Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last ride of the year

As I count down the last days of what was a beautiful and successful riding year, I can only hope 2010 will be even better. Lately I have been missing the long past warm Summer days and all the beautiful scenery I have enjoyed this past year. The just started winter season is already dragging and I long for the warm Spring days to start the riding season again.

This past weekend started with rain on Saturday that continued throughout the day into the evening but it turned out to be a blessing as it melted the almost 20 inches of snow we had received on the 19th.

Sunday was expected to be in the upper 40's according to the weather man and a quick plan was put into action to wake our bikes out of hibernation. I am referring to my brothers new shiny BMW 1200GS Adventure and my trusted Goldie. They had been keeping each other company in my cold garage, my well ridden Goldie and the brand new, never ridden GS. I'm sure my Goldie could tell the newcomer a few tales if they could talk. We started getting them ready on Saturday by making sure the battery tenders were in action, activating and warming the chemicals in their hearts, as the early morning start would put a strain on their cold engines. Sunday arrived with a beautiful sunrise and temperatures in the high 30's. We got the bikes out and started their engines, the starting cacophony quickly turning into a purring sound, music to our hearts. We suited up and briskly hit the road, no time to lose. My brothers instructions were clear, no speeding, no highway driving, no constant speed, preferably a road with lots of turns and ups and downs, that is the way to break-in a brand new engine. We decided we would ride back roads towards the shore and then continue up to the Sandy Hook lighthouse. I have lived in the area for 24 years, I know my way around. We rode through some of Jackson's back-roads eventually crossing through Freehold and hitting the old Route 33, we proceeded East past the old Collingwood Auction and Flea Market and into Ocean Township. We went down Cold Indian Springs road towards Deal road and made our way to Whale Pond road alongside Joe Palaia Park. We continued towards Long Branch where I had planned to stop for a quick bite and an Espresso (Bica) at the Port Chop Barbecue, a small but cozy Portuguese restaurant. We split a plate of "Rissois de Camarao" (Shrimp Cakes) and another of "Pasteis de Bacalhau" (Cod Fish Cakes) and after 2 espressos I was ready to hit the road again. A few casual observers had been admiring our bikes and especially the GS with its aluminum side cases and the black spoke wheels. We got back on the road and proceeded to Ocean Boulevard, turning north along the shore.

View from Sandy Hook towards NY City with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the foreground

We entered the Gateway National Recreation Area, AKA Sandy Hook, and continued past Spermaceti Cove followed by Horseshoe Cove and finally stopped for a few shots of our bikes in front of some Cold War age US Army Missiles. These missiles were used to protect NY City from nuclear attack from the old USSR.

We then rode past the old homes along the bay and moved on to the north part of the park where you can see the old fortifications. These concrete fortifications held gun batteries at the beginning of last century but are now decaying badly. Some of the areas are still accessible to the public and offer beautiful views of the bay and the entrance to the New York Harbor.

My brother waiting for me while I take photos

We left the park and proceeded north to the Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook. At 266 feet, this overlook in Atlantic Highlands sits on the highest natural elevation on the Atlantic seaboard (excluding islands) from Maine to the Yucatan providing beautiful views of Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay and the New York skyline. This 12-acre site is also home to Monmouth County's 9/11 Memorial. Monmouth County's 9/11 Memorial is a tribute to 147 men and women who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001-- men and women born, raised, or residing at the time in Monmouth County.

It was getting late and it was time to head home, we got on our bikes, rode down the twisty Ocean Blvd to the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Harbor only to make a U-turn and head back up Ocean Blvd just for fun. We continued home on Navesink Ave and Monmouth Ave towards route 35. We made a left going south towards Red Bank and then crossing Colts Neck Township on County Road 537 and eventually getting home without ever hitting a highway. We did a little over 100 miles and got home with the sun disappearing on the horizon and the temperature returning to what is normal for this time of the year, in other words, freezing. We parked our bikes, plugged the battery tenders and quickly went inside to brew a cup of coffee.

My brother is happy with his new GS and I can't wait for Spring.

A big Happy New Year wish to all my friends :-)

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