NE2 - A Ride to Remember

10/9/98 - 10/11/98


This was the Roadhouse's first open-to-the-public ride, and we had a number of guests.  We had four different (official) starting points:  Long Island, New Jersey, Albany and Ithica.  Various contingents were to meet along the way, with the final gathering at our first night's stop, Herkimer, NY.

We had rooms booked at the Herkimer Motel for Friday night, and at the Hotel Valleyfield, in Valleyfield, Quebec for Saturday night.  The weather reports had been calling for rain, ending by mid-day on Friday, followed by a clear weekend.  HA HA.


We got off to a late start Friday - Tom and Janine arrived a little later than our 12:00 leave time, and we didn't get out at once.  We were supposed to meet Kevin at a diner in Hicksville at 12:20.  He had worked all night and only had 2 hrs of sleep, and was rather upset that we were as late as we were, and because of (a) our lateness, (b) his lack of sleep, and (c) the beautiful weather, decided not to go. (It had been dry all morning, but started raining on our way to meet Kevin.)

Just after leaving home, I realized I had forgotten something, so I sent the other 2 bikes on to meet Kevin, and I made a quick turn-around, telling them I'd meet them at the diner (I expected to go fast enough to catch up before they got there, but that was when the rain started.)  While I was home, I put on my raingear.  As I was about to get on the bike, I noticed that one of my new home-made hard bags didn't look right.  I hadn't had time to bolt them to the bike the way I intended, so I had attached them with hose clamps (2 on each side.)   One of the hose clamps holding the left bag had broken. The other clamp seemed pretty solid, and the two holding the other bag could support my weight, so I tied a piece of nylon web strap around where the clamp had broken, and rode off.

Along the way, the second clamp broke, and the bag began flapping.  Barb and Tom tried to tell me, but were afraid to get too close.   Finally, they stopped, so I did too.  We bungied the bag to my back seat, checked that the other was OK, and continued.

Our plan was to meet the NJ crew (3 bikes) at Bear Mountain and do some really nice roads up through the Hudson Valley.  Because of the weather, we were 2 hrs. late getting up that way.  We had no way to contact Nikos, et al, at Bear Mountain, and we were sure they had already left, so we decided to go straight up the NY Thruway to meet part of the Albany crew in Kingston.

We got to the diner an hour after they left, but the waitress told us that the NJ group was on its way.  They arrived 5 minutes after we did.  We continued up the thruway towards Herkimer, our first night's destination.

Not too far before Herkimer (in the dark), my second bag FELL OFF!! -- Apparently everybody saw it, because it was throwing a shower of sparks along the highway.  When I saw everyone pull over, I stopped, and found out why.  Barbara had been right behind me, and had managed to avoid the bag with her bike, but did hit it with her foot (or it hit her). Nikos rode the wrong way on the thruway to pick up the bag from the median. Kudos to Igloo for a well-built product. The only damage was to the corner of the lid, and the lock (not from Igloo) welded itself shut from the friction.

Well, we bungied that bag onto the back of Barbara's bike, and continued on to Herkimer, just in time for a PBR.

We talked, drank, sniffed bikes, etc, for a while, then went into the adjacent Denny's for dinner, and all went to bed, expecting a sunny (or at least cloudy) day on Saturday.


Saturday morning:

Hey, it's still raining.  Oh well, it'll stop soon.  We'll just start out with raingear on.

By this time, Nikos and I had managed to use his bike tie-down straps to reattach my bags securely enough that even Barbara was willing to ride behind me.  (Later on, we added some bungies as the nylon straps shifted enough to cause a slight amount of bounce, but no danger of dropping.)

After breakfast (at Denny's), we had a brief drivers' meeting, discussed riding rules and route, and took off.  (I had printed out copies of the "Riding Rules" to hand out, but they had gotten wet, so I left them in the room.)  I led, and Allen road tailgunner.  Oh, I forgot to mention - there were only 2 radios - mine (handle-bar mounted) and Barbara's (pocket "mounted").  We gave Barbara's radio to Allen, only to discover that mine hadn't appreciated its bath the day before and refused to talk.  So, we were forced to ride without communications (BUGS - PAY ATTENTION - YOU ASKED HOW THIS COULD BE DONE). We decided that, due to the weather, we would ride in staggered formation, but would leave as much space as if we were riding single (2 sec. between bikes.)

For a group that had never ridden together before, (many of the riders had never done ANY group riding) we did an EXCELLENT job!!  The group found the hand signals easy to follow, and a number of people expressed that they got the same "thrill" that I get seeing a line of 13 bikes all change lanes as a single unit.  After a few hours, anyone seeing us would have thought that we'd been doing it for years.

We traveled some really nice (but wet) roads, stopping about every 65 - 90 miles. I was concerned that I might be setting the pace a little too fast for some of the people on the wet roads, (I tried to keep it safe, not for a single rider, but for a large group), but when I asked, they told me it was "just right".

I didn't notice it, but somebody said that there were actually 2 patches of blue in the sky that afternoon. I know it wasn't raining the entire day, because at some points the road even STARTED to look a little dry, but it did rain most of the day.

At a gas stop shortly before lunch (at the Adirondack Hotel), I mentioned to Allen (tailgunner) that the formation looked really good up to the 7th bike, then it started to become "less disciplined". We discussed it, and he felt that one rider in particular was having a problem, and watched him for a while.

At Mallone, our last stop in NY, I noticed that one of the riders (not a list-member, but a guest on a BEAUTIFUL custom MAGNA) was shivering.  I found out that he didn't have full raingear, and was only wearing a poncho over his leather jacket (I saw that his sweatshirt was wet - right through his leathers.)  When I discussed it with him, he said the cold wasn't a problem (We all know about hypothermia problems, don't we?), but that he was having a vision problem.   He only had sight in one eye, and his good eye wasn't very good in low-light conditions (fog, rain,etc.).  He explained that on some of the curves, he couldn't even see the bike in front of him, but had to follow the yellow line.  OUCH!!!  When I explained that I was concerned for HIS safety (I didn't mention my concern for everyone else's) he decided to get a room in the motel right there and maybe meet us somewhere in the morning.

Our border crossing was uneventful, except that the map wasn't clear and the signs non-existent, so we followed the directions given to us at our previous stop, and crossed at the wrong point.  I like to think that the reason we weren't hassled at the border was that we rode in looking like a well-disciplined group rather than a horde of bikers.

Because we crossed at the wrong place, we had to slab it on Rte. 401, a 4-lane, DARK highway in the rain, for about 30 miles. (Don't we all love to be passed by trucks at night in the pouring rain?)

When we finally arrived at the hotel in Valleyfield, I asked where we could park the bikes, and the desk clerk pointed to one side of the building. Well, I didn't see an vehicles parked on the street there, so I decided that she meant inside the enclosed walkway.  We lined up all 12 bikes (we had left one in NY, remember?) in the walkway (Ron couldn't ride in from the end like everyone else - he had to ride UP THE STAIRS.) and left them for the night.  We didn't get any complaints, so maybe that's where she really meant for us to park.

I was supposed to phone John Bock, of the SabMag list to see if we might meet up with their group in VT on our way home on Sunday, but, remember the wet "riding rules" that I left in the hotel room?, well there was one other page that was with them - a printout of e-mail from John with his phoine number on it. Oh well, they'll just have to get by without us.

We had a few drinks (mostly charged to room 902) and hung out for a while before having dinner. A couple of people had never had escargot, and thought they were "bugs" (no offense to anyone on the list), so we ordered some and passed them around. After dinner everyone was tired, so we hit the sack.

Sunday morning, we met at 9:00 for breakfast. The hotel had a really nice buffet. Guess what -- MORE RAIN -- I was ready to go out and buy a cubit-stick (if you don't know what a cubit-stick is, read Genesis 6:15).

We rode on some small roads (some narrower than NY City sidewalks), and ALMOST had an "incident" when I discovered that Canadians sometimes put "turn here" signs on the FAR side of the intersection instead of before it. I was riding on the left and Barbara was heading the right column. I was already entering the intersection when I saw the (small) sign on the far corner, showing Rte. 201 turning right. Barbara saw me put on my directional, and locked up both wheels. She's only been riding since mid-July, but I've given her LOTS of training and her instincts are good. She rode it out well, and most of the people didn't even realize we had had a problem. Fortunately, I ALWAYS look before I turn (I think of my bike as being the length of the entire column, so I'm constantly watching everyone else) and didn't turn into her.

Not too long after that, we hit the border, stopped at the duty-free shop (Nikos bought a case of Canadian pi^h^hbeer) crossed into NY and took off at 60-70 mph down Rte. 87. Shortly thereafter, Nikos left the group (still in the rain). He had to get home and wanted to make better time than the group was doing. (At the last gas stop, just on the US side of the border, we discussed where people would be breaking off, so this wasn't a surprise.) A little while later, Ron also left, only to rejoin the group a while later. He had gotten lonely for us, sentimental fool that he is, and decided to stretch the time together as much as he could.


At 2:19 PM, it stopped raining and the roads actually became dry. AT 2:26, we even saw a tiny bit of sunlight.


We had lunch in Lake George, removed our raingear, and headed down to Albany, where most of the group split up. Tom and Janine were in a hurry, but Barbara and I wanted to take it easy, so we let them go on ahead. We ended up stopping just a little bit further down the road, and got a motel room. We climbed into bed at 8:00 and didn't get up until 7:00 Monday morning. NO RAIN!!!   We had breakfast at the Friendly's right across the street, and headed home. At a gas stop on the Merrit Parkway, we met 2 gentlemen, one on a Shadow 1100 and the other on a VLX (I should have asked how he pronounced it) - who may join the list soon.


About 5 minutes before we arrived home -- IT STARTED RAINING AGAIN!!!!!   Just a little, but enough that we can legitimately say that we rode 4 days in the rain - three days almost the whole day.


The 12 drivers and 2 passengers who participated in this event are hereby officially designated Roadhouse Rain Riders, and will be given numbered certificates comemorating this event.

Allen and I have already discussed an NE3 event, further south (Don't get excited, Bugs, that's south with a lower-case "s"), possibly for early November. We'll keep you posted.


PS - I expect to have my home-made hard bags repaired and PROPERLY mounted within a week, and my home-made electric vest worked perfectly. (Barbara's suffered from a broken connection, but she's always harder on clothes than I am.)