Dazzling light and crisp mornings are a perfect way to start a ride. With the air temperature hovering in the low 40s (Fahrenheit), my friend Paul and I set out to find breakfast. Him on his 2016 BMW R1200 RT and me on the Vespa — an odd pairing only if you’re concerned with the optics or the BMW rider wants to greatly exceed the speed limit. I suspect there are other things that would suggest a problem.
We departed Boalsburg, Pennsylvania with a goal in mind — breakfast at the Spruce Creek Bakery in Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. Downhill a dizzying 344 feet in elevation. I made a note to be on the lookout for altitude sickness on the way home. And for Marine One in case President Trump, like Jimmy Carter before him, decided to visit Spruce Creek to fish for trout.
It’s a serious ride.
The Spruce Creek Bakery is an unassuming place. Aside from baked goods you’re presented with the choice of frittatas or a breakfast sandwich. Both delicious. The connection I felt to the place was undoubtably connected to the fact that the bakery supplies pastries to Saint’s Cafe in State College.
URGENT NOTICE: Saint’s Cafe — the brownies at the bakery are exceptional. You really, REALLY need to have them in the cafe. Please correct this oversight immediately.
After breakfast Paul grabs his camera to make photographs in town. I’m restless and want to have a look at the countryside. I’ve seen it before but this way today. And as every good rider knows — each day is a new experience.
All roads seem to wind along streams, creeks and rivers here. The world famous trout stream Spruce Creek dumps into the Juniata River here. The Pennsylvania Railroad mainline passes by to the right as it connects Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and beyond.
I wandered along the narrow roads and became a sightseer. A leaf peeper. A tourist of the first degree. Doesn’t always happen on a ride but it’s nice when it does.
Have I mentioned I ride a Vespa scooter?
Timing is everything when you go off on your own while your riding partner is taking pictures. When Paul is in the photo space he can take some time. Because there’s no cell coverage and many routes available it would be easy to separate and be riding alone.
That wasn’t the case on this day. Paul was talking to drivers who stopped to suggest good vantage points for pictures. One offering a place on their property to witness the confluence of Spruce Creek and the Juniata. I don’t get these offers. Paul does all the time.
Must be the deoderant he uses.
Eventually we departed Spruce Creek for home by yet another wandering route. The temperature warmed and the world looked great as we crested a hill and looked out over the valley. A perfect, pristine morning.
Too perfect for Mr. Ruby.
As I was making photographs of the farm fields and landscape I could tell Paul was wound up. Couldn’t remember how much sugar he put in his coffee or if he was sneaking sips of Red Bull from his side case.
It didn’t take long until I heard the familiar words, “Hey, I have a picture.”
Paul had found too beer cans along the road and wanted me to photograph him throwing them into the air. He’s always throwing things — rocks, sticks, logs, helmets….
So I set up and into the air they go. As they leave his hands a pickup truck crests the rise and sees the littering event. The truck slows, turns toward us and rolls down the window. As I ready myself to yell “Gun,” the driver looks at me and says, “Hey!’
I knew him. We worked together for many years at Penn State and he was on his way to pick up a load of rye seed from his brother. I sold his son my father’s Ruger Blackhawk revolver. It’s a small world. He didn’t ask about the cans because he knew I was always doing weird stuff.
A farmer was cutting hay across the road and we figured he had witnessed the event. Paul didn’t want to now leave the beer cans along the road and had pushed them, dripping with beer, into the rear rack of his BMW. I suggested it may not be the best presentation should we be stopped by the police.
Reluctantly, Paul left the cans along the road, not wanting to have beer dripping inside his shiny new topcases.
Besides, motorcyclists have an outlaw reputation to uphold at times.
We’re outlaw riders.