I think Evil Clown felt sorry for me after Black Fly. He must be the type of guy that brings home stray cats and lost puppies. He invited me to come spend the Fourth of July with he and his wife (SideCarSueNH) and their daughter and friends in N Conway, NH at a campground.
The plan was I was supposed to ride Margarita to work that day and then continue on over to camp in my tent and hang out with them and I was going to ride during the day. But the forecast was terrible and the campground was going to charge them double if I pitched my tent in their site and they claimed they didn’t have any more open tent sites and even if they did it would be a three night minimum and I only wanted to stay for two nights. BUT for $10/night I could bunk with his daughter in a queen-sized bed in their trailer.
Princess camping. With air conditioning, a freezer, shower and a TV. A girl could get spoiled doing that. It was a little odd as I’d never met his family but I figured what the heck and packed up the car.
The heat and rain made me appreciate the trailer and A/C more than I think they realized. It was a really fun time.
Some drinking and visiting. Cooking. Napping. more drinking. Lots of eating.
They took me up to Cathedral Ledge – a state park with an amazing ledge that rock climbers climb.
They were amazingly gracious host and hostess and I hope to be able to return the hospitality when they come to Casa Carmel for a visit sometime soon.
WHACO – I can only assume it stands for WhiteHorse Annual Camp Out, but that’s just a guess. The Maine ADVRiders have traditionally ridden over to North Conway, NH and camped at Saco River Area Camping on Friday night, gone to Whitehorse Gear’s annual open house and then ridden over to Vermont on Saturday and camped at Jamaica State Park Saturday and Sunday nights and ridden Vermont on Sunday and then home on Monday. This year was a little different.
Kaw4Life stepped up and made the arrangements for this year’s rally. That included trying to get in touch with the new owners of Saco River Camp Area. Turned that that was a tad more difficult than one would think. He finally did get them to return a phone call only to learn that they wanted a three night minimum. But he explained that we were return campers and it would be the very first weekend (May 16th) they were open. They relented and allowed that we could just book one night, but then said no more than four adults per tent site. So he booked two sites and I took the other one for a total of 12 adults and $165.
I left immediately after work on Friday and rode from Portland out to Buxton to meet up with Gregg. Just as I pulled into his doorstep it started to rain. We rode the hour in the rain to North Conway. The rain let up just enough for us to pitch our tent. Tyvek® groundcloths both under the tent and in the tent under our Therm-a-Rest. Gregg’s tent has his and hers entrances and vestibules
Turns out the rain had scared some folks away. Huck (Ed), WickedADV (Bryan), VTBeemer (Dan), 207TinMan (Gregg), Kaw4Life (Rich), Alex, Tim and me. Most of us rode across the street – by now it had started to rain again – for dinner as it seemed Gregg and I were the last ones to show up. Great Mexican
food at Jalisco and then everyone turned in as it was really pouring by 8:30.
GuyManBro (Tumu) showed up – after 11 p.m. He’s hard core. He rode over from Vermont, in the dark, rain and fog. AND he took The Kanc! The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along NH’s Rt. 112 in northern New Hampshire that is well known as one of the best Fall foliage (leave peeper) viewing areas in the country. The drive along the Kancamagus Highway takes you back in time as you drive through a forest that offers no comforts of the modern day world; no lights, gas stations, no restaurants, hotels or other businesses have pierced their way into the heart of the Kancamagus Highway. He is from Samoa and in true south Pacific fashion strung up his hammock and a tarp and crawled into his sleeping bag.
Gregg and I were the first ones up and with our tent fly dripping water droplets on sleeping bags from the knees down I decided to take full advantage of the hot showers and dryers. I took a hot shower and then threw my towel, our sleeping bags and my riding gear into the dryer. A quarter for seven minutes. 75 cents later all my gear was dry! We packed up the bikes and headed out to breakfast.
The next morning at breakfast he asked me, “Where are you from?” I said, “I live in Bowdoinham, Maine.” He said, “Hmm I have a friend who used to live in Bowdoinham.” I ask, “Recently? I’ve been there for 14 years.” He says, “Yes.” I asked, “What’s his name?” Tumu says, “Reggie.” I asked, “Oh – does he play tennis?” With a rather shocked look Tumu says, “Yes!” Turns out Reggie is the tennis coach who rented the big house from Brent and Jo when they were trying to sell it. I’d had dinner with Kaye, Laurie and Margot on Thursday night and Kaye and Margot were just talking about how Reggie is now on the road full time with the 18 year-old Reggie is coaching. She’s now world-ranked and their heading to Mexico for a tournament. Bowdoinham makes my world small than it used to be. Turns out Reggie used to be in a band with Tumu’s wife! Pretty funny.
We headed over to Whitehorse Gear’s open house for some shopping and lunch.
After lunch our fearless leader and Huck decided to head home. Sallies! They stayed for the not-so-nice weather and bailed as soon as the weather broke. We picked up one more and the five of us decided to ride to VT together. Gregg, John, Dan and I followed Tumu into Vermont to Jamaica State Park.
En route, with helmets on and bikes running Tumu asked me …. “How comfortable are you off-road?” There was no doubt, I was on a big bike (955 cc) with street tires and had the least off-road experience of the group. I replied, “Baby steps.” Off we went – beautiful twisty turny roads. Some dirt, some paved. All was going oh-so well until we turned off onto a road that got more and more narrow. Still paved, but down to single track. And then all of a sudden Tumu turned right – off into the woods. Gregg and I had comm units and I heard him in my helmet say, “Just give it gas and you’ll be fine. If you really think it’s too technical stop and I’ll take Margarita through the tough stuff. But DO NOT stop on a hill because you won’t be able to hold the bike up or dismount.” And just as he said that the trail (after riding over the log across the trail) went up a very steep incline. All I can hear in my ear is, “Keep on the throttle! Stand up and lean forward.” I was suddenly wishing I were on the little KLX250. And then all of a sudden we popped out off the trail on to the shoulder of a paved road. I was so shocked that we were stopping that I was squeezing with both hands as hard as I could. I went to put my foot down and ended up rolling onto Tumu’s softbags because the bikes were so close together I couldn’t actually fall over.
I look at Tumu and I say, “BABY STEPS! Those were baby steps?” He looked surprised and said, “Baby steps? I thought you said baby heads!” We all cracked up.
Dan broke off and went home and we stopped to pick up the fixings for dinner before arriving at Jamaica State Park for a great dinner of portabello burgers and sauteed snap peas and carrots. Evil Clown (Mike) showed up just in time for dinner and spend the night watching cave man tv and a great visit with his new temptress – the red headed Italian (Moto Guzzi Stelvio).
Tumu lead our ride to Brattleboro to the Royal Chelesa Diner for breakfast over Hogg Mountain Overlook.
Sorry Kaw4Life if your ribs are sore – but what did you expect. You organize the rally and then went home early.
It was a great weekend. I arrived home at 5 p.m. tired and happy! Thanks guys for a great first ADV Rider rally.
Handling the curves of life smoothly and safely is a good thing. Learning to love the ones life throws at you as much as the ones on the track is key to happiness. Lean in low and roll on the throttle. Stay on your toes with a loose upper body and remember to look through the curve. No target fixation, always adjusting where you’re looking to where you want to be. Soft and smooth. Be deliberate. Remember – when in doubt gas it!! All good track policies and life ones as well.
I have found that sometimes life, just like the road, gives you warnings about upcoming curves – and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes unexpected curves are a good thing – especially after riding the length of Kansas. And sometimes things get a little messy – both in life and in motorcycling. The thing I knew for sure was that by going to Fishtail Riding School at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH I was going to get comfortable with the 12 turns of the road course there. The first few laps following my instructor (Joe) were a bit hairy and scary – even with the white x on the track to let you know where you should be to have the proper line coming into each turn and the cone on its side marking the apex in each turn. But with each lap and each session I got more comfortable and more relaxed. And quicker. Still not hanging my knees out. The only time I scrape my knee is when I’m on my way down to take a soil sample! Luckily for me, I and the bike, stayed upright all day. Can’t say the same for everyone in attendance. Some folks either ran out of track or traction, but no one required an ambulance ride.
Yup, I did say it. I went track day at Loudon. It was after all Cinco de Mayo and one can’t name one’s bike Margarita and not celebrate appropriately. So back in January I decided to enroll with Fishtail. I know I’m all about riding long distances and not riding fast, but I still thought it would be interesting to try it. So I did. Got lapped and someone passed me on the inside (a no-no for track day) but I did manage to drastically change the wear pattern on Margarita‘s tires.
Gregg came over on Sunday with his new Suzuki V-Strom 650 already track prepped and loaded in his trailer. He’s fondly referring to his new V-Strom as his Wee-Strom. The one he rode west last year with me was dangerously close to 100,000 miles. Yes – that’s not a typo. He’s got 98,000+ miles on it. Anyway – the old one was a DL1000 and Gregg’s a BIG guy – so the new shiny red one he’s calling the Wee-Strom. Plus when he rides it he says, “Weeeeeee.”
He was most definitely singing weeeeee all day at Fishtail.
It was a very long day. We pulled out of my driveway, having loaded up the bikes the night before, at 4:00 AM and headed to NH. I decided to sit out the last 20-minute instructional track session because I was tired and had had a great day and very much wanted to keep it that was. Gregg also decided to pass up the open track session so by 4:30 PM we were loading up and securing the bikes and by 5 PM we were on the road heading back to Maine. Got back to my house around 8 PM having picked up a pizza on the way home. We unloaded Margarita I put back the fuses I’d pulled (no headlights, brake lights, turn signals, horns) and put the license plate and mirrors back on and rigged up the tank bag straps. We ate our dinner and by the time I showered and crawled into bed it was just after 9 PM.
The next day was my very first day at the new job! What an awesome way to start the new job. Thanks Gregg.
Hard to believe that’s almost May. It’s been a slow start to Spring. Here in Maine we have what’s known as “Mud Season.” It happens while the snow is melting and as the frost is working itself out of the ground. It’s exacerbated when the temperature warm up so precip comes in liquid form. It can make for some fairly deep ruts in my very long, dirt driveway – between the oil delivery and UPS guy I have some pretty serious ruts.
I really should have walked the area in front of the barn before I took Margarita out for her first exercise session. When I didn’t I ended up taking a “soil sample.” Luckily for me I’ve learned a thing or two. I immediately turned her off, said “Oops-a-daisy” and then took out my phone and first took this picture and THEN texted a neighbor for a hand in getting her upright again so I could take her in to get her inspection sticker for the year.
I also got the KLX stickered and then tootled around town on a sunny but very breezy afternoon. I headed down to Bremen to visit my friends Jacqueline & Roger, but they weren’t home so I went next door to their neighbors Rosie & Orville and to meet their new son Jack.
They had some friends visiting and the three year old Hunter wanted to sit on my bike. I loved that he insisted on wearing my helmet as his Dad put him on the seat. Never too early to get into the ATGATT habit!
Easter turned out to be a gorgeous day so I took the big bike out and ended up in my old neighborhood and visited my neighbors Anne, Norm and Regina. Luckily for my Regina didn’t mind that I look like a yellow Power Ranger. Hard for me to believe that I was there neighbor 20 years ago!
After Easter I went for a short ride with the wife of a guy I met while serving on the Steering Committee for the Maine Dual-Sport and Dirt Bike Riders Association. Jessica is a fairly new rider but confident and a great gal. She and James have young kids so they can’t really ride together so I love that I get to ride with her while he’s home with their kids. Turns out she and I have a lot in common, including backgrounds in marine science and knowing the same folks. Including one who now lives in New Zealand.
It was a pretty chilly day when Jessica and I took our afternoon ride. I took her from Bowdoin, down the Cathance Road to Rusty’s for a bio-break stop and then into Brunswick and down Pleasant Hill Road into South Freeport. Harraseeket Lunch was unfortunately closed, so we stopped in at Buck’s Naked BBQ for a cup of coffee and some pie. While we were sitting there eating the couple behind us got up to leave and they said, “We know you’re not snowmobiling but we were wondering if perhaps you’re firemen?” We both got a really big laugh at that one. I’ve heard a lot of silly things while out riding in my gear, but that was a first!
The other big news for April is that I gave notice at my job and will be starting a new one on Monday, May 5th. AND I’m taking my first day on the new job as a vacation day to take the Margarita to Fishtail Racing School’s Track Day!! I also negotiated as part of my new job my month off this Fall for the ride to Mexico with Gregg.
Last weekend Gregg and I met up with the Tory Hill Gang and then proceeded to Saco to have a planning session with Dean. Dean’s brother lives in AZ and we’re planning on trucking out our dirt bikes and possibly riding through Death Valley to Camino del Diablo and Copper Canyon. Stay tuned …
Additionally, Jill came by last night and took the Honda for a test ride and left me a hefty deposit. Looks as though she’s buying the Shadow, thus giving me the funds to buy the KLX from Gregg and getting back down to two bikes. Just as Jill and I were pulling back into the driveway following her test ride Tara showed up on her Yamaha. She’s already ridden her bike to work this year. Her bike needs a new instrument light so we rode over Bill H’s so he could took a look at her bike. We were both chilled by the time got back to our places. Lucky for me I have a hot tub that I’d turned up before I left the house.
The new office I’ll be working out of is rumored to have “jean casual Fridays” so maybe I can ride to work on Fridays?
Women who ride are happier and more confident.
These are just too darn good not to re-post. That and the fact it was -10 degrees this AM on my drive to work and we have 10″ of fresh snow. I took the VW, not the bike.
Final day of the 2013 Trip Out West ride: The last day of our ride started early. We were up by 5:30 AM – not unusual for Gregg but it was the first time I got up at that hour. Gregg made coffee and we started packing up our gear. I had planned on dropping Margarita at the Triumph dealer in Falmouth on the way home. She was close to 4,000 past due for her 24,000 mile service and in need of a new set of sprockets and a chain as well as a new clutch cable. Bill H. picks up his daughter in Portland and said if I could be there at 2:30 that he’d provide a ride home.
By 6 AM I had my usual “Morning Tigger” text from Moo-Moo. Turned out he’d taken the day off and was driving heading down to Northampton, NH to Max BMW to finalize the buy back of his 1200 GS Adventure. Gregg and I agreed to meet him there for moral support and then take him to lunch.
Riding north from Brookfield was lovely – warm and bright. A delightful late Fall day. But going home wasn’t where I wanted to be going. I agree with Gregg that getting home before it really gets cold, or wet is a great idea. But at the same time I am not ready to come in off the road.
Gregg and I headed north after lunch and Moo-Moo wasn’t far behind us. It was really hard to wave goodbye to Gregg as he got off the Maine Turnpike at the Saco exit. He could have gotten off in Kennebunk and taken the fun route home but opted to ride with me north for a few more miles.
Waving farewell was hard.
I proceeded north by myself to Falmouth. As I pulled off 295 I could see Moo-Moo’s truck behind me. I know I’m not alone, but sometimes it feels like it.
It was hard to leave the bike at the shop and continue home – chauffeured in a truck. But the statistics show that most motorcycle accidents happen within 20 miles of home. I avoided the risk by getting a ride home for the last 25 miles.
Stayed tuned for the epilogue and the planning for next year’s ride. Longer, more states, more miles and a whole lot more smiles.
Remember: for ALL the pictures and videos go to gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/. Videos coming soon!