That Which Doesn’t Kill You…

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Destinations, Food, Travel

Anyone who has ever lived with an optimist knows the expression that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Likewise, anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle knows that which doesn’t kill you usually leaves you pulled over on the side of the road trying to catch your breath and looking for the right time to saddle up and proceed on your way.

Living in New England, we have a plethora of roads that are twisty, scenic, and chock full of sweeping turns. There are plenty of quaint stops along the way for the history buff, the food connoisseur, and the antique shopper (take it as you will). We have hills, wooded areas, beaches and farmland.  Although it’s a small state, there is pleasure to be found regardless of your finicky riding palate.

On a Sunday in late June, after chores and shopping had been completed, I saddled up and met Todd and Kim at their home in Somers. Todd and I had buzzed the backwoods and windy Somers streets once before, but this was our first extended ride with a purpose – ice-cream!  OK, the purpose was riding but the ice-cream was a nice plus. He knew the roads better than I did so he took the lead on the roughly hour-long jaunt to the UCONN Dairy Bar.

We started on RT 190 in Somers, taking a left at the big white church towards Crystal Lake (that’s how I always remember the turn, but it’s a right onto RT 30).  This was an eventful stretch from paranoia’s perspective.

The turn on RT 30 isn’t very sharp, it’s a little more than a 90 degree turn, but the cut of the turn is uphill. Normally when one scrapes floorboards the springs pop them up under your feet; the motion combined with the sound cause that “oh shit” moment when you know you’re safe but your wits were scared out of you nonetheless. It’s a good wake up call that’s for sure. Being my first extended ride with the new bags, I feared the worse.  For the next few miles or so I was too busy worry about whether or not I hit a stick that ripped a hole in my bags. To be honest, the thought of scraping boards never occurred to me because they never popped back when they hit.

And then no more than a mile or two later I had to stop.  There was this really obnoxious popping sound. It was LOUD! It sounded like someone was firing a gun the woods right next to me.  I hit the brake, the sound continued.  I accelerated some more, the sound continued. Then it occurred to me, the visor on my helmet (which had been raised) came loose on right side and was slapping against the top of the helmet.  That was scare number two.

After stopping for a quick ATM break in Mansfield/Storrs, we decided to take a look at the Eagleville Dam on South Eagleville Rd. It provided a great photo opportunity for the shots below.

Phee (left); Todd and Kim (right)

Then it was on to the UCONN Dairy Bar on RT 195 for that much anticipated ice cream cone.  It was my first time there and it was the perfect place to beat the summer heat. After enjoying a banana chip ice cream cone, it was back to the ride.

(yes, there were chips in it!!!)

The ride back was filled with twists and turns – and of course the near death experience that earned this post its name.

Somewhere along RT 171, after the sweeping turns that lean you left and immediately follow by leaning you right, and somewhere along the same 171 that blessed riders with freshly paved road and cursed them in spots with frost heaves and ruts came “the turn.”

As riders, we love to lean and we love to accelerate. For many riders, “rolling the throttle” half way through a turn is the best part of any riding day. Imagine a turn positioned in a heavily wooded area with trees lining both sides of the road and a turn slightly tighter than a sweep. It is a truly beautiful turn as far as riding goes.  In the northbound direction this beauty of a turn even boats a slight uphill ride as you lean into the turn.

A picturesque canopy of trees covers you as the sun fights its way through the leaves. You accelerate a little, lean right, roll the throttle and realize the road makes an immediate 90 turn to the left. There’s no way to make the turn without advance warning. There is a tiny road directly in front of me. I try the turn.  I’m leaning left and make the quick decision to bail. I straighten out the bike, hit the brakes and stop 20 feet down the tiny road.

Then, like screaming banshee comes Todd and Kim. I hear them and see the tail lights no in front of me. The conversation went something like this – but who said what I can’t remember.  But the gist is there.

“Dude.”

“Seriously.”

“There were no warnings.”

“I know.”

“WTF.”

“Good thing that road was here or we would have been in that guys yard.”

“You would have been double fucked. You’d be in the woods and two seconds later I would have been right up your ass.”

It became a smoke break for Todd and Kim, and breath catcher for me.  Upon further investigation there was a sign.  Of course, any rider paying attention to the turn will never see the sign. If you’re looking through the turn and into the next, the sign is out of your peripheral vision.  Needless to say, we need photographic proof it was there.

(If you look really closely, you can see our bikes.)

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  You know, the occasional cage veering into your lane around a turn, the random left hand turner who doesn’t yield to motorcycles; but it was all ok because that one turn sucked the life out of us, and forced it right back in. That which didn’t kill us….

Route:

190 East to Rt 30, left on 74, RT on 195

Right on 32

Right on 275

Crossed 32 to stay on 275

Cut across to 195

Rt. 195 to Rt. 44

Rt. 44 to Rt. 198

Rt. 198 to Rt. 171 (left onto 171)

Rt. 171 to Rt. 190

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

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