Successful-ish

I really sucked at updates this year, mainly due to work getting in the way, but it’s now Wednesday, and I’m suffering from some pretty brutal H2Oi withdrawals. But with that being said, we’re all still alive, meaning our journey was a success, mostly.

Things got pretty interesting in the 24 hours leading up to the trip. Different weather apps were giving some drastically different forecasts, causing some debate amongst the 5 of us. Our preparation wasn’t nearly as rigorous as last year, and even two of the scooters were completely ripped apart in my garage less than a day before we left.

We did manage to get everyone on board, all the scooters buttoned up, and out of the house shortly after 3:00am. We briefly stopped at the 24-hour gas station in town, and departed there a minute shy of 3:30am on Wednesday morning.

This was a bit of dejavu compared to last year. The first 3-4 hours of the ride through CT and the first part of NY was very wet. Now, we had a perfect window on the radar from 2am-7am where CT was supposed to remain clear. This seemed great to us, however we sort of forgot that the entire state had received two full inches of rain mere hours before we left. This meant we dealt with a lot of very wet roads, dense fog, and high humidity. We were soaked, even though we never actually got rained on. The helmet visors were absolutely useless, so we spent hours taking tire spray and road debris to the face, which was cool. But we were used to it from last year, so we chugged along.

The first third of the trip was mostly the same as last year. During our planning phase, we had decided that the only part of the trip we really didn’t like was the middle third. The first and last everyone seemed to enjoy, so we left those alone. We didn’t get the cool sunrise that we were able to experience last year, nor did we get as nice riding weather through Bear Mountain in NY, but it was acceptable, and the roads were beginning to warm up and dry out, at least a bit. This put us into NJ on familiar roads, somewhere between suburbia and farm country.

About halfway through NJ was where the new “middle third” came into play. Last year, we were unhappy with our route through the suburbs of Philadelphia, and opted to kick our route about 5 miles further west than last year, to avoid some of the PA congestion, since we would inevitably be in this area between school bus and rush hour times. Mid-NJ and the first part of PA treated us to some glorious farm roads. Large sweeping hills with virtually no intersections, dotted with small farmhouse neighborhoods every few miles. This part of the trip was an absolute blast. As we got further into PA, the roads weren’t quite as enjoyable, but still miles better than what we experienced last time. By this point in time, one of us was having some scooter issues..

Now, Ben’s scooter had been making noise since last year. He had accidently gotten a small amount of lubricant on some of the CVT components, creating an irritating noise. Because of this, we had become accustomed to hearing an odd noise from Ben’s scooter, but it was beginning to get worse. At around 2:00pm, we decided to stop at a Wawa somewhere in PA, about an hour shy of the DE border to verify it was something in the CVT case. We pulled the variator off of the engine, completely exposing the crankshaft, and started the engine. The noise was still present, and much more brutal without the muffling of the variator and CVT cover. Oil was seeping out of the main seal, and the crank could be moved up and down by hand. The engine was completely shot. By some strange luck, this Wawa was directly across the street from the only U-Haul we recall passing all day long. And they happened to have a one-way box truck available to Ocean City, though the cost was less than ideal. Ben decided rather than to chance it on a rapidly deteriorating bottom-end, that he would take the U-Haul and finish the trip with air conditioning. And I don’t think anyone would blame him on that premise. So around 3:00pm, we pull out of the Wawa and head south.

The four of us continued on from this point, passing through West Chester, PA, eventually reaching the Delaware border near Wilmington. From this point, we had really great weather, thankfully. We had decided we wanted to take the Rt13 Bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, and decided not to listen to the GPS, as it repetitively demanded we were going the wrong way. Turns out, the Rt13 bridge is completely closed, and we had to take a sort-of lengthy detour back to where it wanted us originally. Not a huge deal, but another half hour of riding tacked on. The rest of the trip was a numb 5-hour ride down Rt1 and Rt13, with our throttles pinned, thanking mankind for creating podcasts. We did get a nice sunset, which helped to make up for the gloomy morning, rolling up to our condo at 8:20pm.

Our route that we picked this year was 13 miles longer than last year, a sacrifice we made to improve the ride. We left an hour earlier, and got there an hour later. The entire trip took us a grand total of 17 hours. Our total average speed (including stopped time) was 23.5mph, 1.5mph slower than last year. A lot of this is attributed to stops. I think we took more leg-stretch breaks than last year, and we spent about an hour working on Ben’s Ruckus, and getting the U-Haul loaded. Overall, not bad.

We ran 3 cameras for the majority of the trip, so there’s some great footage that I’m sifting through now. Hopefully in a couple weeks I’ll have something to show.

 

 

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