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Old 07-19-2013, 08:05 AM   #1
adventurelounger OP
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Adventure Lounger: Not Exactly Roughing It (CT, MA, VT, NH)

Let me just start by saying that I’ve got nothing against the TAT, Arctic Circle runs, the Baja 1000, butane stoves, TKCs, turkey jerky, muddy chains, or pup tents.

I dream of that.

But I live in reality, and I’m a middle-aged New England dad with middle- (and high-) school kids, the typical midsection spread, middling riding skills, the middle GS, and an ultra rare mid-week pass to evaporate for two days (thanks, Liebe) to find my inner Long Way Around. Even if it was just a short loop up into Vermont.

And while I wanted my ride to give a stiff middle finger to domestic tranquility and workaday routine for two days (SUBJECT: Eff off, email…send! ), I also wanted to sleep in a goddamned nice bed. With high-BTU air conditioning. In a cush place. With scalding hot showers and high thread-count sheets and nice hair and body products.

So sue me. Call me an adventure-lounger. Scoff at the incongruity between GPS-enabled dirt-path wandering and DirecTV-enabled channel-surfing.

I got 48 hours. And I’m voting with my ass.

Which means not signing up for self-imposed suffering on a neoprene camp mat with a can of Chunky Sirloin Burger soup. But instead, opting to ride all day and luxuriate all night on a crisp cotton duvet, my other BMW (Bulleit, Motrin, and Walgreen’s-butt-ointment) doing its medicinal magic.

This was to be my ride.

Step One:

Obsess about riding from southwestern Connecticut (home) to somewhere in Vermont (soul home), but with as much of the journey as possible away from cars, painted lines, and pavement. Wonder if there’s a way to do this that won’t take a week. Search ADV Rider and the web for possible trajectories. Stumble upon the unheroically-named “Puppy Dog Route.”



Scour ride reports, salivate over pictures of covered bridges, KTMs, New England pastures, and dirt. Click links and fantasize. Smell the cow dung. Tell yourself that something called “Puppy Dog” could still be potentially cool and Adventurish and tale-worthy back at the office.

Step Two:

Notice that several folks have generously posted downloadable waypoints and GPS routes on different sites. Celebrate the fact that you have a GPS. Acknowledge the fact that you haven’t the slightest idea how to get these routes from your computer onto to your Garmin. Email? Under normal circumstances, directions are magically beamed to your GPS via space-unicorn technology. How to beam Puppy Dogs onto the unit?



Learn about GPX files. Discover that, in addition to space-unicorn technology, your Zumo has a thing called a USB port, and that you can hook it up to your computer like a digital camera to download routes. Try this, and shock yourself that you succeed. Celebrate your accidental technological prowess by sneaking a Stew Leonard’s chipwich without getting busted by the Spousal Department of Nutritional Compliance.

Gloat.

Step Three:

Pick a target. The PDR northbound starts in Greenfield, Mass and deposits you up in the Green Mountain State in or around Silver Lake. So you figure that somewhere in southern to central Vermont, you’ll need a place to crash (figuratively speaking, God willing.) Let’s see…Brattleboro? Barely over the border. Bennington? Too twee and comparative-lit. Rutland? Too many McDonalds, and I got a ridiculous speeding ticket there once, where Route 7 goes from 55 to 25 in a one block distance. So how’s about…here?



Bunch of appealing places to stay, from the pricey (but nicey) Equinox, to the Brittany Motel (mentioned in some other RRs) to the Manchester Inn. Coupla decent restaurants. Mt. Equinox. Orvis outlet. Figure it out when you get there.

Step Four:

Pack up some kit, add fuel, check tires, reset trip odo...



...and GO!

Here’s my middle GS:



Like some of you, I started on an F650GS. And constantly ponder the big GS. But for southern New England back road exploring with occasional (and reluctant) dashes on I-95/I-91/I-287/I-84 this is, I think, the perfect tool. My old F650 single, while a superb bike, felt like riding a very large Singer sewing machine at highway speeds. I did take a test ride on an R1200GS at Max BMW in Brookfield CT, and it was indeed bigger, plusher and chunkier. But it felt like riding an ICBM, where a Stinger missile would do the trick.

A brief shout-out to sheepskin. I used to see old guys with sports cars and sheepskin seat covers and think, "man, that's lame, like something Thurston Howell would put in his SL." Now I think, "man, you're lame. It's sooooo frigging comfortable. Remember: you're dealing with Mr. Adventure Lounger here, aka Comfortman. BTW, those are earplugs on the seat. Ears like comfort, too.



So I headed out on a perfect July Sunday morning, taking the Merritt Parkway to the Wilbur Cross Highway to the Berlin Turnpike up to Hartford, CT, then jumping on I-91.



By the way, who the hell was Wilbur Cross? The unnatural offspring of Wilbur Post and his talking horse? Turns out he was a Yalie, an educator, and the 71st Governor of Connecticut...and the Principal of the very high school my son attends, only back in 1885.

Anyway, it was caution and slab for about 125 miles, although once I-91 pipes you up north of Springfield, Mass, it becomes truly joyful: uncrowded, nice pavement, and an unhurried roll along the Connecticut River.

Then Exit 26 for refueling in Greenfield:



And filling my own tank:




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adventurelounger screwed with this post 07-22-2013 at 06:01 AM Reason: Correcting typos...
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Old 07-19-2013, 08:25 AM   #2
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Enjoy! and post pics!!
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Old 07-19-2013, 09:22 AM   #3
flei
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You could do the TransMassTrail (TMT) (http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=372063and)
then hook up with the PuppyDog (PDR). I've done both several times and they are mostly quiet senic back (tar) and dirt roads. There are some nice places to cool off in the water on the way. If you are passing thru Western Mass on the TMT or to get to the PDR tomorrow or Sunday (7/20-7/21) and want some company along the way, pm me: I am looking for a day trip either day. I'm also a fat-middle-aged-GS-father-type....
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Old 07-19-2013, 09:48 AM   #4
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Awesome! Don't forget to get a manicure and pedicure while on the road and some potpourri for the top box.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:16 AM   #5
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Well, for a guy who had trouble figuring our how to get GPX files onto his GPS, BBCode and posting convention wasn't apparent to me either. So just figured out how, instead of editing and editing my original post, I can actually chunk it up and post replies.

Which brings us to Greenfield Mass, McDonalds, and the Great Experiment—seeing if whatever I downloaded from the web actually made its way onto my GPS, and will guide me to where I want to go.

Well, I follow the directions to take Mohawk Trail (Route 2) west, and then turn off onto Peckville Road. Still macadam, but let the Puppy Dog glory begin. This is somewhere past Apex Vineyards:



Then, maybe a mile later, I find what I've been riding for:



I don't know about you, but a Sunday morning somewhere in New England on an unpaved road, with barns, meadows, hills, horses, cows, nowhere to be, no work on Monday, and nothing to do but ride until nightfall is pretty much the definition of heaven to me.



This is the picture of a man who hasn't died but has nevertheless gone to heaven:



Next up, following the Green River on a lazy, hazy ramble up into Vermont...

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Old 07-20-2013, 05:24 AM   #6
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Like your style of writing and humour
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:27 AM   #7
adventurelounger OP
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Thanks for the link & offer...

Quote:
Originally Posted by flei View Post
You could do the TransMassTrail (TMT) (http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=372063and)
then hook up with the PuppyDog (PDR). I've done both several times and they are mostly quiet senic back (tar) and dirt roads. There are some nice places to cool off in the water on the way. If you are passing thru Western Mass on the TMT or to get to the PDR tomorrow or Sunday (7/20-7/21) and want some company along the way, pm me: I am looking for a day trip either day. I'm also a fat-middle-aged-GS-father-type....
But it's family/baseball/double-headers this weekend. But at somepoint I am DEFINITELY going to try the TMT. And I'd love to try to scope out a majority-dirt TCT (Trans-Connecticut-Trail). I've found that you can start getting to a network of dirt roads around Roxbury CT...did a RR with some of it here: Litchfield Joy Ride.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:54 AM   #8
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I'm in. This has all the earmarks of a good one!
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:23 AM   #9
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Xlnt, xlnt..makes me feel less guilty..a little ..it is about the ride at my age
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:46 AM   #10
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Great start and like your writing style.
"Ode to Comfort"

I will be following this RR, nice contrast from the Sibersky Extreme I'm also reading.
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Old 07-20-2013, 01:55 PM   #11
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So: I just followed the river and my GPS. For being the Green River, it really lives up to its name. Every now and then stumbled upon a few folks taking a dip in a deeper bend of the river. But for the most part, and for most of the ride, just me.

Here's a little video I took. It ain't high drama. But gives you a sense of how pretty it really is:

http://vimeo.com/70685954

After a while riding, I came upon one of the manifest pleasures of riding in New England—a covered bridge. I've probably crossed about a half-dozen in my riding throughout CT, MA, and VT. And each one is as delicious as the next.



I've seen plenty of other folks' pictures of this. Here's mine:



I was so intent on grabbing a shot with my bike and the "Two Dolla" fine sign that I neglected the other sign, the one about not parking within 100 feet of the bridge, especially in the path of oncoming traffic.

But hey: that isn't parking. That's posing.

Mr. Happy Bridge:



From here, it's about 9 miles to the Vermont Border, and every inch of it is drop-dead gorgeous. Like this spread, on a piney stretch of the river.
Big ups for going orange with the front door:



It wasn't entirely clear to me when I was going to cross the threshold into VT, although I did start to notice the telltale green license plate on cars here and there. So far, the downloaded PDR route was working out, well, good enough for me.



I checked this road out on Google Maps—it's just a couple of miles outside of Brattleboro, maybe about 4-5 miles west of I-91.

And at this point, having reached at least stage one of my objective (Vermont), I'd like to pause for a sec and reflect, after achieving a life-milestone that I've always wanted to achieve, as modest as it might sound next to ride reports that take folks to places like Siberia, Yellowknife, and Uzbekistan.

I've always...always...wanted to own a motorbike and ride it all the way up to Vermont. I grew up outside NYC, and always had a near-mystical love affair with the state, skiing in Vermont throughout high school, applying to University there, and then going to UVM in Burlington. I bought and rode my first two-wheel motorized joy-machine in Vermont, a 1984 Honda Aero 80 scooter that was my college campus and around-town ride. I met my wife in Vermont (at UVM)—I hit the lottery with her, and thank my lucky stars for her everyday. Now, we take our kids to Vermont at least once a year. And we even talk about someday retiring to Vermont.

[Original UVM hoodie from back in the day, still worn today]:



So rolling along Green River Road and up into the Green Mountain State on my bike was like the realization of this idea I'd been carrying around, bottled up in my head forever: Someday, I'm gonna own a motorbike—like one of those on/off-road bikes, maybe even a Beemer—and someday I'm gonna hop on it and ride clear on up to VERMONT.

There's something to be said for really wanting to do something, and then someday, getting around to actually doing it...







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Old 07-20-2013, 02:19 PM   #12
Trane Francks
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I'm really happy that you got to realize one of your dreams. Keep that going; it's the ticket to living well.
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:02 PM   #13
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Here's where it started to get a little, uh, interesting.

Up until now, the GPS route for the Puppy Dog Trail was working flawlessly. Along the route, I passed Mather Road, which appears to have crashed into an Oak tree sometime back in the 1960s or 1970s, based on this embedded link:



But not long past this, what was a dirt road became more of a dirt path, and this dirt path dwindled into the woods and a steep downhill chute that I made it halfway down (I'm on OEM Battlewings without so much as a knoblet, FWIW) before squeezing the brakes, turning sharply to get perpendicular to the hill, and saying to myself, "Dude, what the hell are you doing? Go any further down this and you will NEVER get back up."



And if this path keeps shriveling, you'll wind up like that guy from Into The Wild, surviving on juniper berries and scavenged bark beetles, scratching your farewells onto your panniers with a rock, until you skeletonize and die.

Then your wife is really going to kill you...
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Old 07-20-2013, 04:22 PM   #14
flei
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"But not long past this, what was a dirt road became more of a dirt path, and this dirt path dwindled into the woods and a steep downhill chute that I made it halfway down (I'm on OEM Battlewings without so much as a knoblet, FWIW) before squeezing the brakes, turning sharply to get perpendicular to the hill, and saying to myself, "Dude, what the hell are you doing? Go any further down this and you will NEVER get back up."

sounds like fun, but, Dude, you are lost; I don't remember anything like this on that section of the PDR!
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:25 PM   #15
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That would be correct, Flei. I was lost, and so was my GPS. It kept indicating that the road/path/trail would indeed be continuing. Someone else (Ed Fetz) seems to have gone down that road before here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=269725

Halfway down, I'd had enough. And here's where the middle GS's lack of girth makes her a better dance partner for tight spaces.

I was able to noodle and rock the bike backwards and forwards until I was pointing about 50 degrees shy of straight uphill, using a little throttle, my tippy toes, gravity, and brakes. All without dumping. And when I finally got on the gas, I was able to scud and shamble my way back up the incline, intact. Which beat the piss out of tipping over, and having to hoof it out. Or tipping over and not being able to hoof it out. Try THAT on a Big Papi GS.

(And maybe not such a bad idea to get one of those SPOT things...)

In hindsight (and after consulting Google Maps—I'm not sure if I was north of Route 9 at this point, or south of it) I may have been on Whittaker Farm Road, which as you follow it, peters out into nothingness. Actually, wilderness.



But some distance later, it appears to connect with Lahar Road, which definitely appears to proceed North:



By back tracking, I eventually passed a home with a woman outside tending to her garden, and she was kind enough to point me towards Route 9, AKA the Molly Stark Trail.

Once more with feeling. and historical ignorance: who the hell is Molly Stark, and why does she have a trail named after her?



Well, a little Googling reveals she was the wife of Revolutionary War general John Stark. And now has the appealingly-named Molly Stark Byway to memorialize her. You can check it out here: http://www.mollystarkbyway.org/

I'd been on dirt for a while, and wanted to start moving West at a faster clip, so I jumped on Molly (figuratively, gentlemen) and headed west towards Bennington, where I stopped to refuel my gullet here:



With a nice outdoor deck, and a view of town...



Next up? Making a run for Manchester and Skyline Drive at Mt. Equinox...but a little chow first.



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