Tag: ride reports

2012 Berkshire Big Adventure Ride

2012 Berkshire Big Adventure Ride

On Friday, we packed up the Ridgeline with our bikes, the kid and the dog and headed north to Massachusetts for a weekend of friends, food and riding.

Bikes loaded in the truck

Our home away from home was a cute little cabin in the woods. As soon as the captain turned on the weekend sign, we settled in to “hang” mode. You know – a little barbequeing, going for a nice lazy walk around the lake, just sitting on the front porch and enjoying the fire. We got busy doing a whole lotta nothin’.

our cabin in the woods

While a couple friends and their families trickled in to the campground on Friday, the rest of our motley crew came rolling in on Saturday.

We spent Saturday laughing, grilling, enjoying each others company and managed to make some new friends along the way, too. That is one of the best parts about these events. You’re surrounded by like-minded people so it is easy to meet new people.

Hanging at the campground

On Sunday morning, I awoke not long after dawn. When I walked to the cabin door I found a lovely green Luna Moth staring back at me. It seemed like it had to be some sort of auspicious sign that a good day was ahead.

Luna Moth on the screen door

By 7:30am our crew assembled like a ragtag Voltron and headed off the the start of the Berkshire Big Adventure ride. These friends of mine… they’re just the greatest <3

The gang at the Berkshire Ride 2012

The start point was 17 miles away from the campground on the tar. It was the first time I’d ever really got to try to stretch the legs of the Husky a little. That type of riding obviously isn’t it’s strong suit but it felt great nonetheless.

Sometimes the universe lines up the sunlight through the trees and the temperature jusssst so and everything feels right in your world. Sunday morning was just like that.

The little Husky that could

I don’t think I did more than 50mph on that stretch of road to the start but, it felt like the best 50mph ever. Hand on the throttle, I motored up along route 8 where all signs pointed to a great day ahead. The sound of the Husky thumped through the morning. Hell yeah.

Sundays ride would be my first event on the TE310. It is still a bike I don’t know very well. After the 2011 BBA ride, I came away feeling a bit discouraged by my riding on the DRZ. This year I was hoping a better tool might help me to find my confidence.

When we pulled up to the start of the ride, many bikes were already lined up. It never gets old seeing a large group of motorcycles.

Bikes lined up for the ride

The title of the 2012 ride was the Berkshire Big Adventure – Vince’s “I’m Not Dead Yet” Dual Sport/ Adventure Ride. Vince, who is a member of the Berkshire Trail Riders Association and trail boss for the ride was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

During the riders meeting, he delivered a poignant address that left us all with a deep admiration of his courage in the face of such adversity. Live life to the fullest, enjoy each day – those words pierce your heart when you are looking at a man with terminal cancer. But – they ring true for every person, every day. Take it to heart.

As the bikes began to roll out of the start in waves, that excited feeling of finally being on our way came over me. I was probably grinning like an idiot in my helmet. I’m kind of goofy like that.

As you might imagine when it comes to moving over 100 bikes around, there is some clustering and jockeying for position that happens until the groups of riders start to thin themselves out and gap naturally. The first clump came near the first hero section. It was a short stretch of loose mud. From that point on riders began to spread a little more.

Into the slop we go…

into the muck

The ride was mostly dirt roads with some tar connectors and a couple hero sections thrown in. Those parts were boney, wet and offered something more challenging.

During one of the hero sections a giant puddle swallowed Dan’s bike. The funny thing about muddy water is that you haven’t the slightest idea what’s under there or how deep it is until you’re in it. Ben and Dan managed to dislodge the drowned Husky and get it out of the puddle. After just a few minutes the bike started and on we went.

There are some pics by other riders on the ADV thread showing just how deep and gooey the water was.

stay to the right!

There was a really nice lady who lived close by who was on hand with a tow rope helping riders who got submarined there. She was kind of excited to see me (a woman rider) out in the muck. She even offered to let me use her bathroom, bless her heart!

There was a good handful of ladies on the ride 🙂

heavenly riding

About halfway through the ride, I realized that for the first time I didn’t feel like I’d been working hard, I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t even the caboose for the whole ride. I felt… normal great!

I can only attribute it to feeling so much more at home on the Husky. It is such a pleasure to ride. The weight difference over the DRZ alone is a huge change. But that combined with the suspension, the ergos and the responsiveness of the bike make it feel so. damned. good!

Love, love, LOVE this bike!

My Husky TE310 - I love it so!

Since this was the first time I’d taken the TE on an extended ride, I had no idea how much range I could squeeze out of my small fuel tank. When the route came to a close we still had the 17 miles of road ahead to get back to the campground. With only 50 miles on my tank since last fill up, I figured I’d be fine to make it back.

As I buzzed along the hilly pavement, the miles began to tick by. About 5 miles from the entrance to the campground while heading down hill, the bike began to lose power and… died. Out of gas.

I kept the bike rolling and as the ground leveled out, hit the starter and it came back to life. When the ground tipped back upward enough gas would drain back and I could hammer my way up the next hill and play the roller coaster game. I kept that up until the bike died about 300 feet from the entrance to the campground where I rolled into it’s gravel drive. With one last bit of luck, the bike started one more time and I was able to ride to our cabin. I made it by the skin of my teeth and a measly 67 miles on the odometer. WHEW!

As we packed up the truck and made the rounds to say goodbye to our friends who were doing the same, I felt a pang of melancholy. It was sad that our great weekend had come to a close. I loved every minute of our time there.

Great people, great fun, great riding.
hello from the fuzzmops

Until next year…

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A Night Out on the Town – The 94th Crotona Midnight Run

A Night Out on the Town – The 94th Crotona Midnight Run

Will contestant 27 please come on down

There is an excitement that begins to simmer when you’re waiting for something to happen. And so it was this year for the Crotona Midnight Run. The day that the flyers were made public a low rumbling buzz began to circulate around local motorcycle circles.

The chit-chat about the Crotona seems to come in three basic flavors:

  • “Are you doing the Crotona?”
  • “Why would anyone want to do the Crotona?”
  • “Woohoo, I can’t wait for the Crotona!”

There have been some years where I have flatly dismissed the idea of doing the ride. And there have been others where I hemmed and hawed, committing nothing more than a ‘maybe’. But, this year was different. I was fully in the YES! camp right out of the gate.

The biggest obstacle for any motorcycle event here in the northeast during the winter would obviously be the weather. Who can know when they pick a date months in advance what the weather will be like? You could have roads covered in four feet of snow or… if the flying weather monkeys have the night off – clear skies and low temperatures in the 20’s.

The Day of the Big Dance

DanielDuring the afternoon, I wandered around the house anxiously awaiting to leave. I tried to relax, tried and failed to take a nap, watched tv – you know stuff to occupy my mind so that I didn’t gnaw my fingernails down to nubs prior to my 9pm departure.

The day dragged on until the last 45 minutes before I was set to leave. That of course went by in two shakes of a lambs tail as I tried to make sure that I had everything that I needed. Dressed and ready to go, I kissed Kenny goodbye and pointed my headlights west towards Yonkers. Part of me wished that he would be coming along, but it’s just not his thing.

This year I was heading to Yonkers solo, unsure if anyone I knew would actually be there. I spent the hour long slab ride wondering what the night would be like. I was glad to see Catfish and Carmine in the Ural and Daniel’s Ducati dry clutch clamoring away when I rode into the parking lot for registration.

Catfish and Carmine

Tiger at Nathans for the Crotona Midnight RunNot wanting to get a late key time, I quickly got on line to register. I received sticker number 27. Whew! I read somewhere that there were over 70 riders who checked in. Getting a post 1am key has to be a drag. That’s a lot of standing around for everyone involved.

As I sat idling in line waiting to be released, the lady timekeeper leaned to me and said – “I think you’re our only lady rider this year.” There were definitely other women there – some passengers and sidecar monkeys but I don’t know yet if there were any other pilots. I found that surprising. I kind of thought each year there would be a few more.

While her stopwatch counted down the seconds, I went through my standard procedure of thinking that I’d be terrible at navigating and will probably miss the first turn in my anxiety. It was a relief to successfully make the first left and put that craziness to bed. With each subsequent turn that came up, I began to relax a little bit more.

Captain America at the Crotona

For a while I was mixed in with a group of about 5 other riders. Based on what I thought my correct time was – they had to have been off their marks. We moved through the route together for quite a while. And then… and I’m not really sure how it happened, they were all gone. I was alone following the route under the stars. Before I knew it, I’d reach the end of my sheet and pulled in to the diner lot.

How two hours had just passed – I had no idea. The layover went by in a blink, too. It was like I was in a time-sucking wormhole.

Bikes at the Carmel Diner

If you happened to read my 2011 CMR post you might want to pat me on the back. Unlike then when I stupidly decided I had enough gas to finish the ride on that P.o.S GS, I topped off the Tiger prior to leaving for the second leg. Please, hold your applause.

Heading off into the dark at 4:27, my first turn was set to be 3.1 miles from the start. The first road I came to had no street sign. So, I decided to take my own advice and trust my gut (and my odometer) and make the left anyway. Riding along alone in the dark, doubt began to sneak up on me. Do I double back and take a look at the next road or keep going? I opted to go with my initial instinct and keep moving forward. As it turned out, I’d made the right choice. That same exercise in trust was repeated a few more times throughout the leg.

I clocked in at the final check point 2 minutes late on my time. I know I lost points on the other checkpoints as well but I have no idea how many, yet. I really admire the folks who can get a perfect score. Amazing.

Crotona Midnight Run 2012 Complete

It was nearly 7am when I started my hour long trek back home. With the nights events now complete, the universe let out a big sigh and the adrenaline wore off. It was no longer time to do math and watch the speedo and read roadsigns and watch for deer and hope I did that right and… and… and… It was time to burn the familiar miles on the Long Island Expressway.

All the way home even with my heated liner and gloves I felt cold, chilled through. I started to realize just how tired I was. The little devil on my shoulder started that horrible game of whispering, “you know you want to close your eyes, just for a second. What could happen?” in my ear. Hate that guy.

I played little games with myself to stay alert and not be lulled into a relaxed state. I worked at remembering pieces of the night, I focused hard on my surroundings, I thought about how much it would suck to be plastered on the back of a coach bus.  When my exit sign appeared in the distance, I may or may not have said “Thank God,” out loud in my helmet.

A little after 8am, I fumbled with my keys and walked in to our empty house. My gear came off of me in an explosion and I just left it where it fell and went to lay down. I sent a text to Kenny to let them know I’d made it home safe and sound and then sleep came calling as I shivered under the blankets.

Sleepy faceWhen I awoke 3 hours later my monkeys were back home and we sat and talked about the ride. My eyes were puffy and red – my face windburned. My thoughts weren’t sharp or clear. They were more like a watercolor, a loose interpretation of what I wanted to say washed over everything because of the general haze hung over my mind. I tried hard not to nap all day and completely screw up my sleep for the following night.  For someone who rarely sees the stroke of midnight – starting my ride at that time is really difficult and I felt the effects of it all day.

Now with some sleep under my belt, I am able to relish all of the twists and turns, the challenge and the fun of the ride. I had a great time. And yes, I can’t wait for next year.

So, What Did I Learn?

  • Trust your instincts
  • Fill up at the halfway point!

 Big Thanks

A huge thanks has to go out again to road-captain Dick Roberts and the whole gang over Ramapo MC for hosting the Crotona Midnight Run. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of good will and dedication to prepare the route and then stand out there in the cold dark night. Thank you, all.

Photos from a Sunday Trail Ride

Photos from a Sunday Trail Ride

Our free candy van

Sunday morning felt nice and easy. Lionel Richie was really on to something.

Kenny and I rode along with our bikes loaded in the “Free Candy” van. The cloud ceiling was hanging low and looked like cotton batting across the sky. The temperatures stayed in the very comfortable upper 50s all day.

I sat there on the super-70s sheepskin seat cover making a deal with myself that  I would work toward putting some of my fear demons to bed on this ride; that I would give myself a break and relax.

After unloading our bikes, we headed down the dusty road towards the woods and I felt… hopeful.

Heading along the dusty road

Throughout the day, I didn’t feel that same hesitation that I’d had about things just two weeks prior. I felt more natural heading up and down the hills, more fluid riding through the tight trees and over obstacles.

kenny riding on the road

Overall I’m tip-toeing forward but at least I’m going in the right direction. I feel pretty good about that.

Kenny near a sand dune

Its great to have people to watch and learn from. What I appreciate most is their patience and encouragement.

Ben and Kenny on the dusty road

Another great day in the books. Can’t wait until next time!

All Points Bulletin: Suspects Heading North – Day Ride Report

All Points Bulletin: Suspects Heading North – Day Ride Report

This past Sunday, Kenny and I joined the guys over at SuspectsUnlimited.com for their forum’s first anniversary ride. Soth of SteadyOntheHumble put out an APB that this ride would be going down and encouraged members to come along.  These days, I seem to have some issues with group riding. I’m not very good at it. I have become far too skittish, too controlling to surrender to the ebb and flow of the other souls around me. Though excited, I would be lying if I said that I approached this ride without reservations. As the list of names of people who would be participating grew, so did my nervousness.

Helmets on the Suspects Ride

As riders started to filter in to the morning’s meet point I finally had the chance to put some faces to the names on the forum. Everyone was welcoming and warm. It can be difficult to elbow your way into a group of people that already know each other. These guys transitioned Kenny and me in easily.  Handshakes, coffee and stories exchanged we got underway heading to points northeast.

Managing a group of 14 bikes took a team effort. Soth at the helm, GLantern with a mid-pack lead and Cru Jones for the sweep allowed the riders to naturally segregate themselves into comfortable groupings. There was no issue of egos jockeying for position. What a relief! We’ve all been there. The ride leader says “ride at your own pace,” and it falls on deaf ears. There was none of that here. Once I came to understand that this wouldn’t be like some of the clusterf*cks I’ve been on before, I was able to settle down and just enjoy the day. And enjoy it I did.

The route that Soth put together was excellent. It took us over hill and dale of the Catskill Mountains. He led us through sweeping curves, tight uphill decreasing radius turns and scenic byways. Our wheels hummed under a beautiful canopy of the peak colors of autumn in New York. There was a little something for everyone. It was obvious that he put a lot of care into route planning to give us a safe, scenic and enjoyable day out. As I rode caboose on the Soth train I got to watch an articulated centipede crawl its way through the landscape. It was one person at a time falling in line and into a turn. I had the best seat in the house. Sometimes watching a line of bikes cut along the roadway is like poetry.

The backroad riding for the day came to a close at the Roscoe Diner. How some of the guys managed to ride home with bellies full of deep fried French toast is beyond me. Apparently it can be done without falling asleep on the bike though. Given the fading daylight we opted to depart for home via Route 17. From the vantage of mid-pack the group shuffled down the road like a deck of cards. One lane of the column moving left, the second column filtering in as you do when you bridge the cards. On it went, eating up the last 100 hundred miles before we split off to head our respective ways home. It was an excellent day out on the bike. I’m so glad to have tagged along.

A Big Thank You To Suspects Unlimited:
Tom, Cru Jones, Dizzle, Suspect74, Bones, soth, GLantern, He-Man, Mookie, ArcDeDucati, Univox, and RCPete. You put together a really enjoyable ride. Great roads, great riding and great company. The Riding Trifecta!

What Did I Learn:

  • I need to relax and not be such a Nervous Nelly. Give people a chance, sheesh!
  • Soth plans a great route.
  • Each one of the guys I got a chance to speak with had something interesting or funny to say.
  • I’d be happy to go on another Suspect ride. It was big fun.
  • There will always be one weirdo in a gas station. If you can’t spot them, it is probably you.
Suspects Ride - See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil
See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil
First Stop of the Day
First Stop of the Day

So then I tweeted... ;o)
So then I tweeted... ;o)
ArcDeDucati - the Novos Dopleganger
ArcDeDucati - the Novos doppelganger
Autumn in the Catskills
Autumn in the Catskills
He-Man - Suspects Unlimited
Wassuuup He-man?
Scenic Overlook
Scenic Overlook
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