Whenever I hear the harmonica breeze in at the opening of Thunder Road, I’m immediately transported somewhere else. Now, I’m not what you’d call a Bruce Springsteen fan but there is something nostalgically romantic about this song. It’s the kind of tune that makes me want to hop on my bike and ride off into the sunset.
Freedom, escape, hope… they’re weaved throughout the lyrics. The Boss reminds us that taking a chance on life or maybe even redemption is tangled up in wheels, and gasoline and the wind in our hair.
Whatever that thing is that I’m seeking when I hit the road is just around the next bend. Or the next. Or maybe over the next hill? Wherever it is I’ve got to get out there to find out.
…roll down the window
And let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night’s busting open
These two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back
Heaven’s waiting on down the tracks…
It is a New Years Day motorcycle ride starting from the Side Walk Cafe on Avenue A. The ride’s course circles the island of Manhattan heading north along the East River topping out in the north around the George Washington Bridge. It then heads south along the West Side Highway and heads underground through the S Street viaduct and back to the Side Walk. The ride runs in snow, rain or shine.
The history of the ride, as it is told started with a man named “Skull,” over 15 years ago now.
New Year’s Day 2011 marked my first time participating in it.
I’m a morning person. Which is annoying to just about, well… everyone.
I was up bright and early around 6:30 on New Years day, despite having gone to bed at 1am. When the little hand swept over the 8, I heard Kenny beginning to stir. I said to him from the next room, “Are you excited?!” His response to my enthusiasm was… dead silence.
Now, I knew he heard me. But there are certain truths you learn while living with another person. I had committed a grievous sin by addressing him within the first few moments since he rolled out of bed. Knowing this, I didn’t press him further. Instead I went on about my task of getting ready for our ride.
A few minutes later I heard the sound of sleepy feet shuffling down the hall. In his deadpan, gravelly morning voice he managed to say, “its too early for that.”
For…? Music? Singing? Interpretive dance? It was too early for what? Seeing as how I’d already done a myriad of things (including those three mentioned) in the time between I’d asked him if he was excited and the time the response came, that enigmatic phrase could have applied to just about anything. Including going riding in Manhattan on New Years Day. I figured someone was second guessing their decision to come along with me.
New York City and it’s boroughs were hammered by a blizzard the day after Christmas. City agencies responsible for the snow removal turned the process into a complete clusterfuck. A week following the snow, side streets, walkways and even major through streets were still a snowy mess. Because of this, the correct weapons in our bike arsenal seemed to be the DRZs. The only downside – we actually had to ride them to NYC.
My DRZ Equation of Enjoyment:
Side Streets + Back Roads / Trails = Good.
Superslab + Indicated 70mph * 1 hour = Not So Good.
Ride into Manhattan on DRZ = Not So Good.
We were meeting up with Dave about at about the halfway point of our trek into the city. As we pulled into the rest stop where we would be meeting him, we heard the familiar braaaaaap of his KTM coming up behind us. With his typical flare, he came to a riotous, skidding stop and wished us a happy New Year. I could already tell this was going to be a great morning.
With little fanfare, we motored our way along the slushy streets of New York to Avenue A. As the bikes started to trickle in there was a happy vibe as people began shaking hands and introducing themselves.
It was good to see some familiar faces, too. We hadn’t see Soth since last January. To finally get a chance to sit down and have a cup of coffee together was really nice. When he pulled up I pretty much smothered him like I was a mauling circus bear. He didn’t have any choice but to be hugged by me. Poor bugger.
The start of the ride was like an organic happening. People were milling around the sidewalks and the next thing you know, we were all pulling away from the snowy curbs heading out on our way. What followed was 25 or so miles of silly fun. We were a swarm of motorcycles taking over the roadways. What a great time! I’m so glad I went.
Kenny was riding with his GoPro on, so I made this little video of our ride. Enjoy!
I swear, I see a yellow Puch moped every time I am in Manhattan. It’s getting to the point that I can only assume that I am on a collision course to meet up with Captain Moped. Now that I think about it, they may in fact be following me but taking the long way around.
Maybe the little yellow moped is trying to communicate with me? It could be trying to give me a sign. It could also be that I am sitting in my office right now in a paranoid state, reeling from a Carvel Cookie Puss birthday cake hangover.