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Old 07-17-2007, 07:01 AM   #1
Fauster OP
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A tour of New England - 8 states, 4 Days, 2 Wheels, 1 Cylinder

Four days isn’t nearly enough time to explore New England, but that’s all the time that I had. My work announced a mandatory vacation shutdown over the July 4th week and my family had already scheduled our summer beach vacation for the week before. I figured that I could bank enough goodwill with the family at the beach to cover the ill-will of proposing a solo cycle trip.

I don’t come from a motorcycling family. To this day, my wife doesn’t refer to my latest steed as a Yamaha motorcycle or a BMW motorcycle; it’s that ‘damn’ motorcycle. On top of that, my kids are young enough that they still like me and whine when I’m away from home. Big picture, it’s not a bad thing and a little bit of compromise keeps everyone happy.

Once the trip was approved by the boss, I made a few calls to friends and family in the New England states and secured free lodging for the entire trip, not to mention a couple of dinner offers. Granted, it took some of the intrigue and unknown out of the trip, but free is still free. My 12K maintenance came due just before the trip and provided a good opportunity to give the bike a thorough inspection and tune-up. By the night of July 4th, the F650GS was loaded and ready, front wheel pointed towards the road ahead.


Thursday, July 5th

I wanted to get to bed early last night so I would be rested for today’s ride. I didn’t. I wanted to sleep soundly knowing that the bike was well-maintained and ready. Instead, I tossed and turned while trying to remember if I had tightened the hose clamp on the breather tube. At least the weather was looking good. The forecast had called for showers and thunderstorms across the northeast and I wasn’t looking forward to a full day of wet riding. It was a pleasant surprise to open the garage door and see the sun poking through the clouds. Dropping my visor, I pulled out at 06:15 and headed north.

My destination today was Hartland, Vermont on the VT / NH border. A friend of mine from school has landed a research professor gig at Dartmouth University and had extended an invitation for a bed and a steak dinner with her family. I set a course from Harrisburg, PA through the Poconos and made my first fuel stop just before crossing the Delaware River into New York. After filling my tank, I met up with a fellow rider from Florida who was taking a break. He gave me some great news – the weather front had passed through last night and I only had to worry about typical July afternoon thunderstorms.

Buoyed by that news, I crossed the Delaware and the Hudson before turning north on the Taconic Parkway. My GPS database guided me to the West Taghkanic Diner for lunch then onto a quick stop at Max BMW in Brunswick.

From there, it was less than 30 minutes due east on NY Route 7 before I was in Vermont on Route 9 heading towards Bennington. My low-fuel light came on just before crossing the border so I found the first gas station in Bennington and performed my fuel / chain lube / record keeping ritual.

The ride along Route 9 provided some killer views that left no doubt that I was finally in New England.

At this point, I really had no firm idea on how I was going to reach Hartland. Running into tourist traffic in the town of Wilmington helped me to make up my mind. I turned north on Route 100 for a while before veering onto a local road that took me through the town of Windham. Zigging and zagging towards the northeast eventually brought me out to I-91 about 30 miles south of Hartland. And in no time, I was passing through town, looking for the fourth driveway on the right after the designated cross-street. Sue’s place was at the end of the driveway and I pulled in next to the garage just past 16:00 for a 477-mile day.


I might as well call this the microbrewery tour of New England, as Sue placed a locally-brewed Harpoon IPA into my hand within a minute of dismounting the bike. A few other Harpoon varieties were also sampled before and after a great steak dinner with all of the trimmings. We sat on the back deck and caught up on the last 17 years as the sun dropped below the mountains to the west.


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Old 07-17-2007, 07:03 AM   #2
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"Damn" motorcycles are the best
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Old 07-17-2007, 07:19 AM   #3
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btw, I'm about five miles from Hartland.....

lots of nice back roads around here; I"m sure your friend will have plenty of suggestions, but if you want a few more let me know!

try to hit Mt. Ascutney on the other side of Windsor; very steep, twisty road to the top, with an easy hike to the summit from the top parking area.

Over to Barnard, to Stockbridge, up Rt. 100 (watch for the BMW on the boulder), turn left to cross over Middlebury Gap, up and back around AppGap and back down.

Over to Sharon, up to Tunbridge, Chelsea, Washington, hang a right across from the store to Corinth (nice dirt roads in that area), south to Strafford and back.

To Norwich, up Rt. 5 to Fairlee, cross over the river to Orford and head up to Warren (and its rocket), over 118 to Linclon (a super, do not miss it twisty mountain road, about 10 miles of omfg with no sign of anything but moose) , and then the White Mountain area; the vistitors center in Lincoln is worth a stop, free maps. Mt Washington is the ultimate goal. Good overnight trip.

VtBlackDog screwed with this post 07-17-2007 at 07:30 AM
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Old 07-17-2007, 09:36 AM   #4
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Thanks for the recommendations. If anything, this trip showed me that I need to take a few more trips into New England. Riding one track through the bottom half of Vermont didn't do it justice.

Now back to writing up day 2...
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Old 07-17-2007, 11:15 AM   #5
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Friday, July 6th


Between the beers, a cool night and a comfortable bed, I slept the sleep of the dead. Much better than Wednesday night. Sue had the coffee on when I entered the kitchen and we did some more catching up over Danishes. Yep…this could also be called the Lipitour of New England. It wasn’t until 10:00 that I had the bike loaded and my gear back on. Nothing like a slow morning to set the tone for the rest of the day.

Today’s destination was Barnstead, New Hampshire, a short 90-mile jaunt to the east. A friend of mine was on vacation at a lake house and insisted that I make a stop in for the night. I accepted the invitation but told him that I wouldn’t be arriving until late in the day as Mt. Washington was calling my name.

This was the moment I had been waiting for. There were no routes loaded into the GPS, I didn’t have to be anywhere by a specific time, and I had no idea which way I was going to turn at the end of the driveway. Sue and I consulted my map case and I decided to take VT Route 5 north along the Connecticut River before crossing into New Hampshire. Traffic was light and I had ample opportunities to exercise the bike in the passing zones as needed. The views were classic New England.



I crossed into New Hampshire at Woodsville and soon turned onto Route 112. Many people had warned me that moose encounters were a real possibility on this highway so I kept my speeds reasonable and my senses on high alert. Despite the numerous warning signs, I went moose-less.


Route 112 eventually becomes the Kancamagus Highway which was described to me as one of the most scenic highways in the East. After a brief fuel stop in North Woodstock, I resumed my trek on the Kancamagus and soon understood why this road received rave reviews.


I would have loved to get off the bike and do some hiking in the area, but Mt. Washington was still beckoning. I continued on Route 112 until the turn-off for Bear Notch Road. There was a ride report posted here that described a Mini Cooper rally along the Kancamagus and Bear Notch before heading up Washington and the route looked like a good detour. I was just getting comfortable on the twisties when I caught up with a Corolla and didn’t see any safe way around him. As a result, the last few miles were at parade speed. This detour brought me out to Route 302 near the town of Glen, almost in the shadow of my goal.

Unfortunately, the sky was turning a threatening shade of gray to the north – right where I needed to go to reach Mt. Washington. I took refuge under an overhang at a convenience store and decided to take a lunch break so that the storm would have time to move through the area. This was another breakthrough moment. I didn’t have to consult with anyone to gain a consensus or make an immediate decision. Instead, I simply retreated inside the store and had a tasty lunch while it rained outside.

A Gold Wing rider joined me at the lunch tables and told me that he was also headed for Mt. Washington. We both took our time with lunch before retrieving our rain gear from the bikes and suiting up for the foul weather. One of the locals stopped over to chat and chuckled that the rain would probably stop now that we were dressed for it. Turns out that he was right. We only had a light mist on our way up Route 16 to the Mt. Washington Auto Road entrance.

At the toll booth, the attendant warned me that the summit visibility was down to 50 – 100 feet at best due to the heavy cloud cover. WTF…I came all this way to ride up the rockpile. A few clouds weren’t about to stop me. I shelled out my $12 and received the all-important This Bike Climbed MT. WASHINGTON sticker. The attendant also mentioned something about (no) passing but I couldn’t hear her with my earplugs. It was an easy ride up and I passed a bunch of cages during the climb towards 6000 feet. Unfortunately, a Suburban driver with vertigo gummed up the works and left me braking and clutching my way over the final 1200 feet of elevation gain. It was a damp 46 degrees on the summit and I had to choose my parking spot carefully. Even on its sidestand, my bike wobbled a bit in the stiff winds. At least I got to make good use of my raingear and waterproof gloves.




After a short tour of the summit buildings, I decided that I had seen enough to use the “Been there, done that’ phrase and headed back to my bike. Suddenly, the clouds parted and I had an amazing view of the surrounding peaks as well as the valley floor. And just as quickly, the view snapped shut and I was back in the clouds. The F650 gearing was perfect for a brake-free descent and I was down in the valley without incident.


I was smart enough to shed my rain jacket for the ride back to the south but not smart enough to take off my rain pants that were under my mesh riding pants. As a result, my legs were roasting when I got stuck in traffic from a festival in the town of North Conway. The rain pants were sticking to my skin – a great feeling when trying to stretch at traffic lights. Traffic thinned as I continued south and focused in on my next important stop – The Wolfe Trap Restaurant along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.


An earlier phone call had put me on the horns of a dilemma. During my lunch break, I had called my friend Tim to let him know that I was waiting out the storm before making a decision on my next move. When the storm hit his area shortly after my call, he figured that I would have to pass on the summit ride and ran out to a seafood store to buy lobsters, shrimp and clams for dinner. Meanwhile, I had found the Wolfe Trap and was already salivating over the thought of some fresh seafood RIGHT NOW! A quick check of my voice mail informed me of Tim’s plans and I was able to call him to let him know that I was still 30 minutes away from his rented lake house. What to do… Blow off a free lobster dinner? Show up famished and eat like a pig? Ignore the siren’s call of the fresh seafood just steps away? My solution was to grab a bowl of Quahog Chowder and six clams on the half shell before motoring down to Tim’s place for the lobster, steamers and shrimp. Now THAT is eating good in the neighborhood!


My bed for tonight was the carpeted side porch on the house – perfect for an adventure cyclist. And it justified carrying a Thermarest and sleeping bag all of these miles.
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Old 07-17-2007, 11:16 AM   #6
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Old 07-17-2007, 05:22 PM   #7
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Looks like you had a great trip, that lobster picture has me wanting to head to the northeast tonight.
Do you remember how long it took you to get from Woodsville to Mt. Washington?
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Old 07-17-2007, 05:47 PM   #8
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It was probably close to 2 hours to the town of Glen using Route 112 and Bear Notch Road with two short stops, then another 15 minutes up to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. I wasn't pushing my speed at all on this stretch. Well, not most of the time.
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Old 07-18-2007, 04:15 AM   #9
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Saturday, July 7th

My destination for this evening was Medford, a suburb of Boston, to have dinner with my nephew. I packed up as quickly as possible and did my best to get out of the way while Tim and his family loaded up for their trip back to Shrewsbury, MA. And since Tim had offered to put me up for another night at his house, I needed an intermediate destination that would kill some time while they drove home and unpacked. My solution? Lunch in Kennebunk on the Maine coast.

Using a combination of paper maps and the GPS, I weaved my way through southeastern New Hampshire and into southern Maine while keeping off any major highways.

This indirect route got me to the Windows on the Water Restaurant in Kennebunk by 11:00. The hostess politely informed me that they did not open for lunch until 11:30 but graciously offered to seat me on their screened-in porch overlooking the harbor while I waited. And to top it off, a young and very attractive server suggested a tasty local microbrew to help me pass the time.


I ended up ordering an $18 seafood sampler for an appetizer and a $14 scallop entrée. The food was incredible and my server spent some time chatting with me about my ride and my destination for the evening. Good thing I showered this morning. This was by far the most expensive meal on the trip but it was also the best.

My next stop was at Kennebunk Beach for a photo op with the bike and the Atlantic. I always wanted to do that.

Then it was time to turn southward for the ride to Massachusetts. I had hoped to Ride U.S. Route 1 down the coast but the Saturday traffic made it a poor choice. I only got as far as the town of Wells before giving up on the idea and picking up the Maine Turnpike. But I ended up back on Route 1 in New Hampshire when traffic on I-95 slowed to a crawl. With nothing better to do, I set the GPS for MAX BMW in North Hampton and stopped in to check out their selection of bikes and goodies. You can NEVER have too many black T-shirts.

Then it was back to I-95, down I-495 and over to I-290 before exiting the superslab and finding Tim’s place. My plan had worked to perfection – they were fully unpacked and even had time to get the lawn mowed. I parked the bike after an easy 187-mile day and Tim had one of his kids fetch me a cold one. This is the way life should be.

We met up with my nephew and had another great seafood dinner on Union Square in Somerville before returning to Shrewsbury. Tim’s wife had the guest bed made up for me and I remembered to set my alarm before crashing for the night. Five states down, three to go.
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Old 07-18-2007, 05:35 AM   #10
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Sunday, July 8th

The only reason I didn’t snooze my alarm at 05:30 is because today’s forecast was for hazy, hot and humid with temps in the mid 90’s. I was able to get packed, loaded and geared-up in less than 30 minutes. Not bad, since I was burping up remnants of my last Smuttynose Ale from last night. A cold Coke was just the ticket for breakfast. At 06:00, I entered my desired waypoint into the GPS and thumbed the starter. Passing through downtown Shrewsbury, I saw this sign and immediately thought of a Jethro Tull song. “And a wise man don’t know how it feels, to be thick as a brick.”


In all of my trips to New England, I have never visited Rhode Island. So on this trip it was a must-see. My waypoint was at the start of the 10-Mile Drive in the town of Newport. Traffic was exceptionally light and I crossed the Pell Bridge into Newport by 08:00. After completing the refuel ritual, I worked my way through town and down to the mansion district. Sunday mornings are a great time to be touring an unfamiliar place on a motorcycle. I cruised slowly between rows of mansions, gawking at the architecture and landscaping. But the most impressive views were those of the ocean. I again stopped for a couple of photo ops with the Atlantic as my backdrop before cinching up the helmet and mounting my steed for the long ride home.





Since Newport is at the tip of an island, I had no choice but to backtrack (and pay another $2 to cross the Pell Bridge again) before heading east to pick up I-95. Sadly, my trip was all but over at this point. I had no plans to stop in Connecticut - I-95 is enough of a challenge and I didn’t want to temp fate by passing through the southwest corner of the state later in the day. My feet never left the pegs through the whole state although I did enjoy the ocean views as I passed over several rivers near the coast.

By 11:00, I had crossed the Tappan-Zee Bridge and was entering New Jersey. My low-fuel light had come on in New York and I performed a quick mental calculation that I could make it to my old stomping grounds of Butler NJ before stopping for both fuel and food. Mac’s Diner provided sanctuary from the heat along with a huge portion of prime rib. No sense going healthy just yet… At the fuel stop, a Russian attendant tried to convince me that my bike would run better with CAM2 100-octane racing fuel. I would have liked to get his opinion on oil and chain lube, but it was time to move on.

The last 190 miles were killer. There was no excitement or intrigue left, just 190 miles of interstates that I have driven on countless times before. Fortunately, lots of folks were in a hurry and I had no problem latching onto a few fast-moving cages. The result was that I made record-time and pulled into my driveway at 15:30 – a mere seven hours after I had left Newport. And that included an hour-long lunch break.


I have to give credit to my gear. The vents on the Scorpion EXO-700 helmet kept my head comfortable with the visor closed – just like it should. And my BMW Savanna-2 jacket vented well enough to keep me from frying in the savannah-like conditions. Finally, the Airhawk seat pad kept me relatively happy for close to 26 hours of riding time.

The bike? All I can say is that it didn’t have one problem or issue for the 1391-mile trip. My fuel cost was just under $73 with an average fuel economy of 58.1 mpg. As I said in my intro, four days isn’t nearly enough time to fully explore New England. But that just means that I have to go back and do it again with dirt and more twisties.
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Old 07-18-2007, 06:14 AM   #11
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Great write-up. I hope to do a similar trip in the near future.
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Old 07-18-2007, 06:27 AM   #12
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Fantastic New England report and great pics. Also how to beat the high gas prices, RIDE A MOTORCYCLE. 58 mpg.
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