Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bikes, blues and beer in Frenchtown

By Kurt Epps—The PubScout

May 9, 2010

I belong to a motorcycle riders group called CJMRG—kind of a Hell's Angels Very Lite--Heck's Angels, perhaps, and the group had scheduled a "meetup." We were to ride the back roads of Somerset and Hunterdon counties in order to attend an event called "Art of the Bike" in Frenchtown, NJ. It's a great little town, even without a festival, on the Jersey side of the Delaware River opposite the sleepy little PA town of Erwinna. The weather at the scheduled morning start time, however, was less than ideal, so I headed out solo some time after noon.

I will not attempt to engage the reader with the reasons why those of us who love motorcycles love them. You either know it in your soul or you don't. But this ride through the farmlands and quaint, out-of-the-way towns on this sunny, breezy day was one of the reasons. And the festival was another. A bevy of vintage motorcycles was on display, from what must have been the Wright Brothers' bike to the huge, rolling two-wheel living room, technology-laden modern "dressers." And of course, a wide assortment of all kinds of bikes and trikes that clogged Frenchtown's Main Street for the event, many of which were just as fascinating as the ones on display.

As usual, the folks who come to these events are some of the nicest, friendliest folks you could meet, the diametrically opposed version of the stereotypical headbangers and outlaws many associate with motorcycles. The friendly, Frenchtown Constabulary had the event under control, from the detours around the festival to the special parking for bikes. You can check out the photos here.

As is my wont, I seek out special taverns and pubs in such towns, because you can learn a lot about the character of a town by getting a bite and quaffing a pint or two inside the local pub. Frenchtown has a few watering holes, but the one I first walked to—the Frenchtown Inn, adjacent to the festival—politely informed me that food would not be served until 4 PM. A bit on the hungry and thirsty side from my sojourn through the farmlands and up the incredibly pretty Rt. 29 alongside the Delaware, I headed up to Flemington's National Hotel. This well-kept, inviting hotel is obviously an old one, probably on the register of historic places. I jumped up on a barstool and met the friendly bar-gal Kasey, who rattled off the beer list flawlessly. A Harpoon IPA seemed most attractive at the moment and my luncheon was on.

After a second Harpoon IPA, I said my goodbyes to the bar-gal and my seat neighbor, Jane, with whom I had struck up one of those "small-world-isn't-it?" conversations.

I sauntered back to the bike-fest, enjoying an after-meal cigar, the general camaraderie and the remarkable weather. In all, it was what I call a "Bank Day." That's a day that you store in the memory bank and take out in the bleak mid-winter to warm your soul.

And to get you excited for the next riding season.

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