On The Road Again
Most of the people who read this column are accustomed to my reporting from far away places. I have sent my travel logs in to The Wave from many locations including the Newfoundland tundra, the Rocky Mountains and the high desert of Washington state to name a few. This month's column is not being written from some exotic location thousands of miles from home but from good old Rockaway Beach, New York.
When the seasons change from autumn to winter it is generally not advisable to ride a motorcycle very far from the area that is covered by your local weather report. On this particular day in December the weather report called for sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's, so I was off to the races.
It had been a month or more since I took my Harley Davidson Roadglide out for a spin and as I gathered up my winter riding gear I was becoming more excited by the minute. I started by putting my battery jumper by the door (just in case) next came my ¾ helmet with a face shield followed by my cordura jacket and pants and lastly I located my micro fiber shirt with the attached balaclava. These items along with a few other odds and ends would insure a warm and pleasant ride in temperatures down into the mid teens. While getting dressed my mind wandered from destination to destination. Would I run up to Bear Mountain on the Palisades Parkway or hit the old hippy haunt of Woodstock further north? In the end I settled on Heckscher State Park right here on Long Island.
Several factors influenced my decision to stay local, the first one being road conditions. Woodstock, although a mere 130 miles to the north might very well be at least partially covered in snow and the roads around Bear Mountain might be slick with black ice. Heading north from here also involves bashing your way through the urban commuter traffic on the local highways, a gauntlet that I prefer
to avoid! So a leisurely scoot along my beloved ocean was just what the doctor ordered. Thankfully, I did not need to use my battery jumper to get my trusty steed up and running. Turning the toggle to the right and depressing the start button was enough to get a roar out of the big motor after which she settled down into her familiar cadence which sounds something like potato … potato … potato … potato. While the bike warmed up I put on my winter helmet and stretched my gauntlets over my hands. This is going to be great, I thought. The whole ritual of getting dressed in winter gear and preparing the bike for the ride had heightened my anticipation of the coming adventure and now I was off! Nudging the shifter down into first gear Itwisted the throttle and let out the clutch while reveling in the power that was at my disposal. As I guided my machine up and down through the gears around curves and down straightaways I realized that I had waited too long to go for a ride.
After riding through the maze of traffic lights in Long Beach I finally reached the wide open spaces of Lido Beach. Before long the sign for "All Parkways" appeared so I swept into a left hand turn and found myself on the Loop Parkway headed for Jones Beach. Heading south towards the traffic circle my eye was drawn to the obelisk in its center. What a great landmark I thought, you can spot it from miles away. It is like a lighthouse for motorists. Bending my bike around the circle I emerged onto the Ocean Parkway. Now it was on. Running up through the gears I reached my favorite cruising speed of 78 mph, sixth gear is soooo sweet!
With the Atlantic Ocean on my right and the Great South Bay on my left I cut through the frigid air like a hot knife through butter. I continued all the way to Heckscher, over the Robert Moses Bridge and down the Southern State Parkway to its end at the park's front gate. The white tail deer were there to greet me as were the swans at the boat ramp.
The ride home was very special too. As the sun began to set I had a front row seat to the ensuing light show. Orange, purple, blue, yellow, green, grey and red were all in evidence as the sunbeams refracted off the clouds and reflected off the water. Arriving home in Rockaway I was greeted by a blazing orange ball of energy poised directly over Rockaway Beach Boulevard … amazing!
As I put my bike away I thought, it is always good to come home to the Rock!
Happy Trails, Shevy
Shevy's Biker Tip of the Week: When putting your bike away for the winter be sure to top off your tank. A gas tank that is half full of gasoline is also half full of air, which contains moisture. That moisture will foul your gas over the winter months and make for a difficult start-up in the spring.