|Connecticut Bears in Freehold, NJ. We decided to take the group picture inside because it was raining outside.|
From left: Captain, Grumpy and CT Blogger.
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Polar Bear Grand Tour, ride to Freehold, NJ, December 18, 2016.
By: Chris Loynd, a.k.a. CT Blogger
Rain was forecast, and came. The day before we had almost six inches of snow in Connecticut. Our two hour ride, one way, was 90 percent interstate highway. Even though the temperature would warm to 50 degrees or more, at 60 mph that's still cold enough to require winter riding layers. On top of my gear I still need to wear my rain suit to stay dry. I was Michelin Man and then some. And as I was putting all that crap on Sunday morning I had one thought. "Why?"
Well it was a chance to spend a day on my motorcycle with my friends.
Yeah, it's maybe better on a sunny and warm day on some winding back roads. But Sunday offered none of those opportunities. Sunday offered highway riding in the rain . . . with my friends . . . on my motorcycle.
Like the tee-shirt says, "If I Have to Explain It, You Wouldn't Understand."
When I first started handling marketing for a local motorcycle dealership, Bridgeport Harley-Davidson, I had a reporter visiting and he kept asking the same question of everyone in the dealership. He kept getting the same answer from everyone, me, the owner, the general manager, the sales director, but was not satisfied. His questions was, "What's so special about riding a motorcycle?" Our answer was, "You just have to ride to know."
There's the responsiveness. You feel much closer to your machine than in a car. There's the camaraderie. A connection with others found in most every sport. There's the heritage. Harley-Davidson takes that to legendary levels. It is a feeling. It gets inside you.
We got lucky on the ride down to The Cabin in Freehold, N.J. No rain! Not even drizzle. Roads were even dry here and there.
In Connecticut we started out in fog due to our snow cover and unseasonably warm air. It's a phenomenon called an advection ground fog.
My first experience with advection fog is a pretty funny story. Many years ago, I was part of a traveling road show for soybean farmers. Our NYC ad agency created informative seminars for the American Soybean Association. We assembled a panel of experts of interest to soybean farmers: a commodities trader, a business finance guy and Dr. James Newman, eminent professor of meteorology from Purdue University.
It was an intense couple of weeks, town-to-town-to-town, different hotel every night, handholding the presenters, working the audience, handling logistics. We had just finished. It was Friday night, in a little Midwestern airport, and we were all anxious to be heading home.
We decided to have a celebratory drink as we waited for our plane. There was a little bar where you sat overlooking the runway through an enormous plate glass window. My more cosmopolitan compatriots were especially eager to get out of the sticks. They were not as comfortable in farm country as I was.
Here's an example. As we sat down MaryAnne ordered a Stolichnaya. The bartender said, "Huh?" I said, "MaryAnne, ask for a vodka rocks and hope they have Gilbey's." I settled for a Gordon's gin instead of my usual Tanqueray.
We sipped our drinks. We watched the planes come and go. It was winter. Soybean farmers are too busy for seminars in the summer. There was a lot of snow pack. The runways were clear and dry though. And it was a freakishly warm day.
As we debated ordering a second round, Dr. Jim Newman joined us. "Go ahead and order another," he said, "You're not going anywhere tonight."
That was devastating news to my metropolitan companions. "Wha?"
Now this was before the internet and readily available forecasts on smart phones. We looked blankly at Dr. Jim and, being a professor, he was all too happy to explain, "You see, what we have here is an advective ground fog. As soon as the sun goes a little lower the snow will super cool the warm moist air above it and when it reaches dew point, a dense fog will start to form, hugging the ground."
I swear I saw fog forming as he spoke. It got thicker and thicker. It grew up from the ground. Our airport terminal bar was second story high and you could easily see over this rapidly forming fog blanket. I think you could have cleared the fog layer standing on a stepladder. From our second floor perch you could see for miles. But the runway itself was totally obscured.
No sooner did our second round of drinks arrive than the announcement came over the intercom, "All airport operations are suspended." The city girls' eyes bored into Professor Jim like it was his fault. He blithely babbled on about supersaturation.
Next thing we know an airline pilot joins us at the bar. "Why can't you take off?" MaryAnn scolded, "Heck the cockpit of the jet is sticking up above the fog. Once you're off the ground you have unrestricted visibility." The pilot explained a plane cannot take off unless it is able to turn around and land at the very same airport it just departed should anything go wrong. "You can't land if you can't see the runway," he said. Just then a FedEx plane landed, whump, right down into the fog, right in front of us. We all glared at the pilot. He read our minds. "Different rules for freight versus passenger planes," he said, "The freight pilot is allowed to risk his own life."
We spent yet another night eating hotel food and the next morning the sun's rays dissipated the fog in plenty of time for our Saturday morning flight to New York.
Last Sunday, our fog was thick on local roads but pretty thin up on the interstate. As the day went on, it disappeared completely. New Jersey did not have the snowpack Connecticut enjoyed.
Just three of us rode this Sunday. I took the lead, Captain was in the rocking chair and Grumpy swept. I teased Captain about me taking lead to ensure our speeds remained reasonable. Then at lunch Grumpy informed me I was just as guilty of "heading back to the barn" speed syndrome as anyone else. Well it is easier to criticize others in this blog than to face the man in the mirror. Fortunately I have my riding pals to keep me grounded. Cognitive dissonance being what it is, I was sure he was exaggerating all the same.
As we exited the restaurant our luck had run out. It was raining, not real hard, but steady. How's the saying go? "There's no bad weather, only poorly dressed adventurers." We were well-dressed for rain and rode in and out of it the rest of the way home. We never faced a downpour. So what is there really to complain about?
Well there were those times wet tar snakes tried to pull our bikes. It's a disconcerting feeling when the bike unexpectedly takes a quick skitter to one side or the other. One long snake tried to edge trap my front tire. The New Jersey Oranges were worst for rain and traffic.
I kept Grumpy's admonition in mind and kept a weather eye on my speedometer on our ride back up the Garden State Parkway. By golly, he's right. Here I am complaining about others when they have the lead, yet I could see that darn speed needle creeping up all on its own. Human nature is a powerful thing.
|Starting out in the fog.|
|Arrival in Freehold, still mostly dry.|
|This was the toy run Sunday before Christmas to benefit a local New Jersey children's hospital.|
|Fortunately lots of bears came in cars despite the rain and there was plenty for the kiddies.|
|Festive Flight A.|
|Bob photo of the week.|
|Captain peruses the bill of fare . . .|
|. . . so does Chris.|
|Our friendly waitress.|
|Join us after New Year's; it's fun!|