In western Connecticut, State Route 20 curves around the northern end of Barkhamsted Reservoir and down to Riverton. Traffic is scant, the scenery sublime and the road full of sweeps and undulations. One beautiful fall day, I pointed my BMW that way. After making the River Road loop through Peoples State Forest, I reversed course toward home. At the bridge by the old Hitchcock Chair building, a flagman signaled “STOP.” Ahead was a well-preserved Buick of late ’90s vintage, with two passengers of significantly older vintage up front. When the flagman waved us through, the Buick turned left … where I was headed.
Curves on this road limit the view ahead and opportunities to pass safely are few. To my delight, the Buick’s right blinker flashed and the driver waved me around. I sped by and returned the wave, back on that delicious winding road for some Buick-free motoring.
Near the top of the reservoir, I pulled into a lay-by for a break. Later, as I prepared to carry on, that same Buick pulled in. The old-timer got out and opened the door for his lady friend. I said hello and thanked him for letting me pass back there. He looked me in the eye and grinned. “It’s too nice a day and too nice a road for a young guy like you on a nice bike like that to be stuck behind a Buick!” He was right, of course, and we shared a knowing laugh. Continuing home, I realized the old gent and I had the same plan: enjoy a beautiful day.
Often, a great day of riding is made better by folks who let those motorcycles by to enjoy the winding road. This happened frequently on a recent visit to New Hampshire’s White Mountains region. It also happened in the Wilds of northern Pennsylvania, where winding back roads and dense forests conspire to limit sight distances. More often than not, slow-moving drivers waved us around.
In Massachusetts, a box truck ahead on the meandering Mohawk Trail pulled into a scenic view parking area. I rode on by and the truck pulled right back onto the road. I understood why and waved my thanks. The driver flashed high beams. Further on, a car pulled over at the start of the Mount Greylock Scenic Byway, right where the road begins miles of twists and switchbacks to the summit. The driver and I exchanged waves. In Vermont, I experienced similar courtesy along a 200-mile route made up almost entirely of roads no one saw the need to pave.
Recently, I was riding the same stretch of Connecticut 20 where I met that old gent in the Buick. To you, kind sir, and to the other courteous drivers out there, this motorcyclist waves his thanks.