I heard about the National Museum of the United States Airforce in Dayton, Ohio at Wright Patterson AFB in the Spring. A quick look up on Google Maps revealed it was only seven and a half hours away by interstate or around twelve hours by bike if you’re looking to have a decent ride at a pace where you can see what’s going by you. They had a pretty serious website and yes it looked very cool. I passed the website on to my buddy Michael who also thought it looked cool and plans were laid and changed and changed again until we finally were able to bring it off in the first weekend of November.
November didn’t disappoint it was a damned cold ride leaving Mississauga and following the lake down towards Niagara. I crossed over at Erie at around 5:30am. The Border Guard got me through with little in the way of fanfare. He must have been tired as he was yawning his head off the whole time. That’s the nice thing about a bike, there’s not too many places you can hide big things in.
I headed down through Buffalo and got on my usual route of US 219 and stopped for my usual warm drink which turned out to be a mistake because they’ve changed the layout of the road but of course that change never made it to Garmin. So half an hour of going in circles while the GPS fought with the reality of the situation not matching its perception of what was.
Anyone seeing me at the end of this episode would have seen a raving lunatic on a bike but I finally figured out the right track and got onto US 62 which was an awesome twisty ride from Gowanda to Randolph. It took me through Amish country and the down the NY Amish Trail. Turns out Amish kids love motorcycles, everyone waved at me. Randolf was interesting in a run down and destitute sort of way, enough so I took some photos.
I had a nice chat with an older gentleman about a decent route out of there. He advised me to stay on US 62 and follow the Alleghenny River out of New York and into PA. It was good advice which I’d already programmed into the nefarious black box. At Carroll Township, I hung a left and headed south on CR-53, not be as well paved as US 62 on the other side of the river but it winds its way along the slow moving Aleghenny river beside it. This was also one of those times where you feel like you’re the only guy on a bike in the world. Heck even the four wheeled traffic was super sparse. The temperature did drop sharply in PA, just before I entered the Alleghenny National I was glad I’d thrown on my Ballaclava in Randolph. Anticipating the cold going through Buffallo, I’d also thrown on fleece long johns under my jeans. But even with my overpants, I could feel the chill seeping through.
US 62, took me down to Warren, PA where I hung a right and proceeded right through the freezing heart of the Alleghenny Mountains. Like every other time I’ve been through PA, I could see the sun above me but the light never gets down to the bottom of the valley. Still I was riding through a tunnel of Fall foliage and there was barely a leaf on the road to worry about. I’ve ridden in other places where the leaves are so thick and wet on the road it’s like riding on a sheet of oil.
The turn off to Endeavor PA is US 666, I’ve got to wonder how many times that sign gets stolen? I’d been riding for almost six hours and according to my GPS I was barely a third of the way to Dayton, but it insisted I’d be there by 5:30pm
US 62 continued to carry me through the heart of PA’s oily past. I passed inactive pump after inactive pump. The oil in their wells too heavy or thick to bring to the surface or gone completely. I turned onto Highway 8 which after a nice stretch through some more farmland, took me onto I-80 for a brief stint before firing me south on US 224. I’d lucked out, my IPhone showed a band of bad weather advancing hard on Dayton but I was meeting my friend Michael at the Easton Town Center in Columbus an hour away from Dayton. I’d yet to hit a bad road or at least a road that didn’t have something interesting to look at. There were enough leaves still on the trees to give everything a gold edge and the smell of burning leaves and the hint of wood smoke kept creeping into my helmet.
By the time I hit US 9 I was getting pretty warm (finally) but not warm enough to lose the liner in my jacket, so I ditched the Columbia jacket I had on under everything. That jacket’s been everywhere with me and for the $110 I paid for it (which I thought was crazy at the time) has earned it’s worth ten times over. So a little bit lighter and airier US 9 turned onto US 16 East and yes, it was another damn fine road. With good speed and nice cambered corners you could take at speed (most of the time) which kept the ride interesting. The new Sergeant seat did its job and I wasn’t experiencing the usual monkey butt or discomfort I’d get after over eight hours in the saddle. I could see the rain on the horizon so it was getting down to the wire. I’ve ridden enough to have been caught out a few times by a sudden downpour and who wants to end their day looking like a drowned rat?
I met up with Michael at the Easton Town Center and we decided to go and get a hotel before the rain hit. Columbus traffic was pretty sporty and on par with any day’s riding in Toronto. You just have to pick your hole and work the throttle to put you in there. We got a hotel for $65 a night. Got to love the US for that. This one even had a phone in the room, though the WIFI was crap.