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Old 07-28-2010, 10:41 AM   #1
Gibbonboy OP
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Suskyhanny County, PA
Oddometer: 212
5-Day Lap of New Hampshire

I've had my 90 DR650 for almost 2 years, love the bike to death. We're looking to move from PA to NH, family is on vacation out of the country, so I decided to do a bit of "recon" and take a gander at the state. I've been to NH several times, but always on ski trips where we rode in early in the morning, and left at night, so I never got to see much.

I just got the bike back together after painting and redoing some stuff, did some test rides and it seemed to be using a good deal of oil. I planned on leaving on Thursday, on Tuesday I almost wussed on the trip. I sent my wife an email telling her that I didn't want to get stuck and need rescue if the bike puked. Several inmates offered camp space, was almost ready to start PM'ing people and cancelling. I took the bike on a hard local ride for 120 miles, and it didn't use any noticeable amount of oil. When I got home my wife called, she really encouraged me to go- "Yes, dear". So Wednesday I did some food/doodad shopping, made sure I had extra oil, and got ready to go. Was up until late Wed night packing/repacking to try to get what I really needed on the bike. I'm an experienced backpacker, so I can trim pretty heavily if needed. My bike has cheap ATV tank bags, a Rubbermaid Actionpacker, and I mounted an old gas mask bag on the cowl. Strapped my thermarest and tent on the seat in front of the box. I'll get to pics in a second...

Got up Thursday, went over my gear a couple more times (I tend to forget things), and make sure everything was secure on the bike. Did I mention that this is my first longer bike trip? Hit the road about 8 am. My main goal was to have an enjoyable, relaxed trip without having to rush or feel frustrated because I had somewhere to be. So no real schedule, other than where I wanted to stay each night, and I was flexible with that as well.

I had routes all planned out in the GPS, but I decided to let the "man in the box" decide and see if he'd throw me a bone. Started out on the route I thought I'd use, then the GPS tells me to turn north. Hmm, pull over and look at the map. Seemed like a decent route (better than I had planned), so I turned and followed Boxman's instructions. Only thing I could say is that if I was a local in each area I passed through, those were the roads I would've picked. Awesome paved back roads, zero traffic, 50-55 limits. Made great time through NY, couple quick rest stops and one fuel stop. Weather was perfect, high 70's/low 80's and a few puffy clouds.

Yes, I do have pictures, I just didn't take any of NY because I'm there all the time, and it looks like home, so nothing interested me enough to stop and take the camera out, I was enjoying the ride. Got to VT, crossed the state on Route 9, which would be a really cool ride if you were the only vehicle on it. At various times, I was behind a gas tanker, several tourists with Florida plates (HILLS! TURNS! We're gonna DIE!!), so I just tried to relax, be patient, and enjoy the ride. I'm also nearly convinced that the two ladies in the tan station wagon with VT plates were giving me a hard time, kept going crazy fast to pass me, then slowing way down until I could pass them again. Repeated this several times. They weren't smiling or waving, so maybe they took offense to my "military" looking bike. If so, good way to judge people solely on appearance! Anyway, hit Keene, NH at about 4 PM for my first stop, staying at Wheelock Park, in the city. Nice little campground in the back of the city park, very nice people running it. Ok, now pictures (sorry for you visual-stimulus people, if you're still reading).

Pulled in, still mostly loaded. Some of the pics are fuzzy, nothing I can do about that now.



Got camp set up, was meeting an inmate for wings and local brews at ~6. Caught a shower, put on my "good" clothes, and got camp unpacked and set. Decided to risk riding without my armor for the 3 blocks to where we were meeting.

Camp mostly set:



Not much to see, didn't pack much.

Met up, had some great beer and wings at Elm City Brewery in Keene, had a great talk with the inmate. (not mentioning names, I know some people enjoy their privacy. Everyone I met was friendly and did more to help me than I could have imagined. You know who you all are). Headed back to camp, pretty much hung out, fooled around with gear, and had a campfire. I had to repair my ATV tank bags, I had used hot-melt fabric glue to adjust the fit to my tank, guess all my junk was too heavy, because it gradually failed all the first day. I intended to stop at the fabric store and get an heavy needle and thread to sew it, but (surprise!) I forgot. Also found out that I only had 8 small cable ties. Hmm... little work with the awl on my Leatherman Micra (big plug for these), and made some "stitches" that held fine the rest of the trip. After some hard skunk-wrangling, and avoiding getting sprayed, I turned in and slept pretty well.

Friday AM- (my 39th birthday) My goal for today was to tour the Portsmouth area, and have lobsters for my b-day dinner. Drove just past Concord, where another inmate was going to let me camp. Met he and his wife for lunch, chatted more than I should have, and dropped my camp gear for the trip to Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is a tourist town, and I have no problem with that. I saw more or less what I expected downtown, lots of cool shops full of things I don't want and can't afford. Checked out the harbor, walked around a bit, but my boots ain't made for walkin', so I started scouting for lobstah. Once again, the boxman came through and gave me several choices, which I found ranged in price for a twin lobster dinner from over 65 dollars, to:

Ray's, in Rye, NH for $16.99!


Ray's has their own boats, so the lobster is as fresh as can be. Either Ray has a lot of daughters, or good taste in employees! Got to eat upstairs on the balcony with a view of the foggy ocean.

And dessert, of course- my birthday cake (chocolate lava, with a black coffee, mmm!)


Da beach- lots of fog/mist, but I was really there for the smell:



Rode back to my "camp", I stayed in an RV nicer than my house, with an awning to park my bike under. Shot the bull with the great guy who owned the RV until late (sorry, man), and turned in for a great rest.

Had a longer day of riding Sat, so I got up early and had to leave before my hosts got up. Didn't want to wake them, so I left a note and headed out. Kind of foggy still, but no real rain. Fueled up and headed north, through Laconia, to Franconia Notch.



Some clouds, but not too hot, and crazy good roads! Stopped when I felt like it, met some cool folks along the way. Not much for pics of myself (or just pics, for that matter), but here's one:



Some scenery:



Beautiful area, other than the bigger mountains up north, NH looks much like home with more pine trees and different rocks. I plan on returning with the family later this year for more directed exploration, will do more hiking then.

Headed back south to the Grafton area, where I was going to camp with some folks that I really wanted to meet. This was the one area where Boxman failed me (sort of), but I had been warned to disregard GPS in the Grafton area. Now I know why. I had a ~1 mile vertical dirt road that looked (to me) like the hero section of some enduros. Nothing to do but twist and hang on! I would have stopped and taken pictures, but I'd probably still be there picking up pieces of my bike if I stopped. I haven't ridden terrain like that since I was 17 and blasting around on my YZ.

Met some of the coolest people Saturday night, hung out and asked lots of questions. Made me very confident that a move to NH is right for my family, but it seems to have made a decision on where exactly that much harder. Everywhere was nice, people were great. Pretty much gonna boil down to economic/tax/local government issues for the final choice. Rained 1" Sat night, but everything stayed dry. Had a shorter ride on Sunday, so I hung around in the morning and talked some more. Some short sprinkles drove me to get finished packing up and on the bike, pretty well rode in the rain much of the way back to Keene. Bike quit once AFTER I was out of the active rainfall. This was an issue with the bike before, thought I had it sorted. 30 seconds of sitting and grumbling, bike started and ran fine. Made it into Keene about 5pm, met some folks for pizza and wings, and to talk some more. My host for the evening finished work, and met up with me there to ride out to his house. Stunningly beautiful home, and just super nice people. I pulled into his garage and noticed the bee package- yet another thing to talk about! Turns out that most of the people that I met share many more interests in common with me than motorcycles.

Monday, got up, had coffee, BS'ed for too long (why does that happen? ) and didn't get on the road until noon. Well, my whole purpose for this trip was to meet people and ask questions, and I got that in spades. Picked a different route back, just for a change of scenery. Uneventful ride across VT, nice day and great roads. Crossed back into the Peoples' Republic of New York and found out that Boxman had routed me into an area that I'd been to many times. No worries, never been there on the bike, so it was a pretty novel experience.

Just before I rolled into Johnstown, NY, I was on a 55mph road, wind was gusty and wicked. Kept hearing a funny noise, finally figured out that above 50 mph or so in 5th gear, if I applied throttle, my clutch was slipping. Flashback to the quart of oil that I bought at a gas station. I studied up a few weeks ago and learned how to read oil labels to tell if they were safe for the wet clutch. Was kicking myself and praying that I didn't (or hadn't already) ruin my clutch plates. First light in Johnstown, wheel into an Advance Auto. It was about 4:30, figured I probably didn't have a whole lot of time on a Monday night before things started closing. The guys at Advance were awesome, they had MC-specific oil, and gave me a bucket (KFC-type) to catch my old oil, and the store recycles used oil. Found a shady spot behind a building to do a quick change, thanked the guys again, and back on the road. Tried a few (uninformed) ideas I came up with to try to flush out the bad oil as much as I could. Down the road again, found out soon that the clutch was STILL slipping. Getting depressed, I pulled into a Stewart's in Palatine Bridge, NY. Filled the fuel, hit the head, and saw a couple older gents sitting outside on a picnic table. One had a nice HD, the other had a really cool hot rod. Asked them if they knew anything about wet clutches, they suggested letting the clutch as slack as possible and running it in neutral for a bit to get the plates apart enough to flush. Tried that, had a snack and an energy drink (I get even stupider and more wound when I'm hungry and tired, like everyone I suppose) and down the road once more. Got about a mile out of town, STILL SLIPPING! Called my best friend, left a voice mail for him to be on "strip alert" to get my trailer and come get me. Didn't want to get too far from a town, or the exit off the interstate where he could get me more easily, so I was running up and down a mile stretch trying to see if I could figure it out, or maybe just blow it up and not have to worry about fixing it anymore.

Pulled in to a parking lot, sitting and thinking, poking and twiddling (sometimes it works- poke and hope). Playing with the clutch lever, I noticed that it wasn't going all the way back out when I released it. HMMM- smoke and crackling noises coming from inside my helmet! Cable? Springs? Noooooo- seems when I hit 50 mph or so, the wind force would push my left handguard far enough and hard enough to slightly depress the clutch lever. Took my helmet off so I could give myself the full dope slap, since my mom wasn't there to do it for me.

So in all likelyhood, I was correct in my choice of oil, and hopefully I didn't shorten my clutch life too much. One cable tie to hold the handguard, and had no problems all the way home. Of course, it was now getting dark, and I was still a good 3-4 hours of riding away from home. Made good time on some good roads, 55mph limit, and when it got dark I put my jacket back on and stayed pretty warm, it got surprisingly cool. Puttered through maybe 1 hour of dark, but by that point I was back in familiar territory so I really only had critters to beware of. Clear skies and a nearly full moon made the trip pleasant. Finally rolled in about 10pm, unpacked some stuff, and hit the hay.

This was my first "big" trip, and now I'm hooked. Met some of the nicest people whose hospitality and kindness made this trip possible for me. Deepest thanks and much love to all the folks who are willing to welcome strangers into their homes and lives for the enjoyment of travel. I've spent most of my life helping others, and it always enriches the helper as much as the recipient.

NOTES/LESSONS/BRAIN DUMP:

I need a bit more space on the bike. Panniers/saddlebags would be more than enough. Probably gonna do ammo cans (fits the bike style), but I didn't have time to weld up frames, future project. The tank bags are nice, but I need to get my stuff off the back of the seat so I have enough knee room, and can change position more often.

I had enough of everything, tools, materials, food, etc. With a laundry stop, I could probably go much longer with what I had. I can resupply food at just about any grocery store.

Fuel was not a concern, I had tanks that I did 63mpg on, some that I did 51 on. Wind probably made the difference in mileage. 1,017 miles, gas cost me about 50 dollars.

My homemade "air ride" seat worked extremely well, I can change the pressure to "switch up" and make the seat softer or more firm. I used a thermarest seat cushion, which I cut into the foam, added some foam to the sides, and recovered. Need to work on my upholstery skills, but the seat is pretty much what I'm looking for.

Need good riding pants. Rode in jeans with lycra shorts/pants under, was comfortable but I hate cotton, especially when it gets (and stays) wet. No surprise, I just went with what I had.

I was glad that I kept my miles very low for each day, and was flexible in my route and plans. Took some roads on a whim that were all pleasant surprises.

All in all, this was a great trip, looking forward to the next already. Sorry for the long report, almost play by play. Thanks again to everyone who helped me, from the folks who gave me a place to stay to all the nice people that I just had a chat with at the gas stations. Everyone was very friendly, considering that I look like a hippy freak on an olive drab bike.

I cut my hair yesterday morning, it was a pain in the ass to deal with, and I'm not much on vanity anyway. Less is more.

My Acerbis Koerta is great! Stayed very cool if I needed, wore underarmor below and a long-sleeved t-shirt over, can throw on layers if it cools off. Kind of a pain to take it on and off, but I'll take the trade for protection and comfort over convenience and fashion. It's probably way overkill for 99% of my riding but that's just the way I am.

The GPS made the trip much, much easier and more fun. I have a Nuvi 1300 that we got using airline miles. Need a waterproof case and bike mount, but it proved its worth on many instances. I still carry paper maps, but I won't travel without Boxman again.

I am the king of cheap! Most of my bike mods come from Lowes/Walmart, etc. Everything worked, with the exception of my modification on the tank panniers. The rubbermaid box is great, although the paint doesn't seem to stick on it very well. Touchups are $4.44 a can at wallyworld, so no worries.

Next long trip I'm going to print up a few business cards on the computer with my name, email, etc. Nothing super personal, or my home address or anything, but just a way for cool folks I meet to stay in touch.

I would have never guessed, but I really love riding with my ipod. The ipod touch has all kinds of groovy stuff on it that makes it very useful. Takes up less room than a laptop, still has wifi, movies, ebooks, email, and skype. Tons of places to get free wifi access, didn't miss my laptop much at all. If I took a much longer trip, I would want a netbook to post photos and such from the road. Stayed in touch with family and friends just fine using my cell phone. We have skype set up to forward to the inlaws' number so I can call internationally from my cell, or I can call on skype with the ipod for free. I use a 10-dollar iphone mic from target, works great. If I don't have the ipod on, I ride with earplugs, allows me to hear much better.


Looking forward to the next trip!
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1990 Suzuki DR 650S

The best way out is always through. -- Robert Frost

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. -- Walter Bagehot

Gibbonboy screwed with this post 07-28-2010 at 11:21 AM
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:41 PM   #2
RockyNH
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Nice Report and glad that you enjoyed the stay in our state!! Look forward to seeing you some day when you actually settle!

Pat in NH
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:36 PM   #3
Mark5PA
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Nice ride!
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:04 AM   #4
NHBill
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Location: SW NH
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Nice RR, glad you had a good trip!
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:43 AM   #5
Gibbonboy OP
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Suskyhanny County, PA
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Looking forward to being up that way again. Thanks, Bill- you capped off an amazing trip.

I almost forgot to add one of the best experiences of the trip. I was outside Sunday, having a smoke, when I heard a female voice say "Who's got the sexy motorcycle?!". She was embarrassed when I said "thanks" as she rode her bicycle by me. So I have the word of an outrageously attractive young lady that the warthog is "sexy". Stuff like that just makes your day! I'll probably smile about it every time I look at my bike for a while.
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The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. -- Walter Bagehot
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