Monday, October 22, 2012

Motorcycle Diaries: Stamford to Cleveland, Ohio


Saturday, August 18th.  Connecticut, ground zero. Tire pressure checked, camel pack loaded, GPS on target. It’s about 10am and I am about to take the long way home. I had planned to have a smooth morning, an easy start around 8am. Well, it just happened that the Gamelatron (beyond words, but if you happen to have the chance to see it, do it! It is awesome!) was on display the night before and I just could use some inspirational vibes before my road trip. It just also happened that the display was all the way deep in Brooklyn and I wound up back home around 3am (thanks for that ride, sis!). Not a lot of rest right before a 8-hr motorcycle ride, but yet I was deeply peaceful and excited about the trip.

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I remember the feeling of being extremely sleepy and tired in the morning, but delaying the trip was not an option: it briefly occurred to me that I could easily head back home, sleep and take off early Sunday - assuming I wouldn’t be tempted to head to Barcelona, eat some delicious chicken and have 1-1/2 glass of wine (my legal limit)- but that was not how I wanted it to start. There could be some (energy) damage if I had chosen to break my mental agreement.

After slowly crossing NY/NJ (and being stuck on some traffic) I was finally in Pennsylvania. The goal was to hit Cleveland before the end of the day, so I’d have a nice ride the next day to Chicago. In the past road trips we made Stamford-Chicago in one shot arriving late evening, but that was driving  Catalina, the Goddess and a couple of people alternating the steering. This time I wanted to pace down a bit so I planned on stopping half way thru, around Cleveland.

Cleveland was looking harder and harder to achieve by each gas stop I  made. The delayed start and the heavy traffic in NYC had set me back more than 4 hours and I needed to decide if I want to speed up and make to Cleveland late night or just stop somewhere along the way and rest. At first I decided to speed up (perfect excuse to use that VTwin power), only stop for gas and make to Cleveland around 8pm. Perfect plan until the moment I really needed to take a leak and I still had about 45 mins to ride left on the gas tank. There was no way I could hold it for that long, so I was pathologically forced to stop and lose momentum – once again! 

Meet Pocono’s Streetfighter
So I pull over to take a leak and a rider shows up out of nowhere, in what I originally thought was a rider making sure I didn’t need any help (somewhat common among riders). It actually happened that this guy also had a TL1000S Streetfightered, which was a big coincidence considering how old and rare these bikes are, so he had pulled over to chat a bit. We talked about our bikes (we happened to be members in the same TLForums) then he asked me if I wanted to join him through some winding backroads in the Pocono Mountains. Hmmm… so here were my options: continue on the (straight-line boring) interstate and speed up even more to make to Cleveland late night OR relax, take some backroads, hit some turns with another rider and rest somewhere along the way after dusk?

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Not quite the conundrum for this rider here: this was the first out of many chances that I had (and chose) to make the long way home even longer. And the longer the better, as long as there were a nice tight turn on it. This is what this whole thing was about: riding the turns, talking to people and taking my photos. It was never about getting to that infamous point B. Where the hell would that be anyways? All stops, couches and even gas stations were points Bs in this journey.

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I followed him through the mountains not knowing exactly where we were headed to and also hoping that his route would not take me too much back east! I am glad I did, the ride was awesome: we started at some abandoned-like backroads with lots of nice turns and lose rocks and gravels, a bikers nightmare!  Then we headed to the mountains, in what seemed like those old car racing video-games where the road is an infinite straight line but with lots of ups and downs. Add the mountains to the background and that was the ride of the day.

So after indulging a bit at the Poconos, Cleveland was out of the plan and Clarion was the target for the night. I was able to find a nicely reviewed Bed&Breakfast, which was awesome because it was getting darker faster and I was trying to avoid a lot of night riding. This was my very first stay at a Bed&Breakfast after actually understanding its cultural importance in America. Very interesting experience and I was very lucky with the choice, The Clarion House Bed & Breakfast.

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