I’m Kim Maroon and I’m a photographer / rider out of Boston MA. I grew up in New Jersey and have lived in Boston for 9 years. I got into motorcycles from photographing them first and meeting people in my community who ride. In 2016 out of curiosity about vintage cars and motorcycles I made the trip to Wildwood, NJ to take photos at the Race of Gentlemen and then later volunteered to be a photographer for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Boston. I ended up riding as a passenger with one of the road captains, Kyle in the group of about 200 bikes as they paraded around the city. This was my first time on a “motorcycle” ….actually was a vintage Vespa. Death grip the first 20 minutes and then many hours later my face hurt from smiling so much. From then on I was hooked.
Somewhere along the way after connecting with so many people in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and local moped gang The Uglies, and most especially women who rode -- The Boston Motobabes, The Boston Litas -- I started to wonder if I could learn how to ride, get my license, and get my own bike. I really loved taking photos of the bikes and the people. I knew I wanted to keep doing that. Riding would get me closer to the action.
I’m naturally a nervous anxious person, frequently overthinking everything. Not the best candidate for a motorcycle in addition to never having driven any vehicle with a manual transmission. Wild to think I even mustered the courage to attend the MSF course. Spring 2017 I passed the course, got my license, and then April 2018 finally got a bike -- a 1973 Honda CB350 Four, that I named Josephine. Everyone said: “old bike, you’re going to have to tinker” yes AND patience. A LOT of patience.
Learning how to ride in Boston was overwhelming and stressful with aggressive drivers, crazy traffic, and horrifying road conditions. I was really grateful to friends who buddied up with me to scoot around the city as I got comfortable.
It wasn’t until 2020 that I really felt like I bonded with my bike -- 2020 was in few words an extremely heavy year, added in with finding out at the start of lockdown that my gas tank was rusted out. My bike was my escape from winter depression and the isolation of the pandemic. I had to keep it running, even if it meant looking a little goofy with mismatched colors. Riding became an even bigger part of my mental health in 2020, connected me to friends, kept me outdoors, and out of the city. I saw so many parts of Massachusetts over that year that I hadn’t even known about in the 9 years I’ve lived here. From April to winter storage dropoff in December we had done 3000 miles together, the most of any other season.
Planning for Babes Ride Out
I started planning about 1-2 months ahead, an all backroads route and booking places to stay for the outbound and return trip. I had been to Babes Ride Out in 2019 so I was pretty familiar with what to expect and the roads.
I had full intention to rent a bike for this trip -- I wanted to try a Triumph Bonneville, see what a bigger bike was like, have the option to go on the highway with the other girls in the group if I wanted, and especially since I wanted to do a West Coast ride in the Fall I had to get used to a different bike. Also, the last time I took this trip to Narrowsburg NY on my Honda, I broke down on the way back to Boston, completely destroyed the clutch (granted, it was the original from 1973). I thought it would be nice to not have to think about that old bike uncertainty. When I started putting things together for renting a bike, the risks quickly stacked up -- a new to me bike on roads I don’t know that well and riding in a group. Bottomline: I know my bike the best. I know how it handles, I can feel when it’s running out of gas, which curves I can take at 45mph, and I know all the quirks. Breaking down? I already know how to do that -- 3 times, 2 of which I pushed home.
Equal parts planning and mental coaching
I knew going in that for the return part of this trip it was highly likely I would be riding alone. Everyone blasts home on the highways because of how exhausting the weekend is. I wanted to take my time, stay in Great Barrington MA overnight and just chill out, not stress the bike with crazy miles in a day. I snagged a hotel in Great Barrington a few weeks ahead and committed to just going for it.
It was a great deal of confidence building -- I ride alone a lot, sometimes whole days just getting lost and I’ve been ok -- this is just a little farther, a little longer. The negative voices in my head kept playing out the fears - what if I got hurt or in an accident, had an emergency, or something happens to the bike while I’m riding that I can’t control. I had to flip that thinking -- what if instead this is amazing and fun, how cool is that going to feel, how proud of myself and of course the bike. A few friends reassured me -- “a long ride is just a bunch of smaller rides put together” (Sara) or “you could use some YOU time” (Jimbo). Thinking about it in smaller chunks made me feel better about it.
My goal was to split up the ride out since it’s about 300 miles total from Boston to Narrowsburg. Kingston / Rhinebeck area is roughly halfway (180 miles) with a cluster of places to stay overnight and then continue the final stretch into camp Friday morning. A few New England ladies started a Facebook poll about who was leaving when, from where, and we formed a ride group. Melinda, myself, and Emily from Boston, Zoe from a bit west of Boston, and then Suzy from southern MA / Rhode Island. I created a Dropbox paper doc to keep everything in one place and pitched to the group a backroads route that would go west from Boston, dip south into north central Connecticut, and continue southwest. I studied the route to pick a spot midway where Suzy could meet up with us.
I learned from my first Babes Ride Out how to pack super light. Bike will be much happier with as little added weight as possible. The hammock is 100% the way to go (if where you’re going has trees!).
In my Pack Animal saddlebag:
- Kammok hammock (the double roo, insect net, and rainfly)- each piece packs down in size to less than a Nalgene water bottle
- Clothes - I use Joy Lewis’ method, a little parcel tied together with a bandana.
- Tool roll - on the top of everything for easy access
Back of my seat strapped and double netted:
- sleeping bag
- bike rain cover
- rain jacket and rain pants in a stuff sack
In my waterproof Chrome backpack:
- camera gear
- phone charger brick
- GoPro gear
- first aid kit
I know how to troubleshoot a few things but whatever I don’t know maybe someone else will, and having the tools I need is better than nothing. An ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ situation….
- The original Honda CB kit tools
- Full set of spark plugs is #1 -- my bike runs rich and fouls plugs.
- Needle nose pliers
- Allen key set
- Spare bulbs for blinkers and brake light
- Gas bottle
- Tire pressure gauge
- Spark plug gap tool
- Kickstand paddle
- Zip ties
- Electric tape
- Battery tender
- Extra rubber hose line
- couple shop rags
- a few Nitrile gloves
- extra fuses (clipped inside the bike’s sidecover)
- bottle of oil
- Brake fluid reservoir cap and diaphragm -- I knew this was being finicky, occasionally dribbling fluid which is why I packed these extra parts just in case
BOSTON TO NEW YORK & BABES RIDE OUT
Day 1 | Thursday
Melinda, Zoe and I met in Sudbury MA for breakfast which is about 45 min west of me. It was a good time to check my pack and get used to the extra weight. From there Melinda led us west and then into Connecticut. We met with Litas Rhode Island lead Suzy in Stafford Springs CT at a gas station and took a bathroom and water break. After a quick ETA check -- 2.5 hours to Kingston NY -- we agreed to stop in about 1.5 hrs for gas and a break. The weather was spotty and we expected rain, but weren’t sure exactly how heavy. I use an app called My Radar that’s pretty spot on and saw that the storm was moving northeast and we’d pass through an edge of it. Suzy led our group of 4 from there.
That leg of the ride MA into Connecticut, the bike went through some hiccups. First pitstop I caught a whiff of gas and knew it was from an overflow tube. A stuck float from Carb 2-- a long fast ride or a few taps on the bowl usually fixes, but that one is hard to get to as it’s wedged in the middle. It stopped once we got to the second meetup spot. Then some oil leaking from the left cylinder fins that dripped down the side case next to my foot. I kept an eye on the drip amount and the oil level on the dipstick, and that eventually stopped by the time we got to the CT/NY border. Double checking with friends back home, sending photos or questions made me feel better that it was fine. The gas mileage at this point of the ride was right in the sweet spot -- averaging 80 miles per ½ tank (for reference: the total tank is 3.2 gallons, 1 gallon of that is reserve)
We hit some rain but not enough to need full rain gear. I learned a trick from Melinda to tip my helmet to one side to let the water run off the visor. I normally hate driving through Connecticut because of the highways and incessant construction and traffic. However, our route across the northwest part of Connecticut had the prettiest roads in the state, winding through state forests and around a few lakes. Surprisingly delightful!
The further west we got, the landscape shifted to bigger sky, rolling valleys and farms, and fields dotted with horses and cows. The smell of the trees after it had rained there was awesome, and then the pungent smell of manure….I love it! Earthy and sweet! (compared to the human waste septic tank truck we were behind earlier) And then cars started to drop off from view and finally it was just us on the bikes in this wide open infinite space. You feel small and vulnerable but big at the same time. It was like YES, this is what I waited for all winter, where all I can hear is the hum of the bike and the wind rushing by. The city felt like it was light-years away.
On backroads, the state welcome sign for New York is small and shoved into a tree so it’s not a very grand entrance. However, crossing the Hudson River is the ultimate “I have arrived” moment- it always feels special when crossing a big bridge like that and the Hudson is one of the most magnificent rivers in my opinion.
We rolled into the hotel about 4:00 and got a nice spot right up front at the hotel. Seeing all the big bikes pull in was slightly intimidating. Big bagger Harleys with side cases, windshields, GPS screens, and even cup holders. My bike looked like a shot glass in comparison. After stashing stuff in the hotel room, we piled into Emily’s car to go to dinner. 2 magic words: Nutella knots.
Sleeping was ROUGH - weird to describe but I thought I was still moving even when I was laying down and I still heard the engine humming in my head.
Day 2 - 3 | Friday + Saturday
Morning was filled with repacking, doing a check over of the bike, and a quick breakfast grab ‘n go from the hotel. We had about 80 miles left to go to get to camp. After we topped off for gas, it was a jump on a fast highway stretch of Rt 209. I wasn’t awake enough to go fast but had to suck it up and was more worried about the bike immediately going into top gear after only 10 minutes of warming up. I took awhile to catch up to everyone as they flew off the on-ramp, but the bike did fine. Going 65 / 70 mph on my bike feels like 100, sounds like a rocketship. Hitting 7000 rpms the tacometer spring loses its mind and the bike feels weightless, as if the tires lift off the road. 2 or 3 miles later we settled back into the country road vibe. The temperature change felt awesome as we made our way into the Catskills. Rolling into camp and checking in at the gate for Babes Ride Out felt amazing -- we made it! We’re finally here!
The Boston and Rhode Island Litas took up Campsite 38, and set up our tents and hammocks right away. From then on it was a constant flow of ladies arriving into camp, a buffet cookout BBQ by local folks, a bike show and hands on workshops with The Real Deal Revolution, and karaoke late nite. I think there were over 500 ladies at the event! Crazy! It was an amazing feeling to share a whole weekend with so many women riders. Meeting women from so many places and hearing their stories about riding and enthusiasm for bikes is always really inspiring and empowering. I’m so grateful events like Babes Ride Out exist where it’s all about come as you are, ride your own ride, and connect with others in the community. The event is really what you make of it for yourself, however you want to experience it. For me, I’ve enjoyed nerding out about vintage bikes, meeting new people, sharing stories, and making friends. I’ve made some really great memories and I’ve only been twice to BRO!
Waking up at camp Saturday morning to the sound of bikes at 7am was THE BEST. At camp, Clutch Moto had a killer coffee tent set up for pour overs, bottled iced lattes, and these purple yam cookies I was obsessed with. A bunch of us went up to the Tusten Cafe in town to grab breakfast sandwiches before heading out. I spent the day doing a chill ride with Nikki, a Boston friend who rode to Babes Ride Out solo from Memphis!!! We made our way to Dundas Castle first thru Roscoe NY and stopped for a porcupine trying to cross the road. Buddy was HUGE! Turning into the park where the castle would be, we followed a narrow road along a creek past a covered steel bridge. We couldn’t find a safe place to park the bikes or a way up the cliff to the castle and ended up riding into a driveway filled with mud puddles and lots of no trespassing signs. My idea was to play dumb and be nice and maybe he’d let us thru. Turned out he was the caretaker and said Dundas Castle was under private property of the Masons. Bummer! But the ride was super fun!
We headed back to camp for more water and to get our tintypes taken with The Silver Sunbeam - SO COOL! She had limited signups for gals to do portraits with their bike, and we snagged spots on her list Friday nite. The rest of the day we rode to the Roebling Bridge which is a one way single lane suspension bridge over the Delaware River. Opened in 1849, it is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. You can park on one side, walk the sidewalk, or walk the boardwalk above. The wooden walls made it feel more like a tunnel. Of course we hit up ice cream on the way back to camp, Nora’s Luvin’ Spoonful 24 flavors of softserve!
One thing to note was DEER - there were tons of deer and in the middle of the day which is unusual. Deer are mostly active early morning, close to sundown, and nite. We saw a family of deer at the park next to the bridge. And another time, a few cars ahead of me I saw one leap over the guardrail from the woods into the road. With many blind hairpin curves and thickly settled roads, it’s super sketchy. We were all pretty pooped by the end of Saturday and skipped the afterparty for hangs by the campfire instead.
That nite trying to sleep, I was nervous and anxious for riding the next day. I thought about Nikki riding alone - 1500 miles from Memphis, so much further! And I remember she asked me at one point “what are you nervous about?” Now a month later I realize I was worried about something that wasn’t real. I was making up scenarios to scare myself, catastrophic narratives in my head, like the worst things that could happen on the ride home. Death being one of them. I had no idea how any of these 5 days would pan out, let alone any other time I get on the bike. You can never predict stuff like that so there’s no point in worrying. You just have to let it roll and take things as they come. That’s a pretty strong analogy for life too.
Day 4 | Sunday
After checking over the bike, topping off the oil and getting gas in town, I followed Emily in her Geo Tracker to Kingston - we had about 80 miles and almost 2 hrs to ride and it was HOT. Heat advisory, 88-91 degrees. Rt 55 for most of the way was in full blast sun and I’m one to never skimp on protective gear - ATGATT. Emily had no AC, but all the sides open on her Geo. The air wasn’t even helping while moving, it was like riding through an oven. I was stoked to ride with Emily and her cute Geo because we have about the same power and torque for uphills, no pressure for me to have to rush to catch up!
Once in Kingston, I hung out at Emily’s mom’s house with her and her mom, cooled off and drank a huge bottle of water. From Kingston NY, this was it -- 100% solo. Only 1.5 hours to the MA border and Great Barrington where I’d stay overnight and continue on.
It was bittersweet to cross the Hudson River again. As I coasted off the otherside of the bridge, I heard an odd but familiar sound of metal scraping, and immediately looked down to my left -- THE KICKSTAND. I did a quick push with my heel in flight to put it up - phew! My ezPass didn’t register at the bridge toll so I had to stop at the booth, pay cash, and forgot I had my kickstand down.
Following 9/9G, I was the only one on the road for miles, passing by farms and rolling hills. It was full sun for most of this section so once again, like riding through an oven. I was excited to recognize a giant roadside sign, Chief Diner -- also a sign that I was not far from the MA border. This was the diner 2 years earlier that Julie and I stopped at for lunch where I snapped a photo in front of the sign of the pickup truck with my bike on back and Julie’s bike in front. Like ‘hey look! The bike’s not on a truck, we made it even further than we did last time!’
I honked my horn as I flew past the tiny Welcome to MA sign! I was so excited for the hotel pool and a big comfy bed to sleep in. Even though I had one more day to go, pulling into downtown Great Barrington felt like I finished a marathon.
I headed straight for the pool after throwing my stuff in the room. And then shocked the lady at the front desk when I said I was walking to downtown, 1.5 miles away. The town was still pretty sleepy from the pandemic, businesses had shorter hours. However I managed to have a delicious dinner at a Mexican restaurant Xicohtencatl-- a cheery yellow house with a big patio out front, bustling with people. After dinner I headed to Main St. On the way, I noticed an animal across the street pop its head out from the bushes and I froze. A FOX! It seemed to look both ways before trotting across the street, passed in front of me maybe only 10 ft away, and continued into the cemetery. First time seeing a live fox up close!
Day 5 | Monday
This was day 2 of the heat advisory reaching 93 degrees and where I was headed -- Worcester and then Boston-- it was going to hit 95 before humidity. Friends who rode back Sunday on the Mass Pike said the heat was brutal, they stopped along the way to soak their clothes in water. I saw a lot of traffic when I went to breakfast so I decided to push my departure time.
Riding into downtown, I noticed a guy on a big Harley parking so I popped in next to his bike. He introduced himself as Ernie and invited me to share a table with him for coffee. He was surprised to see my old bike. And then even more surprised to hear where I rode from and where I was going. “I can’t wait to tell people I just saw the craziest thing.” Another reminder for me that yes, this is out of the ordinary or maybe some kind of a crazy feat. Ernie said there were tons of great roads to ride out there in the Berkshires between Great Barrington and Lenox, and wished there was a bigger bike community. We traded contact info to stay in touch about bike stuff and find more people to ride with.
I rushed back to the hotel to check out, repacked, and went through all the final checks on the bike. I stopped into an auto garage to double check my tire pressure.
The road out of Great Barrington Rt 23 was so fun to get into a groove on -- up and down and curvy and most importantly lots of state forests to shade the whole way. The bike felt and sounded really great as these are the best kinds of roads it likes. I learned how to use the downhills to pick up more speed to blast up the climbs. I took advantage of the “climbing lane” for some of the hills. I figured those were for tractors or other farm vehicles. Signs that say “village speed” are a cue that you’re coming into a small town. I didn’t stop at a ton of spots along the way only because I just wanted to keep moving and it became harder to get back on the bike with the heat -- ie put my gear and helmet back on. The halfway point to Worcester was a lot of traffic in a town center, so the bike was ultra cranky, and I started feeling sick and dizzy. I quickly pulled over at a gas station and sat under a tree with a snack and drank a ton of ice water, dumping water on my head, soaking my shirt and bandana.
A cool moment of the day that I wish my GoPro caught was in Spencer MA blasting by a guy on a Harley. I saw slow moving traffic with a big truck up ahead of this wacky 6-way intersection up a giant hill. I heard a guy on a Harley Sportster in front of me start to downshift. The light was still green and I saw an opening, sped up alongside him, did a final glance for any cars, and blew by. Perfect timing, I passed under the light as it turned yellow, and had just enough power to keep chugging up the hill. He caught up next to me mid-climb. I think I yelled “sorry I had to make it up the hill!” and he yelled back “kick it!” -- which of course I didn’t because I suck at downshifting, often wind up in neutral screaming and then stall.
Worcester was the next stop, about 45 min ride west of Boston. I was both excited and sad to see it because I knew I was getting to the end of the trip and all the city noise came flooding back in. The plan was to stop at New Tradition Coffee / The Eazy Co, a custom chopper and fabrication shop, say hi and take a short break. I ended up spending more time to chill, wait out rush hour, and the bike had a chance to cool down too. I got to catch Craig and Paul as they were there at the shop working that afternoon.
After a quick check on the oil, I headed out of Worcester and hopped on Rt 9. The last stretch at sunset into my neighborhood was full of so many feelings. I had taken the entire day to cross the state-- I was super exhausted, but at the same time I didn’t want it to end. I cried like a big nerd making the last turn onto my street. Mostly because I couldn’t believe it. That I went that far and on this 50 year old bike. 709 miles in 5 days. I was really proud of myself and super proud of my little bike, now a superhero to me.
- Roebling Bridge - Delaware Aquaduct single lane suspension bridge
- Downtown Great Barrington, MA
- Great Barrington food spots: Xicohtencatl, Fuel Cafe
- Roads in Narrowsburg area that run along the Delaware River - 17B, 55, 97, 209
- Roscoe NY - small town with a slew of fun roads around and a brewery
- Tusten NY - the Tusten Cafe has a great breakfast and cool porch to hang out on
- Beaverkill State Park - where Dundas Castle is located
- Hawks Nest Highway - definitely a must if it’s your first time out in that area of New York! check conditions beforehand. Nikki and I had already been up there and this time through decided to skip as it was busy and we read a few things about the turn-around having sand or gravel
Missed that I’d go back for:
- A supposed ghost town called Parksville NY, found thru Atlas Obscura after I got home, looks like it’s under restoration
- Town of Hudson NY
- High Voltage Cafe in Mountaindale, NY
- Trust myself more, trust the bike, don’t overthink it
- It’s more mind over matter than you think. Stacie B London shared the words of Ralph Hudson, fastest man on a motorcycle and they stuck with me many moments throughout this trip- “If you don’t believe it, then it’s not true.”
- Give myself more credit for going outside my comfort zone
- Mentally break up the ride into smaller rides and celebrate each checkpoint of the trip
- Backroads are way more fun and interesting than any highway, especially for providing shade in extreme heat. Per the GPS route, backroads only added an extra hour than the highway.
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling, stop and take breaks for you and the bike -- especially in crazy heat. Don’t get back on the bike until you feel 100% ok.
- Sharing my location with friends so they knew where I was - iphone! Also a good cheer squad!
- When staying at hotels, ask for a room on the first floor with a view of the parking lot. If the hotel has an awning in front of the front door (ie- in view of security cameras) ask to park there. Thanks to Melinda for this tip!
- For anyone wondering, I wasn’t uncomfortable or sore on this small a bike -- aside from my throttle hand and the random shooting pain in my hip (normal for me from sitting long).
- RoadID wristband - good to have emergency contacts somewhere else besides your phone
- Some of my Honda tools work on Harley Sportsters haha
- Sena (thanks Jason!) was great for cueing up directions as I don’t have a phone mount in front of me. Only for directions though, I’m still a little distracted with music and like listening to the bike more.
- “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t go far on an old bike.” -Jenny Linquist and I’ll add to that….and make sure it’s a Honda!
Shoutout and thanks to everyone in my texts and DMs along the way or watching my location and progress from afar, MadHouse Motors -- so much work over the years and the prep just for this trip, Mark - I know my bike is your favorite!
- Atwyld Voyager moto jeans, Kevlar lined with D30 hip + knee pads
- Atwyld Two Wheels dyneema denim jacket
- Atwyld Barricade armored mesh zip-up
- Grifter gloves
- Dainese rain jacket (neon yellow)
- REI waterproof rain pants (packable)
- REI first aid / medical kit
- LowBrow Customs gas bottle
- Biltwell cinch straps
- Pack Animal saddlebag
- Pack Animal tool roll
- Chrome Urban Ex Gas Can backpack
- Sena headset (thanks to a friend Jason for giving me his old one when he upgraded his)
- Sea to Summit waterproof compression sacks
- Road ID wristband
- Kryptonite U-lock
2021 Winter Bike Work *by MadHouse Motors
- Dynatek electronic ignition
- Modern regulator-rectifier unit (single unit)
- New wiring harness
- LED headlight w/modern bucket
- Brakes - Front (disc) and rear (drum)
Story and Photos by Kim Maroon