2007 ST-N Meet and Eat

Friday, April 20, 2007

The tankbag and saddlebags are packed, the iPod is charged, the camera has an empty memory card and the GPS's track log is cleared. Tomorrow at 7am (or possibly earlier), I leave on my first overnight motorcycle trip in more than a decade. That's not exactly true - I did rent a bike in Miami earlier in the year and stayed in Key West for a few days, but that's different than leaving one's house on your own bike with your bags packed. It's safe to say I'm looking forward to this little overnighter - I've been poring over maps and websites for weeks, trying to plan out the best route to get there, and find some scenic loops along the way.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why I'm looking forward to this event. I'll only a know a couple folks from previous rides (fjrski, rincewind), and even them I've only met once. Another rider from my area I'm looking forward to meeting is tankhead (Chris) on his Buell - we've corresponded a couple a times. Other than those few people, it'll be dozens of strangers from the website.

I've got an ambitous plan for tomorrow. Leaving at 7, I hope to make Lewisburg, PA by lunchtime (via 41, 772, 501, super twisty 125, 61 and 15). From there I can choose to either slab it for 2 hours to Clearfield if I need to, or backroad it on 192 for 2.5 hours to get there. What I'm hoping is that I'll still be in the mood for more when I hit Lewisburg, and not, as the brits would say, knackered. If I'm still fresh, then it's an hour on the slab to get to one of 2 scenic loops around the Tioga State Forest area. Planning on getting to Clearfield around dinnertime, but there's a lot of backroad riding in there to mess up that plan.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

After a terrible night's sleep where I woke at least a half-dozen times thinking it was time to go (oh, it's only 2:15am), I jumped out of bed at 6:20. Got a quick shower, a breakfast bar, and tried to be as quiet as possible getting ready so as not to wake my 6-year old son. He doesn't much like when I go away, and I didn't want to start my weekend feeling terrible as he cries and waves goodbye.

Damn it's cold outside. Weather.com says although it's going to be 74 later today, it's only around 35 right now.

6:50am, kickstand up with 3,818 miles showing on the odometer. First song on the iPod Shuffle was Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere". Nice omen to start things off.

The bank says it's all of 37 degrees.

In preparation for the warmer weather later in the day I chose my Alpinestars perforated jacket, and I was wearing my heated jacket liner underneath. For the first hour or so, there seemed to be battle raging between the perfs and the heat, with the perfs taking the lead. Once I got over the Delaware Memorial Bridge the liner caught up, and by the first gas stop the liner was kicking the perf's butt.

There were sections on 40 where the smell of fertilizer reached up into my helmet and shoved its fingers up my nose and wouldn't let go. Not somewhat stinky "oh, it's farm country" smell, more like "oh my god I'm going to throw up" smell.

I've always wanted to get a picture of the 'muffler man' at the Cowtown Rodeo.

Continued on 40 to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, then up 41 to 722, skirting Lancaster and going straight through Intercourse :-). Lots of Amish buggies out on 722, which I always find soothing. 722 had lots of nice sweepers, decent pavement, and lovely views of Amish farm country. Eventually I hooked up with 501, and then a song came on the iPod that my son listens to every night. I thought "I should stop and call home when I get a chance". The iPod then played that same song again. Taking that as a sign, I pulled over for gas and a phone call home.

Everthing was OK at home. I swapped the iPod for some earplugs and continued north on 501. Got stuck behind 2 slow H-D riders for a while.

Took one exit on I-83 to hook up with PA125, which has some very twisty sections and a few tight hairpins as it goes up and down several mountains (well, hills I suppose). I've driven this road in cars many times, including one session in a rented Porsche Boxster where I did it maybe 4 times back and forth, and it's always been a hoot. When I first bought the Multistrada in October, I was on this road on my second day back as a rider. That day the road made me very nervous, as I was concentrating very hard to stay in my lane on the hairpins. Had to remember not to look at the centerline, unless that was where I wanted to go. Turn your head, look through your turn, if starting to go wide look to the fogline. This time over it was no big deal, other than the large amount of gravel strewn about. There was one section of about 4 turns that had about3-foot wide strips of gravel strip across the road on the entrance to the turns. Not good for braking!

The first hairpin on 125

For part of the way up/down on 125 I was behind a pickup towing a trailer with 3 ATV's. I noticed the smell of his brakes before I even came up behind him. By the time we go to the bottom of one section I was surprised he had any brakes left at all. Coming into a town at one point he hit the curb with the trailer, it bounced a good foot in the air.

125 eventually put me in Shamokin, where I picked up boring 61 over the Susquehanna and onto very boring US15 into Lewisburg. I was using Lewisburg as my decision point to see what I wanted to do for the rest of the ride. Since I was feeling great I thought I would take the long Tioga Loop route I had planned, so I hopped on I-80 for a bit. I-80 sucked, as there was a section where both directions were routed onto the same side of the highway. Got off near Jersey Shore on PA880. The first part of 880 was great as it wound toward and through Ravensburg State Park. North of that it was pretty, but not very interesting to ride.

PA880 south of Jersey Shore

I rolled into Jersey Shore (I've always thought that was an odd name for a town in central PA, and still do) around 12:30 and got a quick Arby's lunch. I checked the route on the laptop while eating, and finally put the heated jacket liner in the saddlebag. The temps were now in the mid-70's, and it felt great.

After I finally found my way out of Jersey Shore, I headed north on 44 until it hooks up with 414. One of the STN's suggested a route for this area, and I was picking it up at this intersection. It was hard to turn onto 414 at this point, because 44 was such a nice ride. 414 started out nice enough, but things got worse once I crossed over the first bridge.

From there the road got narrower, less paved, lost the centerline (and any other lines), and added a lot of gravel. More of an advrider.com road than an STN road, but it was very scenic. I stopped several times to get pictures, and saw practically zero traffic.

The road surface improved dramatically after the next bridge. After what seemed like an eternity, 414 ended at 287 which shot me up to Wellsboro. Got a picture of the diner, saw some folks 2-up on a Kawasaki GPZ1100 (a bike from the 90's I loved), and started heading West again.

Took 362 to Ansonia, and hooked up with US6 again for a few miles when I saw a sign for "Grand Canyon of PA". I've wanted to check this out for years, and I wasn't going to pass up a chance when I was this close. 7 miles down a wiggly road brought me to this overlook.

I imagine it's a lot prettier with more leaves on the trees. Probably really gorgeous in autumn. Stretched my legs for a bit, had a snack, checked the route, and continued on. US-6 to Galeton. Got some gas, headed south on 144. Up until Renovo, 144 was nothing special. I completely forgot about the Heiner overlook, so I just continued on 144. After Renovo 144 became the highlight of the day. Clean pavement, lots of turns, zero traffic, great views, you name it.

Continued on 144 untl 53 in Moshannon, where I decided to get to Clearfield quickly as it was around 5pm. I stopped for a while to download the GPS tracklog onto my laptop before it got full and overwrote itself.

While I was doing that, a rider on an ST3 pulled up and we chatted a bit. He was almost the only traffic I saw on all of 144. I finished downloading (just like I did in Lewisburg), shut the laptop (which is supposed to put it into hibernation), and took 53 to I-80 to Clearfield.

405 miles for the day, on the road for about 10.5 hours. Tracklog for the afternoon's ride

Arriving at the Days Inn, I was suprised to see no bikes at all. I rode around to the back, and saw around 10 bikes with riders kind of idling. I parked my bike, turned around to go talk to folks, and the whole pack took off. I did not get the warm fuzzies. I started putting stuff in my room when (I think) RDoug came out of nowhere to say hello.

Just about this time I heard a fantastic deep rumble - the second best exhaust note of the weekend. Turns out it was another NJ rider, Tankhead (Chris). Within a couple of minutes they were 4 or 5 STN folks hanging around - SWRiverstone, RDoug, Scott (tankhead) and maybe some others. We made a plan to order some pizza after people got some showers and cleaned up.


I took my laptop out of it's neoprene case to download pictures from the camera, and the thing was burning hot! For some reason it was still running even though the lid was shut. I tried opening/closing the lid a few times, but it didn't seem to recognize that the lid was closed. With about 1/2 battery charge remaining I shut it down.

After my shower I took some parking lot pictures, and RDoug and the others came out soon after. We convened in Sam's (st2sam) room and promptly turned it into the restaurant for the evening. We ordered some local pizza on the advice of the front-desk lady, and settled in for a bit. With Mythbusters as the background, the conversation included:

We then headed down to the lounge for a bit, and met up with another group of STN'ers including Jetset. I had one beer, and RDoug and I hatched a plan to ride tomorrow morning before Denny's. After about 45 minutes in the lounge the smoke and tiredness got the better of me and I headed back to my room.

Opened the laptop back up (which by now had returned to a normal temperature), and the battery was dead. Of couse I did not bring the spare battery or the AC adapter. Nice.

Watched some Law and Order, House, and fell asleep.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Woke at 7, got a nice hot shower, packed up and started loading up the bike. A bunch of other folks were getting ready as well, and we checked out the parking lot. I spotted a gorgeous MV Brutale 910R that had showed up overnight, and everyone went over to check it out.

I'm not quite sure what benefit the fried-cheese add, but you never know with these Italians.

Sadly, the Brutale never showed up at Denny's, so we never got to hear it.

SWRiverstone (Scott) and Holly's bikes. That 748 is one fine-looking bike.

Sam, Scott, Doug, Holly and I getting ready for the morning loop. Chris was out getting gas. Doug said his pace was usually about "20 over", which sounded OK to us. I took my preferred position as sweep, as I know I'm going to be the slowest guy on the ride. I'm all about the "ride your own ride" thing, and I feel bad holding anyone up behind me. Turns out I did pretty OK with most of this group.

We left Clearfield north on 879. Sam was on point, Doug just behind, then Scott, Holly, Chris and myself. We lost Sam and Doug after about 10 minutes, leaving Scott as our new pace leader. He kept a very reserved pace, which was just fine with me. Unfamiliar roads, cold temperatures, sun in your eyes, etc. I'd rather not push it. 879 let onto 1011.

We caught up with Sam and Doug at the intersection to Wycoff Run Rd. Turns out Sam was running around 100, and Doug a bit less than that. We rearranged a bit with Chris moving ahead of Scott to run with the faster half of the group.

Wycoff Run was fantastic! Great pavement, tons of tight turns, beautiful river running below and to the side. I wish I could have stopped and taken a lot of pictures on this section. Eventually Wycoff Run terminated at 120.

We regrouped at the intersection to Meddix Run just past the Elk viewing area turnoff. Most people were interested in going back and checking out the viewing area, so we doubled back. Doug took sweep on this section. On the way back down there were a bunch of cars on the side of the road, and being a veteran of many trips to Rocky Mountain National Park I knew what was going on. Sure enough, there were some elk in the trees, and Doug stopped to check them out. I got to the turnoff for the viewing area, and there was no Doug behind me. I waited a bit, then doubled back and he passed me. OK, everything looks good. I u-turned and headed to the viewing area. I was suprised when I got there that he wasn't there yet - turns out he missed the turnoff and went for another 5 miles before realizing his error. He eventually showed up and we all took a nice break enjoying the views. No elk to be seen but great sweeping views of the mountains (and a castle).

The curving stone wall looked too good to pass up so I suggested we all line our bikes up for an STN banner photo.

L-R: Me, Scott, Sam, Holly, Chris and Doug

The highlight of this rest stop was my having to explain the "shocker" in mixed company I didn't know. It's....um....two in the....um...and one.....in the.... Thankfully Chris stepped in with the nouns.

We did some advriding out of the gravel area and headed back to Clearfield via Meddix Run Rd. Sam, Doug and Chris were gone in a flash, and Scott Holly and I had a nice leisurely ride back. After our 119 mile ride we gassed up at the Sheetz and rode over to Denny's.

The tracklog from the morning ride:

Shortly after arriving at Denny's I heard the best exhaust sound ever coming up the hill - no surprise, a Guzzi. I've only ridden one, a California Stone, but the sound of these things is unreal - like an old muscle car, or an offshore power boat. The owner told us later over lunch how he likes to ride up behind someone and let off the gas so the bike goes bwaa-bwaa-bwaa on the overrun. Scares the crap out of people.

There were a LOT of bikes there.

That's Doug on the left

Hard to imagine both of these designs came from the same company.

The view inside

We got done with lunch around 1, wandered around the parking lot for a while snapping pics. FJRski and I hit the road at 1:45, and made good time for about an hour. Then we hit some pretty bad stop-and-go traffic on I-80.

FJRski showing how he rides with no hands :-)

He split off onto I-81, and I stopped for has just before the junction with I-476. Downed a water and some Hostess Cupcakes (guilty pleasure), phoned home, and hit the slab. Nothing interesting about the rest of the ride except the tunnel - some nice cool air in there.

I had to stop for a bit after the Commodore Barry Bridge to stretch my legs. 4 hours of slab had me pretty cramped in the knees. Got back to Salem County around 6:45pm, 273 miles for the ride home.

Trip total for the weekend was 797 miles.

I was captured on some other people's pics as well.


Getting ready for Wycoff Run Rd

The bridge at the end of Wycoff Run Rd

Taking the STN Banner shot at the Elk overlook

Hey, this was supposed to be a 'test pic'! Chris (tankhead) on my right.

Getting ready for the morning ride at the Days Inn

Doug explaining about his shiny head

I'm in this one somewhere!

The lone Multistrada at the Days Inn