Return To Mansfield 2008 – Day 1 – Amphibious Mountain Assault

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body…but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, champagne & strawberries in hand, loudly proclaiming “Wow–What a ride!”

On Friday May 16th, 2008 forty die hard Harley Davidson Enthusiasts from the First State HOG chapter in Delaware embarked on an adventure that will be remembered for a lifetime.  We experienced rain, sleet, fog and cold temperatures. Like Marines training for amphibious assault missions we endured everything Mother Nature threw at us and kept to our mission. The wetter we got the more we laughed. The colder we got the more we huddled together in defiance. We were determined to enjoy our two wheeled vacation!

FSH Ready In Raingear
I was surprised that everyone showed up Friday morning at the Prices Corner Boston Market.  It was drizzling and everyone one was wearing their raingear. All twenty six First State HOG riders and their passengers left at 0900 hrs as scheduled.  Darrel Willis decided that he was going to pass on the trip, but he was present to see us off.

Forty minutes later we pulled into the Wawa in Gap, PA soaking wet for our first pit stop. I announced that this would be a good time for anyone who wanted to abandon the mission. No one was backing out. It was clear that we were all dedicated, or just insane. So far we had been assaulted by killer rain drops that were accumulating in tree branches and waiting for us to ride by. They nailed us in the face, often times right between the eyes. Those trees have taken sniper training, I know it! We regrouped and initiated our invasion into the Amish farmlands of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

We Don’t Do Fear!


I acted as the Road Captain leading the way. Al Donofrio took up the Wingman position. Al has a CB radio and was in charge of communications with our Tail Gunner and other CB enabled riders. Lem McMaster took up the rear as he is our ace Tail Gunner. We rolled up Route 772 which is listed as one of America’s Scenic Byways. We encountered a few Amish buggies and successfully passed them on the tight twisty farm roads despite the slippery conditions and limited vision. Just as Al and I were starting to feel comfortable our eyes simultaneously popped out of our heads.  A truck hauling a load of lumber encroached upon our lane! It was coming straight at us! Our hearts pounded, eyes stared in disbelief and adrenaline pumped! I gently pulled my bike to the right and Al stayed the course. The truck must have passed whatever it was attempting to avoid and pulled back into its own lane in the nick of time. The gush of adrenaline through my body charged me up! I love this stuff! We don’t do fear! This is awesome! I’m alive and not just another cubicle rat! I may be cold and wet, but damn it I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing!  That’s what it’s about to be an American!

Huddled At The Sunoco Waiting
When we arrived at the next check point in Manheim, PA we noticed we had lost some men along the way. A traffic light divided us before we made our transition from Route 772 to Route 72. It appeared that seven bikes from our squadron had kept navigating up Route 772 North. We were able to make contact by cell phone with Bill Fonda, Skip Phifield and Gary Singleton. Lem and Nic McMaster were in radio contact with us as well as Chris Mood. That left one unaccounted for member of our team. Old School Bob was MIA! Nic helped corral up the troops and brought them back to our checkpoint at the Sunoco in Manheim. Lem fired up his Screaming Eagle Ultra and prepared himself to go into heavy ground to bring back Old School. Once Lem and his Copilot Darlene located our dear friend they all returned to our temporary base at the Sunoco. All of our fighters were once again united and stood defiant against the storm. We fueled up, emptied our bladders and grabbed a snack. Once again we mounted our Harleys, fired up the V-Twins and hit the road.

Old School Went MIA!
We successfully navigated our way through twisty roads and finally had to jump on an expressway. We crossed the Susquehanna River on 322 and pulled into our third checkpoint, a truck stop, at 1400 hr. It was time to hit the head, tear off the raingear and sit down for a warm lunch. Some of our hard as nails soldiers ate hot dogs and were ready to hit the road immediately. Those guys must be trained to eat things that would make a billy goat sick. Paul Vinson and his reconnaissance team from New Jersey dined on Subway sandwiches. They were also ready to hit the road quickly.  The other half of the regiment was still eating in the truck stop restaurant.

Harvey & Ray Keep Us Laughing

Paul’s team of five bikes left early and flew directly to the Cross Roads Bed & Breakfast in Mansfield, PA non-stop. Along the way Lynn Erb was hit by a gust of wind that blew her and her Fat Boy a few feet off course but she regained control and arrived in Mansfield safely.  Lem & Nic lead a second team of eleven bikes. They were hit by frozen rain but it didn’t faze them and they arrived at West’s Motel in Mansfield without incident. I waited for the final group who was served last at the mess hall. I lead the dirty dozen up Route 15. While coming up Route 15 the temperature was dropping fast. Skip who was wearing inferior raingear was wet and tired. He pulled out of formation and signaled me to pull over. He notified me that this was the end of the road for him. He was going to find the closest warm hotel and call it a night. He did not want us to come with him, he instructed me to continue on with the mission as daylight was growing short. I needed to get my team to our rendezvous at West’s before dark. We made one fuel stop and headed up into the mountains. It was cold, the rain was freezing and we were exhausted. Everyone was fixated on their odometers and counting the miles. Diana was so cold she wanted to cry. We finally pulled into West’s where everyone checked in. We laid our wet clothes on the base boards in the hotel rooms to dry them off. We put on dry clothes and went to dinner.

FSH Takes Over West’s Restaurant

FSH Prevails

Our Tailgunners
Proud of our accomplishment and relieved to be dry we ate in triumph! While we ate the sun came out briefly and there was a rainbow over Cox’s Northern Tier Harley Davidson in Mansfield, PA. We took this as a good sign and then we took over West’s Restaurant. Ate dinner and had a great time. Ray Ginn and Harvey Strauss kept us laughing. I need to talk to their agents and try to get them on contract for all my trips. Great fun was had by all. We called it a night at 2230 hrs.

Rainbow Over Cox’s Northern Tier Harley Davidson

16 Responses to “Return To Mansfield 2008 – Day 1 – Amphibious Mountain Assault”

  1. Sweet! You got all crazy writing this post didn’t you. Man, that kind of riding is not for everyone. I am impressed you kept as many as you did. I enjoyed the post and you two are certainly certified in my book as insane psycho riders. Way to stick it to the road.

    The truck? Bad enough but on a wet road? pffft. The quickening has been completed, heh. What a rush. I don’t know, most people would say you guys are stupid but as for me I really enjoyed your suffering because I have been there many times and there is certainly a personal satisfaction in toughing it out for me. Hope you got the same out of it. I have love for all bikers, but this puts you in a different catagory for me. That is what it’s all about, love for the ride not matter whats outside! Thanks for taking me along.

  2. Is it something in the water in Delaware that makes you people insane? I still remember the phone call at 1400 hours saying you had 40 soaking wet “Harley riders” STILL bound for Mansfield. You all must have been singing songs in your head like, ‘Over the river and through the woods to Mansfield we will go” or “Over hill over dale we will hit the rainy trail and the Harleys will keep rolling along’. Can’t wait to hear about day 2 and 3 !!!

  3. I think the quote of the day was during that 1400 hrs phone call, when Jay said “We are all drenched, but we are 26 bikes strong!!!”

  4. Well, I’ve said before this isn’t a sport for sissies, and that it’s not always about sunny days and clear skies.

    You and your friends have certainly earned your rubber ducks. I’m very glad that cold and wet was the worst of it and you all arrived safely. Ol’ Joker hates riding in the rain. I can handle the cold, but I really hate being wet and cold. Your trip’s a good example that sometimes failure is not an option and you have to suck it up and ride. Now that you’ve proved what you’re made of, do yourself a favor. Plan the next trip for July or August! That way if it rains, at least you won’t be cold too.

  5. I did learn not to plan spring trips going north. For now on spring trips go south!

  6. Remind me the next time you plan a coup d’état that I’m busy!

    Actually in spite of the weather, I had a great time and if given an opportunity to change anything about the trip…I wouldn’t (not even the rain)!

    Fuel $100.00
    Food & Lodging $150.00
    Camaraderie we all shared ….priceless!

    To quote Jim Morrison “…each day is a drive thru history…”

    So, screw it, let’s ride!

  7. I want to thank all of the members of the First State a memorable ride. I hope to see you all up in the moutains of PA again next year! It has been my pleasure to make friends with all of you. Ride safe everyone!

  8. Thanks Mark! Always a pleasure to travel with you. I hope you are keeping the same phone number. If not please make sure we are able to contact you on our next visit.

  9. Look at you! You actually made a miserable road trip sound fun! Getting together with good people always can make a bad situation better. I have done my share of rain riding, and I hate it. I look at it as penance for have too damn much the rest of the time. LOL!

    My first long trip to North Georgia on the Electra Glide, rained on me the whole weekend. I was already a bit apprehensive adjusting to the size and weight difference from what I had with my Suzuki 800 Intruder. The limited vision and being cold and wet did not help my apprehension. I proved to myself that weekend though, that I would still rather be doing this than anything else.

    Screw it, let’s ride! Thanks for taking us on the journey! Quack! Quack!

  10. We did it … and we now know we can .. if we have to! LOL
    We all built Character, we discovered alot about ourselves, & others (another life’s lesson).
    If we had cancelled we would have all been miserable at home, wondering what if we had gone, but instead we continued on. We were wet, we were “Frigging” Cold, but we had a great time with all our Harley friends! The memories were priceless and we will be talking about them for years to come.
    We learned a lot on this trip:
    What raingear works best (we saw many different types) and that you can wear it “All Day-All Weekend” even if you think it might not rain.
    How to wear everything you brought for three days, all at once, in one day, & get raingear on top!
    How to dry clothes in a motel room (including gloves, socks, boots, helmets, etc.)
    That all bike bags come with rain covers.
    That rainbows can REALLY turn Big Bad Bikers into kids again.
    That helmet shields may not be a biker fashion statement (even “cute”), but they are functional. (Unless they give up and fly off).
    That pizza crust can be hazardous.
    That Arby’s Roastbeef may not always be what you expect it to be.
    And … that you can find beautiful sites of nature along the road, even if your eye wear is wet, soggy, & spotted by rain.
    Who else can have so much fun at rest stops and be so cold and wet at the same time?
    Who else can turn a door chime at a convenience store into 30 minutes of belly laughing entertainment?
    Who else can have so much fun with surgical rubber gloves and not be doctors?
    WE CAN … and WE DID!!
    Here’s to the next ride! When do we leave?
    Lem, Darlene, & Nic McMaster

  11. I want to thank Jay for a wonderful wet ride.. we will do it all over again..but next time without the rain.. Maybe do a long day trip and show up at a endless mountain chapter event.

  12. Darlene, we leave at the crack of dawn! See you on the road!

    Pete, you read my mind! We can go to the 3rd annual Chrome In The Canyon June, 2009.

    Biker Ducky

  13. jay… we were thinking more like sometime THIS year , but heck… we’ll go next year too.

  14. Jay-
    Thanks again to you and Diana for all your hard planning work! We had a time, but as I mentioned to Mike, we had a 3-day motorcyle ride but all the fun was when we were’nt on the bikes!
    All the chatter between Lem and Harvey was priceless-I am sorry not everyone could hear it!

    We’ll be back for more rides, hopefully to enjoy the RIDE this time too!

  15. Goes to show you we didnt listen to our MOMS then and were still not now. GET IN OUT OF THE RAIN!!!!!! Had a great time with everyone and would do it again RAIN or SHINE

  16. […] wet-weather gear!  You will find every nook and cranny where the water can get in.  After our Amphibious Assault in Mansfield this spring, many of us learned the hard way that quality is definitely worth the […]

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