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A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician






 

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On The Road Again

The season really is in its decline as I write this.  October 9, 1994 -- It would have been John Lennon’s 54th birthday!  We decided to put the season away with a nice lunch run to Oneonta.  Why Oneonta? Ask Dan.

I have been living something of a Dual-National existence for the past five years.  Its all due to the basic principle that all motorcycles are exciting to me and I’ll ride with the Harley crowd as well as the crotch-rocket crowd.  If I could afford a Buell, I could sell a few bikes and be happy. 

For years, I rode with my brother-in-law’s Harley Bros riding group.  They tolerated my Ninja because I always bought the first round at the end of the run! (Not really, just kidding.) Well, I was accepted for whatever reason, and was damn glad as I got to go on some incredibly nice road-trips, including Daytona.  I think one of those great memories I will carry beyond the grave was riding my Ninja through the front gates of the Ironhorse Saloon, one of the premiere H-D bars in Florida!

Anyway, recently I acquired a Harley.  I didn’t send the Ninja down the road, mind you.  I want the best of both worlds.  I did have to basically sell some things -- intangibles, my soul included -- to get this ride.  Before you scoff, please know that nothing is as black and white as the garbage you read in Easyriders or Cycle World.  Sportbikes are great, but not a be-all, end-all.  Harleys have their niche and are not a be-all, end-all either.  To say one is good and the other sucks is the equivalent of saying that Roast Beef is the only thing worth eating -- and that’s all you’re gonna eat for the rest of your life.  Or like blondes are..., oh skip that one! 

Anyway, I eschewed the MSBA afternoon run because I was sure it was going to be canceled.  You see, the forecast held afternoon showers.  While a few of us hardcores will go in the rain, it usually boils down to Eddie, John and I, to end No-Show  frustration, we had been leaving rainy days to their own devices.

At our annual family bonfire (this year an entire farm out-building was consumed) my brother-in-law told me that he, his son and one of his buddies were planning a lunch run out to Oneonta.  His buddy’s uncle owned a big farm out there.  They figured they’d drop by, hang out for a bit, and stop at Brooke’s B-B-Q for lunch.

I’d had quite a few beers, it was one AM, we were standing too close to a major conflagration, so I said “Cool, I’ll drag out the shovelhead and join in.”   Of course, my bro-in-law Dan knew I’d say just that.

Eleven AM  found us mounted up and heading out of Schenectady past the Rotterdam Square Mall and jetting out Burdeck Street to Route 7 west.  My bike had fifty one miles on the trip meter.  I’d never run the tank out.  I was always amazed at how much was gone after 100 miles!   Al and Dan, with their Fat Bobs said, oh don’t worry, its only sixty miles.  Brandon, with his Peanut-tanked Sportster 1200 just looked at me in a knowing way! 

Route 7 West is not a major motorcycling treat.  It was pretty cool though to ride with all those loud Harleys (mine included -- gutted mufflers) no matter how cruddy the road.  We stopped at a McDonalds along the way and had coffee -- we were all feeling a wee bit knackered from the previous night’s revelry.  We made some jokes about the temperature of the coffee as well as the temperature of the water in the Gent’s Lavatory!

After departing the Mickey-Dee’s, we cruised for quite a few miles.  I  was hind-dog, a position I like, as I can sight-see.  Suddenly, the old girl (my ride) started to chug and cough.  I flipped her up into reserve and things improved.  Unfortunately, I did not know what kind of mileage to expect on reserve.  I held in there for almost ten miles before the white-knuckled anticipation of pushing six hundred pounds of steel along the shoulder got the better of me.  I couldn’t attract anyone’s attention, so I peeled off into a Sunoco station. 

Did you ever notice that no matter where you are, if you run out of gas its always closest to the most expensive place around?  I parted with $141 per gallon for 92 octane and topped up.  At that moment Dan pulled into the station.  I guess he figured my non-Evo motor might have given up and had come back to make sure everything was cool.  We were soon on our way again.

About a mile before you get to Brooke’s B-B-Q you see a large cloud of smoke and smell some of the most truly wonderful aromas of food cooking that you can imagine.  The folks who live around these parts must be always salivating -- and vastly overweight!  The place itself is on the left hand side of Route 7 if you are heading west.  There is a mall-sized parking lot (always jammed with cars) and the restaurant itself is as big as a good size super market. 

We saw lines of cars to get into the lot and a line out the door for the dining room.  We continued on our way, figuring we’d stop on the way  back.  North of Oneonta on Route 23, there are some wonderful little twisty bits.  We explored some of these.  I know from past experience that heading from here towards Cooperstown contains some of the finest motorcycling roads on the planet -- no exceptions.  But that’s a story for another day.

After playing around in the hills for a while, we headed back east on Route 7 towards Brooke’s.  Once again we met the cloud of succulent smoke and passed through it.  About a mile down the road, Dan (who is famous for his on-bike sign language) indicated a food break -- he does this by gnashing his teeth while bringing his hand up to his mouth.  We pulled a quick U-turn and pulled back into the restaurant.

The line was still out the door for the dining room, we could see that from the road.  We squeezed all four Harleys into one parking spot -- a tougher trick than you might think -- and went up to the take-out window.  We all ordered, got our chow, and headed out to the covered(luckily) picnic tables as it began to rain.  Every time I go riding with these guys the skies open.  Today the temperature was dropping as well.  And I always remember to bring extra rain gear and sweatshirts, yeah, right.  (When I get home I remember, usually shivering in front of the fireplace with a brandy in my frostbitten hand.)  The food was great and cheap.  Brandon had a Speedie that he said was as good as Margo’s.  And that is indeed saying a mouth-full.  I had half a chicken ($2.75) that was more than adequate in portion size, and very, very good.

Well, after we ate and took care of any other business, we suited up, or not in my case, and headed out into the wet.  My bike’s non-drilled disc brakes are a real thrill in the wet.  The water gets in between the caliper pads and rotors and just stays there.  It sure does reduce friction between the moving parts!  Panic stops must be anticipated by a half-mile in the very least!

We beat our way  through the storm and back into semi-sunlight.  At this point, Brandon’s massive Peanut tank went dry.  We pulled into a cheap gas station (he doesn’t have my luck) and filled up.  I did too, just to be careful.  At Howe Caverns, we came around a corner and ran straight into a temperature drop of about twenty degrees.  It felt like walking into a meat locker.  At least the rain had stopped and we were only eighteen miles from Schenectady.  I should never have thought that to myself.  It began to pour.   Daniel always takes off when the rain starts.  Rather than slow down, he tries to beat the weather by outrunning it.  I decided to keep up rather than hang back, so I wicked it up along with him.

When we got to Burdeck Street once again, I had forgotten about my frictionless rain brakes and grabbed an awful large handful of nothing.  I though I was going to give Dan a Dunlop enema, but the water in my brakes boiled out and I stopped without much drama.  We split up at the entrance to the Crosstown.  Al and I headed over to State Street from in front of the GE main plant and crossed the bridge into Scotia.  In a few short minutes I was sitting in the VT sucking on a cold one and watching the rain come down in the gathering dusk.

 

Harry G. Pellegrin

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LOW END is Published by Bedside Books, an imprint of American Book Publishing.

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LOW ENDCopyright 2003 Harry G. Pellegrin

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