Return to Mansfield 2008 – Day 3 – The Mighty HOGs Battle Mother Nature

Biker Rubber Ducky

The 25 motorcycles from First State HOG took to the road for the return trip to Delaware Sunday morning May 18, 2008. We departed from the Brookville, PA Days Inn shortly after 9:00am

We thought that we had seen everything Mother Nature was going to throw at us, but we were wrong! She took one last dip into her wicked bag of tricks to try our metal once again. The first leg of our Sunday return trip from the mountains of Pennsylvania would be a final test of our fortitude.

I declined to take the lead position as I didn’t feel my best but agreed to ride wing. Al took the lead and off we went. It was raining miserably and the temperature was below 50! My boots were soaked immediately. The plastic trash bags I wrapped around my wool socks didn’t work. The wool hiking socks felt like they had been dipped in a bucket of ice water and soaked it all up like a sponge. If my feet weren’t so damn cold I might be complaining about my hands being cold, but my feet were ten times worse! Route 322 meandered through small mountain villages twisting and turning, dipping and climbing. As we entered a small town the bank sign read 47 degree’s and someone said it was warming up! The constant up, down, twist and turns through small towns in the slippery rain was stressful.  I think we got less than an hour of riding in before everyone was ready to stop at a gas station. We all ran in dripping wet and frozen looking for hot coffee or cocoa. We were so miserable it was funny. Yes our fingers and toes were numb but the only thing we could do was laugh and laugh we did! It seemed no one wanted to mount back up, we just wanted to huddle and wait for the sun to come out and dry things up. Finally everyone had used the one bathroom and it was time to leave. Wet and freezing the mighty First State HOGs mounted their trusty iron steeds and rode forth for the final skirmish with Mother Nature.

As it got closer to 11:00am I started to come to life and that was when Al and I lead the mighty HOGs up a mountain where we could see a wall of dark gray fog ahead of us. We were probably riding straight into a rain cloud. I was hoping it wasn’t as bad as it looked, but it was! Visibility was about ten feet once we entered the mist. Our pace was slow through the fog but fortunately the mountain road immediately dipped back down and under the mist. I was relieved for a minute before I noticed the dip went right back up again into a thicker darker fog. We kept close to each other and went slow as we re-entered the cloud. The road climbed and the fog thickened. Visibility was one bike length. You could follow the taillight in front of you and see the fog line to your right. Al had his flashers on and I followed him and the fog line. It was intense riding and like the mad Captain Ahab in Moby Dick I started to grin from ear to ear. Once again my adrenaline was pumping and the fascination of a new life experience thrilled me. If stray trucks, freezing rain and below 50 degree temperatures can’t stop the mighty HOGs than neither can pea soup thick fog!

We were in the fog for ten minutes before we dipped back down again out of the mountain. It was like a curtain when I came around a bend and out of the mist. I shook my fist in the air triumphantly as I broke through! One by one the First Sate HOG’s emerged out of the fog to witness the sun pushing its way through the clouds. As the sun was breaking through, beams of light created a visceral affect against the lush green mountains. This was a sightwe may never experience again and will never forget. I wish we could have taken pictures but the light rain still kept us from taking the camera out. We didn’t take pictures all day as we just wanted to complete our final mission and return home. From this point on the sun continued to beam stronger and stronger as we dropped out of the mountains. The rain lightened and the temperature warmed up a little.

We stopped for lunch before hitting the busy portion of the expressway in Harrisburg. After lunch we switched up positions in an effort to be more aggressive on the final leg. We got split up as we got back on the highway but no one was letting off the throttle. Finally we had decent riding conditions and we wanted to ride hard unfettered by the weather. Cars, vans and trucks separated us but we diced through them and came back together. It felt like the cagers were trying to split us up, but we wouldn’t let them. Soon Harrisburg was a memory and we were pulling into the final pit stop in Lancaster where we would say our goodbyes.

Now the sun came out and shined on us as if Mother Nature was tipping her hat to us in defeat. We were back in familiar territory victoriously smiling from ear to ear. This must be what the pilgrims felt like when they landed at Plymouth Rock.

Although every trip we take will be unique and expose us to new experiences, this one will stand out in our memories. All the sunny and fair weather trips ahead of us may meld into one big motorcycle memory but this one will stand out as truly unique. I doubt any of us will venture into the mountains on two wheels in the rain a second time, and because of that this experience will not be replicated. The vision of the sun and the clouds playing tug of war above the mountains of State College, PA is permanently ingrained in my head. Unfortunately I don’t have the pictures to show you and can’t begin to describe it in a way that would do justice. Regardless of the obstacles we faced I enjoyed the trip and was exhilarated by the challenges we met. However, I will not be planning anymore spring trips in a northerly direction!

Click here to see our pictures.

9 Responses to “Return to Mansfield 2008 – Day 3 – The Mighty HOGs Battle Mother Nature”

  1. What I have a hard time digesting is that exactly 1 week from our return ride through freezing rain wearing four or five layers of raingear, Diana and I are laying on the sand in our bathing suites at Tower Beach in Delaware roasting in the sun like human baked potatos!

  2. Just think, if I’d been on time for our original departure, it probably would’ve been below 30….So, you’re welcome! BTW – why were you not yourself on Sunday?!?
    Great trip, very organized & well planned. Thanks again for all the work you and Princess Di did putting this together. And, a big thanks to Lance and the members from the Mansfield chapter for showing us the site and setting up the buffet.
    Can’t wait for next trip

  3. “The plastic trash bags I wrapped around my wool socks didn’t work. The wool hiking socks felt like they had been dipped in a bucket of ice water and soaked it all up like a sponge.”

    Riding in the rain isn’t a test of how well you can stay comfortable, but how well you can see. The spray on your windshield becomes impossible to see out of. A full face helmet, or 3/4 helmet with faceshield is essential because once water starts leaking into your eyes, they’ll burn, and you can’t keep them open very long. Forget about goggles, they’ll just fog up.

    As for keeping my feet dry while riding in the rain, I’ve never been able to succeed.

  4. Teri, I’m not a morning person and on Sunday I was just a tad tired from riding in the rain, being the event organizer and worrying about many details that only I would worry about. But not to worry, I come to life at around 11:00am… until then I’m on auto pilot.

  5. Steve, we will be testing another brand of boot waterproofing soon. I was fortunate to have a windshield on this trip which helped with visibility and wind. The product review will be posted soon for the windshield.

  6. Jay I really like the way you tell it! I wanted you and Diana to know that I appreciate all the work that went in to setting up that ride. Saturday felt like it went by so fast. Thanks.

  7. Your welcome Bill, I only wish I could do something about the weather.

  8. A good ride. Adventure, exhilaration, danger and pain. This is one that will not be forgotten. Sounds like the pack is thankful. Enjoyed reading about the trip. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Not a problem Dave, always a pleasure to hear from you. Thanks for the reccomendation on Blue Job. I finally used it to take the melted plastic off my pipes and it did work! I’ll bet getting that boot waterproofer in the near future. Keep the reccomendations coming.

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