Feeling Part of the Family With Friends Old & New in Rochester, New York.

Since July of this year, I’d been in contact via phone and e-mail with Lyn Elting, who along with her husband Art own the Rochester are BMW dealership, Country Rode Motowerks. Eager to host a presentation for their customers, she was surprised that I had decided to ride my bike, given the unpredictable weather in the Great Lakes region. And with my propensity to ride the tiny backroads to wherever I travel, it would be hard to estimate my arrival time in Fairport, a smaller town just southeast of Rochester. With my presentation scheduled for 2pm, I thought I’d be there by noon. But the slow roads and occasional traffic, when I finally rode in around 12:45pm I could see the look of relief on Lyn’s face—I made it!

Country Rode is a family-run dealership where customers make up a loyal community, many choosing to have coffee, use the WIFI and hang out with the regular gang and share stories of travel, bikes and dreams–better here than the local coffee shop. More modest in size than the two Max dealerships I presented weeks earlier, but equally professional and with an alluring energy where locals make you feel welcome, regardless of your bike or background.

One customer who showed up to see my presentation actually spends more time in Chile, than in New York. I was able to practice my spanish and share stories of my Patagonian escapades in southern Chile. The crew helped wheel my bike into the showroom so customers could gawk at Doc, my the hard ridden, if not abused, motorcycle that exhibits more than its fair share of scars.

The presentation this Saturday afternoon at Country Rode Motowerks was perhaps the best attended presentation of this tour. With more than 75 guests, I was amazed to see three French men show up in a Citroën Deaux Chevaux (2CV) which they’ve been traveling around the world. I remembered seeing many of these odd looking cars in Buenos Aires. Citroën stopped producing the cars in 1990 after 42 years of production. which was powered by a simple air-cooled 375cc engine—quite a bit smaller than the 650cc water cooled Rotax power-plant on Doc.

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As the crowd gathers for my 2pm presentation, many check out the bike that took me around the world — and to chilly Rochester in late October.

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Country Rode is a gathering place and caters to a passionate and strong community of riders of all types.

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Lyn and Art took me in and share their home, cats and delicious cookies!

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I’d like to say these guys rode from France via Kabul and Saigon to come see me speak at Country7 Rode, but alas it was merely a serendipitous coincidence that they were visiting a Country Rode customer who happen to also own a a Citroën Deaux Chevaux (2CV) as well as a BMW. So he brought them to see my presentation.

As usual, the question and answer portion of my talk was quite lively and at the end a lucky Canadian female motorcycle rider won the AirHawk Seat Cushion which we give away at each of my presentations. Many customers wanted to hear more, so we agreed to host another presentation sometime in the next year or so—ideally after my book, Tasting Adventure, is published and available.

Lyn & Art were kind to offer me dinner, homemade cookies, the company of great cats, including Murphy and Curly, and a warm bed in their 19th century ‘cobblestone ‘home a few minutes from the dealership. Cobblestone masonry is a regional technique of of using regional building materials and set in what appears to be a linear manner and probably painstaking style. Homes between Syracuse and Buffalo were built by local artisans between about 1820 and 1850. The stones were brought by glaciers to shores of Lake Ontario. Stones gathered when clearing fields for farming were used to build homes, barns, churches and other buildings. Art and I stayed up and talked about old classic bikes, travel and the motorcycle business, while Lyn packed up some of her infamous cookies, some for me and some, at his special request, for Bob Henig, the owner of Bob’s BMW in Jessup, Maryland outside Washington DC and the last location for my WorldRider east coast presentation tour.

As I noted earlier, another bonus of this east coast mini-tour has been the connections and reconnections made with friends old and new. So in the spirit of taking advantage of every opportunity to reach out, I arranged for friends to join us early Sunday (Halloween) morning for breakfast. Elizabeth Lane (Liz) Lawley is a fellow tech blogger (check out my other blog The Digital Tavern) and Rochester Institute of Technology professor. We’ve known each other since 2002 in the early days of blogs and over the years have met at tech-related conferences after we discovered we shared similar passions like blogging, Macintosh, technology, travel and even friends and acquaintances like Doc Searls and Joi Ito, sadly she was in San Francisco the day before so she couldn’t see my presentation. But her husband Gerald, who also followed my WorldRider journey, was able to make the trip to Country Rode and check out the presentation. This morning Liz showed up with the entire family including Gerald and their two sons Alex and Lane.

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Art stands outside his cobblestone home near Rochester, New York.

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Notice the cobblestone construction, a popular masonry technique used by early settlers to the region from the early to mid-1800’s. And below he tries to convince Murphy, the cat, to perhaps join us for a morning ride?

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The Lawley Family joined us for breakfast on Halloween Sunday. (l to r) Alex, Liz, Gerald and Lane.

With the clock ticking and more weather advisories, I packed up Doc, reviewed maps and potential routes with Art and after a bit of nudging, convinced him to join me for a ride at least to the Finger Lakes, if not further. Later, Country Rode Motowerks sales manager, Ron showed up and rode with us until about the snow started falling. Art and I took cover and a warm cup of coffee near Keuka Lake in Hammondsport at the Crooked Lake Ice Cream Parlor. With the temperature dropping and clock ticking, Art headed back home while I make my way toward Watkins Glen and ultimately south toward New York City.

By the time I rode into Binghamton, the skies were dark and my body appropriately chilled, so I took cover at a local motel.

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Ron took off after we stopped high on the western bank of Keuka lake, while Art led me into Hammondsport for a cup of coffee and fresh apple pie.

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Art and Ron outside Keuka Lake near Hammondsport, New York

MAX BMW – North Hampton, New Hampshire – many reunions

I know I’ve been slow on the update to — but one thing is for sure, I haven’t been slow to keeping busy. So at the risk of filling the e-mailboxes of my followers and subscribers, please humor me by allowing me to catch up with a handful of posts and pics of my recent east coast tour and then some.

While I grew up in New England and still cherish fond memories of fall colors, back roads and historic buildings and cIMG_3548 - Version 2.jpg harming old houses, it’s easy to remember the good of times past, and while caught up in the romance of revisiting old stomping grounds is also easy to forget many of those reasons I was drawn to the California Coast: cold, gray skies, rain and even snow. Don’t get me wrong. I love weather, the biting cold of chilling wind, sheeting rain and snowflakes on the tongue. But on a motorcycle? Sure, why not?

The idea of riding New England and the East Coast in October was incredibly alluring. The mere suggestion by Bob Henig of Bob’s BMW in Jessup, Maryland convinced me.

The ride from a tiny no frills motel just a few miles from Max BMW in North Hampton at about 8am in the morning was a sudden slap in the face of just what 39 degrees feels like at 40 mph. And it’s not that I’m averse nor unprepared for changes in weather. Geeez, I think my bones are still thawing from my days in Patagonia in southern Argentina and Chile. I’ve got the layers, the Held winter gloves and liners and a heated vest. But I have I become soft by living in Southern California since returning from my trip just two years prior? Not a chance. I think the issue is simple: I just need to warm up to cold weather.

I love seeing my breath first thing in the morning. And of the nearly 80 people that warmed the seats of Max’s showroom turned temporary multimedia theater at 10am that morning some 25 percent showed up on their bikes, including Nate Katz (aka PackMule), a fellow ADVrider who I’ve been in touch with since beginning my journey some five years ago. During the Q&A session of my presentation, Nate and others asked the usual and unusual questions that typically followed my prepared presentation. Nate rolled into North Hampton that morning on his new GS800 sporting the usual cadre of weather fighting and electric apparel. It’s no wonder before I got back on the road that Max Apparel Specialist Rose Marston convinced me to shell out dollars for a pair of heated Gerbing gloves. Me. Soft? Nah, everyone out here seems to wear them.

Perhaps the best part of this tour, other than the opportunity to share my journey and stories from the road with new and old friends, is the number of coincidences and reconnections I’ve experienced. Not only did I finally meet Nate, I was surprised to learn that the brother of a very good friend, Ken Hauck, from my high school days lives in Exeter, a short hop from Portsmouth and North Hampton. Peter greeted me at my motel and took me to dinner in the historic town of Portsmouth, which sits on the Atlantic coast and on the southern border of the Piscataqua River. Earlier that day I crossed that river over the classic truss lift Memorial Bridge to Badger island in Kittery Maine — marking the ninth state I’d visited so far on this journey.

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Along the Atlantic Coast just south of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Market Square @night, Portsmouth, New Hampshire


Perhaps even more amazing, after the presentation and Q&A a big guy sporting a mischievous smile sticks his hand out to greet me and says, “Allan Karl, it’s been a long time. I’m Brian, Kevin Skeith’s brother.” He squeezed my hand with a firm shake and we reminisced how some twenty-five years earlier when he was studying in college in the mid-west, he visited his brother Kevin, who at the time was my next door neighbor in Balboa, California.

Even weirder, Brian certainly was the only person in the room who’d ever been on the back of a motorcycle with me at the helm. The details of why and where we were going are perhaps fogged by the years, but what will forever be ingrained in both of our memories and those of his brother and my friends who were following in a car close behind, is when the light turned green at the intersection of Newport Blvd and 17th, I pulled a wheelie for several seconds, until gently resting the front wheel of my Yamaha Turbo Seca motorcycle.

Make no mistake, this was a completely unintentional wheelie. Throughout the week that Brian visited, remarking that he should be a linebacker on his native Chicago Bears team, I coined a nickname that would stick for the week: “Tiny.” With the mass of Tiny as he rode pillion, the force of the engine and his weight caused physics to take over and to both of our surprise, I’d done my first, and last, two-up wheelie on a motorcycle. It was quite appropriate that we’d meet so many years later where I was able to share more stories of motorcycle adventures.

At Max’s I learned how the passionate motorcyclists in northern New Hampshire won’t even let ice get in the way of riding bikes in the winter. Max Service & Parts Specialist Joe Warner gave me tour of the exceptionally clean and organized parts and service departments, I was treated to a unique one-of-a-kind custom-built motorcycle ice-tire, looking like an oversized spiked and studded collar suitable for perhaps a wildebeest, the Mad Max team here in New Hampshire took a highly-tuned BMW S1000RR on the ice. Interested in seeing the tire built and what kind of traction it holds on a frozen lake. Check out this YouTube video from Max’s:

After the service department at Max’s were kind enough to check out of few minor issues I was experiencing, I hopped on the road and headed to Vermont, hoping to make it to Ludlow before the impending rains–or could it be snow?

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Owner Max Stratton runs two very successful BMW shops in New York and New Hampshire. I was lucky to present and meet the staff and customers of both during my east coast presentation tour 2010. I hope to be back next year!

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A standing room only crowd filled the big showroom at Max’s in North Hampton, New Hampshire.

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Max Service & Parts Specialist Joe Warner demonstrates the super ultra-studded ice tire used on the BMW S1000RR for racing and riding on ice lakes in New England.

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Max BMW doesn’t have just one female technician, but two! I was lucky to have one these smart and pretty ladies work on Doc. Here Zena Foster diagnoses an issue of a neutral light and side stand safety switch problem that’s been nagging me since Aswan, Egypt.

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On the way to Vermont I was able to find some dirt roads just so Doc could experience some sort of adventure! The rain helped!