Charity Ride Day 1: Feeling the warmth

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
9:35
AM CT
The annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride pulled out of cold Lake Placid, N.Y. on Saturday. As we left the site of the famous 1980 U.S. hockey gold medal winner, the first choice for everyone was to find a way to be comfortable and warm.

The temperature was around 30 degrees when approximately 150 motorcycles, including Petty and former Daytona 500 winner Geoff Bodine, departed for Corning, N.Y. The 340-mile trip on mostly backroads of New York state was beautiful.

Having traveled tens of thousands of miles on my Harley around the country with Petty, I was fortunately prepared for the cold weather. My bike is equipped with lots of creature comforts, including heated grips and a heated seat. Add a heated suit, and I was warm and toasty despite the mostly overcast day and cold temps.

That wasn't always the case. In 1997, the group woke up to 23 degree temperatures in Nashville. No amount of leather, layers or anything else will make you comfortable at 65 mph. It was the most painful cold I've ever experienced.

A year later and a year smarter, I was wearing a heated suit when we faced a snowstorm as we traveled over the Rockies at Vail Pass. The warm suit made it easier to negotiate the snow as the entire group safely made it over the mountain, despite 18-wheel trucks being forced to wait out the storm. For the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, it was just another adventure.

On Sunday, we made a short jaunt over to Nemocolin Resort and wildlife preserve in Farmington, Pa. I've always known there are lots of racing fans in Pennsylvania, but it's still surprising to come around a turn on a country road and find fans waving flags, banners and posters as the riders go roaring by on their motorcycles. NASCAR is not just a southern sport.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and pro football star Herschel Walker joins us on Monday as we travel several hundred miles to Irvington, Va. More beautiful countryside and, hopefully, warmer weather as we head south.

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