I took a week off of work last week to attend Star Days in Harrisburg, PA. This is an annual event that brings together members of Star Riding and Touring for fun, friendship, and riding. Joining me on the ride out to Harrisburg were two members of our Chapter, John and Jeff.
I wanted to ride Route 30 most, or all, of the way to Harrisburg, as it is a great route (Thank you, Denny, for the assist on the route through Pittsburgh). However, by the time we made it to Irwin, PA, all of us had enough of Route 30, it’s 40mph speed limit, and the oppressive heat. The road was really good, the towns we passed were interesting, and it was a pleasurable ride. But it was time to get on the turnpike and get to the hotel, and air conditioning, as quickly as possible. We made a tactical error on the turnpike, only stopping for gas and refreshments (lots of Gatorade and water). This made for a pretty grueling ride, an error we would not make on the way back to Cleveland.
Wednesday, we started the day with a Feed the Children ride. We loaded up our bikes with boxes of food, rode a police escorted route to a distribution point, and helped distribute food to 800 families. Because our Chapter was in the Top Ten of all chapters for money raising, we were afforded the right to ride in the front of the group. After we were done, John, Jeff, and I headed back to the hotel to take advantage of the bike wash (our bikes were pretty filthy from the ride to Harrisburg), to have some maintenance done to them, and to check out the vendor area. I availed myself to the Yamaha tent to ride a Stratoliner and a 1300 Deluxe. On Thursday, I rode the VMAX. Twice. It was the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels. Melt your face off performance.
After all of the demo rides and after John had his oil changed, we headed off for Thurmont, MD and Catoctin Mountain Park. I’ve driven through there on several occasions and knew it would be a great bike ride. It was, as I scraped floorboards on several occasions. The cool, fresh air was welcome respite from the heat. From there, we rode to Gettysburg and to take the bus tour (air conditioning cannot be underestimated). It was the first time I’ve had a guided tour of Gettysburg and it was wonderful. On the way back to the hotel, we had to stop on the side of Route 15 as we could see rain ahead of us. We geared up for it and rode on. For about 15 minutes, it was wonderfully cool. And wet. Very wet. Then, it was over and the heat returned. Since I was head to toe in rain gear, I was extra hot. How hot? It was like I was in an oven bag, cooking up with some potatoes and carrots. When we stopped for gas, I stripped off the gear as fast as I could, as if I had fire ants in my pants.
Friday, we headed back to Cleveland. This time, however, we made plans to stop at every other rest stop on the turnpike. To gas up and to replenish our fluids. It was a great plan. Just before Pittsburgh, we checked the weather and decided it would be a good idea to gear up for rain. Back into the rain suit and full face helmet for me. The temperature dropped (yeah!) and the rain came. But we soldiered onward. At the first rest stop in Ohio, we stopped, stripped out of the rain gear, and gassed up. Looking at the weather map, we were heading into some rain. But we decided that there was no way we were going to stay in the rain gear, it was that hot in the gear.
Not too long after that, we hit the rain. Torrential rain. Rain so hard that we passed about twelve cars sitting on the side of the road waiting out the rain. We waved at them as we rode by.
“Pussies,” I said to myself.
Then it stopped. And I started laughing. Water was pouring off of me, my front was soaked, my back dry. Every time I turned my head, for example to move into another lane or look at the scenery, water came off of me. It was hilarious. Except for my wet socks inside my boots. But it didn’t take long to dry off in the heat.
We made it home with no more weather related issues. Nor any issues with drivers.
Some have inquired as to how I travel on the bike, so here are two pictures of it, loaded for the trip. The Flickr photos have notes, which should answer most questions. Plus, you can see the enhancements I’ve made to it.
Next year, Star Days will be in St. Charles, MO.
The Star Days route (you can click on the picture for a much larger map):
Then, on Saturday, I joined Mark and Doug for a ride to Roar on the Shore, in Erie, PA. While taking a break from walking around, we were caught by a staff photographer, relaxing on, and behind, our bikes:
When the week was over, I had ridden 1303 miles. My bike, which I purchased new, with zero miles, in April of 2012, now has 16, 713 miles on it. I think I love riding. A lot.