|Connecticut Polar Bears at O'Connor's Grill, from left: Anonymous Ed, Dollie, Tony, Token2, CT Blogger, Scott, Captain, Grumpy and down front Pogy. Leader not shown.|
By: Chris Loynd
Photos By: Grumpy, Anonymous and Grand Tour Photographer Bernie Walsh
Video By: Polar Bear Grand Tour Photographer Dave Thompson
Sunday's ride was the last of our 2018/2019 season. It was a bonus ride, rescheduled from January 20th due to a particularly nasty storm. Perhaps owing to Sunday's warmer weather, we picked up a couple of Polar Cubs for this ride: Dollie and Tony.
Our leader on this ride must remain anonymous. All the same, Leader contributed significantly to fodder for this blog post. So I will refer to him/her as "Leader" and use dual-gender pronouns to protect his/her identity.
We started out with seven bikes. Behind Leader was Anonymous Ed, Captain, Grumpy, me, Dollie and Tony offered to sweep. Things went well headed south through Connecticut on I-95. There was one confusing lane change in perpetually-congested Norwalk. But it wasn't our fault.
Mama June was driving a U-haul rental truck towing a car and doing about 30 mph in the center lane of the interstate. I got a good look and am 90 percent sure it was her, Pumpkin as passenger.
Just a bit later we picked up Pogy and Scott in Darien. For reasons that remain unclear, they stayed behind Sweep Tony for the remainder of the ride, including the ride back home. At breakfast I asked Pogy about it. He was expecting Tony to waive him into line ahead. Tony may not have been sure of our Polar Bear protocol. Tony, Pogy and Dollie all sort of shared sweep duties. It was a bit confusing.
As for Scott, we often let him stay in the back but do not assign him sweep duties. Scott tends to rubber-band a bit and seems to do best sort of on his own just generally following the rest of us. Thankfully his new Harley has an LED headlight that can be seen from the moon. So even when he's drifted back a mile or more, the lead rider can generally see he's still with us. Scott somehow always manages to catch up with us at the final destination and for gas stops.
Dollie was also was a bit new to our group riding protocol, but held her own. On righthand lane changes she shared sweep duties with Tony, moving to clear the lane, sometimes before he could. The he got a chance, Pogy gave her a quick primer on hand signals.
Dollie enjoyed riding in line with us and took to group riding just fine. Quoting from her Facebook comment, "I had a chance to participate with the Polar Bears' last ride of the season.
Our group riding discipline held up even when Leader strained it mightily with his/her route choices.
As we rode south on 95, Leader passed by the exit for I-287, just over the New York border. Our usual routine is to take 287 to the Hutchinson Parkway, then Cross County, Saw Mill and the George Washington Bridge. But we didn't Sunday.
Riding along past the 287 exit and deeper into New York State, I next thought of the I-95 exit direct to the Hutchinson Parkway. My GPS most always wants me to take that route. But we soon passed by that option too.
Now the horror dawned completely on my consciousness: Cross-Bronx Expressway. Since we're all on cruisers -- and not dirt bikes -- I could not fathom the choice. Captain thinks it is an over-reliance on GPS, even when it sends you places common sense tells you to avoid. His theory was proved later in the day.
After dodging potholes, trucks, traffic and crazy New York drivers, we finally found ourselves crossing into New Jersey. Leader had us in some questionable lanes but did eventually manage to get us onto the express road headed toward the NJ Turnpike.
We got through the tolls okay and headed south. When the Turnpike split, Leader inexplicably took us onto the truck lanes.
That was when Grumpy started rebelling. He dropped way back at times. Other times he would refuse to join us in lane changes.
We made it to the Pandora Diner okay. Coffee and good food lifted spirits. A general understanding of Polar Bear decorum kept us civil. Then a very welcome surprise broke the spell.
Token2 SurpriseOnly Pogy knew. Token2 is taking a work break from his amazing South American motorcycle adventure. He's headed back soon. He talked to Pogy to find out where we'd be, then rode up from Virginia to surprise us. For him it was about the same distance as our ride to Lewes, Del., more than four hours one way. So there wasn't time for much more than an hour or so of breakfasting before we parted company. Grumpy lamented it was not enough time.
Pandora Diner was a great find. It worked well for our Early Departure Protocol objectives. We'll have to use it again. Breakfast was very good. Portions were generous. Service was fast. Our waitress attentive. Several of our party remarked at how good the prices were. But we're used to Connecticut and this is downstate New Jersey farming country.
Mutiny Over GasWe had a brief meeting before departing breakfast. A general consensus was that we would gas up before O'Connor's so we could sign in and hit the road for home. Leader said we were turning left out of the diner parking lot and would gas up there. I was thinking Leader meant like the gas station was right around the corner.
I remember looking at the map when I chose Pandora Diner that it was right at the turn for O'Connor's and that our Polar Bear destination was less than a mile away. Google Maps said three-minutes travel time.
However Leader looked at his/her GPS, I'm guessing for "nearest gas," and led us left out of the parking lot. As we rode in the opposite direction from O'Connor's, deeper and deeper into the New Jersey farmland, frustration levels of Leader's followers rose and rose.
It is, of course, difficult to communicate when riding. We mainly rely upon hand signals. Captain caught up with Leader at a stop light and had a spirited discussion. But the light turned green too soon and Leader had us off again. Captain later said Leader said something about going for gasoline.
It may be that previous choices by Leader hurt his/her credibility with the crew.
A little known fact about pirate captains is that most pirate ships were very democratic. The pirate captain had to have the support and consent of his crew to be and stay captain. During battle the rules changed and the captain had absolute authority. But in all other matters the captain relied upon the his crew's good graces.
Captain started hanging back further and further. Only Leader and Anonymous Ed kept going, blithely motoring along. Captain finally had enough of going in the wrong direction and pulled into a crossroad. We all lined up behind him. Leader and Anonymous Ed disappeared over the horizon. The mutiny was afoot.
To his credit Captain emphasized that he acted alone in his own best interest. But communication among riders being limited, us lined up mostly on the barely existent shoulder of a two lane country road, the natural thing to do was follow.
Captain did a 180 turning back toward O'Connor's. We pulled into our destination parking lot minus two. We signed in and found our two missing riders waiting for us in the parking lot -- with full fuel tanks. Of course the rest of us had to ask Leader to make an additional gas stop for the rest of us. We decided to take a station on the road home, instead of searching the countryside.
Token2 loved it all. He said he was glad to see the Connecticut Polar Bears had not changed significantly from those lovable riders he always remembered. Token2 also had a reputation of simply striking out on his own when the group dynamic became intolerable. Token2 headed back to Virginia. The rest of us turned for Connecticut.
Leader did indulge us with a gas stop. From there we did follow him/her onto the turnpike truck lanes yet again. Fortunately Leader did take the Garden State Parkway. He/she stopped at the top. Some of us stayed for coffee, the rest beat for home. The early birds missed the rains. I'm not sure about those who stayed for coffee.
Oh, and if you recall from last week's blog, Anonymous Ed made it home in time for his granddaughter's birthday party.
A New Diva?It came out more in subsequent Facebook posts, but there was an interesting exchange I'd like to share between Dollie, our prospective Diva and Princess our former Diva. Princess left us for a man and Indiana. But she understood and resonated with Dollie's thoughts about maybe joining us next season.
I started by posting on Facebook a selfie of Dollie and me, "A new Polar Bear diva? Princess will never be replaced, but Dollie enjoyed a warm Polar Bear ride. We’ll hope to see her next season."
Dollie answered, "It was a little chilly starting out ok lol I had a really good time with you guys. Maybe I’ll join you guys next season." DivaCT 🏍💭
Then Joanna, our Princess and Diva NY, chimed in, "You go Dollie!!!! I miss CT Flight B crew! Great group of riders!!! Lots of experience there and discipline!!! I've learned a lot from these guys! You're in good hands and awesome company!
Dolly answered, "Princess I’ll Never be you. I don’t know about all the cold weather riding. But, with proper gear I’ll give it a try. It was a fun ride."
Joanna concluded, "Dollie, I was a Polar Bear Cub once too! The Captain had no faith in me. 😂😂😂 So finally I made the commitment and I was on a mission to prove him wrong! 😂😂😂I wanted that 100% Attendance pin more than anything in my life! I just didn't realize how small the pin actually was in size. 🙄🤔😂
"One of my proudest moments in life thou.
"The Captain inspired me a lot and I'm grateful.
"Dollie, get the heated gear, when you're comfortable, you can easily ride in any weather. Be safe sister and please give everyone hugs from me." 🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗❤️
I put the exchange here for those of our blog readers who do not do social media.
It's just six short months until the 2019-20 season begins. We'll see who shows up.
|Polar Bear Photographer Bernie Walsh was one of many receiving Perfect Attendance pins and certificates!|