Tuesday, May 4, 2010

FULL Throttle

I was lazily riding the lawn tractor early this week when my thoughts drifted off to the two very different rides I had this past weekend. Yes, I was VERY fortunate to get out and ride both days. Who knows when the weather will be as good again, right? So, I sneaked in a mow job before the torrential rains hit as reflecting back on the nature of the rides.

Both headed south from our home in NH. Saturday's was a straight shot due south, to Putnam, CT and Sunday's was a circuitous route around Boston, to take us to Westport, MA and the Massachusetts coastline. Both days were unseasonably hot. On both rides, there were multiple riders. In both cases, I lead the rides for a majority of the ride. What's the difference, then?

Saturday's ride was planned to be a back-roads scoot through small towns in MA and into CT. I had programmed my TomTom GPS to avoid highways and tolls. I was relieved when I found Gary (nickname: NeverLost) there for the start of the ride. Not only did he correct me on the destination I had in mind, he seemed to know the route we had taken previously and was agreeable to leading us. For an hour. "Okay", I figured, by then, we'd be so far down the road towards our destination that "Chad", my Rider GPS, would accurately lead us the rest of the way. Uh, not exactly.

Turns out, Gary punched out of our ride at the 30 minute mark when we were barely down the road. He took another rider with him, leaving me to lead four others. I have always had faith in Chad but, the device is only as good as the programmer. I'll cut this tale short and just say that it lead us into the heart of Worcester, MA, a very industrial city to our south. Yes, it DID avoid the highways, it just didn't provide the indirect, scenic route that I had taken once before and was looking forward to. It was a hot, sweaty, busy ride with lots of stops to allow others to catch up. It felt like we hit each traffic light in that entire city, many when we did not all make it through in one pass.

Sunday morning dawned and my supportive wife knew I was in favor of an additional ride. Friends called to say they were headed south and it took me scant minutes to get ready. The primary difference between these rides was this: SPEED. We rode highways around Boston to skirt Fall River and pointed ourselves at the ocean. We rode fast the entire way, in traffic, moving cagers out of OUR way. The motors thrummed as we hammered along. We finally arrived at Westport Point, finding it cool and foggy. A relaxing lunch at the Back Eddy restaurant was followed by an hour-long tour of the local scenery.

Visually sated, we clambered back aboard our scooters and pointed towards home. Once again, we zoomed through traffic and into the open lanes. At one point, I considered challenging Ken & Jerry to a race, but Jerry hung back, knowing full well what devilishness I was up to. At times, we were three abreast, owning the highway.

I know I miss my sport bike and the insane speeds at which I used to ride. But, I've only now realized exactly how much I miss the sensation of speed. Riding at 40-50 mph on back roads is a great way to see the scenery. However, riding at full throttle (or at the very least 9/10s) is a good way to put some distance behind you and make miles. It's also good for filling your soul with sunshine and happiness; at least mine.

There's no solution in sight, but now I know what I've been missing. That special ingredient known as SPEED.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket