Saturday's ride to the Ohio Amish country was an adventure. It was a day of firsts: First day of the year with *Spectacular* weather, first group ride for Teresa, and my first group ride with a passenger.
There were 9 bikes when we first left the parking lot but we picked up 4 riders within 10 miles, with a total of 20 people. The sun was as bright as I've seen it this year and temps were in the low 50s.
The first 20 miles were on state highways with gentle hills and graceful curves. But the remaining 35, although they were also on state routes, were considerably more twisties. I love curves, that's what riding is about. Granted, I'm not very good at picking the best lines. I'm a new rider and still learning. I ride within my skill and within what I can see ahead.
I didn't feel any pressure from the other riders to push myself. A good friend who knows my abilities was riding behind me and gave me plenty of space in case I needed it.
Turns out I needed it. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, but I just couldn't keep my lines. I had to make corrections to my line in the middle of a curve, I was scraping floor boards, I was, in a word, challenged.
Then it dawned on me what was happening. I mentioned I like curves, what rider doesn't. Teresa, not so much. During a lean into a curve, her natural tendency is to compensate and to go vertical against the lean. Analysing it makes sense now: as soon as the weight distribution on the motorcycle changed, I needed to compensate by adjusting the lean angle. An interesting situation.
(Note: We discussed this affect later and I tried to explain some of the physics behind turning on 2 wheels. I stressed to her that it wasn't her problem; it was our problem and we would work on it together. I promised to pick less extreme lines and speeds and she promised to trust me and stay with the bike. She did great the following day! I am such a lucky man!)
As comfortable as I felt with the riders in this group - they're nearly all friends or people I at least know - I felt a little like an outcast. Of the 13 motorcycles in the group, there was 1 Vulcan, 1 Boulevard (me) and the rest were, of course, Harleys. All larger, all louder. Much louder. There was one point when we were riding through Millersburg starting out from a stop light the noise was so loud I couldn't hear my engine running. That's a little ridiculous.
When we got to Yoder's Country Kitchen in Millersburg and parked the bikes, our leader person went inside and announced that we needed a table for 20 people. He returned and said that the hostess handled the news well. But when we walked inside still with all our gear on, I thought she was going to have a coronary.
We had to have been quite a sight because several of the patrons couldn't take there eyes off of us. Better still was the look of awe on some of the children's faces. A smile and a wink probably made some of their days.
One of the hazards of riding this area is the frequency of slow moving, horse drawn vehicles. You never know when you might crest a hill and find yourself looking at a black buggy with a triangular sign on the back. We kept our speed under 45mph most of the time but Teresa was able to snap this pic as we passed a father and son returning from the local hardware store, or so I'd like to believe.
After lunch we traveled into the Dover and New Philadelphia area where we made what I found out was a prerequisite stop at a Harley dealership. There was lots of chrome and and lots of dollar signs but nothing could hold my interest for more than a cursory glance. Except for this one Softtail Heritage Edition. I told Teresa I'd put it on my wish list. She said, "Yeah, right."
I wanted to visit my mom and see how her new knees were working for her so we said our goodbyes to the group and struck out with friend that needed to leave early too. This time we traveled the interstate and the miles flew by. Great scenery but kind of a boring ride home.
Would we do it again? In a heart beat!