NYS HOG Rally: Syracuse, NY

We left at 8am Thursday from the Buccaneer Diner in it Astoria. Three couples and two singles. I found out that no one in our group of eight had ever been up Rt. 97 which runs from Port Jervis up the eastern side of the Delaware River to Hancock, NY where it terminates. Rt. 97 is called a “scenic biway.”

So from the diner over the RFK (used to be Tri-Boro) Bridge, bear right before the toll and follow signs to the Harlem River Dr. which takes you to the George Washington Bridge – upper roadway to the Palisades. I wanted to take the Palisades because there’s a lot of shade and it was a very hot day.

The Palisades ends in a rotary. You can take Rt. 6 east over the Bear Mountain Bridge, or west where it joins 17 (now Interstate 86) for a while before veering off 17 to Port Jervis. We stopped for gas in Port Jervis (a town at the intersection of three states: NY, PA and NJ) and then headed up the “scenic biway” 97 to Hancock. Lunch at a diner just off the terminus of 97 to the right. Classic diner.

You pick up 17W in Hancock. All interstate from this point on. In Binghampton you take 81N to Syracuse. I used the GPS to find the Holiday Inn which was the Rally site.

The rally was good. The weather was hot but it only rained at night. I went on two guided rides. The Friday ride went to Watkins Glen, a little town at the southern tip of Lake Seneca, home of “The Gorge” and a Formula One Race Track. We got to blast our bikes around the track a few times. Very cool taking the banked turns, gearing down into the hairpin and opening up on the straightaway. The Saturday ride went to a crafts festival in Penn Yan. There was a wooden boat company in this town once that took its name from this town.

You ride in staggered formation when you ride in groups leaving around 2 seconds of space between yourself and the rider in front of. In the lane you are either on the left near the line or the right near the shoulder. It’s important to maintain the formation for safety reasons. “What happens in front happens to you.” For the first half of the ride there was this guy behind me on the left (line side) who would rubberband every time we went into a curve or slowed down for a light or stop sign. In other words he would pull up right beside me or a little ahead of me in these situations. This is dangerous. I was going to speak to him at the gas stop, but he pulled into the position just ahead of me when we left the gas station. Fine. Rather be behind the asshole, anyway.

Well he did the same thing the riders who remained ahead of him. One of these guys said something to him at the Penn Yan Crafts Festival. I had a nice bit of fellowship with the two other guys who had to deal with this jerk. He was “advised” to take the second position behind the ride leader for the trip back.



Bear Mountain, NY Ride

Start over the RFK (Tri-boro) Bridge (toll) bearing right toward Manhattan, to Harlem River Dr. to GW Bridge upper roadway, rt on Palisades, over to 9W when you leave Jersey and are back into NY. Follow 9W to turn for Bear Mountain State Park (a little past Tompkins Cove). Nice winding road to lookout tower at top of mountain. Back down left on 9W to Bear Mountain Bridge (you’re now on 6), right after bridge. After some twisties you get to a traffic circle; take 9 south. Whenever 9 and 9A diverge, stay to the left to avoid town traffic. 9A leads to the Taconic and after a short bit on that you get on the Bronx Pkwy (same as Bronx River Pkwy), a slower but nicer ride to the Bruckner and the RFK over to Queens. I think the whole ride is about 125 mi. Helps to have EZ pass. Enjoy!

Long Island Ride: Orient, NY

This was actually the maiden voyage for me on my new ’05 Dyna Wide Glide, formerly my dad’s. My dad and I did this ride a while back on mother’s day (she was at yoga and wanted some alone time, so we were allowed) upon the recommendation of a guy at the dealership when we were finalizing the paperwork formalities.

It’s quite a nice ride once you actually get out onto the island. That’s the hard part as it can be a little tedious to get away from the lights, as it always is when you live in a city and you’re trying to get out to the nice roads. The route itself is very easy as you’re only following 2 roads for the most of it. First get on to Rt. 25 going East. You can actually follow this all the way out to Orient Pt. but it was a nice detour to fork left and follow 25A which took us to Port Jefferson, a little fishing town on the island. My dad and I ended up stopping for lunch here and turning back (yoga was almost over), but the road is supposed to only get better. Eventually 25A curves back inland  and joining back up with Rt. 25 again which takes you all the way out to the tip.

So, if you manage to get away with having a free day to enjoy the summer weather, make sure to get out there because there’s a great ride right in your back yard!

Final ride of the season: Night Time Odyssey Through Western New York

Both my bike and I having been idle in Toronto from any long trips for over a month, I decided that I would take the upcoming holiday weekend (thanksgiving in Canada and Columbus day in the states) to take one more trip before it got too cold, and it would probably be my last chance so I was going to go no matter what, premature winter be damned!

So I booked off the necessary days from work with the plan to head from Toronto to Oneonta, NY to visit my brother at college. I also invited my girlfriend along, letting her know of course that she would be signing up for nearly 800 miles in 3 days in very cold weather.

The trip turned out to be very intense, but just the type of adventure I needed. We left at 7pm on Saturday night after I finished my shift at work with the plan to drive two hours to Niagara where we would spend the night and then finish the trip on Sunday. Well it turned out that virtually all of the hotels in western New York were booked from Niagara to Elmira. So 10 hours later, after sub freezing weather, thick fog, rain, and many hotel desk clerks with bad news (some very friendly and helpful, some complete assholes, and some just plain weird) we pulled into the Mark Twain Motor Inn in Elmira at 5am. I was incredibly impressed with how my girlfriend held up, only starting to get frustrated at about 3 or 4 in the morning when the rain was freezing on our clothes and the condensation on the bottom of my visor was forcing me to tilt my head down to see my control panel, leading my poor passenger to think I was falling asleep.

Needless to say, the next two days were boring in comparison. Having done most of the drive the day (night) before, Sunday was a leisurely 100 mile day into Oneonta and a much less sketchy hotel (bath water did not come out yellow). Even doing the full drive back on Monday was relatively easy, other than long lines at the border, cold at first but we made good time and were able to take the necessary rejuvinating breaks.

It was overall a much welcome exclamation mark at the end of my sadly abbreviated riding season this year. Hopefully it will hold me over for at least a couple of the months that my bike is sitting in storage. Now I can’t help but look forward to that first thaw of next year!

Towed! (revisited)

So after a long process of asking around at several offices and websites, I managed to discover the actual process to dispute and get a refund for a tow. It was not, as I initially was advised, to file a complaint with the small claims court. It turned out that this process would have cost nearly as much as what I was trying to get back not counting the time to fill out paper work and go to court.

I first emailed and, after no response, called the Toronto parking authority about the situation to settle out of court and it turns out that there is an address to which you can write to request an investigation. So I wrote out a letter and made copies of all my receipts and the ticket and sent it in to the parking authority. Less than a week later I got a call that my complaint was received and an investigation would be opened.

To save people the trouble that I went through here is the address. Be sure to include a full description of your situation, copies of all relevant paperwork, and all contact information. Good luck!

Parking Enforcement East
1500 Don Mills Road 6th floor
North York, ON M3B 3K4
Attn: Unit Commander

An interesting point about the two parking tickets I got (both I wanted to fight), they both got cancelled! I found this out when I went to metro hall to fight the second one and when the information was entered I was told that the ticket was cancelled and the first ticket had been taken out of the system. Don’t know what happened, but I definitely lucked out.

Toronto-Lake Placid (2)

So overall my weekend trip to Lake Placid was very successful. Especially once I got all the kinks worked out of the route, it turned out to be a great ride.

I ended up getting a little lost after wolf island once I entered New York but managed to work it out just fine. Wolf Island itself was also a really nice ride. It was about a 20 minute ride on a two lane highway through farm land.

Had an interesting experience with one of the locals there too. I had realized after a couple of minutes that one of my saddle bag straps was lose so I pulled into the entrance of a driveway to fix it. I left the engine idling and got off. There was a big dog on the porch of the house farther down the driveway that was barking at me. After a little while just as I was about ready to get back on the bike a woman comes out and starts yelling at me to fuck off. Well that pissed me off cause I hadn’t even revved the engine. So I gave her the finger, she returned the favor and I drove off. Funny the attitude some people have towards bikers…

After not too much longer, I arrived in the Adirondacks and wow, what perfect motorcycle country! You can smell the difference of the fresh mountain air, the roads are relatively empty, and the curves are very numerous and a lot of fun. After the 8 or so hours it took me to get there, once I was in the park, I felt like I could’ve ridden for another 8 hours. Of the routes I’ve driven in my roughly 7000 miles, the Adirondacks is definitely my favourite. You can really tell how motorcycle friendly a place is by how many bikes are around and Lake Placid was full of them and bikes of all kinds: sports bikes, smaller cruisers, and full on touring bikes.

Needless to say, I was a bit sad to leave the roads of upstate New York but it was alright as I had better idea of the route I’d be taking back. I had a quick drive up I-80 after I left the park which was only about 30 miles until 1000 Island bridge over to Canada. I then took the quick route to Bellville via the 401. There i met a friend and found why rt. 2 was a recommended road. Between Bellville and Port Hope on Rt. 2 was great. There was not the numerous towns that slowed me down so much on the way out and it was just generally a great motorcycle road. You also pass by Canada’s largest air base in Trenton which is a pretty cool site (there’s also an adjacent museum with some cool old planes, definitely worth a drive by). My friend and I got off rt. 2 a little early as it started to rain a bit and hopped on the 401 the rest of the way to Toronto.

Overall a really nice ride. It was pretty liesurely and there were lots of bits that could be done on their own for shorter weekend rides if you’re in the area. I also hear that the drive around Prince Edward County is supposed to be worth a try, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time this go around.

My route from Toronto to Lake Placid:

My Route from Lake Placid to Toronto:

Toronto-Lake Placid (1)

So after about three months of having the bike out of winger storage and only two “long distance” trips (one being 100 miles round trip and another was to Wasaga Beach for a long weekend, but more about those later) I’m finally out on a real touring trip, and one that I haven’t done before.

Right now I’m sitting in the wolf-island ferry terminal waiting for the three o’clock ferry to New York. It took me about four hours to go the roughly 200 km from Toronto to Kingston. My originally planned route was to take route 2/Kingston road all the way to Kingston. I had looked up this route in my H.O.G. touring guide which marked pretty much all of rt. 2 as a scenic route. The one problem though is that google maps estimated the time for what should be around a six hour trip into a nearly ten hour one.

Initially this didn’t bother me much. As most riders will probably agree with, I wanted to avoid the major highways (the 401 on this case) and 2 looked like it would be a nice ride. So I thought I’d wake up early and go for it.

The way I got to the highway was to take the Gardiner east to lake shore which leads into Kingston road. As soon as I got there though there was nothing but lights and traffic. This made me regret not having just gone up to the 401 and take it out farther where rt. 2 wouldn’t be so busy. At that point it was too late so I thought I’d just wait it out until it opened up more. maybe I just got impatient, but it never really did. So finally I just took a turn off onto the 401 where finally instead of moving at 70 km/h I could hit 125.

Well I thought I’d stay on there until I saw the next exit for rt. 2. I saw after maybe 20 minutes but it was on simcoe road. This kind of confused me most of all because it was going north south rather than east west. I had to ask for directions twice before getting back on track and once I was it was more of the same slow moving traffic through towns. After this, and checking a map in a gas station in bellville which showed many more towns, I decided to stay on the 401 until a town called Napanee about 30 km out of Kingston and I must say that that stretch of rt. 2 was very nice. My experience on the 401 wasn’t that unpleasant either. Once you’re out of the city and away from the four lane and express lanes section of the highway, the 401 is definitely tolerable.

Now as I sit here waiting for ferry I can only hope that my little detours ended up saving me time rather than costing me it. I also cannot wait for the final leg of the trip along the winding roads of the Adirondacks.

Gas count:
First fill up before leaving 15 bucks at 1.31 perliter 89 unleaded
Second after 120 miles 12 bucks at 1.30 per liter 89 unleaded