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Shark Week III - Utah

Shark Week III – Utah

This blog post is a continuation from HERE.

The next day we decided to avoid the large group ride, instead to venture on our own ride.   We planned to do an approximately 300 mile loop to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Though one of the smallest of southern Utah’s national parks, it’s visually stunning, particularly at sunrise and sunset when an orange wash sets the rock formations ablaze.   There are steep trails that descend from the rim into the 1000ft amphitheaters of pastel color daggers, then continue through a maze of juniper trees in the high-mountain desert.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The high altitude meant cooler temperatures (80°F)  than in St. George.  And if we were looking for solitude on the road we wouldn’t find it out here.  The crowds and RV’s had arrived in force clogging the park’s main road as we watched ill prepared visitors explore the trails.

The Native Americans once called this colorful landscape of jumbled rocks and sedimentary canyons the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow and it was easy to see why when you snapped a photo.

'Glidin' Bryce Canyon

‘Glidin’ Bryce Canyon with Sandcastle-like Spires

We made a number of stops in the park and walked around for photo op’s and then made our way back to the entrance.

Prior to leaving the park we had a late lunch in the Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room.  Yeah, they had National Park prices, but it was quite tasty food.

Afterward we headed back through the park to St. George and the oppressive heat.

Bryce Canyon Panorama

At Bryce Point Overlooking Bryce Canyon – Panorama

The St. George’s forecast was Howard Beale-esque.  “We’re hot as hell, and we didn’t want to take it anymore!”  Apologies to actor Peter Finch’s rant as the “mad as hell” broadcaster from the 1976 film “Network,” but Utah was in a sizzling grip of triple-digit temperatures and we were getting sick of it!

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

It was the first time I could recall where I’ve been on a motorcycle ride and unable to sit outside during the evening.  At 11pm at night it was in the high 90’s.  We didn’t need to watch the news to understand there was a heat advisory.

We sat in the A/C room looking over maps and determining what direction or ride to take on the next day.

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

We had a member of the posse that attempted an “Iron Butt” ride.  He departed a couple days later than the main group on Tuesday, July 30th and was scheduled to arrive that evening from Portland, OR to St. George UT (approx. 1034 miles) in less than 24 hours ride.  He arrived around 9:30pm with all the documents and gas receipts in hand as well as a navigation unit with the stats to validate his ride.  Congrats and BIG props for that accomplishment!

"Big Ben" Completes Iron Butt - 1034 Miles!

“Ben” Does An Iron Butt – 1036 Miles Under 24 Hrs!

One of our riders (MC) had to split from the group and return home early for a friend’s wedding.   He planned to leave early the next morning and the remainder of our group had decided to ride out early to Las Vegas, stay overnight and then loop back north on Highway 95 and take a couple extra days for our return ride.

It’s very difficult to write/post the following…

More Bryce Canyon

The Land Of Sleeping Rainbows

We awoke early Wednesday (July 31st) morning to get a jump on the heat of the day.  We were just getting out of the showers and packing up the gear about 7:30am when the cell phone rang…

It was the sheriff and he stated that “MC” was hit by a car in the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the hotel.  The person who got the call rushed up to the intersection.  The rest of us got there about 10-15 minutes later.  We arrived to see the paramedics working on him and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris and gather up some personal belongings.

Life Flight Takes MC

Life Flight Takes “MC” To Dixie Regional Medical Center

We talked to St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding about the accident.  He stated that “MC” was traveling northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  This is the last red light leaving town!  There is some disagreement by multiple eye witnesses whether “MC” was on a solid green or just changed to yellow light. While traveling through the intersection, “MC” was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway.  Some witnesses reported that “MC” yelled at the first car before being hit in the side by a second car who had clearly run the light and was also making a left turn.   None of it mattered as the driver of the second car was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic.

The impact left “MC” with significant injuries to his left leg (multiple compound fractures).  He was in surgery for nearly 4 hours.  He has a broken collar bone, severely smashed ankle/foot, head trauma (3” gash around the left eye) and other miscellaneous cuts, scrapes and bruises to his arms and hands.  He was coherent at the accident scene and the reason why we got the phone call so fast.

"MC" Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

“MC” Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

It’s one thing to read and blog about motorcycle accidents, but quite different being there in person and knowing the rider.  The 4 mile ride to the hospital was very difficult.

In the trauma center doctors told us they were extremely concerned with the potential loss of his foot.  In fact, they prepped “MC” while in his pain medicated state about how he could lose the foot.  We all thanked God that he was alive and not paralyzed.  Dr. Clark told us following the accident in the trauma center…“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”

We stayed at the trauma center for a couple of days until significant others arrived in St. George.   We then started our return ride home be it with some riding anxiety and shaken confidence.

The EMT’s, Life Flight personnel, the trauma doctors, and nursing staff all deserve a HUGE debt of gratitude.  Also a shout-out to Dr. Clark!  Yeah I know that a shout-out from this blogger is not nearly enough, but it’s a small start and I’m sure when “MC” is feeling better he’ll show them this post.  I also want to send a big shout-out to Mike aka “Shark Daddy.”  He rushed to the scene prior to the Life Flight arrival and helped in an immeasurable way by talking and holding onto “MC” as he was being worked on by the EMTs.

Lastly, I want to extend a special thank you and evangelize my appreciation and gratitude to the Shark Week organizers and attendees.  During the closing awards dinner the group passed a hat around and collected over a $1000 cash and presented it to “MC” in the hospital to help out with medical expenses.

Ron “Stray Mutt,” you and the group are absolutely awesome and I can’t begin to remember or list all the names of our new “best friends!”  Just know that we’re telling everyone about the groups generosity and kindness.

Final comment is to “MC”… get well buddy so that we can all ride another day!

Part 1 of this blog post is HERE.

UPDATE: August 13, 2013 – It’s been almost 2-weeks since MC’s accident.  All the prayers and outreach have helped because the news and trend on his recovery and foot/leg is positive each day.  Thank you!  He was recently transferred to an Acute Rehabilitation Unit where he is undergoing intensive physical therapy.  MC is in good spirits along with getting terrific support from his sig other (Sherry).  Both have an attitude to push forward and through the healing/rehab process and I’m sure we’ll continue to hear good news.  Yesterday he spent a couple hours in a hyperbaric chamber with enriched oxygen to increase blood flow and to help heal his foot. 

Unfortunately he is facing mounting medical expenses.  The driver of the automobile (using his girlfriend’s car) had minimal insurance coverage and MC is unemployed and under insured.  We’re looking into fund raisers to help, and appreciate everyone’s continued positive thoughts and prayers as we work on a plan to get him transported back to Oregon.

UPDATE: August 21, 2013 – MC was scheduled to be release from Acute Rehab today, but unfortunately he suffered a major heart attack while lying in bed this morning.  MC was rushed to the Dixie Regional Medical Center ER for emergency surgery.  He will be back in the ICU within a couple hours. Reports are that the angioplasty and stent placement surgery is going well.  Sadly, this is exactly where MC started out twenty-one days ago almost to the exact hour. The trauma doctors at Dixie are awesome and he’s in a good place if this was going to happen.

UPDATE: September 18, 2013Many are already aware of this, but in case you just landed on this blog post and didn’t know, you can now get updates or follow MC’s recovery progress HERE on Facebook or on his blog HERE.

Photos by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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U.S. Stock Market

U.S. Stock Market

Many of us have attended some type of motorcycle rally.  They are a gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts who come together for the camaraderie and socialization.  It doesn’t matter if you ride ‘slick back’, are part of a riding association or MC.  The rallies can range from the mild corporate-sponsored Honda Hoot to Sturgis or the infamous Hollister.

Rallies can be large or small, and one-time or recurring. Notable annual rallies with attendance in the thousands from all over the country include the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Laconia Motorcycle Week, and Daytona Beach Bike Week. There are many smaller, regional rallies including the annual BMW MOA international rally, the Oyster Run in the Pacific Northwest, the Golden Aspen Rally (formerly Aspencade) in the Southwest, the Laughlin River Run and Street Vibrations in the West, and Americade in the Northeast.  There is also the Harley-Davidson anniversary rally in Milwaukee every five years.  Some rallies are ride-in events, whereas some like the Iron Butt rally involve days of riding and an actual gathering only at the end of the ride.

But my friends, the motorcycle winds of change are blowing and it’s not a nice smell.  As the song states… “For The Times They Are A-Changing…” – Bob Dylan.  After attending one major and 3 regional rallies this year I can report they are rumbling a lot less louder these days and here’s my extremely broad and completely unscientific, yet infinitely wise reasons:

1. Economy: in case you haven’t noticed it’s down.

a. Market investor gloom persists… see above charts with a 500-point loss brings the Dow’s two-day slump to nearly 900 points.

b. Harley shipments are down and the company has laid off workers

c. Japan’s four major power sports vehicle manufactures (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha) are down 26.8% this year compared to the same 8 months of 2007.

d. Gas prices. Escort rigs or trucks hauling trailers consume lots of fuel.

e. DealerNews reports that the Sturgis attendance was down 18% this year. Turnout was reported at 414,917 which compares to 507,234 in 2007 or down from the 633,000 in 2000. It’s been a steady decline pretty much the past eight years.

f. Laughlin River Run was down approx 10,000 from 2007. Attendance estimated at 60,000.

2. Demographics:

a. Repeat attendees which is not officially tracked is down. Fewer people going consistently year over year.

b. Aging population are making the most of their free time and have other forms of entertainment.

c. New riders don’t ride the same cruiser bikes or value the heritage of these events and don’t attend. No fun riding a sport bike when the Black Hills are full of motorcycles.

d. Competition for the major vs. local rallies have people making closer to home priorities. We’ve seen this with all the local Indian Casinos who have taken a bite out of Las Vegas.

3. Legislation:

a. The new Denver sound ordinance for motorcycles prevents rally attendance unless you have stock motorcycle exhaust.

b. Don’t drive to a rally in New York City’s high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. They banned motorcycles from HOV lanes and are ticketing. Never mind that Federal law stipulates that HOV lanes must allow motorcycles.

c. Myrtle Beach will never be the same…they approved a property tax increase earlier this year to fund efforts aimed specifically at eliminating motorcycle rallies. There are now 3 independent lawsuits filed against the city in hopes to limit the city counsel.

4. Policing: large numbers and aggressive preemptive measures being taken.

a. LEOs stop bikers heading up the Adirondack Northway before the start of the Americade motorcycle rally at Lake George.

b. Breath check stops outside Oatman, AZ during Laughlin River Run.

c. Street Vibrations ’08 SWAT teams highly visible, armed w/ para-military gear in show of force.

5. Greed: in search of the big $$

a. Rallies have been artificially expanded in length by vendors to capture more customer $$. 3-day events are now 5-day and many of the big rallies are 10-days or longer.

b. Motel’s often triple room rates and have instituted longer minimum night stays. Try to find a motel in Sturgis for a couple nights. Same for Laughlin River Run or Street Vibrations. The motels have forced earlier arrivals which up’s the ante for any event.

c. High prices for vendor space, basically merchants rent space for as much as they can get/gouge people.

6. 1%er Clubs: make city officials nervous and they over react with a lot of police presence at events.

a. Laughlin River Run feud/shooting (HAMC and Mongols) at Harrah’s.

b. First Sturgis shooting (Iron Pig and HAMC) in 20 years at a downtown pub.

c. Street Vibrations (HAMC and Mongols) had numerous citizens calling police concerned about a biker war given the killing of Mark “Papa” Guardado.

7. Repo Rates:

a. Little dark secret of the industry and hardly ever reported on is that repo rates have ballooned due to the mortgage/credit crisis. Go to the Spokane auctions and see all the bikes. A lot of folks used home equity loans to buy toys. When the interest rate skyrocketed so did the payments for the toys and the number of loan defaults has increased.

Just a few examples and any one of these wouldn’t be an issue in of itself, but the combination of problems are having a profound impact on the industry.

So are Rallies as we’ve known them over?  I believe so.  I can remember a few years ago being able to walk casino-to-casino in Reno during Street Vibrations with a beer in hand.  No more, the RPD stopped numerous folks this year.  I can remember 5 years ago staying at the Pink Flamingo (now Aquarius) at the Laughlin River Run watching HAMC prospects do bagger wheelie’s in the valet parking area.  Not these days.  All you’ll see is 20+ motorcycle police.

The real problem is that many of the “industry’s customers” won’t demand attention or seek corrective action to the problems. They have no will or united voice on the issue.  And we all know what happens to the squeaky wheel.  HD and so many other companies at these rallies are simply a corporation that makes money selling motorcycles and motorcycle accessories. The corporate officers want you to believe they are biker’s best friend, but at the end of the day it’s all about business and what will bring them the best return on their investment.  I get the capitalism gig, but where does it end?

Maybe when we’re all sitting around the motorcycle lift watching TV in the garage and toasting the “good-ol-days” when people ACTUALLY went to a rally rather than just watch them on the Discovery Channel?  Maybe it ends when more states do what Montana has done…tourism officials actually target motorcyclist as a demographic they WANT in the state and doing things (special web site, special MDT road reports, and suggested rides) to court us rather than legislate ways to ban us, limit noise, curtail events and hold public relation meetings evangelizing the negative media coverage against bikers.  It will change when state tourism officials recognize that clinging to the overturned lifeboat in a storm and hoping that somebody (the customer) finds them is inadequate.

So, slip off those steel-toed boots or $520 Ferragamo loafers and plan your next rally!  Besides, who cares what the destination is, as long as the route is awesome.

Photo courtesy CNN and Motorcycle Dairies web sites.

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ArdysAre you the type guy who had his chromed-up noisy thang dialed in and drive to the bars? Or do you really go someplace – ride it to Yellowstone, to Glacier, to Laughlin?! Maybe you sit around worrying about the sub-prime market and seldom ride beyond the dealer due to high fuel prices?

I’ve ridden a fair number of miles this year through summer colors of green and acres of corn, beans and white, puffy clouds. The Road King is a wonderful way to be at one with nature. So whatever type rider you are, you know that fall has arrived in the Northwest and those “Dog Days” of summer are only a memory. Like the Chris Ledoux song — The nights are gettin colder, well, man you’re gettin older. Tonight I’m feelin my age…

Demographics have been on Harley’s side since the ‘80s. Japanese bikes are less expensive and built more like hot rods, attracting a younger set. Harley’s niche is cruising bikes…otherwise known as heavyweights and they’ve catered to the baby boomer demographic. But boomers range in age from 40 to 62 and the average age of a new Harley buyer is 45 years old. In last nine years that average went up 7 years! In the next five it might be as high as 50. Harley will have to re-name all the models – Road Geezer; Fatbaster; Ultra Geezer; Street Geezer etc.! You get the idea. Harley is challenged to attract a younger rider with the willingness to lay out a premium price over that of its competitors. Maybe the V-gReezer will save the day and pull in the kind of person who has the income?

What about the rest of us? You know, like the “Blue-Hairs” driving a 40 foot Holiday Rambler when is it time to put down the “Costco cheater glasses” and hang up the chaps? Spend time sipping chardonnay while polishing paint vs. riding? NO WAY!

Not me, I’m going to be like Ardys “Queenie” Kellerman (photo above). At 74 years of age she rode more than 80,000 miles in ’06 to win the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (Women) mileage contest. Clearly she doesn’t like to stay home! She started riding thirty-five years ago with a small Yamaha, stepped up to a Honda CB360. Since then BMW has been her motorcycle of choice. Queenie completed 4 Iron Butt rallies (11,000 miles in 11 days). Thousand mile days are routine for her. You can read more about her in the BMWOA article.

I don’t know what the great-grandmother’s secret is, but I hope I have half her ambition and riding skills when I’m the same age!!

Kellerman picture courtesy BMWOA.

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