There are a plethora of reasons to ride your bike. The mundane is easy. Last month I decided to break the monotony of the weekend rides to the North Georgia Mountains. My pal Rick and I decided we’d eat some fresh Maine lobsters at the end of a long day’s ride, and I mean a L-O-N-G day’s ride. With very little planning, we headed out on a Friday after work and pointed our bikes north to the “Pine-Tree-State”. The road plan was to ride the 1,200 or so miles north to Ogunquit, Maine in time to eat Maine lobsters Saturday night, just for the sake of the challenge. Why does the man climb the mountain? Well, the obvious answer is because it is there. The same logic can be applied to a thousand motorcycling adventures, all revolving around things like Texas beef, Maryland crab cakes, West Virginia moonshine and fresh Maine lobster. The sport of travelling long and hard to attain a difficult goal, crunched into a small slice of time. Yea, I know there are lobsters at Whole Foods here in Atlanta. But that was not the point.
Without much time to reflect upon the possible missteps in such an adventure, we were off. No grand road plan was concocted over the course of map scrutiny session, no weather patterns were studied, no traffic analysis, alternate routes, emergency contingencies, budgets or anything else was worked out. We just head north one Friday afternoon. The biker road trip is tackled with either the nonchalance of grizzled veterans or the waning folly of youthful exuberance. We wore full-face helmets and put on protective leather, gloves included, big heavy boots and despite the mid 90’s heat marking our departure. We did do the requisite equipment checks looking at tread, oil level, belt tension, brake pads and the like. We stocked some power bars and water and before we knew it, we were passing trucks on Interstate 85 headed towards Charlotte. The excitement of the trip was fresh and the long haul up I-77 into the Virginia Mountains to get onto I-81 seemed a breeze. The miles passed like seconds on a big clock. Me on my Harley Road Glide and Ric on his Beemer GS. Both bikes air-cooled and running strong as the evening air in the Blue Ridge Mountains cooled the motors and kept us awake. That’s where the easy part slowly slipped from our grasp and the challenge before us started to present itself in physical manifestations. Once inside the great state of Virginia, the rain hit us. 350 or 400 miles in, we donned rain gear under a bridge and our progress slowed with all the truck splashing and limited visibility. Beads of water crept their way past my cinched up wrist ends and trickled down my neck despite my efforts to tighten my collar and stay dry.
Not quite yet at the half-way point, we stopped every 150 miles to laugh, gas up and ponder our folly. The laughs become less boisterous and we shake out heads in unison by West Virginia. Not yet through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut or Massachusetts, we stopped to calculate our position, so far from Maine. Minimal traffic on I-81 rolling north, somewhat in excess of federally approved speed limits, the halfway point was reached. It is discussed that if 600 miles are completed and we are a “5” on the tired scale, then at 1200 miles we should logically land directly on the “10” of the tired scale by Maine. Overcooked analysis notwithstanding, we pushed on. The traffic became a bit thicker as we permeate the northeastern United States. Potholes, road snakes, rude and aggressive drivers, all seem to increase the farther north we got. Evening turned to midnight, which turned to early morning, which gave way to dawn. At sunrise, the second wind was achieved. The rising sun tricking the brain into thinking perhaps we just woke up. Perhaps we were sleeping all night and as the light cresting the horizon to our right, at Easterly, it marked a fresh beginning. This trick did not last long. Fatigue near the 1,000 mile mark had us questioning our goal. We crossed the mighty Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York and we were soon in Connecticut. It is then that we realized that everyone else wants to go away for the weekend too, North of course. There are summerhouses in New Hampshire and lakes in Vermont as well as Lobsters in Maine, all beckoning people surrounding us in cars, campers, trucks and SUVs. Traffic slowsed to a crawl. The modern convenience of the GPS tells us our arrival time is getting later and later. In Danbury,Ct we are effectively stopped. Ugh…. GRIDLOCK! We are a few short hours from our destination and we realize that the restaurants serving the luscious crustations we seek out will be closed by the time we reach Ogunquit. There is little hope, given our travel restrictions of needing to return to Atlanta by the fend of the following day, of achieving our goal. Not a lot of room for error. It is decided to YELP a nearby restaurant. To take the 1,000 miles completed as a victory and shop for some lobster tails at the local fish market. Swing a U-turn and see how far we get before fatigue claims us and we catch a nights sleep in whatever gutter we can find it. We didn’t get far. A hundred miles. Slept at my lodge in the Catskills on the way back. Like babies!! The returning 1,000 miles were done at a leisurely pace. A pleasure.
Was the trip a success? Well, I ask you – what did you do 2 weekends ago? I did not cut my grass. I rode hard, really hard. I ate lobster, albeit in Connecticut. And while not technically in Maine, I did eat Maine lobster and I ate it fresh. I even brought home a saddlebag full of frozen tails. They were awesome on the BBQ this past weekend. Would I do the trip again? Probably not. There are other adventures to seek out. Wisconsin, I am told, has excellent cheese. Ever had any? Who’s game?
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and in the end make sure you ride home.