Before I go any further, let me point out that I made a rather conscience decision not to bring my camera along and take any pictures for this entire week.  Those you have seen thus far were taken on my phone and they are the extent of what I shot, so proceed with the knowledge that it’s all gonna be just words from here on out, holmes.  If you’re not the reading type, this may take some effort and result in a somewhat boring existence for the next however-many-minutes it takes your brain to process this.

Wednesday

That said, today was our shopping day, it just so happens that some did a little more shopping than others, but we’ll get to that.

I got a little bit of a late start this morning but was still able to meet everyone for breakfast at Steve’s Place off exit 18.  I didn’t expect them to all wait for me before they even ordered, but the gesture was appreciated.  My tardiness wasn’t a big deal, at least not to me, since nothing we were planning on doing that day required us to get there at the ass crack of dawn and sign up before everyone else.

We rode into town and elected to park on the pavement at the Forum.  This is when the shopping started for Angelo.  I elected to wear my one-piece riding suit today, but also still wore my Kevlar-lined cargo pants and also packed my mesh jacket and regular rain gear just in case the onsie’s waterproofness wasn’t up to snuff (I had gotten some leaks the week before and just silicone-sprayed it earlier in the week to see if made it any better).  What this amounted to was that I had, aside from a helmet and boots, two complete sets of riding gear, rain gear, a collection of gloves and some other odds and ends such as a water bottle, sweatshirt, extra visor, etc all with me that day.  And all of it was able to be packed up and locked in the waterproof hard luggage of my bike while we shopped, aided by my decidedly ugly but exceedingly practical 45 liter Givi top case.  Angelo, lacking a top case, was supremely jealous and decided right there that he would be buying one that day.

He was a bit frustrated by the fact that nobody in the Forum was selling top cases, but he was eyeing up a couple different Bluetooth headsets for himself and Paula (which he would purchase later that day) while I drooled endlessly over the Schuberth helmet booth – I must find $699 somewhere…  After some more meandering, we hopped on the shuttle bus to ride over to Million Dollar Beach for the outdoor vendors, during which the driver ran over a guy on a Goldwing.  Not kidding.  Nobody was hurt, but still – if there ever wasn’t a time to drive a bus over a biker, it’s when the bus is full of bikers. 

There was a lot of junk for sale, but Angelo found the Givi tent in time for the 30 minutes of rain we saw all day (dare I say all week?) to check out luggage options.  He was impressed, but the price was steep so we moved on.  I was digging a jacket and pants at the Sportline booth, but I’m in no dire need at this point so I exercised some restraint and kept my wallet in my pants.  In the meantime, Angelo had found the Shad luggage booth and was making arrangement to have them install the top case he already purchased (man, he moves fast!).  Somewhere in there we got lunch and did a lot more looking around, wishing I made something like twice what I do just to spend it on crap I don’t need.

At this point we headed back to the bikes.  I was originally going to stay and have dinner with everyone, but instead I elected to get home to feed the animals and mow the lawn as it desperately needed it (fun night, I know).

Thursday

Thursday was kind of a strange day.  Angelo, Paula, Joel and Ival were all meeting for breakfast at Steve’s again, but I took a pass this time as my neighbor Dave took the day off work to come up and we headed to the Holiday Inn to get him his wristband and try to get on some demos.  As was the case for the whole week thus far, attendance seemed way down and there was a zero wait time to get his wristband.  We got over to the Fort William Henry at about 8:15 and started signing up for demos.  By some strange luck, I was able to get THE last spot for a Ducati demo!  Dave wasn’t interested in it, so I took it.  We then headed over to BMW where Dave signed up for the same K1300S I rode two days earlier and I was penned in for an F800GS as it was the most interesting thing I saw that was at the same time as Dave’s ride.

We then headed down the hill to the Harley set up, got Dave set up for that (Joel and I had gotten signed up the day before) and jumped in line right away to get a ride in before our BMW demo.  I took the first thing they had that wasn’t a Softail (yuck) or a VROD (yuck), and that ended up being a Street Glide.  I hung around waiting to go out with Dave on the XR1200 he signed up for, but that bike was late getting back so I headed out on my own, and here’s my review:  The Street Glide is a stupid motorcycle.  They have a fantastic chassis with a great engine, and they stuck a windshield on it that makes it absolutely painful to ride with all of the wind noise and turbulence.  Handled good, though.  Dave’s ride on the XR was a bit better – he experience is limited to a Ninja 500 he did some learning on and a BMW K1200RS borrowed from his father, but he overall liked the Harley, however commented that for the same money he’d probably rather have a Speed Triple (I would, too).

We then B-lined it for BMW after briefly running into Angelo and those guys in line at Harley.  Dave’s impression of the K1300S was the same as mine, and it sounded like he had a good ride at a good pace.  I ended up being very surprised by the F800GS, and despite being behind a rather slow rider who managed to stall his F800ST at least twice (once while he was moving, still can’t figure that out) before even leaving the parking lot, I had a very good ride.  It turns out it turns VERY well for an overgrown dirt bike, and I was dying to take it over to the shoulder while waiting for the group to get back together at stop signs.  The engine was a little buzzy as you’d expect, but I never felt annoyed at the amount of power, even when on the highway.

After BMW, Dave split off and met a friend at the vendors at the Beach while I hung around for my Ducati demo.  Wow.  Ducati knows how to put on a demo!  While waiting for the “classroom” portion to start, there is a crew of girls in short skirts and big sunglasses to shade you from the sun with giant umbrellas and give you espresso and biscotti at your whim.  The classroom session was actually pretty good as they explained why the Diavel looks and works the way it does, and then went on to explain how to change the riding modes.  Unlike the Multistrada, the Diavels riding modes don’t affect the suspension and only alter the engine mapping.  I made sure I was first out of the classroom to get the bike directly behind the ride leader – the tires on these things looks completely shagged and I didn’t want to get behind a slow rider on this 45-minute demo.

Turns out it was mostly for naught.  Thanks to road construction, mini vans and gangs of Harley-riding bad asses, the ride was rather subdued, but I got a good impression for what the bike was all about.  Leaving the staging area, we were told to leave them in the 100hp “Urban” mode to get used to the bike.  My first impression after goosing it the first time?  “Holy shit!  This is only 100hp?”  Yeah… it was brutal and quick.  The first set of twisties was, in a word,  just ok.  So, two words – sue me.  The aforementioned pace limited the amount of fun, but that was compounded by the bike itself.  That wiiiiiiiiide rear tire sure looks cool, but it makes the bike noticeably slow to turn in and takes a little more steering input to hold it there.  The suspension was not set up for me so both of these things may have been able to be improved upon, but my gut impression was that the bike was not as comfortable in the corners as I had hoped.

No fault, it’s still a great bike, just not for me.  But wait, there’s more.

Now we were allowed to make the switch into the other riding modes – I chose “Sport”, of course, which unleashes an extra 62hp and applies a quicker throttle response to the ride-by-wire grip.  Holy.  Effing.  Hell.  I know it was only a few weeks ago that I mentioned the Buell S1 I rode was the most visceral, most brutal bike I had ever ridden.  It many ways it still is, but when you twist the wick on the Diavel in “Sport” mode, you essentially get the same sensation as if you stood behind a PBR bull and twisted his nuts, just to wait for the kick to the chest you’re about the receive.  It was an astonishing, absolutely reckless level of power that came on so fast you’d swear they were using an electric motor and bolted a Harley engine to the side of it just make some noise and shake around a little.  In a word?  Addictive, and it made me want the Multistrada 1200 the lead rider was on even more than I already did as it uses the exact same powerplant.

Toss in a quick rain shower which sent the Harley gangs under the bridges and onto the shoulders to put their rain gear on, and it was a safe-paced ride back.  As good as it could have been?  Nope.  Worth it?  Yup.

From here I finally met up with Angelo and Joel and the respective SOs.  Angelo and Paula headed to the main drag for lunch while Joel, Ival and I headed to the Beach to get some carnival food.  We managed to see the new Motus on display, convinced the designer who was on hand to start it up and generally drooled over it.  It sounds and looks awesome, and aside from the price my only real complaint was the seat.  It was impossibly thin at the front, which some people would really like, but I’m typically a tank-hugger when it comes to my riding position and I know it would get old after a while.  I ran into Dave again briefly, but they also elected to go out to the main drag for food after showing me he had bought the exact jacket I was eyeing up the day before.

We ate up and headed to the Forum again where we once again ran into Dave before he took off and headed home for the day.  I checked out the new offerings from Garmin (I love my ZUMO 550, but there are some nice upgrade options out there for when mine takes a dump) and spent some more time at the Schuberth booth.  At this point, Joel and Ival stopped by to inform me that Angelo, after just spending a few hundred dollars on his new top case for his Concours 14, was at Sportline shopping for a new bike.  Why was I not surprised.  So we headed over there, made our comments on the Kawasaki Voyager he was eyeing up, and headed to dinner at Scotty’s again that night.  We all split off from there and I took a longer, meandering way home as long as I had a little daylight left to work with.

Friday

Finally, a riding day.  We met at Bubble’s in Mechanicville as we had decided to stay away from the Americade crowds today.  We took Rt 2 and the Taconic trail into Massachusetts before working our way up into Vermont and heading on Rt 100 to the north.  After lunch, and dodging one of the most wicked storms I’d seen in a while, we worked our way back west and into Mechanicville to hang at Angelo’s for a bit and decompress after our 200-mile-or-so ride.  A quick jaunt over to Clifton Park for some pizza that took its sweet-ass time, and Joel and Ival headed out to attempt to get back up north before dark.  Angelo, Paula and I stuck around for a bit to have some frozen yorgut before heading home.  It was a full, long day with great roads and sights, but a surprisingly short narrative.  I hope you forgive me.  On second thought, I really don’t care.

Saturday

There was a tentative plan to meet up Saturday to see Joel and Ival off before Angelo, Paula and I had to start getting ready for our friend Rick’s wedding.  Angelo managed to meet them, but I wasn’t able to as I had to get Katie to train station for another wedding on Long Island that she was in and I would meet her at the next morning.  So, no more to tell.

Americade 2012 over.  I had a lot more fun this year than I had in the past and if these guys are willing, I’ll do it again.  I’ll also be crossing my fingers that, as an MSF instructor, I might be able to work one of the demo teams for the event, but we’ll have to wait and see.

I hope this photo-less post hasn’t made you want to slit your wrists – I promise that my next post will have lots of pictures… mainly because I already attended that event and took all the pictures.  Stay tuned!  Or don’t, whatever works for you.
Joel Storm
6/18/2012 07:57:26 am

Felt like I was there!!!

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Angelo
6/18/2012 08:46:29 pm

I'd like it on record all of my spending was in an effort to make my better half more comfortable on rides. Lol. Well except for the boots and gloves.

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