Category: NY


Last Tuesday, I found myself up in Clifton Park while running some errands. I had wanted to stop by Menneto Powersports for a few weeks, but just hadn’t had the time to get there. Since I was in the area, I popped in to see the Victory motorcycles they had in stock, and to talk to them about possibly taking one (or some) out for a test ride.

We were only in the dealership for a few minutes when John came over and struck up a conversation with us. He was very nice, and within a few minutes of telling him why I was there, he was offering us a test ride. I declined because I wasn’t properly dressed to ride, but promised I would be back the next day to take him up on his offer.

While we were there, John told us all about the bikes Victory had to offer and what made them great bikes. He truly believes in what he sells. That is a dream job to me. Having something that you believe in makes selling it a breeze. He had us sit on a few bikes and get a feel for them, telling us the features and benefits of each bike we sat on.

On our way to our weekly ride on Wednesday, we stopped back in to see John again. He was ready for us and asked what i wanted to ride. He said that he had three Victorys available for demo and I was welcome to ride one or all three. Fantastic! Sign me up! We didn’t have time to do all three, so I agreed to take one out, and when I got back, if we had time, I would take out another.

The first bike I rode was the 2010 Victory Vegas (red & white in the distance). I liked the seating position and the footpeg locations. They fit my 5’7″ frame very well. The ride was smooth and the power was adequate for the 100 inch motor. Victory doesn’t give specs on horsepower, but I found a few spots on the web that say it’s around 85hp.

When I got back with the Vegas, John came right out and got the Vegas Jackpot ready. This one was a 2008 demo and had a Stage 1 kit and a pipe added to it. The pipe gave it a tiny bit more volume over stock, but wasn’t loud by any means. Another big difference with this bike was the 250mm rear tire. It threw me off a little moving through the parking lot, as it functions quite differently than the 180mm tires I am used to.

After I got it out on the road, the tire wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I just had to remember that it wasn’t a 180 and take that into consideration in the corners. After a little bit, I had forgotten all about it.

The extra punch from the Stage 1 kit and the pipe upgrade was a nice improvement. The bike had a little more get up and go and it sounded a little better too. I really enjoyed riding it.

If you’re looking for a Victory, be sure to stop up and see John Pamper at Menneto’s on Route 146 in Clifton Park. They are practically giving these things away. The 2011s will be here any day and they are making room. I can’t wait to try out the new ones. I hope to try the Vision and the new Cross Country. Be sure to look for my review on them in the next few weeks.

**Photo by Rose**

I wanted to pass along this information from the Patriot Guard Riders to any of you that may be able to participate. I plan on going to pay my respects. If you have a 3’x5’American flag, please bring it with you. Let’s see if we can get a huge turnout to show our support. If you have questions, please email me at tubikers@gmail.com – Here is the information from the Patriot Guard site;

Confirmed Mission – Police Officer Edward L Witko, 42 – East Greenbush, NY – 8/20

The family of Police Officer Edward L Witko has requested the presence and participation of the Patriot Guard Riders for the funeral services to be held this Friday morning.

Officer Witko was a police officer for the East Greenbush Police Department. He was a very well respected law enforcement officer who had previously served as a corrections officer and then with the Rensselaer Police Department. Officer Witko was also a member of the East Greenbush Police Dept. Emergency Response Team. He also served his community further at various times by being a member of the Clinton Heights Fire Department, E.F.Hart Hose Fire Co, as well as the East Greenbush Fire Department.

Office Witko was off duty when participating, this past Sunday, in a charity motorcycle run when he was tragically killed in a motorcycle / automobile accident near Petersburg, NY.

Officer Witko is survived by his wife and two children. The loss to his family and the community at large will be profound.

WHERE: Church of Saint Mary’s (adjacent to the Rockefeller Funeral Home), 163 Columbia Turnpike, Rensselaer, NY.

Motorcycles will stage in the K-Mart Parking Lot directly across the street from the funeral home and the church. There will be significant involvement by many Law Enforcement Motorcycles. Many“civilian” motorcycle clubs will also participate. It is recommended that each motorcycle organization stake out a part of the K-mart parking lot to assemble their members – this will allow the members to escort as a unit. Please pass this word along.

WHEN: Friday, August 20th. Church funeral mass will begin at10:00am. Riders should begin to assemble beginning at 9:30am for an escort that should be leaving the church at 11:00am– 11:15am.

Motorcycle motorcade will escort the body of Police Officer Witko to his final resting place at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in East Greenbush.

Patriot Guard Riders will NOT have a flag line present during calling hours on Thursday, 8/19 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. Feel free to stop by and pay your respects to the family and friends of Officer Witko on this day.

PGR will establish a flag line at the cemetery for interment services there. Be sure to have your flags with you. Flag bikes as well…

Let’s have a good turnout to honor the life and service of this fine Police Officer.

Last night, I caught the season premiere of American Chopper Senior vs. Junior on TLC. I don’t know what it is about this show, but it’s like a train wreck. I can’t stop watching it. I don’t know why you would want to air your dirty laundry out there on TV, but people eat it up. And I guess it wouldn’t be reality TV if there was no drama.

In the new series, they pit father against son, as they both compete to see who can build the best bikes. It should be interesting, as Paul Sr. doesn’t do much building and Paul Jr., who has a great eye for design, came and went as he pleased and held up a lot of bike builds.

I am pretty excited about this show, as it will really expose the people who make the bike builds happen. I have always liked Rick a lot. He is an incredible fabricator, and seems like an all around good guy. Vinnie is coming back to work with Paulie, with fears about the abuse he took when he worked with OCC in the past. Both of these guys are amazing bike builders, and I think they kept this company going. If it weren’t for them, I am sure quite a few bikes would never have been completed.

It will be cool to see how things progress as the series goes on. I imagine there will be some pretty cool bikes that come out of this, and hope that it doesn’t end up being the predictable ‘father and son make up and re-unite” scenario at the end. That would be a huge let down.

What do you think of the show? Who’s side will you be on – Junior or Senior? Love it or hate it?

Rose and I hopped on the FJR and headed up to MAX BMW in Troy yesterday. I emailed Ben last week asking him if I could demo some BMWs and write about them on the blog. He emailed back telling me to come on up and try them out. I’ve never been on a BMW, so this was pretty exciting to me. Before last night, I had no idea what all the hype was about the BMW motorcycle. What I did know is that BMW riders seemed very serious about their motorcycles and riding them. I have a much better understanding of them now. Here is how my trip to Max played out.

We arrived at the dealership around 4:30 and there were a good 20 plus bikes in the parking lot and another 10 or 12 parked out front that were demo bikes. As we got off the bike and were taking our jackets off, a car pulled up with a Papa John’s sign on the roof. We walked in the front door and start looking at the bikes. It was really busy in there, so we make our way over to an employee and asked for Steve or Craig. Ben told me in his email to look for Craig or Steve. I was directed to Craig and introduced myself and Rose. Craig was not only more than happy to help us, he immediately made us feel like part of the family. I started by telling him about my emails with Ben, and he asked which bike I would like to ride. I told him I would be happy to ride any that he would let me ride and then mentioned that we came on the FJR. Craig pointed out the K1300GT and began telling us about the bike.

The best part is that this bike has many features that are similar to those that the FJR has. The motor is the same size, and also an inline 4 on this model. It has a power windshield like the FJR and heated grips. There were a few things that the FJR didn’t have though. Like a heated rider and passenger seat, Traction control (ASC), Electronic Suspension Adjustment and cruise control. The horsepower was also a little better, 160hp compared to the Yamaha’s 140hp.

After showing us the bike, Craig welcomed us to have some pizza and a soda while he copied my license and grabbed the release form. In the meantime, we started talking to some guys that sat down at his desk to eat. The guys we met were awesome! They were in town for the Rally that MAX BMW is holding this weekend up in Pownal, VT. They came in all the way from Green Bay, Wisconsin, via Boston and Niagara Falls. These guys aren’t afraid to get out and ride!

Craig came back with the key and told me to take it for a ride, explaining the demo route that they use. He told me to ride it as many times as I liked to get a feel for the bike. Rose and I hopped on and off we went. I did the first lap at a slower speed to get used to the bike and to get familiar with the road.

When we got back to the main road and had to go left to the dealership or right to do it again, I was about to ask Rose if she wanted to go again. Before I could get the sentence out, she said “Let’s go again”. She was like a kid at an amusement park. And who was I to disappoint her? We hit the route again, this time much faster and more aggressively.

This bike loves to be laid over. I went into a corner and did my usual lean, and I could feel a huge difference over the Yamaha. The bike went over so easily. It has a great amount of power and it was just plain old fun to ride. After the second loop, we took the bike back, as it was after 5 and MAX closes at 6.

We got back to the dealership and I took a few pics of the bike to show the similarities. In many ways, these bikes are very similar. Craig met us outside and asked how we liked it. We chatted with him for a bit and he welcomed me to try out another bike. Noting the time, I didn’t want to keep them there after closing, so I declined, stating I would love to come back and try more bikes out in the future. Craig happily obliged and welcomed me to come back.

We went inside to look at some of the other bikes and met the guys from Green Bay again. You can’t find much nicer people than these guys. We started chatting with them and next thing you know. it’s 7pm. We’re still in the dealership, and they are still selling and servicing bikes. That really impressed me. The guys from Green Bay were here getting oil changes and one was getting a new tire. They had come down from the site in Pownal where MAX is holding their BMW RA National Rally. They have maps at the dealership if you want to go.

I can’t say enough about how well I was treated at MAX BMW. And it wasn’t just me. Everyone that walked in the door while we were there was treated the exact same way. The guys and gals at MAX are a class act. I highly recommend stopping by and checking out these bikes. Just bring your checkbook, because if you ride one of these bikes, you’re going to want to take one home!

Here are some specs from BMW’s web site. See ya soon!

K 1300 GT: Pricing, Options and Accessories

Base MSRP: $19,150

Premium Package: $22,595

* Xenon Light

* ESA II

* Heated Seats

* Heated Grips

* Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM)

* Cruise Control

* On Board Computer

* ASC (Traction Control)

Options

* Xenon Light: $500

* ESA II: $900

* Heated Seat: $350

* Heated Grips: $300

* Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM): $250

* Cruise Control: $450

* On Board Computer: $295

* Anti-Theft Alarm: $395

* ASC: $400

* Low Seat (31.5 – 32.3 inches): n/c

*Actual price determined by dealer. Price excludes taxes, license, options and $495 in destination/handling charges. Prices and specifications subject to change without notice.

Yesterday, I attended the Liberteks Smalbany 5th Annual Small Business day at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.  I was invited to be a Guest VIP Blogger and take some pictures for the event.  I didn’t get to take many pictures, but I did get to sit in on some pretty good seminars about how social media can help grow your business.

I was going to sit down and write a long, drawn out blog series about what was said, by whom in each seminar.  I decided against that, because almost everyone said the exact same thing:

Your business needs to be active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As someone who has been using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for a few years, this was not news to me.  For those looking to drive more traffic to their company, this was an excellent place to spend the day learning how the web can work for you.  It was nice to see that these methods have been effective for many other businesses and continue to drive business to their sites.

I wanted to highlight some of the key parts of the seminars that I thought would be of importance to my readers and keep this from being a novel that no one wants to finish.  So, here are some of the best parts, in my opinion, of course.

The first speaker I heard from was Lisbeth Calandrino.  She was full of spunk and looked nothing like her claimed age of 70.  Lisbeth told us that being partners with your customers is a must.  She also mentioned that Sam’s club asked their small business customers what they need to stay in business, and they replied “money”.

Lydia Kulbida led a panel of bloggers and also offered a very important piece of advice for using online media to sell your product – Read it out loud to yourself.  Would you want to buy it?  Great advice.  Plus, she like LOST, so she’s OK in my book!

Mary Darcy from All Over Albany backed this theory up by saying “would you tell this to someone else?”  I really enjoyed Mary’s feedback on how she gets information to post on the AOA blog.  I wish she had more time to talk, as it was not only informative, but very interesting.

Mike Huber led a panel called Local Social Media and Your Customers.  He asked about blogging and tweeting – why would you want to do it, and why would people care?  Sonya Stark said to create lists.  People love lists.  Lisa D’Aquanni and Vic Christopher shared some great  information about blogging and what it can do for your business.

My favorite panelist was Rev. Al Rudnick.  I am not huge on religion, but he explained how people are using Twitter and Facebook during church and how they encourage it.  They even project it on a large screen so people can see it and participate.  I think I will try this on Sunday.  I bet the people in our church wont be as accepting…

Rhea Drysdale from Outspoken Media put on a great presentation about the Mobile revolution.  She detailed how Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare play a huge part in the mobile arena.  Rhea mentioned that you should protect your brand.  Make sure you get your company name on every outlet you can.

Alexis Grant (@AlexisGrant) held a great seminar about Using Social Media For Your Job Hunt.  She recommended three ways to make the web work for you;

Facebook – They are more likely to help you because you are already friends.

Twitter – Network outside of your friends.  Prove yourself as an expert.  Make connections with companies and employers.  Connect with people through Twitter that you might have been too intimidated to talk to at a job fair.

I think this event was a huge success.  It offered many great ways to promote your small business with social media.  Thanks to Tim Cronin and Larry Zimbler for letting me be a part of this event.  I hope to participate again next year.

Yesterday, I went to the Lia Car Show in Schenectady.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number of cars that were on display there.  Not only were there some amazing classics, but there were also a couple high-end sports cars.  Here are some of the pictures I took at the show.

See ya soon!

The great folks over at LowePro have granted my wish and sent me two bags to compare for my next review.  I am really excited about this review because they are not only two totally different bags, but the are not backpacks.  I have always tried out the backpacks until now, and this will give me a chance to expand my horizons and share another option with you.  Here’s what they sent me;

LowePro Classified 160AW – This bag is a shoulder bag that will handle a DSLR with a 70-200mm lens, 1-2 extra lenses and a flash.

LowePro Outback 300AW – This bag is dubbed a ‘beltpack’.  It will hold the same camera and lens as the Classified, but also has room for 3-4 lenses and a flash.

I am off to try them both out and will have a report for you in a few weeks!  See ya soon!

The first pepper to start growing in the garden!

Over the past few weeks, I have posted information about my garden.  I decided that instead of posting heights and counts, I would write about what I have learned about gardening in my first attempt.

I was a little nervous starting this venture, as I had never so much as grown a single food-producing plant in my life.  Sure, I’ve kept the Christmas cactus and a few other household plants alive, but they were bought at a store and all the hard work was already done.  All I had to do was water them.  No big deal, right?  Here’s what I learned…

-Zucchini plants take over a garden.  We got this tiny plant from Hewitts and it couldn’t have been more than 6 inches long with one leaf.  Now, it is a massive, 3 foot round, 3 foot tall monster covering a strawberry plant and a banana pepper plant.  Next time, I will give it a very large area to grow in and make sure none of the smaller plants get shaded out.

-Tomato plants get HUGE!  I gave them about a foot and a half in between, but they still have grown so big that I can barely walk between them.  They are also almost up to my chest in height.  Next year, I will plant them about three feet apart so I can walk between them to pick the tomatoes when they are ripe.

-I also need to put some type of weed control down.  Not a chemical, but maybe weed cloth.  I have kept up with the weeds for the most part, but some have grown a little more than I would like.

-I need to work on a compost pile.  I was told that the pile will help to enrich the soil and make it much more fertile.

-Putting something down (grass clippings, leaves) around the base of the plants will help keep the moisture in the ground for the plants.

The first zucchini from the garden

So far, the garden has been a success.  I have harvested two large zucchini, a grape tomato and a cherry tomato.  There are two small sweet peppers starting to grow as well.  A lot of the other tomatoes have started to grow, but aren’t quite ripe yet.  One thing is for sure – I am going to have tomatoes out the wazoo pretty soon!  Guess I better learn a little bit about canning!

Here is the text of the first post I have made on the Times Union Biker Blog.  This entry can be found here.  Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Rose Winters

Over the last few months, I have been talking with Mike Huber about blogging for the Times Union. I first met him in March at the Media 2010: How Blogs Shape The New Conversation conference at St. Rose. I have since been to a few other Times Union sponsored events we would always end up talking about creating a biker blog.

I wanted to write this blog for two main reasons. 1) To help raise awareness of motorcycles on the roads. 2) To share my love for the open road with other bikers. I have recently had a few friends involved in serious motorcycle accidents, one unavoidable and one because of someone’s carelessness behind the wheel.

I would also like to shed a little light on the stereotype that bikers are “bad people.” Sure, there are bad apples here and there, but for the most part, bikers are the most kind, charitable people you will ever meet.

Some of the regular readers may already know me from my interactions on many of the current Times Union blogs. For those that may not know me, I am (obviously) an avid motorcycle rider. I have been riding for ten years and really enjoy being out “in the wind” on the bike any chance I can get.

I am also a photographer. My love for photography is just as strong as my passion for motorcycles. That’s why I created the Capital Region Photography Meetup Group. The initials of this group (TCRPMG) make up the username I have been using on the blogs and on Twitter.

Now that you know a little about me, let’s find out a little about you. What do you know about motorcycles? Do you ride them? Do you have family that rides?