What seems like the rainiest summer I can remember, appears to be drawing to a close. Despite unexpectedly getting soaked to the bone on more than one occasion, I can’t be too angry because our Catskills lawn has never looked better! Continue reading
Motorcycle season can be relatively short in the Catskills. There are some folks who are much more hardcore than I who have been riding since early April. We sneaked in one lap around the Pepacton in late April on an unseasonably warm evening. But it was quick, with no real stops and we both got pretty cold. For Britt and I, the first week of May was the first instance this spring when the weather was finally warm and dry enough to suit up and roll out for a “real” ride. Continue reading
One of my main takeaways from this little jaunt that I did over the summer, was that I needed to figure out a real luggage solution for my bike if I was going to be taking anymore multi-day trips. I had been passively scanning the Revzilla spam emails, and paying a little closer attention to the other bikes I saw with good looking boxes or bags affixed to them. But I didn’t see anything that really stood out to me. A few weeks ago one of my friends from Union Garage randomly sent me a message about the new stuff they had received from the Italian outfit Unit Garage. So many garages!! At any rate, I knew right away that I had found the gear I was looking for. Can’t beat that Italian design!
Initially I ordered only the side boxes, hoping that I could retain the existing rear rack. Soon after I began installation, I realized that the existing rear rack would not be compatible with the pannier racks, and ended up ordering the top case as well. The Union Garage guys were very cool about making sure that I had matching lock cores for the whole set, so that I wasn’t carrying around extra keys (or worse, forgetting to carry them).
Installing the racks to the frame was a piece of cake. Getting the OEM under-tail unit to play nice with them is a different story. Ultimately I had to reposition the indicators a few inches to the rear (the pannier kit included parts for this), and shortened the stocks down to about an inch in length. I also had to take a sawzall to the stock tail light bracket and plate holder. I ended up going with an after market plate holder, but was able to use the original OEM tail light after trimming a few inches of plastic from the original housing.
I am very happy with the way they came out. The boxes are super nice with neoprene liners and leather top straps. Now I just need to plan another road trip!! Here are a few additional photos–
In early July, I was fortunate enough to cut loose from the desk for several days and explore some of the back roads of New England. Thanks to Backcountry Discovery Routes, several of such roads had already been mapped out for me. I was able to attend an event at Union Garage (at some pre-pandemic date) where the BDR guys basically unveiled the North East route. After watching the promotional film at the event, I was super stoked about trying it out someday. As it turns out, the route runs right through my neighborhood in the Catskills, and I now have a bike that goes off road. My plan was to ride sections 2, 3 and 4 as far as the top of Mt. Washington (then turn around and come back) in the space of 4 days. Long story short, I learned early on in my trip that it was unwise (borderline idiotic) to attempt some of the tougher parts of this route alone with no cell service. I made it as far as Chester VT, when the forecast turned to rain for the foreseeable future. As a result, I opted to turn around and spend a full day riding back to the Catskills instead of spending multiple more miserable days riding in the rain. As it was, I saw some very beautiful country. I had some very anxiety inducing moments in the deep back country, but ultimately made it out the other side. The ride back was insanely wet and dreary, but better one day than multiple. Here are some photos from the excursion. Most of them were unfortunately cell phone shots (taken in portrait orientation). But here they are anyway-
The photo above is the first section of really gnarly terrain that I encountered. This was on the downhill side, which I found much more difficult than the uphill. It was so rough that it shook my water bottle loose from its moorings. It is a lot of work wrestling a 600 LB bike through this stuff, especially when wearing full gear in 80+ degree (and humidity) weather. I had a moment when I stopped to take this photo where I wondered to myself exactly what I had gotten into.
The section above was another one where I almost got stuck/dropped the bike a few times. It had rained all night, and there was very slippery mud in the rutted out trail. You can see from the haze in the air how humid it was that morning.
Overall, it was an awesome experience. I highly recommend it, if you are into dual sport riding. Hoping to give it another shot next summer when I have (a) a proper luggage solution and, (b) some company.
Last time I rode across the bridge in the photo above, it was on a R1200GS in 2014. If you would have told me six years ago that I would be living up here, I probably would have laughed pretty hard. Last week I took some time off work for a trip that ended up not materializing. But I was able to capitalize on the time off anyway thanks to some nice weather last Monday and spent the morning exploring Rt. 30, along with all of the little side roads (most of which turn into logging trails if you follow them far enough). It was a really awesome time. I was able to get in just over 100 miles worth of combined pavement and dirt riding. I brought the Fujifilm X100s along with me. Here are some snaps from the adventure.
I’ve been doing some evening rides. Not always staying out until blue hour, but I did on Tuesday. Blue hour rides can be kind of sketchy because of all the deer that are out that time of night. But I can take it easy on the throttle around here since the traffic situation is basically non-existent. I usually do on backroads anyway, since I’m still learning all of the routes up here. Saw plenty of deer Tuesday night, but no close calls.
I like this set a lot because even though I put a super warm wash on them, the blue hour vibe still comes through pretty strong (in my opinion anyway). These were all shot on my Fujifilm X100S. It is a nice lightweight piece with good glass and a long enough strap that I can sling it cross body and shoot from the saddle. Since I have to use my right hand for the shutter, I usually just pull the clutch and snap a couple of quick ones while the throttle is closed. Anyway, here is some stuff I saw Thursday evening.
It’s that time of the winter when the holidays are in the rear view and I’m basically just waiting for it to warm up. These sentiments especially acute this year based on the fact that I have to sit out on all the usual winter sports that I like. There have been a few warm days where I have seen people out on their motos. It makes me jones a little.
I wrote about the glamping ride I did with Union Garage last fall. They subsequently put together a vid of that ride (some of the footage by yours truly). I’m embedding it here below in anticipation of it being riding weather again very soon!
Columbus Day is one of those weird holidays. When I say “weird” I’m not even referring to the controversy surrounding the question of why it is even a holiday anymore. I’m talking about the fact that, even though the federal government and the banks are closed, only some businesses observe. Further, is the fact that the weather could go either way in the northeastern US. Some years it is still beach weather on Columbus days. Other years, there is snow on the ground. This year was one of those rare times when Columbus Day weekend in the tri-state area had exactly the weather that one would expect it to have; it felt like fall.
One of the local Brooklyn motorcycle shops (Union Garage) put together a ride to rural PA for an overnight glamping trip. I had been on a few rides organized by these guys before, so I knew that I could expect a mellow, no a-hole type of crew. I roped in my buddy Mike (from this ride), who also rides a Monster, to join in.
We met at the shop in Red Hook around 7 AM on Saturday and rode all day, taking back roads and enjoying the fall foliage. We even did a few surprise offroad miles. It wasn’t ideal for the people riding bikes with aging street tires, but everyone made it back to the pavement in one piece and it definitely made for some great stories. Mike and I skipped the last section of the local route and opted for highway, since daylight was fading and he only had a very tinted visor. Mike and I rolled into the campsite with about 30 minutes of daylight to spare. We were the first ones to arrive, and as result, were able to tap the keg and enjoy the sights and sounds of the rest of the group rolling in.
Dinner was prepared and served by the camp owners. This was followed by a bonfire, and a super legitimate firework show. A lot of the guys did full-on tent camping. Others (including myself) opted for the bunkhouse. In the morning, we woke up to the first frost, and it was a thick one. There was a nice coat of ice on everyone’s saddle. After breakfast, the crew split off into smaller groups and headed back east. We had a really great time. It was a great way to cap off the 2019 riding season. I hope I can do it again next year.
Some of the photos from the trip–
Union had a gaggle of classic Norton’s on display over the weekend. I managed to pop by on Saturday evening to swoon over them a bit. I’m not sure how I would do with the shifter on the “wrong” side, but the bikes sure are nice to look at. Here are a few of the snaps. As with many things in life, the devil is in the details.
The design of the speedo and tach in the photo below really drew me in. They reminded me a lot of the instrument cluster on my old man’s Honda XL 350 from the same era (although, if I remember correctly the background on XL’s dials was blue not black).
All of the race bikes had dry clutches like the one in the photo below. Super cool looking, and probably sound gnarly as well.
Really digging the “NYCNorton” stamped header hardware on the bike below.
The 2017 Commando (below) was super cool. It has all of the original Norton swagger, but is updated with modern tech and design notes. Notice that the shifter and rear brake lever have also migrated to the “normal” sides.