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DC to Beaveton, Pa: mandatory pit-stop #5
#3 and #4 were at a Yamaha dealer just outside of Pittsburgh and at a gas-station just up the road, that also had free Wi-Fi, some real "diner" seats and the cute girl behind the counter gave me free refills at the soda fountain...
This was at a chiropractors' office just inside of Pittsburgh proper on US51 (which I found is a really cool road, goes north & south all the way from Uniontown to New Beaver, through Pittsburgh) just across the street from this kick-ass golf course near a school called "Baldwin High".
Obviously a country-club: lots of khaki shorts, white golf shoes, white socks and popped-collars on Izods there. We play in pants whenever possible in DC. I might give them a style-break if I can play that course.
Anyway due to the inability to adjust exposure on this BB9550 you can't see what's in the sky but trust me it was gray and wet. It shortly stopped actually pouring and turned into an intermittent light drizzle. I somewhat-reluctantly got back on and rode from here to a McDs just west of Petco Park (on Hwy51)...into "the hood"...got something to eat, found a decent place to stay online, got back on the bike. By now it's after dark, it's closing on 10pm, I still have two hours of riding to get to my hotel. I got off Hwy51 by mistake, bumbled around the "hood" trying to find my way north, it started to sprinkle, I started to mumble and got a little frantic, I stumbled on a decent-looking road leading north out of the 'hood, and began to accelerate...and then it started to pour again. Once again I had driven into a thunderstorm heading southeast. 300 yards down the road I found a gas station with a big awning out over its fuel pumps, and a diesel pump far away from the main office. Sat there and watched it rain for a good 45 minutes. Timewise if I had taken US279 north away from Three Rivers or not stopped to eat and get a hotel online, I would have been maybe 5 miles north of where I was when it started to rain, which means out on US79N. As it was that's where I was when it stopped drizzling, after slipping and sliding around "Yellow Path" roads near US79 (probably the scariest thing I've done since trying to roller-blade down a wet hill just after it stopped raining, in other words the scariest thing I've done for the past 17 years. Seriously I got onto US79 heading north in drizzling rain in relief, I've never ridden on roads that were that slick and steep and hope never to do so again), and I had to turn onto US76 west, still about an hour away from Beaverun and my hotel.
Shortly after that is when things got fun. US76 dried out about 3 miles before I got to US376, and I was practically to myself. On a dry road, with a cool light fog, just a slight bit. At 10pm. 30 miles from my hotel, 7 hrs until I had to get up to go back 20 miles down this same highway to Beaverton. And just like that I went from probably the nadir of my entire motorcycling experience to one of the high points of riding a bike: bombing down some empty backroad at ridiculous speeds. I even saw a pair of yellow eyeballs on the hill to the side of the highway watching me speed by. And that was kind of cool too.
One thing that I can definitely say about this ride, there were a lot of neat roads and the view was very nice. I'd almost hop back on my bike and go up there again tomorrow, even in 100deg weather. It definitely wasn't a case where the road was perfectly flat for miles and you couldn't see anything but trees right next to the road and you knew that somewhere a cop was just waiting. I saw one cop just west of Hagerstown and not a single cop outside of Pittsburgh. For record heat that just wasn't a bad ride. In good weather it would have been awesome.
So, two quick lessons from this whole adventure.
First, never ride any place you wouldn't want to get caught if it suddenly starts to rain. Second, don't believe anyone who tells you that you don't need to worry about your back brake. I rarely if ever use it, but when I *do* use it, I really need it to work. Guess how well the back brake worked on the R1, on my demo-rides, and how sickly-powerful and sensitive was the front? And I'm riding on these "Yellow Path" roads in a light drizzle pushing down about as hard as I can on the backbrake and seriously squeezing the front, knowing that if this bike gets up any real speed I'm dead. Period. [on a bike yes you do often have times where you think "if X then I'm dead. Period". There is much less "middle-ground" on a bike than in a car. This is one reason that I rarely drink anymore.] The roads were like wet shale, 30-45deg incline...just insane to ride a bike on in the rain. And there I am. I am sure that people were looking at me like I was crazy getting on US79 but man I was like "I can't *wait* to get on this highway". On a highway the roads may be slick when wet, but you've got plenty of space to slide
I finally got my parcel, which is this Lowepro CompuTrekker AW. It's bigger than I expected really. Which is good! There's a bit of a story as I went to collect the parcel from the Post Office. I went on my bike to get a new front brake as my one had snapped and also to buy a new bike lock, on the way back I decided to collect my parcel from the Post Office. 2 Problems arose, the 1st, this parcel was huge and heavily wrapped in cardboard and tape. The 2nd, I was on my bike. Ah.
I bought a Tango, sat down and thought about how I would get this massive lump home.
I took the bike lock I had recently bought and threaded it through part of the packaging and then the lock around my shoulder and chest. It was quite painful but no other way to get it back!
The story continues, as I was riding home, an old man in a mobility scooter drove past and said "I bet that's a bit heavy!". further on up the road I saw him adjusting his mirror, and then he started to swerve towards the edge of the pavement. I sped up and caught him before he actually fell in the road and into oncoming traffic. Whilst strling to get off my bike with this parcel, and holding onto the armrest of the scooter, a few cars just drove past. Finally, one stopped just as I managed to lift him onto the path. All he did was just drive off and didn't even say thank you!
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