by John Rath
Good roads start within a few miles of my garage. As in many areas, find the roads that were replaced by an interstate, and you are off to a good start. If you live in Lake County, Ohio and those roads hap-pen to follow a river, then you are on to something. I call my favorite close-to-home loop, the Presidents’ loop. The main roads are named Ford and Carter. Mind you, this is not Cherohala Skyway quality riding. Nonetheless, there is a nice blend of 15-25-and 35 mph curves, with some fast sweepers toward the Ashtabula County end.
Polly Harper Inn - Geneva, Ohio
This was December 21st and northeast Ohio had set a record for yearly rainfall, by September. Therefore, when the sun popped out ever so briefly, I had to answer the call of the road. In a sense, today was an Indian summer ride as we had snow earlier in the fall. Usually I refuse to ride once the streets have been salted, but with the road flush-er rain last night, I would make an exception. My BMW RT 1150, with its ample wind protection and heated grips, is a comfortable cold weather ride. What better way to prewarm the engine for its winter oil change? On return, I would add fuel stabilizer and top off the gasoline tank for winter storage.
Harpersfield Covered Bridge—near Geneva
After two months of travel by four wheels, my shifting, braking and leaning felt a bit off, a little awkward. The many joggers and walkers who were en-joying the afternoon were in contrast to people cutting Christmas trees at Mountain Glen Farm. Paine Falls, about a 30 ft. drop in Big Creek, was doing its best imitation of Niagara Falls. The sight and sound was impressive. Debonne Vineyards in Madison had been harvested so I missed the intoxicating grape fragrance from my autumn rides. Passing the Debonne Winery I noticed many cars in the lot. Some patrons were inside enjoying fruits of the vine, years past. Do-it-yourself vintners were loading containers of sweet juice to ferment and enjoy at holidays, yet to come.
Each time I see the Polly Harper Inn I think it may have been a stagecoach stop. Note to self: Check the history of the inn with the historical society. I can think of no better place to celebrate our wedding anniversary. After all, the Inn is nearly walking distance from the winery.
Paine Falls in wet weather.
When approaching the sweepers I noticed a black cloud from the west rapidly catching up. The rain had started 15 minutes earlier and was soaking into my waterproof riding jacket. No need to panic. I cannot say I particularly enjoy a wet ride, but had I not ridden in the cold, and or rain, this season my total miles would have been cut in half. I average 12-16,000 miles on two wheels most years, so what’s another 30 wet ones, I rationalized. Be-sides, compared to the soggy 10-hour, 30-40 degree ride our crew suffered from Snowshoe West Virginia, today was a pleasure. The Harpersfield covered bridge is up coming. Briefly I considered sheltering under the bridge as would travelers of yesterday, but I decided to motor on.
“The Riding Season in a Snapshot” - John with his R1150RT in the sun and the rain.
On return home my riding gear was soaked as was the RT. Out came the bucket and hose. This was not the first time I have washed a vehicle while it was raining. I am pretty sure folks talk about their crazy neighbor who washes his bikes in the rain. While the crankcase oil drained, I give the “Tupperware” a wax and buff. After four quarts of fresh 15-40 in the sump, on went the battery tender and over went the cover. Top up the tires and unplug the tender in the spring and let the adventures of 2012 begin anew
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