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Archive for May, 2011

Sarah Palin Rides In Rolling Thunder - 2011

Well the end of the world didn’t happen earlier in the month as Harold Camping of Family Radio had predicted.  In fact, Mr. Camping first predicted the end of world back in 1994 and I’m not sure how many doomsday predictions we’ll give the Christian broadcaster before skeptics scoff at his antics and totally dismiss the message.

And, speaking of doomsday…

To hear the “rumbles” – and, I’m not talking about the thousands of bikes which appeared at the annual Rolling Thunder bike rally in Arlington, Virginia which draws attention to American troops who have gone missing in combat and remain unaccounted for – rather I’m talking about participants in the ride who expressed mixed feelings when former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) hoped onto a Harley and joined thousands of riders.

I don’t know about you , but this has a bit of that “spoiled little Daddy’s uptown girl lives rent free” smell to it.  Average talent and giant hype.  When I listen to her speak I hear the marketing machine.  Palin talking about military hardships?!  It’s like listening to the building receptionist droll on and on about the hardships of the African child she supports through TV commercial contributions.  She’s speaking the words, but her connection and understanding of the hardships are highly suspect.  Like the Creedence Clearwater Revival song… it’s true, some kids are born with a silver spoon.  But, there are a lot of us who didn’t even have spoons, wooden or plastic!

You’re likely thinking, blah, blah, blah… it’s just politics so chill out, Mac.  You’re right.  Maybe I’m feeling a little envious that I couldn’t participate…

Okay.  Independent of political leanings and politician likes, I do believe the involvement of a high-profile politician can only boost the visibility of the veteran’s event, raise contribution awareness and help energize America to not forget.  That is a good thing.   Thank you Sarah Palin!

Photo courtesy of AP

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Spc. Eric Richardson Beaverton, Ore., left, who was wounded in Kandahar, Afghanistan, bows his head in prayer before President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who recently returned from Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2011, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Monday is Memorial Day and it’s a special holiday in America because it commemorates U.S. men and women who died during their military service.

You might be to young to recall, but in 1968, with new bodies returning from a deeply unpopular war, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Act, moving Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Washington’s Birthday to Mondays, to allow for convenient three-day weekends. The loss of focus on this once-somber day had become institutionalized. The change in the holiday was contemporaneous with a larger change in attitude among many Americans toward their government, its wars and those sent to fight them.

Young men such as my father or my cousin Mike sat in Vietnam and read letters implying they were pawns in an immoral game, with nefarious intent to terrify kids in a jungle thousands of miles from home. Their dead were not to be honored upon their return, but rather shunned as emblems of a country in crisis… as people celebrated the beginning of summer rather than Memorial Day, one could debate that a generation grew up not understanding what the day’s name really meant.

My cousin was “KIA”, and recently a good buddy of mine had a family member, Spc. Eric Richardson from Beaverton, OR. , who fought in Afghanistan come home wounded, but alive.  He was shot in both legs in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Earlier this month at Fort Campbell, KY., he was selected to sit in the front line as one of the most recently wounded veterans when President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who  returned from Afghanistan.  He could barely stand and almost passed out from pain before he was finally able to sit down.  It was a proud moment for his family.

Sure, we’re all looking forward to an enjoyable Memorial Day barbecue and get-together, but regardless of one’s politics, independent of class, race or religion, there should be a basic acknowledgement and respect for those who have given their lives protecting an ideal.  I’m grateful for all those who currently serve, have served, and those who have lost their lives defending our freedom.

I hope that amidst the fun and sun rain, we might all perform some simple act of respect and honor all our brave service members.

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

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“You better lawyer up a-hole, because I’m not coming back for 30%.  I’m coming back for everything!”  — The Social Network.

It seems that H-D has shot itself in the foot.  Almost literally.  We all know that H-D is a company who has vigorously protected its own brand, but it is now faced with and being sued for the unlicensed use of another brand.  It seems the so-called “Brando” boot is stepping on all the wrong people!  Wealthy people.  People that just do lunch.  People, who have their people, call your people.  People who have attorney’s.  Isn’t that how Hollywood works?!

At the heart of the issue is the alleged misappropriation of the right of publicity as the boot “resembles” a leather boot that Marlon Brando wore in the iconic biker movie “The Wild One.”  The case is Brando Enterprises LP v. Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc., SC 112654, CA. Superior Court (Santa Monica).

Brando Enterprises is a an operating entity which was created by the Marlon Brando Living Trust to manage core business interests including Brando licensing activities, preservation and archiving of Brando memorabilia. The suit was filed by entertainment and licensing attorney Jeffrey I. Abrams, Esq. of Los Angeles.  He stated that the Brando Enterprises mission is to protect the Marlon Brando name and they will pursue any company or individual who infringes on those rights meant to benefit the Brando family.  Brando Enterprises is represented for licensing by Brand Sense Partners, LLC.

The "Brando" Boot From The Wild One Movie

The suit seeks an injunction to stop Harley-Davidson from infringing and misappropriating the Brando name and to recover damages caused by the sales and marketing of the unlicensed “Brando” boot.

Back in 2009 I blogged how the same company entered into an agreement with Triumph Motorcycles (based in Hinckley, Leicestershire) for the design and recreation of a leather jacket worn by Brando in the “The Wild One” movie.  In that movie Brando starred as the motorcycle gang leader, Johnny Strabler who rode a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T.  The jacket was a modern day replica which included key features of Brando’s original jacket right down to the embroidered ‘Johnny’ name tag and the BRMC distressed print on the back of the jacket.

Photo courtesy of Triumph and Brando Enterprises.  “The Wild One” also includes other motorcycles than Triumph in the film: H-D Knucklehead, H-D WL, H-D Hydra Glide, BSA B-Series, BSA Golden Flash, Velocette MSS 500.

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In one of my favorite Dave Matthews songs “Too Much,” the lyrics in the chorus go something like: “I eat too much.  I drink too much.  I want too much.  Too much.”

We’ve all been there.  It’s late.  You’ve ridden all day, the sun is about to set and you’re tired and hungry.  And I’m like many of you, the convenience and hunger sometimes send even the most health conscious rider to the closest fast food restaurant.  There they are…singles, doubles and triples if you so dare.  High-fat foods displayed on the buzzing neon menu and despite best intentions, a double cheese burger and curly fries end up on your plate.  All of it to be washed down with a caffeine laced soda and a chocolate milk-shake.

The effects (metabolic) of a fat load (a lot of fat eaten in a short period of time) have extensively been studied by researchers interested in health.  It turns out that even a 50-gram load of fat (most fast food restaurants can easily surpass that threshold), constricts the arteries — effectively reducing the blood flow to the heart and muscles.  The slowed delivery of oxygen and nutrients starves the heart muscle along with all working muscles and the result is you’ll feel fatigued.  Like the Willamette River after a hard rain storm filling up with silt, eventually the fat is cleared from the bloodstream, but it will keep you feeling sluggish.

Then it’s the next morning and time for some hot Java.

About 70% of the U.S. population “uses” coffee.  I’m part of that percentage.  Most typically it’s consumed to improve alertness and ‘get going’ in the morning.  Coffee’s benefits for performance athletes have been proven.  The research has shown that as little as 1.4 to 2.7 milligrams (approx an 8-to 16 ounce cup) is enough to make a significant improvement in performance.  So it would be logical to assume that it would also  improve a riders performance too?  Assuming that during the previous night you didn’t drink large amounts of alcohol.

And speaking of alcohol… Many motorcyclists enjoy relaxing with their favorite brew after a long days ride.  Anything more than the equivalent of about 2 drinks will only add to the energy zapper list.  Unless your alcohol intake is moderate (defined as two 5-ounce glasses of wine or two 12-ounce beers)  there is risk of fatigue.  And as you pull out of the motel parking lot for an early morning departure, glycogen is the most important fuel for your contracting muscles.  And to keep the supply of glucose steady the liver kicks in and starts to release glucose into the bloodstream for those muscles.  It will quickly deplete its supply of glycogen and without additional carbohydrates, the glycogen supplies are exhausted…and being met with a replacement of calories from alcohol and since alcohol can’t be converted and stored as glycogen…early muscle fatigue occurs along with an overall  lack of energy and the end result could be a drop in rider performance.  Additionally, the alcohol causes dehydration and can affect fine motor coordination.

Adding insult to injury is that caffeine laced soda you had the night before and/or the alcohol can cause interrupted sleep cycles.  The hormone Grehlin was discovered in 1999.  Termed the “orexogenic” hormone, Grehlin production is increased in response to sleep deprivation.  It turns out the body knows it needs more calories to be awake and functioning.  And when Grehlin levels go up so does your appetite.  The message is clear: less sleep leads to more food and calories.

I’m not a nutrition nut, performance athlete or a dietitian.  No, I’m not telling you how or what to eat.  Yes, I’ve been on trips where members of the posse have consumed nothing but Slim Jims and coffee.  However, it’s clear there are fatigue-promoting “foods” and  motorcyclists who minimize the big three nutrition mistakes (too much caffeine, alcohol and high-fat foods) when riding may improve alertness levels.

Photo courtesy of Matt Marino and Moto Basturds

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We get them all the time. They are often ignored.

It goes something like… bring canned goods to the post office.  Or a notice in your inbox as it swells up with requests.  As people talk up a cause, send Facebook requests and use testimonials to solicit your participation and ask that you give.

In the northwest, charity events ranging from runs, to bicycle events to climbing Mt. Hood all start ramping up in the spring.  Even motorcycle enthusiasts are called to participate in various charity rides.  Sure motorcycle charity rides can be something of a grind at times.  The days start early, there can be dicey weather, the routes can be stressful and fuel stops can be chaotic.  But, that’s why on Saturday, June 4th it will be a genuine treat to join Mike Durbin (Paradise H-D) for the 2nd annual CCA Joyride which supports the Children’s Cancer Association.

Most everyone likes to help out where there is a need and this is especially true when it comes to children who can’t help themselves.  The ride will start at Paradise H-D (Tigard) and take off for Pacific City on the coast at 10am.  I hope you’ll consider joining this charity ride which has great Oregon scenery and is well organized by the pro’s at Paradise H-D.

Besides.  Riding for a good cause just makes you smile!

Photo courtesy of CCA Joyride.

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Watch For Motorcycles!

Many of you already know that May is motorcycle awareness month.

The self-appointed “wise men” and policy elites down in Salem, OR declared it (.PDF) – so it must be true!  They’ve also piled on and proclaimed it to be Transportation Safety Month, further relegating the motorcycle to the “end of the line” as they blah, blah, blah, espouse the virtues of raising awareness on motorcycle safety.  Why not pile on with farm tractor safety month and stop texting month too?!  Why limit the pile on?

The real story is that with warmer weather approaching motorcyclists are hungry to get out on the roads and this is a good opportunity to remind riders to realize that our fellow ‘cagers’ might have forgot over the long and wet winter that they share the roads with motorcycles and to ride defensively.

Speaking of riding defensively, did you know that Oregon back in 2005 was named by the NHTSA as having the top motorcycle safety program in the nation?  Either did I, yet it’s true.

And since I’m talking about defensive riding you might be interested to know what a couple of our poster child riders are up to – which serve to reinforce the public’s viewpoint of motorcyclists.  Let’s highlight Mr. Richard Boedigheimer (33) who showcases “driving safe” during motorcycle awareness month: He was pulled over on Oregon 22 west of Mill City after being clocked at 140 MPH.  He told the Marion County deputy that he was “just having fun” with his new girlfriend of one week who was a passenger at the time.  No word on the girlfriend status after the arrest.  Need more examples?  How about Mr. Nicholas Houck (20), who attempted to elude state police on a H-D motorcycle without a helmet at speeds exceeding 100 MPH.  First you draw attention to yourself for not wearing a helmet, in a state that requires it, then more troubling decide to elude. Mr. Houck also had a suspended license…

Notwithstanding the above poor judgment… the good news is the number of motorcycle crash fatalities in Oregon have dropped to their lowest level since 2004; the bad news is that 38 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes in 2010 according to preliminary data from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

report released (.PDF) this week by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that nationwide motorcycle fatalities declined in 2010 by at least 2 percent. Based upon preliminary data, GHSA projects that motorcycle fatalities declined from 4,465 in 2009 to 4,376 or less in 2010. The projection is based upon data from 50 states and the District of Columbia. The decline comes on the heels of a dramatic 16 percent drop in 2009, which followed 11 straight years of steady increases in motorcycle deaths.

The new report—the first state-by-state look at motorcycle fatalities in 2010—was completed by Dr. James Hedlund of Highway Safety North. GHSA is projecting declines in approximately half of the states and for Oregon they are projected to be down 27 percent.  The Oregon GHSA Vice Chairman Troy Costales credits the state’s progress to a strong training program and a new law strengthening penalties for riders who do not have a motorcycle-specific license as well as working with motorcycle clubs, who are advocates for riding safe and sober.

The disturbing news which comes with deeper analysis of the data reveals that there are some areas for concern. First, 2010’s decrease of at least 2 percent is far less than 2009’s dramatic 16 percent decrease. Second, the 2010 decrease was concentrated in the early months of the year, with fatalities actually increasing by about 3 percent in the third quarter compared with the same quarter in 2009. Additionally, with the improving economy and surging gas prices, motorcycle travel is expected to increase, thus increasing exposure to risk. Finally, motorcycle helmet use dropped from 67 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2010.  In addition, motorcycle registrations continue to rise as the baby boom generation rediscovers riding a motorcycle.

In Oregon, the laws focus on safety and training.  The 2009 Oregon Legislature passed several motorcycle safety related laws in an effort to improve safety. In 2010, the penalty for riding without a motorcycle endorsement changed from a Class B (minimum $360) to a Class A (minimum $720) violation. Changes were also made to Oregon’s motorcycle training requirements, requiring new motorcycle riders to complete an ODOT-approved training course. The law has a five year phase-in period based on the age of the rider. As of January 2011, new riders age 30 and under must complete a basic or intermediate rider training course. Additional age groups will be phased-in each year until 2015 when all new riders must take training.

Oregon has made significant progress in motorcycle safety, but I’d argue that an awareness campaign once a year is not nearly enough.  Remember the rants and blog posts about those ODOT message boards?  No, I’m not bitter…

Photo courtesy of NHTSA.

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Motorcycle enthusiasts in any given year will lobby and go to the mat on legislation issues that affect their hobby in the Northwest.

In Washington state one such bill was SB 5242  —  known as the biker profiling bill – it recently passed into law.   The bill prohibits singling out bikers for police stops without a legitimate reason. Motorcycle profiling is defined as when law enforcement officers single out people who ride motorcycles or wear biker “clothing,” stopping, questioning, searching or arresting them without legal grounds.

Motorcycle clubs who feel they have been singled out over the years see this as a major victory.  However, it’s a win for all motorcyclists in a way that the media isn’t really talking much about. Let me explain.

You might recall that I blogged about the NHTSA who recently made funds available to state, county and local law enforcement agencies to run “motorcycle only” checkpoints. The funds were recently applied for and granted in Florida, and as you can imagine during Daytona Bike Week there was a motorcycle only checkpoint in operation and the bikers-as well as the AMA- went ballistic.

Under the new Washington State law this supposedly cannot happen. Washington State Police (WSP) has stated that although they would not have applied for the funds regardless, that would not have stopped sheriffs and city law enforcement from applying. However, under the new bill they cannot … until someone decides to run county or city legislation to override the state law…

UPDATE: May 16, 2011 – Interesting and well articulated alternative viewpoint from Brian O’Neill (LEO) on how SB 5242 targets the wrong folks (police officer training) and this will get in the way of disrupting gang activity in Washington state.

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

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The smell of fuel, the camaraderie of fellow riders and the attention garnered from the public in a long-distance endurance motorcycle competition are the backbone of the sport.

Last year it became more than apparent that the public and participants of the Hoka Hey Challenge were left with some incorrect perceptions and information about the competition.

I’ve previously blogged about H-D throwing their corporate weight behind the long-distance event and wasn’t sure why given the history and the risk to the brand.  Will Barclay (the 2010 winner) even posted a comment. However, the new team behind the 2011 event are working hard to correct the communications and with big name sponsors (now includes the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.)) it looks to be on a more positive track.

H.O.G. recently jumped in and announced their support of the event.  To recognize the H.O.G. members partaking in the Hoka Hey event – as among the most adventurous in the world – the highest finishing eligible H.O.G. member who completes the event (as determined by the organizers) will be awarded a 2012 Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) motorcycle of his or her choice. In addition, the 2nd through 5th highest finishing eligible H.O.G. members will each be awarded a portion of a total of $19,000 in additional cash prizes.

Very cool!

The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge will begin August 5, 2011. The event, the second annual in a series, begins in Phoenix, Arizona, and travels through all forty-eight contiguous U.S. states and several Canadian provinces to Nova Scotia.  The route will travel more than 10,000 miles, and is open only to riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Photos courtesy of Hoka Hey Challenge.

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Cold Creek Inn - Mt. Shasta (Background)

Day 1: (PDX – Mt. Shasta City)
The posse departure date for Laughlin was April 25th. Unfortunately, that morning rain came down in sheets and the wind blew like a hurricane. It is spring in the northwest after all and with the instability…showers produced a mix of rain and small hail with an occasional snow flurry back to rain.  So, rather than enjoy t-shirt riding, we enjoyed getting to know our rain gear and re-learning how to use heated gloves!  Scattered showers continued through the valley off and on, but it got warmer (maybe we were just getting use to it?) as we made our way south.

We rode straight down I-5 and it was an uneventful trip until we hit the Siskiyou pass where snow flurries started.  Fortunately nothing was sticking to the road and we continued on to Mt. Shasta City where we overnighted at the Cold Creek Inn.

Hwy 207 from South Lake Tahoe

We grabbed some dinner at Strings Italian Café and spent the evening re-packing rain gear and warming up.

Day 2: (Mt. Shasta City – Minden, NV)
Temperatures continued to be cold (sub-freezing) when we woke, but the sun was shining which helped thaw out the heavy frost on the bikes.

We plugged in and headed south down I-5 to Red Bluff.  In the first hour we crossed over Lake Shasta.  Bright blue sky with deep blue water made for some awesome photos unfortunately I never stopped to take any pictures.   I’ll add that to my bucket list.  The lake for all practical purposes look full.  And there is still a lot of construction on the I-5 roadway in and around the bridge.  After arriving in Red Bluff we took Hwy 99 South to Los Molinos and Chico.  We proceed south on Hwy 99/162 past the Oroville Wildlife Area to Yuba City then toward Lake of the Woods State Wildlife to Sacramento.  We did a bit of looping in the area and finally made our way east to Folsom on Hwy 50 or the El Dorado Fwy.

Minden, NV - Looking at South Lake Tahoe

We rolled thru Pollock Pines then the Eldorado National Forest via Hwy 50 then Hwy 89/50 thru South Lake Tahoe.  The temperatures remained cool through the 4500-5000 foot level of the national forest and while the road was dry there remained large amounts of snow in the ditches.  We fueled up in South Lake Tahoe and proceeded onto Hwy 207 which runs up and over the mountain after plenty of switchbacks to Minden, NV where we overnighted at the Holiday Inn Express.

Minden is located near the center of Carson Valley and about 15 miles south of Carson City.  We grab dinner at the Carson Valley Inn (Katie’s Country Kitchen) after learning that the CV Steak house closed shop on Tuesdays.

After dinner we were still chilled to the bone with a couple days of electric gloves so we hit the hot tub in the hotel and that seemed to permanently correct the “chilled” situation for the rest of the trip.

Mono Lake

Day 3: (Minden – Las Vegas)
The next morning continued on a bit of a warming trend as we picked up Hwy 395 and headed south.  We meandered along the valley floor and crossed back over the state line into CA., near Topaz Lake.  It was early but fishing boats dotted the lake I suppose to take a shot at capturing another trophy trout.

Bridgeport was the first fuel stop of the morning and where we paid about $25 to fill a 5-gallon motorcycle tank!   Not well know, but Bridgeport hosts the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC).  It’s one of the most remote and isolated military posts and conducts training exercises for military personnel headed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  The base is located about 21 miles from the city center on Hwy 108 at Pickle Meadow, but we chatted up some guys in a non-descript white standard issue military van.

Sierra Mountain Range - Hwy 395

As we rode on it wasn’t long before we caught our first glimpse of Mono Lake.  “Mono” means “beautiful” in Piute and besides being an oasis in the great basin it is an awesome sight.  As we continued around Mono Lake we quickly climbed to another 8100-foot ridge where aspen forest dotted the landscape and then we started back down the to the valley floor.  We continued south and near Crestview is a turnoff on Hwy 203.  For many in southern CA., this is the road to Mammoth Lakes and a ski resort.

We ate lunch at a local Denny’s in Bishop, the unofficial capital of Owens Valley and the biggest town on Hwy 395 south of Reno.  The town sits at about 4000 feet, but just a few minutes prior to arriving we were nearly at 9000 feet.  On the way into Bishop I remember looking off east and seeing a large radar array.  I didn’t recall seeing any information and always on the lookout for something new I researched it on my return.  It’s the CARMA Deep Space Satellite Dish Array Complex and turns out to be one of the largest university operated radio observatories in the world known as the Owens Valley Radio Observatory.  Who knew?!

Death Valley

We continued on and arrived in Lone Pine which is between the highway and the Sierra range and was popular for filming western movies.  In fact we passed the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film history and enjoyed a spectacular view of Mt. Whitney (14,494 ft) which is the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states.  We took Hwy 190 east which runs though Death Valley National Park.

We entered Death Valley from the west entrance on Hwy 190 and traveled east.  The 3.3 million acres of spectacular scenery with sculpted hills and shifting sand dunes.  We went from high level vistas to the below sea level and enjoyed the hottest place in N.A.  About 20 miles into the park we stopped at Father Crowley Point and ran into a group of riders from Germany.  It seems to me that we end up chatting with folks from Germany about every year in the desert because they ride rented H-D’s with Florida plates.  Last year we met a group riding in the Grand Canyon with snow.  We made another stop at Stovepipe Wells village and another photo opportunity of Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes then headed east on Daylight Pass Road to Beatty, NV., as we needed to make some miles after meandering around in the park.

Below Sea Level

At Beatty we headed south on Hwy 95.  About an hour outside Las Vegas near Indian Springs I saw a big shadow roll over me from the sky and at first I was thinking it was a bird.  I looked back over my left shoulder and it turned out to be a Predator drone making circles in a landing pattern at Creech AFB.  The base use to be called Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, but was changed a few years ago and it’s now home to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and the 432d Wing “Hunters.”

We arrived in Las Vegas and bedded down in the “Hangover Suite” at the MGM.  I kid you not the hotel gave us a mid-week deal on the suite that cost the same as a normal room. We were living life large… at least for one night.

Laughlin Aquarius Hotel/Casino

Day 4: Laughlin
We hit it a bit hard the night before… some a lot more than others… and as a result we made a leisurely mid-day departure out of Vegas and headed toward Laughlin on Hwy 95.  At the Boulder City/Laughlin junction we did an inventory of fuel thinking we could make Searchlight without any issues.  We hadn’t planned on the fierce headwind and as a result my bike ran out of fuel about 7 miles to soon.  We leveraged a tube from one of the tool kits and used a water bottle to transfer some gas from one of the newer bikes which have 6+ gallon fuel tanks.  According to H-D the “check-engine” light which was triggered by the lack of firing due to fuel issue will re-set after about 50 starts and work normal.  I may need to go in and just have them reset it… assuming the cost is minimal to free?

After approximately 1200 miles we finally arrived at the Laughlin River Run and Aquarius Hotel/Casino in time to park our bikes, grab a refreshment and take in a few vendor booths.

The BBQ Crew

Our original plan was to crash at a buddies place in Needles on sleeping bags, but on a whim we decided to check room availability at the Aquarius.  They had rooms, be it 5X the standard budget rate on any other week, but our age group isn’t fond of sleeping bags and hard floors so we opted for plusher surroundings and paid the elevated rates.  Yeah, we’re lame, but showers are nice every couple days!

Summary
Over the next couple days we meandered around the local area, hit the pool once and chatted up the new motorcycle products with vendors and attended a couple of BBQ’s put on by one of our buddies friends from L.A.  First came Big Ed’s BBQ in Bull Head City with authentic Mexican dishes, Fajitas, Spanish rice and other seasoned food that melted in your mouth.  Then there was Big Dave’s in Needles on the Colorado River…   there were dry rubs, spicy pastes and marinated flavor that permeated the meats and provided a wonderful taste.  The shrimp was a killer with the wide range of heat from differing chilies.  Major shout out to the L.A. posse for the awesome hospitality!!

The "Van Down By The River"

Due to work constraints I had to have my bike shipped back to Oregon and caught a flight home late Sunday (May 1), but other members of the posse did a two day return.  Back-to-back nearly 600 mile days means they get the tired butt award!

I would be remiss if I didn’t make a comment about attendance or the Mongol MC.  The Aquarius seemed to be ‘home base’ for many of the members and the valet area had a number of tables with a mini-bar set up to refresh patrons.  The Aquarius had implemented a “no colors” policy that prohibited members of any biker club from displaying their membership patches while in the casino. And some “guests” apparently weren’t aware of the policy and wore colors but, they agreed to comply once they were informed by casino staff.  Indeed there was a large and very visible Metro Police contingent at the hotel as well.

Full On Shrimp...

I’m pleased to report that while motorcycle clubs of all dispositions turned out for the River Run, none caused any major problems for either the casinos or the police this year.  Sure the Aquarius management made the call to restrict casino access to registered guests only from about 6 pm- to-midnight Saturday, but rumors were overblown or simply untrue that motorcycle clubs were the issue.  The hotel made the decision earlier in the afternoon after observing that guests were having difficulty accessing parking lots, games and restaurants due to the sheer volume of visitors and put up the restriction.  As a guest I can tell you it help moved people in and out of the property and performed much better than previous years I’ve stayed at Harrah’s where arm badges and motorcycle passes wasted a lot of time getting off property.

Looking Back At A Great Road Trip

It’s true that attendance was observably down.  Yet, it felt plenty busy vs. jammed up or crowded.  I’m not sure if it was the weather (cooler/windy than normal) or economic as fuel prices approached $5/gallon at many locations.   In my viewpoint the cooler weather helped keep people in the vendor booths — buying — as you weren’t looking for shade or AC to avoid the heat.  If you attended and have some ideas on why attendance was down let me know.

The official stats from this report indicate that arrests were down (31 arrests vs. 34 in 2010).  Six were arrested and charged with felonies including drug possession and grand larceny.  Police issued 199 traffic citations vs. 229 in 2010.

All in all it was a really successful rally/weekend.

Photos taken by author.

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The heavyweight motorcycle market is approximately a $4 billion market.  Harley-Davidson is the market segment share leader with 2010 revenue of $3.14B.

Last week Polaris (CEO – Scott Wine) announced the acquisition of Indian, the nation’s oldest motorcycle brand. Indian’s best-selling model, the Chief, became known for the Red Indian logo on its fuel tank.  After twice filing for bankruptcy the manufacturing of Indian motorcycles restarted three years ago in Kings Mountain, NC.  The terms of the acquisition from British investment firms Stellican Ltd. and Novator Partners LLP were not announced, but given the strong brand portfolio of Indian I’m sure it didn’t come at garage-sale prices!

Polaris entered the heavyweight motorcycle market about 12 years ago and of the Polaris $2B in annual sales, about $82M comes from Victory motorcycles.  The Indian brand will help the company build on the Polaris’ presence in the market and directly compete with Harley-Davidson in the heritage brand sub-segment with its classic style.

Clearly the motorcycle landscape is changing and if you need further evidence just look at the recent announcement by BMW Motorrad who saw a 12.3% growth in the last financial year and sold 110,000 motorcycles.  They announced that Hero Motors (India company), as the sole supplier who will provide gearboxes for BMW’s motorcycles.  Not only are they the supplier, but Hero provided the engineering and developed the advanced technology for all BMW transmissions.

According to this Sioux City Journal article,  the U.S. production of Indian Motorcycles will shift to Polaris Industries’ Spirit Lake plant later this year.  Polaris is based in Medina, Minn., and they will close the existing Indian manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain in the next two to three months.

Photo taken at and courtesy of Indian booth.

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