Sunday, September 12, 2010

(Pat's Wild Ride)

I knew what I was getting myself into when I raised my hand to join EasyEd on a chase through some of Vermont’s most notorious twisties; or so I thought when Andy and I packed our bags and headed to Stowe Vermont to join the New England Riders at their annual Birthday Bash. It’s a cool ride up, but unlike last year, no rain dampens our clothing or spirits. For the most part too, it’s an uneventful ride except for the scattering of about 15 wild turkeys making for cover to every point on the compass as we come barreling around the bend. They all make it to safety although our hearts are probably racing as much as theirs.

My first surprise when arriving is seeing Kathy on a sports bike. Now Kathy started out on a vStar 650 as I did, but unlike me she soon graduated to the 1100. I would scratch my head in those days, looking at this petite woman handling this 1100 and think “if she can do that so can I.” It took me a bit longer, but I finally graduated to Blaze, my 1300 vStar. What a revelation that was in understanding just what a difference a few more cc can do for a person. Now, I’m looking at her and listening as she tells me how much easier and more fun the twisties are for her on this sports bike. As much as I enjoy Blaze, I feel a twinge of something I can’t quite define. I need to experience this feeling of total control in the tight turns she’s talking about. Jack is on a sports bike too. Wow, that is a big switch from a Goldwing.

Saturday, Andy and I head out to meet up with EasyEd. Ed’s left early to make up lost riding time from yesterday as he had to work unexpectedly. We make our way through Smugglers’ Notch, always a hair rising experience. The road is extremely narrow with tight turns and outcroppings of granite to obstruct your view. On this day, however, a few of the larger pickup trucks are actually stopped as we come around some of the outcroppings. Even they know there isn’t enough room for us and them. We meet up with Ed and the group in Cambridge and the junction of route 15 and Pleasant Valley Road. It’s then that the chase begins. Chase? Yes chase. Me, full throttle on my bagger trying my best to stay with this pack of sports tourers as they blast around Vermont.

With only a short breather at the end of Pleasant Valley, we blast our way along Trace Road through Jericoh. In Richmond, I’m regretting not wearing my camera around my neck, because I miss a fly by photo op of the round church, which Ed slows enough to point out. And so it goes through Huntington to Route 17 and the Appalachian Gap. Andy and I rode this a few weeks back with Lee and Deb. While Lee will take it hot all the way through, I’m happy at my own pace. Not too slow, yet civilized (in my opinion.) When I pop out the other end this day, I have a feeling the sports bike engines probably had enough time to cool while waiting. Good grief; and we’ve only just begun.

Fortunately for me, we are now on 100 heading south, and I can manage the pace. Ed stops us at the Warren Store for lunch. I’m glad for the break, but my relief is short lived when Ed proclaims with a grin like the Cheshire Cat that he has a treat in store for us coming up. Holy cow, I’m thinking, how will I get out of this with my pride intact? To make me feel even more inadequate, Andy is asking me questions on the radio. “Did you see this? Did you see that?” Like I have time to see anything but the next bend in the road! We leave 100 and head east on Bethel Mountain Road. Then pick up 107 to 110. A look at any map will show you there isn’t a straight line to anywhere along any of these routes. From 110 we connect with 302 which brings us to Ed’s surprise for us this day; newly paved 232, one seriously wrinkled ribbon of road. With the asphalt smooth as silk the sports bikes are off like a shot from a cannon, and I’m taking up the rear trying my best to keep pace. After a bit, I’m not even trying to keep up, but instead trying to preserve the aforementioned dignity. Halfway through this stretch two other sport bike lovers blast by in the opposite direction, the zing of their passing like being grazed by a bullet. When I get the end, they’re waiting, bikes parked and helmets off. The pride is now gone. Next to these folk, I’m feeling like a Sunday riding flower sniffer.

Phil takes over and leads us on a stretch he’s familiar with and we all eventually arrive back at the Commodores Inn safe and sound. I’m thinking the worst is over (in the blow to my pride) and planning on ways to regain my self esteem. One NER’d kindly suggests that there are tools for every job, and bikes are no different. These sports bikes are built to do just what they did. We enjoy the feast that evening and then hit the hay. I’m soon out like a light from so much excitement. In the morning however, I’m no more rested than if I hadn’t slept a wink, because in my dreams I chased Ed through the state of Vermont all over again!


Richard said...

It was a great weekend. I wish we'd had more time to visit. Give a sport bike a try. You won't believe the difference. Sharon rode cruisers for two years and now she's on the Bandit. I don't think she'd go back.

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

Good for you maintaining your own ride. No dignity needs to bruised. But your statement about tools for every job is oh so true. Remember when you were shoppinng for Blaze, I said you ought to give a Connie a run. Now is the time. Oh I might have a slightly used FJR with deer fur highlights on the side for sale