Motorcycles and Wine Adventure

Posted 08/06/23

Recently, Ken and I had another opportunity for an adventure of a lifetime. Our adventure took place in five chapters. 

Chapter One – The Ride Down: 

We loaded up our bikes and bombed off as fast and directly as we could to get to the northern terminus of the Mid-Atlantic Back Country Discovery Route (MABDR), located in a town called Lawrenceville at the New York border just south of Corning, NY. Except for two brief stops for breakfast at Terra Nova and beer and pizza at Beer Tree Brewing, we covered the 400 miles straight through. 

At this point, we began our journey south on the MABDR, hoping to cover half of section 9 and camping at a State Park in the middle of the route. We also hoped to find a place to stock up on food for the evening along the way, as we could not find any options in Lawrenceville.

The route starts on small paved roads and quickly turns into well-maintained small dirt roads that meander through the Norther PA forest. We so enjoyed our twisty tourney ride through the woods that we rode right by our campground and the views of PA’s grand canyon. Upon realizing this, with the brief and intermittent cell signal we could get, we found another campsite, Petticoat Junction, just 20 miles ahead in the small town of Cedar Run. This would be our destination for the night. 

Upon arriving at the Petticoat Junction campground, we learned that the campsite was closed. It was Sunday night after 6:00. Thankfully, the campsite allowed late arrivals to set up camp and pay in the morning. Unfortunately, we had not had the opportunity to purchase provisions for the night, and being late on a Sunday night in the middle of nowhere, it was beginning to look like our long day’s ride would end with just a few nuts for dinner. However, not wholly unprepared, I packed a bottle of 2009 Borolo and a 17-year-old Balvenie Doublewood to celebrate our ride together. 

After setting up camp, I wandered over to a neighboring site to inquire whether anyone knew of any open stores in the area. No luck. However, I asked the right people. Before leaving their camp, they loaded me up with a bunch of food they insisted they were not intending to eat and were glad to share. Things were looking up. 

Thanks to this great group of people, we enjoyed a wonderful meal, but most importantly, we made many new friends and imbibed on beer, wine, scotch, and bourbon all night. When the time came for sleep, the campsite was pristine and extremely quiet, except for the river that ran right by our tent. I highly recommend this spot if you are traveling the MABDR through this area. 

As usual, we were up early and anxious to get on our way. We were packed and ready to go by 8:00. Unfortunately, the camp office was still closed, so we had to head off without paying. I took a brochure and called my payment in later in the week. 

We rode for a short while south, continuing on the MABDR until we found a small camp store serving breakfast sandwiches, McConnell’s Country Store. Here, we met our first set of riders riding the trail as we were. They joined us for breakfast before heading off together. Being on smaller, more agile bikes, they quickly left us in their dust, literally and figuratively. We road on for the better part of the morning and early afternoon along the same windy park roads we had been on for the past 100 miles. By mid-afternoon, we had completed section nine and all of section eight. The ride was smooth and uneventful, except for Ken coming way too close to meeting a giant dirt mover head-on and about a half mile of some rugged terrain up a relatively steep hill (this was a highlight for me).

By 2:30, we had completed section eight and decided it was time to bomb down to Maryland and our hotel in Germantown, MD, to begin Chapter Two of our trip. 

Chapter Two – East Coast Winemaker’s Summit at The Crossvines

The main reason for our trip in the first place was an invitation to a prestigious wine event put on by Paul Vigna and Joe Fiola and hosted by The Crossvines in Poolesville, Maryland. My partner and winemaker, Ken, and I were invited to join 12 of some of the best winemakers on the east coast to spend the day sharing wines and learning from our colleagues in the industry. 

To be invited to this event was remarkable enough. However, the fact that we were presenting wines not made from grapes at an event dedicated entirely to grape wines made it even more special. 

The day surpassed all our expectations. We enjoyed some fabulous white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines crafted by the East’s best winemakers. We got to tour the fantastic new facilities of The Crossvines, a new incubator of winemakers in Maryland and enjoyed an outstanding farm-to-table lunch. But most important were the people. We caught up with some of our long-time industry friends, Carlo DeVito, Richard Leahy, and Joe Fiola, and made many new ones. 

Of most importance, Ken provided an outstanding presentation of our new world wines, and on both occasions, our Lakehouse White and our Hermitage were received well and applauded by everyone. We owe a special thanks to Carlo DeVito for suggesting to the event organizers that we attend and Paul Vigna for inviting us. This will be a day we remember for years to come. 

Chapter Three – Visiting with friends: 

Upon leaving the event, we rode our bikes to Silver Springs, Maryland, about 45 minutes away, to visit our long-time friends, John and Heidi. I had not seen them in over a year, and Ken for several years. 

John and Heidi were generous and welcoming hosts. We spent the evening together catching up, visiting a couple of their favorite local restaurants, and enjoying beer, wine, and spirits. It was a short visit, but I am glad we made the time. I have known John for almost 35 years and Heidi for over 20 years. 

We had an early night by John and Heidi’s standards, but we were happy to be in bed by just after midnight, as we had a long couple of days of riding for our return home. The next morning we packed our bikes and took John out of breakfast before they saw us off on our next chapter.

Chapter Four – New Friends Rodrigo and Gabo:

Ken and I attended an adventure motorcycle riding class in Virginia several months prior. In this class, we met some great people, including a couple who lived in the Silver Spring area, Rodrigo and Gabriel. Knowing we would be riding out of Silver Springs on August 2, intending to ride a couple more sections of the MABDR, we asked if they would want to join us on the trail for part of our ride. They enthusiastically accepted our invitation.

We met at Rodrigo’s house at 10:00 am and set off on an hour ride northwest to pick up the MABDR trail about midway through section five, where Gabo and Rodrigo had left off on their last adventure into the mountains. We set off on the trail on yet another perfect day, weather-wise. The later part of section five was pretty straightforward, a mix of smooth dirt roads and small paved streets. The scenery was beautiful, which is always true when riding the BDRs. 

One of our highlights of the trip was coming upon a MABDR-friendly resident along the trail who leaves trail magic in a cooler on the side of the road. A collection of non-alcoholic beers and other beverages hit the spot. We also came by at just the right time, as we met our generous host, who just happened to be home when we rode through. 

After a few hours of riding, we finished section five in the small town of Mount Holly Springs. We gassed up and enjoyed a beer at a local tavern while we planned our day’s conclusion. We stocked up on food and beverages for the night’s camping. 

We settled on Fowler Hollow State Park, located right on the MABDR, as our campsite for the night. We made our reservations and headed off to section six. The first 20 or 30 miles of section six cross the valley on a series of paved roads. After about an hour of riding, we began climbing the Tuscarora Mountains. The road became smooth dirt with switchbacks climbing in and out of the valleys that led to our campsite. There were some spectacular views along the way, and other than a road surface that felt like you were riding on marbles, it was easy riding for the last two hours of the day. 

The campsite was perfect, nestled in a clearing along a slow-moving river. After setting up camp, collecting firewood, and building our campfire, we settled into a fine dinner of baked beans and hotdogs and enjoyed a few cold ones by the fire into the night. It was a great time getting to know our new friends and sharing stories by the fire. This is what it’s all about. 

We got up early to get packed and hit the road for our final chapter the following and last day. We had coffee and a light breakfast before saying good by to our new friends and headed home. 

Chapter Five – The Long Haul Home:

As you can see, Ken and I crammed an awful lot into our few short travel days. To do this, we knew the only way to get home in time for our other commitments would be to spend the last day riding on highways. This is our least favorite kind of riding, especially when traveling through or around New York City. 

To make matters worse, google suggested the fastest way home would take us nine hours, putting us home just minutes before my commitment. It was a day, unlike any previous rides we had ever done. Except for two stops for gas, we rode nonstop for the entire nine hours, no lunch, no beer, no rest stops, nothing. We were both thankful for our helmet com systems, allowing us to reminisce about our trip, share stories, and idle conversations to help us pass the miles away. 

Except for numerous traffic jams and inconsiderate drivers, the day was uneventful, and we made it home in the time needed. Again, this is not the way Ken or I prefer to travel, especially on a motorcycle. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how fast the day went by and how much I still enjoyed it, even with the rigors of highway traffic, no rest stops, and of most importance, no BEER! 

It was an action-packed five days and a trip I will remember for a long time. Another grand adventure ride in the books.