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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 Lennons 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 Ill 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-laws
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
didnt 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 thats
all youre gonna eat for the rest of your
life. Or like blondes are..., oh skip that
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 buddys uncle owned a big
farm out there. They figured theyd
drop by, hang out for a bit, and stop at Brookes
B-B-Q for lunch.
Id had quite a few beers, it was one AM,
we were standing too close to a major
conflagration, so I said Cool, Ill
drag out the shovelhead and join in.
Of course, my bro-in-law Dan knew Id say
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. Id 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 dont 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 nights revelry. We
made some jokes about the temperature of the
coffee as well as the temperature of the water in
the Gents Lavatory!
After departing the Mickey-Dees, 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 couldnt
attract anyones 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
About a mile before you get to Brookes
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 wed 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 thats a story for
After playing around in the hills for a while,
we headed back east on Route 7 towards Brookes.
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 Margos. 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 bikes
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,
Brandons massive Peanut tank went dry.
We pulled into a cheap gas station (he doesnt
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.
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2003 Harry G. Pellegrin
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