SUNDAY MASS

Well, the riding planets aligned on Sunday. Liebe and the kids were either occupied or dispersed—one in NJ for soccer, another at home studying for finals, and the third—my son—in bed with laptop, recovering from an acute case of the Senior Prom…

So combined with a perfect June day, it was the perfect excuse to go riding.

But first, some human-powered two-wheeling to get the blood flowing (and earn a moto-trip without spousal reproach for not exercising). 22 gorgeous miles into Easton, CT. (And I’m grateful for the motivation, Liebe…)

Then, I suited up in my other riding kit, and headed out.  I rolled up the Merritt Parkway to Route 8, then straight (actually curvy) up through the Connecticut River Valley, past Ansonia and Naugatuck, past the urban-knot of Waterbury, then up through Thomaston, Harwinton, Torrington, and Winsted, until Route. 8 becomes Colebrook River Road, and you glide into The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Hey, it’s Sunday. Your supposed to go to Mass. 

A delicious, uneventful, early summer ride, logging about 175 miles. A few observations:

1) Great CT weather attracts riders like moths to a flame. There were literally dozens of other riders out, although I’d estimate that three-quarters of them were on Harleys (or their ersatz Japanese counterparts.)  I saw only one DP bike and maybe one or two ADV bikes. 

2) At least half the riders I passed (or rode behind) wore no helmet (way to go, Connecticut!), no gloves, and no jacket. Usually just a t-shirt, sunglasses, and hiking boots or sneakers. In two instances, I saw guys smoking cigars at speed. 

3) The other half of riders that did sport some semblance of riding gear usually had the pirate thing going on—black leather jacket or vest, bandana, and a cereal-bowl-sized half helmet covering their kepis.These must be highly effective at protecting the integrity of the top third of your skull while the rest of your head gets cheese-grated by the pavement.

4) In (gross) contrast, I must’ve looked like a cross between a spaceman and Señor Safety: fully armored jacket and pants, full-face helmet; armored riding gloves, MX boots (I’m breaking in a new pair of for a trip to Utah in July), plus a Leatt neck brace. I got this for our Utah trip as well, and wanted to get used to riding with it. It’s a little snug in the chest area over my jacket, but within 5 minutes, I completely forgot I had it on. 

5) The Ténéré seat is good, and even better with an Alaska Sheepskin. But I do think I’ll have to undertake seat-leveling surgery; even though it’s mild, I don’t like the way the seat slopes towards the tank, enouraging nut-crushage. It gets progressively more annoying the more miles you ride (and good thing I already have kids).

6) I was really ambivalent about adding Bluetooth to my helmet, because I didn’t want riding to become another over-connected, iPhone-tethered techno event. But now I absolutely LOVE it. It’s great being able to listen to music on the move. I’ve decided that early rocksteady like Delroy Wilson or Derrick Morgan is the perfect soundtrack for putting you in a riding mood…

Straight-up jazz is also a great riding companions. Nothing like charging up Colebrook River Road to Coltrane.

7) I frigging ❤️ my Ténéré. It’s comfortable, stable and so so solid. Superb on the highway. Even better secondary roads. Low center of gravity and sane seat height make it so easy to maneuver around gas pumps and subway sandwich shops. 

8) The “Northwest Corner” of CT (as it’s called) is a mixed bag. Beautiful, lush Litchfield hills, but beat-up old mill towns with empty storefronts (or weird/sad retail like wig shops, thrift stores, or smoke shops).

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 7.07.42 AM

9) Nevertheless, riding through New England in summertime may be my single favorite thing to do on this lush green earth. Until I go to Utah…

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