Part 3: Days 7-9
Day 7 – Stratton, VT to Copake, NY
Holy hell it was a cold night. I was not prepared for the cold that came in during the early hours of the morning. It was 40 or below. I had to put everything on that I had. Brain got creative for warmth. See pic. Once the sun came up, the warmth came back to us. We were able to decently warm up and dry out before heading out of the mountains. The closest town was Readsboro. They had a general store for supplies and a really cute restaurant called Emma’s Cafe (I think?) slinging a very tasty breakfast. This was the first time some of the guys have been in a restaurant since COVID. It was kinda surreal to be eating inside. The skies were blue and we all had the gut feeling that we would not see rain for the rest of the trip. It did not take long to come into Western Massachusetts but before we crossed the border, Vermont gave us one short technical section just to say goodbye. Vermont was too good. Looking forward to a return trip someday. At first, Mass was all winding paved roads. We assumed that this was going to be the case for the entire state. Boy, were we wrong. Mass did not disappoint at all. We got to some 2 track that was loose but you could ride it pretty fast. Not too scary to rip it hard. We ended up in the woods on rocky downhill stuff and passed another dirt biker coming up. Good to see these trails are used. We took a break at the Farnham Reservoir. This was followed by some more downhill. At the bottom, we got great loose gravel that wound all-around some bodies of water. It was loose so you could break away your rear without losing control. Plus there were some natural jumps to hit. We rode it fast. Again probably faster than we should have but fuck it was fun. We came into the town of Lee for a break. Jake had cracked his clutch cover in that last rocky section and did a roadside JB Weld repair. I honestly forget when we noticed, but an honorable mention goes to Brian’s license plate which he lost at some point. We assumed it was after his crash. It was pretty warm so I scoped out another set of falls along the track that we could hit. It was more great gravel and dirt roads all the way to Umpachene Falls. These falls were very scenic but the pools were not that deep. However, they were deep enough for Will to grab a bath. Not too much time was spent at these falls and we quickly crossed into Connecticut. It was a good mix of dirt and paved here in CT.
We stopped in the town of Cannan, CT for dinner and had drinks at the New Falls Brewing Company. Life was good. We left to find a camping spot. Unfortunately, the place Will had in mind didn’t have any safe areas to camp and the spots that looked good were all marked private property. We rode up and down the road searching with zero luck. The decision was made to cross into Mass or NY state to see what we can find. As we were riding out of the road and out of CT, two pickups came towards us. The one in the rear tried to cut Will off but we rode around them. As I got by the old codger in the lead truck screamed “STAY OFF OUR TRAILS!” at me. In a bit of shock, we rode on back into Mass. Same results here. Nothing but private property. Guess what New York state gave us? Yup. More private property and boy do they love to make sure you know it. Signs galore. Gone are the wide-open swaths of forestry land that Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont had for us. We rode to the Taconic State Park but they refused walk-ins. Thanks, COVID. We tried some of the other campgrounds but they were not answering their phones. It was too late in the day. We had no choice but to try a motel. The first one we rode too would not let us share a room or throw up tents in their grass. I tried but the manager claims they can’t have tents on their property due to insurance. Sure. She did point us to another motel called JoHanna’s that would allow us to stay in one room. The sun was setting fast and we needed to find something ASAP so we went to JoHannas. The proprietor was a sweet old lady who got us all hooked up. At first, she did suggest a pull-off or, what NY calls a ‘parking area’ up the road. The google street view of it seemed like it was a bit sketch. We would be too exposed and don’t want any late-night visit from any locals looking to stir shit. We settled into the room and got hot showers. Jake ran and got us a six-pack. I sure wish we were camping but I wasn’t mad at the situation, either. Well, maybe the smell in the room could have been better.
Day 8 – Copake, NY to Shandaken, NY
We got up and got on it earlier than usual cause we had nothing to pack. We had a huge breakfast at the Copake Diner then took off into the Hudson Valley. The roads here were good but they were no Vermont. Ha! We crossed the Hudson River via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge into Catskill, NY. I really enjoyed the vibe on main street Catskill. It reminded me a lot of Colorado towns (Durango comes to mind) with the mountains off in the distance. The Catskills came upon us quicker than I expected. We climbed alongside the Katerskill Creek. I knew that the Katerskill falls were very close and I want to check them out but it will have to wait for another trip. We reached the apex and were officially in Catskill park. The first portion of the ride was the main road that runs through Tannersville and Hunter Mountain. We stopped in Hunter and expressed hope for some more exciting riding. Thankfully, not far out of town we turned north and finally got what we hoped for. Will was very excited about the track here. There was some great 2 track through the woods as well as powerline roads. We passed some guys heading north on large BMW’s. This is really the first time this whole trip we passed anyone doing the NEBDR. We came out of the northern loop and headed back down towards Catskill park proper. After taking a break in Grand Gorge, we got to the most technical portion of the day. It started out as a loose rock hill. Right away Brian’s chain popped and got all bunched up in his front sprocket. I stayed to help him get his bike right while Jake and Will headed uphill to wait. I noticed that I kept hearing Jake’s bike going and going, fading out then going some more. Huh? “Must be a long way to the top” I commented to Brian. He got his chain resolved and we took off up the hill. Holy Fuck! Little did we know that this would be the longest rockiest hill climb I have ever done. Like this was a legit hill climb and it seemed to go on forever. Jake and Will had turned around to come find us so we had to cross each other on the way up. I thought this hill would never end. Thankfully I just kept the throttle open in first gear and leaned forward. The WR did the rest. What a champ! When the four of us were finally at the top we took a break and marveled at how long that climb was. What goes up must come down though. The downhill portion was not as steep but it was just as rocky. I took my time and made the guys wait for me at the bottom. I am like a turtle. A turtle who doesn’t wanna spend weeks recovering from a stupid injury. It was all backroads from here on.
We headed to make camp. It was Friday and this is the Catskill’s. First come, first serve is the name of the game at the campground and there would be plenty of New Yorkers competing against us. The Allaben campground was almost full but we claimed our spot. We threw some tents up to hold the spot then I led us to another swimming hole. It was a great paved ride up and over a mountain to the Peekamoose Bluehole. A ton of other people had the same idea but being on bikes made parking a breeze. We got to the bluehole and marveled at how clear the water was. When I dove in, I just about went into shock. I think it was the coldest water I have ever willingly got in. I’m no polar bear. It was so cold that as soon as you got in, your instinct was panic to get out. Totally worth it though. Jake, Will and I all did a couple of dives then found a spot in the sun to warm up. Brain got in and soaked his injury in the frigid water. We dried off enough to get back on the bikes and head into Phoenicia for dinner. The Diner was just closing but they recommended going into town. We found a spot called Sportsmans and pigged out. We finished it off with some ice cream next door. The sun was well behind the mountains but we had enough light to get back to camp and get a fire going. The four of us sat around another campfire taking it all in. Good times.
Day 9 – Shandaken, NY to Philadelphia, PA
A very comfortable night was had. Actually, it was the temps I was expecting for the whole trip. We packed with the knowledge that we would be leaving our last camping spot of this trip. Beyond bittersweet. I was excited to get back to my lady but selfishly didn’t want this trip to end. No bummer endless summer, am I right? Maybe the BDR will extend the MidAtlantic BDR all the way to the Georgia Mountains and adjust it to meet the NEBDR in the Appalachians and call it the AT BDR. I would most definitely do that ride. You would need to have a serious bike maintenance spot though. This trip tore through our chains and tires in just one week. After packing, we headed into Fleischmanns. Yesterday we rolled through this town and realized it was a vacation spot for Hasicidic’s. We were all craving some bagels and saw a spot yesterday that would satisfy these cravings. As we rolled into town Jake realized that being Saturday it was Shabbat. Everything would be closed. Well almost everything. Sam’s country store was open and Sam was hawking breakfast sandwiches and coffee. Perfect. We ate then hit the road getting out of the Catskills via dirt. Here we passed more adventure bikes than any day on our trip.
A lot of people just starting the route going south to north, I guess? The dust today was getting to me. It was so thick and the morning sun was refracting off it that my visibility was gone. I almost missed a hard left and went off the road. At that moment, I was not having a good time. Part of me thinks I was just cranky and sad that it was all almost over. There really wasn’t anything technical which I was kind of relieved about. We just kept winding in and out of smaller ridges. The need for fuel arose and we came into Andes, NY. We rode through town and could only find a long dead pump. Outside of town we stopped on the side of the road to check our phones for a nearby gas station. Next thing we know some old codger is creaming at us from his house. “WOULD YOU MIND MOVING THE FUCK ON? YOU’RE DRIVING MY DOG CRAZY” he yelled. We had no clue where it was coming from at first. I replied “We’re looking for gas”. He just kept yelling at us “THIS IS’NT A FUCKING GAS TOWN AND THERE IS NO FUCKING CELL PHONE SERVICE! NOW GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. GO FIND A PARKING LOT ELSEWHERE!” Well it seems the locals in Andes are not the welcoming type. We obliged and rode on, but you know what? If you’re reading this you old coot… get fucked. We figured we had enough gas to get to the next town and left Andes, NY. Good riddance. We did hit some technical stuff. Nothing too hard. We passed an Irish guy on a Super Tenere that was just starting out the ride. He had dropped his gigantic bike and showed Jake the whole wench rig he had to pick it up on his own. One reason I love being on a 250. Easy pickups. The track became dirt road again and wound around a reservoir that feeds the East Branch Delaware River.
This road led us to Downsville. Ahh Downsville. A town where old men drive their lawn mowers on the street due to, most likely, having a suspended license from too many DUI’s. That’s a classic small town PA move. Glad to see it’s a thing with our northern neighbors. We got snacks and sat in a great park by the town’s covered bridge. I knew that after we left we would get on NY route 30. The guys were going to split off north while I would continue on 30. I had a prior camping engagement in NEPA to attend. Jake tried his best to talk Brian into finding a powersports place to get a new rear tire for the Husky. It was fucking toast. Brian was determined to get home on it. We posed for our last pics as a foursome at the covered bridge then headed for 30. As was planned the guys split north and I rode 30 to 17 and back into PA. They filled me in later that they did more of the track, went swimming in the Delaware, spotted a Bald Eagle and got some Dairy Queen. Once the track headed south they made for Philly. I made it to my prior engagement and had one more night of camping. I woke the next morning with the fly rolled up and the sunrise in my view and reflected on the last 9 days. I’ve done plenty of MC trips and they all have something unique of their own but there is something beyond words about this one. The roads, the trails, the sights, the company, the camping, & the challenges all coming together to make an incredible adventure. All told we put over 2000 miles on our bikes. All the bikes performed awesomely with no major issues. Brian wins the Tough Guy award for sure. He made over half the trip with that gnarly hip injury, no license plate (kinda crazy we had zero problems with the law), an over-stretched chain (requiring loose change to add extended tension) , and a tire that was long done days before returning home. I’m sure they all will agree; every inch and every second ruled. The NEBDR-20 is one bug we will never regret catching.
3 responses to “NEBDR-20 (Part3)”
Published - Mar 27, 2018
Part 3: Cao Bằng to Hanoi Day 5: Quảng Uyên to Bản Giốc waterfalls -I got up before the roosters today and not cause I wanted to. A bit of the old ultra violence erupted in my stomach that brought me to the knees of the great porcelain god. There was no returning to sleep, […]