We're back from our ride. And the World's Greatest Pillion Rider (WGPR) is having a sneezing fit. We must have ridden through a pollen cloud. The KLT doesn't have a HEPA filter?
Only the second time the LT has been out this year. 500 Maple taps pulled, tanks, tubing, and evaporator cleaned and put away for next year. Mud season largely behind us. Time to flex the LT. I back it out of the bike bay in the barn. Can't remember the last time I washed it. I wipe the dust off the mirrors with gloved fingers, ah... that's better.
We head out on our favorite loop, but decide to reverse our usual direction, starting on the fast section. Rte 9 west toward Marlboro and Wilmington. This is a road I know well. Sweet sweepers on good road surface with several passing lanes. But yikes! Where did all these cars come from? Slow pace to the first climbing lane just west of town; the passing lane starts with a fun right hand sweeper; I annoyingly tailgate the car ahead of me as we approach the double climbing lanes. I tap the left knee of the world's greatest pillion rider to let her know the throttle and a pass is coming; she pats my waist in acknowledgement. This is the first real roll on of the throttle this season. A line of several cars ahead with limited length to the climbing lane; we pass a few cars but some remain ahead of us so we settle in for the next several sweepers and a mile or two before the next chance. The next zone is the best and longest on the climb to the Hogback Mtn. scenic over look, we have a chance to get to the head of the line. Roll on throttle through the first big sweeper of the climb and then get all but one of the cars on the straight away. An E-something black Mercedes I'm just not going to get to. I check the tach, Oh! it's at 8... surprised I didn't hit the rev-limiter.
The Mercedes is doing a pretty good pace so I'm comfortable and wait for the next passing lane. We pass the Mercedes, round a couple of curves and deja vue, there's another black E-something Mercedes in front of us exactly like the one we just passed. Shades of the Twilight Zone I think. After the second Mercedes disappears in my mirrors the road is open to Marlboro and the defunct Hogback ski area beyond.
The LT sails over the mountain and down into Wilmington where we turn south on Rte 100. This section of Rte 100 to is rather sterile, lacking linked sweepers and no twisties either. We then turn to really rural roads, up to Gates Pond and Reed Hill Rd over to Halifax.
We come up behind a real swamp yankee vehicle, an old Bronco or Blazer, mud all over the sides, both driver and passenger doors missing. A tap on WGPR's knee to alert her for the pass and buzz past them. We pass an old farm which has very piece of equipment ever used on the property for the past 200 years. Horse drawn sickle bar mower, dump rake, more modern hay rakes, tedders, bailers, plows, etc. A veritable rusting museum by the side of the road.
In Halifax we turn toward home on Brook Rd and Green River Road. Ah, the twisties. Here the gear box is 3 or occasionally 4 and the tach is 5 and 6. No scrapping, just the occasional touch of the boot to the pavement. I try to keep it smooth for the World's Greatest Pillion Rider: keep the drive line loaded, no banging back and forth through the drive line lash... easy feathering on the brakes into the turn, easy roll on the throttle at the apex. Think smooth, think fast. Once I lost my line and corrected, I felt her knee tighten against my hip, reacting to my error; oops, sorry for the distraction I think. In my earbuds the Gordon Lightfoot album is finished and Eric Clapton has started; the change in music must have affected my rhythm in the twisties.
I'm not sure what WGPR does back there. She used to listen to her Kindle but she dropped in getting off in a paved parking lot once and that was the end of it. I just imagine she is back there having the kind of experience a dog does sticking its head out the open window of a car, simply enjoying the ride. Occasionally I tap her knee and point out a lonely horse in a field, a group of Jersey's grazing; she likes the animals.
A young girl in pink shorts is checking the family mailbox as we approach. She waves enthusiastically and smiles a big smile as we quietly zip past. We of course wave back.
We do a mile or so of hard pack dirt road. Glad mud season is behind us, this section can be really "greasy" in mud season. But the LT is great on dirt and gravel roads. I do get a little anxiety doing U-turns when exploring hill top dead end roads where we have to turn around on a single lane gravel hill.
Our 17 year old LT runs like new. The bike never labors, it just casually humms, no matter what I choose to dial up. I should get those Ohlins rebuilt though, I've been putting that off too long; maybe next winter.
That's my LT praise and ride report on the world's greatest touring bike with the World's Greatest Pillion Rider. Thanks for reading.