A handful of months ago I got a text from my buddy Tim Statt, who resides in Rochester, New York, telling me about this event I should check out. He told me it was a hill climb in the snow, and at a ski resort to boot. I really couldn’t fathom any of this, as my head tried to wrap around the absurdity of racing motorcycles up a ski slope. I had so many questions that needed to be answered, so I turned to where anyone else would turn; social media, haha! A quick check of some hashtags had me frothing at the mouth from seeing pure moto-madness.The machines these people were rocketing up the hill with were a fantastic and eclectic bunch. Old pre-war Harley Knuckleheads, ‘70’s Ironheads, beater ‘80’s dirt bikes, and whatever else they could drag out from the deepest depths of their garage, grandfather’s barn, or neighbor’s storage shed. All these bikes had the rear tires adorned with equipment that looked straight out of a medieval battle. These consisted of screws, spikes, chains, paddle tires and sometimes a combination of 2 or 3 of these at once. Another thing I noticed was that everyone, from the racers to the spectators, had the biggest smiles on their face and many times a beer in their hand. That was it, I was booking a plane ticket for late January to upstate New York from my home in California for these moto shenanigans. These were my kind of people.
It was 33 degrees when I landed at the Greater Rochester International Airport a few days before the event, I was wearing shorts in typical Southern California aloofness. I quickly changed into pants before my buddy Tim picked me up outside the baggage carousel. I didn’t want him to think I was a complete fool. He immediately rushed me to a local restaurant named Steve T’s for a Rochester classic nicknamed the “Garbage Plate”. Macaroni salad with home fries served as the base for this dish. It was then topped with two hamburger patties, with cheese, and topped off with a spicy meat chili sauce with onions. Sounds crazy, but it was oh so good. I was told by the locals that there wasn’t a hangover that couldn’t be cured by a Garbage Plate.
A few days later, after a 3 1/2 hour drive, Tim and I arrived at Holiday Ski Mountain in Monticello for the Appalachian Moto Jam. It was sensory overload as soon as I stepped out of the truck. Exhaust fumes, burning fuel, brisk mountain air, motorcycles everywhere, ski lifts , the clanking of beer bottles, and some hooting and hollering were all coming at me at once. Great stuff. As I made my way to the hill the riders would be competing on, I stopped to look at some of the bikes and talk to some of the riders. I was offered food and drink from these people I had just met as if I were at a family get-together. Right then I knew there would be zero egos on the hill later, and this was going to be a special event that I wouldn’t forget for a long time.
When the racing started, it was like nothing I had ever seen. Snow flying violently through the air and bikes at full throttle in the snow, up a ski slope! This was nothing short of amazing and kick ass. It was one of the few racing events I have attended where the spectators, myself included, waited with anticipation for every 2-rider match up. You just didn’t know what would happen or what kind of bikes would roll up to the starting line. One race had a modern Suzuki GSXR sportbike with spiked tires go up against a modern dirt bike with a chain on its rear tire. As much as an odd matchup as it seemed, it was a close race with the crowd going crazy the whole time. I let out a big cheer and the guy standing next to me along the fence handed me a beer. That, in a nutshell, was the Appalachian Moto Jam. Crazy good motorcycle tomfoolery and amazing people. It doesn’t get better than that.