We all have that dream to own a convertible. Drive where it’s sunny 24/7 and it’s never too hot and never too cold. Preferably where you’re driving along side an ocean with breeze in your hair and the stunner shades gleaming against the sun.
Fortunately I had that opportunity last month in a friends Mustang convertible. Take it along for a blast to the Jersey Shore on the Garden State Parkway is a constant reminder that you’re smack dab right in the middle of summer. Of course, winter comes around at we all ache to push that button again to drop that top.
This past weekend I had the pleasure to take my Bimmer out for a nice 175 mile stint down the Jersey coastline. A very nice and smooth ride down Garden State Parkway South. A thought crossed my mind when thinking of taking the Long Beach Island exit to snap a few pics by the Atlantic Ocean but of course a Saturday at the Jersey shore would mean endless amounts of traffic, people, and missed opportunities for that perfect shot. So, a cruise in the left lane through the Pineland Reserve with the windows down, system up, and driving shades on really put me in a sense of relaxation.
When driving on the Garden State Parkway, it’s always best to go after the morning beach go-er rush which frees up space for driving enthusiasts. As I travelled down I made a couple of pit stops to admire the Alpine White just gleaming in the sun after a fresh wash from earlier in the morning. Finally I reached the Forked River and refueled with of course Sunoco Ultimate 93 Octane I made my high-speed merge back on to the Parkway this time northbound direction. I smile as I see CBR600RRs and Yamaha R6s with screaming Yoshimura pipes weave by drivers with ever so illegal lane-splitting method. This time the drive is warmer as the sun is shining on my face while I thump the steering wheel to Deadmau5-Orca. A throwback of Deadmau5 2009.
Finally merge on New Jersey Turnpike North where I’m faced the glorious Manhattan skyline. Look to my left over Secaucus and see the sun setting. Obviously this would make a great shot for any Hudson County pristine waterfronts. Upon arrival I’m amazed by the sheer glory of the Hudson river leading in the One World Trade Center. The sunlight ricochets off the Westside Highway’s world renown waterfront properties really allowed me to soak in the sights and sounds.
Round Valley. A name and a place I have chosen to umbrella the network of roads that surround the Round Valley reservoir. I came upon this road by sheer luck when traveling along Route 202 and was in need of a fuel station. I decided to take a random exit and discovered one of Somerset Counties’ a marvelous piece of road.
Filled with farmlands, twists, and unpredictable elevation changes can make any sport bike rider’s stomach churn. I took the exit off 202 and dropped two gears, being in 4th gear and screaming at 10,000 RPMS. It’s begging me to rip the throttle open and let the engine sing to the 18,000 redline.
One of my favorite features of this road is how each corner encourages you to push your bike to the limits. I felt as if I was Valentino Rossi on the S-curves with flicking the bike back and forth. The Yamaha R6s is my scalpel with its precision like handling. No music needed here as soundtrack of the bike’s gear shifts, engine screams, and exhaust bellows are more than an earful.
A time comes here and there when a man is beaten down by the daily grind and I experienced this last week. You look for some sort of joy and a reminder to yourself that you do things to finance and fuel your passion. For me I knew it was for my ultimate driving machine that needed to be moved for street cleaning.
Upon entering the vehicle I’m rewarded with black leather, signature BMW orange gauges, and of course the thick chunky M-sport steering wheel mounted to paddle shifters. Push the button and all 6 cylinders fire to life and growls the sound out the dual exhausts. Right then and there I knew it wasn’t going to be a quick move.
I escape the city via Route 78 West and mash the pedal to quickly see city lights disappearing in my rear view mirror. Look ahead and the adaptive xenons are paving my vision into the darkness past Newark International Airport. Alas, finally at peace with Rodg- Is Anybody Out There (Original Mix) serenading through the speakers.
Its when a man is alone in this car and finally gets to stretch his car’s legs on the open highway is when he can be himself with no one to answer to or to be bothered with. Before I knew it I was in Somerset County and realized it was time to head back but this time 287 North. A highway that was once my Autobahn has been demoted to crater like pot holes, 18 Wheeler infested left lanes, and down right inattentive drivers. Disappointed as this may be I took the exit for 280 to maintain my flow back to the city. Set the cruise control, throw your head back, and let stress melt away. Yeah, it’s a car guy thing.
Get back to the city and tuck the car away. Hit the locks and hear the chirps. Look over the left shoulder as you walk away and think to myself “Yup, made the right decision.”
We all have that dream where we could ride along the infamous Pacific Coast Highway a.k.a. Highway 1. I was fortunate to live my dream when I rented a motorcycle from a local Bay Area shop in April. The process was smooth and relatively cheap. I highly recommend this to anyone looking enjoy the West Coast. My ride started in downtown San Francisco with multiple stops along the way to Santa Cruz pier. The weather was phenomenal with temperatures in the 90s.
I rented a 2014 Honda CB500F with ABS. Quite a different riding dynamic then my R6s. First thing you notice is how comfortable the upright seating position is the oddity of a missing windscreen. I’m not sure if I would particular choose a model without a windscreen for long highway riding. The constant pressure on your chest does get tiresome. Once leaving downtown San Francisco I got on the highway and immediately noticed the low-end torque boost that made merging on highways and left lane blasts relatively easy. However, coming from a R6s you do have to get used to constantly working the transmission stay within power bands and to shift early since most of the power is gone after 6000 RPMs. The 500F was very quiet even with my headphones off I could barely hear anything sputtering out of the exhaust or engine. Understand this is no sport bike but a great starter bike with superb gas mileage. I managed to get 55 MPG.
The Pacific Coast Highway offers jaw dropping views 200ft cliff drops. Its quite a difficult task to soak in the views and keep my eyes on the road. I was lucky enough to not experience any sort of traffic that restrained my ability to push the Honda to its limits. My recommendation is go during the weekday post 10AM.
After a tasty lunch on the Santa Cruz pier I proceeded to take a variety of mountainous backroads such as 236, 9, 35, 84. Here is where any performance rider should take their motorcycle to test their skills. There wasn’t any point during the time I wasn’t on the edge of my seat with my adrenaline pumping. The Honda handled the roads just fine however, it is no replacement for a super-sport’s ability to carve mountain tops. I dream one day to bring my R6s to the West Coast to really test and own my riding skills.
Everyone experiences a time on the highway where its late night and you realize you’re the only one on the road. All you can think to yourself is what song do you want blasting through your stereo to experience that harmony of music, car, and an open road. For me it was Lucy Stone and Lane 8-Nothing You Can Say.