Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sport Touring: Day tripping in Pennsylvania… double down on 423W and the Bovine suit

Mileage: 410 miles/ 659 km
Temperature: 60F-85F  humid/ 18C-30C
Average mpg: 71.5

Ocean surfers scrutinize the weather forecast, wind and tide patterns before paddling out and waiting for the perfect set.  As a Tarmac Surfer I follow the weather, scrutinize roads and seek out a set of routes, different environments similar goals. I’ve been on the road for nearly three hours now surfing northeast on PA road 30. The sky is gray, overcast, it’s around 80F, humid, and there are 18-wheeled sentinels everywhere. This was supposed to be a decent road, what happened?  I observe oncoming traffic and their windshield wipers are swaying back and forth like a crowd at a concert listening to a 90’s rock ballad. I’m a little concern.

I left my waterproof suit at home and opted for something different, too late now for regrets, it’s time to let the 250R facilitate surfing and simply let it roll. My destination for this trip is a small town in NE Pennsylvania, Jim Thorpe. I’ve been here once before and thought I should return on my moto, today is that day. After a few thousand miles of sport touring I have learned to never expect ideal weather, rather simply strive for a tranquil state of mind. I only need to cover two hundred miles, except I have a feeling given my current route; I am really going to earn these two hundred miles.

So far I’ve slugged my way through city traffic, found myself surrounded by big rigs under the threat of rain in what feels like a sauna, and now a bright sign informs me to expect delays, really? It’s time to soothe the mind, aggravation would be futile. What surround me are merely everyday irrelevant complexities, right now is just Scully and I, and as Jack Johnson would sing, it’s better when we are together. And so I pushed on.  

It’s around 1330 now, am four miles away from my destination. I’ve just filled up on petrol and am ready to roll. As I as raised my gaze and got ready to roll I spotted an elder gentleman wearing a distinct hat, he is a Leatherneck from a previous era. His facial expression denotes life experiences that are beyond my years and wisdom, he stands tall and proud.  He looks at me as I break and paused, pulled the clutch, stood still on my moto and saluted him with my right hand, and carried on. Sometimes one must pay homage, Semper Fidelis.

It took me longer than expected to get there, then again why rush.

Finally, I’ve arrived at my destination. I am tired, sweaty, sleepy but dry.  The town is just as I remembered it, quaint and quiet, excellent. I checked in at my home for the evening and set about to explore on foot.

Another stay at a Historic place, the experience this time was a lot different.

After a few hours of riding in the heat in a leather suit, I was ready for a break, a snack and cooling off.  Freshly brew tea with freshly baked butter soft scones in a historic setting sounded like a good idea, as a bonus it was delicious.

This is a view of the rest of the dining area, in era appropriate colors.

This was home for the evening, it exceeded my expectations.

Dinner on the other hand, offer little to blog about. I may need to send a couple of suggestions to the chef.

Last time I visited this placed they allowed us to bring our canine dependent on board. 

A view of the train station, one can board the train for a fee and take a short ride along the river. My pup really enjoyed it on the last visit.  

I went for a stroll on the main square.

And along a few of the side streets. 

 The architecture style of the period is interesting and somewhat visually appealing. 

A different view of the fully "functional" main square clock, as I found out early the next morning. Who needs a wake up call from the front desk when you have this!

Considering my less than adventurous first half of this trip, I needed to find a different set of routes to lead me home. I pondered as to what routes to follow as I sat on the second floor balcony enjoying a Pale Ale watching the rain fall. Some riders are gamblers I am a tactician.  The goal is simple: ride safe and enjoy the ride.  It’s time to double down! Route PA 423W offers an alternative to yesterday’s experience, as I evaluated the route on a one-dimensional map, I had a few doubts in the end I let it roll.

And this is what  greeted me somewhere along  my route.

In my realm smooth tarmac, mountain passes, idyllic towns, green pastures and magnificent sweeping turns and/or twisties are beyond appealing, they are indicative of awakening. State roads such PA 423W can offer some combination of the aforementioned to those willing to surf them. It is time to disconnect, social media is irrelevant and smart phones are merely a distraction. I doubt either one of these tools can direct you to the next farmers’ fruit and vegetable stand along this road or the town’s residents favorite dinner. For this type of information one just might have to ride there. I’m in. 

The first class view from my cockpit, and unlike on an airline the air is cleaner, the snacks are fresh off the farmers' land and one is free to roam.

  It’s time to surf, the price of admission: complete unselfconsciousness, ride well or kiss the tarmac. The order of the day calls for variable rates of speed punctuated by smooth climbs and long sweeping turns.  This is a two-lane road that meanders up and down small hills, it glides right and left with a subtle yet intoxicating rhythm. For the next eighty-five miles, I surfed uninhibited, unconcerned  over some sweet tarmac, as  sweet as  freshly made vanilla ice cream.  I’ll take a double scoop, thank you very much.

During my time on the road I only experienced a light drizzle, my two-piece bovine suit performed as expected (a gear and touring set up review is forthcoming) and PA 423W delivered! The planning and persistence pays off and I managed to ride all 410 miles on something other than a super slab, safely. That’s reality exponentially beautiful reality.

A Tarmac Surfer's self portrait. Enjoy the Ride. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sport Touring: West Virginia is for Sport-tourers… Ride what you own, Ride where you are.

Mileage: 340 miles/  547 km
Temperature: 59F +/ 15C +
Highest grade: 10 %
Average mpg: 65 mpg

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I believe a moto enthusiast from the far South once said: “One is never lost, rather, one is following a path unseen by others” (FC).  I’ve mentioned in previous posts how the West Coast is an awesome place to ride, except I had failed to mentioned and acknowledge how the East Coast can be an awesome place to ride… as well. A drastic change of opinion you may say, indeed.

It’s Friday around 20:00, I’ve been couch surfing for a couple of days trying to decide where to go on a ride. I pondered and pondered and then I set my sights on Seneca Rocks, WV. (Cued soundtrack sit back grab a Pale Ale and enjoy the ride).  There is a process to trip planning sort of habitual, ponder, decide, plan and execute. Except, this time I decided to deviate from the habitual by inviting any willing 250R rider from the area to join the ride.  Twenty-four hours later Zirgs (from the forum) answered the call and decided to join and set out to tarmac surf. Excellent. I had not expected anyone to respond considering it was on such short notice and high mileage for a day trip.

Fast forward to Sunday at 0745, Haymarket VA. after a brief introduction we are ready to Surf.  The temperature is hovering around 59F, cool with a slight wind, clear skies and low humidity, excellent.  The first 65 miles entailed surfing Interstate 66, a super slab, yes, but one almost void of big rigs. The next 100 miles is what I seek.  We turned southbound I 81 for a couple of miles until a sign welcomed and directed us towards State Road 55. And this is where the idyllic Surfing begins.

Moto enthusiasts will travel near and afar, cross-country or the world in order to find beautiful roads.  I’ve learned a few things during my existence, thus I now know that sometimes it all depends on perspective and outlook. What I seek transcends visual stimulation and it may also be found nearby if one knows where to search.  The air is cool and it brings a chill that rattles one's core, there is a slight hint of fog in the distance,  the tarmac is smooth and it allows the 250R to glide almost effortlessly with only minimal rider input.

The road meanders through green pastures, the smells awaken your senses, the variable speed keeps the rider alert, and the steep climbs and descends offer potential reality checks should one decided to daydream.  This is an environment void of urban monolithic symbols and in their place are new, old, and sometimes dilapidated barns.  To the uninitiated a barn is a simple structure, but if you look closely you will find that simplicity can be beautiful, indeed.

Finally, after a few hours on the road we reached our destination. We arrived, we admired, and we turned back and headed home. And you may ask, that’s it?  Why go there to simply turn around? I can only speak for myself, and as one famous outdoorsman once said “ The Mountains are calling and I must go” (J. Muir) and I concur.  Unlike, a mythical omnipotent being, The Mountains exist, that is reality, exponentially beautiful reality.

170 miles later...

It's time to enjoy the view. 

Same machine, two different perspectives. 

It is possible to hike to the top.

The Visitor Center was impressive.

We even found a gravel road to explore.

Unfortunately, it led  on to private property and we had to stop, so much for ADV riding. The 250R has proven to be highway capable and now dirt road capable. 

After a long day on the saddle it was time to sit back and enjoy an Ale. 

Safe travels Zirgs, and thanks for coming out to tarmac surf.