Americade-Sensory Overload - Tech Matters

I've always had an aversion to large crowds, or even small ones for that matter, so I've generally avoided the rally scene. If you don't count Daytona, which I attended strictly to see (and in some cases, participate in) the races, you could count the ones I've attended on one hand, and that includes three trips to the now defunct Honda Hoot, which to be perfectly honest, were mandatory work assignments.

Anyway, Kawasaki invited a bunch of us writer types up to Americade, ostensibly to ride the revamped Vulcan 900 through the scenery around Lake George in the hopes that we might have something nice to say about them. I did, but you'll have to read about it in the next issue.

Since their invitation coincided with an urgent need to take some sort of vacation before my cheese slid completely off the cracker and I'd only passed through the 'Cade once before, and on that occasion I stopped barely long enough to wet my whistle, I accepted their invite, faster than you can say, "That's a nice bike, where'd you say we'd be stopping for lunch?"

Then I started to have second thoughts. I had plenty of stuff to do around the house, including writing this column, though Lord knows what it would have been about if I hadn't gone on the trip, and almost backed out, but as usual cooler heads, mainly my wife's, prevailed and encouraged me to go. Around our place, absence (mine) truly makes the heart grow fonder, or at least provides some decompression time.

I took the short route up there, back roads from my Connecticut home to the Taconic Parkway, and from there, north to Lake George, NY. For those of you that have never ridden the Taconic Parkway, take my word for it, it's a great ride, a scenic, flowing road, it's lightly traveled during the week, at least once you get past the Interstate 84 intersection. There are also plenty of local diners and such, (ride to eat, that's my motto) so you can avoid the dubious pleasures of styro-food. Once it ends, you can meander north on a variety of charming roads or if you're in a hurry as I was, you can drop yourself onto the New York State Thruway for an hour or so and get off in Lake George. By the way, if you are headed up there, allow some time to visit Saratoga Springs, especially if you're interested in horse racing and good food, I've yet to find a bad restaurant there, and heartily recommend the Malta Diner, which is actually in Ballston Spa, but close enough.

Americade itself was a bit overwhelming, more than once I thought I was going to seize up from sensory overload 'cause there's just so much to look at. I'm not sure how many Goldwings Honda has made, but apparently they all show up for the Americade, along with every trike, H-D Big Twin and damn near anything else you can think of, and every one of them more customized than the last.

Between the bikes and the 50,000 or so riders and passengers, the streets can get a little crowded, but by and large everyone is on their best, (or at least very good) behavior. In the four days I was there the only people I saw lose their cool were a couple of local, and obviously inebriated, high school girls that got into a rather vicious cat fight on the main drag Friday night. The details are salacious to say the least, and since this is a family rag I'll just say you had to be there, and thank your lucky stars they weren't riding motorcycles, if they had been, it have made World News Tonight, or at very least the cover of Life.

As far as the motorcycle crowd goes, in four days, I didn't hear a single cross word nor did I see anyone behave in a manner detrimental to our sport. Well, one of my fellow journalists did spill a beer in my lap, but mine was a cry of anguish, and not as you'd suppose, of anger.

All in all, it looked as if everyone was playing together quite nicely, and there was plenty of play. The rally is extremely well organized, there's practically an endless list of activities, everything from poker runs, to demo rides to custom shows and moonlight dinner cruises are available on just about an hourly basis, so keeping busy is no problem. The vendor show is ginormous, doing it justice takes several hours, and if you can't find it there, then you really don't need it. If your tastes run to something less structured, the roads around the area are phenomenal and once you're out of Lake George are fairly free of traffic, especially if you head north and east into Vermont or due north towards Lake Placid. There are plenty of historical sites to see as well, especially if you have an interest in the French and Indian War or the American Revolution. If you do hit Lake Placid, break loose with a few bucks and partake of the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience. I'm not much for thrill rides but running down a portion of the 1932-1980 Olympic Bobsled run on a four man sled was one of the most exhilarating, and yeah, frightening things I've ever done.

In spite feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing, I had a hell of time, so much so in fact, that I've already made plans to return next year, even if it's on my own dime.