Well, its time for another trip report, and once again the destination for our trip was Bear Mountain State Park. We enjoyed the last one so much, we decided to check out the Fall Foliage of the Hudson Valley. The plan was to leave Glassboro at 12:30 Friday afternoon, the time that the last of our group, Greg, got out of class. We were to ride to BMSP, stay over, spend Saturday exploring the surrounding area, and return Sunday afternoon. At least that was the plan. The participant for this journey were: My girlfriend Lisa and I on my new '91 Kawasaki Zephyr 750, Harvey and his girlfriend Debbi on his '92 Honda Nighthawk 750, Keith and his girlfriend Christy on his '86 Nighthawk 450, and Greg travelling solo (due to a last-minute cancellation) on his '91 Kawasaki EX500.
Unfortunately, there were several problems. One, every hotel in or around BMSP was booked for the weekend. We managed to get reservations at a Ramada in Kingston, NY, about 60 miles North of BMSP. Two, Greg didn't manage to be ready until 2:30, which meant that we would be riding around in Upstate NY after dark on unfamiliar roads. Damn.
Finally left Glassboro, head up Route 55. Joined up with a GSX-R for a little while, then split off to get on the road of roads, the New Jersey Turnpike. Stopped at one of the rest areas (which one, who knows?) to uncramp. An elderly gentleman (bow tie, sweater vest, 70-ish) stopped to admire the bikes, and mentioned that he still rides his Nighthawk 650! Don't judge a book by its cover.
Had a spot of trouble trying to leave the rest area. Greg's EX would start, but as soon as he tried to move, it would stall. After a while, he got it to move, but it ran rough, and would stall when shifting into 2nd. We followed him as he rode around the parking lot, and his first 1-2 shift resulted in a LOUD backfire, complete with flames shooting out his exhaust. Diagnosis was flooding, remedy was letting the carbs run dry. Fixed it right up, and we were once again on our way.
Refueled at the Vince Lombardi rest area (with an exit ramp so long it should have a route number), and continued North. At the top of the turnpike, while waiting for the final tollbooth (on what has to be the slipperiest roadway surface known to man), we came across the elderly gentleman, who greeted us with a thumbs-up from his car. Ride through Ft. Lee and get onto 9W, starting to get a little chilly. The scenery should start getting beautiful (changing leaves, etc), but being 2+ hours behind schedule, darkness had begun to set in. Stopped in West Haverstraw at a KFC for dinner. Donned more clothing, refueled our bodies, and set out into the darkness of Rockland County.
Had to refuel somewhere around Newburgh, and by this time we were getting really cold. Half hour later, we were in Kingston, and found our Ramada.
Awoke Saturday morning, refreshed and ready to impress our ladyfriends with gorgeous scenery and breathtaking roads. Mother nature, however, had other plans. She decided that Saturday would be a wonderful day to water her garden, and we were looking at a day of rain. Went to a nearby diner (Route 28, just off the circle, for those who may live nearby) to eat and decide what to do with the day. Decided to visit a nearby bike shop for some raingear, and most probably bag the rest of the day. Found the Kawasaki/Suzuki dealer, and collectively we bought: 2 rainsuits, 3 pairs of gloves, and 2 helmets (see Helmet Deal of a Lifetime, posted earlier this week). Back to the hotel to watch some pay-tv and mope.
After 5 hours and 'Sister Act', we could take no more. The rain had stopped (at least for now, hint hint), and we needed food and space. Set out to find a decent place (non-fast food) to eat, but weren't successful. Wandered a bit north, as the weather was holding. All good things must come to an end, so once again we were doused. This time, some of our party (including myself), were prepared with our raingear. This was my first experience with raingear, and I am a believer. It kept my mega-buck HG leather and me perfectly dry, greatly increasing my enjoyment of the ride. After another 30 mins of 2 wheel swimming, found a Ground Round in the Kingston Mall (name?). Had a nice l o n g dinner (we were in no rush to get back out in the rain), with lots of desert and coffee. Rode back to the hotel through rain, dark, fog, and cold. Not exactly what we had been planning 3 weeks for.
Left Sunday morning (clear but high only around 50) at about 10:30 AM. Rode down 9W again, enjoying the ride for the first time since we left Glassboro. Unfortunately, we started having a riding style conflict with one of our group, Keith, who had not ridden with us before. He preferred a more aggressive pace, with weaving through traffic an enjoyable activity. As we were with our girlfriends and had come to primarily enjoy the scenery, we favored a more relaxed pace. If the car in front of us wanted to slow down for a little while, so be it. Eventually, he decided to ride on ahead, despite warnings that a turnoff we were looking for was only a short while ahead. Away he went. We came to the turnoff (for Route 218 through Cornwall and the Terror Twisties), and alas, no Keith. We waited a bit, and then moved on, riding the twisties, and treating our passengers to spectacular views of the Hudson River Valley in autumn. We cruised through West Point, and our passengers admired the cadets (ouch). We finally met up with Keith at the Bear Mountain Inn. He had missed the turnoff entirely, and didn't want to backtrack. He complained about how slow we were riding, and how boring we were. He didn't want to lead, as he had no idea where he was. Nor did he want to keep a safe (2 sec or so) following distance behind anyone. He loves to run it hard through the gears (not normally a bad thing), but since we were cruising leisurely, he kept ending up right on someone's rear tire, or next to someone in the same lane. Personally, I like to know that I have the lane to myself, and not having to worry if I decide to change my position in the lane. I don't like to slow for a corner and suddenly have another bike next to me as I go around the bend. Most times, he wouldn't even appear in the side-view mirrors because he was too close. But I digress.
After some rock-climbing by a few of our group, we pulled on the layers again and prepared for the long trip home. We got directions to a Pizza Hut in New City, and wanted to get some hot food in us before we hit the Turnpike. Keith and his passenger wanted to hang around a few minutes yet, so they said they would meet us at the restaurant. Figuring that this way he could ride by himself and not be bored by us, we agreed. This is when things got really f**ked up. We never found the restaurant. We had 5 people looking for it, but it escaped us. When it became obvious that we had gone too far, we waited for about 30 minutes on the side of Rt. 304 (just past exit for Rt. 59). We sent one of our party back to find Keith, but he returned without spotting him. What should we do? Three of us had to go to work the next day. It was already about 6:00pm, and getting darker and colder by the minute. Keith knew how to get home from there, did he go on without us (we were boring him, remember)? Did he find the Pizza Hut (we didn't, even when our search party went on that section of road 3 times)? What to do, what to do. We decided to move on, and assumed he went on without us. What we could have done, but didn't think of, was A) look in a phone book and call the restaurant, B) ask someone for more directions, or C) return to BMSP, the last place we saw him. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Turns out he took a little longer leaving BMI than he thought, and got lost several times on the way to the restaurant, but eventually *found* it. He waited over 2 hours for us to show (by this time we were already well into New Jersey), then called police and troopers to see if we had been in an accident. After all this, he returned to the BMI to spend the night, never knowing what happened to us.
We rode in the cold dark (38 degrees) until we got to Bridgewater, NJ, and left the bikes at the house of on of our party and took his car back to Glassboro. The passengers were not doing too well with the cold for the final hour or so on the bikes.
Keith rode back the next day, and we finally saw him again about 11:30 that night. Needless to say, some words were said on both sides. Which brings up some interesting questions:
- What do you do when one of your group wants to ride differently (eg, more aggressively) than the rest?
- Should a group split up when in unfamiliar territory?
- Does anyone else not like sharing their lane around curves with another rider?
- What do you do when you become separated from your group?
- Should you temper your riding style when the rest of the group is riding slower (or vice versa)?
- How could the incident above been prevented?
Thanks for reading my 2nd trip report. Don't worry, the next planned trip is somewhere other than Bear Mountain, NY. I will be heading to Sandusky, Ohio, to visit Cedar Point Amusement Park, stopping along the way at as many parks as I can find (with the help of rec.roller-coasters). BTW, if anyone has any riding suggestions for anywhere between Allentown and Ohio, let me know.