2 Weeks in the Northeast – Day 1

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Time for another moto-trip with Vy and I. This time, we’re headed north…and east!

Day 1 – June 22nd, 2019 – Los Angeles, California to Brooklyn, New York: ~40 road miles
The first day of these trips is always fairly straightforward – hop on a plane to get to the start point:

Our arrival was much more eventful, as the initial landing had to be aborted because an air traffic controller didn’t allow enough time for a plane to get off the runway before having our plane land. Instead of having a rear-end collision that would have made the news, our pilot decided to pull up only a couple of seconds before landing. The girl sitting next to Vy did not appreciate the g-forces, and she ended up having to make use of the air sickness bag provided by Alaska Airlines. The bag was completely white, which got me to thinking about why it didn’t have an illustration on it. Turns out there’s a website called the Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum, where you can see all kinds of designs from (thankfully unused) bags.

As the owner of the site puts it, “One can tell a lot about an airline’s image from their Air Sickness Bags. Some barf bags are no more than a baggie with a twist tie, while other sickbags could win international design competitions. Are they art? I think so. You decide.

Our plan for tonight was to stay with one of Vy’s actor friends. To save time, Vy went straight to her friend’s place, while I grabbed my Aerostich and a helmet and got a Lyft over to BMW’s corporate headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. En route, I saw something that made me want to reach for a sickness bag myself, a Campagna T-Rex in the wild. It’s probably unfair to give Campagna grief at this point considering they went out of business earlier this year.

After about 45 minutes, my Lyft driver dropped me off at BMW. I’ve got to give them special thanks for allowing me to pick up a bike on Saturday, when the office is normally closed.

I was in a rush to get back to Vy, but I couldn’t help staring at two very different cars that share the name of Rolls-Royce Wraith. BMW’s plaque says the one on the right is either a ’46 or ’47 – either way, it’s a Silver Wraith, “the last Rolls-Royce motorcar produced as chassis only.” Built from 1946 to 1958, the Silver Wraith was the first post-war automobile that RR built. It’s got a 4.3L inline 6 with a 4-speed manual transmission.

Representing 2019 is the Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge – this specific example retails for $442,100! Still, it’s the old-school Wraith that gets all my attention.

I was given the key and told to find my test bike in visitor parking.

I’m going to review the R1250RT in pieces throughout the trip. If there’s specific things you’re concerned about, fire away in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. For now, let’s start with the absolute basics:

This is a 2019 BMW R1250RT. It’s equipped with the Select Package, which includes Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), keyless ignition, adaptive headlights, quickshifter, multiple ride modes, hill start control, audio system, GPS prep package (my loaner has a GPS unit), chrome exhaust, central locking, heated seats, tire pressure monitors, LED auxiliary lights, anti-theft, two accessory sockets, cruise control, and “Dynamic Brake Control”. I promise I’ll get into all of that over the next couple of weeks.

That’s a lot of features, which is why the Select Package costs a healthy $5,150. Nearly every RT that BMW imports this year will come with this package, which bumps the MSRP to $23,795. You’ll probably have to special order the base bike if you want it, but I’m not sure why you would forego the Select Package if you’re already at this price range.

With that said, my loaner also has the Option 719 style package with a Sparkling Storm Metallic paint job. 719 was the option code BMW Motorrad used to represent custom-made projects. Now it’s used for some style variants that range from small modifications like milled parts to complete repaints. On the RT, Option 719 gives you the choice of two colors, and it also comes with extra badging, pinstriping, and different seats. If I ignore the rules of math, I can say that 719 = $1,800, so now the MSRP is $25,595. For giggles, I’ll point out that the cheapest car BMW currently offers is the X1 SUV, which starts at $34,950.

So, that’s what I’m working with for now. As Vy and I start covering significant miles, I’ll share my thoughts about specific components.

With the bike secured, my worries for the day were taken care of. I made my way into Brooklyn to meet back up with Vy, and was shocked to learn that I had to pay $15 for the privilege of crossing the George Washington Bridge to enter New York from New Jersey. As someone who grew up outside of Boston, I’m obligated to talk trash and say that New York should pay me for having to put up with it! Jokes aside, the GW is impressive – it handles the most vehicles of any bridge in the world (over 100 million/year). What’s less impressive is how local drivers deal with lines, especially approaching and exiting toll booths. The lack of legal lane-splitting is killing me, but a local motorcyclist goes by me while nonchalantly breaking the law and I figure I should follow along. No driver seems to be upset by my lane splitting, though they also have no interest in acting Californian and slightly moving out of the way, either. I can’t say I blame them.

With minimal lane splitting, I get to Vy in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s the first time that I haven’t beat Google Maps ETA in years.

We ditch the hard bags and check out a couple of spots that Vy wants to see.

I really enjoyed the High Line, a ~1.5 mile long public space that was built out of a former spur of the New York Central Railroad.

It’s a great example of reclaiming disused infrastructure and turning it into something valuable for the community. There’s food vendors, art pieces, and beautiful views of the Hudson River and New York City.

I’m trying out the Shoei GT-Air II on this ride, which means I have to pair it with Vy’s helmet so we can communicate. This is my focused face as I try to listen to two different helmets at once.

Our host in Brooklyn lives on a street called St. James Place. It was recently in the news as it was renamed in honor of rapper Christopher Wallace – otherwise known as The Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie grew up on St. James Place, which is why there’s several references to him nearby – including this mural that Vy and I passed while walking to an Indian restaurant to get some dinner. Exactly on cue, a car turned the corner with the windows down, blasting Big Poppa. In most other circumstances I would have been annoyed with the volume of the music coming from this person’s car, but in this case it seemed just about perfect.

Tomorrow, the trip starts in earnest as we hit the road and head south to Philly!

On to Day 2

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