Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Push for New York

On Monday, Anna had one more day off from work and a babysitter for her son, which equals a rare opportunity for her to go for a longer ride. And, unlike our last ride, it was warm and sunny, so she was chomping at the bit to get on the back of my bike and log some serious miles.

We dropped her son Ricky off in Warwick, R.I. around 1 p.m. Since we had to start late, the general plan was to ride on Interstate 95 south to get to New Haven, Conn., as fast as possible, and from there, head to Danbury, Conn. to connect to U.S. Route 7, the focal point of our ride. Between New Milford and Kent, Route 7 wanders very close to the eastern border of New York state, so my goal was to cross the border so we can say we've ridden in New York.

Anna is not a big fan of highway riding, and it didn't help that it was breezy. The wind pushed my bike around as my highway speed varied between 60 and 70 mph. Since I have no windshield on my bike, Anna thought I had to "hang on for dear life," but I assured her I was quite comfortable. Anna was not comfortable, however; her loose-fitting half helmet put a strain on her neck as the wind pushed her head around, and the wind noise bothered her ears. I felt her legs squeeze me tighter as we approached bumps or transitions in the road (transitions or lines in the asphalt cause the skinny 21" front tire on my Wide Glide to wander a bit).

I stopped for gas at an interstate service area in Madison, Conn., where we also ate snacks, drank water and checked the map. It was around 3:30 p.m., and we had to decide if we wanted to stay on I-95 until we hit New Haven, or get off the highway and take secondary roads to bypass the city. Since we were pressed for time, we chose the first option. My worries of hitting stop-and-go traffic on I-95 never materialized. From the highway, we got on state Route 34, only spending a little time in urban New Haven. The most scenic part of Route 34 is the section that follows the Housatonic River, which reminded Anna of her native West Virginia. We crossed the river on the Stevenson Dam Bridge in Oxford, Conn. and continued along Route 34 until we hit Interstate 84, which we rode west to Danbury. Then we got on U.S. Route 7 north.

Going north from I-84, U.S. Route 7 begins as a freeway and then becomes a busy commercial road. Traffic thinned out after the junction with Route 67, and we continued north on Route 7 until we reached the village of Gaylordsville, Conn. From there, it was only four miles to the New York border from the junction with Route 55, a twisty country road. We spotted a tall sign (near someone's front yard) welcoming us to New York, and we pulled over to take photos, wondering if the people who lived there often had to put up with photo-takers. Then we rode down a side street - Hoyt Road in Wingdale, N.Y. - before turning around and heading back to Route 7 in Connecticut.

If we had more time, I would have liked to have continued riding north on Route 7, where there was more scenic riding, but I was content to have reached my goal of crossing the New York border. For me, the pressure was off.

"You were on a mission, baby - this ride was all about the destination," said Anna, whose motto is usually, 'It's not about the destination - it's the ride.'

Instead, we went south on Route 7, and after fueling the bike, we stopped for dinner at Arby's in New Milford, Conn. (Anna's idea) and planned our route back to Rhode Island. Since we had to get back to Rhode Island by 10 or 11 p.m. and we were losing daylight, I decided to take Interstate 84 east through Hartford; Interstate 384 east through Manchester; and then Route 6 east into Rhode Island. At a rest stop in Southington, Conn., I put on my leather jacket and gloves, which I was very glad I brought; the temperature dropped quickly as the sun went down.

As we approached Hartford on I-84 east, we hit stop-and-go traffic due to road construction, and it was the only white-knuckle riding of the whole trip. I got in the wrong lane and tried to edge my way back into my original lane, which was hairy with the amount of cagers around me. Then we also hit some rough surfacing which made my front tire squirrely, but we made it through okay and it was smooth sailing through Manchester. By the time we got on Route 6 east, it was dark, and I rode at or slightly below the speed limit - partly because my single headlight does not cast much light, and partly out of concern for possible deer encounters (the glare of oncoming headlights didn't help either).

At one point, we got stuck behind a tractor-trailer being towed by another big rig, doing about 30 mph, its flashing hazard lights acting like a beacon on the dark road. The highlight of our ride back on Rou te 6 was following a big, orange full moon. We rode Route 6 into Rhode Island, and then got onto Interstate 295 south to Warwick, R.I., where we had begun. We returned around 10:30 p.m., having ridden a total of just over 300 miles. It was the longest she's ever ridden in one day, and the longest I've ridden with a passenger. Anna was very tired, although she said her butt did not hurt. My right shoulder and elbow were a bit stiff, but I was otherwise okay.

About a week ago, Anna wanted to ride 750 miles to West Virginia in a single day, and, when she researched to see how easy or difficult that would be, she was surprised to read that many people consider 300-400 miles the upper limit for a reasonably comfortable day of riding.

"I thought they were just being wusses," she said. "Now I know that's a lot."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rain Ride

In the movie The Weather Man, people often assaulted Nicolas Cage's character, throwing fast-food items at him - presumably payback for botched weather forecasts. Hmmm ... I bet some of them rode motorcycles.

Since we decided to scrap a ride to West Virginia, Anna and I settled for a day trip on Friday, the only day she had completely available to ride. The weather forecast - cloudy, with only a 10 percent chance of showers by the early afternoon, increasing to around 30 percent by late afternoon - was not ideal, but not horrible either. We at least figured we'd have three or four hours of dry weather, and escape the worst of the rain, as long as we got back before 4 p.m.

As we began riding toward Connecticut around 10 a.m., I thought it was actually nice not riding with the sun beating down on us. We both wore our leather jackets since it was around 70 degrees, a bit cool for summer. But after only 45 minutes into our ride, before we even reached our first destination, rain began to fall. Although light at first, it would never let up the remainder of our ride, and, indeed, it gradually fell harder and harder, making a total mockery of the weather forecast.

Our first destination was Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream on Route 165 in Griswold, Conn. Some friends rode out there about a week earlier and took some awesome photos of the farm's fields of giant sunflowers, and Anna wanted to take some photographs of them. But upon our arrival, the parking lot was nearly full and, to our disappointment, we found that you had to pay to take a tour of the field and get up close to the sunflowers. (According to the farm's website, proceeds from the "Sunflowers for Wishes" tours benefit the Connecticut Make-A-Wish Foundation.) Since there was a large crowd and we wanted to ride,
we left the parking lot, rode a bit further, and then pulled off to the side of the road to look at another field of sunflowers. A woman graciously offered to take a few photos of Anna and me together. "Is that a new bike?" she asked me. She was impressed at how clean it was for an 8-year-old motorcycle.

We continued along Route 165, catching Route 2 through downtown Norwich, Conn., and rode along Route 32 north, through the towns of Franklin and Windham. Then we came upon Willimantic, a small city that once thrived due to the textile industry, which fled long ago. This was the first part of Connecticut Anna saw that was not very scenic. Or as she put it: "Willimantic: it's not romantic." After leaving Willimantic, Route 32 became more rural and scenic as we passed through some small villages. The rain showers were beginning
to fall a bit harder, but we were still comfortable.

We stopped at a Mobil gas station at the junction of routes 32 and 195 in Mansfield, Conn., for a bathroom break and map check. A postman asked if I would rather have a GPS, but I told him I preferred a map. "I'm
old school," I said. Anna, who is originally from West Virginia, noticed that people in Connecticut seemed friendlier and more helpful than people in Rhode Island, where we both live. A few people who saw me looking at a map asked if I was lost, to which I replied, "No, I'm not lost ... I just don't know where I want to go next." (That was an honest statement, not sarcastic, because I had not planned our ride beyond our first stop.) At the Mobil station, we saw a few bikers ride by, despite the rain. In the parking lot, we talked to a woman in a car with Massachusetts plates, who had experience riding a motorcycle in the rain. She told us she would wear plastic bags around her feet before putting them in her boots. "I can't stand wet feet," she said.

From the gas station, I initially considered getting on Interstate 84, riding north to the Massachusetts Turnpike, riding east and then back south to Rhode Island, but Anna said she didn't want to ride on the highway, since the rain drops were stinging enough at 45 mph (we both wore half helmets and my bike has no windshield). So I decided to continue riding on Route 32 north and then head east before we reached the Massachusetts border. We rode through the towns of Willington and Stafford, and got on Route 190 in Stafford Springs. The rain, which had seemed to let up a bit at the Mansfield Mobil station, got heavier, and my fingers began to get a bit numb. Although I wore a leather jacket, I had neglected to wear gloves. We then rode east on Route 197, one of the more scenic roads (especially past Bigelow Hollow State Park). It would have been fun to ride with its sweeps, dips and curves, had it been dry out. We stopped at the intersection with Route 198 for a map check, and at that point, decided to start heading back home. We would continue riding east on 197 and then get on Route 169 south.

Connecticut Route 169, another scenic road, is not as technically challenging as Route 197, but it starts (from the north end) in the beautiful town of Woodstock, Conn., a
charming mix of farms and quaint New England-style village greens. But we needed a break to
thaw our hands. Anna suffers from Raynaud's Disease, and her fingers were going numb from the cold also. The leather jacket she wore did not cover her waist, and she said she could feel water dripping down the back of her jeans, which was completely soaked, as was her top. "I don't mind being wet," she said, "but it's COLD for July!" The forecasters had predicted the temperature would be about 80 degrees, but it felt like it was in the high 60s, at best. I missed a turn for Route 169, so we stopped at the Cinnamon Tree Bakery on Route 171 in Woodstock, Conn. for a bathroom break and coffee (which was not hot, and had to be microwaved). The woman behind the counter let us warm our hand inside one of the bakery's ovens that was shut off, but had recently been used to bake muffins, so was still warm. She also gave us some vinyl food prep gloves, which did help a bit to delay cold-induced numbness for the rest of our ride.

The rain seemed to come down even harder by the time we got back on the bike, so it was now a test of endurance. From the bakery, I had planned to stay on Route 169 south, and then cross over to Route 49 via 14, but instead, I decided to take Route 6 west to get back to Rhode Island faster. Anna said she was "never so happy" to see the 'Welcome to Rhode Island' sign. We then got on Route 102 south, since it was a fairly straight path to the southern part of the state, where I unexpectedly hit a construction zone where a section of the road was dirt. Despite the rain, road crews were at work, and I had to pass a road construction roller in operation. By the time we hit Route 3 in West Greenwich, I needed to take another break and was looking for the Middle of Nowhere Diner, but I turned north instead of south on Route 3, so I had to turn around. I had forgotten the diner was actually located in Exeter, R.I. (Surprisingly, we saw three other motorcyclists riding in the rain in Rhode Island.)

The diner's parking lot was packed, but we managed to get a booth. Taking off her soaked jacket, Anna could not stop shivering, an
d the air conditioner inside the diner didn't help. I had to hold her to warm her up while we sipped coffee, and then ate a bowl of clam chowder and turkey club sandwich. Our waitress took pity on us and asked us how much farther we had to ride before we got home. "Not too far ... about 20 miles," I replied.

"That's far enough," she said.

After riding about 170 miles, mostly in the rain, a hot shower never felt so good. So far, I have not invested in rain gear, since I don't plan on intentionally riding in the rain. But, this experience has taught me to never trust a weather forecast, and always be prepared.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

West Virginia Bound?

Few things symbolize freedom as much as hopping on a motorcycle for a long-distance road trip. For the last few weeks, I have had very little work (I'm self-employed), and, about a week ago, I casually mentioned riding to Sturgis if my lack of work continued.

It was really kind of a pipe dream, since I'm practically broke, but it got my girlfriend Anna thinking, we could ride to West Virginia, where she is from originally. Other than money, I have few things preventing me from taking a long road trip. Anna, on the other hand, has a full-time job, plus a 10-year-old son. But, since she has a few extra days of paid time off from work coming, and her son would be staying with relatives for a few days, she was ready to ride with me to West Virginia, where she has not been in 12 years.

"It seems like we never get to ride long enough on group rides," Anna said. "I always want to keep going."

Originally, the plan was to leave Rhode Island around 9:00 Friday morning, arrive in Kanawha County, W. Va. that night; spend Saturday visiting family, friends and a few local hangouts; and ride back on Sunday (stretching the ride back into Monday, if necessary). The trip is about 750 miles each way.

The thing is, the most I have ever ridden in a day is 426 miles total, with five leisurely stops, and that was without a passenger. The most Anna has ever ridden on the back of my bike in a day is about 200 miles total, again with rather long breaks. The most miles I have ever ridden continuously (without a break) is about 150. It's worth noting that my bike does not have a windshield, which takes some of the fatigue from highway riding.

"Okay, question: Can we ride a motorcycle 800 miles; rest and hang out for a day; and then ride back 800 miles?" Anna asked on her Facebook page. I posed a similar question on www.harley-davidsonforums.com.

While some bikers have ridden 600, 700, 800 and even 1,000 miles in one day (which earns Ironbutt status), many consider 300-400 miles a day, maybe 500, the upper limit for riding in reasonable comfort, we found out.

A Wisconsin member on the Harley forum wrote, "We just did a 1,000 mile trip, two-up on a Fatboy fully loaded with saddle bags and a backrest bag. We did it in four days, with our longest day being just under 350 miles. I think we could have done 500 in a day with a better seat and a little cooler weather. We also took a two-day break in the middle while we visited friends. It would have been nice to spend an extra two days with friends if we would have made the full 500 in a day, each way. But my wife's longest riding day prior had been about 200. So in the long run, she was much happier that we split it up into shorter days."

He added: "Now, if I had a geezer glider and she had the full queen seat with armrests and all, that would change the whole picture. But on a stock Fatboy, 300-400 a day with two people was enough for us."

Rossco, a biker from Montreal, wrote: "A single 750-mile day is totally doable, but I wouldn't want to be a passenger for it (or have a passenger for it)."

Our friend, Andy Beaulieu, recently rode with his wife Kathy from Rhode Island to Ohio. He said he made the 600-mile trip in about 12 hours. "We decided to travel during daylight for safety, but if we HAD to do 800 miles, we could have done it. After this ride, I have no doubt that I could do the 1,000 miles in 24 hours ... but why?" Andy rides a Honda Gold Wing, which is designed for touring.

After soliciting opinions from more seasoned riders, I felt more comfortable with riding about 400 miles the first day, staying overnight, and doing the remaining 350 or so miles the next day. Andy agreed that was a better plan than trying to push 750 miles in a day, even if the weather totally cooperated. But Anna only has four days off, so taking two days up and two days back leaves no time to do anything in West Virginia.

While I have enough money for gas and a discount motel room, I don't really have any contingency funds available if my bike broke down during the trip. But, in the end, lack of time appears to have scuttled the trip, at least for now. Instead, we will probably do a long day trip on Friday and some shorter rides this weekend.

(County map of West Virginia courtesy of www.geology.com - this is a cool site with many different types of state maps!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fifth Annual Ride for Corinna's Angels

Ideal weather Sunday graced the 5th annual Ride for Corinna's Angels, which raised funds to help fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a leading genetic cause of infant deaths. The ride, named in honor of Corinna Calise, a local child who suffers from the most serious form of SMA, attracted at least 60 motorcycles.

The ride started at the Kelly Gazzero VFW Post on Plainfield Street in Cranston. A contingent from our Romans 8 Riders Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association
met at a nearby McDonalds prior to the ride's registration,which began at 9:30 a.m. Led by our Romans 8 president, Spike, 13 people attended from our chapter, plus Cathilee DeLorto's dog, who nearly always rides on the motorcycle in a pack slung around Cathilee.

I was the last of the first 25 people to register, so I got a free ride tee shirt. Since passengers did not get free tee shirts, Bob
Levesque graciously gave his ride tee shirt to my girlfriend, Anna. We sat in the VFW hall, eating muffins, drinking coffee and waiting for more riders and passengers to register. Cathilee's dog gained many admirers, including Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and Cathilee showed off her multiple Christian tattoos.

Before the ride kicked off at 11:00, Corinna viewed the motorcycles in the parking lot and chose three that would later be presented with a trophy. I saw Jerry Mello, a Yamaha Virago owner who I met at last year's ride (I also had a Virago then). Jerry's wife videotaped the start of the ride and posted it on his Facebook page, so this was the first ride I actually saw myself riding in ... that was cool.

There's nothing like the sound of dozens of Harleys roaring to life, and it
was obvious it really got Anna excited (okay, she made "vrrooom, vrrooom!!" sounds). Cranston police blocked traffic on busy Route 14 while the riders orderly exited the VFW hall's parking
lot, which has a steep, treacherous driveway with rough asphalt. Police blocked a few intersections early in the ride, but since much of the ride was in more rural territory, most of the blocking duties fell on a blocking team of about a half-dozen bikes among the pack. A couple of the blockers rode sport bikes, and I felt Anna jump in her seat, apparently startled as one of the crotch rockets zoomed passed us on the left to get to the front of the pack so he could block again. After the ride, Romans 8 vice president Roland Caron said he saw some of the blockers take chances by crossing the road's center line while going up a hill, unable to see if a car was coming. A few times, I made room for blockers to duck back into our double-line staggered formation.

The ride went through Cranston, Scituate and North Scituate, R.I., and into a couple of towns in eastern Connecticut, where we had a long rest stop with water and pizza waiting for us. We looped back toward Rhode Island, going through Foster and Glocester before making our way back to the VFW hall in Cranston. I will say I enjoyed the first half of the ride more than the second half. At the kickoff of the ride, riders were let loose in rows, in an orderly fashion. I also felt comfortable with the riders around me.

In contrast, getting back on the road after the break was more of a free-for-all. And although riders were instructed to ride in a staggered formation, rather than side-by-side, for safety reasons, a man and a woman (I'm assuming they were a couple, or knew each other) on separate bikes in front of me,
rode side-by-side and appeared to have conversations, which made me a bit nervous, since some swerving was necessary for potholes, manhole covers and blockers. Then a third rider, who was diagonally in front of me, seemed to have difficulty maintaining a steady speed and consistent distance from other bikes, so I hung back from all three of them and did my best to ride smoothly and consistently while keeping my eyes on them. All in all, there were no mishaps on the ride, to my knowledge.

My bike (nicknamed Annabelle) ran flawlessly. This was the first group ride since I changed the bike's exhaust system, air cleaner and carburetor jets, and the bike didn't sneeze or stumble even once. Also, the person riding behind me did not hang way back, which happened on the last group run, which I attribute to the fact that my bike still had straight pipes at the time. I guess Annabelle is less rambunctious now.

We returned to the VFW hall at 2 p.m., and by now, I was starving (I'd limited myself to once slice of pizza at the break). A deejay and Ozzy Osbourne impersonator, "Ozzy-Live" (who Jerry Mello said had donated his services) entertained us as we waited about an hour for the macaroni and meatballs with salad (thankfully, we were the first table called to the food line). Cathilee won one of the three Corinna's Choice trophies, although it was, presenters hinted, probably more due to her dog - which attracted many looks as the blockers rode by - than her motorcycle.

Before we left, Anna wanted me to take a photo of her with "Ozzy," so we approached him and he obliged. Anna blinked on the first photo, and "Ozzy" wanted to retake it anyway, because he wasn't sure if he "looked crazy enough" the first time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hogs and Hot Rods

Last summer, my friend Pat, who rides a Dyna Low Rider, clued me into an annual summer event at Ocean State Harley-Davidson in Warwick, R.I. called "Hogs and Hot Rods,"
a show of classic and custom cars and motorcycles, with an oldies DJ and free hamburgers, hot dogs, soda and ice cream.
Even bikes that aren't in the show are often impressive, and it's fun to walk the parking lot and admire the bikes and see which modifications look good on bikes like yours.

Last year, I rode in on a Yamaha. This year, even though I own a Harley, I rode in on four wheels because I wanted to take my girlfriend Anna, and her son, Ricky, and I can't fit both of them on my bike (I could have, if I had a sidecar, like one of the bikes I saw today). Saturday's weather was ideal: sunny and in the 90s.

As soon as he heard the words "ice cream," Ricky, 10, dashed toward the ice cream booth, while Anna and I walked the parking lot, looking at motorcycles. Anna, who wants to learn how to ride a motorcycle, likes the
Fat Boy models, partly because they have a wide front tire. I focused on the Dyna Wide Glide and Softail Standard/Custom models, my favorites (of course, I'm biased, since I own a 2002 Wide Glide). I was looking at a Softail when a guy nearby said to me, "Nice bike, huh?" Turned out he was the bike's owner, and it was for sale, as he launched into a sales pitch.

Next, we met up with Ricky again, and the three of us looked at the classic and custom cars. I especially liked the 1969 Pontiac Firebird, and an early '70s Chevy Nova with super-wide rear tires. There were a few late-model Mustangs, plus an early-'70s Ford van customized with a nautical theme.

Anna and I got in line for a hamburger, hot dog, potato chips and soda, and we sat on a picnic table in the hot sun, while Ricky ate more ice cream. We went inside the dealership to cool off in the air conditioning. Anna sat on a new Sportster, which she felt she could handle (she is going to take her MSF basic rider course next month), and Ricky wanted to sit on several bikes, including an Electra Glide trike. At least he asked permission (from a guy at the parts counter) before sitting on the bike.

Going back outside, Anna and I got ice cream. It was Ricky's third stop at the ice cream booth, which did not go unnoticed by one of the girls serving up the ice cream. "Isn't this your third or fourth trip?" she questioned him with as stern a look as a high school aged girl can muster.

The three of us sat in the shade while we listened to the oldies deejay, and Ricky wanted to make a request, so he walked up to the deejay. I forget which song he wanted to hear, but the deejay told him he only had songs prior to 1980 - way before Ricky's time. After much back-and-forth, the deejay finally had a song Ricky requested: "ABC," by the Jackson Five. Yep, Hogs and Hot Rods - it's not just for bikers, but 10-year-olds as well.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Keeping It Fresh

Being only in my second season of riding a motorcycle, I'm starting to feel a bit 'hemmed in'. In other words, I'm running out of new roads and places to explore, which is half the fun of riding. I live in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the U.S.A., so it's mostly a matter of geography. Also, I have lived in this state my whole life, so there are very few major roads that I have not been on, at least on four wheels.

Even if I have been down a particular road in a car or truck, that road becomes 'new' again the first time I ride it on a motorcycle. I see, hear and smell things that I did not notice driving in a cage. I'm more aware of road conditions. After three, four, perhaps five times down any given road, the novelty and newness begins to wear off, no matter how scenic the road.

Now, if I have a passenger on my bike, roads I've traveled several times before become new again, because you are sharing them with someone who is experiencing them for the first time on a motorcycle. For instance, I've ridden over the Jamestown bridge on a motorcycle several times, and it's still a thrill, but this past spring, I took my girlfriend Anna over that bridge on my Harley. She had not ridden on the back of a motorcycle in over a decade, so it was an extra-special experience for me and her. I also enjoy taking her down country roads I'm well-familiar with, pointing out items of interest along the way. Or, Anna points things out to me that I may have never noticed before. It's like seeing through a new pair of eyes.

Riding in a group is another way old, familiar roads can take on new life. As part of the Rhode Island Special Olympics, police actually block off an interstate highway for a motorcycle run from Johnston to the University of Rhode Island in Kingston for the opening ceremony. What an experience it must be traveling on a normally-busy highway and not having to contend with cars and tractor-trailers, but sharing the road with about 1,000 other motorcycles (unfortunately, I did not get to go on this year's run). Like riding with a passenger on the back of your bike, riding in a group of motorcycles adds a whole new dynamic to the ride, separate from the actual route.

Eventually, though, it all comes back to geography. Rhode Island is, well ... small ... and there aren't many long stretches of roads that aren't plagued with traffic congestion or road construction. I've already ridden much of eastern Connecticut. I'm going to have to ride increasingly farther and farther away from home if I want to discover new horizons.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gimme Shelter

Yesterday, I rode from South Kingstown to West Warwick to get my motorcycle inspected (I had bought it in Massachusetts, so it had never been inspected in Rhode Island). I decided to take Interstate 95, since I was in the mood for some highway riding. The weather was hot and sunny, a perfect day for riding, I thought, but I soon saw some dark clouds in the distance and realized there was a chance I'd get caught in some rain.

Just as I neared my exit, Route 3 in West Greenwich, rain began to fall on me, slowly at first, then heavier, so I took shelter under a gas station canopy. I was soon joined by another motorcyclist, a young man riding an older, 250 cc Suzuki. It was an isolated rain, and there were sunny skies approaching, so I figured I'd just wait it out.

I shot the breeze with the dude, and I told him his motorcycle looked similar to my first bike, a Yamaha Virago. He told me he had had another motorcycle, but it was totaled when a car rear-ended him and sent him flying over the handlebars (luckily, he landed on grass and was not seriously hurt, he said.) He wanted another motorcycle, but was short on cash, so he found this bike, which had the engine out of the frame, for free, and then brought it back to life. He said he was on his way to his boss' house to get his pay check when he got caught in the rain.

The rain began to let up after about five minutes and I pulled out of the gas station as steam rose from the blacktop. There was still plenty of standing water on Route 3 and the spray kicked up by cages and my front tire felt good against my jeans and tee shirt. A quick rain on hot pavement creates a unique smell, different from a longer rainfall. By the time I got five miles up the road, the pavement was dry.

I pulled into Adrenaline Rush Motorsports on New London Turnpike in West Warwick and saw Brenda and Charlie Nault, who were picking up Brenda's bike, which had just had its rear tire replaced. After a quick check of my bike's tires, brakes and lights, I received my state inspection sticker and was on my way back home. My bike's now fully legal - registered, insured and inspected.