Author Archives: Casey Meehan

The Thrill of the Chill: 25 Winter Races

ice race row of cars

You know the drill.

Ten minutes before you plan to leave for work, you venture outside in the freezing cold and, watching your breath form before you as you do so, get the thing warmed up. Most of us hate getting inside of cold, frozen cars.

A select group of drivers, however, embraces the cold. Many of them can nimbly handle a car or motorcycle in sub-zero temperatures, smoothly drifting over a patch of ice when, for most of us, our muscles would be too frozen to react.

Here are 25 winter races in the US and Canada where you can catch these awesome drivers in action.

Ice Speedway’s World Championship ICE Racing Series

The ICE Racing Series is one of your best chances to see ATV and motorbike races on a frozen track, which is just exhilarating stuff if you’re a racing fan.

The first World Championship ICE Racing Series at Ice Speedway took place in 1977 in Oklahoma. The first event this year took place on Saturday, January 9th, at the National US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Illinois. The race on Saturday, January 23rd, at the Ford Center in Evansville was for the MidWest Championships.

More events will be added to the calendar soon, so be sure to check the website for details.

The Wisconsin State Ice Racing Championship in Dexterville, Wisconsin

The Central Wisconsin Ice Racing Association is all about winter bike and ATV riding. With the mild December 2015 weather, however, some of the events on its schedule had to be altered.

That said, on Sunday, February 7th, the Weyauwega Pro/Am is going forth as planned, as is the Wisconsin State Ice Racing Championship in Dexterville on Sunday the 14th. This event has a 20-year history and is one of the favorites of the CWIRA members. The group finishes February with two more races, one on the 21st at Lake Arbutus in Hatfield and the other on the 28th in Humbird.

The Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club’s (AMEC) Ice Racing Championships in Broadalbin, New York

“Drivers refuse to put their racecar away when the snow flies,” AMEC says. Its members and volunteers have been busily working since late 2015 to prepare for this year’s Ice Racing Championships. Look for events every Sunday all winter long around the region. Times change to accommodate weather, so check the AMEC website for precise times and locations.

The Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Winter Flurry Races in Atlanta, Georgia

Just because it doesn’t get very cold in Atlanta doesn’t mean that the Atlanta Motor Speedway can’t have some winter fun. On Saturdays from February until April, you can check out the Winter Flurry Races. These exciting icy rides are a delight to watch.

The International Ice Racing Association’s (IIRA) Thunder Bay Autosport Club Races in Rochester, Minnesota

The IIRA has already had to cancel a number of events on its 2016 calendar due to unseasonably balmy weather. While that’s a major bummer, it also means that the group’s racers are just champing at the bit to go.

They’ll get their chance on the weekend of February 6th and 7th in the Don Kettering Memorial Race. The IIRA also has events planned for February 13th and the weekend of February 20th at Madison Lake, and the weekend of February 27th at East Rush Lake.

yellow car on snow

Kern County Raceway Park’s Winter Series at the Dirt Track in Bakersfield, California

Bring your jacket when you see the Winter Series at the Dirt Track hosted at Kern County Raceway Park. The first two of the four Saturday events already took place on January 16th and the 30th, so don’t miss the last two on February 13th and the 26th. A variety of cars are welcome, including b-mods, hobby stocks, American stocks, mini dwarfs and even modified vehicles.

“With the clay we have brought in and the improvements we have made to the race track, drivers will love the racing surface and the fans will be treated to some great racing during the Winter Series here at the Dirt Track,” race organizer John Piker says.

Alaska Sports Car Lions Club in Anchorage, Alaska

Few states have drivers as adept at ice racing as Alaska. The Alaska Sports Car Lions Club will host ice races all winter long from January until April. Every race is on a Saturday, so come by on February 13th and the 27th, March 12th and the 26th, and April 2nd to round out the season. All races take place on the Big Lake and start at 11 a.m. They allow caged trucks, caged studded cars, and non-caged non-studded cars to race.

Canyon Speedway’s Winter Challenge 2016 in Peoria, Arizona

Chill out, even in Arizona, when you attend the Winter Challenge 2016 at Canyon Speedway. The series takes place in late January with practices the night before each event. If you missed the Winter Challenge, the races here don’t stop. There are plenty of other events from February to October nearly every single weekend.

Cocopah Speedway’s IMCA Winter Nationals in Somerton, Arizona

Another option for Arizona residents who can’t get enough of winter racing is the IMCA Winter Nationals at Cocopah Speedway. The first night kicks off on Friday, February 5th, with modified vehicles, stock cars, sportmods and hobby stocks all vying for the top prize.

Make sure to come back for other nights of the Winter Nationals on Saturday, February 6th; Thursday, February 9th; Friday, February 12th; and Saturday, February 13th.

The Lake George Carnival in Lake George, New York

We already mentioned how AMEC will compete at the Lake George Carnival, but there’s even more to see in February. Each weekend, you can enjoy food and entertainment for kids and adults, but the real moment that everyone’s waiting for is the racing, which is different each weekend.

On the first weekend, from the 6th to the 7th, see unique outhouse racing. During the second weekend, on the 13th and 14th, there’s ATV ice racing. The third weekend, the 20th and 21st, will feature cars blitzing on a sheet of ice. Close out another successful year on the 27th and 28th with 4×4 truck racing.

foggy snow

Midwest Ice-Racing Association (MIRA) in Hayward and Superior, Wisconsin

Keep your fingers crossed for the cold weather to continue so MIRA can get its season underway. The group already had to cancel several races in early January because the weather was too warm, but now that it’s cooled off considerably, the February 13th race at Eddy’s Resort in Mille Lacs, Minnesota, and the February 27th race at Barkers Island in Superior should go ahead as scheduled.

Our Gang Ice Racing in Georgetown, Colorado

Founded in 1965, Our Gang Ice Racing started off with a few drivers who enjoyed wrapping chains around the tires of their 4x4s and racing them in wintry conditions. Nearly 40 years later, not much has changed. The group’s season started in mid-January, but there’s still time to catch the Studs & Cheaters races at Georgetown Lake on Saturdays in February and the Bare Rubber races at Georgetown Lake on Sundays in February.

American Motorcyclist Association’s (AMA) Ice Race Grand Championships in Waterford, Michigan

Michigan residents, keep your schedule open the weekend of February 13th and the 14th, when the talented AMA racers gather on an oval-shaped course at the Waterford track to determine which one wins it all.

Ken Saillant, the AMA track racing manager, spoke excitedly about the event: “Our AMA racers wait all year for this event. White Lake Racing’s partnership with the AMA offers racers a top-notch event to showcase their talents. The facility is located just outside the Detroit metro area, so we’re expecting the race to draw a lot of local fans in addition to racers and their families.”

Clear Creek County 2016 Ice Racing Championships in Georgetown, Colorado

The Clear Creek County Ice Racing Championships take place in Georgetown, Colorado. March is still frosty enough for winter racing, and on Sunday the 6th you can check out the 2016 Cheater Invitational and then witness street bare rubber cars competing for the bronze, pro street studs battling for the silver and competition studs racing for the gold.

Central New York Ice Racing Association Inc. (CYNIRA) in Dundee Township, New York

The big race is on for CYNIRA on the weekend of February 7th and the 8th. Racers start bright and early at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday when they converge at the Waneta Inn. Breakfast will be served and registration takes place at that time. The racers and their vehicles will then be unleashed upon Waneta Lake, the Black Rock Speedway and Honeoye Lake.

icy path

Discover Wisconsin Presents the St. Germain Radar Racers in Saint Germain, Wisconsin

When it comes to ice racing, you can take your pick with the St. Germain Radar Racers. There’s snow dragging on the Twilight snow track where racers cruise along on snowmobiles. Women compete on the same track in the same vehicles in another race. There’s also ice dragging on a track that’s 1,000 feet of slippery snowy fun. Stop February 12th and 13th to check it all out.

Thunder Bay Autosport Club in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

The IIRA in Minnesota, noted above, is already racing in association with the Thunder Bay Autosport Club, but this Canadian group also hosts its own events. Given its hometown, the racers are used to bitter cold. The 2016 schedule begins on Saturday, January 23rd, with races every weekend through March 13th. All races are held on the Mission Bay Ice Racing Site.

Northern Alberta Sports Car Club (NASCC) in Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

For more than 50 years, NASCC, another Canadian ice racing group, has fearlessly challenged the ice. From January through the end of March, there’s an event each weekend near a snowy lake. The traction fluctuates, but the course is designed to prevent racers from ever accelerating more than 100 miles per hour. According to the NASCC, drivers prevent about 10 percent of damage to their cars and tires when racing in the snow compared to concrete.

The Boonville Snow Festival’s Adirondack Cup Ice Oval Snowmobile Racing in Boonville, New York

The Boonville Snow Festival’s Adirondack Cup Ice Oval Snowmobile Racing normally takes place the last weekend in January, but organizers decided to cancel the 2016 event. However, they’re already getting ready for next year’s event, slated for January 27th through January 29th, 2017.

On the Saturday of the festival, including this year, there’s a Family Fun Day with snowball softball, snowshoe races, snow sledding, ice sculptures, fireworks at night and a parade with torchlights and snowmobiles.

Jaffrey Ice Racing Association, Inc. in Jaffrey, New Hampshire

Every year since 1985, nonprofit Jaffrey Ice Racing Association has hosted races on Lake Contoocook, Northwood Lake, Whitney Pond and Shallow Hill Pond. Every race takes place on a Sunday from January until March. The winner, determined by points for the duration of the season, does get a trophy.

motorcylist on ice

Merrill Ice Draggers in Merrill, Wisconsin

Claiming that it’s got “the fastest 1/8th mile drag auto racing on ice in the world,” Merrill Ice Draggers has some pretty impressive world records: One of its racers clocked a top speed of 141.6 MPH on the ice.

The group was founded in 1965 and hosts races on Saturdays in January and February. Stop by for the Memorial Race on February 6th, a standard race on the 13th, and the championship on the 20th.

District 14 Ice Racing in Highland, Michigan

A branch of the AMA, District 14 Ice Racing hosts races on Sundays from January through February. The group welcomes riders of all styles, including those with non-studded tires and studded tires. Whether you prefer watching racers on ATVs or motorcycles, District 14 Ice Racing delivers.

Oconto Falls Sno Jokers’ World Series of Ice Drags in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin

If you have some time on February 12th and 13th, do check out the Oconto Falls Sno Jokers’ World Series of Ice Drags, an awesome snowmobile racing event. For the past six years, racers have competed on four lanes of slick snow on a track that’s more than 1,600 feet long. Visitors will love the heated tent where staff sells drinks and food. Once the race wraps up, there’s live music.

Pro Vintage Racing’s Ice Oval Racing in Wausau, Wisconsin

For the past 20 years, Pro Vintage Racing and its brand of “vintage snowmobile racing” has captivated Wisconsin audiences. The Ice Oval Racing series will criss-cross Wisconsin on Saturdays in January and February and features more than 30 sled classes. On February 6th, head out to Wausau for a race. The next week, the fun continues in West Salem on the 13th before moving on to Manawa on the 20th. The season wraps up in Francis Creek at the 141 Speedway on the 27th.

Vintage Snowmobile Racing in Old Forge, New York

In upstate New York, where the snow can really fall, Vintage Snowmobile Racing lets the cold set in before beginning its races in late January. The talented racers here will participate in the 52nd Lancaster Grand Prix on Saturday, February 6th in Lancaster, New Hampshire.

All other events in February are in New York, including:

  • The Round Lake Ice Race in Altamont on the 13th
  • The Piseco Lake Ice Race in Altamont on the 20th
  • The Utica Rome Speedway race in Vernon on the 27th
  • The Inlet New York race on March 12th.

 

images by:
Royal Broil, Caleb George, Adam Excell, John Y. Can

History on Wheels: 22 Car Museums in the Mountain States

Whether you prefer the classic styles of a bygone era or the sleek, contemporary designs of todays modern times, cars are always great to look at.

While auto shows tend to have a good selection of vehicles, car museums will house some unique, interesting finds from forgotten periods that you typically wont see anywhere else. These 22 museums in Rocky Mountain states are all worth a visit or two.

classic cars in museum

Colorado

The Gateway Canyon Auto Museum in Gateway

“Devoted to understanding and celebrating the history, science, art and social impact of the American car,” the Gateway Canyon Auto Museum is 30,000 square feet and features two galleries, the always-changing themed gallery and the permanent fixture that is the main gallery. There are more than 50 cars between the two displays.

Shelby American Collection in Boulder

Fans of the talented Carroll Shelby, the famous racer and car designer, will love this Boulder museum in his honor. The Shelby American Collection showcases his best work and that of the Shelby American Team, including his GT350 Shelby Mustangs, Ford GT40 and Willment Coupes. In addition to the cars, you can spend a whole afternoon browsing through Shelby tributes, rare images, race records and artwork.

Vehicle Vault in Parker

Part “elite custom garage community” and part auto gallery, Vehicle Vaults Gallery Permanent Collection boasts hot rods, pre-War models, exotics, Prohibition era vehicles, custom cars, drive-ins, vehicles from the Brass Era, classic muscle cars and more. Youll want to come back again and again to check out the calendar of events that this 35,000-square foot, 20-acre building hosts.

Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver

The staff at the Forney Museum of Transportation decided to open a museum when they received a 1921 Kissel, and the collection has only grown since then to encompass more than 600 vehicles and other modes of transportation from nearly all time periods.

Just some of the vehicles include a Denver cable car from 1888, an Indian Motorcycle collection from 1913 through 1953, and even the Kissel “Gold Bug” Forney Locomotive that Amelia Earhart owned in 1923.

Cussler Museum in Arvada

Specializing in vintage cars, all vehicles (and there are more than 100 of them) at the Cussler Museum, named after founder Clive Cussler, were produced between 1906 and 1965. Note that the museum is only open from May until September each year.

Rambler Ranch in Elizabeth

As a certified non-profit museum, Rambler Ranch has a whole host of Rambler vehicles, but it also displays AMCs and Nashes from between 1909 and 1980. Most of the older cars have been restored by owners Greg Kissinger and Terry Gale to look fresh and beautiful. If you get hungry, make sure to stop at the gas barbeque and kitchen, which has more than 20 tables and delightful period décor.

Dougherty Museum in Longmont

Make it a point to visit Longmont in the summer between June and August, when the Dougherty Museum is open. This museum is stocked with cars that are more than 100 years old in some cases and can still purr if you put the key in the ignition. Patiently and precisely restored, some of these vehicles date all the way back to when manufacturers equipped cars with steam engines.

The Gunnison Pioneer Museum in Gunnison

The Gunnison County Pioneer and Historical Society helped create the Gunnison Pioneer Museum in 1906. Open annually from May until September, you can see old railroads, homes, schools, post offices and memorabilia. Dont miss the Andy Mallett Antique Car Museum, established in 2000. Mallett personally restored the 25 cars here.

inside of old red car

Nevada

National Automobile Museum in Reno

Since 1989, the National Automobile Museum has grown to become one of the most renowned car museums in the country. Its no wonder then that almost two million people have visited over the years to check out carriages, race cars and other rarities. There are 200+ vehicles to witness, and with tours and theater presentations, youll have quite a busy day. Even better, the museum is open all year, seven days a week, only closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Don Laughlins Classic Car Collection in Laughlin

Don Laughlin was one of the biggest names in casinos (and the namesake of this town), but theres more to do than gamble at Don Laughlins Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino. On the gaming grounds youll find Don Laughlins Classic Car Collection, which is stocked with nearly 100 cars. Laughlin also loved motor vehicles, and the ones youll see are all owned by him. This museum is free and operates every day of the week.

The Auto Collections at the Linq in Las Vegas

You also dont have to pay to get into the Auto Collection, housed in the Linq casino. The showroom stocks more than 250 cars in its 125,000 square feet of space. If you happen to fall in love with a car on the spot, you can actually buy it here. You can also trade and sell your vehicle to a hopeful buyer.

more classic cars lined up

Arizona

Dwarf Car Museum in Maricopa

Dwarf cars are more compact vehicles made famous by Ernie Adams, who produced a lot of these vehicles in his day. See the fruits of his labor at the Dwarf Car Museum. The Raceway Bar & Grill in Maricopa is the perfect way to put a capper on your afternoon, or you could venture over to the Harrahs Ak-Chin Resort.

The Franklin Auto Museum in Tucson

Thomas Hubbard of the H.H. Franklin Foundation created and runs the Franklin Auto Museum. “The museum is a means to continue his collection of classic Franklin automobiles, and to provide an opportunity to develop a comprehensive Franklin Museum covering all years of the companys production,” the museum explains. If you own a Franklin yourself and are interested in learning more about it, Hubbard actually offers a research service that will tell you more about your vehicle.

Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix

Get your heart pumping with a trip to the Penske Racing Museum. Exhibits show the entirety of Penskes rise to fame, such as a 1963 Riverside 250 driven by Roger Penske or a 1963 Pontiac Catalina that he also rode in. You can also see various Penske Indianapolis 500 cars, including some that Indy 500 winners like Sam Hornish, Jr. drove.  

Martin Auto Museum in Phoenix

Open every week Thursday through Saturday, the Martin Auto Museum is also a great place for corporate events, parties, weddings and any other social event. Mel Martin is the founder of the museum. He and his team have preserved a number of classic vehicles so that people today can learn more about these cars.

Golden Era Toy and Auto Museum in Coolidge

As the name suggests, the Golden Era Toy and Auto Museum has both toys and vehicles dating from the 1920s. Among the wind-up and cast-iron toys are 10 amazing vehicles, including a 1937 Packard. The museum is open yearly from January until May.

restored cars bling

Utah

Browning Kimball Classic Car Museum at Ogdens Union Station in Ogden

Ogdens Union Station includes an old train station, two galleries and four museums, one of which is the Browning Kimball Classic Car Museum. All cars date back to the Golden Age between 1901 and 1930, and makes include classic Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles and more.

Barbara and Matt Browning first bought a 1930 Packard Model 733 Standard Eight Dual Cowl Phaeton back in 1971, and the two grew the museum from there, acquiring and restoring old cars. These vehicles are sometimes brought out and used for city events, too.

Price Museum of Speed in Salt Lake City

Another museum with rows and rows of winning racecars, the Price Museum of Speed is one of the only places to see vehicles that have won events at Mille Miglia, the Indie 500, the Gordon Bennett Cup, Daytona Beach, the Briarcliff Cup, 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Grand Prix and more. Some of the first cars youll spot on arrival are a 1907 Renault Vanderbilt Racer and a 1904 Peerless Green Dragon.

Classic Cars International Museum in Salt Lake City

If youre visiting Salt Lake City, the Classic Cars International Museum is close to Salt Lake City International Airport. The proceeds from admissions go to the Utah Homeless Boys Ranch. There are always 75 of nearly 250 cars displayed, and fresh ones are always being switched out. Some of the favorites include a 1957 Rolls Royce, a 1926 Pierce-Arrow Roadster and a Stutz Bearcat from the same year. Other cars at the museum were produced from 1913 until 1980.

Lakeside Petroliana Museum at AAA Lakeside Storage & Museum in Provo

At first glance, the AAA Lakeside Storage & Museum doesnt look much like a museum at all, despite its name. Primarily a storage facility for high-tech equipment, if you visit on Mondays through Saturdays, you can check out the Lakeside Petroliana Museum on the grounds. With an old-school gas station, dozens of road signs from yesteryear and of course some classic cars, this outdoor display is quite a memorable one.

white car museum

New Mexico

Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque

The Unser Racing Museum is owned by the legendary Unser racing family. Youll learn plenty as you watch the early days of racing evolve to the modern sport that it is today. Older vehicles have been restored to pristine glory, and theres even a trophy room, one of the newer additions that the museum added when it expanded recently.

Russells Truck and Travel Museum Gallery in Glenrio

If youre already cruising down Route 66, you should make a pit stop at Russells Truck & Travel Center, where youll find Russells Truck and Travel Museum. Absolutely free, this Route 66-themed space includes memorabilia, road signs, old gas station items and antique cars shining under the bright florescent lights. Its a wonderful slice of Americana.

 

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Kubajz, nachbarsgarten, fish3360, tpsdave, earthformed

Ready to Ride All Season: 25 Winter Bike Rides

group cycling

We’re in the thick of winter now, which means dark mornings and early afternoons, frigid temperatures, layers of frost to contend with in the morning, and the possibility of snow at every turn.

Outdoor activity is severely limited … or so you thought.

Across the nation, organizations are hosting winter group bike riding events where everyone digs their bikes out of the garage and rides like it’s the springtime. Interested in trying it for yourself? We’ve found 25 great winter group rides to get you started.

 

The Bike Store in Warner Robins, Georgia

Yes, admittedly, in the South, the cold isn’t such a huge problem. It’s still technically winter even in Georgia, though, and friends of the Bike Store in Warner Robins brave the sometimes chilly days to partake in the Winter League Group Rides. These start in November and run through the spring. The group also hosts a New Year’s Day ride each year, which starts at the store’s parking lot and spans 25, 30 or 45 miles, depending on your abilities.

 

Joy Bike Rides in Lacey, Washington

Washington is known for its watery weather. If you think you can handle it, check out Joy Bike Rides’ winter rides. “Winter brings with it some big changes to the way we ride bikes,” the store owners write. “No longer can you expect to get off work and hit the trails for a quick loop without a good set of lights, and if you’re planning on getting the long road miles in, you’re going to need to be extra careful of the water and oil slicks on the asphalt.”

 

Chapel Hill Cycling in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Beginning in January, the riding group Chapel Hill Cycling starts 2016 anew with its 14 Days of Christmas winter stage tour, where you ride no more than 20 miles per hour. On Sunday, January 10th, there’s the Sunday Spokeswomen Ride, where female riders will take in nearly 50 miles of the city. The Tuesday Night No Drop Ride on Tuesday, January 12th, is for anyone; you must have a headlamp or other lights, since you’ll start your ride at Wilson Park at night.

 

New York City Mountain Bike Association (NYCMTB) in New York City

Take in the natural beauty of New York and its boroughs with the various rides that NYCMTB is hosting in 2016. Each trail takes at least three hours to complete and five hours for slower riders. On Sunday, January 17th, venture over to Sprain Ridge Park on the New York side of the George Washington Bridge and travel along South County Trail and Van Cortlandt Park. On Sunday, February 7th, try the Scout Camp Trails concrete path and then hang out with your fellow riders and grab a cup of coffee at Blue Bottle Cafe.

 

Atlanta Cycling in Atlanta, Georgia

Another Georgia riding group, Atlanta Cycling, has a whole host of weekly rides for you to choose from. On Saturdays, try the Vinings Loop ride, which passes through Sandy Springs and Buckhead. Tuesdays and Thursdays are winter riding days, where you’ll cycle through mostly empty streets at a more relaxed pace.

a row of bikes

 

Jackson Metro Cyclists in Jackson, Mississippi

The general riding season for the Jackson Metro Cyclists is from March until October, but once November arrives, the winter season begins. For four months, you can enjoy Tuesday Night Bike Rack Training classes at 6 p.m. each week, where you learn how to ride in the winter. There’s also a 6 p.m. Thursday Night Indian Cycle Trainer weekly class; if you prefer, the Thursday Night Bike Crossing Shop Ride is at the same time and blitzes through Ridgeland and Madison.

Afterward, you can grab drinks and food at the Pizza Shack. If you love the incentive of food after riding, there’s a Belgian Waffle ride on Saturday mornings with waffles served piping hot once you’re done.

 

Mid-Peninsula Bicycling Group in Mountain View, California

The Mid-Peninsula Bicycling Group had its big winter ride on New Year’s Day at Mount Hamilton Climb. The group, which consists of more than 500 riders, books rides at various paces (leisurely, touring, moderately fast and brisk) and different terrain (flat to extremely hilly). Make sure to read the club’s rules before participating in a ride so you’re ready to go, and then check back for future rides.

 

The Chainlink in Chicago, Illinois

The Chainlink, a bicycle club, has bunches of fun rides planned for Chicago residents. These include:

  • the GRS Winter Outdoor Edition at Bullfrog Lake Picnic Grove on Saturday, January 9th
  • the Women Bike Chicago launch party on Thursday, January 14th
  • the Big Marsh Freedom Ride and Day of Service: Proudly Riding for Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Freedom event on Monday, January 18th
  • the Cozy Hearth Tweed Ride on Saturday, January 23rd
  • Chicago Critical Mass on Friday, January 29th
  • and the Chicago Winter Bike Swap on Sunday, January 31st.

 

Twin Cities Bicycling Club in Roseville, Minnesota

The Twin Cities Bicycling Club, which is all about “promoting safe and effective bicycling and recreational bike rides,” is getting ready to go for 2016, and its calendar is quickly filling with events. Ride ’em Texas Hills is a recurring ride throughout January. Clear your calendar on Wednesday, February 3rd, for Midtown Challenges the Dark Night. “Ride into the darkness, into the wind and into the elements, whatever they may be,” the organizers describe.

 

Memphis Hightailers Club in Memphis, Tennessee

No matter your skill level or how long you’ve been riding, the Memphis Hightailers Club welcomes you to join in on a near-daily ride. Each of their events are coded on their website according to difficulty, which ranges from easy (average speed 10 to 12 mph, distance about 25 miles) to elite (20 to 22 mph, 60 to 100 miles long). The events fill up fast, so sign up while you still can!

happy riders

 

Polk Area Bicycling Association in Lakeland, Florida

Sunny Florida is almost always balmy, so you have no excuse to pass up on the many 2016 rides that the Polk Area Bicycling Association has lined up. You can get started in January by participating in the Southgate Shopping Center Ride. There are rides almost every weekend in January, February and March, which means you can easily cruise right into the spring season.

 

Five Boroughs Bicycle Club in New York City

Since 1990, the Five Boroughs Bicycle Club has united New York through one great passion: Cycling. Calling itself “New York’s friendliest bike club,” the organization starts its winter bike rides in late December. A Winter’s Journey to Fillmore’s on Saturday, January 16th, lets you explore this New York pub (you can burn off the calories as you ride back). There’s also a single February ride on Saturday the 13th that is 30 miles long and includes a lunch stop.

 

Charles River Wheelmen in Bedford, Massachusetts

A beloved Massachusetts club since 1966, the Charles River Wheelmen celebrates its winter season from December through March, when the frost begins to thaw. The Zig-Zag Ride on Sunday, January 7th, is named such because of the interesting locations that you ping-pong to on your bike, including Billerica, Concord, Bedford and Carlisle. That next Sunday, on the 24th, don’t miss the Bare Natick, which passes through Natick Common.

 

The Shootout Group Bike Ride in Tucson, Arizona

From February 26th until March 25th, Tucson Bike Rentals’ Shootout Group Bike Ride races through the city. “The Shootout is one of the best group bike rides in the country according to Bicycling Magazine,” the store says. “During the winter months, big-name professional cyclists and triathletes can be found on the ride. The Shootout is every Saturday morning no matter the weather!” During that first block, rides begin at 7 a.m. sharp.

 

Bike PGH! in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Don’t give up your fitness progress by only riding occasionally in the winter when Bike PGH! hosts events every single week. On Sunday mornings in January, you can try the Mt. Lebanon Cycling and Caffeine Club Ride at 7:00 a.m. or the Top Gear Robinson at 9:30 a.m. Friday, January 29th, is Critical Mass day, where you challenge yourself on rough paths. The weekly rides continue into February, and there’s a Critical Mass event that month on Friday, February 26th.

white bikes grouped together

 

Blue Ridge Bicycle Club in Roanoke, Virginia

As “the any bike club,” Blue Ridge Bicycle Club may have a relaxed attitude, but it does have some rules that you must abide by, like never using aerobars or headphones and always having your helmet on. Set your alarm early on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the months of January through March for the Good Morning Roanoke ride at 5:30. There are also afternoon and evening rides on those same days for the later risers. Events are color-coded, so you can always select a trail that matches your skill level.

 

Asheville Winter Bike League in Asheville, North Carolina

iDaph Events sponsors the Asheville Winter Bike League, which the company calls “the best structured, long, winter-road training rides on the planet.” You won’t challenge yourself too much here, but these trips are certainly not monotonous. “Rides are ridden at a steady tempo — not too fast, not too slow,” the group describes. “Our goal is to ride smooth and steady, avoiding rapid accelerations and decelerations. We try and hold a steady, solid and quick tempo for the entirety of a ride.”

 

Eddy’s Bike Shop in Willoughby Hills, North Olmsted, Montrose and Stow, Ohio

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to be outside to ride. That’s the mentality at Eddy’s Bike Shop, where riders brave the Ohio winters indoors. These group rides are at least two hours long (from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.) and you have to have your own bike. The training classes take place on Sundays in January, February and March.

 

Northwest Trail Alliance in Portland, Oregon

A chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the Northwest Trail Alliance will keep you busy all winter. Stop by Stub Stewart State Park in Buxton on January 9th and 23rd for morning rides that run from 8:45 a.m. all the way until 3 p.m. If you love the trail, come back and do it all over again for Saturday rides in February, on the 6th and the 20th. Northwest Trail Alliance has rides planned through the summer, meaning you can should keep your bike ready all year.

 

Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle, Washington

Hosting rides practically every single day across Seattle, Cascade Bicycle Club is the one to join if you want to lose some weight for your New Year’s resolution and have a blast while doing it. More Cycle Tuesdays are “super strenuous,” as you’ll ride 25 miles at more than 20 mph through the Renton area. There are training classes and themed rides based on the locations you’ll visit on your bike. If you don’t have any big Valentine’s Day plans, make sure to participate in the Seattle Bike Swap at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

full bike rack

 

Cycle Haus in Simpsonville, South Carolina

Cycle Haus offers winter rides that are divided into two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A is for experienced riders who have the stamina for 50 to 60 miles; those rides have a $5 weekly membership fee to cover food and water storage and spare parts. Group B riders go just 20 to 30 miles, and those are free. All rides are indoors at the Cycle Haus building and take place weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

 

Bicycle Touring Club of New Jersey (BTCNJ) in Ridgewood, New Jersey

The BTCNJ winter riding season runs from December through early February. These rides are generally 10 to 15 miles, but some are longer and go nearly 30 miles. End your season on Friday, February 5th, with the Ladies Fat-er Tire Friday, which is described as a “casual and traffic-free ride” that “is designed to encourage more women of all ages to dust off their bikes and have some fun.”

 

Ozark Cycling Adventures in Ozark, Arkansas

At Ozark Cycling Adventures, there is no off-season. Some paths are intended for beginner riders (13 to 15 mph), others for more seasoned riders (15 to 18 mph)  and others still for expert riders (18 mph and higher). There are numerous rides daily, with most on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Rides are only canceled if the weather is bad.

 

Potomac Pedalers in Washington, D.C.

See the beauty of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in winter when you join the Potomac Pedalers. Have lunch at the Shirlington Branch Library in Arlington, Virginia when you ride on January 17th or 24th. Close out January on a high note by riding the Olney Loop at the Olney Indoor Swim Center in Olney, Maryland, on Sunday, January 31st.

 

Outspokin’ Bicycles in Augusta, Georgia

As long as you have your own fitness bike and a helmet and you can meet at the Outspokin’ Bicycles store, you’re welcome to get involved in any of the upcoming winter group rides. Most of these take place at night, so you do need working headlights. There are weekly rides five days a week (except Tuesdays and Thursdays); most of them are outdoors in such places as the Augusta Canal, Lake Olmstead and Country Club Hills and along the Savannah River, but rides on Wednesday nights are always indoors.

 

images by:
skeeze, McLac2000, morzaszum, yorgunum, StockSnap

Are Classic Cars a Good Investment? What You Need to Know Before You Buy

rusted old green car

Basic logic once dictated that the older something is, the more valuable it is. However, today, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Sometimes those old comic books you sat on from when you were a kid are worth a fortune, but most of the time, they’re just dusty junk taking up room. Unfortunately, the same can be said for a lot of classic cars. While some may retain their value, this doesn’t apply across the board.

If you’re passionate about old vehicles, here is all you need to know about what makes them valuable, which ones you should restore, and how to make money in the process (and not lose it).

 

The Most Expensive Classic Cars

First, let’s take a look at the vehicles that command the highest prices today, or at least whenever they go up for sale. Each is worth exponentially more now than what it sold for brand new. A few common themes run throughout this list — rarity, race pedigree and Ferrariness chief among them — that might help you evaluate any classic vehicle you’re thinking of buying.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO — Is it any surprise that the most expensive classic car in existence is a Ferrari? This particular baby went up for auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, in 2014. The winner bought it for $38 million. Fewer than 40 of these cars were produced.

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Silver Arrow — Formula One great Juan Manuel Fangio Deramo once drove this exact Mercedes-Benz W196 Silver Arrow. To further incentivize buyers, there are only 14 of these cars in the world, and most of them are either in museums or under Mercedes-Benz’s lock and key. No wonder this car most recently sold for $29.6 million.

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider — A specialized series of cars (NART meaning North American Racing Team) designed by Enzo Ferrari himself, a young man named Eddie Smith somehow got his hands on this $27.7-million investment. When he passed away, the vehicle was inherited by his son, who made the tough decision to sell it in 2013.

1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale — Another car that sold in a Pebble Beach auction is the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale. As mentioned, some of the most sought-after classic cars in history are Ferraris, and this is one of the most limited-edition models of all, as there are only two others. Finding one is next to impossible, which explains the $26.4 million price tag.

1954 Ferrari 375-Plus — Karl Kleve got this Ferrari for just $2,500 — that’s still just $22,000 today, when adjusted for inflation — a few years after it was produced. But as luck would have it, someone stole it from him. He eventually tracked it down, went to court to sue the thief, and the end result was the vehicle being auctioned off, where it was snatched up for $18.4 million.

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa — When the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was sold in 2011 by Gooding & Company, its price tag of $16.4 million was so high that it shattered the previous world record for vehicular auctions. In the few years since, even more expensive Ferraris have sold, which means these mid-Century classics from Modena are appreciating in value very, very quickly.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder — If you’ve seen the 1977 movie Airport, you might recognize this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder. It was recovered from a farm in France, where it and other classic beauties sat gathering rust. You would never guess it by looking at it though, nor at its price tag, which was right at $16 million when it sold in February 2015.

1964 Ferrari 250 LM — Yet another beloved Ferrari, this 1964 beast was auctioned off in New York for a cool $14.3 million. Original estimates determined that the car could be worth between $12 and $15 million. There were 250 of these vehicles built in total.

rusted ford

 

What Makes Classic Cars Valuable?

So what is it about certain cars that make them so valuable? Is it the make? Their age? Their features? Their rarity?

Richard Lentinello at Hemmings Daily argues that rarity alone doesn’t make a car valuable. He uses a 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS convertible he spotted in Florida as an example. Though ‘63 Impalas are fairly well sought-after, this one had a 230-cubic-inch Turbo-Thrift straight-six powerplant engine, rare among SS models, which typically had a 409 V8.

“While the car in and of itself is a worthy collector’s item, especially considering its spectacular condition, its value doesn’t, and never will, match that of the 409 version, or even one with a 327-cu.in. V-8,” he writes. “In fact, value guides peg the price of the six-cylinder SS at around 20 to 25 percent less than the 409 equivalent. And all because its smaller-sized engine is lacking two cylinders.”

So, power trumps rarity in this case.

Condition is also key. Patricia L. Harman at Property Casualty 360 notes how the standard classifications of condition — fair, good, excellent, and mint — can drastically affect the price. A 1952 Jaguar C-Type, 6-cylinder, two-door roadster, she writes, might command $2.9 million in fair condition but $4.9 in perfect condition.

woman on car

 

How Is Value Calculated?

As mentioned above, that 1964 Ferrari 250 LM had an estimated value between $12 and $15 million. Ultimately, it sold for $14.3 million. Who determined that final value and how? When it comes to reviewing market trends to figure out how much your classic car is worth, Hagerty is considered the best of the best.

There are dozens and dozens of videos and articles about car valuation, and you can even subscribe to the Hagerty Price Guide, which “is the premier collector car value guide — accurate, up to date, and without pricing bias or prejudice. It covers most popular postwar automobiles, as well as hard-to-find and unusual models, with four values for each listing based on condition.”

Hagerty updates the guide annually, three times in total. If you don’t necessarily want to order a bunch of books, you can subscribe to the Hagerty website, where you can bookmark favorite vehicles and research specific cars that appeal to you.

Find the car you have (or are thinking of buying) by its make, model or year, and then take a look at the value change over time for the past three or five years. You can then predict when the vehicle will be most valuable and thus when the best time is to sell.

 

Does Restoring a Classic Car Increase Its Value?

In short, yes. The older a vehicle gets, the more attention it needs to keep its paint job from rusting and its exterior and interior parts and components from falling apart.

American Insurance Collectors deals primarily with classic cars and other valuable older items. “Car collecting has gone to a whole new level in recent years, and the amount of money raised at auctions has drastically increased,” they write. “Throughout 2014, classic cars were auctioned off at record prices, totaling a whopping $1.3 billion to collectors in North America.”

With the market booming in recent years, restored cars can be incredibly desirable if they’re in good enough condition. If you happen to have a restored Ferrari sitting around in your garage, you’re in even better shape.

Classic Cars for Sale has 10 other great classics you should look into if you want to restore and resell them:

  • Lancia Aurelia B20GT
  • Triumph TR2-3A
  • Alfa Romeo GTV 1750/2000
  • Morris Minor Convertible
  • Jaguar XK120-150
  • Lotus Elan
  • Ford Mustang 1964, 1965 or 1966
  • Porsche 911 SC
  • Mini Cooper 998 (any produced before 1971)
  • Ferrari Dino 246 GT/GTS

car garage

PSA: Never go into debt for a classic car. If you still have to spend time, energy and money to restore it, that should be a labor of love, not an investment.

Drew Yagodnik, Vice President of Classic Automotive Insurance Agency, Inc., has some great tips for finding that ideal set of wheels to restore and resell in a post on LinkedIn. He suggests three guiding principles to always keep in mind during the shopping process:

  • Don’t buy what you can’t afford.
  • Don’t get in over your head; only buy a car that you know you can handle in terms of restoration.
  • Only buy a car that you like and will want to work on for years to come.

“If you’re having trouble deciding on a car or you’re just not sure what speaks to you yet, try deciding how you plan to use it,” Yagodnik says. “If you’re looking for an everyday driver, you may want a newer model with the comforts to which you’re accustomed to or at least a model you can modify.

“If you’re looking for a show-specific car that you don’t plan to drive often, this may help you narrow down your search. You may decide you want to build and restore a car you can eventually enter in the Concours d’Elegance, one of the most elegant car events in the country. … You may decide that Hot Rodding is for you, and choose to customize your own rod for entry in the Street Machine Nationals.”

No matter your choice, do your homework first. Yagodnik says that even if you’re a total beginner who is planning to work on your first car that you don’t have to worry. There’s a car out there for you that doesn’t require tons of restoration but will instead be a simpler job.

old blue van

 

How to Buy a Classic Car without Getting Ripped off

Even for beginners, you have to plan to invest a bit of money into restoring your classic car. As this can become a rather pricey hobby, it’s absolutely critical that you don’t get ripped off when buying your vehicle. If this is your first time searching for a classic car, you could make a simple mistake that could cost you in the end.

Yagodnik suggests attending car shows, joining car clubs, going to car auctions or checking out the classifieds to find your car. These groups and organizations are reputable and will want to help you instead of swindle you.

Russell Bray writing for This Is Money penned an informational piece about the high prices buyers willingly shell out for classic cars these days. He cautions that buyers not get too overzealous, as once upon a time in the 1980s, the classic car bubble popped. The value of some vehicles nearly went down by half.

“So, decide what you want and then do your research, but don’t lose sight of other costs,” Bray says. “Insurance and storage can seem like nothing compared with the money pit of restoration. The classic car market is often affected by appearance, image, scarcity, history and condition as much as the mechanical aspects of the car and sometimes whether it is any good to drive. Prices can go down, so buy a car you really want and regard any rise in value as a bonus.”

Marilyn Lewis at Money Talks News shares what she calls “cardinal rules” for beginners and experts who want to buy a classic vehicle. Some of these are as follows:

  1. Always check the vehicle identification number, which is typically on the rear axle, transmission or engine. The number should be stamped or printed on these car parts.
  2. Don’t wait until after you get your car to look for a good mechanic. Make sure your mechanic specializes in classic cars and won’t charge an arm and a leg.
  3. Learn about the prices of parts ahead of time to determine whether they’re too expensive.
  4. Consider whether you plan on driving the car. If you do, your car insurance rates could be quite higher. Lewis explains: “Surprisingly, insurance can be cheaper for antique cars. But there’s a catch: To get low rates you can’t drive your collector car much. Specialized policies for antique vehicles often have lower premiums because the cars are babied and driven less.”
  5. Never ever skip the inspection.

 

Images by:
Will Langenberg, Jamie Cooper, Aral Tasher, Ondrej Supitar, Kyle Szegedi

Life’s Better in a Nissan: 24 Nissan Blogs to Check Out

nissan skyline

Call us a little biased, but we’re big Nissan fans.

Back in 1983, Bill opened the shop that would later be named Independent Motors — but for those first two years, the focus was Nissans and Datsuns. Since then, Nissan has gone on to create one of the most legendary sports cars of the ‘90s, one of the leading premium makes (Infiniti), and two of the best-selling sedans in America.

For all you other Nissan owners and fans out there, we’ve found 24 fantastic blogs dedicated to the Skyline, Infinitis and other Nissan vehicles.

 

Nissan Skyline and GT-R Blogs

2009GT-R.com

Whether you prefer the original Skyline GT-R or the upgraded 2×2 version, 2009GT-R.com writes about them all. Read about the different generations of the G-TR; review the buyer’s guide for them; and then scroll through the rest of the blog for the latest news, reviews and other headlines about this beloved Nissan model. Posts are somewhat infrequent, but with videos and a comprehensive collection of all things GT-R, this site is a great resource.

 

Middletown Nissan

Based in Middletown, Connecticut, Middletown Nissan sells used and new Nissans and the parts you need for them. When the GT-R is in the news, you can bet that this blog is covering it. Dig back through a few years’ worth of archives or learn all about the brand-new 2016 Nissan GT-R with a video that Autotrader made outlining all the reasons that this fantastic vehicle should be on your wish list.

 

Japan Partner Blog

Japan Partner Inc., a used vehicle resource, covers Nissan extensively on its website and blog. Check out breathtaking photo shoots of your favorite Nissan Skylines and then learn more about buying a used Skyline of your own right on the site.

 

One Man’s Lonely Adventures In His R33 Skyline GT-R

The owner of the blog One Lonely Man’s Adventures In His R33 Skyline GT-R has been a car fan his entire life. He explains what led him to the Skyline GT-R:

“But being in the US, [I] never could buy a Skyline GT-R, as they were not sold here. Hence when I came to Japan, after learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road in a hand-me-down Honda Civic, I traded up to my 1997 Skyline GT-R…That was in June 2005. This blog started when I first began to get serious about modifying and improving the car.”

You can learn more about modifications that you can do yourself by reading his insightful posts.

 

GT-R USA Blog

If you’re into modifications or doing your own car repairs, then the GT-R USA Blog is a great accompaniment to the Skyline blog above. This one can teach you how to change out your car’s oil coolers, complete with illustrations and other helpful pictures. If you just like looking at awesome cars, don’t worry: This blog has plenty of pictures to satiate that craving.

white infiniti scenery

 

Infiniti Blogs

NICO Club

The NICO Club (short for Nissan Infiniti Car Owners) has forums dedicated to Datsuns, SUVs, trucks, Infinitis and other Nissans. While you can and should click around and make new pals over the Internet who share your love and knowledge of these vehicles, the homepage is a good resource for Infiniti news. Read interviews with builders who make car parts, scope out reviews for the latest vehicle products, or learn more about an Infiniti if you’re thinking of buying one.

 

Infiniti Blogger

The aptly-named Infiniti Blogger calls itself “the best place for the latest Infiniti news.” There’s an up-to-date list of auto dealers (although just in Washington), an inventory list, and of course pictures and in-depth posts about the latest Infinitis coming down the pike. The featured dealer post can help you find the Infiniti that you just read about on the blog.

 

Berman’s Auto Blog

Infinitis are covered on Berman’s Auto Blog, but the writers here also have a love Subarus and Nissans (sound familiar?). This dealership writes about Chicago events while introducing new and used Infinitis to tantalize potential buyers. You can even browse through the available inventory online if you’re thinking of purchasing one of these fantastic cars.

 

Autoblog Infiniti

Many of you probably already use Autoblog for doing preliminary research when buying a new car. Make sure to check out the site’s page on Infinitis, which, while it does feature specs of the latest cars, also posts photos, videos and news. As you read a post, you can see a listing of new and used Infinitis near you on the side of the page.

infiniti q70 hybrid

 

Gray-Daniels Nissan Brandon

A Nissan dealership in Brandon, Missouri, the Gray-Daniels Nissan Brandon blog is perfect for shoppers in the area who are interested in finding the best Infiniti for them. Browse through posts, each with a video, that include descriptions of the used cars for sale.

 

Sawgrass Infiniti

Another dealership, this one located in Tamarac, Florida, Sawgrass Infiniti is a useful blog to have in your bookmarks even if you don’t live anywhere near Florida. While some posts are dealership-centric, others cover the latest auto shows and which Infinitis were on display there. If you’re in the market for your first car, you can even learn about how your credit score impacts your ability to buy a vehicle.

 

Bonita Springs Infiniti

This South Florida Florida Infiniti dealership is based in Tamiami, but the Bonita Springs Infiniti blog is more than just listing after listing of available Infinitis. You can also check out the coolest, must-have accessories you need for your car as a new Infiniti owner. If you do happen to live near Florida, don’t miss the post about the best coastal drives that will make you feel like king or queen of the world.

 

Pepe Infiniti Blog

Of course, when you buy a new car, if you haven’t driven an Infiniti before, there’s a period of adjustment. Let the Pepe Infiniti Blog in New York help you get through those first transitional days with ease. You can learn how to change out your car key’s battery, how to use the navigation system (complete with videos) and how to sync up your HomeLink receiver to your Infiniti.

nissan steering wheel

 

Other Nissan Blogs

Renault Nissan

This is the official blog of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a partnership between Japanese automaker Nissan and French automaker Renault. The site breaks down its news according to categories like partnerships, emerging markets and sustainability.

 

Briggs Nissan

Retailing such Nissan vehicles as the Versa, Rogue, Pathfinder, Leaf, Juke, Frontier, Cube and Altima, Briggs Nissan in Manhattan, Kansas, has a renowned blog that Nissan lovers will thoroughly enjoy. As the year ends and the car manufacturer racks up awards for safety and engine superiority, you hear about it here first. Some of the posts are Kansas-centric, but generally, anyone who’s a fan of Nissans can find something great in this blog.

 

Robbins Nissan Blog

The writers of the blog for the Robbins Nissan dealership in Humble, Texas, are really pumped right now about the 2016 Nissan Titan and the various engines you can choose for it. If you want to read more about the color studio for the Juke or discover the perks of the Nissan app, the posts here dive into these topics and more.

 

Peruzzi Nissan

With new and used cars in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, Peruzzi Nissan is another must-see blog for first-time Nissan owners. Make sure you’re keeping up with maintenance by reading the post that includes a detailed to-do list. If you’re torn between getting a brand new car or one from 2015, another post highlights the major differences between the 2015 and 2016 Rogue. Compare the amount of cargo space, MPG and the fuel economy.

 

Continental Nissan Blog

Buying a new car is quite an investment, so it helps to do your research and know what you’re getting yourself into. Enter Continental Nissan Blog, which outlines the price of upcoming 2016 vehicles, the release dates for these cars, their specs and their safety ratings. There’s no need to second-guess your decision when you’re this well-informed.  

 

Ardmore Nissan

This retailer may cater to those in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, but the Ardmore Nissan blog is for any Nissan lover out there. The posts are written from the angle that owning a Nissan will simplify your life, and, if you purchase a newer model with electric power steering and tire alerts, you’ll find that this car will make things better. There’s even a helpful post about receiving auto services for your car.

white nissan altima

 

Inhabitat

Inhabitat includes cars in its topics of focus, but only smart e-cars. Nissan plans on producing an extended-range version of the Leaf next year, and you can learn all about it here. The vehicle is estimated to be able to travel more than 100 miles before you need to recharge its battery.

 

Younger Nissan

A Nissan dealership in Frederick, Maryland, Younger Nissan is also a fan of the Leaf, and the blog’s writers are partial to the Titan and the Versa. Both of those vehicles have detailed research pages that the staff at Younger Nissan have put together. All features of the car are summarized, and, if you happen to live in the area, you can book a test drive online after you’re done reading.

 

Boardman Nissan

Although Boardman Nissan serves customers in Boardman, Ohio, on a regular basis, its blog is full of general knowhow for readers anywhere who want to dig deeper into the safety and environmental benefits of driving a Nissan. Don’t feel torn between two models when you can review the post that pits the Sentra against the Versa. That ought to help make the decision a bit easier for you.

 

Belleville Nissan

The colorful Big Dave Johnson is in charge of the blog for Belleville Nissan in Ontario, Canada. He personally writes the in-depth guides and personal reviews of the latest Nissan cars, having tested them out himself. Some models he’s written about include the 2015 Versa Note SV, the 2015 Sentra SV and the 2015 Pathfinder Platinum.

 

Six Speed Blog

If you prefer that kind of personal writing from car aficionados who share their own experiences from behind the wheel of Nissan cars, then Six Speed Blog will be another compelling read. Although there aren’t a ton of posts, the ones that are available have had a lot of time and love put into them. Each post also has a huge gallery of pictures of the various Nissans from nearly every conceivable angle.

 

images by:
DayronV, Neil Mullins, Falcon Photography, MIKI Yoshihito

Step Aside, Boys: 30 Motorcycle Clubs for Women

woman by motorcycle

Update: Thanks for all the love everyone! Due to all the interest we’ll be revisiting this topic soon! If any of you are riding nearby, please make sure to stop by our auto repair shop located in Boulder, Colorado to say hi!

When you think of motorcycle gangs, one image typically comes to mind: Burly dudes with beards and a whole lot of leather riding their hogs.

Let’s challenge that image. All over the United States, women-only biker groups gather at community events, give to charities, ride around their respective cities and generally show the world that motorcycles aren’t just boys’ toys.

 

Women in the Wind, Worldwide

Women in the Wind was founded in 1979 when founder Becky Brown placed an ad in her local newspaper in northern Ohio seeking other women to ride with. Her first women-only ride featured a group of 11. Today, her organization counts more than 1300 members in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, all of whom are united under WITW’s purpose to unite women motorcyclists, promote a positive image, and educate members on bike safety and maintenance.

 

Venice Vixens, California

“We’re all a little different, a little crazy and a lot of fun!” the Venice Vixens promise. You can find these California girls at events around the area and on any track in the city. The women in this club are even sometimes known to hop aboard a dirt bike.

 

East Side Moto Babes, California

Another West Coast women’s club, the East Side Moto Babes are based in the Los Angeles area. Although they’ll often participate in races, the group stresses that “it’s not about competition, it’s about challenging courage and constancy in our clear vision of going for it and encouraging others to come along. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.”

 

Leather & Lace MC Nation

An international group created in 1983 by Jennifer Chaffin, the Leather & Lace MC Nation isn’t just about riding. Members also help children across the country through charitable work. The group has two primary goals: To get more people interested in motorcycle groups, and to do what they can to increase the wellbeing of children in various communities. There’s probably a chapter near you.

 

Sisters Eternal WMC, Texas

Established in 2013, Sisters Eternal WMC in Houston has two chapters in the city. Members of both groups often blend together and hang out at the various events the group attends throughout the year. Participating in the National Coalition of Motorcyclists events and joining the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, these girls are serious about motorcycles getting a good rap. The members prefer cruiser style motorcycles and are open to new members joining, but that has to be your bike of choice.  

 

Bella Gypsies, California

Making their home in the San Fernando and the Santa Clarita Valleys, Bella Gypsies came roaring into existence in 2010 after founders Minnie (the club’s president) and Lynne (its vice president) put their heads together and created the group. Seeking to unite a “sisterhood of motorcycle riders and bikers,” these women hang out when possible, go for rides and enjoy each other’s company. They also give back through charity. They emphasize an understanding that, in most women’s lives, family becomes a primary responsibility.

motorcycle with lights on

 

Women on Wheels, Worldwide

You don’t necessarily have to be a rider yourself to get involved with Women on Wheels; all enthusiasts, no matter their riding skill level, are welcome. This community nonprofit group has members of all ages, from their late teens to their 80s. Women on Wheels is so beloved that it was bestowed the Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award by the American Motorcyclist Association in 1993.

 

The Litas, Worldwide

Spanning 45 cities in eight countries with more than 600 members, the Litas a global collective of women riders. “We all have different backgrounds, interests, jobs, lives, but find common ground when we cruise the canyons, scraping pavement and letting go of all inhibitions,” they write.

 

Ribbon Riders, Florida

Ribbon Riders supports breast cancer survivors of both genders. This nonprofit club, established in 2008, features members all touched by breast cancer, whether they had it themselves or just knew someone who did. Since the club’s founding, its members have raised $250,000 that has directly benefited over 260 patients battling breast cancer in Central Florida.

 

Rainier Ravens, Washington

A brand new group founded in 2015, Rainier Ravens‘ creators had long been involved in various motorcycle communities around the world. Sponsored by motorcycle accessory companies Touratech and Triumph of Seattle, plus the Rainier Beer brewery, the group has become a presence in the Seattle area. They have meetings each month to plan events and other appearances.

 

The Scarlet Headers, Colorado

A Denver club that directly inspired the Rainier Ravens above, the Scarlet Headers strive for their members to “feel comfortable, accepted and encouraged to approach the motorcycling community. A place to learn, give back and grow. Each woman unique with a different style, machine and background all share one passion — the power of two wheels.” The women have recently rebuilt their own vintage motorcycle and plan to donate it to a charitable organization.

 

Lady Bikers of California

Seeking to “make California a little smaller,” Lady Bikers of California welcome members from all over the state. They’re very receptive to new riders joining and aren’t picky about what type of bike you ride. Each year, the group hosts its own International Female Ride Day; the next one takes place May 6–8, 2016, in Fresno.

gauges motorcycle

 

Boston Area Bike Enthusiast Sisters (B.A.B.E.S.)

While many of these motorcycle club members call themselves babes, only the Boston Area Bike Enthusiast Sisters actually can put it in their group’s name. Founded in 2001, the group is more of a sisterhood than a club. Members are of varying ages and “promote safety in numbers.” There are 85 members at the time of writing, and more are always encouraged to join. The group is very involved in Boston charities and believe in giving a bell to all members to battle against evil road spirits.

 

Sirens Women’s MC of NYC

Established in 1986, the Sirens Women’s MC of NYC rightfully calls itself the longest-running motorcycle club for women in New York City. There are more than 40 members, which also makes this group among the biggest in the state. The women are very into LGBT awareness and pride and even appeared in the New York City Pride Parade the same year the club was founded. It’s become a yearly tradition ever since.

 

Two Wheel Foxies, Florida

St. Petersburg’s Two Wheel Foxies may have a lot of awesome women riders, but they’re into more than just motorcycles. They also link up with businesses and charities in Florida to make a difference. The group hosts events at least monthly, sometimes more than that, where they plan rides on some pretty interesting routes.

 

Diamond Girlz MC, Massachusetts

Diamond Girlz MC is another Boston-area. Founded in 2007 by Courtney Bouchard, aka Mz. Pink, the group is built on being pillars of community, sisterhood and respect. Members partake in community service and give their time and donations to various Boston charities. All members must have their own motorcycles, have a Massachusetts driver’s license and be at least 18.

 

Distinguished Divas Motorcycle Club, Wisconsin

Milwaukee’s Distinguished Divas Motorcycle Club was created in 2009 and is a very valuable group in its home city. The women in this club spend a lot of time riding and almost just as much time volunteering and helping out such organizations as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Self-Esteem Workshop for Foster Care Youth Girls, Milwaukee Women’s Center Helpline, the Next Door Foundation Annual Walk and the House of Love annual unity rides.

 

Throttle Sisters MC, Idaho

One of the only women’s motorcycle clubs in Idaho, Throttle Sisters MC is a small and tight-knit group. “The purpose of Throttle Sisters Motorcycle Club is to participate in club planned/sponsored or chosen events that support our local riding community and to promote a sense of community and empowerment among women riders,” the members explain on their website.

black and white motorcycle closeup

 

The Miss-Fires, New York

A New York City staple, the Miss-Fires happily accept new members, as long as you’re at least 18, have a valid license and own a motorcycle. Of course, even if you don’t fit the criteria, you’re invited to any of the group’s social events and other meetings. If you also enjoy racers, classic cars, mopeds and dirt bikes, you’re in good company, because the women here are into vehicles with any number of wheels.

 

The Dahlias, Michigan

Hailing from Detroit, the Dahlias were founded by Valerie Jones and Hayley Suder. They couldn’t find any all-women motorcycle groups in their area, so they decided to start their own. They’re still recruiting new members, so now could be your chance to get involved in something spectacular.

 

Valley Vixens MC, California

Valley Vixens MC represent the San Jose area. Since 2009, the club has amassed members who “have a trust, loyalty, understanding, love and respect for yourself and all of your sisters.” This group doubles as a nonprofit that helps people in poverty and those who are sick.

 

Wind Sisters RC, South Carolina

The Midlands chapter of Wind Sisters RC operates out of Elgin, South Carolina, and has a handful of members. Prospects are welcome to attend any of the events that the club hosts, such as its annual chapter party on May 2nd at restaurant Gadget of Lugoff. This is the fourth event for the Wind Sisters, and it includes prizes, games, vendors, drinks and food.

 

Chrome Angels, Texas

Representing Tarrant County, Dallas and other parts of North Texas, the Chrome Angels are scattered across the entire state. These women will teach you to get better at riding if you need a few pointers and even offer safety classes. The group has a handful of Texas sponsors, like Succeed On Purpose for women-owned businesses, Cycle Center of Denton, Grapevine Kawasaki Polaris, Moto Liberty, Cyclone Motorcycle Rescue & Transport, Thunder Roads Texas Magazine and Willhoite’s Restaurant.

 

Motor Maids, North America

Since its founding in 1940, Motor Maids has grown to 1,300 members in Canada and the US. Linda Dugeau created the group, which was originally founded in Providence, Rhode Island. Today, there are chapters in nearly all 50 states.

yellow motorcycle closeup

 

Stilettos on Steel, Nationwide

Riding a motorcycle, regardless of gender, is all about safety, and Stilettos on Steel wants to educate as many riders as possible about how to avoid accidents. Much like Motor Maids above, this group has various chapters across the country. Members get a membership card, a patch and can join a locked Facebook group, so you always know which events are going on near you.

 

Organized Chaos, Illinois

Organized Chaos in Chicago is an eclectic group of women with all sorts of backgrounds, jobs, lives and hobbies who have one thing in common: their love riding. The group has a unique symbol, too, which is explained on the club’s website: “The gold represents and starts with our individual selves, our individual strength, morals and integrity; it begins with us and extends beyond ourselves. The silver represents what we bring to each other, our sisters, in the form of support, encouragement, and connection. The bronze represents what we offer to our community, our neighbors, and all those outside ourselves and our sisters.”

 

Bomber Girls, LRC, Georgia

Everyone does what they can to support the troops, but Bomber Girls, LRC out of Savannah, Georgia, go above and beyond, often mailing care packages to soldiers serving the country. They have a few chapters in Georgia and a handful of other states. All fundraisers and events the women participate in directly benefit troops.

 

Faribault Harley-Davidson Lady Riders, Minnesota

You might have your own Harley-Davidson dealership near you, but does yours have its own women’s motorcycle club like the Faribault Harley-Davidson Lady Riders of FHD? This group has garage parties throughout the year, typically in March and April, and even hosts its own H-D Riding Academy courses for new riders who want to understand their bikes better and feel more comfortable riding.

 

Distinctive Lady Ryders, Arkansas

The Distinctive Lady Ryders in Little Rock are a fun bunch. This charitable group always hosts an annual Bike Blessing event each May; this will be the third year. On May 7, 2016, coinciding with Motorcycle Safety Month, the women will be on hand for a meet and greet. Later in the day, accompanied by police escorts, they’ll lead a 60-minute ride.

 

Baby Janes MC, California

How many of your dreams do you actually remember? For the founders of Baby Janes MC, it only took one to create this Orange County group in 2011. Baby Janes aims to make you feel nostalgic for the 70s, “a time when rock-n-roll was hard, smooth and cool. There was leather and lace, choppers had queen seats with 30″ sissy bars, and cold beer and warm dust made the day.”

 

images by:
AdinaVoicu, Abhijeet Somvanshi, Alexa Wirth, Hermann

Future Cars: Tomorrow’s Technology Is Being Developed Today

futuristic car

On October 21, social media was abuzz on what was dubbed Back to the Future Day, the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly traveled ahead to in the second film. The movie, like many futuristic representations in film and television, didn’t quite hit the mark. We’re still waiting for those flying cars.

It begs the question, though: What is the future of road travel? Are we living it now with the emergence of driverless cars? Will there be yet another revolutionary technology that we can’t even fathom?

No need to guess. The future of vehicular and road technology is already here today.

 

Is Driving Our Preferred Method of Travel?

You know the scenario all too well: You’re sitting in your car after work, eager to get home, but you’re caught in bumper-to-bumper gridlock. As you and a parade of other vehicles slowly inch along the highway, you can’t help but wonder whether there are just too many cars on the road.

The answer is yes and no. There’s actually a phenomenon called “peak car” that addresses this very concern. Thomas Frey at Futurist Speaker defines the term as when “the number of cars in the world reach its peak and auto sales overall begin to decline.” Frey points to 2007 as the year of peak car, but Brad Plumer at Vox suggests we’ve yet to hit peak car, despite the popularity of ridesharing services such as Sidecar, Lyft and Uber.

Plumer shares a great chart (here) that shows September 2015 had some of the highest 12-month rolling averages for road travel in a very long time, marking a 4.3 percent leap from just a year prior.

In other words, Americans are driving more.

Why? “There are more people in the United States with each passing year, which generally means more drivers,” Plumber of Vox explains. All those claims of peak car in 2007 (others put it at 2008) failed to take into account economic circumstances, he says.

“The 2008 recession had far-reaching impacts: It meant that fewer people had jobs and fewer people were commuting to work. Many younger Americans weren’t making enough money to buy their own cars. There was less truck traffic on the road. But now that the economy’s picking up again, driving is going up with it.”

bicycle

 

What About Bikes?

An economic recession would have given millions of people a good reason to switch to pedal power, too, right? Bikes are far cheaper modes of transport than cars, and most American cities have made efforts to become more bike-friendly in the last decade.

But bikes don’t seem to have caught on all that well. Walker Angell of streets.mn, a site about Minnesota transportation, points to a study from the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) that found people have been buying and riding fewer and fewer bikes for the past 14 years.

The NBDA reported that 43.1 million people owned a bicycle in 2000. That’s 148 riders for each thousand people. However, as of 2014, the number dropped to just 35.6 million bike owners, now just 111 riders for each thousand people.

Angell muses that a small core of bikers have given the rest of the urban cycling world a bad name. “Perhaps most of all they don’t want to be associated with ‘those cyclists’ — the ones who run red lights when others have right-of-way or block traffic because they-have-a-right-to-the-road,” Angell writes.

“…They don’t want to be associated with people who have irritatingly bright blinkie strobe lights that blind them when they’re driving. They don’t want to be confused with people whose common pose is an anti-social fist up in the air gesticulating to the car that just passed them too close.”

That may not be a problem in Boulder, though. Erica Meltzer at the Daily Camera reported this summer about the city’s right-sizing pilot program, a test that saw four city roads shrink to increase the size of bike lanes. Those who feel nervous riding along skinny, narrow bike paths can now be more secure, especially since the roads targeted get an average of 15,000 to 20,000 trucks and cars a day on those streets alone. (By September, the  Boulder City Council had begun to roll back some of the right-sizing program.)

So, it appears that overall many people still prefer driving over biking as their primary means of transportation. That seems unlikely to change, and this is why some of the biggest innovations in personal transportation involve vehicles. No flying cars yet, but there are some cool things on the horizon.

self-driving car

 

The Self-Driving Car

Self-driving car technology is still very much in the test phase, but it could get to market within a few years.

Jeffrey Miller of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers writes at Live Science that one major component to developing self-driving cars that still needs further work is vehicle-to-infrastructure (V21) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications.

“Currently, self-driving vehicles are guided by computer vision technology — whether it’s Lidar/Ridar (laser or radar technology) or camera-based sensing — when operating on public roads,” he says. “However, V2V and V2I are communication methods that will completely transform how vehicles will ‘see’ the road and interact with its environment. Both V2V and V2I are dedicated short range communications (DSRC) devices that work in the 5.9GHz band, have a range of approximately 1000 [meters] and can support private data communications as well as public.”

Miller says that car manufacturers still have a ways to go as they test V2V and V2I technology. He predicts that these technologies won’t be integrated in most self-driving cars for another three or five years.

But once manufacturers implement these technologies, self-driving cars will be less accident-prone “by allowing vehicles to be in constant communication with each other as well as their environment.”

“Key to implementation will be a high penetration rate of vehicles able to communicate with each other,” Miller says. “This will enable self-driving cars to access further data and information regarding their environment, and will work in harmony with already available sensing technology (radar or video cameras).”

 

Safety

Many major car manufacturers are working on their own self-driving vehicles, including Audi, Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. Uber and Google are also working to build one. Safety is a top priority for each of these companies. However, we’ve already heard stories about one of these cars getting into a fender bender.

Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch wrote a piece about the Google self-driving cars and the accidents these have been involved in: 11 total in six years. However, the company thought that human drivers in either the Google car or the other vehicle were responsible in each instance.

Overall, though, self-driving cars are still widely believed to be a safer way to drive compared to humans behind the wheel. Lauren Keating at Tech Times shares research from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found in 2014 alone that 32,675 people were involved in a fatal road accident in this country. “Because the majority of these accidents are caused by human error, self-driving cars could potentially reduce the rate of automobile-related deaths — and save the U.S. over $400 billion (2 percent of the U.S. GDP) in total annual costs of accidents,” she writes.

Keating spoke to Ryan Hagemann from TechFreedom, an automation and robotics company, who shared his thoughts on the safety of self-driving cars. “In theory, if you have 100 percent fully autonomous vehicles on the road…while you still might have accidents on the margin in rare situations, you’re basically looking at anywhere from 95 to 99.99 percent reduction in total fatalities and injuries on the road,” he says. Keating caveats this, saying that for those percentages to become a reality, every single car on the road would have to be self-driving.

Traffic

 

Public Sale

While 2015 has promised a lot of innovation, the self-driving car is not going to be ready tomorrow. Bill Howard at ExtremeTech touched on the topic at the beginning of the year, estimating that these could become available as soon as 2017 or as late as 2020.

Miller, in his piece at LiveScience, agreed with the latter, writing that Nissan plans to sell its first self-driving car in 2020. “While consumers, and even some experts in the field, noted that this was an aggressive timeline, it didn’t seem like an unattainable goal,” he says.

Self-driving cars, once they become available, may have limited functions compared to later models that will come down the pike. “The first cars will be self-driving on limited access roads such as interstate highways,” Howard writes. “They won’t be self-driving in urban areas though. They may be autonomous on rural roads with crossing traffic and pedestrians, farm vehicles, and crossing cars. At the least, they’ll help drivers with the monotony of long-distance trips.”

The problem preventing more widespread travel? “There are many situations that autonomous cars are still pretty far from knowing how to handle,” says Shlomo Zilberstein, a University of Massachusetts Amherst computer science professor who spoke to Carl Franzen of Popular Mechanics. Zilberstein was involved with General Motors and the development of that company’s self-driving car.

“If we could transition to all autonomous cars tomorrow, it would be simpler than a mixed situation with most cars still having human drivers,” Zilberstein told Franzen. “…But once you have people, you have to cope with the uncertainty and complexity of human behavior.”

Until these hurdles are overcome, that 2020 release date for the first self-driving cars doesn’t sound too bad.  

 

Impacts on Traffic

Back to the issue of sitting in traffic: If cars were self-driving, would traffic still be a problem?

It’s not yet clear, it seems. Eric Jaffe at The Atlantic’s CityLab notes that “shorter gaps between cars means more cars per lane,” which seems promising. But then he spoke with Imperial College London’s Scott Le Vine, who did a study on self-driving cars and how quickly they accelerate or decelerate.

Le Vine’s research involved a four-way intersection simulation where every fourth vehicle is driverless. He did 16 simulations in total at 60 minutes each, each replicated 100 times, and in each simulation he adjusted the rate of acceleration and deceleration. Some scenarios featured relatively jerky stops and takeoffs — akin to the speed of light rail — and others were as smooth as high-speed rail.

“Acceleration has big impacts on congestion at intersections because it describes how quickly a vehicle begins to move,” Le Vine said “…Think about being stuck behind an 18-wheeler when the light turns green. It accelerates very slowly, which means that you’re delayed much more than if you were behind a car that accelerates quickly.”

Overall, Jaffe doesn’t believe that self-driving cars are prepared for the rigors of traffic at this time. “In the baseline situation, without any driverless car, each vehicle experienced a delay of 20 seconds at the intersection,” he writes. “When driverless cars accelerated and decelerated in the style of light rail, the congestion worsened from 4 percent (21 seconds) to 50 percent (30 seconds). The number of cars traveling through the intersection — at 1,793 in the baseline scenario — also fell between 4 percent (1,724 cars) and 21 percent (1,415) cars.”

But Peter Wayner at The Atlantic believes self-driving cars can cut down on urban traffic. “The unsticking of the urban roads is one of the side effects of autonomous cars that will, in turn, change the landscape of cities — essentially eliminating one of the enduring symbols of urban life, the traffic jam full of honking cars and fuming passengers,” he writes.

“It will also redefine how we use land in the city, unleashing trillions of dollars of real estate to be used for more than storing cars. Autonomous cars are poised to save us uncountable hours of time, not just by letting us sleep as the car drives, but by unblocking the roads so they flow faster.”

He, too, used a simulation (you can watch a video of the simulation here). Essentially, Wayner believes that because self-driving taxis (or Ubers) don’t need to park often, city streets will be less clogged with cars trying to find a place to park.

“Some parking garages have installed sensors that count the number of empty spaces, and signs to share this information to keep people from driving down full aisles,” he elaborates. “When autonomous fleets take over, they’ll have access to similar databases. The cities will probably keep a few parking spaces around for cars that need to pause, but most will probably be repurposed as parks or retail locations.”

toyota i-road

 

Developing Vehicles and Technology

Self-Driving Car with Breathing Commands

This fall, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper tested a form of a self-driving car, as covered by the Denver Post’s Monte Whaley. Hickenlooper took a cruise in an altered 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray designed by Sam Schmidt, a Verizon IndyCar Series Team owner and former IndyCar driver.

Schmidt, whose racing career ended after a crash in 2000 left him paralyzed, thought it would be interesting to take the Stingray and add sensors and infrared cameras on the dashboard (“which detect head tilts and command steering,” Whaley writes).

Hickenlooper, on his test drive, was able to drive by using a tube that gauges pressure. By blowing or sucking into it, he was able to slow the vehicle down or speed it up.

 

Hydrogen Cars

Although hydrogen fuel has its detractors, Honda is clinging tightly to its hydrogen car concept. Andrew P. Collins at Jalopnik writes that the car manufacturer developed a zero-emission sedan called the Clarity Fuel Cell Concept. If all goes well, it will be available for purchase in March 2016 in Japan and then come to the US.

“Hydrogen is an extremely appealing automotive fuel source because it packs tons of explosive energy without emitting the noxious chemicals a gasoline or diesel-burning car kicks out its tailpipe,” Collins explains. However, he goes on to call it “useless” because “there’s very little infrastructure to support a car that runs on anything besides gasoline, diesel or to some extent electricity.”

 

Self-Driving Buses

While many have accepted self-driving cars as the future, what about trucks, buses and other vehicles? Julia Eddington at The Zebra’s Quoted looked into this idea recently. She highlighted London’s Meridian Shuttle, a self-driving shuttle bus that made its debut earlier this year.

The Meridian Shuttle is only intended for relatively brief trips — say, from one airport terminal to another. It’s only about the size of a large golf cart, and it only travels 13 mph, but the United Kingdom is embracing self-driving tech: It has already developed an initiative for self-driving vehicles called the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment or GATEway.

 

The Toyota i-Road

Another solution to urban transport is the scooter-sized Toyota i-Road, which Matthew Ankeny of Gear Patrol bravely states could replace Citibikes as a means of transportation in New York City and eventually beyond. This electric vehicle can go moderately faster than the Meridian Shuttle, achieving speeds up to 37 mph.

“The i-Road has a steering wheel, two pedals, an e-brake, a seat belt and two doors,” Ankeny writes. “…At the turn of the ignition, the i-Road calibrated itself, giving a small wiggle right and left, to find center, then sat silently, ready to go. Rear-wheel turning took a second to get used to — it’s like pushing a shopping cart from the front — but the i-Road’s drive quickly became intuitive. The i-Road is far from a performance powerhouse, but it handles well enough.”

 

Next

Another busy company is startup Next, which has created a whole new means of transportation. Just check out the video below of the Next in action:
 

 
In November, Guillaume Renouard at French business site L’Atelier reported on the Next Future Transportation Inc. project, which “intends to provide a modular system which both meets the requirements for future road passenger transport and offers added facilities in line with people’s new expectations,” he says. “One of the most innovative ideas is without doubt the potential for the vehicles to link together into a sort of train compartment which can be reconfigured en route. Passengers would be able to move from one car to another, switching from congested modules to areas with more space, without the ‘road train’ having to stop.”

If that sounds even too futuristic for the movies, it isn’t. Each Next module has a set of wheels, meaning that they’re good for highway, residential street and other road use. These would need to be charged after so long, but the company has already thought that far ahead, writing that when the modules hook up that they can all charge from a bigger main battery, or that each module can have its own smaller battery for charging on the go.

 

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

One of the most exciting developments in transportation in recent years was when Elon Musk publicly released his designs for what he calls The Hyperloop, a regional transport system that looks like a pneumatic tube system for sending mail throughout a building.

“The Hyperloop…is a transportation network of above-ground tubes that could span hundreds of miles,” Alex Davies at Wired writes. “With extremely low air pressure inside those tubes, capsules filled with people would zip through them at near supersonic speeds.”

Davies reports that Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has signed on engineering company AECOM and vacuum company Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum to further develop Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. Additionally, space engineers from SpaceX and Boeing are involved in the effort. If all goes according to plan, the first Hyperloop could be designed and made next year in California.

 

Images by:
Robin Zebrowski, Alejandro Lopez, smoothgroover22, California Air Resources Board, jonbonsilver

Car Detailing Like a Pro: 20 Resources From the Country’s Best Shops

old car to new car

Your car is more than just what gets you from Point A to Point B. It’s a source of pride.

However, you might also be the first to admit that the current condition of your vehicle is less than stellar. If that’s the case, it might be time for a professional detail job — which is something you can do yourself.

We’ve rounded up some of the best tips from 20 professional detailers in Colorado and around the country so you can get your ride looking brand-new again.

 

How to Prepare Your Car for Detailing

3Dom Wraps, which specializes in car wraps, has a great blog series called #AttentionToDetail that’s all about detailing your car. Before applying a new coat of paint, car wraps, a car bra or any other details, you have to prepare efficiently, they write. Learn about which products you need and which steps to take in their guide.

 

How to Prolong the Life of Your Paint

“Keeping your paint looking great is essential to your vehicle’s exterior maintenance and helping your vehicle hold its value,” Freedom Honda in Colorado Springs reminds you. The team there suggests you get into a routine of washing, waxing and touching up your vehicle.

 

How to Get Those Headlights Looking Shiny and New

“Headlight restoration is going to remain an important task for anyone in the detailing industry,” Kevin George at Detailed Image, a detailer supply shop, says. “With most of the cars on the road today having plastic lenses, it is very common as they age to become hazy or to have a yellow look to them …When your lights begin to look like this, you are losing a majority of the lighting output, which is a safety concern.” Check out his step-by-step instructions (with pictures) on how to buff out your headlights.

 

How to Get Rid of Water Spots

Detail King and its blog calls itself “the Internet’s leading source for news and information about starting and growing an auto detailing business.” The company has produced its own line of products, including those that can erase any signs of water spots. Watch the DKtv video to see how it’s done.

 

How to Polish and Wax Properly

“…a light polish is going to remove embedded dirt and stains from your paint, but it’s not going to remove or correct any paint defects such as swirls, scratches, marring and etching. A full polish is going to remove a very small percentage of your paint and also remove any below surface defects (oxidations, swirls, scratches, etching, etc.) that were only as deep as the amount of paint removed,” Scott Race, owner of Maryland detailer Incredibly Detailed, explains. Delve deeper into what will work best for your own vehicle with his detailed blog post “What’s the Difference Between Wash & Wax, Light Polishing and Full Polishing?”

pontiac up close

 

How to Get Your Exterior and Interior Clean

Although every car detailer does it differently, The Detail King LLC in Littleton shares its useful exterior and interior processes. Follow along with these detailed and helpful steps for a car that shines both inside and out.

 

Consider Going Waterless

“The term waterless refers only to the process used to wash your car, not the product itself,” Celine Witherell at Behind the Detail says. “Almost all waterless wash products contain water in their makeup. They’re called waterless because they are designed to clean your car without you having to pre or post-rinse the vehicle.” Behind the Detail is a great resource for car care tutorials. If you want to try waterless products, check out Witherell’s post.

 

How to Clean Leather Back to Its New Lusciousness

“Car leather care and cleaning is much easier and simpler than most people realize due to the advances in car leather manufacturing,” Darren Priest notes in his post, “Cleaning Leather Car Seating Like a Pro” at Best Auto Detailing Tips. In his post, he explains the difference between older and newer leather and how to clean each.

 

How to Clean All That Pet Hair

“Hair differs from stains and crumbs because the hair itself can weave in-between the upholstery fabric, making it more stubborn to remove,” writes Bonnie at Virginia’s Capitol Shine. “In addition, the longer pet hair remains on the seats and carpet, the more embedded it becomes — not to mention the odor that may be associated with it.” She goes on to offer some DIY suggestions for keeping your car’s interior pet hair-free.

 

How to Clean Out Sand

When you’re making summer runs to the beach, Sharp Detail, another Virginia detailer, has useful advice for shaking sand out of interior items such as floor mats, vacuuming and air-drying. Read the tutorial, which includes pictures, on the blog.

bright green bmw

 

How to Get Cleaner Carpets

“It is better to keep your carpets as clean as possible at all times,” the team at Rancho Car Wash in California writes. “If you do see stains, there are some things that you can do to make sure that stains do not remain in your car carpet.” Check out their blog post for a six-step process to get any vehicle’s carpets clean.

 

Don’t Forget to Detail the Steering Wheel

“You might have observed that with the passage of time, the original color of the steering wheel turns brownish,” Steve Kingsley, writer for Calgary Car Detailing in Canada, explains. This part of the car is often overlooked when cleaning, but by following Kingsley’s instructions, you can change that.

 

How to Buff Out Scratches

“Nothing is more painful than seeing scratches on a brand new car or even a newly painted one,” writes Auto Deets, a tool review and how-to site. “Sometimes you wish there were some kind of invisible shield that you can put around the car to protect it from anything that can leave scratches. But then again that is the reality; a car is always vulnerable to these little scrapes and etches,” Take a look at the products recommended in Auto Deets’ post for removing scratches.

 

How to Keep Glass Coating Safe

“All vehicles, whether they are coated or not, face the impurities and qualities of the water being used to clean them,” writes SweetCars, a glass coating and car detailing company. “A coating will certainly resist damage from such impurities that would easily create havoc on the typical paint finish, but if the vehicle is left to dry on its own, those impurities will remain.” Read about the chemical reactions that take place between paint and glass finishes in this how-to.

 

How to Prevent Buildups of Bugs and Tar

“Tar, tree sap and bug residue all bond as if ‘Super-Glued’ to the surfaces of vehicles,” UK detailing site The Ultimate Finish writes. “There are cleaners specifically designed to tackle this type of contamination, typically called ‘bug and tar removers’ or ‘adhesive removers.’ Some of these products will turn non-painted plastic trim and window rubbers milky white and cause pitting on metals used on grills and badges.” Check out their post for a safer way to rid yourself of this nasty residue for good.

car and trees

 

How to Use Auto Detailing Clay

“Clay is an auto detailing tool that picks up protruding particles adhered onto paintwork by simply gliding it over the contaminated service,” detailing product manufacturer OSREN writes. “Now, why do we need to clay? Your car is constantly exposed to airborne pollutants, industrial fall outs, saps, bug splatters, dirt, dust, soil and grime. These contaminants will naturally cling on to your paintwork and cause the paintwork to feel gritty.” Prevent this by reading the site’s how-to for using clay, complete with pictures.

 

How to Your Microfiber Towels Clean

“Properly caring for microfiber towels is an important step to maintaining a scratch-free shine on any vehicle,” the Chemical Guys, a chemical and detailing company, introduce in their post “How to Wash Microfiber Towels.”

“Washing and drying microfiber towels properly ensures the towels last longer, stay softer, and produce better results when detailing,” the write. Their guide includes both a video and images to help you along every step of the way.

 

How to Scrub Tires for a Dirt-Free Shine

“You basically sit there scrubbing and drying each of the four tires separately, telling yourself that you’ll do this often to preserve their life,” the team at Bill’s Car Wash in Florida write. “However, you get bored fast the next time your tires need cleaning. Over time, after neglecting the wheels for so long, brake dust caused from strong heat and friction against the brake pads start to eat at the metal. This eventually destroys your tires and makes driving dangerous.” Try their tire-cleaning tips to prevent such a risky situation on the road.

 

How to Erase Scratches From Paint

“No wax in the world will improve the appearance of a paint surface as well as one level of polishing,” Ciro Papi of New York’s CP Car Detailing writes. “Polishing is a process where an extremely fine layer of clearcoat is removed using specific machines and polishes to flatten the surface of the paint to permanently remove those pesky fine swirls and scratches in your paint that appear when looking at your paint in direct sunlight or a halogen light source.” He goes on to explain when to polish and includes plenty of before and after shots to motivate you to get started.

 

How to Do Enhancement Detailing

Here’s the cherry on top.

The team at Detail Force in Golden explains enhancement detailing as being “designed for the enthusiast who keeps the car in relatively good condition inside and out. The bulk of the work in the enhancement detail is focused on the paintwork and exterior appearance to produce a deeper shine and gloss to the vehicle’s finish.” Read how to enhancement detail your car on the Detail Force site.

 

Images by:
Dietmar Becker, woodrow walden, adel ben, bady gb

Front Range Meetups: 23 Boulder Car Clubs To Join

open-top corvette

You’re the car person in your group of friends, the one who everyone goes to at the first sign of car trouble. You may not be a mechanic, but you can diagnose some basic issues, and you’re pretty handy around under the hood.

Maybe you have your go-to forums and websites where you can chat with like-minded people, too.

Well, if you’re a local to the Front Range, you can find plenty of other gearheads in your own neighborhood. Here are 23 Boulder car clubs and meetups that might be worth joining.

 

Top of the Rockies Corvette Association

As part of the National Council of Corvettes, the Top of the Rockies Corvette Association is the premiere group to join for Corvette drivers. When you pay the $55 for an individual membership (it’s $85 for couples), you join a group based in Longmont that has more than 100 members and has existed since 1985.

 

Coffee and Cars Boulder/Lafayette

Love coffee? Then you should sign up with Coffee and Cars in Boulder and Lafayette. Each first Saturday of the month, meetings take place from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m near the intersection of Arapahoe and 95h St. in Lafayette.

 

Rocky Mountain Jaguar Club

Celebrating its 48th year, the Rocky Mountain Jaguar Club welcomes residents from Nebraska, Wyoming and other surrounding states. There are about 120 members total, but there’s always room for more. When you join, you’ll be welcome to attend monthly meetings, get invites to sponsored parties and will receive the group’s newsletter. It costs $88 to join for a year and $68 to renew.

wet front of car flowers

 

Colorado Region SCCA

The Colorado Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) hosts events such as rallycross, club time trials and opportunities to drive some pretty sweet cars. The SCCA’s calendar is often chock full of events, which include member meetings at local restaurants and bars, parties for the holidays and mini conventions.

 

Mile-Hi Jeep Club of Colorado

Since 1956, the Mile-Hi Jeep Club of Colorado has been a viable option for drivers who want to delve deeper into their community. Membership costs $60 a year, and parent club meetings are held each month at the Westminster Elks Lodge. There’s also a trail run for four-wheel drivers who want to get to know their fellow club members better. The group organizes an annual Christmas Caravan for Kids event to give toys to the less fortunate, and members are also active in other local charitable organizations.

 

Connected Car Boulder Meetup

“This group is all about the future of transportation and the connected car. If you love cars (connected ones, autonomous ones, electric ones or even shared ones), this is the group for you,” Connected Car Boulder writes on its Meetup page. Each month, you can meet with reps from car companies, entrepreneurs and startups that look to make real change in the world of automotives.

 

Collector Car Council of Colorado

Encompassing more than 60 groups, the Collector Car Council of Colorado got its start in 1965. Then called the Old Car Council of Colorado, the organization covers all sorts of car interests: Rods and customs, kit cars, antiques and even vintage racers. Annual costs are $100 for corporations, $50 for clubs and $20 for individual members.

car door handle closeup

 

EPIC & MRSP Passholders Car Pooling Brigade

The EPIC & MRSP Passholders Car Pooling Brigade is for mountain resort lift pass holders who want to save a little money on gas, plus a little wear and tear on their vehicles, while still getting the most out of ski and snowboard season. Once the resorts have a good amount of snow, frequents rides out to Golden, Crested Butte, Keystone and elsewhere are available each week. There are also local meet-and-greets so you can get have a beer and get to know the folks you’ll share a ride with.

 

Conestoga Club

The Studebaker Drivers’ Club has its own Colorado chapter, called the Conestoga Club. Follow the Facebook page or check back on the website to see the latest events; you can also grab an online PDF membership form that you can fill out and mail back. Initial costs for new members are $24 annually, and this is a good resource for anyone who struggles to find the right part of an old Starlight or a Commander.

 

Sunday Afternoon Car Klub

Wonderfully abbreviated as SACK, the LGBT-friendly Sunday Afternoon Car Klub is brought to you by the Denver Chapter of the Lambda Car Club International. There are SACK events each month as well as various happenings. Also, look out for some great fundraisers a few times per year.

 

Denver Electric Vehicle Council

The Denver Electric Vehicle Council was born amidst the oil crisis of the ‘70s and counts about 100 members today. If you join, you can learn a great deal about hybrid technology, battery-powered cars and how to use renewable energy. There are meetings and events every month, and you can read the group’s newsletter for free on its website.

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Rocky Mountain Air-Cooled Volkswagen Club

For those of you rolling around in a Karmann Ghia or an old Bug, the Rocky Mountain Air-Cooled Volkswagen Club organizes regular cruises, shows and picnics up in the mountains. This is a good group of people for VW owners to know, and they look like they have a good time.

 

Denver Mustang Club

Founded in 1965, the Denver Mustang Club is proud of its history as one of the first groups created to honor the iconic sportscar. As long as you’re 18 or older, you can enroll for a $30 yearly fee. Members receive vendor connections, invites to events for networking and a newsletter each month called Horse Tails. Meetings are held monthly.

 

Early Mustang Club of Colorado

The Early Mustang Club of Colorado is also based in Denver, and its emphasis is Mustangs produced between 1964 and 1973. “You will find the EMC a very friendly, informal club with members who have a great deal of knowledge about these early cars,” organizers say. You don’t have to own a Mustang to join, but you must have car insurance and a driver’s license. It costs $30 per year for a membership.

 

Mercedes-Benz Club of America

The Mile High chapter of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America boasts nearly 450 members, and the club throws 30 or so events each year. Some are car shows, some are rallies, some are track events, and some are charity fundraisers. You’ll have plenty of reading material coming your way, too, when you receive the group’s publications, The STAR and The Constellation.

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BMW Car Club of America Rocky Mountain Chapter

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America is a great resource for news on all things road-related in the Boulder area. It also offers numerous opportunities for BMW owners to get together throughout the year — memberships start at $48 annually.

 

Model A Ford Club of Colorado

The Model A Ford Club of Colorado is one of the oldest on this list, having been founded in 1959. The group’s focus is restoring 1928 through 1931 Model As, and there are several events planned each month. Bonus points for anyone who shows up in era-appropriate fashion.

 

The Veteran Motor Car Club of America

The Veteran Motor Car Club of America has both an Estes Park and a Loveland chapter in Colorado. The parent organization was founded in 1938, and membership for a year costs $37. After you join, you can start attending meetings to get ready for the cool events and tours planned for 2016.

 

Rocky Mountain Region Cadillac & LaSalle Club

The Rocky Mountain Region Cadillac & LaSalle Club has been around since 1978 and welcomes members from surrounding states. The group holds monthly meetings and will sometimes have dinners before those meetings at Elks lodges. Also, Cadillac lovers should be sure to check out the group’s classifieds section on its website.

old ford

 

Gunnison Car Club

Each August, the Gunnison Car Club hosts a killer car show against the backdrop of the mountains. Also, the group’s member list is a roll call of some of the great vehicles of the 20th Century: a 1970 E-Type Jaguar, a 1955 Chevy Cameo Pickup and a 1932 Ford Coupe being prime examples. To join, fill out an online membership form and mail it back; it costs $10 initially to join, then $5 for every subsequent year. Families can also join for a total of $25.

 

The Classic GTO Association of Denver

The Classic GTO Association of Denver fills its calendar with Bandimere Speedway drag racing events, club socials, parades, picnics, trips, cruises and car shows galore. It costs only $30 for an annual membership.

 

Falcon Club of America Mile-Hi Chapter

Based in Denver, the Mile-Hi Chapter of the Falcon Club of America is for people who are interested in restoring and preserving those classic Ford Falcons built between 1960 and 1970. You only need to pay $30 per year, and you can enjoy meetings, events and activities made for Falcon lovers in the area.

 

The Maserati Club – Rocky Mountain Chapter

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Maserati Club has a calendar full of great events: Kentucky Derby parties, long group rides through the mountains and out into the desert, and even unveilings when Maserati releases a new model. Plus, what looks sweet winding through a mountain pass than a classic Italian grand tourer?

Images by:
Zachary Kolk, Alain Willemart, Timothee Magli, Mason Jones, Benjamin Child, Josh Felise

Electric Cars: 43 Experts to Follow on Twitter

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People often speak of Teslas and other such electric cars as the future of personal transportation, but electric cars are every bit as old as gas-powered cars. The first electric car (you’ll sometimes this shortened to “e-car” or as “EV” for electric vehicle) was actually built in the 1880s, when Nikola Tesla himself was a young engineer.

It took more than a century, but interest in electric vehicles has reached an all-time high. The benefits to owning one are many: They cut greenhouse emissions and save many drivers money via tax breaks.

If you are interested in buying an electric vehicle, or if you are just a fan of the technology, here are 43 experts, manufacturers and enthusiasts on Twitter you should consider following.

 

Featured image by: stux