Saturday, May 19, 2012


MayBay Day 2

What a great day for riding! It was warm. It was sunny. Good people, decent roads, lots of great scenery...those of you who ride know what I'm feeling.

I went with a group of 16 bikes that headed north from the hotel. The destination was the top of Mount Equinox, part of the Green Mountain National Forrest range in Vermont. We made good time, clocking about 80 miles in a little over an hour and a half. Good time, in this case, might be understood to mean that speed limits weren't necessarily obeyed. :)

We each ponied up $10.00 to pay the "toll" to open the gate at the bottom of the mountain.

We queued up to begin our ascent....and had to wait for the girl running things in the gift shop to come out and start chucking tokens into the toll gate, one token per bike, with a little "jiggle" of the token box to get the gate to open. The ride up the mountain really wasn't bad. A couple of hairpin turns, a few steep climbs, but nothing too harrowing. The view from the Green everywhere. Trees, trees, and more trees.

It really was beautiful. You can see for just about ever, I'm guessing you can easily see New Hampshire and New York, maybe even Massachusetts, from up there. The trip up and down reminded me a lot of Brockway Mountain Drive, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, only the road was in better condition and Mount Equinox is a lot taller than Brockway Mountain.

We all stopped for lunch in Manchester, and I decided that I'd ride back to Lenox on my own. The group ride up was great. Lunch with my fellow riders was wonderful fellowship, but...

...sometimes...a man just needs time to himself.

I choose to head north out of Manchester, taking Route 30, Route 100, Route 8, and Route 9 in a loop around the national park, and back down to our rally location. It was a good 106 miles. Lots of time to think, to look around, and to notice...

On August 28 & 29, 2011, the remnants of hurricane Irene unleashed their fury on the New England states. The results were devastating. There was widespread flooding, damage to roads, bridges, homes, businesses...and lives were lost. To be honest, they've done a great job cleaning up the damage. There are new bridges everywhere. Roads have been patched. The obvious signs have pretty much been taken care of...but the less obvious ones remain.

Route 100 follows rivers and streams through the mountains. If you're not paying attention, it's easy to miss the fact that there were devastating floods just 9 months ago. But...if you look can see the signs. The riverbeds are often still full of debris; trees uprooted by the waters as if they were merely toothpicks. The banks of the streams and rivers are torn apart; earth rent asunder and opened like a gaping wound by torrential waters. The cleanup crews have come in and done great work, but they can't do much for the river banks. Those have to heal on their own; nature has to take over and take however long it needs to "reset" the river's edge.

It was these images that stirred my empathy. I could understand this devastation. It felt familiar. Not because I've lived through physical floods...because it's how I feel on the inside, like there are parts of me that have been flayed open, exposed for the world to see, not by choice, but by catastrophic chance.

It's been over 15 months since I lost Sara and Miranda on that snowy highway; but, the banks of my "river" still feel exposed, torn apart by the flood of grief. Everything uprooted, spun around, and jumbled into a debris field called "my life." You, my friends and family, are my cleanup crew. You've helped rebuild the bridges, patch the roads, get the utilities turned back on...but, I'm slowly learning that the banks of the river take longer to recover.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Lenox, MA, USA

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Let's talk about expressways...

On the road again. Not sure what came over me, but I decided, just a couple days ago, to ride out to Massachusetts for the Volusia Rider's MAyBay rally. I went last year and enjoyed meeting a whole new group of people, many of whom I had previously only known through the forums at

Today was a good day. Cool, sunny, windy...485 miles in a little over 8 hours in the saddle. About 425 of that was on the expressway.

Let's talk about the expressway...

Normally, riders like me (non-commuter, leisure rider) tend to avoid the expressway. They're for cars, semis, and crotch rockets. I think most people who ride for fun tend to only take the expressway if they have a need to get from point A to point B in the fastest, or shortest, way possible. Hence, today, I'm on the expressway. Lots of miles to cover and only so many hours in the day.

Why avoid the expressway? For starters, I want to live. The expressway is typically full of lots of other vehicles, many of which have drivers who treat motorcyclists as if we were also in steel cages, protected by sidewalls, airbags, and the lot. They tailgate, they cut in when there's not much room, etc. Riding on the expressway usually requires the expenditure of copious amounts of energy, both mental and physical, just to avoid death.

However, today I realized there is actually a particular kind of expressway I LOVE riding on...the rural expressway, especially after 5:00PM. I can give you three immediate examples of the type of highway I'm talking about: US-127 north of Mt. Pleasant (even after it merges with I-75), I-95 in Maine (especially from Bangor to Canada), and I-86 in New York (from Pennsylvania to Corning.) What is it that sets these roads apart from a regular expressway?

There are two main things that make this type of ride fun:
1. The expressway in these areas is very scenic. The visual experience is rolling hills, pastures, trees, short, there's lots of pretty stuff for the eyes to drink in.
2. The expressway is, for all practical purposes, deserted. You pretty much have it to yourself. You'll have the occasional car or truck pass you and you'll occasionally pass another car or truck; most of the time there's not another vehicle within a half mile of you, or more.

The benefit here is that you can actually enjoy the ride, covering a lot of distance while minimizing the physical and mental efforts...thus giving you time to look around, enjoy the sights, and, most importantly, time to think about something other than avoiding being killed.

As I got off I-90, I knew I was in for a treat. No one else was getting off at I-86 with me. I already knew, from looking at the route on a map, that I-86 was going to be a highway with very few straight sections (lots of curves) but I wasn't expecting the hills (mountains?) and scenic views. Over 150 miles of them. One of my first thoughts was that this is a highway I'd love to come back and ride in the fall, when the leaves are in full color. I imagine that the hills must look like they're on fire if you're driving along the highway, heading east, as the sun sets. I can already feel plans for a return trip, sometime in late September or early October, taking root in my brain. I'm also looking forward to the miles I have left to ride on this stretch of road when I get going in the morning.

As my eyes drank deep the beauty of God's creation this afternoon and evening, I was humbled. Humbled to think that in this vast expanse, among the billions of people on the planet, I am truly insignificant...and yet, He cares for me, as if I was the one and only one here. Thank you, rural expressway, for being there when I needed you the most.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Corning, NY


It's spring (and had been since about December here in Michigan) and the riding bug has set in. I only have 2 trips planned for this year, but more are bound to pop up.

I'm heading to the Volusia Rider's MAyBay Rally, in Lenox, MA, starting today.  You can follow my ride progress here: