you wanna go where on Labor day?? New Jersey ?? That was the most common phrase I heard when I told people my plans for the long weekend. Do most people think of New Jersey as the capitol of oil refineries, factories and run down towns? It seems so. But I had a good reason for wanting to to New Jersey. The AMA super bike races were coming. Michelle and I had not been to a AMA race for several years. We always attended the races that were held in New Hampshire, however since the pull out a few years ago do to safety reasons we have not seen a superbike race in a long while. We were off to the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville NJ
My plan was simple, take as many back roads as I can going down. We had a day and a half to get to the track, then spend all day Sunday watching the racing and come home on Monday. Which by the way was labor day. I had no plans on taking I95 or the Jersey turnpike, traffic is not what I wanted to be in on our 4 days of riding. We don’t get a babysitter for the kids that allow for a 4 day ride too often. And I surely didn’t want to spend anytime stuck in traffic.
Once the kids got on the bus for school we left West Boylston. A bright sunny morning was forecast and it surely was!
Just a few miles down the road we came across this residence. Doug Danger is the real deal when it comes to jumping motorcycles. He also use to work at a local honda dealer and I purchased a brand new VRF700 from him back in the 80′s Here is a video of one of his jumps
Soon we found ourselves in CT and right in the middle of tobacco county. Connecticut has become renowned worldwide for its two signature varieties: Connecticut shade and Connecticut broadleaf wrapper tobacco. They call it the shade crop because they use huge sections of cheese cloth to protect the plant while it grows.
This is also the land of 4 way stop signs. Which keeps you on your toes while riding. Several times we came around a corner only to use the excellent brakes of the multi to bring us to a quick stop.
I had a few Harley Dealers in my route, these are ones that are on my www.tournewengland.com tour card. You visit 25 dealers located throughout New England and your name get put into a drawing for a Harley. Our only stops were at the dealers in Somers, East Hartford, Bristol and finally Bridgeport CT.
East Hartford also has a Ducati Dealership. We stopped in to pick up another umbrella and to check out the new Street fighter. This thing feels as small as a scooter but has 140hp! Not sure I could tour on one…but it sure felt like it would be a fun bike!
Our first break for food was in Fairfield CT, which is just off I95 south of Bridgeport. I heard about this place on the food channels new show “the best thing I ever ate” Fried food edition. This place serves up a deep fried hot dog covered in bacon, relish and sauerkraut.
Don’t know who Shirley is….she wasn’t around when we took her booth. As you can see people scratch there names in the walls, floor and tables here. Although the bathroom had a sign on the wall that said “please leave these walls alone”
I got mine with out the sauerkraut. What a tasty dog. We also got some cheese fries…my heart healthy diet went right out the window on this trip!
We were in the south west corner of CT and needed to work our way west towards NY. The towns and cities that are close to I95 are nothing you want to ride your motorcycle thru. However just a few minutes away you enter towns like Wilton & Ridgefield and wow what a difference. Not the best motorcycle roads, but the houses you see, and in many cases you don’t even see the house but the gates keeping them protected from the common folk like Michelle and I are quite impressive.
We entered NY via Rt35 and made our way to the Bear Mountain Bridge. Traffic was heavy as we got closer to the bridge. Seeing it was close to 4pm on a Friday I wasn’t too surprised.
Once over the bridge we detoured north on 9w for a few miles. This was to visit Rockwell Cycles…no not another Harley Dealer. We were done that for the weekend. This time it was a Ducati dealership. Who also sold Bimota’s.
We saw this nice Moto Guzzi parked out front. Later in the trip we meet this bike again.
This place had 3 bimota’s on the floor. A DB5, DB6 and this DB7. All machines hand built in Italy. Bimota doesn’t build their own engines. They use them from different manufactures. Each model uses the first two letters DB which in this case stands for Ducati Bimota and then the number refers to the number of bikes built using that engine.
Bimota was the last manufacture to import a street legal 2 stroke motorcycle. The V-due was a 500cc 2stroke that was the first bike they made using their own motor. It was also plagued with many problems and was one of the main reasons the company went bankrupt in the late 90′s
Rockwell also had these 2 special Ducati’s. The 21 bike is a tribute to “Troy Bayliss” and the 69 is for “Nicky Hayden” both racers that won many races on Ducati….well at least Bayliss has won many races on the Italian bike as well as 3 world super bike titles. Nicky has yet to win on the Ducati but is a fan favorite for sure. Both these bikes are beautiful when seen in person.
It was getting close to 5pm and we still needed to make our way into NJ for our first night. A quick ride south brought us to Seven Lakes Drive whey bisects the middle of Bear Mountain State park. The northern section of SL drive is very nice. The southern section is straight and a little bumpy. We had very little traffic for this section of our ride.
Before long we found ourselves entering NJ in the town of Ringwood. I had found a book called “Back roads of NJ traveling at the speed of life” and in it they talked about the 500 series of roads that travel thru this part of NJ. 513 was one such road that the author described as a nice rural road thru the woods of Northern NJ.
Which to be honest the road wasn’t in bad shape, but rural to someone that lives in the big city is a little different than a rural road to me. There were plenty of traffic lights, driveways and business along the route. Which is why I didn’t plan a hotel stop for this night. Risky on a Friday of labor day weekend I know. But I wasn’t quite sure how far south we would get, and I knew there were a bunch of B&B’s in this section of NJ. Almost all of them were in the $250-$300 a night range. So I figured there would be several mom & pop motels along the way.
I was wrong!
It was getting late and we had not seen any places to stop until we reached this place
We figured what the hell, lets splurge one night! The Raritan Inn in Middle Valley was our choice, the above photo was taken in 2003, today she looks like this….
We had our choice of the 5 rooms offered, we chose the Sussex room. Now I say this because we were the only ones in the house that night! The Inn keeper lived next door in her own room. But we were a little nervous, were we really gonna be the only ones? Was there someone (or something) else living in this place. Michelle asked several times before I handed over my credit card….
“is it haunted?” We kept getting the “ I don’t believe so” response
The rooms were beautiful, the downstairs had a really cool game room. Out back was a very nice barn that they use for weddings, and acres of fields with 2 popular fishing streams.
After checking in we rode back into town for dinner at the Long Valley Pub. Which is where I finally got to try some Kobe Beef. They had a Kobe burger on the menu that I just had to try….it was a night of splurging I said!
The place is in a restored 250 year old stone barn. Beautiful place with good food. Service wasn’t the best, but we had a nice meal just as well. By the time we got back to the Raritan we were pooped, we called the kids to say good night and went to bed.
We awoke to a beautiful sunny day. I didn’t hear anything all night. Michelle says she heard a whispering voice in the middle of the night calling out “MAMA” I think she was just dreaming.
Our host, and the one that made us a most excellent breakfast! Which was really, really good. It started off with coffee on the front porch, then we moved into the dinning room and had some fresh fruit, then perfectly cooked “over medium” eggs with bacon, home fries and toast!
We got on the road about 9am. It was one of those perfect days. Temps were in the mid 60′s and the sun was shining. We were in the middle of the Skylands section of NJ
We only had 125 miles to our next hotel. We wanted to take our time and do some exploring. I picked up a copy of “off the beaten Path New Jersey” several weeks ago and did some reading on this part of the state. I had several places I wanted to stop at.
Some photo’s along the way..
My first planned stop was in the little town of Grover’s Mill. Now I don’t believe many people reading this will remember this event, but I do remember my father telling me about this scary moment when he was a little boy.
It took some time to find this place, several u-turns and one ride thru a field to get this shot.
Not too far away from the “landing site” is the final resting place of Elsie.
Who is Elsie you might be asking? Well if you ever looked at a bottle of milk from Borden..
You would be looking at Elsie…or here real name was “You’ll do Lobelia” I guess Elsie was her stage name. Her husband (Elmer the bull) is on this bottle of white stuff..
Tragically Elsie’s life came to and end in a traffic accident. The pickup truck she was riding in crashed and the famous mascot lost her life. She is now buried in Walker Gordon Farm in Plainsboro Township. Now it took us almost 1 hr to find her final resting place. I thought we would find her at a Farm seeing the name was Walker Gordon Farm. Nope not the case, you will find her in this huge housing sub division.
We pulled around 11am Saturday morning, figuring we will be able to ask someone where we would find her. The first 10 people we asked had no Idea what we were talking about! Even 2 people that lived on ELSIE DRIVE never hear of her! We drove on every road and looked all around this place for it. Just when we were about to give up I saw one more person washing his car and I pulled over and asked him. He told me there was a bike path that went around the outside of the development and he thought it might be on that.
Bike paths are for bikes right? Maybe not the type I was riding, but we took the duck on it none the less. And low and behold we found her!
After our long search for Elsie we went looking for another item. Seems NJ is also home to the worlds largest tooth! Thats just something I gotta see!!
Just outside of Trenton you will find this big molar. Look at the two old people staring at the thing with the expression on their face “WHY?” Seems the sculptor had a sense of humor.
From here we got back on I295 and made our way south. This part of 295 runs parallel to the New Jersey Turnpike. I thought traffic might be bad, but as it turned out there were very few cars on the road. Here is a photo of the cockpit of the Ducati. Every thing I need….GPS, IPod and Intercom/CB system that everything plugs into. That way Michelle and I hear music and can speak to each other throughout the whole day.
We checked into our suite and relaxed a bit before we head here…
We awoke Sunday morning to bright sunshine and the promise of a great day. I used my mapping skills to route us around the bottle neck of traffic that is the Millville area when thousands of people are going to the track. We got off the interstate early and took many back roads to the event.
Southern NJ reminds me of central FLA. Flat, boring and no scenery at all. Before we knew it we had arrived at the track. I pointed the Multi towards the Ducati only parking area. Which was right next to the Ducati Hospitality area.
Ducati treats its customers right at these events. Free food, drinks and these little guys!
I got hooked on those bad boys! I gotta get me one of those machines!
We quickly claimed the top spot on the Ducati stands as our spot for the day! Which gave us a great view of the few corners in front of us
I got a few comments on my shirt, its been a few years since FBF raced Ducatis in ama racing….and i wasn’t the only one that missed him!
This guy had the shirt of the weekend!
“if you see da police….warner brother”
Before the racing began we got a chance to walk around and check out all the cool bikes in the parking lot. Something Michelle and I really enjoy doing.
Then this bad boy! 500cc two stroke square four motor!!
We talked with this guy for awhile. Turns out he was from Maine, and was the original owner of this Honda Sabre. Although he quickly admitted that he trailer down to his daughters house at the Jersey shore.
This is Larry’s bike!
Once the racing begin we settled into our seats for the rest of the afternoon. We met a nice couple from NY, they owned a Ducati Supersport and another couple from Delaware. In front of us was this guy with a Moto Guzzi shirt on, we started talking and turns out he and his buddy were down from CT and NY. They were old school racing fans like myself. We talked a lot about the great racing that the ama was all about in the 80′s and 90′s
Then one of them said to me, “you must know my son, Richie Alexander. AMA supersport champion from 1989?” Of course I do! Later in the day Richie came up to sit with us to watch the racing.
He works on the Chaz Davis crew of the Aprilla team, and his dad owns Hudson Valley sports, a Kawasaki dealership in NY. He told me when I’m ready to buy my concours he would make me a sweet deal!
We enjoyed the rest of the day watching the racing.
Our ride back to the hotel was uneventful. I just reversed my route from the ride down. Traffic was a little heavy for the short part of the highway we needed to take. But it doesn’t bother Michelle much!
Once back at the hotel we ordered Chinese take out and watched FIM world superbike racing. We retired early, I had a long day planned for our ride home on Monday.
4:30 Monday morning came real quick. We loaded up the duck in the dark and pulled out of the hotel parking lot at 5:30. I planned a 500 mile ride home for this day. I had no idea on what to expect for traffic getting around Philly and Trenton so that’s why we decided to leave early as possible.
Now earlier in the weekend I was doing some surfing on my laptop and noticed the NJ tag on the ST-owners forum. Yes I play tag on a few different forums. I called Phil to see if he could do a little homework for me and locate it. He sent me a address and turns out it was only 40 or so miles off my planned route home.
The Beverly National Cemetery was the current tag. We arrived shortly after sunrise.
My blackberry doesn’t take good photo’s in low light.
They were not open yet, even though the gates were not closed, so we didn’t take a look around. Plus we didn’t have our breakfast yet as well. So off we went after claiming the tag.
Just down the road I notice this huge diner and we decided to give it a shot. The Dolphin Diner was open for breakfast. We had our choice of seats at this hour.
Turns out this part of NJ likes to sleep in on Labor Day Monday. The roads were empty and after a great breakfast we found ourselves crossing the Delaware River into PA.
At this point we didn’t stop much, only for fuel. My camera didn’t come out too often. We had miles to do, and with the iPod fully charged we just got into a zone and rode. I quickly found myself riding up along Delaware and thru towns like Washington Crossing, New Hope PA and Frenchtown NJ.
Once we reached Frenchtown we joined with NJ 519. I planned to ride this road all the way to the NY boarder. Which we did for the most part. Another detour to a spot I have wanted to visit for some time. And one Michelle wanted to visit.
She found this wine several years ago and always like the label on the bottle. Not too many families these days can say they have 4 sisters. Of course I am one of those that can.
Oh, and the spot I wanted to stop at?
Well, Im just a bit odd ya know…..
Shades of Death Road, Google this and you will have plenty of reading to do. We didn’t see any ghost or other paranormal activity along this road. But we did find out its a great motorcycle road. Rural,twisty and fun! The above shot was my new tag location I set on the ST board.
From here we made our way back onto 519 and followed that to the end. Another great motorcycle road. Matter of fact this section of NJ has some very nice areas to visit. And some great roads as well.
We stopped for lunch just as we crossed into NY and I used the free wifi to post up my new tags. I then left the memory card in the laptop and packed it away. So no more photos for the day.
We cut thru Duchess County NY (OMG what roads!) then crossed over into CT at Bulls Bridge. We made our way north along Rt7. I then took Michelle on some nice little back roads Pops had showed me the year before. We ended up crossing into MA and taking rt23. Then some back roads brought us over the CT river and putting us onto 202.
One last stop for a coffee at DD and the final push home. We arrived back in West Boylston around 6:30, after 484 miles we were home! Tired but happy!!