Catskillcade 2009


Magott Assault on the Catskills 2009: Misery loves company

Misery, despair, anguish, shame, fear, loathing, discomfort, ennui…

I’ve gone over my theory that it’s the hardship that makes for a memorable ride. Hardship turns a simple motorcycle trip into a motorcycle *adventure*. So then the key to a successful Magott ride should be to seek out and cultivate the hardships. At least in theory. Since I want you Magotts to have the most memorable motorcycle experiences, I will highlight the hardship aspects of the Magott Assoult on the Catskills last weekend.

El Raton Ahorgaso

I began watching the weather forecasts in detail on Wednesday, when the Saturday and Sunday forecasts leave the realm of augury and enter the realm of actual accuracy. Things did not look great, particularly in NJ and Southern NY. The Catskills were better, but not great. By Friday we had 9 riders still committed, and so the ride must go on.

My plan was to leave at around 3:00 to make the Dacha Botashenko by 4:30 where I would meet up with Bota, Evil, Thinker, and MJ. From there we’d head to the NY Thruway Plattekill Service Area to meet Mr. Furious and his two friends, timed to converge there at 6:00 PM. I was packed and ready to go, and I never should have picked up that work call at 2;45. One hour later I finally escape the home office, only to discover that my bike was running on fumes. So much for careful planning, as the gas stop puts me a full hour behind schedule. This also puts me squarely into Tappan Zee bridge rush hour, which means my 90 minute ride to Bota’s house is probably now potentially a 2+ hour ordeal. This means we won’t even LEAVE the Dacha until about the time we’re supposed to meet Mr. Furious. Luckily I’m Ride Captain for this trip, so I make a command decision and pull onto the shoulder to give Bota a call. In the rain.

Did I mention that it’s raining? Excellent! The hardships are already underway. I smile in my drippy discomfort knowing that this is good for my biker soul.

I inform Bota that plans have changed. New plan: I ride straight to the Sloatsburg Service Area on the Thruway, and he should lead the rest of the NY/CT magotts to meet me there as soon as they arrive at 4:30. Timing on this SHOULD be perfect.

…and General Custer said the Black Hills “should be” Indian-free.

I make great time and arrive at Sloatsburg just before 5:00. Get coffee, watch the rain get harder, text Bota for ETA. figuring he won’t be able to reply because he’s riding. Not quite. Thinker had just arrived and they were buckling their buckles and snapping their snaps. SHOULD BE a 30 minute ride to my loccation.

Remember, “should be” is the enemy of “is.”

Oh, and MJ was running late and work to and so her plan was amended to send her straight to Plattekill for the Mr. F. meet up that SHOULD BE at 6 PM.

6 PM comes and goes. Mr. Furious phones me to say he and the boys have arrived at Plattekill. I’m still standing under the garage in Sloatsburg staring down the ramp looking for 3 motorcycle headlights. Mr. F. is fine with waiting and having a snack, and I’m fine with practicing my Freak Magnet powers by chatting with every rest stop weirdo who wants to know if I’m riding a motorcycle in this bad weather (“No, I wear this helmet because I’m autistic and sometimes just bang my head against the floor but thank you for asking”). The good news is that the rain has mostly stopped and the sky is looking brighter and brighter to the West.

At 6:15 Bota, Evil, Thinker, and Annie (get your gun) arrive. Can’t blame them for being late because I had forgotten to factor in the Tappan Zee rush hour C-F. Still, I urge them not to dismount, text Mr. furious that we’re on our way, and do a quick suit-up so we can get on the road. Plattekill is 30 miles North on the Thruway, and if there’s no more traffic we can be merely fashionably late.

Sidebar: The Woe of the Aerostich

In my quest for hardship & misery, I made a big mistake. I went and got an Aerostich suit (my second one). This one is the Darien 2-piece, which is more weatherproof than my old Roadcrafter 1-piece. So far I”m warm and dry even riding in the 60-degree rain. Drat! opportunity for hardship spoiled! I consider ditching my waterproof ski gloves for something more soggy, but we’re already so late and I don’t want to delay things further with a stop to de-glove.

Thirty minutes later, the sky is clear and we arrive at Plattekill. Mr. Furious, Mark, and Neil are waiting. Neil is borrowing Mr. Furious’ Speed Triple, and Mark is on a Kawasaki KLR650 dual sport thumper. Intros and piss breaks all around, and MJ shows up about 15 minutes later. Since we’re way behind schedule and we’d like to use as much daylight as possible I roust the magotts and a palaton on 9 riders hits the highway. I *think* this may be the second biggest magott ride, behind the 14-rider Bingcade a few years back.

The Horror of Hippie Food

In search of more hardships, I steer the group to the Peekamoose, possibly the most froo-froo restaurant in the Alpine Club’s section of the Catskills. Originally our host Vic was going to meet us there, but he was wating for us at 7:30 and we don’t arrive until almost 8:30 so he’s long gone. The Peekamoose is the kind of place that serves baby artichoke (veggie infanticide?) and – horror of horros – vinaigrette. They almost get to see the True Evil Bill emerge when it takes them over 10 minutes to get Bill his G&T, but we manage to calm Bill down before he grows horns. There is much suffering and hardship as I force the magotts to eat Hippie Food, and nearly half the magotts gag down some locally caught trout that was flapping in the Esopus Creek that morning. MJ pronounces the trout “very trouty, with notes of trout and a lingering troutlike finish.” There is only one steak item on the entire menu, which guarantees that we will forever remember the hardship that was the culinary disaster of the Peekamoose.

The Barn… Finally!

Since my plan to suffer in the rain turned up negative results, my next attempt at hardship & suffering came with living accomodations: The Alpine Club Barn. The name says it all. It’s a freakin’ BARN for Christs sake! I made the magotts sleep in a BARN!

Unfortunately, although its outer shell is indeed that of a 100+ year old barn, the insided have been transformed by the previous owner (an architect with ideas of running a bed & breakfast) and further modiefied by the Alpine Club into a 16-bedroom ski chalet. It turned out to have heat and a non-leaking roof, further foiling my plans to create a properly memorable road trip. Our host Vic Eberhad met us as we rumbled in, and assigned us to bedrooms. Finally, hardhsip! Vic asked that we double up for no good reason, and I was forced to sleep with Evil Bill. Oh, the righteous suffering!

We quickly lost MJ to the hot tub (I’m sure it was a miserable early ’80’s model with only 6 water jets and no automatic foot massage, so it was a hardship). The rest of us unpacked the whisky for a scotch tasting.

Sidebar: The Despair of the Scotch

Scotch? Yep, the vile highland brew. As part of my campaign of grief I had convinced some of the magotts to bring one “color” of Johnny Walker scotch each so that we coud punish our palates with a blind tasting. Righteous American spirits like Bourbon on Vodka were banned so as to increase the level of pain & suffering. Instead we laid out JW Red (8 year old?), Black (10 or 12 year old), Green (15 year old), and Gold (18 year old). Vic helped torture us by pouring them out in secret and keeping track of which color was in which glass. Then the magotts tasted and ranke the foul malts. The suffering was great, so this will be remembered well. In the end the votes were tallied and as a group the magotts ranked the JW rainbow perfectly, Red at the bottom, Gold at the top. Interestingly, none of us got it exactly right individually. Yours truly switched Red with Black, suggesting that I could save money when drinking cheaply. However, when I suffer I like to suffer in style and I can really tell the difference between the low malts and the Green and Gold. Gglen failed to show up with the JW Blue we had requested from him. Maybe next time we can get teh FULL rainbow.

I hear that sleep deprivation is used to torture prisoners, so the magotts stayed up until about 2:30 AM (at least SOME of us did). MJ and Mr. Furious provided combustible plant matter in the form of cigars and… and… whatever. I only needed one red bull because the conversation was so scintillating.

Pain in the Barn

Morning hit us like a double-barrelled blast of lemon juice in the eyes. At least it hit me & Evil that way because our room faced East and the owners had taken down the curtains. The other magotts had Northern and Southern exposures or windowshades and so they kept sleeping while Evil & I got up at the ungodly hour of 7 AM to help Vic make breakfast. Many locally butchered pork products were cooked, in the hopes of cranking up the suffering with a few cases of swine flu.

Evil definitely created his share of suffering. By 9:30 AM he was bored with waiting and went around the Barn with pots & pans banging them together and saying “last call for breakfast.” This got the straggling magotts up, but I can tell you that in the Barn it’s a blatant lie as there is no “last call” for any meal, especially breakfast. Vic loves to cook, and would have gladly prepared eggs & pancakes past Noon if magotts had asked. So there was some grumbling, particularly from Mr. Furious but even he couldn’t muster a full head of anger and we were ready to ride by 10:30-ish.

Today, We Suffer!

I had a full day of riding programmed into my GPS, with a loop more or less around the perimeter of the entire Catskills park, with special plans to stop at (or at least ride by) each of the 3 “major” Catskills ski areas (Belleayre, Windham, and Hunter). I had physically scouted only about 1/3 of the roads while skiing, so I wasn’t too sure what the ride would be like. It turns out I failed to cause suffering, so probably nobody will remember anyway. Since it was perfect weather (60 degrees, sunny, clear blue skies) and the roads were damn good there was not enough hardship to create lasting memories. I do recall that we had tight twisties, fast sweepers, county straightaways where yours truly hit 122 mph as measured by GPS (not that lyin’ speedo, which probably read 140), quaint victorian towns and tarpaper shacks, scenic mountain and lake vistas, and even a short stretch of actual dirt for the 2 riders on Adventure Touring bikes. The riders gave lots of compliments on the route, which I can only accept with shame and disgrace (yay! a hardship!) because *I* did not plot the route; Garmin MapSource plotted the route. I just picked a few waypoints and told the software to stitch them together. Apparently it worked.

MJ had to depart before lunch for a benefit fundraiser for “John Ryan’s Express,” some unemployed maniac’s plan to attempt to set a new world record for riding from Prudhoe Bay Alaska to Key West Floriday. Old record: 96 hours, give or take. Spend my $50 donation wisely, or as wisely as anybody with such a plan possibly could.

…and then there were 8 magotts.

You’re Hurting Us With Your Joy

Lunch was at some place called (mumble mumble) Zachary’s (mumble blah blah) cafe in or near Roscoe NY. It was rescued from total disgusting perkiness by the fact that proceeds from the cafe apparently go to support a camp for cancer survivors run by the owner. It’s the kind of place that keeps a really friendly black Labrador running loose in the dining room, and where the owner came to our table after we got our food to tell us that “the other patrons in the cafe had asked him to tell us that we were being too quiet and we should noise it up a bit because we were bikers” or something like that. It was cute and he did it so that at first we all thought he was going to tell us to please be quiet. Oh, and the waitresses who I think were his daughters were *HAWT*!

No afternoon hardship

The afternoon went by in a blur of riding ecstasy. Thus, the memory is already fading. Then we noticed the time…

Hurry up and SUFFER

Around Windham we noticed that it was after 4 PM, and the Kentucky Derby post time was 6 PM. Evil Bill wanted to watch the race and run a betting pool in a bad way, and I was looking for a way to create memorable hardship, so we had to rush the last two hours of the ride to be sure we made it back in time. This meant we blew off riding into the Hunter Mountain parking lot, missing the “Catskills Triple Crown of off-season Ski areas.” Still, we came within a mile of the place and could see the snow-covered ski runs clearly (FYI all 3 ski areas had snow still. Vic said you could have skiied some runs at Belleayre the previous weekend, if you were willing to hike!)

So we rushed back to the Barn and made it in the nick of time. 5:45 PM, just enough time to draw up a office-pool style random horse assignment. I got this P.O.S. 50-to-1 long shot horse…

…that came in first! Yay me! $14 in winnings!

The shame of the poorly executed wheelie

Eventually MOST of us went out to a local roadhouse for dinner. I say “most” because Mr. Furious and his buddy Neil were too fragged to move, and they asked for pizza to be delivered to them. Mark, the thumper-man and non-pussy broke ranks and went with us. Vic created some hardship via social awkwardness by not only FETCHING THE PIZZA (there is no fookin’ pizza delivery in the boondocks!), but also stopping in the roadhouse and making sure they knew a big group was coming. When the magotts arrived, there was a table for 8 waiting. “Duh, what a coincidence” I thought, until Vic showed up. To mitigate our awkwardness we treated Vic to dinner. Another plan at hardship was thwarted when it turned out that what I had hoped to be a craphole of bad food actually had excellent eats.

I was able to generate some suffering on the ride out and back. On the ride out I shamed myself by pulling a pretty sexy wheelie, but forgetting to cancel my turnsignal before I did it. Wheelie: 100 cool points per foot in the air = 200 points. Turnsignal: -20 cool points per blink when not cancelled while pulling a wheelie. I believe I ended up in the negative territory.

I also destroyed much of my cred as Ride Captain by pulling out and zooming down the road while one magott (Evil Bill) was still buckling his buckles and snapping his snaps. Poor Evil was left at the roadhouse with no clue how to return to the Barn. Luckily Mark & Bota hung back when they figured out that he hadn’t actually pulled out with us. I hadn’t lost a single rider in all the myriad turns throughout the day, and now at the last minute I let a man down. Shame, shame on the shitty Ride Captain.

Once again we tried to suffer by staying up past 2 AM. This time we had help from Thinker’s girlfriend Kelly who showed up via car. Kelly spoiled the Scotch suffering by bringing Stoli. Later we were treated to Bota’s girlfriend trying to prove her skillz by challenging Bota to a pushup contest, and I think some other calisthenics. She was totally into proving how strong she was, and Bota wouldn’t pick up the challenge. Then she turned to the rest of us, but none of the fatasses would bite either.

Home is where the Hardship is

Sunday breakfast was a repeat of Saturday, minus Evil Bill banging pots and pans, and with Bota looking all sleek. Also minus Thinker and Kelly, who left early. It wasn’t until we were packed and ready to saddle up that Bota reminded me he needed to be home by 2:30 for a kid’s soccer game. That put the kebosh on my full scenic route ride home. I just told the GPS to take us to Narrowsburg on the Delaware river, where I knew we could pick up Hawk’s Nest. Turns out it took us back on some of the same roads we’d been on the day before.

The group split up in Barryville NY on the Delaware & Route 97. Mr. F, Mark, and Neil headed for their starting point in Milford PA. Bota and Annie (get your gun) headed for the highway and a fast route home. Probably didn’t need to,, since it was raining in the South and the game was probably cancelled.

Bill and I made a 4 mile detour to the Park Bar in Yulan NY. Thiw was a bar once owned by Evil’s in-laws. It was still there, and still being run by the guy Evil’s father-in-law had sold it to. Incidentally, the new owner looked like a cadaver. Nope, scratch that… he looked like a fat zombie. Nope, try again: He looked like a cadaverous fat zombie with prison tattoos. Yeah, that the image. The bar is what I’d describe as an “old man’s bar,” and I mean that as a good thing. They had 3 beers on tap: Genessee, Genessee Cream, and Schaefer. I didn’t even know Schaefer was still in business!

There was a fishing club occupying the bar, and since we bought raffle tickets from then they shared their 6-foot hero sandwich with us. Nothing satisfies like free lunch!

After a shot while Evil and I had to leave to get home. We rode together through Hawk’s Nest to Port Jervis where we parted ways. I stayed on Route 23 South through High Point NJ, where it started raining on me in earnest. The rain got very hard for the last 20 minutes on Route 287, but the Darien suit did it’s job and kept me dry.

I tried, I tried for hardhsip and suffering and pain and fear and loathing…. I think I failed. Memories of the ride are already fading…