Man I still remember my first motorcycle and the years my life was lived on two wheels. When I got my first Harley Sporster I had so much to learn. Life on a motorcycle is a different lifestyle, not merely a choice of ride. In the years that went by I learned how to shop light so I didn’t have to much shit to tie down with bungee chords, how to approach a red light without stopping completely, and how to dress for the particular ride of the day. Like if its getting to get cold, or if rain is in the forecast. But on my first bike trip I found my self unprepared in many ways. Being unprepared was mandatory for my naïve stoned ass back then so I planned my trip the way any self respecting weed smoking hippie would. Procrastinating. And procrastinating was something I was an expert in. If they gave an award for procrastinating I would win and send someone else to pick it up in a few weeks, I’m that good. So it was just me, a backpack of clothes, my “Motorcycle Mama” a road map, and a notion that set out on a Friday afternoon for a run up into the mountains for a weekend of two wheeled nirvana.
We began that trip from Long Island which was a great placer for riding. Jump on your scoot and head out east where traffic is sparse and other bikers are plentiful and it was motorcycle mania. Many a day spent just cruising from Massapequa to Montauk and back just for the ride. But I wanted to go on a mountain road trip. I’d been to the Catskill mountains by car many times but now that I am a two wheeled menace I wanted to think bigger. Hell I was a baddass in a leather jacket and motorcycle boots, not some wimp ass hippie in a Volkswagen anymore. Catskills? Childs play dude, I was heading up into the Adirondack Mountains. A friend told me about a place up past Amsterdam New York where there was a giant mound of earth called Jiminy Mountain in a town by the name of Castlerock not too far from Plattsburg. The mountain is uninhabited by humans and often people camp out there. True campers, with tents and shit. I wasn’t planning on roughing it that much, there’s a motel close to Castlerock and that’s where we would be staying. Then we could make a full day trip up the mountain the next morning, stopping off at the halfway point to a place called Cricket Falls. Normally the ride took about five and a half hours and I was stoked.
I’ve heard it said that getting there is half the fun and on this point I must disagree. It started out quite awesome, circumventing traffic jams in between lanes. Not a tactic I would recommend now that I am a seasoned rider, but when I saw the long line of cars all with the same notion, to get the fuck out of town for the weekend, it was just far too tempting. I slowly crossed the Throggs Neck Bridge in illegal but effective fashion, and once past all the tri city congestion the real adventure begins. With my girlfriend on back we breezed across the Tappan Zee Bridge and were on our way up to the country. As we crossed over into Rockland County the first bad omen appeared on the horizon. The sky was darkening up ahead and not because the sun was going down. It looked as though there may be a storm up ahead and the darkness had an evil grin. We continued up The New York State Thru-way an that’s when it began. It was a mere drizzle but it made me realize something quite important to a motorcycle rider. I had no raingear, no windsheild, and my backpack was unprotected from the oncoming onslaught of raindrops.
Raindrops can be so romantic, Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head, I saw her sitting in the rain, raindrops falling on her, Oh it must be raindrops, so many raindrops, sweet romantic raindrops. If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops. Cute little innocent raindrops. But when you’re traveling at 65plus MPH out in the open those raindrops band together like a soggy convention of bullies and while some slap the shit out of your face, hands, and torso, the others form aquatic conspiracies and loiter wherever they can because they’re bent on soaking one right trough to the bone. The rain was fast, wet, and hard because in a matter of seconds we were both drenched and uncomfortable. As if that weren’t bad enough many of the raindrops that missed the all out assault on us directly gathered on the road in front of us to extract as much traction as possible from the two tires. Lesson, riding in the rain is dangerous, and always pack raingear. Too late for that I had to get creative.
We stopped at the first rest stop available. “Two cups of hot coffee and two large garbage bags please.” The waitress looked confused at first but as soon as she saw the puddles forming under our soaked bodies she got it. We sat down sipped our coffee and began to dry off. After five minutes the waitress came back with two large plastic garbage bags meant for the jumbo trash cans in the kitchen, “Here ya go honey, this aughta keep ya dry for a bit. How far ya headed?” I took the bags and thanked her, “We’re headin’ up to Jiminy Mountain in Castlerock.” She gave us a worried glance, “This ain’t gonna be near enough honey, lemme see if I can talk the chef into two more bags for ya’s”. She disappeared and as we finished our coffees she returned with two more bags, “Here ya go Hon, good luck now.” and with a wink she left earning herself a five dollar tip for two cups of coffee.
“Why did you leave her five dollars JT? And what are we gonna do pick up garbage along the way? You were flirting with her weren‘t you?” Note to self, never travel with a jealous girlfriend. “I wasn’t flirting with her I was thanking her, she gave us some protection from the rain. We can cut holes in the bags and wear them like raincoats.” Satisfied but still suspicious of me flirting she relented and we put the plastic bag raincoats on before gassing up and headed back out to the thru-way. Driving on the wet road is dangerous enough, but with the big eighteen wheelers kicking the rain off their tires its twice as dangerous and ten times as annoying. I was passing them and they didn’t like it, and before long I found myself in a game of cat and mouse, one truck passing me and getting right in front of me, me passing it only to find myself challenged by another asshole in an eighteen wheeler. I envisioned them on their fuckin’ CB radios, “Hey big buddy, we got us a wise ass biker looking to play hide and seek.” “Back atcha big buddy, lets fuck this two wheel shit to pieces, mon back. Big ten four buddy, eyeballin’ the little bastards now, taking them to the curb.”
At first it was just a pain in the ass but it rapidly escaladed to road war. I was getting more and more pissed by the minute but not much I could do, it was still raining and our garbage bags were shredding. I pulled ahead of all three of the asshole truckers and snuck into the next rest stop to top off the gas tank, have another coffee, and let the three amigos find someone else to terrorize.
Fully caffeinated, slightly rested, still soaked but freshly bagged we set back out on the road. It was a matter of minutes before another trucker started playing games with us. Joined by one other big rig I wondered if they laid in wait for us but that wasn’t possible, this was two new assholes, maybe heard the other trucks talking about us on their CB’. Now I was getting real pissed but they kept playing their game, boxing us in then taking turns passing and cutting us off. I could see them smiling as I passed them which only inflamed my already heated temper. I had enough and decided I was just gonna blow past them. The rain had slowed down and I felt like we could make a get-away. As I was passing the lead truck the dickhead driver broke the camels back. The asshole rolled down his window and flicked a cigar but at us just as we were passing. The stogie struck my breast and the red ambers scattered both sides behind me. I was livid now, and in the spirit of Easy Rider, just like in the last scene, I drove up along side his cab, waited until he turned his fat redneck face at me and stuck my middle finger out as clear as I possibly could. I didn’t want to leave any doubt that I was saying “This Fuck You is all yours!”
I felt vindicated, I felt euphoric, I felt free, free and wild like Billy in Easy Rider telling him and every other trucker fucker what I thought of them. I also felt petrified, because as I remembered the last scene Billy was shot and his bike was spread across the highway. I was petrified because I now realized that my cigar flinging nemesis would be so indignant from my salute he would be on the CB in touch with every trucker fucker for a hundred miles, telling them about some long hair hippie and his biker babe messin’ with all truckers. The stakes of this stupid game had just gotten too high. I rode as fast as I could avoiding as many trucks as possible until we reached the next rest stop, about thirty miles from Castlerock where I parked the bike in the back. We sat down and ate and drank coffee for two hours waiting for everything to blow over, the rain, the truckers, and my angry Mama.
When we finally did get back on the road, we filled the tank, talked another waitress into two more garbage bags, and set out for the last of the run. 25 miles of highway and 6 mile of local side road left, we were both exhausted and in dire need of sleep. We planned to go straight to Motel Jiminy Cricket, where they also leave the lights on, and hit up into the mountains after a good nights sleep. The rain had stopped and the ride on the highway was much safer and uneventful. The last part of our run was a six mile winding road down Osh Kosh Avenue, of Buttfuck boulevard , or lost canyon New York, where hicks are raised ala Appalachia. Not much around but nature and lots of space. We didn’t see another vehicle the entire six miles and the monotony was lulling us into complacency. I felt my girlfriends head get heavy on my back and knew she was falling asleep. On the back of a moving motorcycle!!! I tried to shake her awake twice, but then suddenly my headlight went out and my engine stalled. I popped the clutch and it started back up, but for two seconds that acted more like five minutes I had no headlight on a windy and very dark road, my Mama asleep with her head digging into my back, and a feeling like I never wanted to ride again. We got to the motel both of us awake, drenched, and exhausted. I took out the battery which was soaked and shorting out, and got a room for us and the battery where we dried out overnight.
The rest of the excursion was phenomenal, riding trails meant only for bikers and hikers and saw a huge pond at the very top of mount Jiminy, a sight only a handful of other human has ever has the pleasure to behold. We rested in a natural rock tub atop a waterfall at Cricket Creek watching the fierce water arc outward and onward into the rapids, and enhanced the enchanted excursion by convening with as well as smoking Mother Nature. Sights and sounds so remarkable and spectacular the trials and tribulations of getting here dissolved in the wind. I continued to ride for another ten years having to end my riding tenure because of injuries and responsibilities and I look back fondly on the years I rode. One year my beat up VW was shot and I rode my two wheel wonder through a difficult and harsh New York winter, complete with an ice storm and two blizzards, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. As far as the first mountain road trip I admit I was shitting pickles after the cigar stogie middle finger incident, but I gotta tell ya looking back it was one of the most liberating and proud moments of my life when if only for a few short minutes I stood up to a convoy of testosterone laden asshole truckers and said, FUCK YOU!