Those of you that have read my ‘Musings’ know of my occasional proclivity for long distance rides. I’ve done them in themes, races, fundraisers, and contests, but never as an excuse to get a good meal. It is an unfortunate fact that getting a good bagel in Atlanta can sometimes be a chore. I’ve put together a ride that will travel exactly 1,000 miles to New York to eat some great bagels and log some fun miles. I will be joined by three buddies all of whom are veteran riders and ‘Southern Fellows’ but none have logged an official ‘Iron Butt’ nor ever ridden to New York, my home State. What better excuse can you think of to get out of town for a couple of days than to get a good meal, and in our case, a good bagel?
The plan was to meet up off of Interstate 85 at the Pleasant Hill Road exit in Gwinnett County at 4:00 A.M. sharp. This requires sliding out of bed around 3, pulling on leather in the dark and mounting a pre-loaded and pre-gassed bike, to head off into the cool morning darkness. Temps are finally bearable and it should be downright cool as our journey begins. Each rider will cover at least 20 miles to get to our designated meeting place. These are necessary miles as our beginning point is 980 miles from our destination. In order to qualify for a true ‘Iron-Butt,’ we need to log 1,000 miles before the clock strikes 3 the following morning. Given the route I have planned, passing great bagel shops, it was not going to be easy, but it will ‘taste great!’
We all pilot bikes of the HD variety, to ensure an authentic American experience. The first order of business for each rider is to top the tank with petrol as close to home as possible even if just by a squirt. We’ll need the receipt. This is to document the station, time and location, which will earmark mile number one for that rider. That’s the easy part, only nine hundred ninety-nine miles to go. Each rider will be instructed to forego breakfast as the goal of the ride will be not only to do an iron butt but to revel in a joint gastronomic odyssey as we travel up the eastern seaboard. We had decided at some point to patronize additional eating establishments, and not to discriminate due to any lack of good bagels, thereby broadening our trip scope, and adding to the enjoyment. What a great idea!
By the time we log the first 250 miles, we will all be in North Carolina, Charlotte that is. The time should be precisely 8:00 a.m., assuming we run just under 80 MPH to keep Johnny Law off our tails and to maintain a decent pace, without undue stress or fatigue. After all, this is only the first 1/4 of the journey. Breakfast shall be a seafood affair with Nova Scotia lox and capers on a bed of romaine lettuce and big boy tomatoes as a main attraction. Of course we’ll do the fresh squeezed OJ, cream cheese bagels, thinly sliced red onions and strong Columbian coffee. I’ve allotted exactly 1 hour for breakfast and hopefully we can roll on out before anyone gets too comfortable. With bellies full and a new sunrise, the first 250 miles are free, like you did not really ride there in the dark, slightly sleep deprived, but alert enough. Your brain reawakens once the sun crests and it’s really only like a 750 mile ride. Well, sort of.
Our next stretch of roadway will be the 400 mile ribbon of highway from Charlotte to Washington D.C., up I-85 merging onto I-95. After first gassing up, we’ll pass through Greensboro and Durham, Oxford then Henderson, then finally through Petersburg and Richmond with 1 pit stop for gas and potty about 2/3 through. Arrival in D.C. should take place precisely at 4:00 p.m., just in time for a late lunch. We’ll be dining on racks of lamb chops with copious amounts of home made mint jelly. Sides will include oven roasted vegetables and au gratin red potatoes. I’ve been told our chef landed a couple bottles of a stellar French red wine. Moderate consumption was recommended as 347 miles are left on the schedule, as well as a big stop in NYC for a traditional late night ‘biker dinner.‘ If we can squeeze one good bagel in per day, we’re good to go! We’ve allotted an hour and a half for lunch till the D.C. traffic subsides from the home-bound commuters. Back on the road by 5:30 after a top off of tanks, for our push towards the Empire State.
New York State is our final destination. Our next and final stop will be for dinner in the center of the universe, New York City, the city which never sleeps. We’ll enter this, the greatest borough of the five, coming from New Jersey through the “Lincoln Tunnel” some mile and a half long running UNDER the Hudson River. It handles 150,000 cars a day and is lined with ceramic tile. You can imagine the echo when you crack your throttle inside that tube! Our arrival should be around 9:00 p.m. with our destination being “Hogs and Heifers” saloon located on Washington Street in lower Manhattan in the famous and now trendy ‘meat packing’ district. This biker bar has been a famous rider’s hot spot for nearly 20 years and is reputed to be the model for the movie “Coyote Ugly.”
Our final leg will lead us 120 miles upstate along the banks of the majestic Hudson River. The Hudson is a river that runs winding 150 miles and a mile wide, bank to bank. We left in the dark and will arrive in the dark. Our final leg will end at my summer place in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, my childhood homeland and location of my summer retreat. The little hamlet of Palenville, where I was raised, is reputed to be the place where Washington Irving penned his ‘Legend of Rip Van Winkle’ as well as the venue of his ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ the tale of the headless horseman who prowls about on his steed seeking a substitute head from unwitting travelers. This is a fine and fitting place to lay our heads and sleep, as if we were old ‘Rip’ himself, who as the legend states, laid down for a nap and awoke old and bearded some 20 years later. Could happen!
Well, signing off for now. Ride strong, ride safe and in the end, make sure you ride home.