We have had a cold and snowy winter in Philadelphia this year, which prohibited much, if any motorcycle riding. I guess I got spoiled with last year's winter, because it never went below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius). In fact, many days were in the 50's and we didn't get any snow that I can remember. But not this year! It rarely got above freezing and the snow never seemed to end. From the time I rode to the Annual "Turkey Pro National" on December 1, 2002, until the middle of February, I only got a couple of days in the saddle.
The "Turkey Pro National" is always held on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and is run by "Snuffy" Smith, who coincidentally was the second owner of my beloved 1000S, but more importantly is a great guy and true motorcycle enthusiast. Anyway, it was below freezing that day and although I don't usually venture out on days of this nature, it's always worth the 20 mile ride out to see a lot of rare and old motorcycles on display. And to be honest, it's just not the same driving out there in the car. You also get a chance to watch Dr. John Wittner give it his best in the "Slow Race".
On St. Valentine's Day we got hit with 7 inches of snow, then two days later we got another snow storm, which left us with 25 inches of the white stuff. Yeah, it's been a long, long winter! To alleviate some of my feelings of "cabin fever", I bought an "all wheel drive" Subaru Impreza RS to drive in the snow and have some fun with. Well, that's not the only reason I made this purchase, but stating that I bought a second 4-wheeled cage for my transportation needs doesn't sound as exciting. Anyway, the Impreza is one of the best handling automobiles I've ever had the chance to drive. It's truly a fun car to operate and sticks to the road in the twisties. But that's another story, so back to the motorcycle story at hand!
On the weekend of March 23rd and 24th, the temperatures were up in the 60's F (16 C), so I thought this was as good of a chance as any to get the Guzzis out. Saturday morning consisted changing the oil, greasing the shaft and detailing the Sport 1100, which was absolutely filthy, in my opinion. Afterwards I went for a 150 mile ride, which was a much needed activity after my forced winter hibernation. Six miles out of "Center City" Philadelphia, I exited interstate 95 and jumped on State Road, which basically runs parallel with the interstate. So from there, I took a ride up Pennsylvania Route 32 along the Delaware River, better known as River Road. This is a great motorcycling road that is as straight, as a dog's leg. Then on Sunday, I performed the same maintenance rituals and detailing on the 1000S and finished off with a 100 mile ride through the twisties. Both bikes ran and performed well! And although not a "poser," I had to finish each days ride with an obligatory cruise down South Street in Philadelphia, before putting my Italian beauties to rest for the day. It was just my way of showing everybody what a REAL motorcycle looks like! It was great to get out on two wheels again, as winter seemed an eternity. Spring was finally here or so I thought!
The few weeks that followed were a bit cold and damp, but it was April and you know what the old adage stated? "APRIL SHOWERS, BRING MAY FLOWERS." Yeah right, not this year! We're into the first week of April and it's snowing again as I put these thoughts to paper. Will this weather ever break?
As all stories should conclude, this one will have a happy ending! With that being said, this morning is a picture perfect day, well over 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) and not a cloud in the sky. It's Sunday, April 13th and time for our "2nd Sunday Philadelphia Ride", which meets at Silk City Diner on 5th and Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia every second Sunday of the month. This Diner looks like it jumped out of your history book and is a great meeting place for motorcyclists. Silk City Diner is an authentic 1950s styled Diner that has been renovated. Well, it hasn't been renovated, but is clean and has decent food at reasonable prices.
We had ten riders show up, which wasn't bad for the first organized ride of the season. Regrettably, I showed up on the only Moto Guzzi of the bunch. Most of the guys who came, have at least one Guzzi in their garage, but coincidentally all chose to ride another marque. What are you going to do? Send them all home? One of our riders brought his Buell and the bike's battery went dead before our departure. How's that for American reliability? Anyway, he locked up the bike at the Diner, got a ride to his house and returned with a Bimota. It's not a Guzzi, but at least it's Italian! So after our breakfast, we planned a route through the rolling hills of Amish country to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Anyone who has traveled through this region knows the beauty and spender of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The conditions of the roads are fairly good with many curves throughout and there aren't many "potholes" or uneven surfaces to ruin your judgment when setting up your turns. The landscape is full of rolling hills with farms for miles, which is stunning to the eye. And with horse and buggies everywhere, you feel like you've gone back in time to a much simpler day. Unfortunately, there are two sides to that coin! On a Sunday, these motor-less carriages are on every road imaginable and although they ride near the side of the road, they're running in both directions. So you not only have to maneuver your way around them, you have to navigate yourself clear of the obstacles these four legged creatures have left on the road behind them. We don't live in a perfect world, so I'll stop complaining. Because, truthfully, these roads are some of the best in the area and have possibly every variable for enjoyable motorcycling.
There are quaint small towns, picturesque lakes, and snake like mountainous curves. Over all it was a stellar day! Between the beautiful scenery, great weather, and rider compatibility, you couldn't ask for a better day to ride.
Incidentally, if anyone happens to be in the Philadelphia area on any given second Sunday of the month, come on out and join us for a great ride. We will more than welcome you!