Sunday, November 17, 2013

Last ride of 2013

This year didn't turn out like I had planned, riding-wise.  At the start of the season, there's SO much hope and anticipation.  You tell yourself that you're going to be that guy who rides every day and to everything.  Like the stereotype of the newly-released convict, we tell ourselves that we're going to "party" with our bikes non-stop.  Reality is the bitch-slap most of us get.

I didn't ride to work every day, I had too many excuses.  Don't tell Andy Fine (of Aerostich), but I copped out.  It was too wet, or too hot or too something. As the season wore on, I told myself that the bike was there for my convenience.  And sometimes, it just wasn't convenient.

As the season wore on, and everyone's schedules got more hectic, it just became a whole lot easier to just ride with Ms. Rocket and/or to add Pinkie into the mix.  That's Ms. Rocket's Honda VT750 below, a reliable little bike.

Weekend riding is another thing. We had lots of great weekends with friends, our informal crew.  The last remnants of the Amherst (NH) Motorcycle Club are still about, and that's who I rode with yesterday.

Knowing that I ought to winterize the bike, I was concerned that both bikes had been sitting for about a month.  Yep, late in the season was when things got crazy for me and I didn't ride much, after an epic weekend to New Brunswick, Canada to ride with Faceyman, Luc and their buddies.  That was the highlight of my summer and a trip surely to be repeated.

When I bumped in Manny, he mentioned a ride on Saturday. Here was the perfect excuse to burn off that stale gas.  With temps forecast to be in the mid-50s, we had the perfect day for a last ride.  Arriving at the meeting place in the center of Amherst, we stood around for a bit.  Not many bikes out at that hour.  Ray, the ride organizer, was there on his H-D, and we waited for Manny, chatting while we waited.

We headed west, towards Vermont, riding the hilly, twisty back roads of New Hampshire.  Our indirect route to Brattleboro gave us lots of scenic back roads.  We passed ponds and lakes covered in skim ice.  The chilly morning finally gave in to a sunnier, but not overly warm day.  Still, we were properly dressed for the weather and only stopped once, for a cup of coffee and a bio break.  The first place that we stopped was a small convenience store/gas station which sold (among other things) gigantic Snickers bars and Reese's PB cups.  I was tempted, but didn't feel like dropping $14+ on a candy bar and the inevitable diabetic coma.

We eventually made it to Brattleboro and the Whetstone Station, a brew pub sitting above the CT River. Food was okay, the beer was better.  After a leisurely lunch, we played Beat the Clock, to get home before dark.  Of course, that didn't mean a direct route home, just a quicker pace.  In the shadows, cast by the large pines, the temps dropped quickly.

Both Ms. Rocket and I had the opportunity to put our braking systems to the test yesterday.  Mine, on our way to the meeting place, when an inattentive cager pulled halfway across an intersection, without checking for oncoming (me) traffic.  A little skid, some unfriendly gestures and words in my helmet, was all.

Similar for Ms. Rocket, as we crested a hill into the midst of a recent car wreck, the car still sideways across the road with the occupants trying to sort out what just happened to them.  She did a great job of stopping short of Ray's rear fender.

We made it home before dark, after making one last stop to top off the tanks. Today, I'll add fuel stabilizer attach the battery tenders.

So, there it is, the season is done.  All that's left is to clean the bikes and cover them.  I wrote less this year than I have in many years.  Maybe I rode less too.  I'd need to get out the service records to confirm that.  I had some great rides with great friends, though. And that's what this motorcycle thing is all about, anyhow.

Until next time, next year or until I start to fantasize about that cross-country ride (I'm reading Ghost Rider, by Rush drummer Neil Peart), I'll see you.  In the meanwhile, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket

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