Confronting PMS with the Lonesome Weirdoes

New Englanders know the thrill of taking that first ride of the season—and the melancholy that settles in after putting your bike away for the season. If you live in the Snow Belt, you know about PMS.

So you non-Northerners understand, up here PMS stands for Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. It’s winter. You’re not out riding. It’s something riders confront up here, some better than others. Year after year I am offered advice about moving south, but I happen to love New England so spare me. Besides, last winter I never did put my bikes away as there was hardly any snow. All it takes for me to go riding is for the roads to be reliably free of ice.

A sign outside Montes Motors and More.
A sign outside Monte's Motors and More.

Ice does have its place—in a hockey rink, which is where I first met two of the Lonesome Weirdoes. Somehow I played hockey with Bugsy and Monte for a few seasons before I realized they rode motorcycles. Then one day in the locker room, Dougie the goalie handed out stainless steel sidestand pucks—leftovers from his saw blade test lab—to anyone with a motorcycle. “Bones, you ride?” Bugsy asked me.

I must credit (or perhaps blame) Bugsy and Monte for getting me into long-distance riding. I had recently picked up a new bike and they suggested a great place to ride it. They’d gone there last summer: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I had barely ridden far enough from home before to spend a night on the road, so riding 1,000 miles—each way—seemed, well, long.

Stories of their trip soon convinced me to add Cape Breton to my to-do list. A few weeks later, after absorbing lots of sage advice about how to prepare for multi-day rides, I rode all the way to Meat Cove. The riding was incredible: hot and bone-chilling, exhilarating and monotonous, sunny and soggy. Long-distance riders understand.

A tool for everything and every tool in its place. (Note the extensive collection of hammers, including left-handed, metric and Whitworth.)
A tool for everything and every tool in its place. (Note the extensive collection of hammers, including left-handed, metric and Whitworth.)

That summer I started riding with Bugsy and Monte and man, could they ride! With Bugsy on the point and me on Monte’s six, I learned how to carve a smooth line through twisties. Massachusetts Routes 116, 112, 8 and 2 became favorite roads, roller coasters that I controlled. On Friday afternoon rides through the Berkshires or Hudson Valley or southern Vermont, I discovered all manner of things useful when riding farther than your own neck of the woods. One thing I quickly learned was to respect Bugsy’s role as chief restaurant selector. If he didn’t happen to be on the point, he’d move up when we entered a town. His knack for choosing good local cuisine in venues where motorcyclists are welcomed is uncanny. I’ve never dined in a national chain restaurant with Bugsy, and I’m better for it.

Weekend rides often started or ended at Monte’s place, out back in his garage (“Monte’s Motors and More”). This is where I began to tackle mechanical and electrical projects that I had always left to a service department. Change out tires? Install a wire harness? Modify a windscreen? Monte showed me how. The first time I drilled through virgin motorcycle plastic, Monte supervised. “Every part tells a story,” he taught me. More than once, that bit of knowledge has guided me to a correct reassembly. Since motorcycles were expressly forbidden by my parents when I was a kid, I missed out on acquiring garage skills by osmosis. Monte helped correct that, and still does.

Bugsy (left) and Monte are to blame for introducing your humble scribe to long distance riding. My heartfelt thanks!
Bugsy (left) and Monte are to blame for introducing your humble scribe to long distance riding. My heartfelt thanks!

After a few weekend rides and one three-day camping trip, Bugsy and Monte must have concluded that I was for real on a bike, so they invited me to ride with the Weirdoes. “Um… who?” The Lonesome Weirdoes Motorcycle Club, I would learn, was comprised largely of people who grew up in the town over the mountain from me. These were people who had bikes when I wasn’t allowed, people who never stopped riding just because they got jobs and families, people who had two or three or more motorcycles, people who rode motorcycles for the most fundamental of reasons: because it’s fun.

Rick appeared to be the leader, a first among equals. Rick typically had the point on Weirdo rides. On occasion, he’d consult a map, the laminated fold-up variety, but en route it was all in his head. He knew more back roads than I’d imagined could exist, plus places to pull over where the bikes were safe and the view was nice. His constructive advice helped me further develop my riding technique and boost my confidence.

Kevin was perhaps last among equals because he always rode sweep. He embraced his role bringing up the rear. It only took one weekend trip for me to learn that “Kevin” is Weirdo-speak for “campfire fueled, gut busting, beer-shooting-out-your-nose, fall over laughing storyteller.” If there’s a more talented chronicler of jollity than Kevin, I haven’t met him.

Remember the Yamaha XZ550 Vision? With a liquid cooled V-twin, shaft drive and downdraft carbs, it was a technology showcase. Monte’s example is from 1983.
Remember the Yamaha XZ550 Vision? With a liquid cooled V-twin, shaft drive and downdraft carbs, it was a technology showcase. Monte’s example is from 1983.

Bugsy picked us another winner of a lunch spot and there, talking with Jon, I discovered I’m not the only clean-cut middle class white guy with a family that people just don’t figure would ride a motorcycle. Guy was there for lunch, too, while his dog Divot stayed in the sidecar (except when he was marking car tires as his territory). Divot rode more miles in that sidecar during a dog’s life than many people ride over a human lifetime.

The next summer, around a campfire near Moreau Lake, New York, I learned that I, too, was a Lonesome Weirdo. There was no initiation or hazing ritual, just general agreement of those assembled that I belonged. A toast made it official. Rick gave me one of his Lonesome Weirdo cards with the motto Riding to Forget. “Riding to forget what?” I asked him. He shook his head. “I forget.”

Looks like Blue forgot to wipe his paws.
Looks like Blue forgot to wipe his paws.

Over many years and miles, I met more Weirdoes: Victor, lover of Italian bikes, saltwater fishing and fiddle playing; Mike, a walking encyclopedia of motorcycle mechanics; Fred, a mailman with a never-ending stream of wry insights on life. Wayne, Bert, Kathy, Joe, Rod, George, Jimmy, John, Alex, Greg, Brad, Mark, Tracy—and there’s an annual event where I have met more. In the dead of winter, the Lonesome Weirdoes assemble at Monte’s Motors and More to confront PMS head on.

Weirdoes arrive bearing food and drink. A few bring musical instruments. Some hike up Peaked Mountain, others zip around on snowmobiles or walk down to the frozen pond. Several bring tents. (Yes, overnight camping in February in New England is part of the tradition.) Dogs and horses add to the personalities in attendance. Back in the garage, the woodstove cranks out BTUs as folks dine on locally smoked ham and pulled pork.

Did you hear Kat picked up a vintage Darmah 900?

Monte’s 650 Daytona sure is gorgeous…has he gotten that old /5 running?

Get Mike to tell you about the time he rode his father’s Lambretta 150 into a briar bush.

Mike warms up.
Mike warms up.

PMS is taking hits from every direction. Zipper the dog is so pleased to see everyone (so pleased about things in general) that PMS is loosening its icy grip. Kevin’s “old man” voice makes PMS laugh so hard it can’t hold on. Weirdo musicians beat PMS into submission. Resident pugilist Bugsy blasts PMS with a jab, an uppercut and a knock-out blow to the jaw.

This annual gathering of Lonesome Weirdoes reminds us all that the first ride of the season is near—and that the bond between friends who ride is stronger than Old Man Winter.

Take that, PMS.

Taffy, a Missouri Fox Trotter, wonders who might have an extra carrot.
Taffy, a Missouri Fox Trotter, wonders who might have an extra carrot.
Your humble scribe looks over Victor’s latest piece of Italian iron, a 900 Monster.
Your humble scribe looks over Victor’s latest piece of Italian iron, a 900 Monster.


  1. Great article Scott….. Been suffering with PMS for months, up here in Halifax, NS.
    Took my first ride of the season on an unusually warm Feb 26th this year!!

  2. What a great article. This captures what is like for all of us New Englanders as we wait for Spring. The sadness of not riding is mitigated by the excitement of the first ride of Spring. Sharing this with riding friends is special. Thanks for the article. It helps with the PMS!

  3. Great piece, Scott.
    PMS will be around for a while yet up here in the Great White North I’m afraid. Maybe five or six more weeks before I can get out riding – IF I’m lucky.
    Anyhow, Meat Cove, what a great destination for that first long distance ride.
    See you in Sooke.
    Is it June yet?

  4. Nicely done as always, Bones! Thank you on behalf of us denizens of the Frozen North, who must do battle with PMS for several months every year (especially here in Quebec…we’re not even allowed to ride between Dec. 15 and Mar. 15!). I am very much looking forward to oh, so gently waking Scarlett from her winter sleep and getting her out from under her blankie! 😉

  5. Great read !!
    PMS is about to be cured say 2 weeks from now. Winter has its good points too,,, such as time to catch up on all the stuff you neglected during riding season. I think I just finished off 2009 neglected things .


  6. Very well written. Thanks Bones for doing it. Living in Maine I understand PMS. Even more so now that I have hung up the leathers. Sure do miss it.

  7. Great read Bones! And great pictures. I’m sitting here in rainy, cold New York City with PMS too. I occasionally open the shed door and pat Austin on his panniers and reassure him that Danny will be home before we know it and we’ll be enjoying the thrill of riding under that awesome sun roof again. I can’t wait. Everywhere we go, we meet people who are happy to share stories and chat about their rides and adventures. Being on the road and exploring highways and byways and finding out of the way places to eat is like nothing else. Being with friends and sharing stories, even old oft-told stories, is so enjoyable. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Thanks Bones Great story. I wasn’t sure why we all felt the way we did now that we have a” name ” for it we can seek more ” treatment “

    • Thanks to you, Monte, and to Bugsy, for pointing me in the right direction all those years ago. Since then I have taken the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

  9. Just wondering where the “monte” garage is located….because I lived in Stow, MA for 33 years before moving to the afore mentioned “south”…and I owned, back in 1894-86, a Yamaha 550 Vision, 1983, just like the one pictured in the article….I traded it for one of the earliest “new motor company” Harleys in 1985 at Sheldon’s in Worcester….so there is a good chance that this is my old Vision !! so where is this guy..? I’d love to see if he has my old bike !

    • JP, I checked with Monte and he bought his Vision in 1984, used with 2000 miles. Going by your dates, it doesn’t appear you had the same bike. He’s restoring his right now and looking for a carburetor bowl. If anyone has a 1983 Yamaha Vision carb bowl sitting on a shelf, post up!

      • Thanks for responding…After consulting my (extensive) previously-owned bike archive, I determined that I bought my Vision from Cycles Yamaha, a small shop in Hudson, MA on Nov 20, 1984…for $2099.00 !! I also found a NOS set of exhaust gaskets (Part # 4H7-15613)…Tell “Monte” they are his if he wants them…I also found the name of a guy who used to race these bikes / he was the only guy who could make these things run properly.
        Steve Fahey / he was a wrench at the long-ago Bernardi Cycles.!!

        • That’s great, all around. I just reached Monte (on his way to Daytona) and he’d like to take you up on the gaskets and talk to you about your experience…might need to wait until he’s back from points south. Thanks!

  10. Great article Bones! Thanks for cheering me up. I too have severe PMS but it also includes Please Mend Swiftly! With this tib/ fib break it may take til May before I will ride again. 🙁

  11. Another excellent piece Scott! As a New Englander I never quietly accept PMS…I fight it kicking and screaming every winter!

  12. Stopped in Meat Cove years ago. The campground owner at that time told us of a story where he chastised a dog owner for letting the little pooch run free. Thdog owner was miffed and said that his pooch was harmless. The campgroung owner pointed to the sky and told the gent that he wasn’t afraid of the dog biting someone-no, he was afraid that the wandering dog would be carried off by the circling hawks or eagles, can’t remember exactly what was flying around, but we enjoyed the story!

  13. All you “southern” New Englanders (and New York, New Jersey, etc. too): take a look at the Polar Bear Grand Tour (winter riders in New Jersey, mostly)…..and also Google: Crotona Midnight Run…..those are our alternatives to PMS!

  14. Great article. I just went out to the garage and told my Honda PC 800 that we will hit the road on the first day we see 50 degrees. Your gang sounds like my kind of group. Great name.

  15. Another great one, Bones!

    I never knew or understood the real horror of PMS until I had back surgery… but it really didn’t sink in until I moved to Denver. I could see cleared roads from my ice/snow covered hood! Then, once melted, granting access to my PMS getaway… Mother Nature says in her coy voice, “Silly boy!”. More snow!

  16. Speaking of PMS, went to bed last night with the forecast calling for 1 to 3 inches of snow, woke up this morning to find 10 inches had fallen overnight and it’s still coming down. When life hands you snow, build a snowman.

  17. Nice read, Bones.

    I moved away from PMS close to 20 years ago. But I had been under the impression that ‘Lonesome Weirdos’ was a generic term for the folks that ride long and off the most popular path. Those guys you meet at a gas station in a metropolis of 1500…


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