Ride to Westminster

Ah, another ride report.

This time there is a bit of a difference and a first for Rita.

The first difference is that Rita planned this trip entirely. She even had the maps. The plan was to head up to Pennsylvania and see the Corn Maze. We were also going to York to see the Harley fabrication plant and on up to Hamburg.

On Friday, Rita paged me at class and said that if I got out early, we could head up to Pennsylvania Friday instead of Saturday. Fortunately, classes typically end early on the last day and this one ended at noon, so I hopped on the bike and headed home.

Oh, this past week I’ve been driving the Suzuki to class in Herndon. The ride from Dale City to Herndon has been a nightmare. Upwards of 2 hours in stop and go traffic. Thursday and Friday I got the ride home to an hour by going south around Manassas.

Rita has already packed her stuff up on her bike. I emptied my tail bag and put the rest of the stuff into it. I put my tennis shoes and Rita’s chaps into my tank bag, mainly to give me some support. Riding with Rita is an endurance test since the Suzuki is made for speed. Riding it at 4k to 5k RPMs when red line is at 13k RPMs can be a task but my Harley’s in the shop waiting on a part.

So by 1:30 we’re out the door. Rita’s on her Honda VLX and I’m on the Suzuki GSXR. I want to boogie since it’s kinda early. Hopefully we’ll miss some, if not all of the traffic out of town.

There were no problems until we got to the light before Rt 50. All week they’ve been tearing up that stretch of road and I know Rita’s not happy riding on it, so at the light, I tell Rita to hit the right lane. The left two lanes have been ripped up and the right’s been ok. Unfortunately they’ve finished paving the left two lanes and have ripped up the right lane. Ah well. Fortunately Rita seems to have handled the ride without panicking.

So we continued on until we got past Old Ox Road when traffic started backing up. We’re sitting there and I commented to Rita that we could just stop and eat, waiting on traffic but we miss the last turn so we just kept going.

In a few minutes, we notice an SUV pull past us on the shoulder and stop. A quick look and I see the cop that had pulled him over. Rita went “*woo hoo*” and the cop smiled as he got out. I thanked him as he commented that he would at least take care of this scofflaw.

Now we’re watching the two in the car in front of us. When the driver drops a butt, I put my foot on it as we went by, putting it out. A minute or so later, the passenger drops his butt and Rita puts it out with her foot. I smiled since she didn’t see me put out the first one.

We make the left turn onto Rt 7, still in a bit of a backup. We finally get up to the right turn onto 15 and we’re off. In a minute I see the sign for “WHITE FERRY”, presumably White’s Ferry. The day is gorgeous and the scenery is very nice. Traffic is moving nicely. It’s getting a little late and I haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast.

We cross over the Potomac and I make a right at Point of Rocks. A brief stop on the side of the road and we decide to hit the MARC lot just ahead.

We stopped and walked around, resting up and grabbing a snack. Rita ran down to the station on her bike to see if it had a bathroom but no such luck. “It’s boarded up,” she says.

We discussed if we wanted to follow 28 south to hit White’s Ferry, a stop she wanted to make or continue on Rt 15 north. We finally decided to continue on Rt 15.

We packed up and headed to the exit. I watched traffic and made the left just as I saw a car crest the hill. I watched the mirror as Rita pulled out after me. Of course I had hit the gas so I pulled to the side to wait for her to catch up as I had done a couple of times before (like missing a light where I pulled over and waited for the light to change).

After a moment I noticed traffic slowing down, then slowing down in both directions. At that point my heart starts beating faster and with a sense of urgency I U-turn and head back realizing that she’s gone down. As I get to the spot, a large panel van has pulled out to pass and was heading straight for me. I slowed to let him go and then pulled into the short turn lane into the MARC station.

Rita’s leaning on the guardrail with a woman hovering over her and three guys are trying to pull her bike out from under the end of the guardrail. I see that Rita’s ok and help the guys pull the bike up. They were on the left side so I went onto the right side, grabbed the right handlebar (and brake 🙂 and a piece of frame by the rear tire and pull it standing and half-way out before realizing and letting go of the brake. It’s up and out at that point, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it. Thanks.” Someone says to block traffic so I can roll the bike into the MARC lot. I realize that I should roll it into the MARC lot and proceeded to roll it across the street, parking it next to mine.

I head back to Rita, taking off my helmet and checking her out. I don’t remember if I thanked everyone or even anyone but I appreciate the help and a big thanks to all right now.

Anyway, Rita says she’s a little dizzy. After a moment we hobble off to the other side of the road. A quick check of her bike and I ride it into the lot. I went back and got mine and then the rest of the gear and check Rita out.

She has a small scrape on her elbow and a bigger one on her knee. The boots seemed to have protected her foot just fine (nice scrapes though) just as the jacket protected her upper body.

We spend about 30 minutes just making sure she’s ok. I check over her bike. The windshield is pushed back. A little pull in the other direction and it *pops* back into place. Her left peg seems to have caught the most damage with her front fender pretty scraped up. There doesn’t seem to be any other damage at all. After checking all the connections and the radiator, I put in the key and ride it around the parking lot. A quick left onto Rt 28 and then back into the lot. Her bike seems pretty sound.

She sits on it and finds the mirror really out of whack. I pulled out the tools and straightened it all out. We talked for a few minutes, to make sure she’s ok and ok with continuing. She seems to be up for it so off we go again.

Most of the time, at intersections particularly, I’ll tell her to go when _she’s_ ready and I’ll follow. There are times that I go ahead of her, not very many. This time I tell her to go and I’ll follow.

There’s a bit of a backup at Rt 15, a semi making a left. We finally get close enough that we follow the other cars and drive up the shoulder to make the right turn.

I’m amazed and happy that she feels up to continuing. I’m also checking every time we stop to see if she’s ok.

We get up to the 340 merge and pick up the pace. Since we’re falling behind, we decided to hit Rt 70 up to Rt 75 at New Market. Weirdly enough, New Market and Mt. Airy are where I spent my last year at home. As we’re traveling up Rt 75, we pass Fox Rest Court, which brings back memories.

My brother and his friends were in the back of dad’s pickup with me driving. We were up at the school and they’d picked some corn from the field. They were throwing it out the back door of the camper shell when they banged on the window. Speed up! There was someone chasing us! As we came over the hill, I make a sharp right into this construction area, now Fox Rest Court. It turns out that him and his friends had thrown an ear of corn at a passing truck, destroying the turn signal, left fender and windshield. It also turns out that the guy must have got our description since the cops were waiting for us when we got home. Dad’s insurance paid for the damage but we got a lecture.

Anyway, a few miles down the road and there’s Linganore on the right. When I went, it was Linganore Jr./Sr. High. We made a right and pulled into the parking lot. It looked like a game was going on. We stopped for a few minutes and then headed out since it was getting late.

We continued on to Libertytown, still light out and becoming cool. As I’m heading down 75 through town, Rita’s not behind me. I thought she’d stopped at the turnout and I turned around to see what’s up.

As I come around the turn, there she is coming in my direction. I pass and pull into the church parking lot to wait for her. A minute or so later she comes up and said her bike had stopped. Puzzled, I checked out her bike but it was running and I couldn’t see any problems (leaks or anything). I checked the connections but it all seemed ok.

We checked out the map and decided to turn back and head up Rt 31 instead of continuing on 75. I had to tell her though. Rt 31 was where my high school girlfriend used to live. We were going to pass her place. No biggie, I was curious though.

So I’m scoping out the road, not even sure I’ll recognize it when there it is, 8 or 10 rusting cars out front. I pulled over at the bottom of the hill and told Rita that there was the house.

So. We continue on 🙂

About 5 minutes down the road, Rita’s stopped again. I turned around and headed back. She’s sitting on the side of the road trying to start her bike. It’s trying but not catching. I check out all the connections again, check for leaks or anything and everything seems to be ok. “You got me, this problem’s beyond me here.”

At that moment, I checked her odometer. 90 miles. Too soon to run out of gas, but what the heck. I flip her to reserve and have her try it again. After a few trys it kicks over. Out of gas. Must have been the congestion on the way here. We laugh and head out in search of a station.

In New Windsor we find a 7/11 on the other side of town and fill up. 2.2 gallons for her, 2.7 for me.

Now it’s dark and really getting late. We continue on towards Westminster.

As we get into town, we see a Best Western to the left. A right turn, loop around and a left into the shopping center just past it as I realize it’s a convention/catering center and doesn’t seem to be open.

We stop. I went into Safeway to hit the bathroom and then check the phone book outside the store. I followed a kid out who then followed me to the phone. “Hey man, if I give you the money, would you buy me some Skoal?” “No”. The pages in the phone book that had the motel listings were torn out.

I went back to Rita who then went in to the bathroom. I tried calling Jasmine (her daughter) to check on motels but there was no answer. When Rita came out she had two things. She had spoken to Jasmine who was at the Cher concert and that her leg was more injured than she first thought.

There was a giant knot on the inside part of her leg next to the shin and it was pretty big.

Rita spoke to someone inside who mentioned a Boston Inn just up the road. A quick call and we were on our way. As we came down into the main street, I saw a Days Inn on the left. A quick right turn to tell Rita and we headed over to get a room.

After getting a room, I pulled her bike into the back parking lot and took everything out of her saddlebags and my tank and tail bag up to the room (third floor). We checked out all of her injuries. Her elbow was going to have a nice bruise as will her shin. Her knee has a nice sized scrape and is probably the one that bothers her the most since walking causes it to hurt.

She decides we need to go to dinner but isn’t going to walk so she got on the back of the Suzuki (something she said she’d never do) and we headed out for dinner.

When we got back, I went out to Giant and picked up some aspirin, a cold pack, an Ace bandage and a soda for me.

We spent the rest of the night watching TV and checking out her injuries.

The next morning we rolled out of the room at around 10am and headed up to Denny’s for breakfast. We discussed the ride and decided that instead of continuing on, we’d pick a good route and head home. The rain forecast for Sunday in Pennsylvania was a big part of the decision but Rita’s injuries were another.

We checked out the maps and decided to hit 77 west to Hagerstown, making a left at Rt 11 on down towards Luray Caverns. Heading home from Rt 11.

Of course, the first turn on Rt 31 and we missed 77 (it’s marked Uniontown Road and not Rt 77). A quick peek at the map and I see that 75 north from New Windsor will also get us to Rt 77 so we keep going.

We make the right onto 75 (found that 🙂 and then a quick right onto 84 north, a nice little swing up and down a hill. It’s a nice little road that ends fairly quickly. I roll up to the stop sign at Uniontown (coasting next to a bicyclist). Still no sign for Rt 77 and it says Middleburg Road so I shrug and make the left turn.

There’s a real nice steep downhill and up that I speed down and then slow and watch Rita run down it. A bit down the road and we pass a scenic river, but no place to stop. There are some nice turns and even nicer canopied roads.

As we approach Thurmont, I’m seeing more and more yard sales. Just about every house is having a yard sale. Entering Thurmont, I pull into a church parking lot with a bunch of other cars (and others parked on the street). They wanted 5 bucks to park so I waved that I was just turning around. One of the kids taking money yelled over to his dad to look at my bike. He must either want one or dad has one 🙂

I pull off and look at the map, just making sure. Rita pulls up and I point where we’re going. She boogies up 550, still having trouble making u-turns. I u-turn and stop at the sign. After a moment I pull past the church parking lot again and stop on the side of the road waiting for Rita. She shows up and we head through downtown Thurmont.

Turns out we hit right in the middle of the Catoctin Colorfest Arts and Crafts show. No wonder there were yard sales everywhere. There was a bunch of people walking around and the streets were packed up to the 550 turnoff. On the other side of Rt 50 there were a bunch of cars parked on the streets.

Fortunately we headed into the Catoctin Mountain National Park Scenic Loop. It was a very nice ride with twisties and few people. We pulled into the park visitors center and took a break. After that we headed into Cunningham Falls State Park. Unfortunately there wasn’t any information on distance to the falls at the gate and I didn’t want to pay 5 bucks to find out Rita wouldn’t be able to see it.

So we turned around and went back to Rt 77. Since we were on Catoctin mountain, there was a nice little run down the other side.

We headed down until we got to Rt 64, Smithsburg. It wasn’t clear on the map so we continued on. When we got to Rt 60, we were definately not sure where we were at. I couldn’t find out anywhere we would have hit 60 until we were actually in Hagerstown. So after a short right on 60, we turned around and headed south to Hagerstown.

When we got to Hagerstown, I kept an eye out for Rt 40. Unfortunately there weren’t any markings for 40 (and we missed Rt 11 south by just a couple of blocks), so we kept on going south. 60 turns into 65 (and we encountered more of the ground down roads, which Rita handled just fine) and eventually passed Rt 70 and made it to Rt 68. A quick right and in 10 minutes or so we found Rt 11 south.

We crossed the Potomac at Williamsport and headed into West Virginia. It was still a rather nice ride. In Berkley County we passed a nice stone house on the left. I pointed it out to Rita and as we passed, we noticed a couple that looked rather hippy like, on the porch working (Berkley – hippy; get it? 🙂

At one point, we passed the Frederick Fairgrounds where a bunch of bikes were parked. One guy pulled in behind Rita. When we got to an 81 turn off, he pulled up, said “hi” and headed out to 81. He was on a nice looking orange custom.

It was while we were heading south that I began to really experience pain in my arms from the riding style. Mainly in my shoulders but in my forearms a little as well. It was getting to the point where I was having to stop more often to take a break.

So we ride through Winchester and make the left onto Rt 17. A few miles down the road and we pass 340 and a sign for Summit Point. Hey, now I know where it is 🙂

A couple of miles before the Paris turnoff, we stop again for a break. This time on the side of a turn-off on Rt 17. After a couple of minutes of stretching and poking at the map, Rita says that a truck has pulled up behind us. Turns out a couple of good samaritans stopped and asked if we needed a hand. They had been at the Fairgrounds for a chili cookoff and had their Hog member shirts on. We said thanks and that we were just taking a break. We waved as they left.

We made the right turn on 17 and headed to 66 East. I stayed behind Rita, mainly because I didn’t want everyone looking at me as blocking traffic. See, Rita isn’t doing much faster than 55 in the right lane 🙂

At Rt 234 in Manassas we make a right. At the first light, I open up my bike and boogie on down. I slow down to let Rita catch up and we head to the left on Percell Road. A nice ride down to Dale Blvd and then home.

A nice little 280 mile ride with lots of cool roads and interesting activities. Rita’s bike seems to be ok but I’ll take it in to the dealer; one for the 600 mile check-up and two to go over the bike making sure no hidden damage exists.

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