annotations by SCIENCE
Opinions are strongly mixed about Americade. Some riders think it sucks, thats its a convention for geezers on Goldwings. Other think that it blows, just 200,000 rednecks shouting ‘show us your tits.’ As a member in good standing of the first camp, I was looking forward to missing Biff at that event while joining a ragtag collection of bikers and biker wannabees converging on what is known in some circles as ‘The Alpine Club’ for the annual
CatCarskillcade. This is my story.
It was a dark and stormy night. The wind blew the rain across my path as I contemplated my journey’s start. ‘Fuck this’ I thought, immediately turning back to the warmth of my hearth and the coolness of my adult beverage. Its always a struggle trying to figure out the more attractive option: 3 hours in the cold rain, culminating in a dreary motel in the ‘dead zone,’ as our venue is lovingly called – or huddling hearthside accompanied by American spirits and a pliant companion. The latter eked out a win.
Awakening with a start, I realized that the days journey needed to start with a single step. Last nights decision reared its ugly head, and with a towering resolve, I accomplished the feat, and packed the bike. The LT was running good, new tires and my charging apparatus finally sorted, I set out to Staples to meet the Biker of the Apocolypse and his sidekick. Being Saturday morning, there is light traffic on 95 as I blast south…surrounded by blue-hairs, orientals, trucks full of landscapers, and Fast & Furious fans, all looking drawn by Steadman, I envision giant bats and close my eyes hoping they will go away. That along with a twist of the throttle, clears my field…touching the ton, and feeling good I exit.
As de-facto Logistical Officer and the main guy who beloings to the Alpine Club, I guess I am responsible (at fault?) for the planning of this Spring’s Catskillcade. Three things conspired to almost turn Catskillcade into Carskillcade:
- I was sick. Sick, sick, sick. And not like the usual “thinks dead puppies are funny” sick, but the “lava and sandpaper in the throat” kind.
- Weather report: MONSOON! I admit to being one of those motorcyclists who not only prides themselves on not letting a little rain spoil the ride, but also one who taunts the other maggots for being afraid to ride in the rain. But the weather report was calling for EPIC rain, and riding in a deluge when already sick… well, I guess I found out where my breaking point is.
- The final straw: My wife volunteered to work the High School Coffee House (a monthly even where the kids in my daughter’s high school hang out, perform music, poetry readings, and amateur stand-up comedy… in other words, they torture each other). That meant that I either had to take my younger child along to Catskillcade (in a car, hence Carskillcade), or wait until 10 PM to leave, putting me on the road, fatigued, at night, in a heavy rainstorm.
Plus the weather report changed drastically for Saturday, indicating really good weather. And so I made the command decision: Catskillcade delayed until Saturday morning, bright and early. I would still be sick, but at least I would be riding in the dry.
Nearing the office supply superstore, I spy no bikes, but a lithesome figure in black, helmeted and solitary. Sensing easy prey, I shortlist pickup lines in my head. A weekend in the Catskills with someone I don’t know seems attractive, nothing written in stone I even have to go to the Catskills…oh, fuck, its Annie. BOTA getting gas.
The Southern contingent planned to meet on Route 23 in NJ off Green Pond Road, to allow for a handy overland trip around the Skylands to Bear Mountain. Supposed to meet at 7:30, and I got up at 6 AM figuring no problem making the 25 minute ride to the meetup. However, my GPS was not being cooperative. I am a big fan of Garmin dedicated GPS units, and my Zumo 550 has served me well for years. But the motorcycle mount was jammed, and I had to dither around for quite a while trying to fix it without breaking it. I finally snapped the damn thing in place but I was almost 30 minutes late. Luckily Konrad, George, and the FNG waited patiently for me.
Our rendezvous accomplished, and feeling a step slow, I admonish my leader, ‘not into slab’ thinking of course, that the implied, ‘I don’t want to be in traffic or have to think too much,’ would be interpreted and processed with the cat-like clarity that he is known for. Well, no. Weaving at 90+ through lines of blue hairs, we slab it to Bear Mountain for the Tower meetup. As we approach the Tower Road, BOTA waves me ahead, as his sense of direction is less than cat-like. Right in front of the blocked off entrance, I pull even – see the fence, and stop. At that exact moment BOTA changes his mind, and races downhill apace. I am all wtf? and chase…we arrive at the soon to be open Lodge and we alight to send electronic signals to the soon to be arriving Jersey Boys.
We knew we were late, but of course we planned an overland back-roads route to Bear Mountain that took longer than expected, so 30 minutes late turned into 45 minutes late. I know the NY’ers were concerned for our safety… or pissed… because I could feel my phone going off in my jacket pocket, gently vibrating my nipple through the Darien jacket. Mmmmm….
When we finally arrived at the Bear Mountain Lookout tower, we immediately called and texted. Annie said that Thynk3r had just left the lodge to look for us up the tower road, so we figured that we’d wait and take a pit stop (“to a Man, All the World is a urinal”). Thynk3r didn’t show within 15 minutes, so we headed down to the lodge.
Sometime later, Lodge still not open, I decide to ride up to the entrance – we haven’t heard from the JBs and its hard to misinterpret directions here. Surprise! Tower road now open! No idea they closed it overnight. I race up – nothing – then back. Another surprise! The JBs are up there…wtf? Come on down we say, and soon we are united. Half-sack, George (yet to be nick-named) and Greg – seasoned riders all, and worthy members of our group.
Nice ride up 9W and typical upstate traffic, meaning nada. Vic is working hard when we dismount. That is pretty much the last I remember…we rode for a while, then come back…with Mr Furious, John, and Neil make the scene and our party is complete oh, and BOTA fell asleep later. I’m hoping others can fill in the blanks. I have a slight feeling of unease…what did I do?
Well, Thynk3r… I can fill in the blanks. Once we arrived at the Alpine Club, I wanted to pass out because sick. But the Maggots wanted to go back to Hunter Mountain and see what was going on at the Phil Lesh Rock Jam or whatever it was. Apparently there was a weekend of Jam-band Deadhead-type music going on at Hunter Mountain ski Area, which is about 45 minutes away on some great roads. An excellent plan, though some might note that the chances of parking within 5 miles of such an event without concert tickets is a fool’s game. Sure enough, we are turned away for lack of tix. There is a short thought of maybe buying tickets, but without even whipping out a smartphone to check the price it is assumed that they will be triple-digit costly and it would be silly to buy them just to hang out for three hours.
Instead, we grab lunch at the same place where Marcus was knocked down by a local driver during Biketoberfest two years back (the local driver who was eventually caught and then protected by the police because he was their High School buddy or something). After lunch, Konrad takes half the group on a ride to circle the ski areas of the Catskills. I am totally fried, so I head back to the Alpine Club with BOTA, Annie, and Thynk3r in tow. By the time we get there, Mr. Furious has arrived by car with Neal and FNG#2. Me? I have had all’s I can stand and I can’t stands n’more, so I pass out dead asleep.
Now here is the part where I am blank. I ASSUMED that people came back and hung around, having beers and telling lies to each other. I do know that when I woke up, hungry, nobody wanted to have any of the awesome Hayek’s deli Italian Sausage patties. They all begged off, not hungry, and tried to push the cooking to later. It was only the next week that I learned that Mr. Furious had brought a lasagna and everyone had eaten while I slept. They were too nice to tell me, and I had to twist arms to get some grilling done. The rest of the evening went like every Catskillcade: Beer, Whisky, food, talk, more Whisky, talk, BOTA passes out quetly before 11 PM, talk (mostly about BOTA now). Konrad, Thynk3r, and I were the last ones left standing at 2:oo AM, and we agreed to declare a tie and go to bed.
Waking Sunday feeling bloated for some reason. After unsuccessfully trying to ‘back one out,’ hazy memories of meat and beer begin to surface. So much meat. I make a conscious
effort to hide the memory deep within my soul, burying it, never to come out, except maybe in 30 years in the form of disturbing dystopian nightmare.
Sunday’s events were sweet. A typical AC breakfast, some new friends, purrfect riding weather, a nice crowd at Emerald Point, bikes, chicks, and beers. We blast home on slab and look forward to the Adventure Trip. Hope I can make it!
Riding to the Emerald Point was not my original plan. I figured I’d just ride home because… sick! However, Annie was adamant. Emerald Point! Emerald Point! She shouted, like a six year old who had been promised a trip to the FroYo store. OK, ok, ok. We will go to the Emerald Point, even though there is no easy way to get there from here.
Which, as it turns out, is a GOOD thing for motorcycles on a nice day! I plugged the address of the Emerald Point into my GPS, then rode up Oliveria Road to Frost Valley NY. This would put us smack dab in the middle of Buttfuck, Catskills and guarantee that the GPS’s tiny brain would have no choice but to route us through backroads to Greenwood Lake. And it worked like a charm! Not surprising, because we’ve done this very thing in past years of Catskills riding. Following Jill’s voice (the little person inside the Garmin who tells me where to turn while I keep my eyes on the road), we did back roads to about Monticello NY, then the rural part of Route 17 to Goshen NY (was it 17A? 17B? 17M? 17K?… New York just fookin’ LOVES that number. They should just call all their roads “Route 17” and be done with it).
We made Greenwood Lake by 2:00 PM with about 100 other motorcyclists at the Emerald Point. Actually, I should say 100 other bikers and biker wannabes. 98$ Harleys, as usual. Got a table in the sun so Annie could work on her case of melanoma, had a good lunch, and then separated so that we could all get home for family obligations.
My throut was still on fire at the end. Worse, in fact. I could feel the skin sloughing off, leaving raw access to my lungs and now I was hacking up great globs of horror. I was going to pay for this, but it was worth it. Took me until Thursday to start feeling better, but the memories will last at least until next month 🙂