The Melody Chronicles: Found My Thunder Road
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Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2527
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:37 pm quote
It's been quite the month: I'm heading into Gotham again for IT gigs, but riding Melody straight in for the sake of (1) time, and (2) that thing I'll now call Socially Distant Commuting: getting from Point A to Point B with little-to-no close contact with others. My clients dig this big-time, but for me the bigger deal is cutting my travel time by half, even factoring in traffic snarls.

But it has its weird twists and turns, quite literally. This past Friday, I had a gig in Brooklyn's Park Slope, followed by a quick one in Manhattan's TriBeCa. Mind you, things are still quite surreal there (on my way home from the last gig, I pulled up to a stop light next to Delicatessen restaurant, where part of the street was cordoned off for outdoor dining a-lá loosened COVID-19 regs, and I found myself idling almost cheek-to-jowl with folks sipping cocktails and nibbling on appetizers). My problem was thus: Los Googles was telling me there was crazy construction everywhere, and I needed to make a serious detour to get outta Dodge. And it was starting to get a bit dark out, Equinox-be-damned.

My "normal" route would be bouncing along Hudson Street and cutting right to the Holland Tunnel, then a bit of minor meandering across the Bayonne Bridge and out to the NJ Turnpike for 12 miles, then off to the Garden State Parkway. But noooo, not this time: I had to take an alternate route to the tunnel, which was okay, but once back in Joisey, Ms. Google pointed me to Rte 1-9, then 139, which I can only describe as possibly Dante's Forgotten Circle of Hell. Now, I know Newark: a town that's been through Hell and back itself, but I actually feel far safer walking its streets than speeding along its connected outer roads. Let's just say 1-9 and 139 are "character-building" in a manner not too dissimilar from endurance racing, particularly at night. I observed cars stopped on the shoulder numoerous times, at least twice on account of flat tires; I was sent through some crazy twists and turns, detour upon detour, over-and-underpasses, along broken bits of bitumen that crews were trying their best to repair right then and there, but that made things all the more surreal, and didn't I know there was still a pandemic being dealt with?

And, by the time I fond my way to the Turnpike, there was yet another surprise: the cars-only Express section of the 'Pike was closed en toto for maintenance/upgrading, shunting me to the Local section, and "running with the bulls"…the 18-wheeled variety. Mind you, this is along a heavily-industrial section of the Garden State, and there are a metric shit-ton o' semis slamming through, day and night.hauling tankers and containers and everything in-between. I texted Le Wife (hands-free, thankfully), that I was "a mouse among elephants" right there and then. Generally, I'm pretty calm around gigunda trucks where and when I'm dealing with just two or three, but fifteen or twenty, at night?

Thankfully, the Turnpike has gotten a lot of rebuilding love of late, and shortly I was along a sweet, smooth stretch where I got to pin Melody close to 80 and get myself off the Turnpike and onto the considerably more-serene Garden State Parkway for the remaining 23 miles to home. I've gotten to understand why lots of motorists regard North Jersey to be so nerve-wracking; I've written about the routes to and from the tunnels being a harrowing work-in-progress (a construction project that would put the Tower of Babel to shame), but it's a dragon I've managed to slay multiple times. But it's better in daylight. Way better.

ThunderRoad Ride.jpeg
Doesn't look like much from here...

ThunderRoad2.jpeg
The Bigger Picture: To-and-from.



Last edited by amateriat on Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:15 pm; edited 3 times in total
Ossessionato
Yamaha Tricity 155 Urban 2019 - MV Agusta 125 RS 1956 - Yamaha Majesty 250 DX 1998
Joined: 21 Jul 2007
Posts: 3557
Location: Latina (Italy)
Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:51 am quote
So, for those who are not from NY, how would you define your driving experience with the Vespa on such a tormented route?
PS: what instrument do you play?
Member
’20 GTS 300 hpe SuperSport
Joined: 28 Sep 2019
Posts: 45
Location: NYC
Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:39 am quote
That’s quite a commute! I often drive/ride in these parts, but it’s not everyday that I feel up to the challenge, leaving me occasionally with frayed nerves on the days my softer inner self prevails.

Dante’s Forgotten Circle of Hell! I like that description of Rte 1-9, makes sense as everyone seems to try to get out of there as fast as possible. Traffic rules and concern for other people’s safety appear not to be on many people’s minds, especially during rush hours.
Member
2020 Vespa GTS Touring 300
Joined: 16 Feb 2020
Posts: 40
Location: Northern California
Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:14 am quote
I have to remind myself not to at least crowd the intersection crosswalk. Close seating or lingering on the sidewalks is a bit more problematic.

I have to wonder how safe those roads are you are traveling on. Possibly the east coast hasn't caught up with the west coast driving style as yet. For instance this recent episode:

Hit and Run Driver Drags Motorcycle on 91 Freeway
https://youtu.be/Xfx6Tzpouw0

And then this one a few years ago:

Driver Captures Road Rage Incident in Santa Clarita
https://youtu.be/DVuQaPpHXzU

I haven't been so interested in riding on the freeways here. And only do so when I have no real easy choices about it. I'm always looking towards the less traveled roadways with a lack of side streets. Even though doing so increases my travel time, which is fine because I'm getting even more lower stress riding done that I'm hoping is somewhat safer.
Ossessionato
Yamaha Tricity 155 Urban 2019 - MV Agusta 125 RS 1956 - Yamaha Majesty 250 DX 1998
Joined: 21 Jul 2007
Posts: 3557
Location: Latina (Italy)
Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:45 am quote
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2527
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:23 pm quote
Attila wrote:
So, for those who are not from NY, how would you define your driving experience with the Vespa on such a tormented route?
PS: what instrument do you play?
Answering your last question first: None, regrettably. (Might take up guitar again at some point…parents thwarted that desire, making me learn accordion instead. That didn't end well.

My riding experience with Melody? It's pretty much handled everything I've thrown at it, wittingly or otherwise: long-ish, 70mph stretches on the slab, stop-and-go on horribly-maintained urban/exurban roads, and those sweet, twisty bits of decent two-lane that actually abound around my small city, but I don't often get the chance to go out and play on as I'd like. I can't imagine being much happier on anything else.
giallo wrote:
That’s quite a commute! I often drive/ride in these parts, but it’s not everyday that I feel up to the challenge, leaving me occasionally with frayed nerves on the days my softer inner self prevails.

Dante’s Forgotten Circle of Hell! I like that description of Rte 1-9, makes sense as everyone seems to try to get out of there as fast as possible. Traffic rules and concern for other people’s safety appear not to be on many people’s minds, especially during rush hours.
Obviously, you know this route a tad better than I do (I've only ridden it twice, before, but those bouts were in daylight, where I could more-or-less see what I was in for). All those jokes by Navy jocks about night carrier landings came to the fore as soon as I emerged from Jersey side of the tunnel, construction lights flashing seemingly everywhere, and construction trucks rolling seemingly everywhere (including one that was hastily moving out of the lane I and a car ahead of me were in on the Turnpike). Funny thing is, I didn't notice anyone driving in a reckless manner…I think most everyone out there was trying as hard as me to deal with an unusually crappy situation.
bosco12 wrote:
I have to remind myself not to at least crowd the intersection crosswalk. Close seating or lingering on the sidewalks is a bit more problematic.

I have to wonder how safe those roads are you are traveling on. Possibly the east coast hasn't caught up with the west coast driving style as yet.
Not having had to pleasure to visit CA yet (Seattle is the only part of That Coast I've been to, but I'll fix that before long), I only have second-hand evidence to go on, but I have an inkling that at least up till recently, CA has done a somewhat better job maintaining its roads than the tri-state epicenter of the Northeast (NY/NJ/CT) have managed. The only reason NJ's roads have imroved somewhat over the last two years involved the passage of a sizable increase in the gasoline tax along with the stipulation that the funds this garnered would be used strictly for transportation-infrastructure improvement (road/rail, including bridge and tunnel), and not siphoned-off for unrelated matters. Suddenly, road crews appeared like mushrooms after a good thunderstorm…hence all those flashing lights I referred to before.

Last edited by amateriat on Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
Veni, Vidi, Posti
2008 MP3 500, 2013 BV350, 2020 Vespa Sei Giorni
Joined: 13 Oct 2012
Posts: 8513
Location: Ashburn, Va. Home to the Internet
Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:00 pm quote
I got fed up with Googles out of the way directions on my phone. So I sprung for the new Garmin Zumo XT GPS.
This thing rocks, you can display the weather radar on the GPS while riding. This helped me avoid multiple storms on Sundays ride.
Also paired my new Garmin InReach satellite tracker to the GPS too.

The GPS, phone and Cardio head set work great together. I do loose my OK, Google voice command feature on the Cardio when the Zumo and phone are paired to the Cardio. But the Hey Cardio voice command features still work.
Hooked
2020 GTS 300 HPE
Joined: 27 Sep 2019
Posts: 153
Location: San Francisco
Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:03 pm quote
When I lived in Nevada, we'd joke that a blind person could tell when you entered California because the roads went to shit at the stateline. 2 decades later, that's still true.

Both the highways and freeways in Marin/Sonoma (North Bay) are reasonably well maintained and mostly pleasant to ride on.

Down the Peninsula (South Bay), the traffic and road quality on 280 are much worse; Skyline Blvd has nice sections and crap sections. I haven't even bothered riding 101 yet, but I've seen enough of it in other vehicles to know it's terrible.

The drivers in the East Bay are terribly aggressive. I think 80 + 580 also have sections of pavement that are fine and sections that are miserable; the drivers occupy so much of my attention when I'm riding over there that it's harder to think about the road condition.
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