Monday, May 26, 2008

Rain or no rain, we're outta here!

Outside temperature was 38 degrees, wind gusts: 20-30MPH, "passing showers", perfect riding weather right? Not exactly, but this is Upstate New York, if we waited for "perfect" riding weather we'd never ride! Besides we had places to go and people to see.

Our destination was Winchester, VA to meet up with a few (200+) Goldwing riders and do some riding and socializing. The first big trip of the season and we were packed and ready to ride, the weather be damned!

We bundled up, saddled up and hit the road around 10am. Our theory was, if we don our raingear, it won't rain. Ok, it was only a theory, but it was worth a shot. And it worked for the most part, besides the raingear served double duty in that it helped keep us warm too.

The weathermen actually got this forecast right for a change when they said passing showers, they weren't kidding. One minute we'd be riding under blue skies and sunshine, but we could see large black clouds on either side threatening to get us wet, then we'd make a turn and head into the showers for a brief instant then ride out of them. If I didn't know better I'd say our GPS, the Lowrance IWAY 500c was heading us right into the showers on purpose! I will say though, after having ridding in torrential downpours and thunderstorms, the rain we saw on this trip was nothing more than an inconvenience.

Our route took us on the due south, Rt 390 south to Rt 15 winding our way through the hills of Pennsylvania and picking up Rt 81 in Harrisburg and right into Winchester. I'd forgotten what a pretty ride Rt 15 is from just south of the NY state line to Williamsport, PA. It's a nice 4 lane divided highway with graceful sweeping curves winding their way through the rolling hills of Northern Pennsylvania. We definately have to take this ride in the fall, it has to be absolutely gorgeous when the colors are in bloom.

As we got further south the wind picked up and boy was that fun, especially driving around the big trucks on Rt81. One minute you're riding along minding your own business and the next a blast of wind grabs the bike and sends it sliding into the next lane which is usually already occupied by some sort of traffic. It's nerve racking enough for the rider but as a passenger it's very unsettling because you're totally helpless to do anything. I can see my husband leaning the bike into the wind, trying desperately to bring the bike back into the lane, soI just hold my breath and fight every urge I have to "help" lean the bike! It makes for quite an interesting ride and really cuts into my nap time.

By the time we got to Winchester, the rain was gone and the sun was out and stayed out for the rest of the weekend, to our great delight. It was still a little gusty but that wasn't much of an issue. We were staying a the Courtyard by Marriott in Winchester, Va. Great hotel, great service and our discounted room rates included breakfast every morning. At most hotels that usually means bagels and sweet rolls, but not here. Breakfast included everything, waffles, hot and cold cereal, fruit, scrambles eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, biscuits and gravy and an omelet station, all at no extra charge. What a deal!

The manager even provided a water hose out back so we could wash our bikes. Goldwingers are very particular about keeping their wings clean when they ride. I'm not sure why, they just get dirty again. Personally I think it's a guy thing, it gives them a chance to hang out and discuss oil changes and crush washers.

After checking into the hotel and unpacking, it was time to relax and socialize with old friends and meet new ones as groups continued to arrive from all over the region as the night wore on. We even had one rider all the way from Hawaii!!

Later, we ventured out for some dinner. We headed into town in search of a place to eat. We stumbled across a Texas Steakhouse, now normally we try to stay away from chain restaurants when we're traveling, but since we don't have any Texas Steakhouse's in New York we thought we'd give it a try. It turned out to be an excellent choice, I'll post a review later.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel for an evening of socializing and story telling. It's become a tradition at these events that we all gather in the parking lot in the evening, enjoy some adult beverages and socialize. It's alot of fun and we've made some great friends over the years.

Next: Our trip to California SideCar company and Skyline Drive