Perhaps choosing a section of the North East BDR for our first BDR experience was an ambitious decision (afterall, the BDR website ranks it as second most-difficult). Clay and I have both been riding 25+ years, and we have taken our ADV bikes off-road here on Long Island on trails with deep sand. I also did extensive research to know if I, being the more-timid rider, would be comfortable with the route. I read blogs, watched the YouTube videos, followed posts on the Facebook groups, as well as made my own posts asking about challenges, etc. In section 3, I read about the “work-arounds” for the more difficult parts and was sure to incorporate them into my navigation app (nav apps could be a whole blog by themselves). Clay had our bikes tuned perfectly (his Honda Africa Twin and my Tiger 800XCA) and we had just enough gear for a three-day camping trip. I felt ready and prepared….until October Mountain – which, although the BDR’s website describes it as “menacing”, I could find a few other choice words for it. What an ordeal!
Day 1 we cruised perfectly from Copake Falls, NY through CT, and into MA. We knew it was threatening to storm so we made our coffee stops and gas stops as brief as possible to try and stay ahead of it. But to no avail, upon entering October Mountain State Park the storm set-in. The thunder roared, and it began to downpour.
Now Clay might have a different perspective here. But all I could see in between rain drops covering my visor, was steep, uphill wet rocks on the trail in between puddles that were dark and seemed bottomless. No research prepared me for this. I panicked. And like Superman, Clay being the badass expert rider he is, came to the rescue. He was able to ride both his bike and my bike through these treacherous parts while I tried to hold back the tears – tears of failure, tears of not knowing what was around the next corner, tears of fear that I’d never make it out alive. And this is no exaggeration.
As the trail flattened out, I finally decided to get back on the bike. I’m not sure how, because quite honestly, my confidence was wrecked, I felt physically weak, and I was soaked (not for lack of proper rain gear. The Rev’it gear kept out the rain, but I was soaked on the inside from the sweat of panic, fear, and being overdressed). We managed to find pavement and get to the nearest gas station to regroup and assess how to proceed.
Not without some stressed disagreements, we finally decided to get a hotel, dry out our clothes, give our bodies and break, and wait out the storm. That was the perfect decision. We were able to enjoy some quite time together, chat about how much we learned, and make a well-researched plan for the next two days of our trip – which turned out to be incredible!
Sunday, Day 2, brought 70-degree temps and a clear sunny sky. We started the day with a filling and tasty breakfast at Otto’s in Pittsfield which I highly recommend if you’re in the area. They had an endless, unique food combos and the friendliest staff. Then we jumped back on the BDR to complete more of Section 3 through Monroe State Forest. After that, we headed east on some of the most beautifully paved twistys I’ve seen since those in the Great Smokey Mountains. We were bound for Warwick, MA where we found a little piece of heaven to spend our last night.
As we pulled-up the BDR-style driveway, we knew this was going to be a great place to spend the last night of our trip. The windy driveway led to a beautiful clearing with a tee-pee, a small house/library, and a glamping kitchen with a pizza oven that overlooked a tiny pond. And we had the place to ourselves. There was a fire ring with rocking Adirondack chairs that overlooked a clearing in the mountain, and the pond had running water which kept the bugs to a minimum and provided the most-relaxing ambiance. Our gracious host had left plenty of firewood for us, a gift of honey made from bees that live on the property, and plenty of books, games, and camping equipment to use during our stay. My personal favorite part was the shearling-lined chairs and cots inside the tee-pee surrounding a firepit. We spent most of the evening in there enjoying the warmth and glow of the fire while nodding-off.
Monday’s ride back to the Cross Sound Ferry was a leisurely cruise south through MA and CT. And the ferry ride on the Long Island Sound back to the North Fork was picturesque – crystal blue water, a cloudless sky, and a quiet corner on the top deck. We sunbathed sans moto gear reliving all spectacular moments of the weekend. And we arrived back just in time to hit our fav taco stop in Greenport – Lucharitos. While it had the “Memorial Day weekend in the Hamptons” vibe, we were able to score seats at the bar and enjoy some refreshing Palomas and Margaritas before heading home. Ironically, after days of riding in completely remote areas, our first bike malfunction happened in our own backyard. When we came out from Lucharitos, Clay's bike was dead! He mistakenly left the ignition on when we went inside. Luckily we had a jump box with us and he was quickly able to jump the bike and we headed home (there MIGHT have also been a pit stop at Magic Fountain....those of you who know, KNOW).
Overall, I can say that we learned so much over the weekend. For me, it was about becoming a better overall rider and gaining confidence off-road after a very difficult experience. Clay and I were also able to grow in our relationship and able to work together through a very taxing experience. I’m thankful to have such a talented, supportive partner to help me grow in my riding abilities. And such an amazing person to adventure with…..here’s to the next one….maybe 4th of July weekend?
Post-Scrip, by Clay:
What a trip! The first two days were full of interesting rides and weather, for sure! We are both new to ADV riding and I really did not know what to expect. Out first for taste of adventure riding was last year in Arizona where we rented two BMW GS-1200’s and headed out to the desert to ride some mining roads and national parks. The bikes were not equipped for anything aggressive at all but we VERY naively, tackled the terrain and had a blast. Looking back, we got lucky. We could have died. I crashed more than a few times, we did not have enough water, bikes had street tires and we were under protected with riding gear, for sure! However, we had a blast! This trip was different. We planned a LOT. Megan did a ton of research and had prepared all the routes for our app-based navigation as well as GPX files exported from these apps for me to load on the Garmin that she gave me for Christmas last year. Lucky ME! We now have our own bikes that are kitted out for this type of riding specifically. Both bikes have 50/50 dirt/road tires. We have water-proof dry bags for our gear. We have multi-layer rain-resistant and ventilated riding gear. We have provisions and the necessary tools for most repairs, if needed. This is truly a game changer!
To be clear, these trails were GNARLEY at points. Adding on a full-blown thunderstorm made parts of the NEBDR very intense. Megan rode like a champ and tackled even the most challenging sections very well. There were just a LOT of these sections. One after another, the weather steadily got worse, and we got wetter and sweatier. We were able to pull together as a couple to get ourselves through it all and make our way to less-challenging roads to regroup and formulate a plan. There was nothing to do but solve this problem together. No one to call to come help and no cell service even if there were. No rest area. Nothing. The only option was to get it done and get us out. There was no failure, just a difficult situation that we overcame. I’m very proud of Megan for wanting to do a ride like this at all and even more so for getting through it with me. We most certainly grew as riders, as a couple and as individuals!
For those of you wondering, what's the BDR, see link by clicking: North East BDR
P.S. If you've read this far and you're still interested, we found this great YouTube video about the "menacing" October Mountain. Click here. We can't agree more that most posts about section 3 don't mention this crazy part. And if you can believe it, this looks WAY easier than it did when it was wet. Add in vast dark puddles into the mix where you can't tell what's on the ground beneath you - terrifying to say the least.