Snow’s falling again and I’m daydreaming about the road and the Triumph Tiger I was riding back in late November. The last motorcycle of the 2009 season with temperatures hovering in the mid 40s the memory of that motorcycle fresh. And tempting. The Tiger story’s been hibernating in my brain all winter. Now may be the right time to revisit the prowl. Thanks to Craig Kissell of Kissell Motorsports I have the opportunity to ride such fine motorcycles.
The Tiger is sleek, powerful, and tall – at least in terms of getting onto the bike. With the hard side cases attached I needed to make a real effort to mount up without scuffing things up with my boots. On dicey terrain I didn’t want to step up on the pegs either. Some flexibility work would definitely be in order before I could bound onto the back of the Triumph. Once onboard the sense of height was gone.
With excellent planning I always seem to ride before breakfast. As much as I wanted to head out into the Moshannon Forest my stomach was making a stronger argument as I headed over the mountain towards Unionville. It doesn’t take long to realize how sweet the Triumph Tiger is. Everything about it is smooth – the ride, the transmission, the brakes. And the torque it puts out allows it to pull hard at just about any speed and any gear. Definitely a plus for a tourist like me who likes to wander and not be overly concerned with the workings of the machine I am riding. Coming down the mountain into Unionville I was pleased at how well the Tiger holds the road in a hairpin turn. I’m no racer but I’m sure this bike could fly through the curves if I made a request.
Railroad tracks strike a wandering chord in me. Looking at them vanish in the distance has me wanting to explore. What’s out there, over the next hill, around the next corner? It’s a big part of what riding is for me. The Triumph would be happy to come along and take me anywhere I want to go.
The Tiger is a nice looking machine. Even in a rush to get breakfast I couldn’t help buy admire it. This bike could take me to a lot of breakfast places. I can see myself in the northern reaches of the Adirondacks, or south along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or in front of a diner in Utah. Alas, if I only had the time.
The Unionville Café is a good, solid breakfast place. Any riders passing through the area will find a place to relax and eat. It’s always nice to stop when it’s cold outside. There are times when I get warm I don’t feel like climbing back on the motorcycle and facing the elements. This wasn’t one of them.
The road out of Unionville towards Moshannon State Park is a clean, winding road climbing up to the Allegheny Plateau. The Triumph Tiger could race to the top if good sense didn’t govern the throttle. I’ve been up this way many times on a variety of machines. I just never got there quite so fast before.
Central Pennsylvania is blessed with endless miles of roads that no one seems to use much. Concern for other motorist’s fade as I find myself more concerned with bear, deer, and dogs.
Local forest roads come in two varieties – paved and gravel. A path heading off the main road is hard to resist. While more aggressive tires might be a nice addition for some riding the stock tires on the Tiger were easily up to the choices I made. With so much natural gas drilling and timber cutting underway there are a lot of places to explore.
Riding along a road more packed dirt and sand than gravel I began to worry that the heavy, grey sky would begin to release rain. With little desire to return a mud covered bike to the dealership I returned to solid ground. But it was hard to resist the siren’s song of those long, winding, dirt roads.
Many of the smaller roads are uneven, the pavement heaved and twisted from the harsh winters. The suspension of the Tiger doesn’t blink.
There comes a time in almost every ride I make where I am not sure where I’m going. Riding down through some of the thickest growth of rhodendron I’ve ever seem I thought I might head towards Snow Shoe and a different kind of landscape. By this time I have been crisscrossing the region for most of the morning and was aware of how comfortable the seating position, seat, and handlebar position is on the Triumph Tiger.
A course correction and another little traveled road leads me to lost. The tank has plenty of fuel so I’m not too worried. I can’t remember exactly where this place was or whether I was crossing the West Branch of the Susquehanna River or Red Moshannon Creek. Lost is a gift in my book. And the reason why I’m not too keen on GPS. There ‘s something magical about being lost. And in the East, you seldom get that opportunity.
I eventually passed through Snow Shoe and headed off the plateau towards home. This little red and green building, some sort of remnant of the coal mining in the area just called out for a picture.
I had the option of trying the Tiger on Interstate 80 and see how it prowled along with the 18-wheelers. Passing on the freeway option I found more interesting roads that allowed me the chance to put the Triumph through some performance paces. Acceleration, check. Braking, check. Fun, check.
Tired, cold, and still not ready to take the Tiger home I make one last run along the rolling hills leading up to the Allegheny Plateau. Standing in the corn stubble and looking at the motorcycle and the valleys beyond I feel lucky that I am a rider. Being out here with the day fading and the temperature dropping is not what most riders strive for. But the spirit of adventure is something a lot of riders have in common. It feels good to stand up straight and take in the world. With this motorcycle I could take in a lot of places.
Until those rides come along I had to be content prowling home on the Triumph Tiger and hoping winter would not be too long or severe.