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A Biker’s Lesson

June 28, 2010

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

“While I am away on my trek to the Arctic Circle I will be posting excerpts from some of my travel journals from previous adventures. This post is one of those excerpts, I hope you enjoy it.”CJG

Bennington, Vermont

My wife Sora and I share a mutual passion for riding that is only exceeded by the passion that we have for each other……most of the time. This is a story about the “other time.”

It was early last fall and Sora and I had been looking forward to the almighty Saturday to blow off some of the past week’s steam. Living here in Connecticut, those beautiful changing leaves mean that those precious weekend rides in the warm sun were nearing an end. I woke up that morning filled with the anticipation that comes with a free day to ride. I am not sure how it started or why, but we had a small argument that somehow escalated into a bigger argument. Before I knew it, I was heading out the door to ride, by myself! I hopped on my Harley Heritage Springer and started heading north without a thought to where I might actually be going. In addition to the great fall beauty that we have here in New England, the ability to cover several states in a day’s ride is a fairly easy task. I had quickly crossed over the border into Massachusetts when I set my sights on a tour of southern Vermont. The leaves would be in their full colorful bloom and Vermont has always been a good place for me to lick my wounds and restore my soul.

Throughout the ride, I kept reliving the argument. My anger and frustration was not just about what we had fought about, but I was now equally mad at her for “spoiling” our much anticipated ride. Not even the twisting Route 41 up to Stockbridge was helping me to feel better. The farther I rode, the more resentful I felt. Of course, I was oblivious to my own contribution to the argument.

I soon passed the home of Norman Rockwell and headed into West Stockbridge. Picture in your mind a scene that is one filled with colorful leaves, antique white homes with black shutters surrounded by white picket fences. Picture these homes lining winding roads that take you through a crisp autumn air that smells like pumpkins and apples and you have New England.

I decided to cross over into New York State and take Route 22 north. Route 22 hugs the Massachusetts and Vermont border all the way up to Quebec. It is an open two lane road that is lined with beautiful country side, a few twists and some great hills. Within an hour, I could see Vermont’s southern landscape to my right. I jumped onto Route 9 and headed into Bennington Vermont. Ironically, Bennington was the place of our first date and more importantly, the place that I chose to propose to Sora when I decided that I didn’t want to live my life without her. Now, as I passed the city limits, I could see Bennington’s landmark tower in the distance and all I could think of was how she helped to wreck my weekend.

I wasn’t very hungry so I decided that I would just loop through Bennington and pick up Route 7 south towards Connecticut. On my way out of the south side of town there is a well known tourist stop on the east side on Route 7 called the Apple House. The Apple House is especially popular with tourists in the fall, selling some of the area’s best home made pies, maple syrup and apple cider, it is hard to pass by without making a quick stop. The dirt parking lot was loaded with people that had stopped to pick up some of these goodies as well as to play in the huge corn maze behind the store. I couldn’t resist stopping.

I walked around the Apple House gazing at everyone enjoying their weekend. Everyone but me! I bought a cup a cider and walked back toward my bike. I was putting on my helmet and gloves when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a family walking toward the van that was parked beside my bike. They caught my attention because the father was struggling a bit to push his daughter’s wheel chair over the dirt parking lot. The little girl in the wheel chair I guessed to be about seven years old. Mom was holding their other daughter’s hand as they made their way toward their van and me. When they got a bit closer, I could see Dad and his wheelchair bound daughter looking with great admiration at all the chrome on my Heritage Springer. I have seen the look before. I have been known to have it my self. Without hesitation, I asked Mom and Dad if their daughter would like to sit on my bike. They glanced at each other and asked with some hesitation if I was sure that it was alright. I said absolutely! A huge smile came over the little girl’s face; a face like a little china doll. I helped Dad get her situated on the big Springer seat. She quickly reached out with her little hands and grabbed the grips on my Buffalo bars. She made engine noises as she pretended to be riding. Smiling, I looked up at Mom. She was smiling too, and tears were flowing down her face. I looked back at this little girl with the lifeless legs and my eyes were now flowing with tears also. I stood there in my leathers, trying to look tough, but all I could think about was my wife Sora. All I could think about was how trivial our argument had been. How foolish I had been for storming out the door and riding without her. I couldn’t wait to call her and tell her how sorry I was and that I loved her.

Moments later, Dad was lifting the little girl off of my bike. Mom looked at me and told me how wonderful I had made their day. Little did they know how wonderful they had made mine! I waved good bye as I dialed the phone.

Fall is now upon us again. The leaves are beginning to change and there is a bit of a chill in the air. I think that I am going back to Bennington, but this time not alone.

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