Find Your Crossroads
Blog Home All Blogs
A great place for members to share recaps of their favorite rides, places or just interesting stories.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: Arizona  r1200gs  rninet  adv  Alps  BMW MOA  brazil  canada  custom  Dolomites  Escape  F650GS  Flores  generation  georgia  Germany  GS Giant  K1600GTL  New  New York  Pyrenees  r27  Racing  rally  restoration  S1000RR  st. paul  Virginia 

Escape to the Catskills with RnineT

Posted By John M. Flores, Thursday, January 22, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, January 28, 2015


"Let's go!" exclaims nineT.
"I can't."
"Come on!"
"Gotta work."
"I know."

I never thought that I'd say this, but the New York City skyline looks my mirror. The Gotham of my childhood dreams, the city that never lets me sleep is at once invigorating and exhausting. It doesn't help that work is crazy intense. "Work hard. Play hard," they say. It's a common refrain among my friends. Some unwind in the late nightclubs and bars of the city, others with meditation or a spa day. Me, I ride.





After a delayed start, we take the standard escape route through New Jersey and are soon in the wilds of Sussex County among rolling hills, winding roads, and pristine reservoirs. We are still so close to New York yet already so far away. Greenwood Lake's shore is crowded with cottages but it's nothing like the Apple.

Soon we're in Harriman State Park, a popular destination for day-trippers. Many head up to Bear Mountain for the scenic view, but we head east.

"Hey, watch it!" nineT exclaims.
"You OK?"
"Yeah, sorry. I'm just distracted."
"That's not a good thing to be while you're riding."
"Yeah, you're right."
"What's going on with you?"
"Of course."
"Actually, it's good news...I'm in line for a promotion."
[flatly] "Thanks."
"You don't sound so happy."
"I...I...I am."
"....Yes. The promotion includes an office, more money, and more responsibility, but..."
"But what?"
"...but less time to ride."
Do you even like what you do?
"There's your answer right there."

We ride past West Point to the scenic overlook at Storm King where we watch the mighty Hudson River wind its way down to the city. Somewhere downriver is the source of my existential crisis. We head upriver, farther and farther away.

After lunch outdoors in Cornwall-On-Hudson at the Hudson Street Cafe, we wind our way up to Poughkeepsie to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

Over a mile long and over 200 feet above the Hudson River, the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was built in 1888 to carry trains. But times change, and other bridges and the interstates were built, and manufacturing began to leave the region, reducing the need for the bridge. Eventually, the bridge was abandoned. Then something funny happened–where others saw scrap metal, some locals saw beauty and a connection to the region's industrial past. They saved the bridge and turned it into the pedestrian walkway that it is today.

"The view up here is spectacular. "
"Yeah isn't it? I feel like I'm flying," says nineT.
"It's a long way down though."
"There's a metaphor in there somewhere, Icarus."
"How'd I end up with such a philosophical motorcycle?"

We head to New Paltz and points beyond. Somewhere west of town we stumble upon a little-known gem. Years ago, a man cleared a small field in the woods and began collecting the massive root systems of giant redwood trees. He'd have them transported from California to this field where they are displayed like abstract organic wood sculpture. They are at once beautiful and exotic.

"Look at these roots! These trees must have been huge!"
"Have you seen the Redwoods?" asks nineT.
"What are you waiting for? They won't be around forever."
"Actually, they've been around for thousands of years..."
"...more to the point, you won't be around forever..."

We continue west, up over the ridge to a panoramic view of the Catskills, rolling hills stretching to the horizon and dotted with quirky towns, picturesque reservoirs, and quiet backroads zigging and zagging through a blanket of thick woods. We dive in headfirst and dance, hand working clutch, throttle and front brake, feet working shifter and rear brake in a fluid, mechanical choreography.
The thick woods give way to a broad expanse of water resting beneath a big sky. The Ashokan Reservoir is one of the largest reservoirs in the New York City water supply system, the water eventually making its way into the taps and fountains and bagels and pizzas of my adopted home. It seems like I can't escape the Big Apple.

With temperatures dropping as quickly as the sun, we make our way north and end up in the small town of Roxbury and our evening oasis, The Roxbury Motel, where each room is designed with a unique theme. The Shagadelic Room is inspired by Austin Powers, Tony's Dancefloor has a working disco ball over the bed, the Genie's Bottle makes you feel like you’re in a bottle, and more. It's like an adult funhouse motel. We celebrate a great day's riding with a martini and a fine dinner before retiring for the night.

"You asleep yet?" asks nineT.
"What's keeping you up?"
"My friends. They just don't get it."
"This. Riding a motorcycle. Seeing the world."
"I wouldn't exactly call Roxbury, NY, the world."
"Yeah, but you know. I think I got the bug. My friends, on the other hand, they're going to do just what's expected of them; they're going to party in New York in their 20s, climb the career ladder, then get married in their 30s, have a kid or two, and then move out to the 'safety' of the suburbs and live the same life that they tried to escape."
"And what's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, I guess...for them. But the closer I get to that path the more I think that it's not for me."
"And the more you feel like an alien in the big metropolis."
"So what are you going to do?"
"Right now I'm going to try to sleep."


We ride into a new morning, bracing against the overnight chill still hiding in valleys and basking on stretches already kissed by the sun. We stop at Bread & Breakfast and have coffee in an old caboose.

"Crazy to think that this was once an old caboose."
"This trip's been filled with stories of reinvention and renewal," notes nineT.
"It has?"
"Yup. They've been staring you right in the face...the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, the Redwood roots, and The Roxbury last night. Those two guys left behind their jobs in New York City, found an old building in a quiet Catskills town, and have followed their own drummer to create a unique motel and something uniquely theirs. Sound familiar?"
"But I'm too young to be reinvented, to young to be renewed!"
"That's what you think. You're no spring chicken anymore."

Refilled, we make a beeline for Pepacton Reservoir. NY30 shadows the reservoir like a contour line on a topographic map, sketching long, sweeping arcs into the earth. The road crosses a long, flat bridge over to the other side of the Reservoir about halfway down. We stop to admire the view.

"What are you doing?" asks nineT.
"I'm holding out my arms and looking towards the heaven for divine inspiration."
"You look like an idiot."
"It's not cinematic?"
"Not in the least."

We run the final length of NY30, following the southern shore of Pepacton. The road climbs, dips, and soars in a series of fast, third gear bends cut through the thick trees. We push the pace to the edge of what is safe and socially responsible, nineT roaring with delight at every corner exit, howling with glee at every redline. We barely see the reservoir but we know it's there. At this pace, nothing but our velocity and trajectory matter–not the city, not the job, not the stress, not the past, not the future. All that exists is the next apex and I feel alive. I feel free.

We stop for gas south of Downsville and afterwards take the pace down considerably as we explore the New York side of the Upper Delaware River along one-lane bridges and gravel, chip-sealed, and frost-heaved roads. I'm lost in my thoughts again as nineT patiently putters along.

We detour to the Roebling Bridge, crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. It's a bridge today but was originally an aqueduct carrying coal barges from Pennsylvania across the river and destined for the Hudson River Valley. Twenty years after designing this bridge, John A. Roebling went on to design the Brooklyn Bridge.

We make our way down NY97 to the famous Hawk's Nest, known as much these days for the way that the road clings precariously to the side of a mountain as it is for the fact that hawks nest here. It's a funky stretch of pavement that flicks left and right in rapid succession along the edge of the precipice. Speed is restricted, and that's just as well; it's a long way down to the Delaware River if you make a mistake.

"You would think that if you've seen one scenic overlook you've seen them all. But I never tire of these views."
"Me neither."
"What is it about them?"
"I don't know. Maybe they remind us how wondrous the world is?"
"Maybe they give us perspective?”
 "Where next?" asks nineT.
"We'll make our way down 97 to Port Jervis, and then hit some of the sweet county roads in New Jersey before heading back to the city."
"That's not what I meant."
"Where next for you? You going to take the job?"
"I don't know. I've got some more thinking to do."

We cross back into New Jersey and savor the final miles of Sussex County along county roads that follow the contours of the land. We eventually join 80 for the final, boring, stressful  stretch. The interstates plunge headlong over/across/up whatever is in front of them but there's something missing in all of that startling efficiency. Something's disconnected. Something's not right. But they are symbols of our modern times and most stick to their straight and soulless paths.

The New York City skyline grows in my visor...



Tags:  Escape  Flores  New York  rninet 

PermalinkComments (0)

The Long Way to The Rally

Posted By Bill Wiegand, Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I met raised eyebrows and puzzled expressions whenever I said I’d be riding an R nineT from Los Angeles to St. Louis following the July press launch. “Wearing a full-face helmet I hope,” some said. “Gonna strap a pillow on that seat?” said another. I questioned my decision.
It would have to be a quick trip. With the press event ending Friday and setup for the MOA National Rally beginning the following Monday, there wouldn’t be any time to deviate from my route to photograph any of the sites I’d be passing. I’d be covering nearly 1,900 miles in three days on a bike not built for long distance travel.
Still, it was an adventure, and I was all in.





The press launch gave me two days to get used to the naked R nineT, and after mounting my Zumo and figuring out how to mount my tail and tank bags in the lights of the hotel parking lot Friday night, I was ready. Only the fuel gauge made me nervous. Lacking a visual fuel gauge, the R nineT uses a low fuel light and counter that adds miles once the reserve was being tapped to tell the rider that he’d better find gas fast. Web forums told me that 50 miles was about all you could expect once the light came on. More than that and you’d be walking.

Traffic was nonexistent as I pulled onto the 101 at 4:30 Saturday morning. The chilly morning air and coffee combined to wake me up, and I soon realized I should have gotten gas the night before as the reserve icon came on just a few miles into the ride. Luckily, the bright lights of a Shell station stood out like a beacon in the darkness.

As I reset the trip odometer, I calculated the 4.8 gallon tank at 40 miles a gallon should give me a range of about 190 miles. I was quickly back on, working my way east.

Growing up a Midwesterner surrounded by corn and soybean fields, it was hard to keep my eyes on the road as I rode through the California desert with the sun beginning to rise over the distant mountains. Thoughts of the movie On Any Sunday ran through my head, and I pulled off the road to take my first photographs. I could almost hear Steve McQueen and Malcolm Smith racing through the sand. This was going to be an awesome ride.

Passing Barstow, California, it was good to see the world’s tallest thermometer working again and only reading 90 degrees. It was a good choice to bring vented gear and ship the heavier Streetguard jacket back home.

As I droned on, I passed a couple on a packed RT and soon realized I should have fueled up when I passed Barstow, as the low fuel indicator had come on. Miles accumulated and I remembered the warning about not riding more than fifty miles with the light on. In the distance I saw a towering GAS sign and relief poured over me. But like a desert mirage, the sign was for a station closed long ago; plywood covered the windows and doors. I said a quick prayer and pushed on with nothing but empty interstate ahead of me.
With the counter reading 32 miles, a road sign told me I had eight miles to go to Baker. It was going to be close, and after pumping 4.5 gallons into the 4.8 gallon tank, I realized just how close I had come to walking. I reset the trip odometer to 0 and my fuel number to 100. Lesson learned, that’s when I’d begin looking for gas. Again on the road, I soon saw another mirage. But this time it was the Las Vegas kind.

I had forgotten just how bland Las Vegas is in the light of day. Without the fountains of the Bellagio, crowded sidewalks and neon lights, the glitz and glamour of Sin City appeared tame. After 20 minutes and a few photographs, again it was back on Interstate 15. I had a long way to go and a short time to get there.
As I pumped gas in Mesquite, Nevada, I knew I was hot, but I didn’t know how hot until a brainiac in a Lexus yelled “You gotta be hot with all that stuff on! It’s 106 degrees out there!” I realized the futility of trying to explain the reasons for wearing protective gear when riding and yelled back that I was trying to lose some weight and that wearing all this stuff melted the fat away. “I read it on the internet,” I continued. “Really,” he said, “I never knew that.” I quickly slipped on my helmet to avoid any further questions from this MENSA member and got back on the road.

I’d grown accustomed to the beauty of the desert, but the Virgin River Valley in northwestern Arizona offered such an entirely new level of awesomeness that I couldn’t get off the highway fast enough. Then, while stepping backwards to set up a shot, I was brought to my knees by the excruciating pain that could only be the result of being bit in the back end by a rattlesnake, scorpion or other large-fanged and angry predator. I instinctively ran like a school girl, only to turn around to see a cactus protecting it’s territory. I spent the next 30 minutes pulling Buckhorn Cholla thorns from my rear end, and after struggling to capture a few images, I gingerly mounted the bike and moved onward. Damn, I wished I had more time to photograph that area.

After fuel and food in Cedar City, Utah, a road sign indicated a National Scenic Byway was just ahead. Perfect! Great images right along the road, and after winding through Parowan, Utah, another sign pointed left toward Second Left Hand Canyon. Intrigued, I turn left. I thought to myself, this is going to be great!

Soon the asphalt road turned to packed gravel. Riding through a shallow stream crossing the road, I soon found myself on a road better suited to a GS with knobby tires. But my need to see what was around the next corner got the best of me, and my GPS indicated an intersection ahead. Dirt bike riders coming down the mountain waved and shook their heads, and I wondered what the boys at the Motorrad would think if they knew where I was riding their bike. Alas, the intersection I had hoped would bring a paved road was actually only the intersection of another dirt trail. Do I continue to travel the unknown? Thinking my luck was all used up at the gas station, I retraced my route back to the highway and got the hell out of Dodge. Though it isn’t the bike’s strongest attribute, I can personally attest to the off-road capabilities of the nineT.

Back on the interstate and with the sun low on the horizon, the neon light in Beaver, Utah, flashed VACANCY. I was too tired to argue.
Sunrise in the mountains is a magical time as the sun breaks the horizon and reveals the topography of the terrain. Again, I wished I had more time there but pushed on, knowing I’d be back in September. I promised myself I’d allow time to explore. With that in mind, passing roads leading to Capital Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks was a little easier.

As the midday sun played hide and seek behind fluffy clouds, I felt the cold of elevation as I moved across the Rockies. Snow still remained on some of the runs around Beaver Creek and Vail, and a saloon sign in Minturn, Colorado, provided a photo op. After another fuel stop, I was back on Interstate 70 when suddenly traffic came to a halt 30 miles from Denver. Taking an hour to travel less than five miles, the heat coming from the engine worried me. After repeatedly stopping and starting the engine, the open shoulder of the road beckoned me. Should I?

A mile of idling down the shoulder in first gear a Colorado State Patrol Hazardous Waste officer blocked my path. After screaming at me for what seemed like five minutes, he pointed at the ignition switch, and I turned the bike off. He began yelling again. What he didn’t know was that I was wearing earplugs and couldn’t hear a single word he was saying; I could only see the animation in his face. When I opened my helmet and explained I couldn’t hear him, his anger escalated. I removed my helmet and ear plugs as he screamed “Don’t let me see you again” and got back into his truck. I got back in line. Two hours later, traffic loosened to reveal construction a few miles outside Denver as the reason for the backup. A long day two in the nineT saddle came to an end as I neared the Kansas border, and, now behind schedule, I knew an even longer day three awaited.
Again on the road at 4:30 a.m., I realized I’d left the mountains behind and was greeted by Kansas prairie. The sunrise provided a final photo opportunity as I had to make it to St. Louis to hand the bike off to Ken Engleman who’d ride it to St. Paul, then back to BMW NA in New Jersey after the rally.

The smell of freshly cut grass filled my helmet only to be replaced by the pungent odor of road kill then with something worse, and the road stretched out in front of me for miles, uninterrupted by hills or curves. I passed Topeka, then Kansas City and entered Missouri.

Finally, five hours later I was in St. Louis at the MOA office. I felt like I’d never be able to walk again after sitting on that 2x4 of a seat, but I made it. All that remained was a trip home and a ride to the rally the next day aboard my GS. What a great ride!


Tags:  rally  rninet  st. paul 

PermalinkComments (0)
Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal