You can’t go home again
Or can you? I’m hear to say of course you can, and it’s something you should do again and again. It doesn’t have to be an actual physical location you go home to but also a mindset, a feeling in your heart and peaceful place in your mind.
I just went home again today. It was a mountain road that crosses into the state of New York. Funny thing is I’ve never lived in NY or anywhere near this beautiful twisty road but Oh yes I was home again.
See it was the summer of 86, I was just a young 19 year old kid discovering the my thirst for adventures and exploring. I was riding a ultra cool 1984 Yamaha RZ350. A little two stroke sport bike, a race replica built more for riding around race road courses and not touring the back roads of New England. No one told me that, and I discovered an whole new world on that bike that summer. Sport Touring!
See now if you google sport touring you immediately see photos of BMWs , Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Concours and a whole slew of other bike bikes with full luggage, adjustable windshields and large gas tanks. I guarantee you won’t see anything about 350cc two stroke sport bikes mentioned by other sport touring riders.
But that’s okay. You see it was what I own, and at the time the only thing I could afford. Plus If had dreams of becoming the next Freddie Spencer or Eddie Lawson that was the perfect bike to practice my skills. On. My fool proof plan was to get discovered buy some race promoter or factory scout while tearing up my local twisty road!
Also at this time I was reading just about everything I could get my hands on that had to do with two wheels. Once such article I discovered in Cycle World was a little story about this road called, “the Mohawk Trail” it talked about having the perfect curves, some mountain passes and the infamous hairpin turn. Then I was so excited to see it was actually in my home room pstate!
I remember pulling out my map-book and following the road with my finger tips just imagining how my little Yamaha would feel racing along this road. I had to go, I needed to know what a hairpin turn feels like, so before I even finished reading the rest of the magazine I was packing my back pack and planning this adventure. Little did I know it but I was about to go on my 1st sport touring trip.
I can still feel that little twinge of excitement when I crossed the CT River into Western Mass, I was finding myself in towns I’ve never heard of before. Right here in my very own state no less. Erving, with the old paper mill right on the highway, the smell of burnt eggs that lingered in the air as I rode by. Climbing the hill out of Greenfield and stopping at the big tower where the claimed for just $2 you can climb and see 3 states! The old tower is still there but no longer open for climbing.
Then the road dips down thru Shelburne, Buckland and you come across your 1st TeePee and a huge totem pole. A few shops scattered on both sides of the highway let you know this is also a tourist destination. Then the fun begins, the trail follows the Deerfield River as it snakes it’s way thru Charlemont then slowly climbs in elevation once you reach the town of Savoy. That’s where it gets fun, long fast sweepers disappear and the tight technical turns arrive.
Every time I ride this road I can almost see my younger self riding that little sport bike thru these turns. I still feel that rush as you lean the bike into each corner. Wondering how far over can I lean? How fast can I enter the next turn? Could Freddie stay with me on my home turf? All legitimate questions a 19 year old kid would ask!
Then the big surprise comes, Florida! What I didn’t read about this, how did I miss this on the map?? There’s a town called Florida in Massachusetts??
Yup, and once to make it through Florida you come the that Hairpin Turn and the big/little city of North Adams. A college town that also has the neighboring town of Williamstown and it’s small college. I had planned on spending the night in one of these two towns and back in 1986 there were not as many hotel options as there are today, however I do remember finding a nice small motel with parking right out in front of my door.
This was my 1st over night trip solo on two wheels. 1st of many , many trips on my motorcycles .
The next morning I woke up and while eating my breakfast I looked over my maps , yes this was long before GPS and google maps. I actually collected paper maps back then, and still do.
There was a company back then that made map books with each town on a separate page, and it had every street in the town. I would pack that huge book in my luggage with every trip, and my tank bag with have one of those folding state maps tuck in for easy viewing. Matter of fact I still to this day take a map book with me on every trip I take.
While reading my morning map I noticed that Route 2 did not end here in Western Mass but continues into New York State. It looked twisty too, so I had to go ride it. What a great surprise it was! The road twisted and turned as it entered the Taconic Trail State Park and when I reached the summit of Mt Raimer I saw the big sign welcoming me into New York. I may as well been crossing into Another country, it’s how far from home I was feeling. I didn’t want to turn around, I knew right then and there I was born to travel.
So now coming back to 2021 and I’m riding this great section of route 2 with a great friend and I have the overwhelming feeling of being that 19 year old kid again. Riding a twisty road wondering if Freddie Spencer could hang with me when the road gets twisty?