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: www.influentialcom.com/polar_bear_blog.htm