I left a warm but overcast Boston at 3:00pm on Friday, May 30th knowing that the weather for this weekend's festivities were chancy at best... First leg of the trip was to go south down the I-95 into Rhode Island (a state in which I've never been before!) As the sign said "You're leaving Massachusetts"; I took my helmet off and enjoyed the sun and the wind on my face and head. RI, CT, and NH do not have helmet laws; and although I wouldn't always ride without one, it's nice to have the choice! Rhode Island's highways were pretty and in good shape -- I made good time to Connecticut. I hit a little but of warm rain in New Haven, nothing to whine about -- until I reached the road construction from hell.
I reached the NY border at about 6:00pm -- now it was just a matter of cutting across the Bronx cross-town expressway to Henry Hudson Highway/Parkway. Remnants of rush hour were still on the roads up this far north of the big city. Zipping down Henry Hudson to the West Side Highway was quick. I arrived at the NEW NYC Eagle with time to spare! (For those of you that care, the new Eagle is located at 554 W 28th Street. It's not a bad place! Lots of parking, which is unusual in New York!
Members of ECMC started showing up around 8:00pm -- right on time. Originally four bikes were to be christened (including mine) -- but additional folks showed up, including the Sirens (a womyn's leather biker gang) who were invited by ECMC. 14 bikes were brought into the Eagle for the annual christening. Mark (an ECMC member) blessed the bikes, one by one... After riding this bike for many years; it felt good to finally have it christened! My first bike was christened within a year of getting it. One of the cutest names I've heard in a long time for a bike was "Pretzel", as this poor bike was in two accidents and was a twisted wreck (before they fixed it back up!) The Sirens, M.C. were there as a kind of closure to the loss of one of their founders who was struck by an out of control truck that passed through an intersection that it should not have. They seemed like nice folks!
I ended up spending the night with a newer member of ECMC this year (not Jeff like normal), his name was Skip, and he was a nice guy!! He also rides his bike down the streets of Manhattan just like I do!!! It was nice to actually watch the synchronized traffic lights do their thing and let you get from Greenwich Village to 50th street in 10 minutes! ;-)
Next morning was the official meet-up on Christopher Street for the Biker's Picnic. Lots of WHIMPS didn't show 'cause of all the rain clouds!! WUSSIES!!!! I had a REAL NYC bagel, I needed one so badddddd! Rochester bagels are good, NYC bagels are good, heck, even in Ottawa there are good bagels (if you know where to go!) -- but Boston? BLAH! Stale doughnuts are NOT bagels people!! Eleven bikers showed up prior to the 10:30am departure time. We headed into the Lincoln Tunnel and into New Jersey. We stayed on I-78 all the way through New Jersey; exiting near Turkey Hill to cut over to Buck's County Pennsylvania via the back roads. We had about 3 minutes of heavy rain which got us slightly damp, but NOT wet.
We arrived at Valinor Farms by 12:30pm. It was not like prior years where we piled into the sauna to warm up and disrobe, leaving our leathers there to dry 'till the weekend's over. We were already dry! Mother Nature would make up for this a little bit later!
In the last 24 hours, I exited and entered SIX different states on my motorcycle! Another first for me! MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ and PA! Cool! The slower group arrived about ½ hour later (they went sight-seeing.) Now the rain began. No biggie, as we were dry and inside, right? Then the lightening... One bolt came so close that poor Skip nearly jumped out of his skin! As usual, good meals, endless drinks, relaxing in the hot tub, movies, music and dancing followed until about 3:00am. The ECMC Biker's Picnic is a GREAT weekend!!
Sunday morning breakfast was being served at 9:00am while a lot of us (especially the long-distance riders such as myself) looked through the window at the pouring rain outside (it was VERY Norman Rockwell!) We plop ourselves in front of the TV and watch the Weather Channel thinking that there will be that "one break" and we'd run our and jump on the bikes and have a nice sunny trip home in the eye of the storm. HA! Rain all around us... Slowly people put on their rain gear and headed out. I was second from last; and in retrospect -- it was very good timing! I managed to stay 100% dry from Pennsylvania all the way to the NJ/NY boarder near Rockland county (I was taking 287 back to stay further inland, the winds near the shore looked bad!) I got rained on for 10 minutes, ducked into a diner and had the worst chili I've ever eaten. Shortly after, the rain stopped and the roads started looking dry enough for me to continue. I crossed the TappanZee Bridge for the first time in my life! (I'd only heard of it, never actually been on it [that I know of]) -- 16 miles later, I was in Connecticut again.
I ended up cutting across on a beautiful parkway (the Wilbur Cross Parkway [Rt.15]) the trees all around the parkway helped block the 40+ MPH gusts of wind. I got on the I-84 just south of Hartford. It was starting to get colder. I stopped at the next rest area and checked the map; only a mere 80 miles to Boston, twenty to the Mass Pike (I-90!) I grinned and beared it all the way home -- stopping to warm up whenever the chance arose. I got home at about 10:45pm.
Totals: 635 miles, 17.8 gallons of gasoline, 35.7 MPG, six states visited, 13.7 hours riding time.
I can't wait for the next one!! ;-)