Joined: Jan 2005
Location: The Badlands (of NJ)
Thursday, June 19.
Leaving Baie Comeau, I stopped by the Trans-Lab billboard for one more picture of Ozymandias' T-shirt. This was a great adventure: 'wish you were here'.
The route took me southwest along the shore of St. Lawrence River. There are many rest stops along the road, affording me a good opportunity to enjoy the views of the rugged rocks - exposed even more by low tide.
I boarded one last ferry on this trip. This was just a simple, open-deck affair, crossing Saguenay River in about 15 minutes. Still a ferry, though - bringing up the total number of water crossings to four.
And last smiling picture... Not for long though, as very soon thereafter the rain intensified.
I was not sure where to go next: should I stop in Quebec City on the shortest route home and be in highway traffic from then on, or cross St. Lawrence and explore more back roads?
It was pouring, so I opted for the City. Good choice - a nice dinner was a fitting recourse for the stuff I ate so far. I did feel like Alton Brown in 'Feasting on Asphalt' after eating fried stuff for days on end.
I really like Quebec City. There are many neighborhoods where one can just walk past pleasant restaurants with the only problem being which one to chose. As you pass the entranceways, 'touts' with menus in hand are trying to entice you to walk in. Usually, cute little things are chosen for this job - and it does not take them much effort to convince me.
Friday, June 20.
And of course, what I like so much, a pleasant breakfast: good coffee, doing some people-watching... Some cities are just great.
The day started nice and sunny and after the downpours of yesterday I decided to forgo highways. Instead, I backtracked slightly to ride south into Maine and New Hampshire. For my last Quebecois lunch, I pulled into St. Georges. I really enjoy these towns, with proper centers, cafes on main streets, relaxed atmosphere.
I refilled my stomach and my mood and continued south to cross the border at Woburn. I expected very little traffic at this fairly remote post, so I was quite surprised by several white Suburbans parked there, with crowds of Border Patrol officers and search dogs. After a while I realized that it may have been a training exercise, but I still found this unsettling. Did something bad happen while I was away?
I skimmed through the northeast corner of Maine and entered New Hampshire in an increasingly heavy rain. The skies were really opening up - but even then, breaks in clouds offered really poetic views.
The rain was overpowering local rivers. Water levels were quite high, spilling into flooded meadows.
Still, my gear was holding up pretty well - except for that soaked left boot. Apparently my waterproof bots were not quite so. By the evening it was slushing inside.
As it was getting darker and colder, I felt getting tired. Missed gear shifts were an unmistakable indicator of my reduced capabilities.
It was time to find a place to stay overnight. However - and I always do that to myself - I had this idealized image of a nice hotel or inn that I wanted. As I continued through NH into Vermont, I did not see anything that satisfied this image: some places were just dingy motels around a tavern, some were junky looking main-street inns, with no place to safely park a bike, some places were soul-less chain hotels.
The riding day was now getting very long. I did realize that I have been unreasonably picky and decided to finish the search and stop in any random place no later than by Killington (by which time, of course, I would have crossed all of Vermont).
Suddenly, by 9pm, while leaving Woodstock, VT, I glimpsed exactly what I have been looking for: a picturesque white farmhouse with a tasteful sign announcing a B&B with a restaurant.
Lincoln Inn was on the verge of closing for the night, but the owner graciously offered to provide me with appetizers once she checked me in.
Wonderful end for an impressive riding day.
Saturday, June 21.
I woke up to a beautiful morning, clearing out the remains of last night's storms. Once the fog lifted, mostly-clear skies promised a nice ride for the last day on the road.
Still not in the mood for battling it out on a super-slab, I picked up the Taconic Parkway just below Troy, NY. Taconic tends to be a rider's road: the traffic is often light and the road is quite narrow and winding, especially in the older southern section.
I stopped for a last break, enjoying the picturesque curve ahead, having a drink of water and doing a quick walk-around check of the bike.
Damn! Damn again! The telltale smudges on the final drive housing revealed that the seal gave up its ghost and the fluid was seeping out. Hopefully, not a big deal - if all fluid was not lost. Since it happened just some 100 miles from home, I expected to make it without any problems.
Of course, it was no big deal compared to what could have happened if the seal let go 1000 miles earlier. Just to reassure myself, I checked my photographs from Quebec City and saw that the housing was still clean by then.
Nevertheless, I was annoyed: having been stuck two years ago near Bangor, ME, with a seized final drive on my previous K1200LT and abandoning my trip at the time, I thought that I paid my dues and should not experience such issues any more. Irrational, maybe...
I shrugged my shoulders, packed up and continued south. Weather was still holding up - even though it actually drizzled a few times while sun was shining. I switched onto the NY State Thruway, worked my way through surprisingly light traffic and arrived home with plenty of time to spare to take my wife out to dinner that evening.
Last checkout in my driveway revealed no other apparent issues beyond the drive seal. Everything seems to have held up quite well.
The decision to install the dual-sport tires en route, instead of prior to the trip, appears to have been correct. This is the remaining thread on the rear TKC80 after about 2700 miles, including some 750 on gravel. Not much is left; I'd say less than 1000 pavement miles.
And the final drive? Well, that deserves one final ADV salute!
Two days later the bike was on the trailer, on its way to the local BMW dealer. It was now high season for the shop and the turnaround time was quoted as 2 to 3 weeks. Luckily, I can ride another bike in the interim - otherwise the wait would really hurt.
Team CatTwo prepared an enthusiastic welcome. Guys? Err... Guys? At least, for the camera?
The trip computer screen from my GPS receiver neatly summarizes the ride. Total 3400 miles, over ten and a half riding days. I keep bringing up this 'half' since starting out after 6pm on the day of departure really does count that way for me.
Notice that even though I spent a very long time riding every single day, the total moving time was just 68 hours after fuel, food and camera stops. That may be quite a sobering thought for anyone trying to do a long run in a short time.
Saturday, July 12.
An update: the GS spent close to 3 weeks at the dealer (although, I do have to admit, that included the July 4th holiday period when all techs were presumably off.).
I brought it back home today. A new final drive seal was installed and it is supposed to be as good as new, they say. Hmmm...
Needless to say, I am a bit soured on the long-distance reliability of BMW touring bikes. I already mentioned that two years ago I had to break off a trip and get myself home from Maine, when the final drive failed on my K1200LT. And now, this little exercise - should I not sound annoyed?