Monday, November 21, 2011

Polar Bear Blog Sugar Loaf, N.Y. Nov. 20


By: Chris Loynd

When I saw Polar Bear Grand Poohbah Bob Hartpence in very nearby Sugar Loaf' N.Y., he joked that maybe this ride wasn't even worth the Connecticut bears getting out of bed. I told him we were experiencing Polar Bearing as our New Jersey brethren do.

This Sunday's destination was so close we only earned a single mileage point. Heck, we usually achieve one point just getting out of state.

A few of our members flirted, albeit briefly, with a point stretch. We even racked up a few extra miles thanks to a closed road around which Token, our ride leader, had to detour.

Grumpy and Mac, start deeper in Connecticut than most of us. Those two did pick up the extra point. But we dissuaded the others with peer pressure. Most of us accurately recorded between 160 and 180 roundtrip miles.

Token lives close to this Sunday's destination and so promised us a scenic ride. He led us over parkways and through state parks. The afore mentioned closed road caused him a bit of consternation, most dramatically represented with not one but two circuits of a traffic roundabout.

Slavish following of his GPS also caused him to head back into town after a Dolly-mandated early gas stop. We dutifully followed Token through every U-turn.

The only time in the ride where we did break formation on Sunday was in the Barn Sider Tavern parking lot. Even though we arrived before 11:30 sign-in, the lot was already full. Token threaded his way back around to the street and found a good spot we could all share. Being his wingman, I was right there with him. But when we went to back our bikes into our spots we discovered only Token and I remained.

The rest of our guys decided to block in some other bikes in the parking lot. The bike-bound riders soon saw the Connecticut plates and coming into the restaurant went straight to the Captain. It's the hat, John. The offenders went back outside to move their bikes, releasing the other riders.

To his credit, Token did find plenty of twisties for us to ride. His was a welcome respite from our typical Interstate expressway dominated Polar Bear motorcycling.

Unfortunately the distances we typically travel, and the Captain's flag, generally mandate faster and more direct routes than the luxury we rode Sunday.

The Captain has a new American flag flying on a pole at his house and was very concerned about striking his colors before sunset. A light fixture is on order and hopefully arrives and is installed before Montgomeryville. There's no way we get back from there before sundown.

Our Connecticut Polar Bear ranks continue to swell. We picked up two new riders on this trip.

Dolly is Fonz's wife. Not exactly new to the Polar Bears, she rode with us as a passenger last year on the back of Fonz's Harley. Sunday she was at the helm of her Honda Shadow.

Fonz had bought Dolly one of this season's spiffy new red Polar Bear Grand Tour shirts. But he said she could not wear it until she actually rode with the Bears.

Fortunately Sunday's ride was not at all bearish. With our shortest distance of the season and temperatures nearing 60, it was a perfect ride for cubs.

I think Dolly found it to be quite enough. At our end of day coffee stop Dolly asked me, "What does it mean when you start seeing things?"

"Seeing what?" I asked.

"You know, like two roads," she replied.

"I think it means you drop out of the group," I said. Geeze, she rode behind me most of the day. I kept a keen eye on my rearview mirrors the rest of the ride.

Bill also joined us Sunday. He has a New Jersey Polar Bear friend but lives in Ridgefield. Perusing the Polar Bear Grand Tour site, www.PolarBearGrandTour.com, Bill found the Connecticut contingent's blog on the Grand Tour's "Members' Homepages" page and contacted me.

We liked Bill almost immediately, well right after lunch for sure. Bill picked up the whole lunch tab, for all of us! I sought him out later and assured him there are no initiation rites, nor secret conclave votes, to be a member of the Connecticut Bears. You pretty much need only to show up on a motorcycle. Buying lunch for everyone is certainly not a requirement.

Oh, if you desire the coveted Connecticut patch, you must firsf earn the Grand Tour patch. But so far we have rejected no one from just tagging along on our rides.

There is also the Connecticut Polar Bear pledge. And I forgot to administer it to Dolly or Bill. It's very simple, raise your right hand and repeat after me, "I am responsible for my own safety."

That's it!

Sort of like parachuting, the real challenge is not in getting someone to join us for the first ride; we won't really know if Dolly or Bill likes us until she or he show up for a second ride.

Meanwhile Dolly and Bill are immortalized in the Polar Bear Motorcycle Blog. And not everyone can say that.

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