The Evil, Dreaded Slab – How Can I Make Riding it Better?

The Evil, Dreaded Slab – How Can I Make Riding it Better?

On my 2009 in review list of 100 things that I learned abot motorcycling, my #40 entry was:

I’m struggling with whether it’s better to have slabbed and seen or not seen at all.

Living on the eastern end of Long Island means that I have to commit myself to riding about 100 miles until I can be somewhere that I can get a bit of elbow room. It takes me that long before I can be in a place where I can stretch the Speed Triple’s legs a little. Sometimes, this is daunting. Instead of being gung-ho for a ride I find my excitement balloon getting deflated.

There are so many day rides that I want to take, so many things that I want to go see. But the thought of riding my way off of this island often puts a damper on my plans. 100 miles off, 100 miles on. I’m not afraid of the miles, it is just that their quality is so poor.

Fuzzygalore on the highway
On the Highway

What can I do?

When the weather is warmer, I could suck it up and get up at 0’darkthirty to head out before the sunrise, heat and traffic. This would get me to wherever I want to start riding, in the early hours of the morning. I am after all a morning person.  But even so, I will confess the idea of getting up at 5 on a weekend morning isn’t exactly exciting. And then there is the little matter of battling my way back home.

Or… I could just hang around this island; riding the same old stinko roads time and time again. I could never go anywhere or see anything new. Right.

How do I find the inner peace to tolerate what needs to be done to get out of here?

This post is nothing without you: Do you have to work to make it to the good roads? How do you make it through the “tough” times of traveling?

11 Replies to “The Evil, Dreaded Slab – How Can I Make Riding it Better?”

  1. Definitely in the same boat as you, it must swing by the south fork as well.

    Short story. Wile riding up near Laxawaxen PA off 97 my riding buddy went down. Small fall nothing serious but we had no cell phone reception and his bike was leaking oil from a small puncture. We walked up someones driveway to ask to use a phone. We met a man, mid 60’s who said “oh that’s nothin we’ll get you going in no time”. He opened perfectly organized garage and I saw his big Goldwing (it was gold too). I saw something more important that second. He’s got it right. Turns out he was from Long Beach (my town) and was an old Airplane mechanic. One thing he said to me was “I moved up hear to get away from all those stupid drivers and dull boring roads”.

    So Fuzz, move to upstate NY. Or do more overnights :). There is no inner peace with slab rides, just a good playlist (or try a good podcast from wnyc.org).

  2. Oh Fuzz, think of it like this…

    Your day is like the Dakar. It starts off with a 100 mile “liason”, then the “specials” start, and you end with another 100 mile “liason”. Though I’m 100m miles west of you, us city folk have to travel at least 100 miles to get anywhere near anything that might resemble a fun road, which is the reason why Sunday rides can go for a long time. If you make the effort, then you’ll be repaid with new experiences, new roads, and new sights (hopefully).

    If there were roads worth riding more than once out toward you, then I’d come visit, but alas, IMO, there aren’t. I do however still need to take you on my patented night loop on the Gold Coast…

    1. @soth
      I know, it stinks out here 🙁 I try to make the best of it when my time is limited but some times it just gets me down.

      Maybe you should set a tentative date for the next grilled cheese run or since the weather is chilly an afternoon version while the sun is out – give us something to look forward to. It’d be nice just to see everyone.

  3. I hate the slab and have ridden it plenty of times on a sunday morning to go for a ride. There is no real way to make it enjoyable you just have to muscle through it.

    Actually wait i do have one tip! Where most people listen to music all day i refuse to touch my mp3 player until the slab home. Like a present to myself i look forward to listening to some music once i get on the slab. I also talk to myself here and there when it gets really boring. For the slab there though i got nothing……

    1. @GL
      You’re the only person I know that has a lot further to come back on to the island than I do. I feel for you.

      Maybe I’ll try your ipod trick. I generally find coming back home a little tougher than leaving.

  4. I am blessed with pretty decent riding within a short distance of my home so I can’t offer direct experience. I do, sometimes, use a chunk of slab to get south quickly so I can go places on a weekend trip that many might view as a bit far for an overnight. Still, I only use the slab one way and am looking forward to the rest of the ride.

    Would trailering off the island be totally absurd? At least you’d be able to relax on the way back onto the island in the relative comfort of the cage..I drive a LOT of miles for work these days and can cruise for hours on the slab listening to Sirius. I tried Sirius on the bike but my channel surfing ways are not a good match for two wheels.

    1. @OG
      Loading the bikes up to drive them off the island would take quite a bit longer than just actually riding off the island. Plus the expense of tolls increases with the number of wheels. And you can’t lane split.

      I guess I’d better just try to readjust my attitude towards leaving.

  5. There are always the ferries for a change of pace, though Bridgeport or New London, CT are nothing more than jumping off points for trips north. I think even in the heaviest evening LIE traffic (westbound) I’ve been able to get beyond the Tappan Zee in the amount of time the ferry ride takes.

    I’ve also been blessed for several years with a rural commute, and if there is need to slab for some reason, I’m going the opposite direction of everyone else. Prior to that I was a raging maniac after an hour in traffic. There’s nothing worse than being tired and only a few miles from home, yet unable to get there.

    That said, the lure of the highway is strong when it comes to long trips, in the sense of wanting to get to the good stuff in a hurry. The willingness to endure the physical and mental torture of such a route is easy to rationalize once in a while. I wouldn’t want to do it if it was a requirement for every outing. If work/family/home circumstances dictated, I guess I’d adopt a “leave early – home late” approach.

    1. @Pinto
      If we’re on that side of the sound, we take the ferry home sometimes even though it adds extra time. Sometimes the benefit is simply that I can stand around drinking coffee rather than battling the cross island.

      I totally agree. When we’re going somewhere “big” I can tolerate having to head off on the slab a lot better. I guess its a mental game. I know i will be rewarded with something new or a big payoff. I tend to work my trip out mentally in increments like “In only 100 miles i’ll be in x. Then by 9am I’ll be in PA and then it’s only 200 more miles. We’ll be there before lunch time!”

      I guess I just need an attitude adjustment.

    1. @Red
      I’m not originally from Long Island – can you believe I moved here.. ON PURPOSE! Ugh. I’m an idiot. 😆

      One day i’ll escape back over to the other side of the world. (West of the Hudson River)

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