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Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Butt Burner

All week in Joisey I had been keeping a keen eye on the weather. It had been nice here, sunny skies for the most part, but that beeatch Mother Nature wasn't done with me as far as staying dry on a motorcycle.

I had hoped to take a leisurely two day ride home. Leaving on Saturday and possibly stopping for the night at my cousins place outside of Augusta.

Yet again an intense rainstorm was bearing down on the east coast. Rain was forecasted too begin early Saturday and intensify throughout the day to heavy rain. Not ideal riding conditions when your back tire was on it's last km's. I figured I had enough tread left to get me home, but didn't want to push it riding in standing water.

If the hotel had just been 1km further away

So the plan was hatched to head out in the wee hours of Saturday morning and stay ahead of the worst of it. Unfortunately my simulator schedule had us finishing Friday at 8pm, and an escape from the NY area at that time of day appealed less to me than the early morning option.

My week at FlightSafety had been good, one of the better training sessions I've had in awhile. Ground school was pretty laid back, and our sim instructor Vladimir (the former Aeroflot pilot) worked us hard in the sim, making the four hour sessions go by at fever pitch. I was a little disappointed with the lack of vodka shooters during the debriefs. Pretty sure that was Russian tradition. I'll cut the guy some slack, he was after all from Kazakhstan. Watching the "Long Way Round" paid off, Vlad was impressed I knew about his hometown of Almaty and Magadan in Siberia, where he was based with Aeroflot for 15 years.

Aeroflot doesn't look too bad to me.


Saturday morning my alarm rudely woke me up at 0330. Thing were a little foggy. Maybe I shouldn't have had that fourth Sam Adams last night. I peered out the window to see a black sheen on the parking lot. The rain had begun.

I quickly checked the weather radar and figured I should be in the clear around Westchester, not too far away.

Exiting the elevator, I was greeted with remnants of last nights wedding at the hotel. About a dozen or so highly lubricated revellers were in the lobby to see me off on my journey. So nice of them to stay up past their bedtime.

I loaded up the Guzzi, and under light rain and darkness headed out for what was going to be a long day in the saddle.

The road was wet as I made my way to the I95, light rain was falling and the droplets obscured my vision through the visor. I hate riding in the rain, and in the darkness. I felt awkward this morning, like my balance was off a bit. Not sure if Sam Adams had something to do with this or I was just being overly cautious on the wet roads. My back tire was pretty worn which concerned me.

At 4am there's not a lot of traffic, even for the NYC area. It was like home........in the middle of the day.

My route this morning would take me across the George Washington Bridge and it's wallet liberating $15 toll. That went a little smoother than the last toll booth. Even at 4am the girl at the booth managed a smile, or was it a smirk.

I took the first right off the bridge onto the Henry Hudson Parkway. It's a four lane divided highway, with a 45-55mph speed limit. Best thing........no transport trucks.

For the most part it was quiet as well, but as luck would have it a cabbie who seemed to be texting, with the interior light on had decided that he was gonna take his half of the road..... out of the middle.  Hell, maybe he was drunk and figured if he kept to the white line in the middle he'd be safe. Makes sense, I guess, and keeps you out of the ditch. I decided that keeping a safe distance away from him was the best course of action.

Before long Mr. Cab managed to negotiate an exit ramp, and was no longer my problem.

The Hudson Parkway turned into the Cross County and then the Merritt, it was easy to follow, and I'm sure it would have been quite scenic if it wasn't for the darkness of the wee morning hours.

The rain finally let up around the Sanford, Ct. area. It was still cool though, and my hands were getting cold despite my warm gloves, and at the next rest stop pulled over and got out my heated glove liners.

It seemed like daylight was fighting to come along. The low overcast made it darker than normal and my headlight was still illuminating the road in front of the bike.

Despite having only one cup of coffee just after I awoke, I pushed on with a dangerously low caffeine /blood level. Just south of Hartford I exited the Merritt Parkway (Route 15) for the I91, and then the I84 into Mass. Not my ideal roads for travel, but I had to make some distance today.

Other than the early morning truck traffic it wasn't bad going.

Back to that caffeine/blood level. I pulled into one of those Interstate Service Centres, there was a sign for McD's and that was good enough for me. I fuelled the Guzzi, and then myself. Dining to a gourmet Egg McMuffin and small black coffee.

I'd like to spin exciting tales of adventure on the trip home, even meeting some interesting characters, but alas there were none. Just Guzzi and I droning along on the Interstate. The weather did improve, and I managed to put my sunglasses on for the first time. The temp hit a balmy 21C in Maine.

Just east of Portland, Me on another coffee/gas stop

Off course as the temp went up, so did the bug population, and I was now being pummelled by all kinds of the winged annoyances. I do miss having a bigger windscreen to protect me from the kamikaze insects, and as always there's that one bug that hits your face shield just in the right spot. So you give it a flick with your finger, and the little F'er smears, making a big mess. 

Along Route 9 in Maine. Otherwise known as the Airline Route headed for the Canadian border

Before I crossed back into Canada I stopped at the Duty Free shop. The missus need some tequila, because it's the season of the margarita. Booze is a quite a bit more expensive north of the border. Free health care and all.

For the most part the Guzzi is a pretty comfortable bike even with my 185cm, 83kg frame. Although my arse would not be able to take it without the Airhawk seat cushion. It's been a butt saver on many a trip and bike. However after 10hrs the body gets sore regardless, especially at 120-130kph. The wind beats you up despite the best efforts of Dart's Merlin windscreen.

11hrs and 20mins after I left the hotel in East Rutherford, I'm thankful to be pulling into my driveway at home. I was pretty knackered.

My back tire was now completely shot, in hindsight I should have had it replaced when I was sitting in Jersey all week. I never realized how dangerously worn it would be by the time I got home.

Overall it was a good trip, hopefully next year I can take a leisurely ride home, instead of the buttburner one day affair. It took me two days to recover.

I've been saying this for awhile now, but next year I may tack on a weeks vacation and take a spin down to Kentucky. My grandfather went to school in Berea, and I'd like to go visit. 

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