Welcome to part 2 of the 2005 CMG Fall Tour. In part 1 we found an excellent route through Pennsylvania, with a slightly questionable end through the Delaware Gap, ending at the New York State border. From here there's the glorious Hawks' Nest, closely followed by the Catskills and the Adirondacks. But why am I telling you this? That's Ed's job ...
THE LAND OF DEAD CATS AND HAWKS’ NESTS
Most people’s first recollection of the Catskills is as the location of Ripp Van Winkle’s famous snooze, but the roads through here are nothing to yawn about. With scenery to rival the Adirondacks to the north, and a web of county roads reminiscent of the Pennsylvania network to the west, this area is a “must do” destination for the sport-touring enthusiast.
It is compact compared to PA but most county and township ribbons are hard surfaced. For the urbanites among you, NYC is within spitting distance, yet even on the weekend during the height of Fall Foliage we had the back roads of the Catskills to ourselves.
Thankfully, the fun starts even before hitting the Catskills, as just outside the town of Port Jervis is the legendary Hawks' Nest section of Route 97. A road instantly recognizable as the backdrop for countless car ads due to its striking cliff-cut nature, we decided that this would make a good location for a photo shoot – doubling up as our excuse to make multiple runs through the formidable stretch.
The roads north of here don’t disappoint either, and we found a mix of meandering, well-paved and scantly used routes that led us all the way to the southern edge of the Catskills Park.
Here we made camp for the night, staying the night with a dear friend of Rob’s, enjoying her hospitality and the company of her large array of cats, horses, chickens and Cindy the dog. It is always special when you can share the experiences of persons who are living in the area and have a profound love of their surroundings.
The next day was a cold, wet and blustery start, with Mr. Lewis taking his leave from the group in order to get back to see his parents off to the airport. Before pointing the Majesty north towards a day of large open highways and interstates, he was showered with an appropriate amount of sympathy (a minute and a half seemed about right) before the rest of us headed to another glorious day of adventure.
The destination for the day was the Bavarian Manor near the town of Cairo, on the northeast edge of the park. Here we’d stay for two nights, giving us an extra day to explore the network of roads that crisscross the Catskills Park.
And what a great ride to Cairo it was – highlighted by the run up Frost Valley Rd. (County 47) and westward along Route 23C – both terrific stretches that had our eyes riveted to the road. When we did have the chance to look around, we were greeted with the most inspiring scenery including boiling creeks, looming mountain ranges, and of course the amazing palette of fall colours.
We left the road relatively early in order to avoid the ever-present threat of deer and as we turned on to Mountain Road the white towers of the Bavarian Manor welcomed us. If you’ve ever stayed at a B&B you’ll know that a large part of the experience is dependent on the innkeeper. Suzanne and her family treated us as family and we’re very grateful for the experience. All in all, a very entertaining day.
A DRUG FREE WOODSTOCK
Monday was a “free” day of exploring the surrounding area with no schedules or pre-planned itineraries and for the first time on the tour the morning greeted us with glorious sunshine. We started by winding our way through the spectacular cliffs and views of the Platte Clove road, before heading further south towards the small town of Woodstock, which will be forever engrained in the popular culture of the sixties generation.
“By the time we got to Woodstock” the sun had broken through nicely and as we pulled over to shed some clothing we found ourselves under a large sign proudly declaring that the Woodstock Public School was now a “Drug Free Zone”! My, my Mr. Zimmerman how “the times they are a-changing”.
We left the town (and my cheesy references) behind and headed further south to complete an entertaining run towards the hamlet of Wawarsing before heading back north on the delightful Peekamoose road.
The day was spent simply following our noses – with the assistance of some regional maps – and we suggest you do the same. Allot the time to allow yourselves to get lost, maybe head up some dead ends too, and the Catskills will generously reward you with some terrific riding and excellent vistas. This is a riding area to which we will definitely return to further explore and enjoy.
Editor 'arris: Yes, get thee down to the Catskills. Mr. Seck and myself have been down a couple of times, and if you steer clear of the main thoroughfares, you'll be rewarded with some excellent twisty and climbing roads. You'll also be relatively free of cops too, although beware of getting too excited as a high speed exit from any of the back-roads will see you getting intimate with very hard trees, very quickly.
TO CANADA, VIA THE ADIRONDACKS
Leaving the Bavarian, we pointed north, via the very enjoyable Greene County roads 20 and 10. This placed us outside the boundaries of the Catskill Park, but the rolling farmland and deserted roads warrant a far more lengthy expedition.
Unfortunately, on this tour we did not have the time and headed north on highway 10 – an entertaining sweeping road which heads north for approximately 150 kms before it eventually joins up with the 8/30 in the south end of the Adirondacks park.
This is the next pearl on our route, and although the peaks offer a stunning array of scenery, ironically this area (which also garners the most raves from motorcyclists), offers the least to the sport-tourer. Its hard surfaced network is rather limited and consists mainly of large sweeping thoroughfares. Of course they can be entertaining at speed, but then you have to be careful of the ever-present State police.
Unfortunately, thanks to a foul weather front giving us the worst conditions of the tour, we never got to add any of the speed factor, as we were pelted with intense rain and plummeting temperatures. In typical CMG fashion it was at this precise moment that the electrical socket for the Triumph’s heated vest chose to fail, leaving Mr. Seck and me to ride through the miserable conditions sans heat.
Editor 'arris: In my own defence I would like the record to show that I had the first stint with the Triumph sans heat. In a very uncharacteristic moment, I then proceeded to ride it to about a third of the way to the destination point, before passing it over to Ed or Richard to fight over.
Good, honest leadership in my humble opinion your honour.
The heavy rain eventually penetrated the seals of my visor, coating my glasses and forcing the group into stopping for a much needed break. While Rob and Richard enjoyed a coffee, I decided to press on towards Tupper Lake, as hanging around chit chatting wasn’t getting me any drier.
The ride on a very wet and slippery (thanks to an invasion of tar-snakes) highway 30 was not a fun one, but when I pulled up to the doors of the “The Wawbeek on Upper Saranac Lake” and stood dripping puddles on to the rather nice carpet in the reception area, a miserable afternoon was quickly turned into a delightful evening.
This was our last resting place of the tour and it was a beaut! Pine paneled cottages in the “grande olde” style overlook Saranac Lake, framed with the blazing colours of forests and mountains as far as the eye could see. The enormous stone fireplaces kept the cold and wet weather at bay, and the bar/restaurant proved to be the perfect place to reminisce on a tour that had successfully strung all the pearls together.
Even the 'Wawbeek bear' was happy to take some time out to entertain the CMG crew.
The next morning marked the end of the tour as we each made our respective ways to the border and on to our final destinations. I took an easterly route via the town of Gouverneur and onto the border crossing at the Thousand islands, while ‘arris and Seck found a rather interesting northeasterly route to the border-town of Ogdensburg.
The end of the tour thus reached, it was time to look back on the past seven days and determine whether we had met our goals:
Have Fun? - definitely!
COMING SOON (ISH)
You may be wondering exactly what route we took through the pearls of this tour. Good question. Well, we’re working on a GPS and Streets & Trips version of the route, including all the recommended places to stop, stay and eat at. The idea is to offer up a ready-made 5 – 7 day tour.
All you have to do is download it.
Oh, and of course we’ll be publishing a comparo test of the three STs and Jon’ll be writing about his time on the Majesty in the long-term wrap-up.
Most of the roads on this tour emphasize the “sport” in Sport-Touring and as such squids and novice riders may find themselves running out of corner on several stretches. We mention this not simply to placate the bevy of litigation lawyers who occupy the bowels at CMG headquarters, but out of a profound concern for the readership. Ride within your sight lines folks, or you will come a cropper!
You’re also entering some prime deer country, so be sure to always expect the unexpected and make sure that you arrive at your destination before the mass deer migrate onto the roads at dusk. Other animal dangers include police – although relatively scarce in Pennsylvania (at least once you’re off the main highways), the New York police can become somewhat overcrowded – especially through the Adirondacks and close to the border.
Otherwise please respect the area you’re in and the local's right to not have to put up with idjits. There’s no quicker way to spoil a prime motorcycle area than overrun it with speeding squids and/or open-piped gorillas.
Pick your spot to open it up, stick to the limits in towns and don’t go beyond your riding abilities – it’s easy to die and no-one likes a corpse. Well, except maybe flies and maggots, but then is that what you really want to attract?
The following establishments for the accommodation for the New York part of the tour (click on link for the CMG review):
Manor Country Inn
553 Hawk Ridge, Tupper Lake, New York. 12986