Recently, 18 of us got together on 15 bikes to do a day tour of Southern New Jersey. It became a ride of over 300 miles round trip, done over a span of 10 hours.
We’ve come to name it the “Lucy Ride,” in honor of a New Jersey landmark, Lucy the Elephant in Margate. The Lucy Ride was arranged and led by one of our Patriot Guard Ride Captains, Rich B.
Located on the beach in Margate, Lucy is a 124-year-old national landmark that almost didn’t survive the urban renewal Margate was going through. She originally was built as a real estate gimmick by James Lafferty, who wanted to bring real estate investors to Margate, a community near Atlantic City, but, cut off by a tidal creek, Lucy stands 65 feet high and is covered by 12,000 feet of tin sheeting and constructed with over a million pieces of wood. Lafferty built two more elephants, but Lucy is the only one left standing. She has been a summer home, a tavern, and was half buried in a hurricane in 1903, which prompted the moving of the structure farther from the ocean.
By the time the last owners donated Lucy to the city of Margate in 1970, she was in a serious state of disrepair and consideration was given to tearing her down as the property she was on was sold to a developer. The town’s civic association proposed moving her to city parkland and the Save Lucy Committee was formed to oversee her move and eventual restoration.
This was our second Lucy Ride, the first being last fall. Some of our group was overly encouraging to the rest of us to take the Lucy tour while they waited outside. We were leery as we noticed a certain amount of snickering, but we went ahead with the tour anyway. The young lady leading the way most certainly lived and breathed Lucy. She rattled off her history with hardly a pause, making little asides so quickly we didn’t catch half of them. She ended most of her recitations with a long “Excellent” and pressed on for about 30 minutes. We exited Lucy feeling like we had just exited a roller coaster. Our friends were laughing hysterically. Of course, it was only natural, on this second Lucy Ride, to encourage those who did not make the first one to take the tour. Their reaction was the same one of bewildered exhaustion.
Leaving Margate, we headed south, planning on having lunch in Wildwood, and that’s when the ride became interesting. We were following a road that traverses many of the southern shore towns, ending in Wildwood. Wildwood is a shore resort town known for its many motorcycle, car, and truck weekend rallies. Several organizations stage their rallies and runs from Wildwood as well.
Rich had announced at the start of our ride that, should we become separated, he would wait. Due to traffic lights, we got separated. He didn’t wait. It seems Rich has a thing about using his rear-views; had he looked in them he’d have seen only half of his group behind him. We, the other half, got farther and farther back with each red light. One member of our group had a two-way, but by the time we pulled over to strategize, Rich was out of range. He also wasn’t answering his cell phone. We decided to go on, and at some point, we’d be together, but….Rich had our toll money. New Jersey is very fond of its tollbooths and even these little town roads have them on one lane bridges over the inlets. Kevin, another one of our Ride Captains who was left behind with us, decided he’d pony up the tolls and get it all back from Rich when we met up with everyone. At lunch, we gave Rich a hard time and he gave it all right back. I love this gang!
After lunch, we headed out to Cape May, at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, to visit its lighthouse. From the top of the Cape May Lighthouse, you can see the remains of a fort that had been buried in the sand and only recently was becoming revealed. I didn’t make it to the top, however, due to feeling a bit ill.
Leaving Cape May, Rich took us along the back roads of the New Jersey Pinelands. The Pinelands is a biker’s Mecca. You could cruise all day into the night and still not cover half of the land, which comprises approximately 1.4 million acres from the New Jersey shore to the Delaware River. Places like Batsto Village, a restored iron ore mining village, Cape May County Zoo, possibly the best one outside of the Bronx Zoo, Smithville, a shopping village, and the many cranberry bogs and small towns could keep you in the Pinelands for days. Flatlands and scrub pines surround you as you can breathe in the scents of cedar and moss. It’s no wonder that I notice almost every driveway we pass has a motorcycle or two in it.
We made one more stop for gas and stretching and began saying our goodbyes. From this point on, people would start breaking off and heading for home. The Lucy Ride would put 350 miles on Don’s Honda and my butt felt those last 100, but it’s a great way to tour the real New Jersey. In fact, it’s excellent!
By Louise Reeves