The Centralia Run - DPO
DPO is a motorcycle ride and campout that coincides with Babes Ride Out East Coast in Narrowsburg, NY. It’s a ride that was put together for the first time in 2018 by Chris Drew (Spoke and Dagger Co.) and Chris Galley (Devil Chicken Designs).
While their wives were planning their own trip to attend Babes Ride Out, perhaps the two Chris’ felt a little left out and decided to plan a ride of their own. They decided they would leave Buffalo, NY at the same time as their wives and accompany them as far as Narrowsburg.
Lacking the essential anatomy that would permit the two Chris’ from being considered babes, once in Narrowsburg they left their wives and ventured off on their own. They spent the weekend exploring New York and Northern New Jersey on their motorcycles before reuniting with their wives in Narrowsburg as all of the babes were riding out and heading home.
Last February, I was asked if I wanted to join them and a few other characters for the second annual DPO ride in June. There was no way I was going to miss it. After exhausting all of our babysitter options, I had to fly my mother from Florida to Pennsylvania to babysit the kids for four days just so my wife Heather could go to Babes Ride Out and I could join the guys for DPO. Would I come to regret hiring one of the most expensive babysitters ever just to go ride motorcycles with a few dudes for a couple of days? I really didn’t think I would, and after experiencing the second DPO ride for myself I can tell you, no way in hell do I regret it!
I met up with Chris Drew, Mikey Revolt, Craig Westfall, Timmy Genco, and Endijs Willows in Narrowsburg on Thursday night. Sadly, Chris Galley couldn’t make the trip this year. We all hung out and partied a bit with a few of the guys’ wives and other friends at the Landers River Trips Narrowsburg Campground.
We took off early Friday morning, making sure to disappear from the campground before the Babes Ride Out attendees started rolling in. On our way out we stopped in town for breakfast at a very small diner where our very colorful conversations were probably not very welcome. Although there were no complaints actually voiced by anyone at the diner, we would soon run into one particular individual who would not like us at all and who would do more than just complain about us.
After breakfast we headed to a campground that will from here on out be referred to as “Camp H8.” I will refrain from actually naming this campground but I will say, as a warning to others, that it sits on the Delaware River about 15 miles east of Narrowsburg, NY and that anyone who rides a motorcycle, for reasons that will soon become obvious, might want to steer clear of this particular campground.
We were cruising down 97 East for about fifteen minutes on our way to Camp H8 and I don’t think I hit my brake once. Brake lights eventually lit up in front of me and hand signals were given as we approached the campground. I hit my brake and the pedal went to the stop. I had no brake. Being in a pack of six riders and finding myself brakeless, I nearly shit myself. I held on for dear life and slotted myself between Endijs and Chris. Fortunately, Endijs was paying attention and later told me he realized I wasn’t slowing. He was smart enough to wait to make the right hand turn until after I had flew by him. After a quick roadside brake repair it was time to check into Camp H8.
After checking in, we rode our motorcycles over a bridge that spanned a creek along a path that appeared to be more than just a walkway. We crossed this bridge and parked the bikes at the site we paid for. As we unpacked our bikes and set up our tents, a campground employee came by and asked us not to ride our bikes over the bridge. We were also asked to park in the parking lot.
That afternoon we headed for Centralia, Pennsylvania. Along the way we had a really frightening experience that none of us will soon forget. We were all buzzing down the road at a pretty good clip when the minivan in front of us decided to abruptly stop in the left lane to make a left hand turn. We were in a pretty tight group and there was no time to stop or even slow down. To get around the minivan and avoid certain death, some of us went left and split lanes while others went right. Going left felt like a terrible idea as the van was about to turn left, but with a handful of throttle and quick thinking, it all worked out. It was a close call that had us all more than a little freaked out.
Between frequent gas stops, where we made a game of calling out how low on fuel each of us were, the riding to Centralia was great. We rode along backroads that cut and climbed through the forests and mountains of Pennsylvania’s coal country.
Once in Centralia we found the famous Graffiti Highway. In order to access the abandoned highway we had to ride over a few short but steep dirt mounds. In true chopper fashion, without hesitation, we each throttled over the mounds like our motorcycles were dirt bikes.
The highway was abandoned and closed due to a coal mine fire that, to this day, apparently still burns beneath the town of Centralia. The highway eventually began to buckle and split open as a result of the fire and they closed it. In the years since its closure, the highway has been literally covered with graffiti.
Chris, Mikey, and Endijs were hanging out down the highway where Mikey was photographing Endij’s bike. Timmy, Craig, and myself decided to race down the highway, which is essentially one long hill. Instead of firing up the bikes and racing down the highway at full throttle, Timmy decided we should coast. After a running start, we all jumped on our bikes and tucked behind the bars for maximum aerodynamics. I had a pretty good lead when I started to get nervous. As I said, the highway is in pretty bad shape and all I could imagine was having another brake failure as I flew down this shitty old highway without even being able to engine brake.
Craig flew by me as I started to brake check myself. A moment later Craig hit his brakes hard, but too late. I saw the giant buckle in the road just before he hit it. Have you ever seen an FXR fly? No? That’s because they really can’t. He hit the ground front wheel first and the bike washed out from beneath him. He took a pretty good slide and tumble but was already on his feet before I brought my own bike to a stop. Timmy pulled up from behind and we both ran over to Craig along with everyone else.
Fortunately, Craig was OK. His bike was a bit bent and broken but still rideable. His right arm and rib cage were pretty ripped up but he wasn’t broken. He decided to ride to a nearby hospital to have the dirt scrubbed out of his road rash. He would meet up with us later back at Camp H8.
After Craig’s crash, as the rest of us were getting ready to leave, these crazy teenagers showed up in a beat to shit Subaru Impreza. There was a buckle in the road even bigger than the one Craig had launched himself off of (this one was more like an actual launch ramp or tabletop) and these kids started jumping the car off of it. It was insane! Mikey would shoot them launching the Subaru into the air and they would come back up the highway to see the pictures; each time saying they could go higher and further. And they did. Time after time they made that Subaru fly. It started to get scary as they kept steering the car further to the right of the buckle where it got really steep. I really didn’t want to watch these kids roll that car.
After those teenagers were done beating that car into submission, we left Centralia and found a small roadside pizzeria where we sat outside eating hot pizza and drinking warm beers from Timmy’s bag. The sun was inching closer to the horizon and we still had a three hour ride back to the campground in New York. We jumped on the interstate and rode for a few hours as the sky to our left absolutely lit up with the craziest hues of pink and orange, which eventually gave way to darker and darker shades of blue, and finally to black.
Back at Camp H8, we found the place un-staffed and, even though we were asked not to, we still rode over the bridge and parked the bikes at our site once again. (I know, we were asking for trouble. But still, the trouble that we were to soon find ourselves in wasn’t necessarily warranted.)
The field below our site was empty earlier in the day when we had checked in. Now, after midnight, the field had become a tent city. There was loud music, an inflatable movie screen, bonfires, fireworks, and a few dozen guys from the Bronx. They were ready to party all night. And they did just that until at least five in the morning.
Saturday morning, after a pretty rough night trying to get some sleep, we were all busy with our morning routines when the campground manager came by to let us know how he felt about us and our motorcycles ruining the ‘quiet family vibe’ of his campground. Where was he last night while the quiet campground he spoke of was being rocked by boomboxes and fireworks?
We rode over to the Stickett Inn for coffee. Afterwards, we stopped back at the campground to grab a few things before heading out for the day. As we arrived at the campground, Endijs - apparently the real rebel of the group - led us back towards the bridge to our camp site. As we all followed, the manager and two other employees came running out of the office to stop us and yell at us some more. After getting yelled at this last time, we did comply and move all of the bikes to the parking lot.
Craig, still feeling pretty bummed over his busted bike and road rash, decided he was going to head back to Buffalo, NY.
We had originally planned on riding to a secret spot in the Finger Lakes area for some swimming. After Friday turned out to be a longer day than expected, we decided to stay local on Saturday and find a spot to swim nearby.
We ended up riding to Shohola Falls and, after a short hike, found ourselves getting naked and changing into swim shorts right on the trail as some guy enjoying a little quiet time on the other side of the falls was either disgusted or pleased by that brief little peep show. Who knows how he felt about it, really.
The spot definitely rocked and I had a great time hanging out and joking around with my friends at the falls. Later, on our way back to the bikes, Chris hopped into a pool at the top of the falls. It wasn’t until after he had gotten out of that upper pool that we found out about the leeches. Chris was absolutely covered with small leeches. As you can imagine, hilarity ensued as we checked Chris and removed the little leeches from all over his body. And I do mean all over his body.
We returned to Camp H8 later that afternoon with showers and dinner on our minds. When we arrived, we found the manager in the parking lot talking with a police officer. (More on that in a minute.)
We got cleaned up and had dinner at the restaurant on the hill above the campground. We wanted to run out and get some beer so we could relax and hang out by the fire for the rest of the night. Chris had made a comment about that cop stopping us as soon as we left the campground for beer. Although we all agreed that he was probably right, it was a comment we all kind of just laughed off.
Sure enough, after we got a mile or so down the road, that same cop stopped us; and he gave us hell. No front fenders. No inspections. Threats of motorcycle seizures. Threats of issuing breathalyzer tests. He was out to get us. Endijs was filming the cop with his GoPro (which he had every right to do) and when he realized that he was being filmed, he lost it. The threats intensified and the bad cop routine turned into something right out of a movie. In the end, everyone’s paperwork was in order, no one was drunk, and short of a few bikes being un-inspected, there wasn't much he could do other than act like a tough guy and try to scare us.
The worst part about being stopped and harassed by the police was that after all of that, by the time he let us go, the only stores in the area that sold beer had closed. It was back to the campground for a dry night by the fire.
Just as he had earlier warned us, the campground manager did remain on the grounds that night to ensure there would be no trouble. And while the “outlaw motorcycle gang” that he felt needed to be dealt with by the law sat around a fire and quietly talked and laughed all night long, the dozens of guys from the Bronx partied just as hard as the night before. They spent their second night in his quiet family campground playing their obnoxiously loud music, drinking, and lighting fireworks. Again, until about five in the morning, without a single complaint from management. So I guess if you want to visit Camp H8 to break rules and party, bring all of the booze and fireworks you want, just make sure to leave the motorcycles at home.
We packed up Sunday morning and headed back over to the campground in Narrowsburg to meet with our wives and friends for our rides home.
Unfortunately that was it for DPO 2019. It was a hell of a weekend that went by way too fast. Writing about this trip without including every detail was a bit challenging. There were so many memorable moments, jokes, and conversations that I had a hard time leaving some of them out in order to keep the story to a reasonable length. I feel like I could have kept on writing so much more.
I’m glad I was invited and so happy that I could make it. I made some great new friends and had so many good laughs while riding some great roads to some really cool spots.
Thanks for a great time, dudes.