A good ride doesn’t have to be a long one. With only $10’s worth of gas, I set out to see how much fun I could have cruising around close to home on a New Jersey and New York motorcycle ride, and I was not disappointed.
It was a beautiful spring day with low humidity and temperatures in the 70s. I went out to the garage to warm up my 1990 BMW K 75, a bike known as the “Flying Brick.” Adding a little throttle as it idled, the BMW sang its familiar run run run run. I’ve owned it for 32 years, and with 28,000 miles on the clock, it’s barely broken in.
With its 750cc inline-Triple, waterproof saddlebags, and a cafe windscreen, some motorcycle reviews called the K 75 the perfect bike. It can take you around the corner for a quart of milk or around the world. I gassed her up, getting only a couple gallons for my $10. The gas station attendant admired the BMW’s silver paint and blue pinstripes and asked if it was new. I told him it was almost twice as old as he was.
The days of the 1,000-mile weekend trip are over for me. Most of my motorcycle jaunts these days, whether alone or with friends, are designed around breakfast, lunch, and a late afternoon snack.
From my home in Ramsey, New Jersey, it was a quick ride north on State Route 17 to Auntie El’s Farm Market in Sloatsburg, New York. At one time just a small shack with plants in summer and Christmas trees in winter, it’s now half a block long and sells plants, garden art, and fresh fruit and vegetables. But for me, it’s all about Auntie El’s bakery, which serves up freshly baked pastries, pies, and cookies. I enjoyed a warm apple turnover with coffee.
Next, I veered west on Sterling Mine Road, curved my way back into New Jersey, and rode past Ringwood Manor, a 724-acre park with rolling hills and a babbling brook. A slow ride through the park is usually a nice diversion, but on this trip I kept going and turned onto Margaret King Avenue. A few miles later, I turned west onto Greenwood Lake Turnpike and crossed over the Monksville Reservoir, which provides water for northern New Jersey and recreation for kayakers, paddleboarders, and anglers.
It was not quite 9 a.m., and the lake shimmered in the morning light. Anglers were out trying their luck. I slipped into the parking lot with my K 75 making about as much noise as a sewing machine – even the geese on the shoreline were unperturbed. Walking out on the dock provided a taste of the natural beauty that’s so close to home.
Continuing on Greenwood Lake Turnpike took me to its namesake body of water, which is a narrow 7-mile lake that straddles the border of New York and New Jersey. From the turnpike I could see boats bobbing in the water at South Shore Marina, where years ago I kept “Dumb Idea,” my 19-foot day sailer. Anyone who has owned a boat will understand the name. The road, which becomes Warwick Turnpike, was all mine as I curved a large arc around Upper Greenwood Lake.
My next stop was Wawayanda State Park, a wonderful 34,350-acre preserve with 60 miles of trails and a beautiful spring-fed lake with a wide swimming beach, a boat launch, and kayak rentals. It’s a great place to take a short break and enjoy the sun sparkling on the lake. I was only burning $10’s worth of gas, so there was no need to rush.
I crossed back into New York, turned west onto Route 94, then north onto Sanfordville Road. Turning west on Pine Island Turnpike took me to Pine Island, an area famous for its onion farms and some of the blackest dirt you’ve ever seen. After a quick stop in town, where there’s a great restaurant called The Jolly Onion, I backtracked on the turnpike and turned north on Little York Road, a small country road with views of the fields and small tidy houses in dappled sunlight. I stopped at the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, which has a cafe, picnic tables, and acres of land. As I strolled the grounds, I admired the blooming roses and made a note to return for a longer visit.
Continuing east on Pine Island Turnpike, I turned east at West Street and rode into the heart of Warwick, a charming town full of cafes and restaurants. There’s free parking in a large public lot right off Main Street. I sought out a power outlet to recharge my phone and had a slice of pizza while I waited.
Farther down Main Street at the far end of town is a large public park with benches under towering oak trees, providing shade that complemented the spring breeze. On a little hill is the Old School Baptist Meeting House, a majestic white church built in 1810. It’s now maintained by the Warwick Historical Society, and I enjoyed a quick tour.
I left Warwick by riding south on Oakland Avenue (Route 94) and then turning east on Galloway Road (State Route 17A). A left turn on Kain Road took me to Bellvale Farms Creamery, which looks like a Norman Rockwell painting of a farmhouse and has an expansive view of a valley full of farms. It also serves delicious ice cream, but I didn’t want to spoil my appetite.
One of my favorite stops for breakfast or lunch is The Village Buzz Cafe, which is in the heart of the Village of Greenwood Lake on Windermere Avenue just off Route 17A. The cafe serves up hometown cooking with welcoming smiles all around, and its menu includes all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and sweets. Their handcut home-fried potatoes with onions alone are worth a stop. Out front there’s a chalkboard with positive affirmations written in different colors, and they reminded me of how lucky I was to be up on two wheels on a gorgeous day.
By the time I returned home, I’d only ridden 89 miles, but the $10 I spent was a bargain for a great day of exploring hills, lakes, and curves.