2022 Biker Style

I completed a 733-mile motorcycle adventure over five days in New England, USA, and returned home on Sunday, 18 September.

Now that I have caught up with my return-to-home, let me explain what I mean by the title of this post, and my riding style of today… (read on) …

I went to New Hampshire to ride with my friend “S” who lives there and has his own Harley. I rented one.

Why rent?

Yes, I own my own Harley, but my current motorcycle is not a touring class bike. I call it a “scoot-about-town” style of bike. While my 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim has the same size engine (107cu / 1,750cc) as most touring models, my bike’s physical size is smaller, lighter weight, and does not have storage like saddle bags. My bike works great for the riding I do now — short putt-putt day rides with friends or commuting to volunteer assignments.

I am not comfortable (safety-wise) to ride alone from where I live to New Hampshire (some 500 miles each way). Also, since I have a health issue that fatigues me, I choose not to ride more than 200 miles (320km) per day. Riding 500 miles to New Hampshire would take three days and require two nights in hotels along the way — each way. I would rather fly up there, ride, and fly back than waste six days just getting there and back.

Weather is always a concern. While I can ride in rain, I do not want to. Especially on unfamiliar roads and on interstate highways. Nope… not “my style” any more. In fact, I limit my speed to no more than 60mph (95kmh) — my choice. I hate riding fast. The bike can handle it. The biker does not want to! My preference of riding roads are two-lane scenic byways — not zooming through at lightning speed.

As for riding itself — since my husband died, I ride without a passenger (pillion). However, as I said above, I do not like to ride alone. That is why I traveled to New Hampshire to meet my buddy with whom I have ridden on several long-distance rides before. My buddy rides his own bike and I ride mine. Just the two of us on the road.

I prefer it that way. We can stop for breaks whenever we want, take pictures of the scenery, have meals, take a pee — whatever — it is far easier with only two bikers.

We limited our rides each day to about 150 miles (240km), more-or-less. That provides for a start time after the ambient temperatures warm to 50F (10C) or above. I would rather ride without bundling up (and restricting motion) with heavy layers of riding gear.

My friend “S” knows all the great riding roads of New England. We rode mostly in New Hampshire and Vermont, but touched three adjoining states (Maine, Massachusetts, and New York) so I could say that I had ridden a motorcycle in these states too. Just for fun.

Day 1: arrival at the airport, pick up the rental Harley, and ride about 60 miles (95km) west to my buddy’s home where I stayed each night (except for one).

Day 2: We departed “S”‘s home at 0900 and rode 131 miles (210km) to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Very scenic roads led us there. Stopped for a pic in nearby Maine. Lunch at a diner on the way, and a great restaurant in town where we stayed the night in a hotel.

Day 3: After a “meh” breakfast at the hotel, we departed at 0930 to ride 140 miles (225km) on a different route back on exceptionally scenic roads. We stopped at Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the state (6,288 feet / 1916 meters), but chose not to ride to the summit because it was shrouded in clouds, quite windy, and was 28F (-2C). Ummm… “not.”

Our route back included the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (“the Kanc”) which was exceptional. After lunch at a neat restaurant, we rode along the Connecticut River that forms the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. “S” led me to the longest covered bridge still in existence. It was quite a thrill to ride through. A few miles more, and we were back at “S”‘s house for the night.

Day 4: It was quite cold and foggy in the morning, so we did not get started until 1100. We rode about 130 miles (210km) through covered bridges, to Massachusetts, then Vermont, and circled back to New Hampshire. The ride was gentle exploration of more lovely scenery.

Day 5: We got started about 0930 and rode 160 miles (258km) mostly in Vermont. Our destination was Bennington. It took us a while to get there because we rode slowly on hilly, curvy, and quite scenic two-lane roads and through two more covered bridges. After lunch at a small, quirky, but good diner, “S” led me to the border of New York which was just a few miles away. The ride back was equally as pleasant on a sunny and warm day.

Day 6: Time to head back. “S” drove his car with my gear, and I followed the 60 miles (95km) of a two-lane road on the southern end of New Hampshire. I dropped off the rented Harley and then “S” took me to the airport for an uneventful flight home.

Riding Gear — My 2022 Style

I am known to be an “old-school” leather-wearing biker. But I also can adapt and change. These days, riding gear is more “high-tech” and “high-vis” (visibility) and offers more protection and greater comfort than leather.

Because the weather changed from cool (50F / 10C) to warm (80F / 26C) each day, the guide for comfort was layering. I began each morning with a t-shirt, flannel shirt, Thinsulate jacket (a warm liner for my main jacket), and my Rev’IT Tornado 3 armored ballistic motorcycle jacket.

As the day warmed up and we took rehydration breaks, I would shed a layer. The Thinsulate liner was warm and was first to go. The flannel shirt was next. Then as it continued to get warmer, I would open vents on my jacket, roll back the sleeve ends to introduce air flow directly up the arms, and open the front of the jacket for even more air flow.

I kept the jacket on while riding. Though I admit, if it got warmer than 80F (26C), I would have to take it off. I have a low tolerance of heat and get dehydrated quickly. Unlike many other bikers who wear “high-tech/high-vis” gear (including matching pants) all day and in high heat, my old body cannot tolerate it. (I admire those who can; I can’t.)

Gloves? Before I left, I bought myself a new pair of Rev’IT Sand 4 summer-weight riding gloves. While the website said that the gloves were “true size,” they were not. The new gloves never broke in and the middle of my hands were in great pain, so I packed them away (will return them), quite disappointed. Instead, I wore leather gauntlet gloves that I brought as a back-up. Glad I did!

Pants? I wore cotton duck cargo pants. They are warm and provide a good range of motion. Sorry — no leather. I was considering it, but my buddy “S” said that I would not need it, as well as the weight to carry it with me. (Later, I sort of regret not bringing chaps, but alas, didn’t happen.)

Boots? My favorite Vibram-100 lug-soled Chippewa Firefighters were on my feet while riding. Comfortable, safe, secure, and terrific traction to hold a heavy Harley on a hill at a stoplight.

Helmet? Of course! I always wear a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet when I ride. Even though helmets are not required in New Hampshire, as a licensed paramedic, I have seen the results of injuries and deaths of men who refuse to wear a helmet. Me? Not wearing one would never happen. Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.

Summary

Ride your own ride — what you like, what you can tolerate, what makes it fun. That is my style. As “they” say —

Life is short: it’s the ride, not the destination. (Or “live to ride / ride to eat!”)

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