Posts Tagged ‘HOG’

Fall seemed to come early in 2009, and on a crisp Labor Day morning we headed out of Silver Springs, south on 19A toward Castile.

The Harley Owners GroupWarsaw, NY (HOG) holds an annual contest, called the ABC’s of Touring. The objective is to score points by taking a photo, one for each letter of the alphabet, in front of an official sign of a municipality whose name starts with that letter. We were making our last big push for points in the 2009 contest.

The contest is a great excuse to get out and ride, and for us it was a nice father-daughter activity as well. We picked up a “W” the night before, as the sun was setting in Warsaw.

Map picture

From Castile we planned to head to Portageville to take Rt. 436 across the Genesee River into Nunda.

The sun was out and it was starting to warm a bit as we approached the river. Crossing the bridge, I noticed a Livingston County sign, and, needing an “L” pulled off to get a photo.

This nearly ended the day early. On the east side of the river was a gravel area where motorists park to hike up into the Letchworth Gorge. Handling 1100 lbs of bike, riders and gear on loose soil is challenging enough, but the problem came as I tried to re-enter the road. Holding the Fatboy on the uphill grade, and stopping at the edge of the asphalt to check for traffic, I failed to notice the soft gravel shoulder had eroded about 6 inches below the edge of the asphalt. As I released the clutch, my right foot got caught against the road edge and the rear passenger foot plate dug into my calf, twisting my knee and tearing the rand of my boot along the instep.

Quick reactions, a heavy measure of Grace, and my leather boots saved me from serious injury. Had I been wearing sneakers or moving 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contestfaster, the situation would have been much worse than a sore knee.

We followed the road up out of the Genesee valley on 436 without  further incident. After getting our “N” in front of the Nunda Post Office on a nice, smooth, black top parking lot, we drove east on to Dansville.

Getting our “D” photo proved to be a bit of a challenge. The brick building made a wonderful backdrop, but framing the shot to get the bike and the tiny lettering on the edifice was difficult.

Shot taken and camera packed away, we headed over to I-390 for the trip to Bath. As we turned the corner, we passed a big “Dansville Police Station” sign that would have been much easier to photograph. 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contest

We stopped for lunch in Bath and then found our “S” in front of the historic Steuben County courthouse, and we were off for Elmira in search of the letter “C”.

Elmira, once home to Mark Twain, is the Chemung County seat. We found the county building, which occupies a city block. First we passed the county jail side, but opted not to take a photo there. We rounded the block and passed the Court and Clerk’s offices, but nowhere on the beautiful old building could we see a “C”. Search as we might, we saw no “C”. Convinced a “C” must 2009 HOG ABCs of Touring Contestbe seen somewhere, we rounded the block again, and found a tiny sign for the “Chemung Real Property” office. As this was the only “C” we saw, we seized the opportunity, foreseeing no other possibility, but it meant no one would see the building’s  beautiful facade in our photo, as you can see at the left.

After getting our “C” we both needed to pee, and headed to a nearby McDonalds. From Elmira, we went down to the Pennsylvania state line for a “P” of another sort, then north to Ithaca, where I hoped to see an “I”.

To be continued…


A “Hog” is slang for a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Legend has it that a race team in the 1920s used to carry a piglet as a mascot. When a member of the team won a race, he’d do a victory lap with the piglet, and folks took to calling them “hog riders.”

A “Fatboy” is the classic Harley Davidson cruiser, part of the “Soft tail” family of motorcycles. Early Harleys were known as “hard tails” for their lack of rear suspension and rigid frame. The “Soft tail” line was introduced to resurrect that classic Harley look, but it has a rear suspension hidden underneath the bike.

My first three vehicles were motorcycles. I learned to ride in the fields on the farm where I grew up. When I got my driver’s license, a Honda in the 300 to 550 CC range could be purchased for a few hundred dollars in good used condition. They cost very little to insure. So I learned to eat bugs and dodge rain drops, wore a big orange insulated suit in extreme cold, and I got around on two wheels for 8 to 10 months of the year.

After I started my family I decided to play it safe, sell the bike, settle down. I missed riding and the relaxation it brought, but life was busy between school and work and kids and Little League.

When gas prices hit $4.20 a gallon in 2008, I started looking at bikes again. Here in NY we pay primo gas taxes—the same day 87 octane was $4.20 here, it was $3.36 in Springfield, MO. My wife will tell you that’s my excuse for a mid-life crisis. I tried a bunch of Sportsters but found them uncomfortable. Then this great looking used Fatboy showed up at Stan’s Harley Davidson in Batavia. Three days later I owned it.

My youngest daughter, I learned, harbored a secret love for motorcycles. Every time I tried a bike, she’d hop on behind me and let me know how the seat felt. So she was ecstatic when I bought the Fatboy for, in her words: “Dad, this is nice.”

So we started touring around together on the bike, taking photos of the places we visited, and I got to thinking it might be fun to blog about small town America.