Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Toronto to State College PA

I was still cooling my heels in Toronto, patiently waiting for Bob to get within a day's ride from State College, Pennsylvania.

Dawn had barely passed as I gazed out the open bedroom window at what promised to be another steamy day. I fumbled for my iPhone to take a peak at my e-mail. One of the messages that streamed in was from Steve Williams.

Family matters as early as Thursday threatened to complicate our planned get together.

I mulled that news. It didn't take me long to move my plans up. My original plan was to go to Vespa Toronto West to get a new fuel injector installed. There was risk that the intermittent fault would blossom into a total failure and strand me. Then again, the 400 mile ride on day one of the tour was uneventful. I weighed the risk of mechanical issues against missing a chance to meet with Steve. I had to get going.

I showered, dressed, and gathered my things as quietly as possible so as not to wake my sister and her family.

I went out and loaded all my gear on the bike, then went back in to make a light breakfast. I had planned to meet up with Ed Kilner after going to the Vespa dealer. I e-mailed to say I wanted to move our meeting to 9:00 or 9:30 and that I would call to confirm at a more civilized time like 8:45.

At 8:40 I said my goodbyes to my sister and brother-in-law and hit the road. I called Ed from the saddle to make sure moving up our meeting wasn't a problem: it wasn't.

Ed offered me a much-needed second cup of coffee. We chatted about touring and riding. Ed, like Bob, rides a BMW R1200R. He was impressed that I was touring on a Vespa. Bob had discussed meeting with Ed in Kingston, Ontario or alternatively, if Ed had the time, for Ed to ride with me to State College. Ed preferred to stick with the first option and meet with Bob in Kingston.

Ed has ridden in the direction of State College and was very familiar with the quirks of the route that the GPS prefers. He suggested that I ignore the GPS when it suggests crossing the border in Niagara, and opt instead for the Fort Erie Crossing.

Ed wished me safe travels and I set out.

How do I ride past Niagara Falls without stopping for a selfie of The Falls.

I hopped back on the Vespa and set my Garmin's sights on Fort Erie.

On the ramp to the QEW I was travelling at a good clip and there was a sweeping left-hand curve to the ramp. I dialed in the amount of counter-steering required to get the right trajectory and... wait for it... I felt more than heard (highway noise, full face helmet, earplugs, Colin James rocking Satellite Baby on my Sena) the scrape of the side stand. Brrrrrrrrrrecccccccchhhhhh!!!!

No big deal, but I got Siri to make a note of it to post here in case David Bogner (Treppenwitz on ModernVespa) stops by to read this post. You see I never scraped the stand until I read a post from him saying that he hated the side stand and ultimately removed it because it freaked him out each time it scraped. I might well get to that point too. Time will tell.

The border crossing and trip to State College was uneventful. The US Homeland Security Agent was full of questions about the Vespa with Quebec plates. I guess it was a first for him. He wished me safe travels.

I exchanged waves with every rider I met, and chatted with a Harley guy about midway to my destination who was really impressed with my beast of burden.

The one constant was perspiration. I went to great lengths to stay hydrated. At refueling stops (there were four), I would be drenched with perspiration by the time I had taken all the gear off, gassed up and gotten all the gear strapped back on. That's the Vespa greatest touring weakness: the location of the gas tank under the saddle, and it's meagre nine liter capacity. A soon as I get underway, the airflow makes quick work of the sweat and for 10 minutes I get the most wonderfull chilling from it. Once I dry off, I don't feel the heat as much. But I know that's because I'm still perspiring but it's evaporating at that same time. If I don't force myself to drink constantly, dehydration will be the inevitable result.

All I wanted to do once I got to the KOA in Bellefonte was to get into the pool. Karen greeted me as I rolled in. I parked the bike, made camp, and headed straight to the pool. Wonderful. A wonderful treat after a very full day's ride in sweltering heat.

When I dragged myself out of the pool, I called Steve Williams.

Amazingly, Steve rode to the KOA from his home in State College. I now know that it's a 20-30 minute ride.

Steve eventually rode off into the night after we made plans to meet in Bellefonte the next morning for breakfast.

A great end to a great day's ride.

Stay tuned, there's more in store.

1 comment:

David Masse said...

Thanks for setting me straight Ed. Any way you slice it, those Beemers are just gorgeous machines.

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