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February 24th Edition

In This Issue:


Riding BE-cause - Charitable & Educational Events in the Carolinas

Lil' Weather

Free Thinking with FancyFree

TCR Welcomes new columnist, Vince Esposito!

Quece barks: Never say Never!

Sandy: A Tribute to the Wilson's

Loose Talk with Jon


An Update on Carlo Gagliardo

I just wanted to take a moment to write in and first thank Jan and Jon for all they have been doing to help with the planning and organizing for the upcoming benefit ride for Carlo.   You all have been amazing in your generosity and technical planning.  For everyone who has written asking how Carlo is doing, well it is a mixed bag of news.  Carlo spent 25 total days in CMC-Main and underwent 4 surgeries before he was released and allowed to go home.  He is in good spirits but he can’t walk, and of course he can’t work.
The problem for Carlo is a skin flap that was surgically placed over where he suffered the compound fracture has not successfully adhered and has begun to die.  So today, the day this story is being released, Carlo has had to return to the hospital where surgeons will be performing a 5th surgery on him and figuring out a new course of action for trying to close the wound left open from the compound fracture he suffered from the accident. 
Other than that, the recovery road will be long and financially has the potential to be devastating.  Carlo’s Shop, Carolina Cycle Service is open in Indian Trail, NC though, as some friends who are motorcycle mechanics themselves have opened it for him doing as much as they are able to.  The GoFundMe Campaign is still active and donations are still coming in periodically.  We are in the process of designing a t-shirt that can be bought by those participating in the Benefit Poker Run (or really anyone who wants to get one). 
As always, a big thank you to all those who have sent thoughts and prayers and donations.  Everyone is invited to join us on March 21st (Rain or Shine) to participate in the Poker Run which begins at Iron Horse motorcycle dealer in Monroe, NC with stops at Corral Motorcycles in Monroe, Ben’s V-Twins in Indian Trail, Carolina Cycle Service in Indian Trail, Cycle Gear in Matthews, and Harley-Davidson of Charlotte.  Cards will be drawn at each of those 5 stops.  Then all riders will meet at Stooges Pub and Grub located at 13230 Albemarle Road in Mint Hill, NC around 1pm.  At that time, riders get to make a choice of whether they want to play “Stud” or “Draw” Poker.  If they want to play “Stud” then they keep the hand they have and they just turn in what they have.  If not, then for a $5 donation, riders may discard up to 4 of their 5 cards and draw new cards at Stooges and enter the “Draw” pot.  There will be a grand prize for each pot.  Raffle ticket door prizes will also be drawn at Stooges. Event T-shirts will be available for purchase and there will also be a chance to win a GoPro high definition helmet camera!
All Benefit participants will get a free entry into the Stud Poker game and 1 free Raffle Ticket.  Draw Poker entry can be purchased at Stooges for a $5 donation.  Additional Raffle Tickets can also be purchased at Stooges, $1 each or 6 for $5.  We really hope you all come out to enjoy the day and help to support Carlo's recovery.  


The Little Weather Quickie for the Greater Charlotte Area

for Week of February 24-March 3, 2015

Wednesday 48 chance of rain, Thursday 42 overcast, Friday 47 p-cloudy, Saturday 47 clear, Sunday 49 chance of rain, Monday 67 chance of rain, Tuesday 59 chance of rain (as per on 2/24/15)

Welcome Vince!

We welcome a new columist to The Carolina Rider Weekly Magazine this week. He's written in before - for Carlo's ride, in response to some questions, as coordinator of a blessing of the bikes last year - but this is his "official coming out" as a regular contributor. Great to have his energy in the mix! I know I'm looking forward to hearing what he and his Frankenbike get into along their ride.

Quece has her own story to tell today ... and perhaps some learnin' to do for us humans about what comes out of our mouths! Congrats to Quece and parents for the new addition to their family. We're sure to see them out showing that beaut' off soon as the snow clears.

As usual, Sandy brings a lovely story to us; this time in tribute to a couple riders who have passed on to The Great Ride. Being what most would call a newbie rider myself (since my first time on a bike at all was well into the 1990's,) ain't it great to hear that this couple shared their love of motorcycles - since the 1930's/40's?!

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a re-run from the last edition ... in hopes of soliciting a few more answers to add to the already great group of replies I've received. Thanks!

Are you Happy?

So I've been listening to an audiobook of, The Geography of Bliss, written and narrated by Eric Weiner. Eric posed the question, "Where are the happiest places and people in the world?" and set out to come up with some answers. He visited such places as Iceland, Qatar, Switzerland, Bhutan, India, and several other parts of the globe and talked to tons of unique creatures about their own perspective on happiness. Some folks didn't like the question, "Are you happy," and in fact, took it as a bit rude to even ask. Some cultures he visited have certain hedonistic indulgences that they utilize to get their happy on - think Amsterdam. And, the king of Bhutan actually focuses a lot of his power on the GNH - Gross National Happiness!

Eric ponders and dissects happiness; turning it over and over like a prescious gem under a jeweler's loupe. What IS happiness? Is YOUR happiness the same as MY happiness? How does one FIND happiness?

While I know a ton of forever-blue riders who ride with a negative tint on life, it seems to me that motorbike aficianados might be a rich wealth of insight into HAPPY. Why else do we ride? And so, while Eric Weiner failed to ask us as he most certainly should have, I would like to pose the questions to you:

  • What about riding makes you happy?

  • Where and when are the happiest places and times to ride?

  • How does riding a motorcycle relate to happiness in general?

  • And what is happiness anyway?

Write me! I'll be publishing your responses in the next month...

Looking forward to your answers!

I'm on Facebook ... "friend me!"

An interesting thing happened to me a couple of Saturdays ago.  I was riding up to Mooresville to take part in a Knights of Columbus ceremony as I am a member of that organization.  The route I was taking was approximately 51 miles long and involved a decent amount of interstate for the first 35 miles or so.  I use my phone for GPS connected into my helmet through a Sena Bluetooth system.  I also stream music through the speakers in the helmet so the GPS just comes in over the music when it needs to let me know about a turn I need to make.

Anyway, I am cruising along on my 1983 Suzuki GS450A.  It’s a 2-speed clutchless semi-automatic.  You have to shift the gears between high and low with a foot lever, but you do it simply based on the RPMs and it uses a torque converter to do it.  There is a hand lever on the left handlebar, but if you pull it when you are riding, you are hating life, because it’s the parking brake.  I’ve never seen my bike’s max speed.  The speedometer says 140, which I doubt the little 450 can actually do.  I have actually seen the needle hit 90 before, not on purpose, but it got there, and there was still throttle left.  How much?  I have no idea.

Typically, I cruise the interstate around 70-75mph.  I know that is faster than the speed limit, but honestly, I don’t like being the slowest person out there, and at that speed, I’m never the fastest.  It’s the same way I drive my Jeep.  At 70-75, I can basically be in whatever lane I need to be comfortably, change when I need to safely and I know I always have plenty of throttle left if the situation calls for that too.  What’s best about my little old bike is I routinely average 50-55mpg, even at those highway speeds.  Plus, I don’t have my bike stock.  I added a Slipstreamer windshield, highway bar, two steal 50-calibre ammo cans for saddle bags, a big Bates trunk on the back so I can carry stuff, a whole lot of steel bar and tubing was welded on to carry the ammo cans and trunk and I have a custom setup for a backrest for me.  Plus, I have a luggage rack on the Bates trunk and I fly 4 flags off my bike at all times creating wind resistance.  Basically, I turned this standard bike into a somewhat rat cruiser/tourer/standard “Frankenbike” as we’ve always called it.

Anyway, the reason I am asking “What Makes Someone a Biker?” is because of what happened during my ride up to Mooresville that Saturday.  I am cruising along listening to my music and I come along 3 guys in a group in the center lane.  I’m not disclosing what they were riding because honestly it doesn’t matter, but for those who may want to stereotype a particular brand I will just say this; No, they were NOT Harley guys.  The left lane was open, so I signaled, and went around them.  As I was passing them, I looked over at them and they looked at me and I nodded and two of them nodded back.  One of the guys gave me the 2-finger gesture from his handlebar, so I politely returned the favor, and I kept on going.  My exit came up a couple miles later, and I decided to take a quick pit stop at a gas station near the top of the ramp.

When I’m exiting the station, I see the 3 guys from the interstate all finishing gassing up their bikes and walking toward the convenience store.  They walk over to me to start asking about my bike and what year it is and all that.  One of them sees the side badge that says 450A and commented that he couldn’t believe a 450 could haul like that.  All of them really seemed to admire it and really said they would have never guessed that bike was a Suzuki or a 450 or only had 8900 original miles on it.  Then, “it” happened.  One of the guys looked at my gauge cluster and saw where is said “Suzukimatic.” 
From that moment on, he lit in with, “Are you kidding me?  You have a freaking automatic?  That is nothing more than a freaking scooter man.  You ain’t no biker.  You can have that jacket on all you want.  You are just a b!tch.” (Please take the bold faced words and substitute the nearest curse word you think should be there and you’d have the exact quote.)  They all just walked off shaking their heads and laughing.

Now, I shook off what the guy said as just 3 guys being jerks because the other 2 went along with the first and were laughing right along with him.  However, it got me thinking.  What constitutes a biker?  I know everyone takes that term to mean something different.  Is a Biker a 1%er?  I certainly am not one of those individuals but I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way.  Is a Biker a cruiser rider?  Or a Street Bike Rider or a Dirt Bike Rider or a Touring Biker rider?  Can someone who rides a Suzuki Burgman or Yamaha Majesty or a Chinese clone of one of those scooters be considered a biker?  If someone rides a Chinese or some other off-brand motorcycle, like the Korean-made Hyosung, are they a biker?  I have seen all of them at Bike Nights and Ride Events.  Does the fact I ride a 2-speed clutchless semi-automatic make me a biker?  What about someone on a Ridley?  What about a disabled Vet or anyone else that installed an aftermarket auto-clutch on their bike?  What about a person on a moped?  I’m just giving other examples to think about.

I know what my personal thoughts are on all of these things, but honestly, I’d love to hear from you all.  Email me at my new TCR email address and I will report back honestly what you all think about this topic as well as my own thoughts if I’m told I can.  Don’t hold back and let me know your opinions.  It always amazes me how the motorcycle/riding community is in a lot of ways very divided sometimes, but then other times unites together and rides together for common causes.  So, I guess, I am trying to figure out what is the be all, end all, line in the sand, no going back, thing that makes someone a biker?  Thanks! 

Back around Thanksgiving of  ’06, when I was just a young pup….Mom met Dad.  Mom said she would “never” re-Marry.  But I could tell it was love at first sight….and I tried real hard to cozy up to Dad.  But he wasn’t having it.  He even said Mom would have to find a home for me if they got married because he was “never” having a dog!… as he put it “I didn’t even let my kids have a goldfish!” What a grump!

Well obviously, after saying a dog would “never” sit on his furniture, sit in his lap, eat out of his plate, or sleep in his bed…. “ that rule didn’t work, because I have added another 8 fantastic years to the marriage.  I eat with Dad, sleep with Dad and ride with Dad.  If someone doesn’t let dogs go then Dad isn’t going!  Our first six years together were glorious rides on his ’06 Fat Boy.  It was a one-of-a-kind paint job, and his first big purchase from Speedway H-D when he moved from Michigan.

Dad was kind of a purest.  Didn’t want the full face helmet, no bells and whistles, just a great bike, lots of chrome, and loud pipes!  That was “Blue Thunder!”  When Mom got her Deuce, I was promoted to ride with Dad on his bike in a special carrier.   My romance with wind began!  Bikes were coming out with more and more, bags, lights, stereos, GPS, you name it…. And Dad said he would “never” get caught up in all of that!

Owning a Harley-Davidson means we have been to every Harley Shop in NC and quite a few private bike shops too!  We grew to have favorites just like most bikers do, and we learned to avoid others!  Some were great staff, some had better mechanics, some just seemed to specialize or exceed in certain areas that others didn’t.  Some we loved were just too far from home. 

Mom and Dad bragged at the number of miles we rode.  We have seen accidents but we
“never” had been in one.  We even laughed that we Survived Sturgis of 2012 and Mom wrote an article about it….but then “never” was gone, and a week after being home from Sturgis,  Dad and I were in a life-threatening accident that luckily only killed “Blue Thunder.”

People said “I hope Greg 'never' rides again”   Quece will “never” want to get on another motorcycle”….Wrong! 

Once Dad was recovered enough to sit in a wheelchair.  Mom was pushing us around to all the Harley Shops looking for the next bike.  We fell in love with the 2013 CVO Road King.  We are older and we tend to carry a little more when we travel so Dad broke down and agreed the saddlebags were handy.  He would probably “never” use the MP3 player…of course 212-downloaded-Classic-Rock-songs later, he does!  The bike had what we thought was everything and other than louder pipes we would “never” have to add to it.

Folks asked Mom if she was getting a new bike too and she said she loved “Orange Crush” (the Deuce) just the way it was and she was perfectly content and would “never” change a thing!

Mom got her turn to upgrade the Deuce! “Never” was “Now.” Louder horn, heated seats, new footboards, extended reach turn signals, fancy bolt covers, extreme custom wheels, a fancy carrier for me (because Dad plays the Stereo too loud for me on his bike! Lot’s of new features that made the bike fit Mom better for our long rides! 

It “never” occurred to me that Mom and Dad might be a little competitive but…..

Dad has swapped out the windshield, got a different seat to help with all the rods in his pelvis.  We had to add the extended foot pegs on the crash bar so he could stretch out on long trips, and recently a new navigation system with Sirius XM…..and it still wasn’t fitting the bill of our growing list of “needs”.  The 2013 CVO Road King that would
“never” need more…well, needed more.

Dad said he would “never” go back to Speedway within the first year he purchased his original bike. But we heard through the biker community grapevine that a great guy “Dane,” was back as Finance Director (among some other major changes)…and Mom encouraged Dad to at least check it out.

All of the extras we were trying to put on the 2013 CVO were now included on the 2015 Harley-Davidson FLHTKSE CVO Limited.

Jeremy was one of the first to greet us! He is a young guy with an old soul….he had lots of ink and a great 1940’s handlebar mustache….he reminded me of a wire haired terrier I dated once.  I could tell Mom was already sold on the fact that this bike is highly visible!  Lots of extra bright LED lighting, bells and whistles everywhere.  Heated seats, built in GPS and Sirius XM, lots of  room to carry stuff, and features that you would expect in a luxury car!  Jeremy walked us through every item on the bike.   I could tell that Dad who was “never” going to purchase another bike was smitten!

 Then our friend Dane that we thought we would “never” see again, especially at Speedway H-D walked by!   Mom got a hug, Dad a handshake and me a pet!  Dane said they “Very Rarely”  (not “never” )  let the CVO go for road tests…but he would make an exception! 

Needless to say….while Dad was out riding…Dane got Mom’s drivers license and credit info, and before Dad got back they were negotiating the deal!  Jeremy and Dane worked hard to help get all the things done…. so hopefully we will “never” have to add more in the future.  Of course the pipes are upgraded to Rhineharts True Duals, and we are getting rid of the long antennae’s with special hidden ones that fit under the fairing….oh yeah….and a little taller windshield for the fairing because Dad is so tall.

Dad said he would “never” purchase an extended warranty…but after all of these years of riding experience, and CVO experience, and the fact that Dane and Jeremy worked hard to make the bike affordable and comfortable…that “never” went out the window too!

I am going to have to pay more attention to when people say “never” because it always works out to be the opposite and for better reasons!

I “never” dreamed that my life could be this great!   It is beyond my every dog expectation!


A Tribute to the Wilsons

Once in a lifetime you will meet someone “not-so-famous” but very genuine and noteworthy to remember in your scrapbooks.  Such was the opportunity for me to meet a wonderful couple, Mike and Margaret Wilson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

As a previous member of a women’s motorcycle club, I was privy to attend an annual convention for members and their guests held all over the US and Canada.  During these conventions I was able to meet and know Margaret and her husband Mike.  The reason I mention meeting Margaret first is due to the club rules:  Annual conferences were held for the women (members) and their guest.  Mike would have been considered a guest to these events.  But Mike, never far from his beloved bride of 70+ years, was awesome to converse with and listen to stories of yesteryears.

Together…they were lovebirds always holding hands. Not only did the Wilsons display affections of the heart for each other, they equally loved motorcycling.  Mike began riding in 1939 and Margaret followed in 1946.  Vertically challenged, Margaret could not touch the ground while astride her Harley-Davidson.  Ever the patient and loving husband, Mike assisted her in becoming the avid lady rider and also a role model for other lady riders around the US and Canada.

Mike and Margaret previously owned a motorcycle dealership for approximately 25 years.  They were richly involved in the AMA museum for many years. If you are ever in the neighborhood of Pickerington, Ohio; stop by the AMA museum and pay homage to the sculpture “Glory Days” commissioned and donated by the Wilsons.

Both Mike and Margaret were inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame (2011,) the AMA Hall of Fame (2004,) and awarded the Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award (2014.)  Margaret was awarded the AMA Bessie Stringfield Award in 2003.  Though recognized for their tireless efforts and constant involvement in the motorcycling community, they were still just a sweet couple excited to be present among friends.

The last time I spoke to Margaret was in July 2012.  She and Mike were coming to Spartanburg, SC for the annual convention.  Our hotel booked up quickly as this convention was the largest attended event on record.  Margaret was hoping a room would open up in the host hotel.  I managed to “wave my magic wand” for another room in the host hotel just for them.  Needless to say, they were most appreciative and hugs from both were enough for me.

Sadly, Margaret passed away on July 23, 2014 at the age of 98 years.  Most recent, Mike, age 94, joined his bride on February 2, 2015.  Their spirits will forever ride within those who travel the paved courses on their two/three wheeled machines of choice…forever seeking the perfect journey. 

Rest in Peace Margaret and Mike.  It was my honor to know you.

Almost here ...

Yes, we did not publish an edition of The Carolina Rider Weekly Magazine last week. My wife's mother passed on last week and she was with her to the end. With us being a family business, we had to forgo the magazine in order to be where we needed to be. Please forgive our delays and thank you for understanding.

It may not seem like it with the dreary weather we're having and the bitter cold we just endured, but we're less than a month from one of the kick offs to riding season. Daytona bike week is March 6-15. Who's going? Who's riding down? Who's trailering?

While Shaggy might scoff at your choice, I applaud anyone who goes whether by truck and trailer or on your bike. My friends, Barry and Teresa, who will have just moved there from North Carolina when the festivities crank up, will give me a report from their "hometown" perspective. I'd love to hear from you about your experience at Daytona Bike Week.

So, how 'bout it? Write us a little story about your Daytona 2015 fun! Get your stories in to FancyFree by the end of March and we'll not only publish it, we'll also get you a TCR Tuff in the mail. Make sure to include photos!

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