|07-08-2013, 08:57 AM||#1|
Joined: Jul 2012
Location: North Houston
Father and son dual-sport around New Jersey
It all started in mid-May when my dad decided to drive up from Houston to see my sister graduate in Rochester, NY. He passed by my campus trailering a couple of bikes so we could have a few days riding on his way back, before he headed south into the oven. Yeah, it’s a lot of trouble to do some dual-sporting but we do what we can with the time we have. Behold, his new 2013 Honda CRF250L ("Little Red Pig") and my trusty 2008 WR250R (affectionately: “Dubyartoofiftyarr”)
Maybe you'd like to see them without the cover;
I locked them together on my campus with a million bike locks until I finished all my finals. My last exam got out on Thursday, May 24th at 11pm - I was ecstatic and could barely sleep.
My dad swung by the next morning - we loaded up the bikes and off we went to Jenny Jump State Forest where we had booked a campsite. We decided to ride some sections of the Trans New Jersey Trail (thanks, rob23!) and base our rides out of this campsite because neither of us is an experienced ADVenturer and we didn't feel like packing all our stuff onto our lightweight dual-sports. (if you're wondering why we had two cars - my dad is moving my sister’s green Subaru full of stuff to her new place in Texas)
Not even the coldest, most miserable New Jersey summer rain could dampen our spirits - which was good, because that aptly describes what greeted us as we set up camp.
The ripping wind wasn't helping us with our tarp but we got it tied down with liberal use of rope that soon ran out, followed by bungie ties and motorcycle tie-downs (is there any reason why those shouldn’t be used to tie down a tarp? Food for thought). Living in Texas taught me that cold rain is rare after February and unconstitutional after April. I made do by simply putting on every t-shirt I had brought as well as MX armor underneath my Tourmaster textile jacket, the cold-weather liner for which I had (of course) left at school. We both threw on ponchos over everything - they did a really good job breaking the wind and keeping us sort of dry.
Here's my dad.
The first night there was time for a short ride around the forest roads and around Hope, NJ where we found some dinner.
We ate at a place called The Mediterranean Diner & Pizzeria, which was good and had a varied enough menu that we came back there a couple times after our daily rides. They got used to us asking for hot water as soon as we stumbled in from the cold, our gear dripping and our lips purple. There’s a Harley dealership across the street and we probably could have bought some cold-weather gloves there if we had been able to swallow our dual-sport pride.
Freezing and soaked, I was taking it easy on the WR as the roads were slick and the brand new T63s hadn't yet been broken in. I was just happy to be back on the bike after a few months at school. I'd have puttered all day at 15mph and you couldn't smack the grin off my face with a shovel. The T63s felt solid and predictable in the rain.
At the end of the day, we headed back to our campsite. It was dark, cold and raining so we decided we'd just sleep in our cars, with the bikes and gear under the tarp. But not before huddling around a "campfire" (bug repelling candles) and talking about how nice it was to break from the drag of routine.
The next morning we awoke to discover it had rained overnight, was still raining, and would continue to rain for the foreseeable future. We donned our universally flattering ponchos and learned why you northeasterners are so fond of Dunkin' Donuts - they know how to serve up a good hot chocolate at 7:30am on a freezing day in May.
And off we went, retracing sections of the Trans New Jersey Trail in the cold. Among other things we passed an army reserve base complete with tank out front and a few miles later, something called a "rail gun testing facility". I felt like stopping for pictures once or twice but my dad was in the lead and I think he wanted to eat up miles.
He we are near Splitrock Reservoir:
All these back roads were fine but I really wanted to get out there and do something a little more off-road-ish. So we followed the TNJT to Paradise Road, which is still definitely a “road” but littered with big rocks that kept things interesting. There were some sections where we were bumping over basically all rocks. This is where the WR shone - good handling and ground clearance and standing ergonomics compared with the short and plush CRF. The trail was quite slippery in the rain and in some sections, decently steep. In the rain, a 650 would be quite a handful. But it was a lot of fun on the WR and I thought it ended too soon. Should’ve gone back and ridden it again.
The street that it dumped us on (I think it was called Clinton) wasn’t so bad either - totally deserted, pretty smooth and with some decent curves for miles. Great section of the TNJT to take a couple of dual-sports.
Hey, and the sun even came out sort of not really! This is right about the time my dad’s GPS started fritzing out on us and we got lost and went in a few circles. I offered to bring up some directions on my puny phone (for which I now have a RAM handlebar mount and charger, huzzah!) but my dad insisted on following the preordained path laid before us on the three magic GPS devices he had sprawled out in his tank bag and on his handlebar.
I can’t criticize too much - he did a great job making the route and (usually) following it and in the process, we both got some good practice with low speed U-turns on deserted sloped pothole-ridden intersections.
Eventually, we ended up here - at the highest elevation in New Jersey, the imaginatively named “High Point”. A perfect place to take some panoramas and admire the serene monument to war veterans.
The monument had a pretty great road leading up to it - slow but twisty. I think it was also one-way for at least part of the way up, meaning there aren’t as many families in minivans ready to pop out of every corner. Again, too bad I didn’t take more pictures.
Here we are at the top of the Sunrise Mountain overlook. This was a good road. Narrow-ish but one-way for the latter bit, which makes me more comfortable. We came back here the following day when it wasn’t so cold and saw a gorgeous Jag E-type parked up top.
Back at Jenny Jump for the night, here’s what a WR250R towel rack looks like in the dark if you’re wondering.
The following morning blessed us with some nice weather so my dad decided to buckle down and do some much-needed maintenance on his CRF.
Just kidding - after break-in the 250L does not know what “maintenance” is for hundreds (or even thousands) of miles at a time. I really don’t know what he’s fiddling with here. Probably one of his many GPS do-it-alls.
Here we are at the corner of Old Mine and Walpack Flatbrook Rd - both of which were fairly mellow but had nice scenery and some decent curves. We went up and down these roads a couple times in our travels and passed by a few guys on 1200GSAs and a couple riding a Yamaha Super Ten, if I remember correctly. Shoutout to them if they’re on ADVrider!
We followed Walpack Flatbrook near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area, up to where it turned into National Park Service 615 but it was closed off so we turned, crossed this bridge and followed Mountain Road (this is a shot of my dad coming back across the bridge after he noticed I stopped to take a photo).
Buttermilk Falls, on Mountain Rd.
There were some good gravel roads in this area and it seemed ripe for exploring. During this rest stop we met another dual-sporting guy on a sweet XR650L. He wasn't on ADVrider but we told him to sign up.
We got on...I think it was Highway 80 for a little while to stick our feet in the Delaware River. The WR is many things but good on the highway is not one of them. Anything above 50-60mph gets very buzzy and pretty loud (all part of the experience). Mercifully, we got off the highway at the Delaware River. Here my dad pouts because the campground won’t let us ugly motorcyclists farther down that road.
Speaking of which: When exploring (even on public roads) we are very careful to respect private property, etc. signs, but what are you supposed to do when people start putting up “POSTED” at the side of a public road? Does that mean they’re claiming the land just *off* the public road? Or did they buy up that road and not tell the local road authority or...? I’ve become really frustrated with people’s obsession with excluding explorers from off-pavement excursions. I realize a lot of it is about liability - no one wants a motorcyclists suing them because the biker injured himself/herself on their land. However, why can’t we have a “wanderer’s law” (I think that’s what it might be called in the UK) where landowners aren’t liable unless they “entice” passersby onto their land? Obviously, everyone has a right to exclude people from their land for any reason they want - but when they start putting up NO TRESPASSING on roads marked as "public" on the map, that's where I get confused.
I'm not sure exactly where we were located when this happened, but maybe my dad (jimhaleyscomet) will clarify - we were riding down a road in PA marked “drivable trail” by the up-to-date state-issued map and the road just started to peter out. It got thinner and more difficult and there were more fallen trees and eventually we turned around - obviously this map was out of date. On our way out, a game commissioner started following us in his green SUV. We pulled over to let him go by (as we do with most close followers - we don’t like holding people up because we ride pretty slowly) and we were surprised when he stopped behind us and triumphantly announced that he “caught" us and “we have us a problem here.” As soon as he saw our plates were from Texas, he knew we could never challenge anything he gave us in court so he issued us a ticket for riding off-road on game lands. He claimed that motorcyclists in that area were a huge problem because they tore up the lands. Well, first of all - we were clearly from out of state on street-legal dual-sports so if they had a recurring problem with dirtbike hooligans tearing off through their forests, it hasn’t been us. Second of all, if hooligans were supposedly riding through those trails tearing them up like crazy, how come that trail looked like it hadn’t been ridden through in a good year or so at least? It was overgrown and I spotted no tracks - just the remnants of a road. Third of all, we had an up-to-date state-issued map telling us this thing was a “drivable trail” and fourth of all, we spotted no signs prohibiting motor vehicles at any of the trail heads we passed by - just “no campfires”. We have since begrudgingly paid the ticket which arrived by mail a couple weeks later, but to the game commissioners in PA: Our feelings are still hurt.
Anyway, back to the Delaware River story - we still got to dip our feet in.
The road along the Delaware River was really nice, shaded, pretty low-speed, relaxing. Saw a couple Harley riders on it.
And then as the day and our trip drew to a close, we headed back to Jenny Jump and reflected on the fun we’d had over the last couple days. And also whether we’d ever go back to the state of Pennsylvania or whether we could just avoid it forever (sorry, Pennsylvanians - still have a bad taste in our mouths from the game lands incident).
I’m sad we didn’t have more time to explore. It turns out there is good dual-sport riding in the northeast. I’m happy with how the WR performed - I like my Seat Concepts rack and the Kolpin 1.5gal Junior tank I had bolted to it. I didn’t ever need to use it but it was nice to know it was there when we were exploring down the gravel mountain roads. If I have one complaint, it’s that I never really got to take advantage of my dirt-loving WR250R as much as I wanted to. Honestly, I could see riding Paradise Road for dozens if not hundreds of miles.
However, as we know, there exists a perfectly good paved road and/or an airline ticket connecting any two worthwhile destinations in the entire world. Why would you want to travel off the road, when the road goes everywhere you could possibly want to visit? What is the point of travel, if not merely to get from A to B using the least obtrusive, least involving process possible? I think if you're on this forum, you know there's more to travel than A to B.
I feel that in our obsession with destinations, we sometimes neglect the value of the journey itself. My millennial generation will never experience "getting there" as previous ones have. Travel used to connect the many classes and geographies and backgrounds of the people who made up America; to go from New York to Boston used to mean traveling through worlds that you can't see from an airplane. That's why Mark Twain called travel the "enemy of ignorance". Airplanes and cars are great because they make otherwise impossible journeys possible - but they shouldn't replace "travel" in the more personal, exploratory sense. We have to step out of our cages - 4-wheeled, winged, self-imposed, psychological and otherwise - and really see what surrounds us if we really want to combat our own ignorance.
A lot of times at my school I feel disconnected from the rest of the world - they call it the "orange bubble" effect. It's partly because I know almost nothing about the New Jersey that exists just outside my campus. I fly into Newark, take the trains to campus like a good boy and then I reverse the process to go back home to Texas. I'm really glad I took this trip because if nothing else, I've woken up to just how much people have come to side-eye those of us who travel for travel's sake.
Also, New Jersey is not one massive landfill, nor is it full of murderers and crooks as the "orange bubble" might lead me to believe. NJ has some really nice roads, some very friendly people and there's a lot of adventure to be had there. Pennsylvania...we'll skirt judgment on that for now. Point is, it just goes to show - don't sell your dual-sport just because you're moving somewhere where there's supposedly "no riding".
Here's hoping in the future I get more chances to take trips like this, and maybe end up a little less ignorant by the time I get home.
2014 690 Enduro R
TexaNate screwed with this post 09-19-2013 at 08:05 PM
|07-08-2013, 04:27 PM||#2|
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: Phuket, Thailand
It seems an you had a great time together, in suboptimal conditions.
Interesting to see your use of ponchos as rain gear...... they are the cheap 'n' cheerful norm around these tropical parts that have been my home for the past while. They are easy to carry, and quick to pull on when the need arises.
I notice you were carrying spare fuel.... though you say you didn't need it. The small tanks on the current crop of "dual sports" seem to be motocross inspired. Three gallons or so would be more practical and surely not too much of an ask from designers for machines that are more "trail" than "sport" in character, and use.
there are old motorcyclists and bold motorcyclists
but you seldom meet an old, bold motorcyclist
|07-08-2013, 05:45 PM||#3|
Joined: Jul 2009
Pennsylvania and the lawman
We were west of Milford on Highway 6 near Shohola Falls when we had our run in with the law. After my run in with the PA law, I think I will take my motorcycle adventure expenditures someplace else.
So the PA National Forest Public Use Map we were using is located here.
My big mistake was assuming that the "drivable trails" in the national forest on the map continued on through the state game lands as shown on the map AND that if they didn't want us on a road they would have a gate (also as shown on the map) or a sign. According to the warden, there are no drivable trails on the game lands. Personally, I think the PA National Forest Public Use Map is a bit misleading. We did drive a few "drivable trails" in the national forest and they turned out to be just well graded gravel roads. We also had a nice ride out on the paved "Silver Lake Rd" back out to the Dingman's Ferry Toll Bridge and on out of PA (Good Riddance!)
The ticket expenditure was negligible compared to the total cost of the trip so I refuse to let it bother me (Much anyway). I really enjoyed our trip and overcoming the obstacles we found along the way.
|07-08-2013, 07:43 PM||#4|
Joined: Nov 2012
F n S
Took my first ride with my Dad on road earlier this year and had a good time. My current plan is to get him off road! Thanks for the story.
2009 GSA 2008 Husky TE450 2006 KTM 950 SM
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