The Greatest Road Yet

My journeys on the Flying Brick are getting longer and longer. The roads are even more familiar and they are becoming like old friends. And like old friends, I realize what parts of their personalities I need to avoid if I want to have a smooth relationship. The huge bumps and pot holes are now landmarks burned into my memory which I avoid like awkward topics in conversation. The blind curves aren’t so blind anymore, and just as I know an old friend’s response to a certain situation, I can visualize in my mind what lies beyond what I can see. This new found partnership with the road makes traveling a lot more enjoyable. I didn’t even have to touch the GPS on the way home. Nice.

I headed north on my usual route up the Saw Mill. I had a destination in mind – Cold Spring, NY. It’s a small antiquing town with a very old fashioned vibe – think Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. I was first introduced to the town back around 8 years ago when two of my friends, Jay and Wendy got married and moved there. It is so un-New York City and that’s exactly what I was looking for on my ride.

New York City can grind on my nerves. I walk up dark subway stairs with somebody’s butt right in my face, while my butt is right in somebody’s else. I sit closer to strangers on crowded trains than I do to dear friends at a party. It wears on one’s soul after a while, so these day trips out of town for a few hours of solace are bringing me a much needed respite from the inhuman conditions of the Habitrail that in NYC.

I took the Saw Mill up to the 9 at Tarrytown which proved to be a slow ride, but once out of Sleepy Hollow the traffic pace picked up. The weather could not have been more perfect and I imaged myself in a brochure from years past, “Motorcycle on the Scenic 9!” because anybody on a bike on a day like today would easily become a convert to a weekend tourer.

I went further east this time and got on route 6 also known as Bear Mountain Bridge Road. This is so far the greatest road I have yet traveled. It winds along the water and there are many elevation changes. On some of the sections I was perched on cliffs looking down precariously at the Hudson River. It was a challenging road and enjoyed the twisty path leaning the brick into the turns farther than I have before. I was wearing full leathers and boots so my riding was more aggressive than usual. The feeling was exhilarating.

I arrived in Cold Spring and it was a trip to another time and place. I pulled the Brick onto the center stand and a woman leaning against a door of her shop in a slight British accent asked, “I like the Union Jack on your helmet what does it mean?” I told her my helmet was a replica of Phil Read’s, a motorcycle racer. “Nice” she replied. I could have gone on for a while about why I wear a Phil Read replica helmet. He was overshadowed by another racer Mike Hailwood during his day, but was still a great racer. I relate his racing career to my music career. I have had so many great reviews, complements, and near misses over the years, but was never able to support myself from my art. There were always people that were better that achieved more than I could. But like Phil, who raced into his forties (his last race being the treacherous Isle of Man TT), I press on in music, still playing with my band for the joy it brings.

I found a great bar called McGuire’s on Main and had a lunch of hot wings, which are one of my food addictions along with hot dogs and oysters. The bartender was a friendly woman and she asked about my ride. We talked about the great roads around the area and how much she enjoyed living in Cold Spring. Some of the locals bellied up at the bar were talking about going to a show at the Brooklyn Bowl, a concert venue/bowling alley that I have been to several times before in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It then struck me how close we were to New York City. In a short dash I was in a seemingly fictional town out of the movie set of Annie. I couldn’t have been further away from the hustle of the rat-infested island if I were on Mars. It felt good to realize that.

On the way home I stopped at the observation area on the 6 over looking the Hudson. As I pulled in I noticed a woman on the telephone in her car with the windows rolled up . She was obviously having a fight with her significant other as I heard muffled shouting. Tears were streaming down her face. I pretended not to see her to save her any embarrassment. I got off my bike and walked toward the stone ledge of the overlook. I could not believe the sweeping vista that was before me. It was like my field of vision was increased by the sheer vastness of the scenery. I stared in amazement for several minutes and then I glanced back at the woman in the car, her hands pressed into her face as if in agony. I collected the thoughts of my trip: Phil Read versus Mike Hailwood, my near success in the music industry, being in a fantasy town just minutes from NYC, and finally this scene of a woman in pain so close to one of the most beautiful expanses I’ve ever laid eyes on. I thought about the concept of closeness and how little there is separating mediocrity from fame, failure from success, beauty from ugliness, and peace from pain. Granted sometimes there are forces beyond our control that limit us, but knowing that no matter where I stand, there lies hope for something better very nearby.

I am sure many will say that by taking these trips I am trying to escape something, or that I want to be of another time or place. I must disagree, because the introspective place I visit while rumbling down lazy roads makes me realize that I am not riding away from my problems – but riding towards the answers.

Click for images for larger versions.


Observation area on Route 6

View from Camp Smith McGuire’s on Main Great wings!


Route to Cold Spring and back

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4 Responses to The Greatest Road Yet

  1. tylordurand says:

    great view from the observation deck…and boy do those wings look good!

  2. A most excellent post! The woman in your story reminded me of a time a few years ago when I pulled over at a scenic overlook in West Virginia. There was only one other person there; a woman in a wedding dress (including a veil headpiece) sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up truck smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. She looked pissed and deep in thought. It would have made an excellent picture, but I didn’t take it because I thought it would be rude since she was obviously not in the mood for a stranger to take photos. I’ve always wondered if it was she who left the wedding, or the groom, or maybe she was on her way and just wanted a drink.

    I have a few routes in that area on my “to do” list but I picked-up a few more places to stop from you 🙂

    • Joe Popp says:

      Thanks for stopping by Roadside. That’s a great story. I think if the woman in my story was outside of the car I may have tried to console her, but locked in her car with the windows rolled up on a warm day she clearly wasn’t up for any psychological assistance!

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