|Schaefferstown riders from the CT Polar Bears, from left: Mac, Grumpy, Token2, Captain and Princess.|
Editor's Note: The Chocolate Expo claimed my Sunday for this ride. It was a 12+ hour day but very worthwhile. The Maritime Aquarium where I work put up its best ever, one-day, attendance: 7,937. You can see photos from the day in the Aquarium's blog post. As I catch up the blog on Thursday, February 4, snow is predicted for tonight and tomorrow. But it looks to clear in time and I am really looking forward to getting on the bike. Meanwhile, Token2 shares this accounting of what I missed. (And John, Mennonites drive cars, Amish drive buggies. Coming from Lancaster County, I can't help but offer this single correction.) Chris Loynd.
By John Howard, a.k.a. Token2
An 8am start was set to accommodate the 200+ miles to the destination in Schaefferstown, PA. It was a gray start to the day with temperatures near freezing. As the day progressed the weather improved considerably, treating us to mostly sunny skies and milder temperatures that hit 60°F on the way home. A far cry from the prior weekend’s snow blanket.
The ride got off to a bit of an odd start. Firstly, Joanna was a no show at the Westchester pick-up point until the exact moment Capt appeared who was riding solo coming off the 287 ramp, which in of itself was unexpected. Gesticulating maniacally suggested we needed to make haste for some reason. Princess made a quick left turn from the traffic light intersection (oh, the light was green…I must have been mistaken) as I fumbled to get my bike started. As we joined the interstate another four members of the group could be seen ahead. Clearly an egregious break to the recent pick up protocol had been cooked up at the Dunkin Donuts in Stratford. Anyway, the three of us coalesced behind Paul (aka Thumper), Mac, new Ed with Grumpy in the lead. The usually present Pogy hung out his ‘gone fishin’ sign this week.
Seeing Thumper in the formation suggested rather big ambitions for such a long, mostly interstate ride on a 400cc single. However, he peeled off at Elmsford and it seemed that perhaps second thoughts had emerged. It was later revealed that was Paul’s plan all along, a relatively short run to check out his heated clothing set up. Wise choice Thumper, as you left Grumpy opened up. Grumpy later indicated he had set a moderate pace until Paul’s scheduled exit, lucky lad.
Tank filling and bladder emptying took place just east of the NJ/PA line, at which point Ed revealed his plan for the day, which was to turn around and head back home in time to celebrate his mother or mother-in-law’s 90th birthday (I forget which). Now to some that would seem a pointless use of the morning. But wait, that is the point. It is the ride not the destination that draws us together. So while the majority of us got Bear points for today, Ed got brownie points from his SO, assuming he made it home in time (in the dog house otherwise).
Anyway, returning to Grumpy unleashed, he set a robust, vigorous pace. Mac later suggested that the speed may have reinjured his recently repaired left shoulder rotator cuff due to the forces exerted when he stuck his arm out to indicate a lane change. For sure if we had the misfortune to come across a Statie the pace would have stretched the officer’s sense of humor.
After several years absence your author had claimed the sweep position. It seems that given the relatively clear roads I ended up lollygagging along at times. Capt made note of it to me at lunch ‘I thought Mac was sweep at times’ which was rather unfair to Mac, but pointedly sharp and correctly so to yours truly. I promised to try harder on the way home; I hope I succeeded as I wish to avoid further punishment and tongue lashing. Which reminds me, I need to check the CTPB rules, somewhere in there I thought Capt was not allowed to dish out abuse, only receive it.
At the fuel stop Grumpy advised me that he would use exit 17 (rather than the customary 13) and approach the destination from the east. Sounded good, which is no doubt why he did a quick turn right and came off at exit 19. That confused everyone, most presuming him lost. So we got back on I78 and exited two miles further on. Capt almost went rogue presuming that Grumpy was lost but in the end made the exit. On the ramp Capt restarted frenzied gesticulations, apparently he was not in the know on Grumpy’s plan. As I write this report Capt’s hand and arm signals remind me of the semaphore crab, a critter native to Australia. The analogy is best clarified by the Australian Museum “The word 'semaphore' means a type of signalling apparatus with moving arms or flags, and refers to the males' habit of standing by their burrows and signalling to other crabs by waving their claws up and down. Exactly what they are signalling is unclear.” Clear now?
Grumpy was disconcertingly contrite about the exit 19 misstep. It is to be hoped that as Grumpy continues his recovery he will knock this touchy feely stuff off and return to the man we know is under there! Anyway, missteps…hey, we have all had ‘em!
The ride along PA419 was delightful. Red barns, stone houses and fields with a thick covering of snow reflecting the sun under a clear blue sky. What could be better? The staff at Franklin House said they received a record 31 inches of snow the prior weekend. It was stacked everywhere.
The Franklin staff did a nice job as usually. Quickly seated, fast service, good food. Deserving of the big tip that was left.
As we were getting seated and attending to our phones up pops a text from Fonz, who it turns out was late for the group start. His tardiness was good news for the group but bad news for Fonz who reported having clutch failure and being stuck roadside on West I78. For the reasons noted above Fonz would have needed nitro fuel to catch us and perhaps the clutch failure is another sequelae of Grumpy unleashed…. that is overreach I hear you say (OK, you are right). Offers of assistance were made but none accepted, hopefully he will relay his misadventure as an addendum to the blog. (I received a text from Fonz at 10.56pm Sunday saying he had made it home.)
We left Schaefferstown via the normal 501 route and passed a number of Mennonite buggies on the way to I78. Princess greeted them with a royal wave, I did not see any return the gesture. That being the case Mennonites should be added to the long list of groups that don’t wave to Harley riders. The journey home was uneventful and fast. One stop in NJ for gas and comfort, but no stop at the top. Grumpy had to nap before work and Capt had to work before napping. Alas, that means no Montvale group selfie this week from the Princess….oh, the horror!
See you all next week.
P.S. Chris…please put the inflatable whale away, stop shoveling snow or gorging on chocolate and get on that ST1100. For the first time in ages Harleys outnumbered imports on this ride.