everything I had, I tried to keep the Dyna off the shoulder, but the stock, single disc front brake on the 2011 FXDB simply wasn’t slowing me down enough and I inadvertently pushed a little too much on my rear pedal. Big mistake. The rear tire started to lock and before I could release and reapply the rear brake, I ran out of room on the road surface and the back of the bike started to slide sideways. The scoot first went down on the high side (that's the right side for those that don't know), sliding into the grass shoulder. Once in the grass, it slid a few feet before catching and high-siding, ejecting me off a few feet from my downed machine. I had enough wits about me to tuck my head in anticipation of the impact, and I landed hard on my back with my helmet barely tapping the hard, dry, grass covered, red clay ground. 

Body and bike

I stayed down for a second doing a mental assessment: wiggle my toes- check; move my fingers- check- breathing clear, in and out- check. I slowly stood up, checking myself for injuries and was feeling pretty good about my condition, until I got upright and could feel a warm wetness flushing down my back. I reached back and felt it- yep, it was wet. When I pulled my hand back, I could see it was covered in blood. Evidently, when I landed, I slid across something sharp that was embedded in the dirt and grass, because, as I would learn later, my back had a gash that was about 6-8 inches long running across at an angle with all of the other superficial scratches from the rocks in the dirt. 

The MotoWriter Dyna didn’t get out quite so lucky; the bars were bent, the fairing and clutch perch destroyed and there was fresh oil on the low side fork tube. Aside from that, the tank had some scratches on the low side and the H-D logo was ripped off. After manipulating the clutch lever back in place, I was able to start it, though. It fired up and ran fine. A Good Samaritan saw the aftermath of my self-induced mess and offered to help. Being a stubborn-ass man, I initially refused, but after he insisted that I wasn’t putting him out, I reluctantly agreed and he left to go get his truck.

I love the South

As I was waiting for him to come back, I was able to get the bike picked up and moved a little further down the ditch (I was trying to get it back on the road, but couldn’t). I called my wife, then the local sheriff’s department, to report the crash. A few other folks came by and checked on me, but I told them that I had some help coming, so they went on their way. A few minutes later, my new friend, who for the sake of his anonymity, I will call Mr. L, came back with a truck and trailer. 

South Mississippians are the best people I’ve ever met. This guy, who only knew me from the second that he saw my dumb self standing in the ditch with my busted motorcycle, generously offered to help me. Not only that, but once he got there with his truck and trailer, he offered to let me take the whole rig, so I could get the bike back home. Being that my back was as bloody as a horror film crime scene though, I respectfully declined and told him that I would ride with my wife in our car so I didn’t stain his seats with my ripped up back. Initially, Mr. L. offered to bring my bike back to his place until I could come get it because one of the tires on his trailer was in bad shape, but once my wife and the deputy got there, he could see that the pain was starting to set in, and offered to risk the tire and bring it all the way to my house, so I could rest and heal without having to worry about going out again to get the bike. To recap- this man was on his way home from work when he saw some random stranger, crashed into a ditch on his motorcycle. He offered… no, he insisted, to help the stranger, then he offered to let this complete stranger take his truck and trailer without knowing if it would ever be returned. Can you imagine what our world would be like, if everyone was as kind, generous and trusting as Mr. L.? 

No good deed

They say that no good deed goes unpunished, and about a mile away from my house, that rang true for Mr. L. The damn tire on his trailer blew out and completely came off the rim. Mr. L. was undeterred, though. I got out of my wife’s car to see what we needed to do, and he just waved me on and said he was going to run it on the rim until we got there; and run it on the rim, he did. We pulled the whole sad looking contraption, consisting of a busted up Harley-Davidson strapped to a trailer with one tire, into the driveway and Mr. L. helped me unload the MotoWriter Dyna off the trailer. I offered to replace the wheels on his trailer, but he adamantly refused, telling me that he had two new tires for the trailer at home, but he just had not put them on yet. I’m not sure if he was fibbing or not, but I told him that he could leave the trailer at my house and drop the tires off later, and I would get it all fixed back up for him. After all, it was, literally, the very least I could do. He reluctantly agreed, would only allow me to give him a sports drink for all his trouble, and then, after some polite conversation, he headed back home to his family and I went inside to let Mrs. MotoWriter get me fixed up.

Stubborn ass man

I mentioned before that I am stubborn. Well, as you can imagine, that means I opted not to go spend my evening at an emergency room. It turned out that, while it was pretty long, fairly deep, splayed open sort of wide and full of grass, dirt and debris, it was still just a cut across my back. While my wife was gathering up all of the necessary supplies, I checked my own vitals: breathing- still clear and full; blood pressure- understandably high; heart rate- a little elevated, but good; blood oxygen- 100%; and after going pee, I saw that I wasn’t passing any blood. For my limited medical knowledge gained from being a father of two rambunctious sons- I determined that the likelihood of my having any significant internal injuries was somewhat low. 

Mrs. MotoWriter did a great job, even if she did almost pass out twice. She got it cleaned up, closed up and bandaged, thanks to the advice and guidance from my youngest son, who just happens to be an EMT. I took some ibuprofen to help quell the pain, since it felt like Mike Tyson kidney punched me with all of his strength, and then I went to bed. I actually slept pretty decent, considering the circumstances. The next morning, however, my plans of getting up and going to work were dashed when I tried getting out of bed. I felt okay, but I was moving like Frankenstein’s monster. Everything hurt, so I messaged the boss and went back to bed. I had been trying to catch up on my writing, but alas, the bike wasn’t the only thing broken (I’m blaming everything on the Blue Super Moon)… my home internet also went out. We cancelled our satellite TV service when we got the fiber optic internet, so no internet meant no TV… which meant that I was given plenty of time to write, but I just couldn't upload it, so this story will be a few days old by the first time you get to read it.

Cuts heal and chicks dig scars

As I’ve learned so many times in the past, cuts heal and chicks dig scars; what is dented, can be fixed, what is broken, can be replaced. The most important takeaway here is the lesson learned. 

I was on a road that, from my own experience, has a dangerous curve and the most dangerous part of that curve for a motorcyclist is the ever present gravel that sits patiently on the blacktop, waiting for it’s next two-wheeled victim. I knew it was there… because it’s always there. Out of the dozens of times I’ve ridden this road, I can only remember once, maybe twice, where the surface was clear. That is on me. As a certified motorcycle operator and motorcycle instructor, I know that when the rear brake starts to lock, I’m supposed to release to rolling friction until I regain control. In this particular situation, mid curve with inadequate braking ability and very little real estate to operate in, I was unfortunately doomed to my fate, because I simply ran out of room. The best I could hope to accomplish, with what I had to work with, was to mitigate the damage as best as possible, which I did. This crash could have been much, much worse. But, this crash could have also been avoided altogether.

I’m not as young as I used to be, so I know that I’m going to be feeling this one for a while, even after the cut heals and Tyson’s bruising goes away. I’m just thankful that I was able to use the training that I have to minimize the overall damage… to the bike, but mostly to me. Mrs. MotoWriter would never forgive me if I went for a ride and didn’t come back. I’m also thankful for good, truly good, samaritans like Mr. L. I’m grateful for his help and generosity and I’m proud to say that I know him- he’s a good man. People like Mr. L. really help restore a person's faith in humanity.

My biggest regret in this whole situation is that I failed to use my own experience to avoid this whole damn situation. I knew the dangers and ignored them. The best I can hope for going forward is, that I learn from this hard lesson and, maybe you can learn something from my mistake, too. 

Until next time, MotoReaders, please ride safe.

It's not as bad as it could be, but it's going to be down for repairs for a little while.

The bars, forks and my newly installed (and recently painted to match) fairing are all shot.

I'm alive, I'm in one piece and I'm in good spirits.
Thanks to the awesome folks at Go Fast Don't Die for such a great shirt, and thanks to all of my loyal MotoReaders for reading my stories.

Want your own collection of cool, Go Fast Don't Die apparel? Check them out by clicking here. Tell 'em that The MotoWriter sent ya!  

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Work for it

Work For It

Ferry to Logtown, MS, circa 1900's

You gotta do more than just want it

Do you want something? It really doesn't matter what it is you want- be it a successful career, a happy relationship, a new motorcycle, or maybe a whole new life. Whatever it is you are seeking, though- you can want it all you want, but wanting it simply isn't enough.

You have to work for it

Nothing gained is ever given. You either have to buy it (if you can), steal it (if you dare) or earn it. No matter which path of acquisition you take though, when it all comes down to it- you still have to work for it in some way or another.

Want to buy it? Well, you have to earn the money to buy it, if that is, it is something that even can be bought.

Want to steal it? Again, you are going to have to figure out how you can steal it and get away with it, if it is something that even can be stolen. Not to mention, if you get caught stealing it, chances are you're going to lose it and you’re still going to end up having to pay for it.

But if you earn it... well, that is something truly special, because when you earn it, no one can take it away from you. The trick is, though… once you have it, you have to keep earning it. You have to work to keep it, or risk having someone else that wants it more than you, taking it from you.

When I was a kid, my dad would say “wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one gets filled up first.” Yeah, it was a crude way of saying that sitting around wishing for something to happen was a silly waste of time, but the point was made, regardless. Over time, when my kids would tell their paw-paw they wished for something, he shortened it up to “wish in one hand” then he’d grin at me and let me explain it to them. No matter how crudely the message was delivered though, the point was clear and true- sitting around wishing for something to happen is a waste of valuable time; time that could, instead, be used for working toward making it happen. 

Logtown, MS

The photo above shows a ferry crossing the Pearl River on the South Mississippi/ South Louisiana line. I like the photo for this piece for a few reasons- 1. It shows that, all the way back around 1919 or so, motorcycles were an integral part of the southern landscape (as they still are today); 2. The tenacity of the people back in pre-war America was undisputed; and 3. The ferry is crossing to a town that no longer exists. I’d be willing to bet that few people know the history of Logtown, MS, so I’ll drop a couple of links for you here and here (the second link has some great photos). The short story is, the town, which once thrived as a primary lumber supplier for the region, dwindled over the years until it was finally taken by the U.S. government, because of it’s location in, what would later become, the buffer zone of NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center.

You may be asking, what does a Mississippi ghost town have to do with working for something? It’s simple- Logtown’s success began to falter because the community couldn’t, or wouldn’t, sustain it. The sawmills went out of business, one by one, until there was only one left. The surviving mill provided the majority of jobs for the residents there and, when it finally closed down, the town rapidly fell apart, I would imagine that in no small part, due to it’s location. It was fairly isolated, as you will see if you ever decide to take a road trip to the area. By the 1960’s, only around 250 people remained in the small town. There was no other significant industry and the geographic location of the town along the banks of the Pearl River, while ideal for the logging industry, was less appealing to other commerce. Logtown was just as the name implies- a log town. Without logging, there was no Logtown. You see, the founders of Logtown were too short-sighted. They didn’t work toward building a town, they only worked toward building a community that supported their businesses. There was no ambition to found a new city, so there was no effort to try to save it when the businesses closed. Logtown was little more than a “company town.” The only roads in and out existed to support the industry, there were no efforts to draw in visitors or tourists, the local school only offered classes up to the 8th grade and all higher grade students had to be bussed to “nearby” Bay St. Louis (which was several miles away, on the other side of the county). 

By the time NASA began to move into the area in the 1960’s, the government bought out the remaining 250 or so residents of Logtown and the town was officially abandoned, leaving little more than a few remnants of what remained and a single cemetery that still exists today. You see, NASA, or rather, the U.S. government, wanted the small town more than the founders and residents of the town did… so they used what they had- the ability to buy it.

If you’re a local to the Gulf Coast, can you imagine if the founders of the town had worked to keep Logtown and worked to establish it as a prominent city on the Coast? I wonder how much the coastal landscape would have been different than it is today? NASA would have moved their site further north along the river to adjust the buffer zone? Perhaps western Hancock County would have been more developed, with a thriving city, neighborhoods, businesses or shopping malls? I suppose no one knows what could have been, but one thing is certain, no one fought to keep the town, so it’s obvious that one one wanted it enough to put in the work to keep it.

Motorcycles, relationships and promotions

I fancy myself a writer (albeit, not a very good one), and sometimes, a story teller, so maybe my analogies aren’t always as easy to relate to as I’d like them to be. As such, I get that the example of Logtown might not be the one that rings your bell, so I’ll go for the easy three:
  • Motorcycles, 
  • Relationships
  • Promotions
These should be easy. If you haven’t figured this out yet, I love motorcycles- new, old, big, small… if it has two wheels, I’m interested. For me, while I have some great bikes that I’m really happy with, I’m also always interested in adding to the collection when the right one comes along. As with every bike I have, and used to have, I had to work for it. Wanting it wasn’t enough- no, no. I had to work for it. When I bought the Road King, I had to commit to working to keep it, every month, for the term of the loan (it was, after all, the most expensive motorcycle that I’ve bought to date). No work + no pay = no motorcycle. For my Dyna, while it was significantly less expensive than the Road King, it also didn’t run, was rusty, crusty, corroded in all the wrong places and generally looked like it had been hit with a bag of turds. I had to work to get it back on the road, to make it look good and to make it run, reliably, every time I got on it. Having it on the lift and “wanting” it to run, wasn’t going to cut it (and paying someone for something I can do myself, simply isn’t ever an option).

Relationships. Relationships require constant work. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who has been married for more than a few years. I would venture to bet that they will all tell you the same thing- it takes work, a lot of work, as a matter of fact. Through the years, as things change, as people come and go in your lives, as financial burdens come and (hesitantly) go, as temptations emerge from, and fade into, the shadows… you have to work to remain faithful, frugal, strong, vulnerable, tender and tough. You have to focus, and refocus, through the years in order to survive the burdens of time. The reward is a strong, loving relationship with someone with whom you share history with. With someone who understands why you are the way you are, and who helps you to be a better person every day. There are few things better than being in a good relationship.

Promotions should be the easiest of all three, to explain the concept of working for it. If you want a job, you have to go through some process of getting it… that takes work. You may need a special education, or training… these take work. Once you get the job, you have to work to keep it. You can’t clock in every day, sit on your ass and do nothing, and expect to not get fired. No, you have to do the job they are paying you to do. What’s next? Do you want to promote? Of course you do! Maybe you want to be promoted to supervisor? Or perhaps, you want to be over a special division, project, unit or team? Promotions and advancements are competitive and “wanting it” is equal to my dad’s analogy for wishing. You can want it until you’re blue in the face, but as long as there is someone else willing to work, or work harder than you, for it… that person is going to be the one chosen over you. Now, of course, this may not always be the case, after all, some good ass-kissing to the right people might give someone an edge in the right (or wrong) place of business, but when they get their  brown-nose in the position and ultimately fail, it will just be a matter of time before they are kicked out, demoted or maybe even fired, and the hard worker put in their place. The reason is simple- the machine has to work and if the machine doesn’t work, someone is going to be held accountable for the losses. If you are the worker- the one who passes up the opportunity to drink coffee with the boss or tell him/her that their necktie really brings out the color in their eyes, in order to get the job done and keep the machine running, then you will be the asset, and the brown-nose will be the ass.

I hope this helps

I genuinely hope this helps someone out there to re-focus, re-energize and get to work on making their dreams come true. My dad taught me at a young age to work. He taught me the importance of working on my own cars (and later motorcycles), he taught me how to make household repairs and renovations- fix plumbing, electrical, sheetrock (which I still hate) and build sheds. I learned how to keep what I had running, and in my adult life, I learned how to maintain my home and my marriage, be a good husband and try to be a good father. Each generation wants to make life a little easier for their kids, but the disservice is, that each generation will raise their kids to become more reliant on other people until there is no one out there that can do anything for themselves. I tried to raise my kids with the same values and lessons that I was blessed with as a kid… and from what I’ve seen so far, those lessons seem to be sticking. I’m also really glad that they didn’t actually poop in their hands while making a wish.

Ride safe and make good choices, MotoReaders and remember, to wish in one hand, and work hard with the other.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

A long overdue trip

A trip that was over a decade in the making


I don't refer to very many people as "brother". It cheapens the word. My brother is my brother... we have the same parents, the same upbringing, we grew up in the same household with the same rules and we have shared memories. These guys that go around calling every friend, buddy, pal or co-worker "brother" just water down the meaning of the word. There are, however, a few (very few)  exceptions. After all, with the criteria that I previously mentioned, there is at least one other person that could, and has, earned that title. 

A long overdue trip

You might remember him from a Bike of the Month piece I did in January 2021. Lee had the 2014 Indian Chief and was living in Spain at the time. Well, the backstory is that Lee and I met over 35 years ago and, despite our drastically different upbringings, we immediately became friends and that friendship has endured to this day. Lee enlisted in the military right out of  high school and I went to work, at various jobs, for the next 9 years, until I found my career path. Over the next 20+ years, we remained close friends. I married my high school sweetheart and Lee met, and married, his wife a few years after joining the Navy. We grew up, raised our kids and, of course, bought a lot of motorcycles. With Lee and his family living the nomadic Navy lifestyle and me and my family planting our roots firmly on the Gulf Coast, we only had a few opportunities over the decades to ride together. For years, we compared stories about our individual rides; mine stateside and his overseas. I'd send him photos of my motorcycles and trips, and he'd send me photos of his. Each time, we'd talk about the days when we'd take some epic road trip together. The closest we came through the years was in 2010. Lee and his family came to visit us for a week and, while they were here, Lee rented a Street Glide from a local H-D shop. Our kids rode go-carts and dirtbikes and went fishing in our pond, our wives went shopping, drank wine and caught up on all of the years since our last visit and Lee and I went for a motorcycle trip up to Barber Motorsports in Birmingham, AL. While he still had the Street Glide, we had our parents babysit the kids, and the four of us took our bikes to Destin, FL for the weekend. The most memorable part of that trip, was the vicious storm front that rolled in while we were on the road, bringing thunderstorms, lightning, high winds and even tornados across the area. Needless to say, we had a good time, but the trip over to Florida was more than a little stressful for all of us! That was the last big road trip we took... until this year.

Lunch plans

It all started with lunch plans. Almost a year ago, Lee and his wife moved back stateside, finding their place on the East Coast in Florida. As they were getting settled in in the Sunshine State, I was working non-stop at my job. Each time we planned a trip to meet up for lunch, the weather would turn against us, or I was called in to work. The weekend before Father's Day, we were talking on the phone and decided to make plans to meet halfway, have lunch, catch up on old times and head back to our respective homes. From Lee's place in Florida, to my place in Mississippi, is close to an 8 hour ride, so we decided to meet halfway in eastern Alabama. Somehow, during the course of the conversation, the plans morphed from a lunch visit in southeast Alabama, to a road trip to the mountains. The timing couldn't have been better. My kids had to work, my wife was busy with a project at home and the following week at my job was going to be extra busy with a big event coming in. 

The Ride

The plan was to leave on Saturday morning from our respective homes and meet in Dothan, AL. From there, we'd ride north to Suches, GA, where we'd make our base camp at Two Wheels of Suches Campground (aka, TWoS). The next day, on Sunday, we'd ride up to Tellico Plains, TN, take the Cherohala Skyway over to Robbinsville, NC, then run up to Deal's Gap and ride the Tail of the Dragon. After that, we'd take the Foothills Parkway over to Pigeon Forge, TN, stop in Gatlinburg, TN for lunch, then ride Newfound Gap Road (aka, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Scenic Byway), down to Cherokee, NC. We'd head west to NC28, aka, "The Moonshiner 28" and ride back to Deal's Gap, before heading back down to our base camp in Suches that evening. The next day, we'd pack up the bikes and head back to our respective homes. The ride went, mostly, as planned. I missed my turn on the way to Dothan and went about a half hour off-course, making me about an hour late to meet Lee in Dothan, but once I got there, we grabbed a bite to eat, looked around in Harley-Davidson of Dothan for a few, then saddled up and headed north. We ran into a bit of rain right at first, but the skies cleared up quickly and the rest of our trip up was trouble free. We stopped in Dahlonega, GA for dinner at a cool little Irish Pub called Shenanigans. We ate a good meal, drank a couple of cold drinks, listened to the live music, then headed out to the campground. We got to TWoS just after dark and got settled in. We were pretty sacked from riding all day, so we turned in and got some sleep. The next morning, we stopped in at the TWoS lodge and got some coffee, some breakfast and some more coffee, then headed out to start our day. The road leaving TWoS toward Tellico turned out to be a hidden gem. Wolfpen Gap Road takes you north from the campground and it is chock full of curves, elevation changes and has very little traffic. I wonder if anyone outside of the locals really even knows it's there, because if they do, they keep it a closely guarded secret. The ride to Tellico was easy, so we made an obligatory stop at Cherohala Harley-Davidson, an outpost of Smoky Mountain H-D. Shortly after, we headed out and took the Skyway over to Robbinsville. We gassed up in Robbinsville, and, since this was Lee's first time on the Dragon, I turned on my GoPro to shoot it for him. I had him take the lead, so I could get some good footage of him putting his new Road Glide Limited through the paces. We stopped for a few at Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, picked up a couple of souvenirs and then headed out. After a successful run up the Dragon's Tail, we turned onto Foothills Parkway. 

We got stuck behind a group of guys that were riding like they'd never been on motorcycles before (with one of the bikes running so rich that it was starting to give me a headache), but after a few miles, we stopped at an overlook for a break and let them get a little further ahead of us. Once we got back on the road, we were fortunate enough to pass them up while they were stopped at an overlook, just up the road. Once we got past them, we were able to open up the bikes a little and have a little fun in the easy sweeping curves of the Parkway. We followed Lee's GPS to avoid the summer traffic congestion of Pigeon Forge, but ran into it in Gatlinburg. We didn't have to put up with too much of it though, because we took a side road and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at Tom and Earl's Back Alley Grill. After we ate, we made our way to Newfound Gap Road and rode south through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Despite the heavy traffic of sedans, pickups and minivans chock full of goggle-eyed tourists, we enjoyed the cool air and the sweeping curves of the road. We made it to Cherokee, NC as the sun was starting to get low in the sky, but made it to the Moonshiner 28 with enough light to easily see the curves ahead of us. Once we made it back to Deal's Gap, we couldn't help but notice it was a ghost town- the hundred or so bikers that were there several hours earlier, were all but gone and the store was closed for the day. We headed south toward Robbinsville, then made our way back to our base camp at TWoS. 

We made it back just before dark and settled in. Lee had brought a couple of flasks of bourbon with him, so we sat out on the porch and were enjoying the sounds of the Appalachian night and talking, when we couldn't help but laugh at a couple of hipsters that were trying to get their tents set up across the way. The guys left for a while, then came stumbling back carrying a case of, what we thought, was beer, but turned out to be hard seltzer. The two had obviously been drinking in their absence because they were having a helluva time getting their fire started, so Lee struck up a conversation with them and they offered us a drink. We talked motorcycles for a bit and once they got their fire going, they settled in to their conversation and we decided to turn in for the night. 

The next morning, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake the day before. I did not drink nearly enough water throughout the day and had gotten pretty dehydrated. Not drinking enough water, then drinking bourbon that night, made for an awful hangover on Monday morning. To make matters worse, the weather had turned on us during the night and we woke up to the rain coming down. The forecast said we were going to be riding through, and in, storms all the way back to our respective homes. I went around the side of the cabin and expelled some of the poison that I drank, then we donned our rain gear and headed out. The lodge at TWoS was closed and locked, so we headed out to find some coffee and breakfast. The roads were wet and the rain was coming down and, for some odd reason (probably just to punish me) my Sena was chirping every few minutes in my ear with a high-pitched chirp that felt like a gutter nail being driven through my brain. We made it down to Dahlonega, GA and got some breakfast at a little place called The Corner Kitchen. The guys were nice enough to let me use their restroom and as I was nursing my coffee, Lee got us a couple of bottles of water and added re-hydration packs to them. Fortunately, the stuff started working and I started feeling better by the time we got going again. After we got on the highway, headed South, Lee broke off to go visit his dad, and I continued on. I was headed to Alabama to see my wife, who was visiting her mom in southwest Alabama. As I got closer to Atlanta, I started seeing weather alerts on the highway signs, warning that damaging thunderstorms were raking across central and south Georgia. I stopped for gas in Atlanta and checked the weather forecast and, sure enough, the conditions were outright dangerous for a motorcyclist. I decided to head west to try and skirt around the storms and, oddly enough, I made it all the way to Birmingham, AL without running into anything more than a few short sprinkles of rain. 

I stopped at Buc-ee's in Leeds, AL and shed my rain gear, then grabbed a brisket sandwich before deciding to take the back roads down to Mobile to avoid the rain. By taking that route, I was able to successfully avoid the rain, but it did add a few extra hours to my trip. I ended up making it to my mother-in-law's house, just before 8 pm Monday night. I stayed the night in Alabama and took my wife and her mom to lunch the next day. We had a nice day together, then I headed back home later in the afternoon, managing to avoid the storms all the way back. By the time I pulled back in to my garage on Tuesday evening, my Road King had almost 1,600 more miles on it, than it did when I left on Saturday morning. 

Video highlights

This trip was an important one because, not only, was it the first time in over a decade that me and my "brother-from-another-mother" had ridden together, it was also Lee's first time riding in the Appalachian mountains. While there are thousands of miles of great motorcycling roads in the U.S. of A., The Tail of the Dragon is known, around the world for it's 318 curves in 11 miles and riders from across the globe come to the United States just to ride it. So, to commemorate the occasion, I put together a little video highlights of the trip, to accompany the story you just read. 

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed making it. If nothing else, I hope it can be an inspiration for you to live your best life, take time for your friends, ride safely so you can get back to your family and, as always, make good choices.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

2023 Law Enforcement Ride- Gulf Coast

 2023 Law Enforcement Ride

Recently, I was asked if I could help with planning a group ride from the local Harley-Davidson dealership, along a scenic route and back to the dealership for a cookout and some good ole fashioned motorcycling camaraderie. The ride was billed as a "Law Enforcement Ride" and it would have a law enforcement escort from start to finish. As a passionate motorcycle enthusiast, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to help out.

The ride

The ride started at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Harley-Davidson Dealership at 10:30 am on Saturday, July 1st. After a quick safety briefing, the group of over 20 riders and several classic cars headed out, escorted by the Gulfport Police Department's and Harrison County Sheriff's Department's Motor Units. With the Motormen stopping traffic and leading the way, the riders pulled out of the dealership on their journey along the scenic South Mississippi route. Once underway, the riders never had to stop, making for a fun, safe and easy ride. The route took us from the dealership, north into some beautiful backroads in the country, then back southbound to the gorgeous white sand beaches on US90. 

We headed over toward the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Jones Park, where we took a break under one of the pavilions, with snacks and drinks graciously provided by MS Gulf Coast H-D. After our short break from the South Mississippi sun, we headed back over to US90, and pointed our headlights eastbound. We made an easy ride along the coastal highway with the a nice coastal breeze keeping us cool in the summer sun, then we headed north on I-110 up to the sleepy town of D'Iberville. We took the exit and headed along some nice backroads, all the way back to the dealership, where the good folks there had the grill going, an inflatable water slide set up and live music playing. We all hung out at the shop for a couple of hours, enjoying the free food and drinks, making a couple (or more) purchases of swag and getting to know some of our local boys in blue that kept us safe on our ride. It was a genuinely good time for all.

Video of the ride

While I'm not usually a fan of group rides, I really enjoyed this one. My wife, Mrs. MotoWriter, was on the bike with me, filming and taking photos for the dealership's awesome marketing manager, Alyssa and, of course, I had my GoPro mounted to the engine guard of the MotoWriter Road King. The ride was fun, easy and full of good people and followed up with good food, camaraderie and a few new friends made. I couldn't help but have a little fun with the video I made, adding some classic theme songs to the soundtrack. It's not a long video, so take a few minutes to check it out by clicking here. If you like it, let me know by giving it a thumbs up.

Until next time, Ride safe and make good choices, MotoReaders!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

New stuff is on the way...

New content is coming soon!

Hello loyal MotoReaders! I hope you've all been doing great and riding your motorcycles as often as your busy schedules will allow! I know it's been way too long since I posted, so I wanted to chime in and tell you that I have a bunch of new stuff that will be coming soon! 

I've been extremely busy at my "payin' job" and have barely had any time for myself, but in the limited amount of time that I have been able to carve out for myself, I've done my best to make every minute of it count. 

What's coming up?

Well, let's see... just to name a few:
  • a long-overdue trip to the mountains with my brother from another mother (with video); 
  • a local ride to support our heroes in blue (with video); 
  • an educational trip to the Harley-Davidson birthplace (with photos); 
  • first rides (Pan America and the new Nightster Special);
  • learning to teach new riders;
  • and, I might even have one or two "life advice" pieces for you to ponder. 
Not to mention, for those of you who keep up with my youtube channel and have been waiting for my "Janus review video", it's in the works and I hope to be able to publish it soon.

Thanks for sticking around

For all of you who have stayed with me and continued to check in- I want to offer a since THANK YOU! When I logged in today, I looked at my blog stats over the past few months since I've been on this little hiatus and I was genuinely touched by what I saw since my last post:

Over 7,000 site visits from MotoReaders in more than 19 countries!

When I first started this blog, I just wanted a way to get some of my creative thoughts, ideas and occasional opinions out of my head and into the world, in a way that I could offer them to anyone that might want, or need, to read them. I wanted to give anyone that stumbled across my little corner of the interweb an opportunity to read something fun, positive and maybe even a little inspiring in a world so full of angst, anger, fear and negativity. 

While just over 50,000 site visits since I went live in April 2020 might not seem like much to some people, for your, very humble, MotoWriter, it's incredible. That's a helluva lot more than I ever expected and I'm honored that you took, and still take, the time out of your busy lives to read my words. 

So, with all sincerity- Thank you.

Ride safe, make good choices and check back soon for some new stories!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Commitment through Adversity

Commitment through Adversity

Commit (verb)- to do something, as in- "commit a random act of kindness"; or to check-in, as in- "commit to a hospital"; or to transfer something, as in- "read this and commit it to memory"; or more importantly- to pledge yourself to someone or something, as in- "I will commit myself to being a better person."

Instant Gratification

The word "commit" may have many uses, but all of them share the same baseline meaning of, basically, "sticking with, or sticking to, something or someone." It's such a simple word, but it seems like in our society today, we have such a hard time giving life to this concept. Our society is so eager to simply give up and move on when things get hard. I suppose it's easy to see how this happened- after all, we live in a world of instant gratification these days. We want what we want at the very moment that we want it and, when we don't get it, we either shut down and pout or we go somewhere else to get it. Back in our parents', grandparents' and even great-grandparents' days, life was significantly more challenging and the virtues of patience and fortitude were elementally woven into their daily lives.

As a casual observer of the world around me, I see the spoiled, bratty need for instant gratification all of the time. I see it in workplaces, relationships, and hell, I even see it in how we treat our property. 

For example- a new guy at work doesn't get the promotion that he wanted, so he gets mad, pouts, then quits to go work somewhere else; a couple hits a rough patch and, instead of working through their problems, decide to throw in the towel and split up. As a society, we barely even commit to the things we have- we live in constant debt because we never commit to paying off that new motorcycle or car- something newer comes out and we want it, or something breaks and we don't want to take the time to fix it. 

Anything worth having, is worth keeping

I'm just old enough to remember a time when people would buy a vehicle, pay it off and keep it running until they couldn't ride or drive it anymore. I'm of the mindset of, when you have problems in your relationship, you talk them out and fix them instead of giving up on 5, 10, or even 30 years, of history together. I also believe that every job worth doing, requires constant commitment, then recommitment when things get hard or you have setbacks. Adversity makes us better. Setbacks make us stronger. Endurance isn't gained by giving up and success isn't achieved by quitting when things get difficult. 

You have to do more than simply want something; you have to work for it. Then, once you have it, you have to keep working to keep it. 

The bottom line is: life isn't easy and it isn't supposed to be. We don't learn and become better whenever things are easy- we learn and grow through adversity. You have to commit to whatever or whoever it is that you are involved with, to whatever goals you want to achieve in your 75 good years of life. You have to embrace the adversities in your life and in your careers, and work harder and become better, after every time you fail. 

You also have to stay committed- consistently committed. Once you find that thing that you want- be it the career path, the relationship, the travel plans or, maybe just that motorcycle you want to add to your garage... start working for it. Once you get it, keep working to keep it, because depending on what it is- there is almost always someone else that wants it, too. 

Time is invaluable

Whatever you decide to do in this life, make sure it's worth the time that you are committing to it because time is, genuinely, the most precious thing we have. No matter how much power, authority, money, skills or abilities you have, you can't coerce, buy, bully, concoct or create yourself more time. 

In the immortal words of The Gambler himself, "you have to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run." 

Make sure that what you want is worth the effort, and the time, it takes to get it. If it isn't- walk away; but if it is- then commit to it and make your dreams a reality. Success is earned.

Ride safe, make good choices and commit to something worthwhile, MotoReaders. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Nobody Said It Would Be Easy...

 Nobody Said It Would Be Easy...

...and if they did, they lied. 

We've all met those people that seem to have it easy, all of the time. Those folks that try something for the first time and just seem to master it immediately; those people that always seem to be the ones that find a $20 bill while walking on the sidewalk or that always seem to catch all the green lights when driving through traffic. They never have to work as hard as others or suffer the same frustrations. I read something a while back from my friends over at Go Fast Don't Die and they said it like this- "comparison is the thief of joy." I read that a few times and just, let it sink in. 

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

Comparison truly is the thief of joy.

As human animals in this crazy jungle of our own creation, we are always looking at others and comparing. We compare our successes, we compare our houses, we compare our financial situations and on, and on, and on. 




Instincts, Built Right In

We can't help ourselves... it's instinctive. I won't get into the science of it, but basically, at the core of it, we are at the top of the evolutionary food chain and we know it, so we are always looking at those around us that pose the most competition to our dominance. Like I said... it's science. 

But what happens when you compare yourselves to someone else? If you're doing better than them, then you feel dominant... as if you're succeeding at life, more than them. You no longer see them as a threat; you feel dominant. But, what happens when you compare yourself to someone who is doing better than you? You, instinctively, see them as a threat. But a threat to what? We have evolved to the point where food is readily available for all of us. For the vast majority of the world's population, shelter is readily available. So, if your neighbor has a nicer car, or a bigger house... how in the hell is he a threat to you? 

Bottom line- he's not. 

Turns out, you are you're own worst enemy when you are constantly comparing yourself to others. So, what's the solution? If it's instinctive, then can't it be inferred that it's out of our control? Let me pose this question to you- if, it is instinctive and we can't control the instincts to compete... or compare... why can't we do it in a way that is actually constructive? Why can't we compete against ourselves? Is there some rule that we have to compare ourselves to our neighbor's success, or can we compare our own progress today against our own progress from yesterday, then strive for a better result tomorrow?

Comparison is the thief of joy... mainly because we are doing it wrong. We need to compare ourselves against ourselves. 

Let me ask you this- when you first straddled a motorcycle... as in... literally, the very first time... didn't you have to learn how to ride it? Each time you mounted up on that machine, didn't you get better and better with each subsequent ride? If you have had your job for a while, didn't you start in an entry-level position (or at least, something close to it)? If you just started your job, don't you hope to advance? Just like learning to walk required learning fundamental building blocks, so does each step you take in life. We've all heard the old adage of "you've got to learn to crawl before you walk... then after you learn to walk, you can learn to run." It's all about taking small steps in order to be able to make long strides, toward our own individual success.

Building Blocks

I'm not talking about the toys that kids have... but, rather, learning fundamental, foundational, skills that help you to build to your goals. Come to think of it, the concept is the same. When you buy your kid that Lego builder (go ahead and click the link... yes, it's a Harley), you open the box to find a bag filled with what seems like 1,000 tiny little square blocks. You have to start out with a clear plan, then figure out what goes where, and in what order, then build it, piece by piece, until you reach the goal. The goal in the case of the toy, is the chunky looking toy that resembles a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle; the goal in your life, could be, well... just about anything. Want a new job? Figure out a plan to get it. Do you need a specialized education or do you need to learn a specialized skill? Make a plan to learn it. Do you want to get a promotion? What is required for the position?  What skills, experience, education or knowledge do you need to meet the qualifications? 

This next part is key.

Once you establish a plan, work your ass off. Then, work your ass off some more. You have to earn it. You have to want it enough to be willing to make the sacrifices, learn the skills, gain the experience and, in the case of a new job or a promotion, you have to prove yourself to be the best candidate for the job. Very little things in life worth having, come easily. Even if it comes easily, you still have to work hard to keep it. How many people have won a lottery jackpot, only to find themselves broke a few years later? It's because they didn't make the sacrifices to keep their newfound wealth. They got rich quick (without having to earn it), then didn't limit their spending, invest their winnings or do anything at all to maintain their money. Ever see a really wealthy person squandering their money on frivolities? You may be able to point out the occasional professional athlete or musician... but, for the vast majority of those people who had to work, and work hard, for their wealth... you rarely see them piss it away on silly things like boats, luxury cars or enormous mansions (at least, not until they are so wealthy that they are making money faster than they can spend it). 

Remember this- wealth found is wealth lost, but wealth earned is wealth kept.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this- if you want something in life, you have to earn it. If it's worth having, it should come with some difficulty. After all, if you don't have to earn it, you're probably not going to appreciate it once you have it. The harder that you work to earn something, the more you will appreciate having it, because you'll know, first hand, how hard it was to get. 

So go out there and work, MotoReaders. Work hard, be successful and don't forget to...

Ride Safe and Make Good Choices.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

120th Anniversary Lineup… my thoughts


Harley-Davidson’s 120th Anniversary lineup… Boom or Bust?

Well MotoReaders… there it is, your “new” bikes for what could arguably be one of the most significant anniversaries in Harley-Davidson’s history. So, the question is, did they knock it out of the park, or did they strike out? If there are any H-D execs reading this (which I hope so, but sorta doubt) this next part is directed to you- if this is all you have in your trick bag, I’ll be honest- I’m sorely disappointed. 

The bikes

The paint is gorgeous, the bikes are boring. Sorry, but they are. You guys had a great opportunity to introduce some really cool machines, but it feels like you just phoned it in. The only “new” model is the Road Glide trike and, as a younger old guy, or an older young guy (depending on how you want to look at it), I’m still young enough to handle a two wheeler, but “established” enough to afford a bigger touring bike, so for me… another trike is just plain boring. I’ll keep my 2017 Road King Special (especially now that I have fixed all the things you guys fell short on with that one). You “brought back” the Breakout? Ugh. The only bike that has even garnered a second look from me is the Nightster Special, but that one isn’t even a new model for ‘23. To make matters worse- the “Special” still sports the 975cc mill for 2023. Why not put the 1250 RevMax engine from the Sportster S in the Nightster Special? What exactly is “special” about the Special, anyway? Black paint and a quarter fairing (that was on the previous year model)? Come on… we, your customers, deserve better.

Jochen, are you listening?

Jochen, buddy… listen to me for a minute, I know you want the best for the MoCo, so do I. That’s why I’m offering this advice for free- bring back a twin shock, big twin powered line- yes, I’m talking about the Dyna, for 2023. Do you want to get some loyal H-D customers back? Give them a ground-pounding, M-8 powered bruiser. Something loud, powerful and highly customizable. Something that is raw, fast, classic and true to the H-D spirit. The Softail line is great, but we all know that the LowRider, the Fat Bob and the Street Bob are supposed to be Dynas. They were born as Dynas and they died as Dynas in 2017. These new Softail versions are best described as "Dyna tribute" bikes, for no reason other that to just keep the names alive and we all know it. 

Do you want me to buy a new bike? Offer me an M-8 powered Wide Glide. A true, twin shock frame with mini-ape handlebars and a tall sissy bar. Build it with an old-school ducktail rear fender, and offer a sick, diamond stitched king and queen seat in the P&A catalog. Bring back the Super Glide and spin some variants off of that like Willie G did back in the day. THAT would be an exciting lineup. While we’re talking about "come back" bikes… let’s talk about the Breakout for a second. When you wanted to bring back a discontinued Softail model, your best idea was to bring back... the Breakout? Not the Deluxe? What? Really? There is so much you could do with the Deluxe in terms of trim and customization. While I’m at it… what idiot said it would be a good idea to kill off the Road King? Has it ever crossed your minds that, not everyone is into the blacked out Specials? Personally, I happen to love my FLHRXS, but I know that not everyone does. There is a significant amount of people in the H-D market that want the classic, chromed out, do-it-all machine that is the Road King. A bike that has Touring DNA mixed with cruiser styling at a, somewhat, reasonable price tag. Enough of that… y’all probably aren’t reading this anyway. If you want to hear more, have your people call my people. 

Am I being too critical?

What do you, my MotoReaders, think? Am I off base here? Am I being too harsh with the Milwaukee Crew? Look, I’m not trying to be an ass… it’s just frustrating to see wasted opportunities. I’m usually the first to admit that I’m no expert. Hell, I’m just some random guy that pays a few bucks a year for a web address so that I can share my thoughts with whoever is out there that might want to read them. I’m not making any money from my blog and I’m not making any money on my YouTube channel. Nobody is compensating me for mentioning their products or creating an occasional video. No, this blog and those videos on my YT channel are a labor of love and it’s from that love where this post is coming from. 

By the numbers

I have always been a huge fan of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Even before I bought my first one in 2009, I always loved them. As a kid, I can remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, looking out the window and seeing them running down the highways. Those loud, raucous machines usually had some bearded, leather clad dudes riding them and I remember thinking how cool the bikes looked, blazing down the asphalt. When I talk about missed opportunities, I’m talking about this company that has such a rich heritage emblazoned on so many of our memories, slowing killing itself off by not staying true to itself. Harley-Davidson was never intended to be a “luxury” brand. It was never intended to be a brand that only the rich could afford. H-D was a brand that anyone could afford. Blue collar guys could go to their local dealership and buy a brand new motorcycle. Jochen and his boys need to return to that ethos. I’m not saying they need to build cheap, junky bikes just to stay competitive in the market, far from it. I’m saying that $20 grand for a basic, cruiser motorcycle is a bit ridiculous. For example, check out these numbers:

120th Anniversary (2023) prices, versus the 110th Anniversary (2013) prices.
  • Nightster- $13,500 (Iron 883- $8,000)
  • Nightster Special- $15,000 (Forty Eight- $10,600)
  • Softail Street Bob- $16,600 (Dyna Street Bob-$13,000)
  • Fat Boy- $20,200 ($17,000)
  • Heritage Classic- $21,200 ($17,600)
  • Street Glide- $22,000 ($19,800)
  • Road King Special- $24,000 ($19,900 for a Road King Classic)
  • Ultra Limited- $29,800 ($24,200)
I won’t even list the obscene prices of the CVOs or the Trikes. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how inflation works and I also recognize that I chose a ten year gap to compare my prices, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment- the entry level Harley price increased by over $5,000 in only ten years! Want a more recent comparison? Fine, I can play that game, too. The Iron 883 in 2017 only had a price tag of $8,950 that’s less than a one thousand dollar increase. The 2017 Street Bob (the last year of the Dyna) only saw an increase of a paltry $850 bucks, for a MSRP of $13,850 and the Ultra Limited sat on the showroom floor for $27,000. Those are 2017 price tags and even then, they were astronomical for a lot of blue collar folks, but at least they were somewhat attainable with the right credit score and a bit of financial planning. 

You get what you pay for... or, do you?

Look, I’d probably be a little less critical of the prices if I hadn’t seen, first hand, questionable quality in my own $22k (2017 price) Road King Special. Parts falling off, rust on fasteners and mirror stems and so on. It might have been a different story if my bike was a yard bird (you know, a bike that is parked outside all the time), but it’s been garage kept since I rode it off the showroom floor. Yeah, I’ve ridden in rain on it, but that definitely isn’t a common occurrence and it gets washed and waxed regularly, so there’s really no explanation for those issues other than sub-par finishing or just piss-poor design. Only time will tell if the finishes and designs of the new  bikes hold up better than my 2017 has. For Jochen’s sake, I really hope they do, too because his idea of making Harley-Davidson a “luxury” brand might just be the death blow if they don’t. I’ll tell you something else, too- if the design team doesn’t come up with something fresh, and do it soon, then H-D might just be losing a few more customers to its competitors. The MoCo needs to remember that they are no longer the only kids on the block and they're also just barely, if at all, still the most popular. Now that the family from Springfield has come back and bought the house next door- those kids are starting to get more and more attention. Then there are the kids from the United Kingdom, those other kids from Germany and let’s not forget about the kids from Britain (the ones that moved to India)… and then there are all the kids from Japan that have been there for decades, building high quality, extremely dependable and very affordable machines. The toughest part for H-D here is, they used to have one thing that all the others didn’t- a high quality product that was attainable by the very people that designed, engineered and built them, right here in the good old U S of A. Over the years though, quality has gone down, while prices have gone up. I don't care what business you're in... that combination is always a recipe for disaster.

Final thoughts

It's still only the beginning of the year and Jochen has already teased that more new models are on the way for this 120th anniversary year. I'm hopeful that there will actually be something new, cool and fresh that I can get excited about because, honestly, I haven't stepped foot in an H-D dealership in quite a long time. That is a far cry from just a few years ago when I was able to come up with some reason or another to go see what was new on the showroom floor at least a few times a year. Hell, my local dealership knew me so well that they were trying to recruit me for their team because not only did I give them a lot of my business, I also brought them a lot of business through my referrals. While I'm disappointed on the 120th Anniversary's launch, I'm still hopeful that the MoCo can pull a few rabbits out of their hats and make me want to come in and take a test ride. After all, one really fun part of being a motorcycle enthusiast is the process of buying a new bike, and I still have enough room in my garage for one or two more. I'm not saying that I'm in the market for another new motorcycle, but if a real, twin shock, big twin Wide Glide was to make a come back, I might be inclined to run over to the dealership on my way to the bank. 

Ride safe and make good choices, MotoReaders!