Motorcycle season had a freakishly early start this year, and it’s something you definitely take note of once you get a bike of your own. I have a freebie mug from a moto gear shop that reads loudly, “Sunshine and chrome, the best alarm clock!” When I first got it, I thought it was incredibly goofy, but after experiencing months of cold-weather wiggles from not riding, I drink from it with respect.
Luckily, thanks to a few unseasonably warm days starting in February, Michael and I have gotten quite a few trips out of town already, mostly to see family and friends an hour or so outside the city. However, to me, this past weekend’s ride to Lancaster truly felt like an official kick off to my favorite seasons — spring and summer — as well as months of travels and adventures to come, on wheels and off.
We were testing out a backroads route from Philly to Lancaster, a ride I’ll be doing this weekend, solo. The forecast was perfect that morning, 70s with a slight breeze, with a storm rolling in around the evening. We figured we had hours to play before things got ugly, so we tore through the hills, every so often checking our phones for storm updates.
Every time we roll through Lancaster, whether by motorcycles or car, a new road always seems to appear. You’ll always be treated with stretching views of green farmland, drive around horses and buggies, and honk at unimpressed livestock chewing cud at the side of the road, but there’s at least fifty different ways to get there – which explains why we may never tire of exploring our beloved Amish country. Even in the rain.
It was so literal – we rounded a curve in the road and the blue sky was instantly replaced with ominous dark clouds, rolling in fast. The temperature dropped instantly. We drove a few more miles before agreeing that the forecast wasn’t syncing with reality, and it was time to high tail it back to Philly.
Rain started sprinkling on our bikes when we stopped for gas and momentarily debated grabbing ice cream cones. I wanted to stay put and wait it out; earlier in the week in the city, I wiped out on a long patch of oil. The idea of hitting slick roads at high speeds scared me. But Michael had a plan – we could outrun the storm if we took the highway and skipped the backroads and intersections. Consistently pushing forward at a higher speed was safer than the stop-and-go in this weather. I reluctantly, but quickly agreed.
It started pouring, It’s worth noting that you should always wait five minutes into a rainstorm before riding your motorcycle. Five minutes should be enough time for the oils on the road to rise and wash away. We didn’t wait, tsk tsk. We kept going, to attempt the plan, cold, chilled, and soaked (Michael had worn a mesh armor, and I could feel my padded elbows fill with pools of rain coming through my cuffs!) On top of those conditions, it took me a few nervous minutes to wrap my head around the task of hitting 65 on slick roads, and not wiping out like I had done in the city, at a far slower speed.
But, call it intense trust in my riding buddy, plus a tried and true sick penchant for wrangling adrenaline, I eventually got there, and I’m so glad. Riding in the rain was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve taken in on a bike. It was a sun shower, my favorite kind of rain. Beams of yellow split through the wet sky, highlighting the glistening trees and hills flying past us. I’ve always loved the green, lush highways in Pennsylvania, especially at the peak of spring, but never before experienced it this way.
It was heaven, a feeling prolonged the second we managed to indeed, out-ride the storm and roll into Philly. A feeling immortalized the second I threw off my soaked layers and blasted on a long, hot shower.
If this is the kind of thrill I’ve been waiting for all winter, bring it on. There’s obviously no backing down here.
Side note, I look like a giant dork in this photo.