Sport-Touring.Net is an online motorcycle forum that my friends and I are a part of. They've divided the US into 6 regions to make regional meets possible. We in the Midwest are part of Region 4. We keep tabs on events that are happening in neighboring regions, just in case we feel in the mood for meeting some members from other regions.
I forget whom, but maybe Anna caught wind of a gathering in Region 6 at a famous burger restaurant. They serve a 15 lb burger. That's right, 10 lbs of meat and 5 lbs of bun and condiments. It was to be held in Clearfield, PA and interest was mounting fast. Rick, Anna, Yosh and I decided we would head out for this event.
Not being able to take a day off work, we had to do this between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. The meet was scheduled for Sunday lunch, after which we would head back to Chicago. Brendan, a local PA rider offered to show us some of the twisty roads of PA so that we wouldn't have to slab it all the way there and back.
The plan was to leave early Saturday morning and meet Brendan and Todd (rider from Cleveland) at Sharon, PA, at the Ohio/PA border for lunch. After which, we would twisty our way to Clearfield, where we would spend the night, along with other riders who were riding in from places afar. Sunday morning, we would ride more local roads before lunch.
Overall Route Map
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Start: Barrington, IL, 4:15 am CDT
End: Clearfield, PA, 7:45 pm EDT
Yosh and I stayed at Rick's place Friday night, so that we could get a good start at 4 am CDT on Saturday morning. We met up with Anna on the way and we continued slabbing it through Indiana and Ohio. The cool thing in Indiana along the toll way was these solar-powered laser-enabled wildlife presence monitors. A light would flash if an animal was detected close to the highway and sure enough we saw some deer staring at the flow of traffic.
We had lunch at the Quaker Steak and Lube in Sharon. I was told the wings were the best in the USA and I certainly agreed. They had about 20 different sauces for the wings, of which I had the Cajun, Louisiana Lickers, Asian Sesame and a Pennsylvania Garlic sauce. I liked the Cajun so much that I bought a bottle of the sauce.
Brendan and Todd then led us east on side roads winding our way to Clearfield. The back roads of the afternoon were the carrot hanging in front of us rabbits. It provided us the motivation to do the 450 miles of highway riding.
Saturday afternoon twisties from Oil City, PA through Rideway to Clearfield
Gas stop in the woods
I just love those water shots
Excellent quality roads
The wonderful Rt 949. Rick said he was getting hypnotized by all the shadows on the road. I'm telling you, he's too old to ride.
One of the fun corners of the afternoon
Anna zipping by on the ST3
Todd (Suzuki RF900R), Brendan (Honda CBR1100XX), Rick and I
Yosh on her lowered Bandit
We reached our motel around 8 pm EDT. After dinner at a local restaurant, we hung out in the bar to mingle with the other riders who came from New Jersey and West Virginia. I got talking to this PhD Chemist who I could see would be in place in a lab, but also on a motorcycle. It's great to see all the different walks of life motorcyclists come from.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Start: Clearfield, PA, 8:30 am EDT
End: Grayslake, IL, 1:00 am CDT
Early to bed and early to rise. A few of us got together for a spirited morning ride before meeting the other 100 riders for lunch. The twisties started immediately as soon as we left our motel. I was hoping for at least a warm up. Plus, my allergies always kill me the most in the mornings. My eyes were tearing up a lot and messing with my vision. I was trying to blink a lot and get rid of the tears before a mean corner came up. Not safe, I know, but what to do. Actually, I've decided to wear swimming goggles to totally isolate my eyes from the allergy-causing pollen in the air.
Rick and the others were surely there for the aggressive riding. And Anna and a few others were there for the picture taking and flower sniffing. Me, I had my feet each in one court. I like the aggressive riding, but I also love the picture taking. As expected, I lost the fast group after the first picture stop and I didn't even have a map of the route that Brendan plotted. Luckily, I'm in the habit of memorizing maps before riding them, which thankfully I did at breakfast that morning. Rick, the sod told everyone, "Don’t worry, Jay's got a map, let's keep going."
I had a blast that morning. It was worth riding all that highway to get there. Route 144 is heavenly, constant undulating smooth tarmac with elevation change and beautiful trees. Then the Wycoff Run was even better, tight twisty road along a moving river with great foliage.
Sunday morning loop up to Renovo on 144 and the Wycoff Run
The never ending undulating Rt 144, good for teaching you to be smooth through quick transitions.
The Wycoff Run Rd - 10 miles on beautiful twsity tarmac
South end of the Wycoff Run. I did this bit of road about 3 times over. Yes, my BT020 is nearing its end.
Can you tell why I like this picture...
And the coolest thing was that I saw a black bear! Yes, for real. I was zooming along and saw this back creature up ahead in the opposite lane. I slowed down and stopped when I saw it was a little black bear, he was hoping away from me and then got confused when he saw a car in the opposite direction. The bear then snuck through the steel railing and escaped down to the river. I was hoping he would hang around a bit for a picture, but I also wasn’t interested in finding his mother coming around who’d be mauling me. How cool, I’ve never seen wild life here besides deer.
We all met up for lunch at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub with about 100 other motorcyclists. It was a huge event and some guys even ordered the huge burgers to share with others. I had some Caribbean wings and wanted to stay off the carbs since we'd be riding right after lunch and carbs put me to sleep.
Bikes as far as the horizon. Groups rode in from NJ, NY, VA, WV, OH, PA and of course IL. Picture courtesy Mountaineer on sport-touring.net
Some cagers messed up the beautiful shot. About a 100 bikes were there. Picture courtesy natronazx6r on sport-touring.net
If one person ate the whole burger in 3 hours, it was free (cost $40) and you got a certificate and t-shirt. You have to pre-order the burger by 24 hours, so that they can go kill a whole cow! Picture courtesy Blue_Dargon on sport-touring.net
Joel (manager at City Motorsports in Pittsburgh) attempted the 2 lb burger solo. I think if you finished that in 30 mins, it was free. He wolfed down about 2/3 of it in that time. Picture courtesy garry on sport-touring.net
The 96 oz (6 lb burger) being shared by 8 guys. Picture courtesy Mountaineer on sport-touring.net
The insides of that beast. Picture courtesy garry on sport-touring.net
Rick, me self and Anna. The real question is how cheerful were we 550 miles later...
We got going at 3 pm EDT and 10 mins into the ride, Rick's rear tire got punctured on the highway. Luckily, he's a smart man and always has his Stop N Go tire plugger kit. We had the bike on the side of the highway, repaired his puncture, and filled the tire with his portable air compressor. A police cruiser pulled up behind us and we asked him to wait to provide protection from the fast moving traffic. I'm guessing he must have been pleased or amazed to see how resourceful we were to fix our own problems.
After that, Rick was a little nervous about the tire, so I took over the lead. Usually, if someone has a problem, you should put them up front, so if they need to stop, everyone knows and can stop accordingly. Why did Rick go to the back? I don’t know, but it wasn't that serious, so no biggie.
Traffic was clipping along at around 80 mph on the 65 mph limit. So, doing 90 wasn't that bad. But when did we start cruising at triple digits? I'm innocent I tell you. The mood felt right, the traffic flow was appropriate and the setting of the highway was also conducive to high speeds. It was very hilly and thus we could see if police were hiding here or there, but maybe because it was hilly, they could have been hiding in other places. Who knows? Flawed theory.
We knew we would be riding into a low pressure system around Indiana and into Chicago. So, I justified the high speed cruising in that we were trying to gain as much ground in the dry as possible. What a lie. Pretty soon, we found a carrot - a Honda Odyssey doing about 105 and a Maxima decided that's what he was looking for as well. Before this, I was riding very decent I would say, in that we would pull up behind slow moving traffic in the left lane and wait for them to move over, instead of madly overtaking them on the right lane, which is more dangerous. I was even using hand signals. I would pull up behind a car and with my left hand direct them to move over. It felt quite empowering to direct traffic. I guess it's a bit more polite them flashing your high beams. Well, the Odyssey didn't have any high speed road manners and was overtaking this way and that way. I didn't want to let him go, as he was clearly sweeping the radar in front of us and providing a bigger target for radar hits. So, what was I to do besides following him in and out. The guys behind me duly followed suit.
Usually, I like to fill up my tank at 100 miles as I know I can go about 135 before the low fuel light comes on, then I have about 20 miles. I found out about the 135 limit while cruising at 60 mph in the rain and the engine at 5000 rpm out of 15000. Here I was, cruising at 100 mph for the past 100 miles at around 8500 rpm. Surely my low fuel light would come on around 110 miles. We passed a service station at 90 miles, but I didn't want to lose the Odyssey as he was setting a good pace. So we pushed on and didn't find another service station till 135 miles. My low fuel light came on just as we got on the exit ramp. I was ready to use my siphoning pump and steal fuel from Rick's bike. Amazingly, I was still getting 39 mpg.
The rain we hit wasn't that bad at all and I was the last to get home at 1 am CDT. Total miles for the 45 hour trip was 1445 miles. We did about 675 miles the first day and 770 the second. That's the most I've done so far in a day. Pretty good, considering that 200 of those was serious twisty riding and the last 570 started at 2pm CDT and took about 11 hours. It was funny pulling into the garage on Sunday night, knowing that we’d left home just yesterday morning. It felt like a such a long trip because of the many, many stories and incidents along the way.
The roads and the people we met and the food we ate was all worth it.