Written by Bruce Ente, Shul Boy member
JMA Meet ‘n Greet creativity was amply demonstrated by this summer’s Rolling Caravan event. Organized by Gerry Lullove and hosted by the Chai Riders of Detroit, this weeklong ride attracted JMA members from Chicago Chaiway Riders, Chai Riders Michigan, Cleveland Shul Boys, Central New York Thou Shalt Ride, Arizona Lost Tribe and New Jersey Chai Riders. Over the course of the trip, 45 riders on 40 bikes participated for anywhere from one day up to the entire eight days.
The trip began on July 29 when a group of Chaiway Riders traveled from Chicago to Detroit to join up with Chai Riders for a ride to Cleveland's iconic Corky and Lenny's Delicatessen where a large group of Shul Boys met them for lunch. After a satisfying meal, more than two dozen bikes proceeded on a leisurely ride to Meadville, PA, and an overnight stay at the Quality Inn. The next morning (Saturday), three groups of riders continued on scenic back roads to meet for lunch in Warsaw, NY, and then went on to Seneca Falls, NY, in the bucolic Finger Lakes region. JMA members from NY/NJ joined up with the Meet 'n Greet at this point. The day ended for a number of participants with havdalah hosted by Temple Beth El on the shore of Seneca Lake in Geneva, NY, where ride participant Ken Bell is a member. On Sunday, August 1, most Rolling Caravaners rolled out at the early hour of 7:00 a.m. in order to reach Ticonderoga, NY, ahead of the rain forecast for later in the day. Bruce Ente left at the more civilized hour of 10:15 a.m. and rode his own extremely scenic route through the Adirondack National Forest -- where he was caught in two torrential downpours that did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for the hilly, curving, forested back roads. The following day three self-selected groups consisting of 10, 8 and 3 motorcycles headed east across Vermont and New Hampshire to the Town and Country Resort in Shelburne, NH, where the day ended with a prime rib dinner and all the trimmings (included in the price of the room). Animated conversation over dinner included recounting the Kancamagus Highway, a beautiful route that traverses the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the Appalachian Gap, a spectacular mountain road in western Vermont's Green Mountains that goes up, up, up then down, down, down. Both sides of the "App Gap" feature sustained stretches of 15% grade; that's seriously steep, and great fun on a motorcycle! The final day on the eastbound route started with an optional ride to the summit of Mount Washington in eastern New Hampshire, which earned those who participated the coveted "This bike climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker". A sign at the gatehouse at the base of the mountain reported summit visibility of 90 miles. By the time we reached the top, however, the daily fog had rolled in and visibility was more like 90 feet, with temperature in the mid-forties. A number of Rolling Caravan riders bypassed Mount Washington (site of the highest recorded wind speed in North America: 234 mph!) because of the allegedly fearsome switchbacks and unpaved road -- both of which turned out to be greatly exaggerated. There were only a few real switchbacks, and 95% of the road is paved, including a significant stretch that is new asphalt. The short unpaved section was hard packed dirt and gravel, basically indistinguishable from the pavement on either side. The five daily rides (from Cleveland) of 138, 291, 283, 223 and 225 miles brought us to the pleasant Flagship Inn in Boothbay, Maine, on the Atlantic Ocean. Many riders celebrated their arrival with a lobster roll dinner, pieces of lobster in mayonnaise served on a hot dog bun for $39.00!! (Presumably tourists are primary consumers of these high-priced sandwiches.) Riders were free to spend additional days exploring the gorgeous roads of southeastern Maine before heading back home at their own pace via routes of their own choosing. Gerry Lullove expressed appreciation to Ken Bell, Randy Bernstein, Bruce Ente, Ris Gilad, Max Heeres, Lauren Secular and Joel Stein for voluntarily serving as Ride Captains. Overall the Rolling Caravan was an excellent mix of scenic secondary roads and congenial camaraderie, thanks to the Detroit Chai Riders and the enthusiastic participants from other JMA clubs.