Thursday, August 14, 2014

Penn's Peak

Last weekend I rode with the Knights of Lusitania, a Portuguese riding club from Philadelphia.  I had seen their ride on Facebook and even though Philadelphia is an hour and a half away from my house I noticed they were riding north to Penn's Peak.  I looked at the map and realized I could ride about an hour west and meet them about an hour's ride north from Philadelphia. After a few messages to arrange a meeting point I decided to wait for them by a Starbucks near Doylestown on route 611.  The group arrives and we continue north along 611.

I'm in the back with a red jacket getting ready to join them

One of the fellow riders was riding a Honda Ruckus 250 which unfortunately had a puncture.  The whole group pulled into a Wawa and the tire was promptly fixed, the puncture hole was pretty large and required two plugs.   His helmet is pretty cool, I was told it came from a fireman in Brazil, definitely not DOT approved.

We made a stop by a river to rest and a little later ran into trouble again.  One of the guys riding a Harley stopped at a traffic light and the bike just died.  The engine would crank but not start.  We all pulled into a nearby gas station and things started coming apart.

From all the cranking the battery died too.  Soon we had jumper cables running from a van from some guy that had stopped to fill up.  Now the bike was cranking but still not starting.  Spark plugs were pulled out, there was spark but it didn't appear to be any fuel going.  The Harley is carbureted.  After closer examination someone noticed there was a rubber tube disconnected.  It turned out it was the vacuum tube running to the petcock, it had come off.  Without vacuum, petcock does not open, no fuel to the engine.  Connected the hose and the engine fired right up.

While at the gas station this old guy pulls up to see what all the commotion was about and to offer ideas to troubleshoot the problem, I suspect it might have been Fidel Castro.

After fixing the Harley issue, our next stop was at Penn's Peak, at the beautiful Roadies Restaurant & Bar on top of a mountain with great views all around.  The road leading up to the restaurant winds through the forest.   Everyone was starving since the two problems had delayed our arrival. 

The restaurant is on two levels with lots of outside tables but we were a large group, they had to sit us inside.  Music was playing on the lower level, the band playing a mixture of Blues and Blues-rock.

The view is truly magnificent and this panorama shows it pretty well.   We managed to get one of the security guys to take a photo of the group.  I'm the one with the camera around my neck.

The ride home was uneventful, I managed to pull the camera out and snap a few shots including another great helmet selfie.  The Ruckus kept up pretty well with all the cruisers, adventure and sport bikes.

We made another stop to rest and talk bike.  It was getting late in the afternoon, some guys decided to take the faster way back using the PA Turnpike, a few of us decided to continue down route 309 and once we got to I78 I split from the group and headed east to NJ.  I still had a little over 100 miles to go.

This Suzuki with its V-Twin engine sounds amazing and so does the Yamaha R1 even though this one is pre-crossplane.  The R1 with the crossplane engine is still my dream bike.

After I crossed into NJ I decided to beat the traffic and take route 31 south towards Trenton making the trip a little longer but without having to deal with weekend traffic on the I78, I287 and the Parkway.  After almost an hour on the saddle I stopped at a Wawa after having passed this guy.  A few minutes later he pulls in and I walk towards him to inspect the bike.  He was an older guy riding a 1979 Harley Davidson that I suspect had never been washed.  It was rusty, broken and with missing parts but it worked.  I laughed when he asked me how fast I was going when I passed him, he said I passed him like a rocket, I was doing about 75mph and he was doing a leisurely 55mph.  We ended up chatting for almost half an hour, I told him about my Alaska trip and he told me a little about his life, it's amazing how different we are but at the same time have a common denominator.  We parted ways and I continued on my way south.

As I approached Trenton my reserve light started flickering at a little under 200 miles and the computer starts counting up from zero to show how many miles I travel on reserve.  I know the reserve is good for another 50 or 60 miles and I was about 40 miles away.  For anyone that has watched Seinfeld, I was like Kramer when he took a dealer car for a test drive and decided to continue and see how far they could get before they ran out of fuel.  I decided to go for it and as I approached home I was counting the miles and cheering, I'm going to make it home.   245.5 miles since I last refueled, the indicator had been flashing for almost 50 miles.  It's a little disconcerting but I knew I was almost home and I suspect there's still more than a half a gallon in the tank.  I will have to see how much it takes when I refuel it.