Saturday, May 14, 2011

The ABCD Day Ride

On May 1st I had the ABCD challenge and a birthday of a fellow rider to attend.  The birthday party was at the Rhodes North Tavern in New York not too far from the Harriman and the Bear Mountain State Parks which I have visited and blogged in the past.  I had done a similar trip last year for the same reason, Brenda's birthday.  I invited my brother and Wayne to come along, unfortunately my brother couldn't make it. 
For the challenge I had picked the George Washington Bridge as a background.

A few facts about the bridge: Wikipedia

The bridge was opened in 1931, it has an upper level with four lanes in each direction and a lower level with three lanes in each direction, for a total of 14 lanes of travel.

As of 2007, the George Washington Bridge has the greatest vehicular capacity of any bridge in the world, carrying approximately 106 million vehicles per year, making it the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge.

The two of us left the house at 10am and were soon on the NJ Turnpike, part of Interstate 95, the main northeast corridor running from the south of NJ and crossing into NY through the bridge.  The highway is well maintained but the traffic makes the road horrible, it's mostly surrounded by industrial complexes and refinery's on the central part and runs right next to the main runway of the Newark International Airport.
We leave the Turnpike in Fort Lee and start the descent on Henry Hudson Drive towards the park near the bridge.  We stop to take a few pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We were about to leave when another rider stops to chat.   We meet Dan on his beautiful BMW K1200LT with an M3 badge in the back.  As he told us, it rides like an M3.  The back of the bike has a beautifully designed trunk that complements the looks of the bike and is very functional offering a lot of storage at the expense of the pillion seat.  He's originally from Argentina and has done a few adventure rides in his country.  He also owns a Kawasaki Concours so he's an automatic good guy.

We take a few more pictures and then invite Dan to come along with us to Bear Mountain which he promptly agrees.  We would travel north along the Palisades Parkway, a very scenic road along the Hudson River.

My trusty Concours
Wayne on his Triumph ST

We leave the park and continue down the road to go take the picture under the bridge for the ABCD challenge.  I'm walking around taking pictures when I see the police officer waving his arms while talking to Dan.  Only later did I find out you are not allowed to take pictures under bridges or monuments because of terrorism fears.  Apparently Dan convinced him I was not a bad guy.

We know the bridge is big but it's only when you stand at the base of the bridge that you realize how truly humungous it is.  The amount of steel that went into the construction of the bridge must have been enormous, in fact construction was delayed twice due to material shortages.  It's a magnificent sight standing next to this marvel.

With the picture taken we start heading north along the Palisades Parkway towards Bear Mountain State Park, the road winding along the Hudson River for a few miles and then moving inland towards the park.  We take the opportunity to open up a little and make good time arriving at the top of the mountain around 12:30.

There's always lots of bikers on any Sunday and this one wasn't any different.   We walked around admiring the other bikes and chatting with the owners.  As fellow blogger Brady explains it, "we exchanged the small compliments that allow for conversation".  Brady has a way with words, I love his views on motorcycling and life and if you haven't read his blog you are missing a great blog.
Bradys' blog: Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

I love this bike
Beautiful color on a Triumph Speed Triple
I still hope to one day own a Speed Triple, the Triumph 3 cylinder engine sound is intoxicating.  When I was a kid I loved Suzuki and at that time their 2-stroke, 3 cylinder bikes also had a wonderful sound.  We see one nearby and immediately head towards it.  In 1972 the GT380 was one of a handful of two-strokes produced by Suzuki.  The air-cooled GTs shared Suzuki's new Ram Air System and featured Suzuki’s refined automatic fuel and oil mixing system, called CCI, which helped lower exhaust smoke levels.  Read more here:

It was time to head towards Rhodes Tavern and meet the birthday girl, the meetup having been set for 2PM.  We leave the mountain and 30 minutes later arrive just on time for the beginning of the festivities.  We manage to slot our bikes in between all the others already there.

Beautiful Harley Davidson
Beautiful artwork - even the belt is painted
With our stomachs rumbling we quickly head inside to the upstairs place reserved for Brenda's birthday bash. We enjoy lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon with the group bantering with each other.  We sing happy birthday and end the party with a huge slice of strawberry cake.  Brenda was a happy girl, I saw a few tears as the group sang happy birthday.

The trip home was uneventful, just a quick dash down route 287 and the Garden State Parkway for me with Wayne having a slightly longer trip down the NJ Turnpike.  These two major highways crisscross the state.


  1. Dear George:

    This ride and the pictures opf the Palisades brought back a ton of memories for me: both from the days whewn I rode a Kawasaki H2 and the even older days when I rode up 9W to Bear Mountain from Jersey City on a bicycle. I remember hiking the shore trail and ascending those cliffs on stairs tjhat tackle them by degrees in the park.

    Did you know that the original plan for the George Washington Bridge was to encase the steelwork with stone, and to have galleries and a restaurant on the top? Now that would have been something.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  2. George, thanks for the nice comments on my blog. Back in mid 70's, when I was a kid. A few of my older neighbors has multi-cyclinder 2 stroke motorcycles. I really miss the distinctive sounds they made. There's nothing like it. It would be neat to find a nice RD-350 someday and restore it. Erik.

  3. Never been to the NE but your photos sure whets my appetite for a trip that way. Great pics.

  4. Jack:
    On a bicycle to Bear Mountain? that's a long way, I rather do it with a motor under me :-)
    I did not know that about the GWB, it would be something to have lunch up there, nice view of Manhattan. I think I prefer to see the steel work, it's just amazing.

    Same here, my favorite bikes as a kid were the 3 cylinders, 2-stroke bikes, the sound was just amazing and they revved like out of control engines.

    The NE does have some nice roads, NY, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine all have great roads. Not the openness of Texas though ;-)

  5. George:

    I am glad your shoulder was well enough to take this ride. Of course, once rolling your mind is pre-occupied with other duties.

    That BMW K looks like a spaceship, so streamlined. I also like the Street Triple but we have few Triumph dealers here, and fewer used bikes on the market. Prices for new bikes are a lot higher than in the USA, probably over $12K.

    2 strokes were fine in their day but I think once you smell and see the smoke you will appreciate more modern technology.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. Bob:
    Shoulder is still not good and gets worse every time I use the weed wacker but I have a big yard and someone has to do the work :-(
    Nothing beats the sound of the triple cylinder layout from Triumph, they just sound awesome.

  7. GeorgeF:

    I know precisely what you mean about "Chores". I have to cut the lawn and it will aggravate my foot again, but I have no choice. If I leave it too long the mower will struggle and keep choking itself off. Then, there's the weeding and sweeping, etc. Simpler to just go for a ride and forget about things for a few hours, just like you did

    Riding the Wet Coast

  8. I'm glad you got the pics! I love the images of the bridge structure from below.

  9. Bob:
    Or just win the lottery and pay for someone to do it :-)

    It's a magnificent bridge to see but not to ride, too many cars and trucks traveling along the corridor :-(

  10. George, I had one of the Suzuki 550 triples back in the day. It was a fun bike and I did my first 1000 mile+ tours on that bike.

  11. Doug:
    Thanks for visiting. The 2-stroke triples were amazing, they would spool up very fast, the wailing was amazing.