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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Onward to Joisey

I woke up early on Sunday morning, a brightness was piercing through the crack in the blinds. Nah, couldn't be.......was that sun. Yes, fuckin' A it was. Today was looking better already.

My enthusiasm was short lived however as the skies began to cloud over as I made my way through the Fairfield Inn's merger breakfast, it was included with the room price, so I shouldn't complain too loudly.

By the time I loaded up the bike and got ready to depart, the gray skies were back, and it looked again as if rain was threatening.

Today's ride was more of the same, backroads with short stints on the Interstate only when necessary. It was only a short ride too, just over 200km. Easy peasy after two long, wet days in the saddle.

I headed west along a rural road out of Great Barrington to connect to the Taconic State Parkway. It's a divided four lane highway with a 55mph speed limit. Traffic was pretty much light to nil at this time of the morning, and it was nice not to have be constantly checking the mirrors for approaching cars all the time. I'm guessing most Massholes.....I mean residents of Mass were either sleeping or getting ready for prayer service.

 It wasn't long before I crossed into the Empire State. So far the rain had held off but I could see showers on the horizon. In fact the rain began to fall shortly after I was headed southbound on the Parkway. Just enough to soak all my gear before abating again. It would be the last of the rain today thankfully.

My first stretch of Interstate was the I84 to cross the Hudson River depositing me in the City of Newburgh. I've been to Newburgh before, it has a bad reputation as being the eighth most dangerous city in the USA.

This part of Newburgh has seen better days

Exiting I84 I took the 9W, which makes it way through urban Newburgh, multiple stop lights and sketchy looking neighbourhoods. I wasn't too concerned at 9am on a Sunday. I reckon most of Newburgh's criminal elite were still in bed, or getting ready for church services as well.

I figured if anyone gave me a second glance I'd rev the engine of the mighty Guzzi and squint my eyes in a gunslinger kinda way, give them my best Eastwood stare for a second, pop the clutch and get the hell out of there.

Just outside of Newburgh the sun made an appearance. On the other side of the Hudson River.

After a few more nervous miles I was back in a comfortable more rural setting cruising along at 80kph. Before you get to West Point, there's a beautiful section of road that climbs up a big hill. Descending the backside is awesome, nice sweeping corners and an incredible view of the Hudson River Valley. It reminds me of sections of the Cabot Trail.

The 9W then turns into the 202, which runs through Bear Mountain State Park. Another beautiful section of road, which for the most part had very little traffic. The road is a little rough in places and it has a lot of cyclists. I mean a lot, they ride in packs and not necessarily in single file either. Some of them in the middle of the lane doing their best doped up on EPO Lance Armstrong impression.

These are from two years ago, on my last big trip on the Strom. Weather was much nicer.

Off the 202 Garmin took me on an interesting urban/residential road to get me over to the Palisades Interstate (more of a parkway than an Interstate). Wayne Road/Main Street, was a curvy, hilly route through some nice, eclectic neighbourhoods. It was slow 25-30mph, but fun. I guess it's popular with the bikers down here because I passed more motorcyclists on this stretch than I had the whole trip.

The Palisades Parkway took me to the I287 for quick jaunt to the New York State Thruway which changes to the Garden State Thruway when,...... ya you guessed it, it crosses into Joisey.

It's getting close to 10am and traffic volume has noticeably picked up, and my caffeine level has noticeably plummeted.

I pulled into a highway rest stop and had a Starbucks and something eat. I only had another 35km to go, but it would be the most intense of the trip with all the traffic.

The one thing I really enjoy about the Guzzi, is most people have no idea what it is, and those that do, either ride one, or have ridden them, and they are quite passionate about the brand.

I had just dismounted the bike when an older gentleman who reminded me of this guy,
came up to admire the bike. He told me he owned a few Guzzi's in the past. He raced for Yamaha for awhile, but said he always loved the Italian and German bikes. Something sexy about them he said. I'd have to agree. I'll touch on that a little later.

Once I was refuelled I continued on the Garden State, before a very brief run on I80, which required a $1.50 toll. Oh, and for some reason I wasn't expecting that toll, it took me by surprise. Of course earlier I took my toll money out of my tank bag and put in my pants pocket, which is zipped.

Fuckin' toll booths, sometimes I feel like I'm a turtle stuck on it's back at these damn things. Timing it so that I can roll up in neutral so I can have two hands free to awkwardly unzip the side pocket of pants, fish out a couple of american bills that are all the same colour, not really knowing how much you have in the balled up mess of money in your hand, as you pass it to the bored, and equally unimpressed toll collector. All the while doing this with thick winter riding gloves because the temp has been above 10C. Then you have the impatient asshole cager behind you honking on the horn.........FUCK OFF!

With my toll paid to the great state of New Jersey I sped off to again exit the interstate a few hundred meters away. JC.

I'm now on the 17 which takes me directly to my hotel. It's a very busy six lane divided road/highway, where everyone is changing lanes, speeding, texting, talking, applying makeup, etc, in a vain attempt to be the first one to win the race to the next red light. I hate it. Always alert to the Suburban deciding he wants the space I am currently occupying, or the woman in the Impala coming up behind me at a high rate of speed while I'm stopped at light. It requires constant attention and I'm always trying to find a semi-safe escape route.

It is short lived and I am glad to be pulling into the parking lot of the hotel. I can rest, and Guzzi gets a break for the next week, before we take the long trip home again.

In the past I have written numerous posts about other motorcycles, what's the best, what's the perfect bike.....is there one? Someone commented that the perfect bike is the one in the garage right now.

He's right. The more I ride the Guzzi, the more I love it. For a physically small motorcycle it is very comfortable. With nothing more than a windshield and an Airhawk seat cushion I can ride in comfort all day. I don't like the Interstates, but the V7 will cruise happily at 120kph. It won't be as comfortable as a say a BMW 1200RT, but it will do it. I like the backroads, and that is where the little bike shines in my opinion.

The V7 ticks all the boxes for me. Small, maneuverable, easy to ride, highway capable,  lots of character, easy to work on, different and affordable. Oh and it sounds awesome.

So there.

I'm here in Joisey until Saturday morning. My last simulator session is from 4-8pm on Friday. Awesome time to leave the NYC area. Not. Plan is to leave oh dark and early Saturday morning, for a leisurely two day ride home through the mountains again.

 That was the plan..........until that bitch Mudder Nature ruined it all.

Just guess which direction that's headed? Unless the forecast changes it's gonna be a 0430am departure, balls to walls for home to get ahead and stay ahead of the rain. With any luck I should run out of the rain by New Haven, CT, and be dry from there all the way home. 

I was really hoping not to have to another metric Ironbutt. Fack!

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