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Stories by Jane Ann

By Walter F. Kern

Tomorrow, August 31, 2015, will be the seventh anniversary of the death of my wife, Jane Ann Cunning Kern. She died in a two-car accident in Pocomoke City, MD enroute to a week's vacation on the Outer Banks with two of her girlfriends. She was not on her motorcycle where she would have been a safe rider under her own control. She had driven the car for several hundred miles when she decided to stop for a break. After the break, she decided to ride in the right front seat while the car's owner continued the drive. Within two miles, their car was struck almost head-on by an inattentive driver who ran through a double stop sign across two directions of high-speed traffic. Jane and the other driver were killed instantly. Jane's two girlfriends survived, one with extensive injuries that have since stabilized.

Jane was a very active woman. She belonged to numerous organizations and had legions of friends scattered all over the United States. She became quite a communicator. She wrote letters and emails, joined chat rooms, published in newsletters, joined forums, and created many writings that I have been collecting since her death. I have a huge binder containing her writings. I also have a very large binder of writings that other people wrote about her. It's too bad that she didn't live to see this outpouring of love in her direction. Although she was viewed very positively by her friends, she had deep insecurites within as she seeked to create more friendships than most people ever had. She deeply loved all her family members especially her three children and six grandchildren (her seventh, Jack, was still on the way). She told me early on that she never expected to reach the age of 30. Fortunately, she was wrong as she was very close to 71 when she died, still way too young, unexpectedly, and tragically.

Jane was an avid motorcyclist having started late (with me) at the age of 51. She spent 10 years on motorcycles and then switched to a 3-wheel motorcycle trike when the doctors told her she should give up riding because of knee problems. She rode cross-country from New Jersey to Wyoming and back (with me) at the age of 55 on her motorcycle. She attended many motorcycle gatherings with three groups of riders: Spokes-Women MC, GWRRA Chapter NJ-F (F-Troop), and the Polar Bear Grand Tour.

Here are just a few of the many motorcycle-related stories written by my wife, Jane Ann Cunning Kern, before her death in 2008. They are in time sequence.

Trike Story - August 23, 1999

Posted in a Cat's Meow chat room where she was known as Custom Kat:

For all of you that do not come to the chat room often I want you all to know I'm now the proud owner of a Gold Wing Trike. For those of you that do not know what that is, it is the biggest motorcycle Honda makes. It was Walt's motorcycle until we decided to convert it to a Trike for me. Now the motorcycle has three wheels instead of two. I now have to learn a whole new way of riding. My mind still says that the bike will tip over with me but it won't now that it has three wheels. Unfortunately, the very first time I tried to ride it I ran it into a sign at the entrance to a park parking lot where I was going to go to practice. The bike got a little damage but it is being fixed up.

On a Sunday morning, Walt and I went back to the park parking lot for me to practice. It was not long before three police cars came. All three policemen got out of their cars and started to laugh. They said "This is a motorcycle trike!!!" Someone had called in a complaint that there was this kid on a three wheeler doing wheelies in the parking lot. When they saw it was I and not a kid they laughed. They told me to just keep practicing, that I was not doing anything wrong. If the people that complained call again they would tell them it was not a kid. We made friends with the guy that was the Sergeant. He is a Blue Knight Motorcyclist. He invited us to come ride with him any Sunday. Now we have a friend on the force. See, that is what I have been saying for a long time now, under a helmet no one knows how old you are. It is what makes me feel young.

How to Pack Your Bike by Jane Kern - May 7, 2000

Used to give an actual demonstration at a Spokes-Women Motorcycle Club meeting and then published in their monthly newsletter:

For our last meeting on May 7th at the Legion I volunteered to explain how to pack a bike. After I volunteered I wondered if I was the wrong person to do this demonstration. I am now riding a Trike, which you have to pack entirely different from the type of bikes that has saddlebags. I do hope I was able to give some good ideas. Here is part of what I said and some things I forgot to say.

1st - You can find a packing list on Walt's site. Editor's Note: Current location for the packing list is here.

2nd - Start planning on what to take and do a trial run on packing your bike a week before you leave. That way you will know what you can or can not take.

3rd - When packing your bags remember to equalize the weight. I try to pack one bag with all the things I will need to take into a motel. The other bag has things I may or may not need right away.

4th - Be sure to pack for both warm and cold weather. You never know when the weather may get cold and you will need winter gloves, turtle neck shirts.

5th - If you are packing for a trip of a week or more pack for only three days. On the 3rd day plan to do laundry at the motel. Put on your bathing suit and put all clothes into the washer while you hang out at the pool. Now you are set for the next three days. Pack clothes that the colors do not run or need special washing so everything can be washed in one load. BRING QUARTERS!!!!!!

6th - Do not forget that there is UPS, Mail Boxes and US Mail that you can ship home or have sent to your designation. If you buy items along the way have the store mail them for you.

7th - If your saddlebags are not waterproof pack all items in plastic bags. T-shirts can be rolled up and placed into a bag to save room. Pack your socks inside you sneakers to save room. Toiletries, you have to think small. Buy the sample bottles of shampoo, DO, powder, toothpaste, etc you see in stores. Take few cosmetics. Take a small hair dryer with a metal round brush that can act as a curling iron.

8th - Do not forget to check your packing list. Remember to bring things like maps, camera, cell phone, jacket, etc. Check the list and re-check the list over and over again.

9th - When you bungee items to your bike always remember this very important rule. Make sure your rain suit is the item on the very top. You do not want to have to go looking for your rain suit in the pouring down rain. I always bring a bag that is empty to bring home dirty laundry that I can bungee to the back of my bike which makes for a great back rest on your ride home.

Thus ends my part of the demonstrations.

Our Friend, Jack MacPhee - May 3, 2006

This was published in the June 2006 F-Troop Bugler Newsletter issued by GWRRA Chapter NJ-F (F-Troop):

Do you all know our friend, Jack MacPhee? Many of us know him as that quiet guy over in a booth at our meetings sitting with his beautiful wife, Val.

I want to introduce you to the Jack MacPhee Walt and I know. Walt met Jack at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ in 1989. Walt and I had decided to take up motorcycling as our new hobby. Both of us wanted to learn all we could about this sport. Walt found out the Labs had a motorcycle club that met during the lunch hour. He went to one of their meetings and met Jack.

Soon after this both Walt and I passed the MSF beginners course. We had only one bike so it was decided that Walt would get his license first. In order to practice you needed someone that already had their license to ride with you. Jack was our guy.

Jack would come by on his motorcycle and ask if Walt would like to go for a ride in order to get practice. Sometimes their rides were planned ahead of time. One time I was standing on the driveway and Jack asked me if I would like to ride too. Of course, I said I would love to and hopped onto the back of his motorcycle. He took us through the back roads of eastern Monmouth County. I can still remember we went to Mount Mitchell Overlook in Atlantic Highlands. I had never been there and thought to myself, if riding a motorcycle can take me to places like this, where I can look out over the water and see NYC on a clear day, this is what I want to do. I can still remember seeing the Chipmunks running along the road while sitting on the back of Jack's bike. It introduced me to nature that I had never experienced. This was such a fun day which I have never forgotten.

When it came time for Walt to ride to Eatontown Motor Vehicle to take his riding test it was Jack that went with him. It was a very rainy day. On the way there Jack came upon standing water in the road and tried to stop but ended up turning his bike over and skidding. I heard that even sparks were flying. Once they got Jack's bike up righted they continued onto Motor Vehicle where Walt was told he did not have the correct insurance card and could not take the test. Jack was very nice to ride over with him on another date so he could finally take the test.

In the spring I finally was able to take the test also and was able to ride.

I can't remember the exact date but after I was able to ride Jack thought it would be a great idea if we all rode to York, PA to tour the Harley-Davidson plant. It was a great day and dinner was great also. Jack had picked a really nice place to eat in Lancaster, PA. When we came out of the restaurant it was COLD. I have never been that cold again on a ride since that day. This was before I knew there were electric vests and gloves. I kept asking Jack to stop so I could warm up. Nope, his answer was "When we get to NJ, Jane, we will stop." Finally we did and we were able to get hot chocolate and warm up some. Next Jack suggested we all stop by his home. He had just bought this place and was renovating it. After a very long day we finally got home very late and cold.

Nothing seemed to faze Jack. I hope he had a great time also.

Time went by. He met Val and kept telling us he met this wonderful lady at his church. Finally I was riding a Honda PC and Walt was riding a Honda Gold Wing so I wanted to join GWRRA. Jack and Val kept telling us to come join the local Gold Wing chapter that met in Freehold. Finally when I got a trike, we decided to join F-Troop. Jack and Val at that time were the treasurers.

They have always been our wonderful friends. We appreciate all Jack has done for us in helping us to begin to ride motorcycles. Thank You, Jack. Now maybe some of you that are newer members to F-Troop will know just what a great guy Our Friend Jack is.

Fondly, Jane

Americade 2008 - June 15, 2008

This was published in the July 2008 F-Troop Bugler Newsletter issued by GWRRA Chapter NJ-F (F-Troop). This was written by Jane two and one-half months before she died. It was her last Americade Rally:

Walt and I have been going up to Lake George, NY to the Americade Motorcycle rally for 15 years. After our trip out West in 1993 we decided that the next year we would go to the Americade rally.

Our first trip to Americade was not what you would call a great experience. The motel was not the best. We did not know that all the activities at night were right in town on Canada Street and we would not be able to find a place to park. After this we decided if we were ever to go back again we would stay at a motel right on Canada Street. We chose the Marine Village Resort, mostly because it was the only one I could remember seeing.

This year our trip was a bit unusual. We decided to combine the trip with family. We left here on Thurs. May 29, to ride to Steven's in Boonton, NJ and spend the night with his family. This way we got an hour and a half of riding done right away. On Friday, we rode up to our daughter's home in Middle Grove, NY. She lives right outside of Saratoga Springs, NY. Both days of riding were in perfect weather. We stayed the weekend with her and our grandchildren. We got to see each of the children play: Softball for Caroline and Baseball for Connor.

On Monday we rode to Lake George for the final leg of our trip. We waited at our motel for our friend, Marion, to show up from her trip from NJ. We all went to registration after the crowd was mostly gone. When we got back from registration my cell phone was ringing. Two of my friends from my Spokes Woman MC were at a motel just up the street and wanted to know if we all could go to dinner together. We went to the Spaghetti House which always has good food.

I think Walt and I are in a rut because we almost always do the same things each year. The next day we got up early to ride up 9N to the Lone Bull restaurant for breakfast. They have the best pancakes in the area that we know. After breakfast Walt went to Roaring Brook Ranch to sign up for a couple of demo rides. Marion and I went to the Tour Expo. After going for so many years there is not much I want or need but I have to look anyway. Walt was able to sign up to test ride the Vectrix Scooter which is an electric scooter (no gas or oil needed here). He also got to sign up to test ride the Cam Am Spyder in the afternoon. Walt had a hard time getting into the parking lot at Tour Expo after he came back from RB ranch so he called me on the phone and said he was going to the motel. He said Mike, Nancy and Barbara "Blondie" passed him and stopped just to say "hello." They were there just for the day.

Tues. night the gals from S-W MC met us again for dinner at the Log Jam. This place also has great dinners with a great salad bar. F-Troop has eaten there before in years past.

On Weds. Walt and I rode out to RB Ranch to test ride the new Stallion that is made by Motor Trike. It was an unusual ride since it has a steering wheel and not handle bars. After my trip home I am thinking this would be a great bike for me. It has air conditioning and for winter it has heat.

Wednesday night is our evening to go to RB Ranch to listen to Fred Rau. He was his usual funny self. He has now started his own tour company in CA. He has gone on many of Sean Reed's Northeastern Motorcycle tours and felt this was something he would like to do. Walt and I went on Sean's tour of Nova Scotia after reading Fred Rau's review of this tour. After the seminar it was dark so we walked over to the area that had three inflated hot air balloons and light up to music. It's called the Balloon Glow.

After breakfast on Thurs at Wegars (this used to be an old fashion ice cream parlor with a train that ran around up near the ceiling - it is gone now), Walt and I went to Tour Expo since he had not been there yet. It was Walt's lucky day. He talked to the guys at the Motor Trike vendor area about how his lower trunk will not shut or open properly. They asked him to bring it to them and they fixed it. That was a first. He has complained about that trunk almost from the day he got his trike. Also his left back tire rubs on the fender and the guy from Lakewood, NJ told Walt how he could fix that problem once we got back home. Walt will be making an appointment to take it in and have that problem fixed. To him our trip to Americade was worth the trip just to finally have his problems solved.

The day before, Tom called to ask us if we would meet him and the other day riders for lunch at 3:00 at the Log Jam. We did meet them and got to hear all about what they did that day and what they bought.

Each night we always walk up a block to the down town area of Lake George. This year there were more bikes in Lake George on Monday night than we have ever seen before. After looking at bikes and standing around watching the traffic ride by we always go for ice cream.

We did not do much on Friday. This year with the weather the way it was I never got to ride my favorite ride of going up 9N to Bolton Landing and beyond. I love to ride 9N through the many curves and twisty roads and take route 8 over the mountain to route 9 towards Warrensburg.

We did reserve our room for next year's rally at the motel. We went to one of our other favorite restaurants, Mario's, for dinner that night. I had called Ival and Joel many times because they always meet us for dinner but they never returned our calls. We did not find out why until we read on Troop Talk that Joel had an accident. We wish him well and a fast recovery.

On Sat. we stayed until the parade was over. We said our "good-byes" to our many friends we have met at our motel over the years. Bikes were packed and we were ready to ride back to Sue's home, 35 miles away. It was going to be a HOT day. We spent the next two days at her home. We got to be with Connor on his 10th birthday and helped him celebrate his special day. Ten years ago we got a call from Sue to come home because our little guy was going to be born. We checked out of our motel early and went home to be there when he was born.

The day came for us to ride home. It was HOT and I was worried about my riding home in the heat. We called ahead and asked Steven if we could stop at his home for the night. We rode the 145 miles in the Heat which really did me in. The next day was HOT again. I felt I could make it the next 90 miles to home. Lucky for me and Walt too, we made it home safely. I felt my brain had been fried in that heat. I have said it before and I will say it again, "I will never again ride home in the heat." I just hope that next year this will not happen again for me.

On the Americade trip, Walt wrote a day-by-day blog of our activities for his Motorcycle Views website. It also includes pictures (great photos I must add) and short videos. Check it out at:

Jane aka "Janie"

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