Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hillybilly Hall and Broadway Lights

Hopewell Bears, from left, Fonz, Captain, John J., Pogy (down front), Mac, and standoffish to the right our New Yorkers Jim and LD Diva.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, ride to Hillybilly Hall, Hopewell, NJ, November 22, 2015.

Editor's note from Chris Loynd:

I had to work Sunday, representing The Maritime Aquarium at The Chocolate Expo at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey. Looks like the Connecticut Bears had a great ride, however some miscommunication left our New York wing a bit miffed. They showed how miffed they were in the usual New York way . . . but I retouched the photos.

Our booth at the Chocolate Expo kept me from riding Sunday. But coworker Cara Kenefick and I worked a 7,000 person crowd on behalf of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Connecticut, where I am Marketing Director and get us into these crazy obligations in the first place. The Aquarium will take a few more Sundays this season.
So this Sunday's guest blogger is Captain and here is his report:

By: Captain K.

Today's riders were John J., Mac M., Fonz, Pogy and John K.

Also ran, James M. and Joanna W.

Today was another mild day for us Polar Bears of CT. I arrived at the DD at 0730. At 0740 John J. arrived and we had coffee while catching up. Around 0750 Pogy called to check in that he would be at Darien RS at 0850 for the ride, as Mac pulled in to the lot. The Fonz showed up at 0815.

As we gathered in the lot getting ready to leave I asked Mac if he would lead the ride. After listening to him go on about getting lost with his H-D GPS I decided to lead  with Mac as sweep. We left promptly at 0830 southbound on I-95. At 0850 we reached the Darien RS and with the help of the on ramp downgrade Pogy was able to eventually join the group. We cruised on to I-287 making great time as their were no stops / pickups. Continuing south we arrived at our destination about 1030. The sponsor of our new early departure program (EDP) Pogy was making the rounds as the clock was ticking, so I offered to get the table. 

After checking in we finished our coffee and paid the bill. Just then Jim and Joanna arrived. Joanna was surprised that I did not stop for them. I said that no one called so we drove on by. I realized I was in the presence of royalty when Joanna offered me her number to call her next time. I told "Princess Joanna" that it's not personal, just tough love. We left and they stayed for lunch.

Please accept this nomination of Princess Joanna into the CTPB Hall of Names.

We stopped at the top for coffee and I was home by 1500.

Polar Bear Photographer Bernard Walsh caught our group arriving at Hillybilly Hall.
New Yorkers Jim and Johanna forgot to let us know they were patiently waiting at the bus stop to join the group.
The New Yorkers expressed their concern with the usual New York delicacy.

Jim and Johanna salved their wounded pride in typical NYC fashion: dinner and a show!

Okay Princess Diva, as I always say in my weekly departure time e-mail, "If we're picking you up en route be sure to let me or the Captain know." See you next Sunday! XXOO

Thursday, November 19, 2015

300 Miles in Daylight

Shamong Bears, from left, Jim, Captain, Joanna, Pogy, Chris and Mac.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, ride to Pic-A-Lilli Inn, Shamong, NJ, Sunday, November 15, 2015.

By: Chris Loynd

"One of the great things about getting older is you get up earlier," Jeremy Clarkson, former host of "Top Gear" on BBC.

Barnsider Tavern went out of business. So our destination shifted to the popular Pic-A-Lilli Inn in Shamong, New Jersey. (You couldn't make those names up if you tried.) I say popular because the Polar Bear Grand Tour visits there at least once but also for the end of season blow out. Polar Bear Grand Poohbah Bob admitted the Pic-A-Lilli is close to his home. So it certainly is a popular destination with the man in charge.

Far for us! Which is not all bad. At just over 150 miles one way, we pick up five big Polar Bear points. The Barnsider in Sugar Loaf, N.Y. is just 100 miles one way, four points. Doesn't sound like much, until you ride. Then you get points fever, leading to patch fever, leading to bonus pin fever, leading to perfect attendance dementia, leading to Captain.

Starting as three bikes we smoothly added three more as we cruised toward our destination. Pogy joined up at Darien. Joanna was ready at the bus stop, we never even had to stop for the traffic light. And Jim just appeared, right there on the parkway, powering up the shoulder to smoothly take his place in the pack.

Mac's peripatetic riding style was a bit frustrating for your leader, me. There are times when you try to speed the group up or slow it down to fit in and out of gaps in traffic. But when your second rider has a three to four mile lag time, it's a bit of a challenge. When I made a wisecrack at the stop at the top, I included Pogy who was behind Mac. He took great umbrage. And when Mac dropped further back in the pack for the last leg home I couldn't get Pogy unglued from my wing. He was in perfect position the whole way.

We got to Pic-A-Lilli early. Good thing too, the joint was jumpin' by the time we finished lunch. People were packed-in and waiting for our table.

Food and service were good. At lunch Jim shared some good stories about his multiple Harley dealer experience. Captain maybe found a wizard to help cure his Road King gremlins. And poor Joanna was embarrassed by our waitress. You could tell the waitress knew it was the wrong thing to ask a fellow female sitting at a table full of motorcycle guys.

We reaped the reward of starting early by leaving early. That left us enough time for coffee at the top, traffic over the Tappan Zee, and still got Pogy home just before the 4:40 sunset.

Truly a rose among thorns.

Bears at Chez GSP, Dunkin' stop at the top of the Garden State.
Jim checks the Dunkin' cup for holiday political correctness.

Pogy takes his wingman status seriously.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

One-tank Jaunt to Jersey

Bridgewater Bears from left: Joanna, Captain, Jim, Fonz, CT Blogger and Pogy down front.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, ride to The Eagles, Bridgewater, NJ, Sunday, November 8, 2015.

By: Chris Loynd

New Jersey Matt was a surprise visitor when I arrived at our Stratford, Conn. Dunkin' Donuts departure point. Our destination this Sunday is right in his backyard. So he headed up to Connecticut to get a few miles in this Sunday. He's done it before, sort of a Polar Bear ride in reverse.

When we got to the Eagles, Matt quickly said his goodbyes, and so missed the weekly group photo. He said something about having a babysitter for the afternoon. And if you've ever had kids, well, here's hoping you enjoyed your afternoon Matt!

Fonz joined us this week. We hadn't seen him on the first two rides. He told me it had been too warm for Polar Bear riding. "But I woke up," he said, "heard the heater running, and figured it was time to ride."

Jim joined us for the first time this year. He and Joanna were waiting for us at the bus stop. We picked them up but stayed up on I-287, using the Tappan Zee going out instead of the GW Bridge.

We rode down to an Eagles Club in New Jersey, home to the famous AMA New Jersey Corn Boil. (A summer ride worth two Polar Bear bonus points.) Club members put on a great feed for a paltry $12, coffee included.

We sat at big round tables after working our way through a crowded sign-in. Somehow Jim and Joanna ended up at the table next to us instead of our table. That seemed to work just fine for them; Jim brought Joanna to our group in the first place. They chatted happily on their own.

Instead we were joined by a couple of Polar Bears from Maryland. Who knew? Outlanders like us. Most of the Bears are from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

One of the girls worked for a Navy contractor building submarines. She commutes between Newport News and Groton. Table talk soon centered around submarine classes, building techniques and general specifications. I don't think any state secrets leaked. In fact, it sounded to this neophyte like our Captain knew more about the subject than the expert from Maryland.

He never once mentioned his own submarine project. I was sorely tempted to tip his hand. But one advantage of getting older is that I've learned respect other's business . . . and mind my own.

Our ride was a nice, easy distance, less than 250 miles round trip.

As such, I decided to skip the gas stop my comrades needed to make on the way home. My Honda ST1100 has one of the largest gas tanks fitted to a motorcycle, 7.4 gallons. My gauge at the gas stop was reading only a quarter down. The bike's range is advertised to be more than 300 miles.

It wasn't like there wouldn't be another gas station on the way home. So I figured to test the bike. Worst case scenario, I figured I could drop out of the group and fill up. Worst, worst, case scenario: I have a siphon and my buddies just filled their tanks!

Confidence can be a fragile thing. As we rode over the Tappan Zee Bridge mine faded. This bike is 18 years old. I bought it used. It's relatively new to me. I've never really run the tank down past a quarter. What if the gauge is off? There's no reserve. I'll just sputter and die.

My speedometer always reads exactly five miles fast. I've checked it with the GPS. Does that mean my trip odometer is showing more, or less miles? Doubts filtered in as I rode for home.

I made it to my home gas station with a quarter tank still showing on the ST's gauge. I brimmed the tank to the same point I'd filled it after last week's ride. The pump said it delivered 4.812 gallons. So 7.4 divided by four equals 1.85 gallons per quarter tank. With my quarter tank the gauge says is still available, 1.85, plus the 4.812 I just replaced, equals 6.662 gallons. So there must be slightly less than a gallon reserve when the fuel light comes on and the tank reads empty. Not to bad.

Next I checked the trip OD against the GPS. They matched exactly at 245 miles. So if I figure right, I divide the 245 miles by the 4.812 gallons, to get 50.91 mpg. Yes, there's some small variation for where exactly the fuel reaches the bottom of the filler neck. Even discounting that by, say, 10 percent, I still got 45 mpg.

Yeah, I gotta go touring on this bike next summer.

LD Diva and the boys at Eagles.

CT Polar Bears, New Jersey Matt, in yellow, is an honorary member.

Fonz's first sign-in.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Longest Ride -- Lewes, Delaware

Week 2 Bears, from left: Long Distance Diva, Pogy, Captain and CT Blogger.
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Ride to Irish Eyes Pub, Lewes, Del., Sunday, November 1, 2015.

By: Chris Loynd

You know you're a motorcyclist, a rider, when you ride about 550 miles, over 11 1/2 hours, for a one-hour lunch. That's how four of us spent our Sunday on the first day of November when daylight turned to standard time and gave us an extra hour.

Angling for less riding time after the earlier EST sunset, Pogy asked us to experiment with a half-hour earlier start. So we were off at 6:30 a.m. Yes, 6:30 a.m. In Pogy parlance: 06:30.

Fortunately I saw Joanna's e-mail Saturday afternoon. She was planning to be at the pickup spot at 8:00 a.m. We corresponded a bit and I ratcheted her back to 7 a.m.

With Token2 back in the old country, I got my chance to lead. It was an easy task with just four riders. We cranked, yes cranked, the NJ Turnpike start to finish.

I had planned to stop at the last rest stop, but Joanna signaled me so we stopped at the penultimate one. To pull the group over at the next rest stop we usually simply ride up next to the lead and tap our hand on the top of our helmet. But Joanna's from the city. She told me later in her hood that's the sign for cops.

So not knowing our custom she offered a more expressive signal. It wasn't just the pointing, it was the urgent little happy hoppy dance she offered in her saddle. As a parent I immediately got the message. I remember my kids doing that potty dance when they were two years old. It's the cutest thing riding with women.

We were all teasing her at the earlier-than-planned stop because her Harley windshield is covered with stickers she claims to have earned from Michael Kneebone.

This was the longest ride I've done on the ST1100. We've been getting to know each other. And I think we're close to coming to an understanding for long distance touring. I have a small Airhawk just under my butt where the seat scoops a bit then steps up for the passenger. With the blades on my engine guards I can get my too-long legs out a bit now and then. The bike is nearly right for 100-plus mile stints.

A previous owner installed Heli Bars. They appear eminently adjustable, but I don't know how. Pogy offered to help. And I think if I can get the grips just a bit closer to me it will be perfect.

I was truly amazed at how it sipped gas, even at speed. When my compatriots on Gold Wings were near empty, my tank was still half full. Average mileage reported on Fuelly is above 42 mpg for my 1997.  I can't be bothered to keep track. But with a 7.4 gallon tank the supposed 300 mile range per tank seems believable. That means I could make the 1,000 mile run to Daytona Beach with just four fill-ups, easy.

Hmmm, I may have to think about following in Joanna's tracks and do some long distance hauls next summer.

LD Diva was so busy kibitizing, she nearly missed lunch.

Pogy loves the camera!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Season Debut 2015

Inaugural season CT Bears, from left: Joanna, Token2, CT Blogger, Captain, Pogy, Mac.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog. Ride to VFW, Cape May, NJ. Sunday, October 25, 2015.

By: Chris Loynd

Our first ride of the 2015-16 season dawned drearily, dusked dramatically.

We started from Stratford in full rain gear at 8:00 a.m. The sun had been up for 45 minutes, but you couldn't prove it by us. Perhaps the drizzle kept some bears at home, warm in their dens. Grumpy drove down to Dunkin' to see us off. He'll be out a few weeks for carpel tunnel surgery, his clutch hand in a cast.

Captain, Mac and I were the only riders starting from Stratford. I had an idea to lead, but before I got the words out, Captain informed me he was taking the lead and then passing it to Token2. Token2 wanted to lead because he'll soon miss a month of rides due to business obligations. I guess he's sentimental.

We picked up Pogy in Darien on the way down. I now had a mind to sweep, but Pogy assumed that role, waving me in front of him. So I was stuck in the rockin' chair all the way down.

Token2 was waiting at the bus stop where we jump onto the Hutchinson Parkway. Joanna wasn't. We had traded e-mails earlier in the week and she planned to be at the bus stop at 8:30. It was 8:38 and our bears wait for no rider. With Captain twirling his finger in the air and Token2 scrambling to get his butt on his bike and his electrics plugged in, we roared off for the Hutch.

Joanna did join us, Clark Makinson style. Like a phantom rider her bright white LED headlight suddenly appeared behind us on the Hutchinson Parkway South. She later confessed to seeing us go by the Hutch gas station as she was brimming her tank. She used this particular rest stop's center of the highway configuration to reverse course and catch us. She then supplanted Pogy as sweep, driving me deeper into the center of our now six riders. (If you don't get the Clark Makinson reference you can read a bit more about Clark on my other blog site here.)

We rode in and out of rain on the way down. Sometimes it drizzled. Here and there it rained real drops. Never did it downpour. I probably got wetter from the spray of Mac's bike in front of me as he wove back and forth across his lane, rather than following the already cleared car tracks. That's just how he rolls. His peripatetic style applies forward and back, as well as side-to-side. Pogy said banjo and slinky.

I'm thinking being retired may be something like being drunk. Poor lane discipline and inability to match speed are probable cause for an under-the-influence stop. Actually Mac tightened up quite a bit on the ride home after we ripped on him at lunch. But by then the pavement was dry.

Mac and I even enjoyed a couple of 100 foot drag races out of the tolls on the Garden State Parkway on the way home, another Makinson trademark.

In addition to getting coated with spray, we had the bad luck to follow a car as it was blowing its engine. Apparently the driver was oblivious to lights that must have been blinking all over his dashboard. His car was spewing clouds of black smoke, doubly so whenever he hit the gas. This guy wasn't just burning oil. This smoke was black, not blue. It tasted like valves or bearings. We rode through it for miles. Pogy noted rain rolling off his windshield turned black as we got closer then finally passed the dying automobile.

Speaking of ripping on each other, I avoided Captain's usual shtick targeting the group photographer, I'm filling in for Grumpy while he's out on medical leave. While Bear Photographer Bernard Walsh took a photo, and then Joanna had him shoot another with her cell phone, I sneakily grabbed the official shot via my 10-second timer. At lunch, Captain showed his hand by asking if and when I took the photo shown above.

A week before the ride, Pogy was worried about the photo, "Do you have a camera?" "Yeah." "Do you have a tripod? Because if you don't we could maybe go together and buy a tripod," he offered. "No worries," I answered, "I got it covered." And I did. With stealth.

Surprisingly, Pogy wasn't aware of the Grand Tour weekly photos, only the photos on my photo rich Polar Bear Blog at Grand Tour Webmaster Walter Kern also posts a year of his favorite Polar Bear Photos on his site Motorcycle Views.

I wish I could have taken some pictures of the ride home. It was filled with Kodak moments. About halfway home clouds slowly relented, sunshine peaked and then streamed through. After a couple of gas stops and a cup of coffee at the top of the Garden State Parkway and picking our way through traffic over the Tappan Zee, we hit the Hutch nee Merritt Parkway just about sunset.

Turning for home the sky in my mirrors blazed. Thanks to Connecticut's unique geography, you go mostly east and west when traveling north and south. Behind me the sun slowly weakened. Ahead a gigantic moon rose, just two days short of full. The few clouds left in the sky went pink, and then purple. Meanwhile the pre-peak trees lining this lovely parkway glowed yellow and orange and red.

Eventually the sun set. The trees went black, silhouettes against bright moonlight. One lone and spiry pine, tall and twisty, as if drawn by Dr. Seuss.

Turnout was lighter than usual; maybe it was the rain.

Captain is sporting a new hat this season.

Our leader this week readies for the ride home.
Sun broke through the second half of our ride day.
My antique web authoring software is giving me a bit of trouble. For now, I'll post here on the Google cloud for all to enjoy. See you next week!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Warmer Weather Wasn't

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog. Ride to Lake Hoptacong, NJ. January 12, 2014.

By: Chris Loynd

About this blog, I've decided to make this Blogspot posting more about the experience and less about the chronology. So I will post the fun or interesting or otherwise worthy stories here and use my web site for the chronological postings. Until I change web authoring software, this will be a more accessible tool, for me. For you, this blog is more about the words. I'll continue to put lots of photos on my web site version.

After a day and night of rain, Sunday promised clear skies and unseasonable warm weather. So we had a few more beyond the core. Unfortunately, Sunday did not keep her promise.

One good thing about Saturday's rain, it washed that calcium crap off the highways. Our state, and the surrounding ones, are now spraying a much maligned calcium chloride solution on dry roads before a snowfall or when ice is expected. This new mixture is far more corrosive rock salt and sand mixture DOTs used to apply. Already trucking firms and others who motor for a living are bitterly complaining about the rapid demise of their vehicles. I can visibly see the destruction of my beautiful Harley Springer. John J. has refused to ride with the Polar Bears. But he came out of hibernation Sunday thanks to Saturday's cleansing rain.

I was enthusiastic about riding, and that caused a bit of trouble. My excitement drove me to arrive a little earlier than usual at our Dunkin' Donuts starting point in Stratford. Most always I time it so as to pull up just as everyone is leaving. Over time this has shifted cause and effect. Now when my fellow riders see me they automatically assume it's time to go.

So when I was early to the Dunkin' on this occasion, my Pavlovian friends quickly mounted their machines. Captain waved me to the lead.

Everyone lined up behind me, I blithely led us out of the parking lot, forgetting to check the time.

My first clue should have been the Fonz. He generally arrives even closer to our departure time than I would dare. We met him coming in as we were going out. Sunday morning traffic being light on Lordship Boulevard, Fonz simply made a u-turn and joined the line of bikes as sweep.

Still it hadn't dawned on me that we were leaving early.

Turns out Fonz was only the first domino to fall.

We were supposed to pick up Pogy and Scott at the Darien rest stop on I-95. As we approached I saw only Scott. It's not like Pog to miss a ride. He's a former Marine. So when he says he is going to do something you can pretty much set your watch by it.

Ah well! I figured something came up.

Down I-287 and Token2 was waiting in his appointed place. Token2 was to take over the lead when we picked him up en route to the Tappan Zee Bridge. As he came up I deftly slid over to the number two position and followed him to our destination. Token promised to lead us over some tasty, twisty back roads on the ride home in promised unseasonably warm and sunny climes.

We arrived at Wearhouse Grill in good stead, making a straight expressway shot. As we dismounted and unlayered from our gear, I expressed my dismay to Captain about Pogy missing the ride. "Pogy's here," Captain said, pointing down the line of parked motorcycles. And sure enough he was. At lunch we learned the story.

Pogy lives in Norwalk and as was waiting at a traffic light near the I-95 on-ramp, he saw us motor by. If he had caught one more red light he would have missed us. As it was he chased us down and slid into the back of the line. I never even noticed.

My compatriots figured my enthusiasm fired us out of the Dunkin' Donuts paddock approximately three minutes early. I nearly cost Fonz and Pogy the pleasure of our company.

Or maybe not. I remember one ride a few years' back, all the way down to some dinky airport in downstate New Jersey. For some reason or another, I arrived late to an empty Dunkin' parking lot. No matter, I headed on down by myself. It was nostalgic in a way. I started riding Polar Bears on my own. And until it caught on with the Connecticut locals, I did more than one ride alone. That kind of riding has its own benefits. As it was, I arrived only 10 or 15 minutes behind my compatriots who had not yet even ordered lunch.

Warehouse Grill treated us well. They know how to do Polar Bears right. But our brothers in Bucks County HOG had an even better idea. They'd called ahead and made reservations, had a table of their own with their name on it and everything.

We enjoyed a great lunch with lots of ripping on each other. Russ was along (haven't seen him in a while) and we reveled in his retelling of some of our best adventures like the moose in Maine and the buffalo in South Dakota. No great story ever started with, "I was sitting on the couch when . . . ."

As we exited for the scenic ride home the weather was somber. The sky was still clouded, maybe darker than when we arrived. Perhaps it was the wind off the lake, the air felt raw.

A quick meeting of the board of directors and we nixed Token's scenic ride, hours with his Garmin wasted. Instead we fled back out Route 80 to the Garden State Parkway.

Scott left us there, choosing instead the GW Bridge and the straighter pathway to home. He used to do the GW Bridge a lot and knows every trick. Chris Christie could never foil Scott. He led us one time on a ride where we were suddenly off the Turnpike, onto some secondary expressway, up the hazardous materials lane and suddenly, poof!, we were at the toll booths.

If you ever want to get your motorcycle out in the winter, risk your chrome to calcium chloride and have a thick enough skin to absorb our jokes, you are welcome to join us. I send out an e-mail before every ride with the departure time. Visit my web site blog to learn more: 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cape May, NJ; April 14, 2013. Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog

Cape May, NJ; April 14, 2013. Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog

By: Chris Loynd

We finished the 2012/13 Polar Bear Grand Tour in grand style. Cape May, NJ, is one of our longest rides. It ends up being more than 400 miles and an 11-hour day, lunch and breaks included. We were lucky in the weather; spring finally arrived in Connecticut. It was warm and sunny with no great swing in temperatures from morning, through midday, to evening.

I used my electrics for the first part of the ride in the morning, and only at one-quarter power. But then again, I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold. I've always said that just because I enjoy riding my motorcycle in the winter, that does not mean I'm willing to be cold. For the ride home, I ditched my Gerbing jacket liner. The outer riding jacket, unheated, was enough.

As you can see by the group photo, our group was composed of our regular riders. Some of us were able to make good use of the 6-points generated by this final ride of the season. Token2 earned his 60-point pin and $5 rebate. John J. earned his gold rocker.

And Grumpy proudly collected his perfect attendance pin.

Grumpy's achievement was no small task considering the winter we've had in Connecticut. Several snows covered our roads on Sunday and we had one bona fide blizzard. I had more than 30-inches of snow at my house.

Grumpy missed two rides for weather. I seem to recall he made one other in his truck. You can drive to a Polar Bear destination. It earns only one point, but preserves perfect attendance. Grumpy is also challenged by his job. He's on a rotating shift. That means some Polar Bear rides he rode after the end of a long work night. Other rides he skipped lunch to get to work in time to start his shift.

For the two rides he missed for severe weather, Polar Bear Grand Tour Grand Poohbah Bob Hartpence, offered Grumpy a dispensation to earn that perfect pin. Grumpy had to ride his bike to the two destinations he'd missed, getting a restaurant receipt as proof. He did.

I ended up as ride leader Sunday, not by any discussion. I was last to arrive at the Dunkin' Donuts in Stratford -- not an uncommon occurrence -- but I was also first to pull out. The others fell in behind me, so I found myself in the lead. Captain was my wing man. As we formed up I motioned him up next to me and asked if we were picking up other riders. He confirmed Pogy in Darien and Token2 at the bus stop.

We crossed over the parkways and GW Bridge with ease; traffic was very light. Our route was down the NJ Turnpike and onto the Garden State Parkway and that to the very end. Cape May offers shirts with "Mile 0" signs on them, but I bet Key West, Fla., did it first.

For several weeks, Pogy has been bragging about a lobster and steak house that he "found" in Cape May for lunch. I had to laugh. As we entered town there is a billboard-sized sign with a giant arrow.

At the VFW, Pogy suggested there may be a wait at his fabulous destination restaurant. So as we waited, he ran inside to confirm the availability of tables. It being lunch, not the dinner service for which Pogy had originally waited, we got a table straightaway.

Unfortunately, the parking lot was mostly all gravel, and some of that deep. With riders following me, I rode around trying to find a good place to park. Several of the crew abandoned me in search of asphalt. But eventually I found a manageable solution.

Now we had two opportunities to rip on Pogy, the giant sign and the gravel. Fortunately for him, the food and service were truly exceptional.

It has been maybe 30 years since I had turtle soup. When I saw it on the menu, I threw ecology to the wind and ordered a bowl. It was excellent! Hopefully the turtles were farm raised someplace where it's safe to drink the water.

While the place looked expensive, it really wasn't. We got out for less than $20 per person, about what we usually spend at much crappier places. One of our retirees was whining about his fixed income.

Our ride back home was a bit less disciplined than the ride down to Cape May.

Mac commented that he was using his cruise control on the ride down. Since I was leading -- and do not have cruise control -- I took that as a great compliment. As ride leader, I work hard to keep my speed consistent, so consistent you can set your cruise control by it. Such consistency, however, depends upon every other rider in the line to maintain the same.

On the ride home, my wing man changed my role from leader to scout. At times he was hanging back so far, he became the effective ride leader.

A few comments from his fellow riders at our stop at the top of the GS Parkway and the last bit home was a good bit smoother.

 We will see what next season brings. This one started in a hurricane, had a true blizzard midway and ended on a fine spring day.

See you all for the 2013/14 Polar Bear Grand Tour.