Friday, August 20, 2021

Historic river road perfect for a Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield motorcycle in New Hope, Pa.
A Royal Enfield military model visits historic New Hope, Pa. 

The tour guide was just explaining why George Washington didn't sit down in the boat while crossing the Delaware River when her voice was drowned out by the rumble of passing motorcycles. 

Washington Crossing Historic Park is a must-visit stop on the River Road in Pennsylvania. The River Road (and many other roads in the immediate area) is a made-for-motorcycles delight. 

Twisting, narrow, shadowed and historical, it's slow on speed (rarely more than 40 mph, legally) but lined with great places to stop. Even the motorcycles that don't stop roar past the place where Washington led the Continental Army across the Delaware on Christmas Day, 1776. 

"We can have 70-80 motorcycles going by at the same time," our guide said, good-naturedly. "You just have to pause." 

My wife and I stopped at the park on our way up the River Road to stay in an historic inn near New Hope, Pa. Packed with places to eat, drink and stay, New Hope gets plenty of motorcycles.

Ride Safe, Ride Quiet sign along roadside.
There's no doubt the request for quiet is well meaning.

We spotted the "Ride Safe, Ride Quiet" sign at the entrance to the downtown. There is no doubt that it's a friendly request. Motorcycles lined the side of Main Street.

I liked that a Royal Enfield was one of the motorcycles parked at the curb outside a shop.

These are the sort of roads that would be ideal on a Royal Enfield, even one as slow as my 1999 Bullet.

I'd have loved to get a photo of my Royal Enfield going through any of the dozen covered bridges in the area. In fact, the more "modern" steel bridges across the Delaware are pretty picturesque. So narrow you'll worry about your rear-view mirror, they are limited to 15 mph (slower than school zones in the region!).

Covered bridge in Buck's County, Pa.
Great road, covered bridge, what could be better?

So why is Washington standing up in the boat in the famous painting of him crossing the Delaware? Well, sure, it made a better painting that way. But there's no doubt he did stand. The "Durham" boats used in the crossing customarily carried bulk cargo such as grain, iron ore or timber.

There were no seats for anyone.

Washington Crossing the Delaware painting.
Famous painting by Emanuel Leutze shows Washington standing.

Re-enactment of Washington crossing.
Annual reenactment in accurate replicas of boats used.


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