We’ve enjoyed living in the Finger Lakes for the past 20 years, but didn’t fully appreciate its spectacular beauty until we purchased our first Harley-Davidson Low-Rider in 2001. The region is made for cycling: the roads are good, the views are sensational and there’s very little traffic. Traveling on two wheels, exposed to the elements, brings us close to nature and the wonders of the lake views. We can’t seem to get enough of it. So far, we’ve ridden some 33,000 miles.
After the first year, we traded our Low-Rider for a 2002 H-D Road King Classic, a touring bike better suited for long trips and overnight travel. Each year, we start in April and ride through November. Most are day trips on the weekends, often with our local HOG (Harley Owners Group) Chapter.
We often have a destination, usually a place to eat. We joke that our motto is, “We ride to eat and eat to ride.” But the destination isn’t as important as the journey. We seem to have the most fun when we take a new route, although we generally find ourselves traveling some of our favorite roads.
Our third season began in 2003, and we started to keep a journal so that we could share our experiences. Here are a few entries.
Sunday, May 3rd
We left our home in Seneca Falls at 7:45 a.m. for our first Chapter ride, which was leaving from Canandaigua. It was 41 degrees. There’s nothing better than ice-cold fresh air to make you appreciate a clear morning.
We rode west on Routes 5 & 20, stopping at Patti’s Lakeview Diner in Geneva at the north end of Seneca Lake. It’s a friendly place with great food, good service and a wonderful hometown atmosphere. Although we’d traveled only 11 miles, we were starving. The body consumes lots of calories to keep itself warm at 50 miles an hour.
With our hunger satisfied, we headed north on Route 14, then west on County Road 4 for our club meeting in Canandaigua. Afterwards, about 20 bikes headed to Lyons for a “Blessing of the Bikes” by the Rev. Mary Webster. It’s become an annual tradition. Then, half of the bikes headed to Papa Joe’s in Sodus Point for lunch, while the rest of us headed to Geneva – to Osmen’s for lunch – then on to Naples. Naples is a great place to stop for a grape pie (or a grape tart), some ice cream or some shopping.
We left Naples and headed north on County Road 33, east on Route 20A, north on Route 64, and east along Routes 5 & 20 to the Canandaigua Lake waterfront, where we spent an hour soaking in the splendor of a fine spring afternoon. We left at about 5 p.m., heading east along Routes 5 & 20, and made one final stop at Ciccino’s in Waterloo for a slice of pizza. We arrived home at 7, after a wonderful 200 miles.
Sunday, May 18
Our next adventure began at our cottage in Lodi, along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. We headed south on Route 414 with our friends Dave and Louise on our way to the Grist Mill Café on Route 79 in Burdett. We discovered the Grist Mill about two years ago, and it’s one of our preferred stops, regardless of where we’re headed. Route 414 is a marvelous road, one of our favorites.
We had a breakfast feast of blueberry pancakes, French toast made of raisin cinnamon bread, sausage patties and New York State Maple Syrup. Since it was a gorgeous morning we ate outside and lingered over coffee while we planned our ride. We decided to head south on Route 79 then left onto Skyline Road where we enjoyed a beautiful view of Watkins Glen. From Montour Falls we headed south on Route 224, through Odessa and Alpine, on our way to Ithaca Harley-Davidson in Cayuta. Ithaca Harley was having a sale on biker clothes, and we found an awesome black cape. The chrome was sparkling on the many bikes we saw on the road, another sign of spring in the Finger Lakes.
We headed south on Route 13 and stopped at the covered bridge in Newfield. It’s a glorious old structure and a great place to take a few pictures. We promised ourselves to remember to bring a picnic lunch with us the next time around.
We headed north again on Route 13, then west on Route 327, a road full of hills and turns. We were on the way to Route 79, where we headed west to Watkins Glen. Along the way, we stopped at the Go Cart Track in Montour Falls, where we raced a few laps on four wheels. Then we were back on Route 79 and Route 227 to Trumansburg. We found our way to Route 89 on our way to The Lighthouse at Kidder’s Landing in Sheldrake, where we enjoyed a light supper overlooking Cayuga Lake. When we headed back to our cottage in Lodi, we knew we would ride again the next day.
Monday, May 19
After work, we left Seneca Falls on the River Road west to Geneva. We took Route 245 south from Geneva to Naples. We decided to stop at Bob’s & Ruth’s for a quick meal, where we met a sales rep from Manhattan who told us how much he enjoys visiting the local wineries when he travels to Rochester on business. He is enamored with the local Rieslings and frustrated that it’s so difficult to find Finger Lakes wines in the city.
We headed north on Route 21, then rode east on Routes 5 & 20 where we enjoyed watching a beautiful sunset in our mirrors.
Sunday, June 22
We’re leaving Seneca Falls headed north on Route 89, with no particular destination in mind. We turn east onto Route 31 and when we reach Route 31C, we head to the village of Elbridge, then south to Skaneateles. We think about stopping, but the ride is too much fun. We continue east on Route 20, enjoying the gorgeous views, the rolling hills and the apple orchards until we reach Cazenovia, another great destination. We discovered a place called Common Grounds (Project Café). While we ate a veggie humus wrap and hot tuna with green apples on pita bread, we learned that the Project Café is a student-directed nonprofit organization promoting drug-free/alcohol-free activities, art, music, community service, and scholarship. It’s also committed to improving the quality of life in the Cazenovia area. The Project is in collaboration with Common Grounds, a unique relationship between a for-profit local business and a not-for-profit community organization.
In addition to a wide variety of soups and sandwiches, the Café offers fantastic homemade deserts and ice cream.
Labor Day Weekend
We were invited to ride with Scott and Kathy Lord, and Scott’s four brothers. It was the first time all five brothers had the opportunity to ride together, and we were delighted to be with them that day. We toured seven counties: Ontario, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Cortland, Tompkins and Schuyler.
Our first stop was Foot Prints on the northwest shore of Otisco Lake, where they had an extravagant brunch complete with live music. The brothers, Skip, Scott, Rich, Merle and Keith, reminisced about childhood stories and agreed their father would have been proud to have seen all of his sons riding together. We finished up with a fudge chocolate cake that was so rich that the chef told us he couldn’t figure out how to get more chocolate into it. We wouldn’t need to eat for the rest of the weekend (or at least until the next stop).
We headed south to Ithaca, where we stopped at Maxies Supper Club and Oyster Bar, then west to Watkins Glen and north on Route 414. We stopped at Skyland Farm and tasted their Passion Fruit Gelato (Italian ice cream). Skyland is a compelling destination, one that we visit often.
Afterwards, we all headed back to Scott and Kathy’s to reflect upon a very special day and another 200 miles in God’s country.
by Moe Koch and Russ Young
Moe Koch and Russ Young belong to the Ontario County HOG Chapter sponsored by Geneva Harley Davidson. They travel about 13,400 miles a year. For information about joining this group, call 315-568-9839.