Archive for the Uncategorized Category

I am Six Zero – the last post here…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2017 by bleiglass

I must realise and apologise that my last ost was back in 2015, and now its 2017.

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While I am proud of every visit and comment here on my ramblings of the last 8 Seasons, I will not update this site anymore, but publish under the new URL http://www.iamsixzero.com.

Here its first post: http://www.iamsixzero.com/single-post/2017/02/03/I-am-SixZero

Thank you very much for your company, I hope to meet you again on the new site.

The awesome experience of riding to a HOG European Rally

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2015 by bleiglass

I visited many Rallies, and each experience can be segmented into 4 parts:

1 – the journey to the Rally location
2 – the Party at the Rally
3 – the Parade of Harleys
4 – the journey back home

Each episode has its own dynamics, creating evocative sentiments and long lasting memories. The good thing is, if one segment fails to impress, the others are even more memorable, and you can be sure the whole package is always something you never regret to have done, and you never forget.

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Living in England, the ride to and from a Rally is often a long one, 3 – 5 days each leg, and after 2 weeks and 3-4,000 miles of scenic roads on your Harley-Davidson, you are already back home. What a adventure. Lugano Switzerland, Biograd Coatia, Cascais Portugal, St Tropez in France, Rome Italy and Puerto Sherry Spain, each with its unique routes, mountain passes and hot plains to cross, and you only knew it was all over when you suddenly entered again the Eurotunnel.

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Without HOG’s annual invitation, I would not have visited these places, not tasted so many local food and not made so many new friends. Most of all, I would not have done 50,000 miles on my 110th Anniversary Road King (number 0113 from 1750) from 2013.

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Without HOG’s annual invitation, I would not have listened and enjoyed so many bands and artists, travelling back in time with the stars of my youth.

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You travel to Rallies with changing variety of friends, in large or small groups, with Chapter friends or others, new members and/or old personal friends.

Each new mixture contributes to the fact that visiting a HOG Rally is never boring, always a new experience, always making new friends or deepening existing friendships.

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This is only possible because H.O.G. gives us a random destination we try to reach on our Harley-Davidson, with thousands of other friends from all over Europe. You meet groups early into the journey, or at the destination. You speak their language, or just raise your drink with a smile. Screw it, lets ride.

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The spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry

Posted in Uncategorized on June 27, 2015 by bleiglass

Going to the 24th European HOG Rally in Puerto Sherry was a 13 day 3,676 mile adventure with 4 friends. Down and up again through France and Spain, climbing 4 cols in the Pyrenees, the Picos de Europe in the North of Spain, visiting Oradour sur Glane, it was a trip people of my age can only remember when browsing through all the photos made during the fortnight.

Great roads, great company, good food and drinks, a really enjoyable holiday. But that will be another post on photo galleries.

More urgently, I want to add my views on the growing criticism of the HOG event in Puerto Sherry spreading in social media comments, from visitors and traders.

I had about 1,400 mile ride home where I could think of a title for this post. I visited many HD Rallies, Lugano 2010, Biograd 2011, St Tropez 2012, Cascais 2012, Rome 2013, St Tropez again in 2014, to mentions just the big ones, with SofER and Magic Bike a good 8 times.

I ended up with a very diplomatic title: “The spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry”.

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Thursday evening, Santana tribute band Tattwan playing at 21:20

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Prime time Friday, Main Music Stage “Soul Mates” at 22:10

And so it was every evening. Good enjoyable bands, but no listeners, I had pity with the musicians, and it was worse on the smaller 2nd stage.

The awkward thing on Puerto Sherry was that on the one hand nearly nobody showed up on Ground Zero for the Rally, but great numbers of Harley’s showed up for the very well organised Parade on Saturday, thousands of Harley’s from all over Europe.

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Thursday 18:45, outside lane for pre-paid ticket holders, inside 2 lanes for guests….

One reason among others must be the unnecessary entrance fee that had to be paid for the huge restricted area, with it 2 large live stages, traders village and custom bike show. OK, you pay for St Tropez too, and for Magic Bike, but you get something, a great atmosphere of party, food and drinks among unknown friends. But the spark did not ignite the fuel in Puerto Sherry, and riders stayed away.

One must understand, Puerto Sherry is not so much a town, its a posh marina at the outskirts of El Puerto de Santa María, and it is this marina’s car park HD owned for 4 days. Security was too tight, the only thing missing was barbed wire. No locals allowed, no bikes allowed inside, you had to park outside and walk yourself till you have blisters on your feet.

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Very good first aid station

Being a marina, there are no need for hotels, Doh! Every “usual” guest comes in his yacht with its own beds, toilet, dining rooms and butlers. So there was no place for us to sleep, except 10-20 miles away in Jerez or Cadiz. OK, there was one local hotel, but this was block-booked by HD for its “Staff” and “Event Team”, you had to own a black T-Shirt with big white letters to get in. HD staff was everywhere, friendly and funny as always, and not very busy, they had a good time.

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My strong advise: only hold Rallies where there are at least 2,000 customer hotel beds within 20 minutes walking distance (drunken) from the main music stage, which only then can become ground zero for thousands for the 3 nights. Otherwise the good bands will play again to a rather empty parking lot and 3 vans with a dozen of riot police standing outside not knowing why on earth they were send here to help the onsite Eulen security guards.

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I like local food, but where was the food? To keep thousands of people interested, entertained, partying and happy for hours, they need good local food, drinks and seating.

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All there was in the restricted zone where a dozen wobbly garden chairs near 2 stands selling stale Hot Dogs preheated 3 days ago. Not the environment to attract thousands, clearly the spark did not ignite the fuel here neither.

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But not all is lost, we have St Tropez, Faaker See, SoFER (now at a new location), Magic Bike, Thunder and many more local rallies sponsored by HOG and HD, but I strongly hope the one and only annual “HOG European Rally” can quickly recover its reputation and status of being a huge party among friends, a third stale performance after Biograd and Puerto Sherry would be very bad.

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The locals had to remain outside, we became the odd attraction in a cage…

In 2016 it should become again a invitation by HOG and Harley-Davidson to thank us loyal customers from their heart. Involve and invite the locals, they may well be the next new customer, and invest in those following you thousands of miles, by inviting traders at favourable conditions and bands of reputation. Do not try to squeeze the last cent out of it, sorry, but it was too obvious in Puerto Sherry.

Let the spark ignite the fuel again, I am sure they can manage that after a U-turn…

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Harley 2015 model range evolution

Posted in Harley-Davidson, Uncategorized on August 29, 2014 by bleiglass

It is interesting to look into more detail in the model range evolution of Harley-Davidson. It seems there is a strong strategy behind this, with a clear differentiation between markets and models.

What happened in 2015? Lets forget about the return of the Road Glide, that was expected is is good news, but the real changes happen at the borders of the range: the small Streets and the 3 wheeler.

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Europe does not get the Freewheeler in 2015. Will they ever? Hard to say, but the US is trike country, not Europe, and to promote their acceptance here, they are build and registered to be drivable (you drive them, don’t ride them) with a car license. To achieve this within the strict EU regulations, Harley-davidson had to disable the mean headlight, as “cars” are not allowed to have a central light. As usual, bureaucratic rules doe not contribute to the balance and beauty of anything, not even a trike.

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The central piece is a distorting mirror of chrome, while the left and right passing lights are proper headlights.

Looking at the beautiful less bulky new Freewheeler, you quickly see the problem:

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With its Fat Boy style front lights, there is no way to get a homologation in Europe to drive it with a car licence. It will be interesting to see how Harley-Davidson will solve this.

Now, is the model range 2015 the start of the death of the Sportster?

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Maybe, though the so much loved Sportster 883R was already missing from the US range in 2014. But the Streets are clearly coming, and that is maybe good news. While their launch in Europe is gradual, first Street 750 only in continental Europe, then hopefully soon the UK), I fear the days of some Sportster models are counted. So get the best commuter Harley-Davidson now – the 883 Roadster may soon be gone…

The 883R was displayed at the Nashville dealers meeting, photo by Garry Knowles

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71ºN – Nordkapp

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17, 2014 by bleiglass

I am so sorry, I really neglect this blog, but let me quickly report about my second BIG ride of the year 2014, the ride up to Nordkapp. The steep 1000 feet high cliff of North Cape is often (mistakenly) referred to as the northernmost point of Europe, located at 71°10′21″N 25°47′40″E, about 2,102.3 kilometres (1,306.3 mi) from the North Pole. In truth the neighbouring Knivskjellodden point, just to the west actually extends 1,457 metres (4,780 ft) farther to the north.

6 of us planned this 5,000 mile ride also as a challenge, by now raising over £6,000 for our charities. The challenge was the daily distance of ride, we like extremes, and the average was 436 miles over 11 days.  Here our cheat sheet of the ride:

nordkappblog1The photo galleries are split into 4 sections, as was the ride, 4 days getting to the Arctic Circle, 4 days above the arctic circle, and 4 days again south of the Arctic Circle getting home.

Part 1: Denmark and Sweden, with a visit to the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

nordkappblog2Day 1 > Dunkerque (F), 113 miles, via (B) & (NL)
Day 2 > Handewitt (D), 669 miles
Day 3 > Nykoping (S), via Copenhagen (DK), 1,228 miles
Day 4 > Umea (S), 1,708 miles

See all photos here: http://hogsbackchapteruk.smugmug.com/2014/71ºN-Nordkapp-Part-1-3-6-Jul/

Part 2: was the northwards crossing of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, riding through and staying one night in Finland, and reaching Nordkapp after over 2,400 miles on Day 6. We had exceptional sunny weather all the way, except for 1 day when heavy fog hit Nordkapp, so our most important picture around the globe and the midnight sun in the background is a bit blurred.

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Day 5 > Enontekio (FIN), 2,129 miles
Day 6 > Nordkapp (N), 2,421 milestone

See all photos here: http://hogsbackchapteruk.smugmug.com/2014/71ºN-Nordkapp-Part-2-7-8-Jul/

Part 3 & 4 were the most beautiful and scenic streches of the ride, down the coast of Norway.

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Day 7 > Tromso (N), 2,831 miles
Day 8 > Rokland (N), 3,148 miles

See all photos here: http://hogsbackchapteruk.smugmug.com/2014/71ºN-Nordkapp-Part-3-9-10-Jul/

And once through the Artcic Circle southwards, one started to feel the approaching end of a truly epic ride.

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Day 9 > Trondheim (N), 3,573 miles
Day 10 > Oslo (ferry), 3,887 miles
Day 11 > Ladbergen (D), 4,326 miles
Day 12 > back home, 4,802 miles

See all photos here: http://hogsbackchapteruk.smugmug.com/2014/71ºN-Nordkapp-Part-4-11-14/

I will soon post a more detailed report, written by the birthday kid Robin. Turning 60, riding to the Nordkapp was the most urgent thing to get off his Bucket List.

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My new Marmite: eCall

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2014 by bleiglass

They say you either love or hate Marmite, and I hate eCall. It makes me angry each time I hear about it, one minor reason is that it was sneaked under our radar into a EU wide legislation. Most people I talk to do not even know whats all about, we really dropped the ball here. For once the EU bureaucrats showed creativity, they launched a pilot in Czes Republic, out of sight of the majority of 250 million car owners. But what is eCall:

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In a nutshell, eCall is a automated system in your car that sends out a distress signals to the rescue operations should a accident happen, all by itself, without human interference. The emergency services then can start their rescue without any delay. Hurray you say, this will save lives. I say, it will cost lives.

eCall with its automated emergency calls will stretch our scarce A&E resources to its limits, as no common sense is involved in calling for help. A little chip that was shaken and is programmed to cry for help will bring down the NHS, and some really urgent cases will have to wait or die – as all ambulances are chasing eCalls. It will cost our emergency services a fortune to maintain eCall service levels, with no real benefit. The ambulances today are not late because they were called late, but because they are busy. And eCall will make it even more busy – dangerously busy.

Even worse, the nanny state extends its reach. While in the past we felt responsible to assist and call for help, in the future we do not need to bother anymore, drive on, as eCall does all the work. But does it really? Isn’t a crash the moment when most things break? Bothered?

Nobody tells me how many death occur because some drunk had a accident at night in the middle of nowhere and is not found within minutes. I think its a safe bet to say: can’t be that many. We are not living in the 80s, where a car’s mobile phone was the size of a suitcase and was reserved for the board of directors due to its prohibitive high costs. Today, every child has a mobile phone, and thanks to our politicians in Brussel and Westminster, from 2015 on every new car must be equipped with a mobile phone of its own – to call for help.

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It is only a small step for eCall to notify the police when you are speeding, or parking longer then the allowed 60 minutes. And next, the authorities can call your car, and disable it. The wet dreams of Brussel bureaucrats and health and safety fanatics are coming true.

There is worse. One argument I often hear when eCall is “sold” are the very low costs, about £100 per car. Now I do not call this low, and with over 250 million cars on EU roads, we are talking about a mandatory 25bn (that is spelled BILLION) program. When I the hear that councils are missing some million to fix the expanding pothole problem, you may start to see why I hate eCall.

It is a very expensive solution with very little benefit, putting our real emergency services at risk. We really dropped the ball here, once again not showing Brussels its limits.

But on the bright side: eCall can make you rich, all you need to do is invest in one of the smaller eCall partners you see in the video or find with simple online search, who will from 2015 onwards see £25 billion of business coming their way.

A final word: some people may find it reassuring that their car can call emergency services automatically, and I accept that. They should feel free to install such system (similar to a house burglary alarm) into their cars, and link it to whatever emergency service they see fit. But its also up to them to pay the fees for the installation and maintenance, and it is to them that the emergence operators send their bill, if they are called out by numerous false alarms.

This should never have been made law, forcing everybody to install eCall.

Do not wear your helmet, it’s the law!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 14, 2014 by bleiglass

More and more often I feel treated like a criminal, like a scumbag who steals, who can not be trusted and best should be put away for many many years.

It is all done under the unbeatable umbrella argument of “Your safety!”, it is politically correct not to question these supposedly “sensible” rules pilled on top of each other. But enough is enough, my helmet is a safety devise and we should win this argument.

Again and again I am refused fuel at service stations. Embarrassingly loud the stations speakers yell for everybody to hear: “The motorcyclist has to remove his helmet!”, and I am not sure if from some hidden space a sharpshooter is aiming his rifle at me.

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Not only it is insulting to ask me to remove my helmet, but it is also plain dangerous.

In a world of full scale CCTV observation it is acceptable within limits that the movement of visitors or intruders can be recorded. At a fuel station, all vehicle registrations are recorded and used in criminal prosecution should the customer leave without paying. That is fair. But to ask me in a further step to remove my helmet is simply not acceptable. First I have no plan to steal fuel, and the statistics confirm that fuel is stolen mainly by drivers of cars and not motorcycles. But not only does the operator think I may be stealing, but he also implies that I am driving a stolen motorcycle, why else would he also need my face on tape.

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Ask your friendly fuel station operator: more fuel is not paid by confused elderly drivers then by criminal motorcyclists.

This is insulting and goes a step to far. When will fuel station operators ask customers to remove their sunglasses, as boarder patrol officers do at the Eurotunnel? When will there be a sign by Shell, BP or Esso to lower your hoddies, scarf or burka? You must be 15 to shop for fuel, when will they impose a upper age limit, refusing fuel for the confused elderly? I am sure that in some dark corporate back room a bureaucrat is already justifying his employment by formulating such further rules.

But not only is this new practise insulting, it is plain dangerous on numerous accounts:

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First it dilutes the visibility and respect of actually important safety notices at fuel stations. While a warning symbol that smoking is dangerous and your engine should be switched off make some sense, the back room bureaucrat adds symbols banning activities at a alarming rate: no speeding, no eating, no mobile, whats next: no kissing, no smiling? Recently he invented: no helmets, but what does this have to do with safety? Does he thinks I pull a gun and endanger the safety of his other customers? Will the fuel ignite because I wear a helmet?

If the back room bureaucrat would be in touch with the sport his fuel brand supports and sponsors, he should know that its a rule to wear a helmet at some refuelling stations for safety reasons.

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A helmet is a safety devise, and should not be banned on a safety board.

Secondly this new rule is dangerous for the motorcycle rider himself. Dear underpaid fuel station operator: a helmet is not removed like a baseball cap, and to wear and secure it correctly is a important safety measure. To ask a rider to remove it involves the risk that it is not put on again correctly. We all remember that on occasion we have to stop after the first few miles of a ride to adjust the helmet or scarf, and now I am forced to remove a perfectly fastened helmet without good reason.

The back room bureaucrat has the law on his side to enforce this wrong and insulting rule, it is up to us to make it a economical stupid decision for his company to do so. Luckily not all stations enforce this rule, but once they do, I leave after a lengthy friendly discussion without aggression and purchase… and never return.

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Like biker friendly pubs and restaurants, fuel station should advertise the fact that they are biker friendly, and allow you to keep your helmet on when you refuel, accepting that the helmet is a safety device and you are not considered a thief.