Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Lewes, Delaware, November 6, 2011, Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog
Lewes, Delaware, is a long way from Stratford, Connecticut, especially on a motorcycle, even in summer, I don't care who you are. What a wacky ride. It's basically a 12-hour day for us, 10 of those in the saddle. It's like 270 miles one-way. It's a good touring day. And in the quest for the coveted Polar Bear patch, this ride takes our Connecticut bears a long way. There are not many 7 pointers in the schedule.
If you ride the first two rides of the season from Connecticut, you are 'pert near halfway to the 30 points needed to qualify.
Or if you are like the Captain, you will have donated blood in New Jersey, traveling there and back on your motorcycle, four times before the season even begins, for extra points,. Plus you will have attended every extra point ride Bob Hartpence offers. So John K. likely crossed the 30-point threshold on this ride.
While I am not as crazy about points as some of my compadres, I cannot deny the prize was nestled in the back of my mind as I contemplated going or not.
Several of us came off a tough week to ride this Sunday.
I was on antibiotics, but feeling much better. A simple cold morphed into a nasty sinus infection the week before our Lewes ride. On Thursday the sinus pain was so bad it made my teeth hurt. But the miracle of fighting fungi had me feeling chipper and barley sniffling and no longer contagious by the weekend.
Our northernmost CT bears, Bart and Token2 were snowed under from the freak Nor'easter mentioned in last week's Cape May blog.
As it turned out, Bart needed only to dig out his driveway. His was a lucky oasis of electricity in an otherwise dark grid. He even rode up to the Dunkin' to start out with us Sunday.
Token2 was not so lucky. He was without power the whole week, sending furtive e-mails to fellow riders when he could from random cafe wifi hot spots. But the juice came back on Saturday night in his house. And I guess John felt he had spent more than enough quality time with his wife Lynn sitting in the dark together and so he took off to ride with us Sunday.
Mac was undeterred even by the lack of a motorcycle. He followed us down and back in his car. His bike's in the shop. All the same, he said he wanted to sign in and get the season started. Unlike us, Mac earned just one point for bringing his car.
Except for a gravel parking lot, and a lot of that gravel fresh and deep, Irish Eyes Pub is a fine destination.
The food was great. All the dining room tables were filled by the time we arrived. So we pushed together the bar tables and high stools and perched together like a flock of birds.
Token2 was sitting next to me on one side of the table. Being more toward the center, he heard more of the conversations at both end of the table than I could. At one point he turned to me and said, "You know you're riding with old guys when they are comparing PSA scores."
Still, there are a few perquisites to being an old guy. They don't always balance out the detriments. But young guys can miss a lot due to lack of seasoning. More on that later.
Pogy entertained us with his long awaited comeback to Token. Apparently they made a bet or something LAST season and Pogy owed Token a dollar. Well Pogy carried that dollar around the world and waited all summer to make a special presentation of it to Token last Sunday. Oh the places that dollar has been! And the things that dollar has seen!
These two guys are our worldly ones, both having jobs that take them far and wide. Token is a British expat and world traveler. Pogy is a first generation AmerHungarian working for a worldwide helicopter company. Me, I've been to Canada . . . several times.
Back in Delaware, I decided that while it certainly is wonderful that Gerbing Co. has a lifetime warranty on their electric motorcycle clothing, it is not much help when you have to send your stuff out for repair during winter riding season. I mean, when else are you going to discover that your jacket liner is no longer getting power to your gloves?
So I bit the bullet and bought yet another liner. This way I can ride warm while my old liner makes its way to Tumwater, Washington, state for chrissakes, for repairs. (At least my liner won't have traveled as far as Token's dollar.)
The replacement liner was an almost $200 investment. But I like to ride in winter and I hate to be cold.
Grumpy started busting my chops about being a "rich" guy. I don't think he's seen my house. And I gave him as much back. I'll bet he makes as much or more than I. And I told him so.
For one thing, Johnny B. has a gigantic diesel, scratch that, TURBO DIESEL truck with dual gas tanks, dual tires, dual other stuff, you get the idea. I'll bet his truck costs more than a gaggle of Hyundais like I drive, the Accent, bottom of the line, 2005. (Hey I got a kid in college and a Harley. We gotta cut corners somewhere.)
Plus, Grumpy is supporting a colony of folks at his house. The way he tells it he has relatives coming from far and wide to reside under his roof.
The coup d'etat came when, as we're getting dressed out in the parking lot, Grumpy reveals that he, too, just bought a new liner. "It was only like two hundred bucks," he grinned.
As I started my bike, it didn't. Boy, oh boy, that is a sinking feeling. Hoping against hope, I turned the switch off and back on again. This time it started.
But I soon discovered I had no reading on the speedometer. And as I rode back toward Connecticut, it soon became clear I had no brake lights or turn signals.
A dark cloud of despair filled my helmet.
But I am an old guy, well at least an older guy. And as I mentioned earlier, we have a few advantages.
One of these is experience.
As I rode along, worried for my bike's failure at any moment and so far from home, my brain polled its database. A faint memory clicked into place. And as I rolled it around and examined it, the memory grew stronger and more appropriate.
Yes, it was years ago. Same thing. No speedometer. Riding by myself up in Massachusettss I think. I recall the bike ran okay, all the way home in fact. Then they replaced my ignition switch.
I felt a little better. Despair faded into mere dread.
When we made our last gas stop on the Garden State Parkway, it was getting pretty dark. I enlisted the help of my fellow riders. Fonz, who was behind me, was warned to watch out for my lack of brake lights. "If you feel a little bump, it's just me," he assured me. Captain said he would follow me all the way home acting as surrogate brake lights and turn signals.
Fortunately the bike started right up. And then I tried turning the ignition switch just a little toward the "off" position. Instantly the speedometer lit up. I checked the turn signals. Yup, they're back, brake lights too.
Dread was shredded by the bright light of knowledge. And I rode comfortably home.
Remembering the previous ignition switch symptoms reminded me of a conversation I had just had that week with my son Trever. He was agonizing over a problem with his Camaro. Just could not get it to run right after he installed a new distributor. It was backfiring through the carb.
Trever works as a mechanic. And apparently he mentioned the trouble to his fellow mechanics. One of the more experienced guys suggested a very simple solution. Trever came home that night, tried it, and the Camaro purred. "How the heck would that old guy know to try that?" Trever asked me. "I just smiled and said there are a few, just a few, advantages to being an old guy."