Americade 2012

I went to Americade back in 2007 and 2008 when I first got back into motorcycling. I enjoyed both trips very much, but took a break for three years to make time for trips to the Alps in 2009, the Dragon in 2010, and a return to the Alps in 2011. With no big trips on the books for this summer Americade seemed like a good choice.

Tuesday - The Ride Up

My plan was to meet up with Dave and Peter in Lake George on Tuesday, spend a few days doing demos and riding the area, and returning home on Saturday after a quick detour visit to my alma mater, SUNY Albany. As the event get nearer the weather forecast got worse, but Tuesday dawned warm and sunny. With raingear packed away I pulled out of my driveway around 7am to begin my 400+ mile route of mostly back roads north. I needed to put in around an hour on the highway to get me to Trenton, then it was all two-lane for the rest of the day.


NJ 519 - while there are some twists and turns on this route I enjoyed them too much to stop and take pictures during them


Some construction on the Hawk's Nest made for periods of empty roads


97 west of Port Jervis is a pleasant, if lonely, stretch of road


Somewhere between 97 and 30 my GPS routed me onto this oddball little road. I'm sure I didn't plot this detour...


Pepactin Reservoir is always a highlight

I had borrowed a friend's Airhawk seat pad for the trip, and while it was terrific on the highway (once I finally got the air pressure dialed in - let out more than you think, then let out more. Then more.) it was very disconcerting once the road got twisty. I packed it away near Frenchtown. Rolled in to Lake George just before 5pm, right on schedule. Check-in at the Holiday Inn took all of 5 minutes, then I hopped onto the Northway for the 10 minute ride to our hotel to meet with the guys.


My bubble-wrapped bottle of La Trappe Quadrupel survived the ride

Dave and Peter had just arrived at the hotel themselves when I got there. We all got our rooms squared away and headed back into Lake George for dinner and bike-watching. Dinner was a decent Italian meal at Mama Riso's where we met up with a friend of Dave's who represents LS2 helmets. We had some good conversation and laughs, then made the short trip up Canada Street to park up with the rest of the bikes and walk around - one of my favorite activities at Americade.


Tuesday being early in the week Canada Street wasn't too crazy


Sidecar Sally

Wednesday - Let the Demo Rides begin!

All the demo rides comments/photos are here.

My #1 hope for demo rides was the new Ducati Multistrada. We got up to the Fort William Henry Resort around 7:45 and there were only about 6 or 7 people already in line. Seeing that they had 3 Multistradas and 12 or so Diavels I figured we'd be good. Got to the front of the line and told the guy we were flexible about a timeslot but the three of us would like to go together on the Multis. "Oh, we're just demoing the Diavels - the Multis are just for the ride leaders." Seriously? Sigh.

We wandered over to Honda to see about VFR1200 rides, but all their bikes rides were full for the day. Turns out they start handing out deli tickets at 7am, then call those numbers starting at 8. By 8:10 it's all over. From past experience I figured BMW would be full so we didn't even bother trying them. As we would find out the next day they had openings all day long, just not for some of the more interesting bikes (K1600GT, S1000RR).

Kawasaki was the only other motorcycle vendor in the lot so we signed up for a ride with them for later. I had also signed us up online for Can-Am Spyder demos, but as it turned out the times just wouldn't work out that day.

After securing at least one ride for the day (Kawi), we wandered down the hill to find Yamaha and Harley. Surprisingly Yamaha still had plenty of openings this late in the morning, so we signed up for some after-lunch demos and walked back over to Harley.

H-D was doing things differently than they had the other 2 years I'd been here. As before, you stood in line once to fill out a form, and that form was good for the rest of the week. Where in years past all the bikes were first-come, first-serve in lines assigned to families (the Dyna line, the Sportster line, etc) this year they were doing reservations for bikes just like everyone else. This would turn out to be a very loose system since all the rides were self-guided and you could pretty much take your time on them. So if you had a 1:15 time on a Road Glide Ultra, that could turn into 1:30, 2:00, or even later as people before you were late getting back. There were some bikes on Wednesday that were walk-ups, but on Thursday and Friday that would no longer be the case.

We had lunch at the all-too-convenient Adirondack Brewery right across the street. Decent selection of beer (limit of one for lunch for us) and lots of mediocre food. Friendly wait staff though.

After demo rides wrapped up for the day we walked back to the heart of Canada Street for more bike watching. Grabbed a couple slices of pizza for dinner since we were still pretty much stuffed from our big Brewery lunch.

Caught some of the trials demo at the Fort, then got back to the hotel at a decent time and put the La Trappe in ice for a while before cracking it open to share. Mmmm.


Parked near me


Glass at Adirondack Brewery


The world's most uncomfortable back rest? (Yes, I know it's an aux fuel cell)


FZ1 demo ride


Wow, that's...interesting



Drop-dead gorgeous 3-wheeler with a Guzzi motor


Cool Vette

Thursday - Let the Demo Rides Continue!

All the demo rides comments/photos are here.

We were kickstands up at 6:30 so we could make sure to get a spot on Honda and BMW's rides, and that tactic paid off. Having ridden most of BMW's offerings in the past I picked the new K1600GT. For some reason Peter was interested in riding the S1000RR, which he was able to get in the same timeslot as my ride (and Dave's ride on the lowered R1200GS). Peter and I picked the new Honda VFR1200 to demo while Dave tried the CB1000R.

We figured we'd give Victory a try today as well. They didn't do reservations, you just got a wristband good for the week and then lined up for "Touring/Baggers" or "Cruisers". Their system left a lot to be desired, as people wandering the parking area would hop onto bikes as those in line were making their way through the line to their bikes. Dave got beaten to the bike he wanted by one of these sharpshooters. To add insult to injury one of the Victory demo team kicked Dave off the bike he ended up on (Kingpin Tour) because they were one short. Dave was not amused.

Lunch was again at the Adirondack Brewery where we met up with some more friends of Dave and just dodged some afternoon rain.

We did some last-minute rides on BMW and Kawasaki before checking out the outdoor vendor expo. Peter and I were kinda helmet shopping, and there were a fair selection of decent lids available. Prices varied pretty widely from one booth to another, even some that were right across from each other. I was hoping to try out an AGV Revolver Evo, as it was priced well and got good reviews. Found one vendor that had them, and was disappointed that the fit was very uncomfortable. Didn't like the Nolan N104 much either, but did really like the HJC SyMax III. Prices were still much better online so I held off from buying one onsite.

After the expo we headed into town for dinner. Had a decent Italian dinner at a place right in the heart of Canada Street, which was a surprise. The noise from the bikes made it very hard to hear anyone talk, but that's the price you pay for location, location location. After dinner we went back to the bikes at the Fort William Henry and caught a little of the Balloon Glow. 5 minutes is about all you need.


Fancy bike cover at our hotel


The Multi seems to attract patriotic bikes


Check out the rig for his aft GoPro. There's also 2 additional GoPro's on the sides of the bike.


Very very blue VFR1200


A Motus MST on display at the TourExpo


And an MST-R


Cool (but scary) artwork on a bike dedicated to lost K-9's of the Vietnam War


Pizza was decent - not spectacular, but decent enough




I got a demo of a Victory Highball earlier. Some part of me really likes this thing.




Caught a few minutes of the balloon glow. Once you've seen a few minutes...

Friday - Yet More Demos, and The Great Escape

All the demo rides comments/photos are here

Lazy start to the day as we didn't "need" to be in town at any certain time to secure demo rides. Got to the Fort around 9 and spent the day grabbing rides where we could while the weather held out. Lunch was - you guess it - at the Brewery yet again. On-again, off-again rain plagued as a bit, and my last demo of the day got cancelled because of "rain out on the route" even though the sun was shining where we were (and everywhere I could see). Harley packed up early as well because of the weather.

One of the major highlights of my first Americade visit was getting to ride my motorcycle into The Great Escape amusement park, and park right next to The Comet roller coaster. I'm a huge roller coaster fan, and The Comet is on my Top 10 list, so this was quite a cool thing for me. You have to be in a certain parking lot before the gates open and they take the first 1,000 bikes to go into the park. We figured to arrive at 5:30, an hour before the gates open.

Stopped on the way down to The Great Escape to do some more gear/helmet shopping, then sat in some serious traffic inching along 9. Passed a police checkpoint where they were pulling over bikes heading north on 9. Got to the parking lot in plenty of time, and passed the hour wandering around and talking to the other early arrivals waiting in the lines to get in.

Unfortunately this year the parking was much different - you got to ride into the park for a little bit, perhaps half the distance we used to, then they had us split up in different directions and park all over the place. We were nowhere near The Comet, which was very disappointing for me. If I do another Americade I'll skip this part for sure.

It was neat to be back at The Great Escape again with Dave. I ran into him on The Comet five years ago, and was surprised to find another motorcycling roller coaster enthusiast. We've become good friends over the past 5 years, and he's been part of many trips I've taken. We did get some rides in on The Comet, until my ribs (still sore from the drop during the Ride to the Rides) could take no more. One ride in the back seat pretty much sealed the deal. Did the buffet dinner and dessert (surprisingly good), and tried to go back to get more Comet rides but were disappointed to find that it was already closed. With a threat of a "major thunderstorm" on the way we watched the fireworks as we headed back to the bikes.

Or at least tried to head back to the bikes. In our excitement of rushing off to The Comet we never really took note of where we were parked. Now it was very dark, and bikes were parked down every pathway as far as you could see. Fortunately I had taken a picture of the bikes, so I enlisted a nearby park employee to help us track down our bikes. Took him a couple seconds, and then he sent us to exactly the right spot. Thanks!

Never got a drop of rain on the way back to the hotel.


Waiting to get into The Great Escape


Cool trailer!


Gorgeous CX650 Turbo. Best Classic Bike winner (or something like that).

heading in

Waiting to head into the park


And we're in!


Very glad I took this picture!


"Now everyone remember where we parked..."


Front seat of an empty train


What do you mean "it's closed"?


Lots of time went into making these light displays