Day 7
October 15th, 2003
Near Concord, New Hampshire

I awoke today with a sinking feeling, the kind that overcomes you when you realize you will not be meandering lonesome back roads, or leaning the curves, but instead riding the interstate, for 500+ miles.  And if that was not bad enough, I was going to do it in the most densely populated area of the country.

I staggered over to the window, pulled the curtain, and peered outside.  It was raining buckets, and the sky was dark.  I got back in bed and clicked the TV on and found a local morning show.  A cheery weather babe said the rain should move out by lunch.  I pulled the covers and went back to sleep.

Chris called and said he was going to be delayed by family errands.  "Well just come on over when ya can, ain't going anywhere in this weather anyway."

I slept till about 930 then read the paper.  While I was sitting in the lobby, it quit raining.  I went back upstairs and started packing.  I kept the TV on while I sorted my things.  The sun should break out for us somewhere in New Jersey, but the weather guessers are forecasting very windy conditions.  Steady winds in the 45-50 mph range with gusts up to 70.  What the hell?

Chris arrived close to 11am.  We gassed up at the store next door.  "Look here we'll just ride as far south as we can, hopefully somewhere to south Pa or Maryland."  I replied, "you're the boss."

I deferred this part of the trip to the guy that knew the land of the land.  For those who live outside the Northeast and have never visited, it is hard to describe.  The Northeast corridor is a maze of tightly woven interstates and freeways.  All are interconnected and interdependent, meaning if something bad happens on 1 it has a domino effect.  I recall being in a fire department related school years ago.  The instructor was from NYC.  He related a haz mat incident he had on the George Washington Bridge, they had to close inbound traffic into the city.  The Mayor called a few minutes later, and wanted to know what the hell was going on. 

Government officials were calling his office all the way back to the Boston area.  Traffic was backing up all over I-95 and spilling over to the other highways.  "Mr Mayor the truck is loaded with chemicals and has 3 lanes blocked."  "I don't give a rats rear end, push it over the side or something, but open the damn road NOW!"  
Imagine the Bay Area interstate system, condense it down into much smaller lanes, and string it out for 700 miles.  In the northeast corridor, freeways zoom right over shopping centers, dissect neighborhoods, and cut across backyards.  The right of eminent domain was used often and well here.

I was glad I had Chris to follow.  He said he could get us south, avoiding I-95, and most of the worst traffic.  "Here ya gonna need this," as he handed me 3 tokens for the drop basket at the toll booths.

With Chris in the lead we blitzed south on I-93 to Manchester, then went to I-293 to Nashua.  We cruised along at 85+ and swept by thousands of cars and trucks.  

I kept careful eye on the package on his Givi box.  Like a true brother Chris went down and picked up my part in Manchester, but we haven't had time to put it on yet. 
The wind picked up, I mean it really blew.  A tough head wind blew us all day.  Trees were bent over and powerful gusts knocked us all over the place.  I watched Chris out front counter leaning at weird angles.  The wind at times was down right dangerous, it blew me a couple clean out of my lane.  Luckily, no car was beside me.  Loose paper shot across my bow like cruise missiles.  They weren't kidding when they said it was going to be windy.

Toll booths appeared in the distance and we took position.  I fell in behind Chris and was amazed.  He rolled in the booth, plopped the tokens in the basket and never slowed.  I came in next, and had to slow to a stop.  I ungloved, removed the tokens from my pocket, and regloved.  How did he do all that without stopping?

We charged into the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts, the home of Ted Kennedy.  The man is eternally reelected by these folks because he says he's for the working man.  Ted Kennedy has never had a job in his entire life.  Go figure.  Funny, they never let the man campaign outside of the Republic. 

I stayed behind the black ST, following it down 495 to I-290 into Worchester, then we went to I-90 west and took a break in the first rest area we came to.  My butt was stiff and was glad to get off the bike.  We wolfed down another McDonalds lunch, and got back on the road.  Today is serious business, we don't have time to dally.  
I saw a funny shaped cell tower when we were gearing back up.  They had it camouflaged like a tree, but it didn't fool me.
The camouflaged cell tower.  The only picture I took all day.  Testimony
to how lackluster interstates can be.

This is strictly a gas and go day, and not much fun.  I took solace in the fact if we could get to Va, or Maryland it would be a easy ride tomorrow to the campground on scenic back roads.  But a price would have to be paid, to get there.  This is not my kind of riding.  I understand most guys only have so many off days, and they have to use interstates to get them to the places they want to ride.  I don't envy them.

We came south out of the Republic into Connecticut, the wind beating us every mile.  I moved over to the HOV lane as we zipped through Hartford.  One thing about the northeast, it doesn't take long to pick up a lot of states.

It was a crazy day as we jogged between the expressways.  We left I-84 for I-684 in Brewster.   We stopped for gas, and pushed on.  By now I was totally turned around.  This is definitely not my environment, I was glad Chris was with me.

I took the part from Chris Givi, and replaced my broken housing.  Ahhhh the ST looked much better.  
We crossed the Hudson River at the Tappan Zee Bridge, while crossing I could see the NYC skyline to my left, about 30 miles away.

New Jersey was nearing rush hour and traffic backed up.  We slogged through stop and go commuters for 30-40 minutes trying to get to Pa.  The traffic in the Newark, NYC area has to be experienced to be believed.  Yes, traffic is bad in LA or SF, but it is spread out over a large  area.  You folks on the west coast, imagine putting 2x the population of LA and Orange County in the city limits of San Diego, that is the kind of concentration you have in this tiny blob of NY and NJ by the Hudson.

Going anywhere here is a major undertaking.

Things began to thin out when we left 287 for I-78.  We were riding directly into the west sun, and even with the Oakleys, it was hard to see.

The was sun slipping below the horizon, when we arrived in Pennsylvania and with the disappearance of the sun, cool temperatures also arrived.  In Allentown we found a diner called the Starlite, and went in for something to eat.  Chris called this diner an "imitation."  A little too fancy, over done with glass and mirrors.  We took a booth and gave our order to talkative waitress that rode a Harley.  She was new to riding, and her enthusiasm spilled over.  The food was good in this imitation diner, I ate every bite of my chicken parma. 
Over supper we discussed options.  We decided to shoot for Hagerstown, calculated to be a 150 mile ride.  I gave my phone to Chris and he secured a room for us at the Motel 6.  When you are arriving late, its good idea to have a room waiting.  I called home and updated the situation.

I really wasn't looking forward to the ride.  I feared it was going to be cold.  I broke out full winter gloves and jacket liner for the first time.  

We climbed back on the bikes and and took off south in the darkness.  Chris had the point while I secured the back door.  He still had the toughest job. I was depending on him to spot LEOs, keep us on course, and to pick up road hazards, and crazy drivers.  Riding up front has its responsibility, and brother Chris did a hell of a job.
The ride to Harrisburg seemed like it took a long time, and I was glad when the lights of the city came into view.  We went to I-81, and settled in for the last 80 miles or so.  I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't cold.  When the sun went down, the wind finally backed off.  This was the windiest day of my career.  It was a double whammy, strong winds, that blew ALL day.

We gassed up, but I fail to remember exactly where.  I do recall our lights were on, and we were within 1 ounce of matching consumption.  STs are so predictable, and well made.  Some say that is a bad thing, but I hold it as a tribute.

It was really dark after the fuel stop.  I recall riding behind a 18 wheeler with a bright chrome trailer, trimmed in bright lights.  I saw it a mile away.  

When he could, Chris fired off his PIAA 910s, and combined with my 1700s, we lit I-81 up like a football stadium.  It was total domination of the darkness.  I need to high mount 910s under MY mirrors someday.
The "Welcome to Maryland" signed was greeted with hoops and hollers.  I began counting down the miles to Hagerstown.

The Motel 6 can be found at exit #5.  We took it, and motored up to the office around 10pm having put down 522 miles.  A good day considering the late start.  At the desk a man from Miami updated us on the baseball games.
All the rooms were on the ground floor, and I was glad.  We threw our stuff in the room and got comfy.  It was a nice feeling.  I was back in the comfort zone of being a days ride from home.  It was also nice to know tomorrow will be a easy ride to the Blue Ridge. 
Chris said he wanted to ride the Blue Ridge down to Cruso.  "Dang brother from the start all the way to Cruso?" 

"but the start is still 3 hrs from here, and from there to Cruso is over 200 miles down the Parkway"


"you gotta leave outta here about 5"

"that's the plan, you in?"

"man YOU are HARDCORE.  I think I'll just see ya at the campground tomorrow afternoon."

I get so worthless on my fall tours.

We watched a little TV then hit the sack, ending a tough, but rewarding ride.