|Hatfield Connecticut Polar Bears, from left, Anonymous Ed (actually his sleeve only, see arrow), CT Blogger, Token2, Fonz, New Guy Jim.|
Down front: Captain and Thumper.
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Polar Bear Grand Tour, ride to Hatfield, Penn., December 4, 2016.
By: Chris Loynd a.k.a. CT Blogger
Captain's ride to Montgomeryville Cycle Center in Hatfield, Penn., some years ago made him a legend in Connecticut Polar Bear lore. Poor fellow has yet to live it down. Grand Tour Polar Bear Pooh Bah Bob Hartpence will never let Captain forget it. And this past Sunday we discovered there may exist cosmic reverberations from that event haunting Captain still.
If you do not know the story, I will torture our much maligned Captain once more in the retelling. Full disclosure, I got this hearsay from my fellow Connecticut Bears. Unfortunately, I missed the infamous ride.
The Grand Tour scheduled ride on that fateful day long ago was to Brian's Harley-Davidson in Langhorne, Penn. Captain was leading. Unfortunately, he programmed the wrong motorcycle dealership into his GPS. He then led his compatriots to Montgomeryville Cycle, despite miles of protestations. When he approached the dealership's empty parking lot, Captain's heart sank. To their credit, the other Connecticut riders followed him all the way to the wrong destination. Communications are limited at speed in full face helmets.
I can attest that as lead rider you feel the pressure of those behind you. You know everyone of them has his own GPS confirming or refuting your route choices at every turn.
I've had my share of u-turns and miscues. If you lead enough rides, you will too. I own a disastrous circle at the foot of the Whitestone Bridge in New York City. That one even led to bike damage.
Even wise and wonderful Polar Bear Grand Tour Chairman Bob Hartpence is known to his closest friends as "The Shortcut King."
For our Connecticut Captain, maybe there is some magnetic field around Montgomeryville known only to him. Maybe it emanates unseen in cosmic waves. Leading a ride there I famously overshot the mark because I was looking for this dealership on the other side of the highway. Russ stuck with me as I sought a far away U-turn opportunity on the divided highway. The rest of my fellow riders ditched me, hard on the brakes, dove into the dealership and were having coffee and chili by the time Russ and I arrived from our U-turn.
I am a scientist by training and philosophy. So I do not put much credence in the "supernatural." At the most I admit there are many things in this world we do not yet fully understand. One of these is the powerful effect Montgomeryville Cycle Center continues to have on our beloved Captain, once again evidenced in this year's fateful ride to the Hatfield dealership.
For one, Captain insisted on leading the ride there this Sunday. I was ready to lead, even wrote the key direction on my mirror in grease pencil: "I-287 x-15." I offered this to Captain. His response was, "I'll go where my GPS says." Unfortunately, his GPS chose prosaic over poetic.
We slogged west across Route 202. It was that much more annoying because it was the exact same route we took last Sunday. You start out in pharmaceutical land. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Roche, Johnson-Johnson, Thermo Fisher Scientific, the road is lined with corporate campuses fed by fields of solar energy arrays. Then the scenery settles into strip malls and housing developments, miles of them. Next you enter car land. As you reach Flemington the road is lined with auto dealerships: BMW, Audi, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Infiniti, Hyundai, Toyota, Kia and the NJ DMV inspection lanes. Finally, as you near Pennsylvania, you enter some scenic farm land, much of it rich people's horse farm land, presumably for the highly paid workers of pharmaceutical land. Meanwhile my health insurance is killing me.
Over the Delaware River, Pennsylvania's version of Route 202 dumps into narrow New Hope, then continues in two lanes, small towns, stop-and-go congestion. It does look like Pennsylvania here and there. Fieldstone colonial houses and antique shops in town, along with convenience stores. It does open to some farm vistas now and then.
It gets more congested and suburban as you near Montgomeryville Cycle Center. Captain -- or perhaps more correctly his GPS -- magnified this effect by moving us over to Business Route 202 for the last bit. Personally, I was perfectly happy on the expressway 202.
Nevertheless, we arrived on time, 11:30 a.m. on the dime.
And that included an emergency pit stop. Hey, when you gotta go . . . .
Captain did not suffer the stop gladly. His outburst was out of character for him. Hmmm, maybe the Montgomeryville effect runs deeper than we divine. New guy Jim got a talking to the minute our helmets came off in the Montgomeryville Cycle Center parking lot. Apparently there was an earlier conversation. I'm not taking sides. But as I age, I do understand the need for more frequent potty breaks. That's why I restrict my coffee intake on Polar Bear Sunday mornings.
Captain soon settled. Jim seemed okay. Good humor was restored. We broke bread together and laughed once again.
The dealership treated us to free lunch, chili con carne, corn muffins, coffee, even doughnuts. It also offered 20 percent discounts. Thank you Montgomeryville Cycle Center for hosting us once again.
As we were walking into the dealership, Token2 remarked how tight our group rode on the way over. He was second-to-last rider; I was sweep. I wholeheartedly agreed. There was a bobble here and there, boxing in a Jeep and a last-possible-minute route decision. But all-in-all it was one of our better group rides.
We cannot claim the same for the ride home.
After a double U-turn, down-and-back, gas stop, Captain did take us on the scenic route home. He chickened-out on one turn thereby missing the covered bridge. He was probably influenced by peer pressure of the Unified Harley Riders of Central Jersey who were riding directly ahead of us.
It's a nice, scenic, country route on the way down to the Delaware River. The roads narrow, then narrow some more, then drop down to one-lane over creek bridges. (Thumper remarked at the obvious economy of a one-lane bridge.)
The fun ended as we entered I-78 heading back east for Connecticut. We missed the exit for I-287 plunging onto the Garden State Parkway in the Oranges. After voting to skip the stop at the top of the Garden State Parkway, we overturned that decision, deciding we might as well stop now that we were passing directly by it anyway.
Thumper shared a story of his first Polar Bear ride. He'd missed the group and went on his own. He avoided interstate highways, stuck to local roads, and made the destination at 1:30. He had a chicken sandwich, then rode home, the last part in the dark. "After that I realized the Polar Bear rides were mostly interstate riding," he concluded. To his credit, Thumper is a brand new rider -- was one of my motorcycle students just this past summer -- and holds his own with the rest of us on his single-cylinder BMW.
We're trying to talk him into leading a ride. Hey, maybe Montgomeryville Cycle Center next year?