- The riders for the day -
The December ride is usually a tough sell; beyond the usual work, family, and equipment issues that can sideline riders, there are many who are not able to endure the typical December temperatures. But, for those willing and able to brave the cold start, there is a fun route in the offing!
And so it began for the 2017 edition. The temps were below freezing, everywhere in the area, for the ride to meet up at the Starlite Diner. But, the forecasts held the promise of a sunny day in the mid- to upper-40’s by mid-morning. A couple riders planned to drive by and join us for breakfast, while another unlucky rider lost his cold weather gloves on the way and had to abandon his plan to ride with the group. So, we gathered and we ate while waiting for things to get above freezing. Ultimately, four of us suited up and a little before 11AM, we headed out for the most back-road route of the year (again).
- Some friends who came out for breakfast at the Starlite Diner -
And, it was worth the wait! This is not the time of year for edging out one’s Chicken Strips, but the route is technical, fun, and scenic, nonetheless. As mentioned in August, this route passes through a lot of farmland, which is all harvested and cleared off by this time of year. So, in contrast to the lush green canyons of summer, this ride offers long, clear sightlines through the scenery (as you can see in some of the pictures). At one point, instead of following a pick-up truck towing an old Mustang on a trailer, Rusty decided to improvise in order to find some “new” scenery.
- Two photos shot during the ride. More photos can be found on the Facebook Event Page -
We arrived at the lunch stop in Exeter right at 1PM, making for a respectable average speed of just under 50 MPH. Considering that two of the bikes were 500cc machines, this meant that we hadn’t encountered much in the way of slow traffic. The parking lot was full, but we had no trouble getting seated on a bench at the back, with plenty of room to spread out our winter gear. It also turned out that we had a delightful waitress who came from a family of dirt-track racers (cars, that is), but had some familiarity with motorcycles, too. She shared some stories about her family, including a son who is currently training with the U.S. Army Reserves.
- Lunch stop selfie -
As we prepared to hit the afternoon route, we agreed to a fateful adjustment to the route; to get gas at a corner store in Fleetwood that sells non-ethanol gas. As we passed by The Pagoda, rode along Skyline Dr, and across the Oley Valley, one of the little bikes switched to reserve. Unfortunately, the other little bike came up about 1.5 miles short of the gas station, partway up a rather lengthy hillclimb. Thanks to a flashback from a previous ride, Rusty remembered seeing Luis “Uno” Vera push a fellow rider up and over the hills of the Poconos with his leg on the stalled bike’s footpeg. This is not as easy as it may sound, and it’s much more strenuous than you probably think - especially going uphill - but it is kind of fun, if you make it successfully. As a side note, we learned that it might be unadvisable to ride a Triumph Street Triple for an extended period of time with the 4-way flashers on.
As a consequence for the lost time there, and because we were all heading the same direction to get home, we opted for a relatively direct route back toward the Lansdale area. We did, however, include a trip through “The Orchard” pass for one last stunning view of the area. As we said our goodbyes at the Lansdale entrance to the NorthEast Extension, we took a moment to appreciate the good day we’d had, and hoped that we’ll get to see each other before the next ride in April (weather permitting, of course).
- Stay tuned, the journey continues next year... -