Before the ride, we stopped at one of the many local gas stations to fill up. Passing a handful of bikes on our way, they all shared this wave and appreciation of the road.
The weather proved cloudy and cool with a chance of rain in the afternoon. As we pulled into the half-filled parking lot of the K of C hall, the bikes we lined up and their riders were decked out in leather, ready to ride … in the rain.
“I think some of them were scared off by the weather,” said Kevin Stanley.
Riders arrived at the eighth annual Rick’s Ride motorcycle benefit not knowing their destination. Predetermined by Ted Vogel, the secret destination changes each year.
Totaling about 50 bikes and 75 riders, the group enjoyed a hotdog luncheon before ride organizer LuAnn Vogel-Stanley revealed this year’s destination: the Crown Point bridge.
“We did this ride about three years ago with the old bridge,” said Vogel. “This year we’re just going up the Vermont side and down the New York side instead.”
Having never really ridden on a motorcycle before, I was excited to ride along with my dad with the rest of the friends and family of the late Rick Vogel. This excitement increased when the bikes finally started up and fell into line. We took off from the Granville K of C hall and headed toward the border, riding in the middle of the pack.
Ted Vogel, with the first bike in line, was stopped at the stop sign at the corner of Potter Avenue and Church Street while the chase vehicle was still pulling out of the parking lot.
The crowd of roaring motorcycles received quite a crowd as we rode down Main Street. Hitting the Saturday lunch rush perfectly, people stopped and waved as we began our journey to our first stop: Shoreham, Vt.
We passed the green landscape of the Adirondacks on both sides. Arriving in the same staggered riding style as when we took off, we filed into the parking lot of the Mobil gas station. Ears humming and thighs still vibrating, I removed my helmet and placed it on the chrome mirror of my dad’s black Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic.
After grabbing a drink and a snack from the store, most of the riders took the time to admire the bikes around them. Harley, Suzuki and Honda made up a majority of the pack. Some had high, “ape hanger” handlebars with chrome pipes and others with custom accessories. Each bike tells a story about its owner.
There was talk of a bike that had broken down about 15 miles back in Benson, Vt. It was comforting to hear that some bikers had stopped and gave him a cell phone to call home.
“It’s fun, the ride’s nice,” Vogel-Stanley said.
A few members of the group put their helmets back on and before I knew it, we took off again.
Shortly after leaving the first stop, I began to smell the water and feel the cool air come up over my dad’s helmet toward me. Bikers revved their engines as we passed signs that read, “Bridge to NY.” We were almost there and still no rain.
As we rounded the turn onto Bridge Road, the acceleration and sight of seeing the bikes in front of us head up the hill to the bridge was phenomenal. The excitement and accomplishment of finally reaching the bridge and crossing over the border to New York were plentiful.
With Fort Ticonderoga in the distance and Dresden Mountain straight ahead, we continued on to our second stop, in Comstock. As we accelerated along the highway I began to feel what I thought were bugs splattering on my face and sunglasses. I heard my father talking about bugs hitting you in the face when riding before, but I was disgusted by the idea. It wasn’t until I looked at the top of his helmet and saw the little droplets of water when I realized we were heading for rain. I thought driving a car in the rain was bad, but getting pelted in the face with rain drops on a motorcycle is painful.
Miles away from our destination still, you could see that some of the riders were not happy about the weather’s quick change. With goosebumps on my arms and the occasional wiping away of water from my glasses we were soon greeted with a large “Harley-Davidsons Welcome” sign at the Time Served bar. We arrived at our second destination with quite an entrance. As we pulled into the large-stone parking lot, I would feel the bike shaking below me. The riders cautiously entered around us as the red glow of brake lights began to shine. II heard that riding on loose gravel was not safe on a bike, but I hadn’t realized just how frightening it was to feel the single front tire of the bike swerve through the rocks. Before we could put our kickstand down, I saw the front tire of a Honda Shadow skid across the rocks beside me. Riders were quick to jump to help the woman and her bike up.
By this time it was really raining on us. Some riders grabbed jackets and headed back to the chicken barbeque at the K of C quicker than others. After a few small groups had taken off, we did the same.
“It was a cool ride,” said Bernie Greene who has been riding for over 50 years. “I hate the rain, but we didn’t have far to go in it.”
When we reached Granville again, the smell of chicken was in the air and there were more cars than we started out with. Most people rode home to grab the car to avoid the dangerous driving in the rain.
As I sat down with a plate of chicken, I heard from behind me, “Did you get a picture of that spill?” It took me a minute to realize who the woman was, but then I realized that she was the driver of that Honda Shadow that took a spill on the rocks.
“I thought I was going to make it in the paper for sure,” said Joyce McGinnis. I laughed and reminded her that it was my arm that she had grabbed to pull herself off the ground. “I enjoyed the people and had a good time,” McGinnis said.
It wasn’t until we crossed over the bridge until I realized the sort of “band of brothers” and family feeling that comes along with riding a motorcycle is apparent from the time you pass your first bike on the road. You get this smile and downward wave that you don’t get from others while riding in a car.
This feeling was intensified when riding in a group as large as this one. Each intersection we approached, one rider would stop as if to direct traffic and block the group from any cars. Waving as we passed, they would file back into the group and continue on. The amount of respect that comes along with taking to the road on a bike is comforting and is a feeling one can only experience when they take the road on a bike, solo or with a group.