This trip was a bit of a different bent for me as it was going to be a group ride and not my usual solo affair. The plan was to get to Dayton, OH from Mississauga in a day with a brief stop at Iron Pony in Westerville, OH about 80 miles from Dayton.
I met up with the group at a Tim Hortons at 5am. The guys, Bob, Scott and Grant already had coffee in hand inside. I opted to skip my usual tea because because I was itching to go and we all knew we had a long day ahead of us (though no idea how really long it was going to get). Bob rides a DL-1000, Scott is on a DL-650 like me but a newer model and Grant rides a older BMW airhead, he’s lovingly restored to factory perfection. All of these guys have Scala units so they can talk back and forth. I of course do not because I rarely ride in groups. This meant I opted to play tail end Charlie, so I could react to whatever they were doing.
I’ll be honest, there aren’t too many pictures of the trip down. My Sony Action cam is great in direct light but if you have shifting light levels it tends to struggle to keep up. This can make for some interesting tunnel shots if you’re in one for a while but when you’re blasting down a tree covered dirt road the results are intermittent at best.
On the West bank of the Allagheny River. You can see the camera struggling with the light levels.
I had my liner in my jacket and my riding pants on. No mater what time of year, there’s a definite temperature drop the closer you get to Buffalo and yes, I turned on my heated grips. The load at the border was light and we were through in good time with no issues. It does seem a group gets through a little faster even. We did brief stop at Abbott road for a photo op (my last name’s Abbott) and then we headed for breakfast at a nearby Denny’s.
Some of the day’s highlights were seeing Tobacco plants in the field. I don’t smoke but I’m always up for new botany. Riding down the West bank of the Allagheny River was also pretty cool. A nice bit of dirt in what was going to ultimately be a long day on the slab. As is usual in a group there are varying degrees of comfort between riders on loose surface. Bob was well out in front and having no issues. Scott also seemed okay but Grant seemed a bit nervous, though it might have had more to do with him not wanting to drop his bike. In the end I let them get a bit ahead so I could ride at my own pace. I prefer throttle control and a bit of rear brake as far as my control on dirt goes and neither of those like sudden activity to the front of.
Our track down the West bank of the Allegheny river aside, it was obvious from the start of our day, time was going to be a real problem. Our main plan was to hit Iron Pony Motorsports Superstore in Westerville, Ohio. We were going to arrive there at around five thirty which was not as far off as we’d have liked. The other side of that coin was it would still put us eighty five miles outside of Dayton and to top it off, there was weather moving in on our final destination.
We decided to slab it.
Interstates are a lot of things, fun to ride on a motorcycle, is not one of them. Still we made it to Iron Pony by the 5:30 deadline and I’ll admit, it was one of the biggest and most comprehensive motorcycle stores I’ve ever been in. Believe me when I say I’m always impressed at any place there when I ask, “Do you have this?”
And they reply, “At the end of aisle 15.” And when you go to the end of aisle 15 and there is not just one small pack tucked in a box a bunch of other things but an entire rack of what you’re looking for for every bike you’ve ever seen, you know you’re in pretty much bike Mecca.
Still, I managed to get out of there with most of my wallet intact, after all the one thing that tends to keep you honest when you travel on a motorcycle is the lack of storage space.
By the time we left the store the sun had set in the world had devolved into puddles of sodium light sparsely populated on the interstate. The riding was just as sporty as a last time I had ridden in the area. Thankfully Toronto teaches you how to ride aggressively in heavy traffic. It was at this point the weather, caught up with us. Which owns leaves you with the choice, tough it out and get wet or do you pull over and throw on rain gear. Bob our group’s leader opted to pull over. Of course the second be put on our rain gear the rain stopped. Which wouldn’t have been a problem had we been able to keep moving to keep cool. 8 miles from the hotel we ran into stop and go traffic due to construction. That 8 miles took us one hour and 45 minutes to travel. We literally walked our bikes. Which wasn’t much of a problem for our water cooled V–Stroms but the lone air cooled BMW was not happy. Neither were any of us who were starting to suffer from overheating trapped in our rain gear. In the end we didn’t get the hotel till 10:30 PM. Lucky for us there was still a Waffle House open nearby so we were able to get something to eat.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a gas station to get some beer or what ever for a nightcap. I noticed by the counter there was hard liquor available. I also noticed that it was almost all only 20% alcohol not the usual 40% you would expect, at least here in Canada. Essentially, you’re getting half the booze, which to my mind is taking advantage of an alcoholic’s need. I’m probably out to lunch on this state sanctioned selling of watered down booze just irritates me on a base level. One of the reasons you clarify booze to 40% is to release the flavors contained within the spirit. The choice is then yours to further thin things out be it with pop or more water or even (shudders), ice. But I digress.
Drinks in hand (in our handy brown paper bags that make you feel like an alcoholic) we made it back to the hotel and to our rooms. I did warn my roommate that I’m a bit of a snorer. He informed me the next morning that I’m actually an incredible snorer. Guess I’ll have to get back on my didgeridoo and strengthen those muscles again.
It was back to the Waffle House for breakfast. The plan was to eat and then grab a cab over to the museum. It was at this point we ran into a small snag. We couldn’t find a cab company to come pick us up and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Every number we tried came back not in service. So yeah, Uber has apparently knocked the shit out of the Dayton area Cab companies. And of course that’s what we ended up using. Ironically, when we did manage to secure a cab later in the day it sort of encapsulated why Uber was probably the better choice but more on that later.
The NMUSAF is one of the most impressive aviation museums I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The breadth and depth of the collection is truly astounding and if you are an aviation buff, you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage to the place that in many ways really was the hub of North American aviation at its inception.
So now, we get to the pictures, you know the bit you’ve been waiting for.
The guys who started it all with their Wright Flyer.
The man who made it better and who would ultimately spend years of his life in court fighting the Wright Brothers, Glen Curtis.
The displays are often very dynamic, like this overhead Fokker Tri Plane.
The guys checking out one of the Exhibits.
That’s a lot of wood and all of it finished beautifully.
One of the gliders used to train the new wave of future pilots in the Third Reich.
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, still one of my favorite aircraft.
The, “Infamous,” Mitsubishi Zero
Photo Recon variant of the Spit.
As you can see, the NMUSAF does not see the need to put barriers between the second aircraft to drop an atomic device and the general public.
A full scale mock up of the, “Fat Man,” Fusion Bomb dropped by Bock’s Car on Nagasaki.
A P-61 with its shiny black paint still on.
One of the few surviving, “Cherry Blossom,” manned bombs.
So far we’ve only covered the first two hangers. There’s two more to go. I hope you’re enjoying these pictures. Obviously this is only a small part of the collection housed within the museum.
As always, you can check out my available books at www.steveabbottauthor.com