Text: Troy Hendrick • Photography: Christian Neuhauser
Only a few hours west of the frenetic streetscapes of New York City lonely passages twist through three sets of mountains - the Catskills, the Poconos, and the Kittatinny Ridge. We blew into Jersey's portion of the Big Apple's sprawl, hopped on two Ducatis, and fled the urban mess as fast as possible - which often approaches blinding speeds on these particular banshees, a 998 and an STS4.
Relieved, we reach Port Jervis in the early evening. On the banks of the quiet Upper Delaware River, it's but an hour's trainride from the City, and even less by motorcycle to any of the four outstanding tours of this shamrock where the size of the three mountain ranges fits one-day tours like racing gloves.
Each morning departing Port Jervis, we're treated to a topography of breathtaking scenery and our senses are soon flooded with the rushing waters of mountain trout streams, flashed with powerful displays of fall color, and grounded in caution by the vicious curves and tight turns along the way.
Leaf 1: Catskills East - Tripping to Woodstock
From Port Jervis, it's only five or six miles before we are gripping the sheer walls of the Delaware River Valley high above the water with only a stone guardrail to separate us from the drop. The trees have almost reached their peak, and as we descend to the riverbanks of the Delaware, they spread a canopy of color with shafts of light sparking through the rustling tunnel of leaves. Speeding inside the kaleidoscope, I jig the STS4 through the quick, short turns, watching the scattered leaves caught up in Christian's draft spin off the tires in swirling tendrils of air. Perhaps the first true day of fall after an Indian summer, the light is clear, and the breeze is crisp. We've begun our journey climbing into the massive rolling hills that serve as the entranceway to the Cat-skill Mountains.
Turning north from SR 97 onto SR 52, we gradually gain altitude. Traffic, that necessary evil, climbs with us. We haven't yet hit the true back roads, and while so close to New York City, it's to be expected and tolerated. The Ducatis drone harmoniously as we pass creeks, lakes, and reservoirs. Curling around the Neversink Reservoir, we note the water level has sunk far enough to expose the sandbars in the middle, and plants are sprouting well below the normal waterline. Most of the East Coast has felt the drought this summer of 2002, and the streams and rivers here are no exception, even with a name like Neversink.
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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2003 back issue.