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Motorcycling – a metaphor for life

The more I think about it the more I realize that for me motorcycling is a metaphor for life.  Sometimes it’s fun and easy, other times rocky, leaving you bruised and sore but you have no choice to get back up and continue on.  You just have to realize that you’re going to get dirty, bruised, black and blue, even hurt and have some fun and meet some characters along the way.  You’ve got to handle the curves that life throws at you and welcome them as much as the ones we meet on the road.  It’s a given that there are going to be muddy sections and that at times and you get mired down, and some rocky parts, but friends are there to help you, pull you, and your machine, out of the rough stuff and set you straight and on your way again.

And I know this how?  Because this has been my experience.  And we’re not just talking about how I am apparently the poster girl for “gravity awareness month.”

So I posted this picture on

Derek, Bryant and Rich waiting on John (who is apparently chronically late)

Derek, Bryant and Rich waiting on John (who is apparently chronically late)

Facebook in the Maine Dual Sport and Dirt Bike Association with the caption “Off to ride the Bowdoin trails.”  I later had to go back and change it to “Off to ride the Bowdoin trails – where OFF is the operative word as I spent more time OFF the bike than on it.”

Keep in mind – aside from the hellish “baby head” off-road episode (it was for me a complete experience but not so for those who were with me – just sayin’) I have no trail riding experience.

about to head down the Bowdoin trails

about to head down the Bowdoin trails

Ride leader promised me a tame ride.  Seems his idea of tame and my skills were vastly different.  But on the upside I dragged Moo-Moo along with me on the GS and his new 50/50 tires and Derek (dhilt) was immensely patient with me.  I will now forever think of TAME as standing for Trails Avoiding Mud Expressly or There Aren’t Mudhole Everywhere?  I think I must have gone down 15 times.  Moo-Moo who rode sweep and helped me right the bike each and every freakin’ time claims it was only 6 times. Truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

As I spent most of my time tailside down on my behind, or side or face in the mud, off the trail and next to my bike rather than on top of it it turned out I left not only my pride trailside but also my left mirror, my right fork guard and my left radiator guard.  Necessary sacrifices I’m told to the trail gods.

I am oh so very very grateful to Brookie Fresh for being my MX boot fairy and

MX boot fairy brought me a suprise - thank you Brookie Fresh

MX boot fairy brought me a suprise – thank you Brookie Fresh

donating a pair of her old racing boots to me for trail riding.  I only had to buy her ice cream a few times, feed her beau Ronnie Stewart (pro MX racer) carrot cake and bring her some pie.  I definitely got the better end of that deal.

My co-riders were very nice.  Offering encouragement and helping me right myself and machine over and over again.  I think I was a pretty good sport about it.  I’d like to think that what I lack in talent I made up for with heart and a really good attitude.

 

I was so glad to see pavement that I kissed it when we got back out to the road. Overheated and filthy, but happy to have survived.

finally - pavement again

finally – pavement again

Even though it was still well before lunch I was craving an ice cream so I took Moo-Moo and we had ice cream at The Town Landing.  Well deserved. Rich is a true and good friend for agreeing to accompany me (bail my ass out of mud hole after mud hole and rut after rut).

Thank you.  It was definitely a learning experience.  I was on a trail that exceeded my skill and ability on a bike some semi-street tires.  The guys all said with proper tires I’d have been fine – but we all know that’s not true. PIRNIT (problem in rider, not in tires)

messy and old-fashioned fun

messy and old-fashioned fun

seems the bike and I spent more time off the trail than on it

seems the bike and I spent more time off the trail than on it and in fact, off the bike all together!

KLX after inaugural trail ride

KLX after inaugural trail ride

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2014 Black Fly Rolling Rally

2014 Black Fly Rolling Rally Passport

2014 Black Fly Rolling Rally Passport

It’s time … the mystery  unveiled and the route shared.  This is the 18th Annual Black Fly Rally. This year it’s a rolling rally – a different place every night.  Meeting Friday at 8 AM at Dysart’s in Bangor, riding to Quebec.  Fred (Black Fly) has an amazing French dinner planned.  Then riding to Swanton, VT for the night on Saturday and then Cold Brook, NH on Sunday night.  As saving my vacation days for the month of riding in Mexico this fall I decided to ride solo up to Northern VT Saturday and meet the group at Lakeside Campground.

awesome cheeseburger – I was so hungry I took a few bites first and then photographed it

I left the house at 8:30 AM and road up out of Auburn through Hebron, out through Norway into Bethel and then over to Gorham, NH and through Littleton and out onto 93 to St. Johnsbury and then off on 2/15 to W. Danville where I had an awesome cheeseburger at the food truck by the beach.  The burger was about twice the circumference of the bun.  Good fries too.  Then I continued on to Hardwick and Wolcott and on up to St. Albans and then Lakewood Campground just outside Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge.

tent all set up - first one into camp

tent all set up – first one into camp

I pulled into the campground about 3:15 after just a spectacular day of solo riding.  Alone and filled with confidence, putting into practice what I’d learned at track day.  As I was the first one to show up I got the golf cart tour of the campground and choice a spot away from folks but with some nice trees for shade and pitched my tent.

Moo-Moo arrived about 15 minutes after I did

Moo-Moo arrived about 15 minutes after I did

I’d just poured myself an adult beverage when Moo-Moo pulled in. He rode by himself and took a different route.  He got his tent up and we had a nice visit before the next group rolled in.

Three bikes – Hannu, Steve and Scott were next to pull in.  They immediately set up camp and then heading out for some cold beer.

Then Evil Clown (aka Mike H.) and SheRidesABeemer pulled in after riding together. They’d ridden up from NH and met the group in Canada.

Hannu, Evil Clown, Steve and Scott

Hannu, Evil Clown, Steve and Scott

It was a great evening of fun, stories and sharing Hannu’s dinner and my makings for s’mores. Very nice folks next to us in an  RV provided us not only with wood but also delivered it for us.

caveman TV warming up - nice folks next to us gave us and delivered wood for us

caveman TV warming up – nice folks next to us gave us and delivered wood for us

campfire aftermath

campfire aftermath

I like camping with Evil Clown.  He’s very honest.  Told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, sit next to me.”  He and I have had some interesting campfire chats.

I learned from Hannu – the Finnish engineer who did his masters thesis on lubrication that I can use Rotella 5W40 synthetic in Margarita and she’ll be very happy and my wallet will like to much more than the Castrol I’ve been using at nearly $15/quart.  She takes a gallon and burn close to quart every 1000 miles.

By the time I got up Rich had his tent all packed up and he cleared out soon after coffee and before most folks were even awake.

Because Evil Clown and I had to be back at work the next day we decided to ride to breakfast and then part of the way home together.  While at breakfast he tagged Margarita.  A few black flies and a sticker.

Evil Clown tagged Margarita

Evil Clown tagged Margarita

GREAT weekend of fun and laughs and some truly great riding.  At least for me.

Dave C. wasn’t so fortunate.  After breakfast the group that was riding together down to Cold Brook, NH witnessed one of them go down and hard.

I am reposting here what he wrote on the ADV Rider forum.

Dave's crash

Dave’s crash

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=24392031#post24392031
Posted by: PWRCRZR
On: 06-14-2014 06:23 AM

“Lessons we learn
I have learned a lot around here over the years. Amongst all of our story telling, banter and even our bickering I have learned many tips. So I thought I would share on my recent lessons.

Image: http://chartier.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/Blackfly-2014/i-qqjW58c/0/XL/IMGP0263-XL.jpg

What looks like a simple little drop was actually a rather painful and expensive one.

I was up on the pegs rolling along a straight stretch of gravel, there were some pretty decent dried ruts but nothing looked to bad. I looked back over my left shoulder and as I did the bike drifted left and I caught the edge of a rut just back from this picture about 3 inches tall maybe, not sure what spun me out as it happened so quick. One minute I was standing there looking back the next my head was slammed to the ground and gravel was coming in my face shield.

Easy to see what happened here I looked back and took my attention off the rutted section..

So here is what I learned..

I was wearing my new AFX FX41 helmet, sorry I forgot pictures, I hit right above the top left corner of the faceshield where the visor connects to the helmet. The helmet didn’t break, barely scuffed but I ended up with quite a lump and bruise on my head. Take this for what you will and I am glad I had a helmet on as it saved me from some horrible gravel rash, but I have lost faith in low end helmets. In my mind a hit like that shouldn’t leave me with a mark on my head, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened at 70mph on pavement.. My insurance company paid full value and I am upgrading to the Arai xd4. I hope I never test it.

I ripped the leg open on my new First Gear TPG pants but they seemed to save my knee from damage, D30 armor works I guess. My insurance also replaced these as a safety item.

When I first jumped up the first thing I noticed was the pain in my left ankle, worried me. Rolled my ankle out left as expected and got caught under 650lb’s of bike. After 5 days I can honestly say it was just twisted and almost pain free now. I had on my Alpinestar Scout boots. Decent dual sport boots paid off. Quite sure if I was wearing my street boots it may have turned out worse.

I also ended up with a sore shoulder for a few days and quite a large bruise on my right thigh..I guess from the bar end.

Wearing any gear helps, good gear may help more..YMMV

The bike..

Alt rider crash bars did their job and saved the radiator from any damage.

My left side Jesse bag on the other hand got ripped off the lower mount, twisted the box up, twisted the mounting frame for the box and worse off twisted my sub frame. Boxes were fully loaded for camping.. Could be pretty easy to argue that soft bags probably would not have twisted the sub frame. But then again the crash bars and Jesse bags probably saved me further leg damage.

I also found that the factory rear luggage rack broke from the crash as well as the windshield support. I think the windshield support was victim of all the stuff on my windshield bracket. The rear luggage rack was probably from getting hit by the Jesse bag when the frame twisted.

On the plus side Progressive insurance really steps up when something like this happens. They were very pleasant and polite to deal with. I keep all my receipts for gear and aftermarket accessories and since I have a rider on my policy to pay for them it paid off. I met the agent at Woodys to look the bike over yesterday. Using my receipts Woodys prepared an estimate to replace all the damaged parts,  Progressive paid full price for every damaged item, even looked up one part and found there was a price increase since last year and gave me that. Oh and they paid for all my shipping on aftermarket accessories.

So long story short, look where you are going not where you have been, wear good gear and keep your receipts…”

Thank you for sharing your crash report with us  Dave.  I am happy to report he’s okay.  I for one am very happy to have not been with the group when he went down.

My ride home was much more pleasant than his.  I pulled into town at 5 PM and promptly treated myself to an ice cream sundae for dinner at the Dairy Joy.

well-deserved dinner

well-deserved dinner

Black Fly stats for me

Black Fly stats for me

WHACO 2014 – the tradition continues

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.

our tent

our tent

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

rode to dinner

rode to dinner

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.

camp coffee

camp coffee

breaking camp in N Conway

breaking camp in N Conway

Margarita getting wet

Margarita getting wet

damp morning

damp morning

Kaw4Life under the tarp

Kaw4Life under the tarp

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.

early arrivers at Whitehorse

early arrivers at Whitehorse

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).

GuyManBro, Evil Clown and JLambo

GuyManBro, Evil Clown and JLambo

 

Gregg at breakfast

Gregg at morning campfire

GuyBroMan giving the double ADV Rider salute

GuyBroMan giving the double ADV Rider salute

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.

Evil Clown @ Royal Chelsea Diner

Evil Clown @ Royal Chelsea Diner

It was a great weekend.  I arrived home at 5 p.m. tired and happy!  Thanks guys for a great first ADV Rider rally.

 

Day 14 – Birmingham, AL through GA to Chattanooga and on to Knoxville, TN

heading north out of Birmingham, AL

heading north out of Birmingham, AL

Didn’t like watching the Weather Channel and seeing all the terrible weather in the places we’d just been. So I was extremely happy to wake up to a beautiful day.

downtown Birmingham

downtown Birmingham

Loaded up the bikes and went next door to the Texaco to fill up and headed out of Birmingham by 8:30. Of all the riding thus far on this trip rush hour in Birmingham was the scariest yet. Gregg was leading and at one point traffic just came to a screeching stop. He veered left and I went right. Phew that was close. Luckily we each had a few car lengths of clear lanes. But still…

NOT what you like to see on the interstate - almost another "Oh shit moment"

NOT what you like to see on the interstate – almost another “Oh shit moment”

As we had 100+ miles of straight ahead I took the lead. At one point about 20 miles into the morning I realized that my L.L. Bean Visa card wasn’t visible through the rain cover on my tank bag. I spent the next 60 miles trying to remember if I could recall sliding it back in or not. I knew I’d not taken off my gloves and resolved myself to the realization that it must have slipped out of my fingers and onto the ground next to the pump.
I finally ‘fessed up to Gregg and told him we were getting off at the next exit so I could confirm its loss and call Barclays.

I have a set routine when fueling.

  1. Turn off bike.
  2. Push GPS out of the way.
  3. Unzip tank bag clear pocket and get credit card.
  4. Remove key.
  5. Unclip rear buckle and flip tank bag up all the way.
  6. Unlock gas cap.
  7. Run credit card on pump.
  8. Refuel.
  9. Lock gas cap.
  10. Secure tank bag.
  11. Put credit card back in pocket.
  12. Zip up.
  13. Put key back in ignition.
  14. Pull GPS back into easy viewing position.
  15. Reset trip odometer because I have not replaced the sending unit so fuel gauge is permanently on E.
  16. Start bike and continue on our merry way.

We pulled off the interstate and dismounted. Sure enough my credit card was not in the pocket of the tank bag. Nor was it the tank bag. I was going to get out the phone and call the bank when something just forward of the tank bag caught my eye. There – upside down and somehow wedged in between my triple tree and handlebar risers was my credit card. I had to check. 86.3 miles on the trip odometer.  It stayed put there at highway speeds for nearly 90 miles. I must be doing something right.

credit card wedged between triple tree and handlebar risers - for  nearly 90 miles

credit card wedged between triple tree and handlebar risers – for nearly 90 miles

After checking the oil and noticing considerably slack in the chain we decided to head to a Triumph dealer in Chattanooga to get the chain adjusted and pick up some more oil.
We drove out of AL and into GA and on into Pandora Motorsports in TN. What an amazing day and pretty ride. We rode back into Fall. Bright clear day. Beautiful sunshine.

does this bike make my butt look square and green?

does this bike make my butt look square and green?

The only momentary pause was the steeply banked sweeping curve coming into Chattanooga in heavy and congested traffic when what do I hear in my headset? “Just relax into it. The bike will move but the tires will stick.” CRAP – grooved pavement. Here? Of all places? Really DOT what the hell were you thinking? I had no choice but to relax. Did I mention I was going the speed limit. Which down here is 70.
The guys at Pandora were great. Took the bike in as Gregg and I admired all the new BMWs. 650, 800, 1200s. The Ducatis and Triumphs. Very fancy showroom. I ate a lot of their free M&Ms (which according to a billboard are made in TN) and we relaxed on their super comfy leather couch.

hanging with Gregg @ Pandora Motorsports, Chattanooga TN

hanging with Gregg @ Pandora Motorsports, Chattanooga TN

I was the dirtiest thing in there.

the dirtiest thing in the showroom was me

the dirtiest thing in the showroom was me

The tech tightened the chain and added some more oil and pointed out the wear on the clutch cable. Once the Teflon goes and it starts to fray it’ll go quickly he said. Have added that to the growing list of things that will be needed when I get home. New chain and sprocket set. New tires. Have coolant system fully checked – she’s fine on the highway put often will spit up coolant out of the reservoir at the end of the day.
Pulled into a great Super 8. I may have failed to mention the truly disgusting place we stayed last night. Let’s just say the pool was one of the nicer assets and leave it at that.

this was the nicest thing about this place

this was the nicest thing about this place

We decided to go to dinner at Cheddar’s up the street. Sat at the bar four-tops and got conversations going with the other two tables. One with a couple who were going to retire to Belfast, ME and another couple who are motorcyclists and now ride a trike. Very fun.
Tomorrow – a visit to the site if the 1982 World Fair. The one Gregg invited me to ride to with him when he and Lance and their Dad rode down to. I couldn’t go with him then so we are going tomorrow. 31 years later.

Total tally for the trip thus far: 14 days, 20 states and 4432 miles. And a whole lotta smiles with Gregg.

my close friend Gregg and riding companion for this incredible journey.  I am one lucky gal to have been friends with this guy for going on 35+ years

my close friend Gregg and riding companion for this incredible journey. I am one lucky gal to have been friends with this guy for going on 35+ years

Observation of the day:  I’ve noticed as we’ve been heading north that then temperature is slowly dropping but the fuel prices are rising rapidly.

Day 4 riding from Danville, IL to St. Louis and Columbia, MO

low-tech thermometer Danville, IL

low-tech thermometer
Danville, IL

Yup - I am kissing Margarita good morning

Yup – I am kissing Margarita good morning

the Zebra and the Tiger locked together for the night

the Zebra and the Tiger locked together for the night

We awoke to 26 degrees and so we had a lazy morning while we waited for the temperature and sun to rise.  Walked over to Big Boy’s for breakfast.  And now I know why they call it Big Boy’s – because every boy in there was a BIG boy!!

We unlocked the bikes and headed west toward St. Louis.  It was still cold and I literally had every stitch of clothing on – my riding jacket is a men’s 2XL and I filled it up so that I looked and felt like the Michelin Man.  Polypro long underwear shirt, a silk turtleneck, then a Capilene pullover, a fleece sweatshirt, a heavy fleece jacket and then the thermal lined FirstGear riding jacket with a balaclava under my helmet AND a fleece neck warmer.  Polypro long underwear, fleece pants and then my thermal lined River Road Taos riding pants.  I was warm, dry and comfy.  Winter gloves and grip heaters on high.  I was happy all day – save for the extremely windy conditions and the micro-squall that damn near blew me off the bike.

Thanks to Lance the helmet-to-helmet communication was a wonderful addition.

I hadn’t realized that this would be Gregg’s first visit to St. Louis.  Yeah!

Here we are!  Gregg's first visit to St. Louis

Here we are! Gregg’s first visit to St. Louis

At Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis - a tad sketchy getting there - but the best view

At Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis – a tad sketchy getting there – but the best view

the view from the bridge

the view from the bridge

leaving St. Louis in our rear view mirrors, but not the rain

leaving St. Louis in our rear view mirrors, but not the rain

As we left St. Louis the skies looked ominous.  Serious cells and bands of what looked like very severe weather both to the left and right of us with a small break in the clouds.  It was as though I-70 curved around to meet the opening in the weather as the miles road on.

interesting skies all day

interesting skies all day

I-70 curving to meet the break in the clouds

I-70 curving to meet the break in the clouds

mean looking skies both the left and right of us

mean looking skies both the left and right of us

We stopped for an impromptu lunch from my trunk – smoked kippers, baby carrots and peanut butter and Reese’s for dessert, and to shed some layers as it had finally warmed up.

Aside from getting caught in a micro-squall that knocked my tank bag clear off the top of the tank over to the far left and me letting out a string of profanity that proved I am at heart still a sailor it was a most excellent day of riding. Checked into another Motel 6 (Gregg’s got the app on his phone) and then Gregg drove us to Steak n Shake for dinner aboard Margarita.  Sort of fun to be a passenger on my own bike – but won’t be doing that again.  Felt like a kid on a trike – knees up to my ears.

PS – relaxing into those unexpected gusts of wind really does work.

Starting odometer reading for the day: 23,360

Ending odometer reading for the day: 23,700

LESSON #16:  When Gregg asks, “Have you seen my sunglasses?” always check his face first.  This was learned after he spent five minutes searching for them after a fuel stop.  I was busy helping him look for them – it wasn’t until he’d pulled out his spare pair and attempted to put them on when he realized he was wearing them.

Tomorrow to Kansas City for BBQ for lunch.

Start of Day 4 – Danville, IL

I did it!  I really did it – I rode 1154 miles from Maine to Illinois solo.  Very proud of myself – as are Lance, Gregg and Rich.  Okay, enough bragging and down to the details.

Day 1

Started at 7:30 from Bowdoinham, ME with odometer reading 22,206 and rode to Scranton, PA. Rode in the rain for the last hour arriving at a super crappy Econo Lodge with 22,632 on the odometer.  I stopped at Rein’s Deli in Vernon, CT for lunch and only ate half of my salami sandwich so I had the other half for dinner.

in the driveway ready to leave

in the driveway ready to leave

starting odometer reading 22,206 Bowdoinham, ME

starting odometer reading 22,206 Bowdoinham, ME

Day 2

Rain stopped over night.  I didn’t sleep very well and was awake around 11:30 PM and started Facebook chatting with some folks and got a bit of personal news that was devastating.  That ensured I wasn’t going to get any more sleep and awoke to eyes that weren’t only bloodshot from windburn and road bleary but now puffy and swollen after hours of crying.  Many thanks to all my friends who emailed and texted their love and support.  It was hard to be so far from home and friends.

Started at 7:30 with 22,632 on the odometer to head for Pickerington, OH through the Allegheny Mountains.  They aren’t all that high, but boy-oh-boy are they windy.  The bike felt excessively heavy – perhaps the weight of loneliness?

I stopped somewhere in western PA at a Cracker Barrel to warm up.  They poured me a piping hot mug of coffee.  I wrapped my hands around it and quickly turned it into an ice coffee.  I am loving my heated grips.  On high with my winter gloves they really do tend to keep my hands warm. So far anyway …

Arrived in Ohio by 4:30 with 23,081 on the odometer and checked into a very nice Comfort Inn.

arriving in Pickerington, OH

arriving in Pickerington, OH

Day 3

The AMA Hall of Fame didn’t open until 9 so I had a lazy morning.  Rode over and timed it just perfectly.  There was a woman jogging by and she took the picture of me at the gate.  Lovely campus in a beautiful setting.

at AMA Hall of Fame Pickerington, OH

at AMA Hall of Fame
Pickerington, OH

really made it!

really made it!

The Hall of Fame is small (my Dad did warn me) but still lovely with a nice dirt-track presence which is really what my interest in AMA stems from. Back in the early 1990s I did some video work of the northern New England AMA flat track races.  Sideways Pete’s track, Canaan and Bear Hill.  Have early raw footage that I shot of Aaron Creamer when he just a kid.  For those who don’t know – Aaron was from Leominster, MA and Sideways Pete’s nephew.  He was barely a teenager when I first met him racing and would consistently lap riders twice and three times his age.  He later turned pro but sadly was killed when he was caught up in a multiple rider incident at the start of the main event back in August of 2004 at the AMA Hot Shoe Series motorcycle race at the Sturgis Fairgrounds in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Just one of the dirt-track bikes at the AMA Hall of Fame

Just one of the dirt-track bikes at the AMA Hall of Fame

I especially liked the H-Ds as those are what I saw Chris Carr and Scott Parker ride at Syracuse and Hagerstown racers in the early 1990s. I left the museum late morning and headed west to IL to meet up with Gregg.  The temperature started to drop and the winds really picked up. I mean REALLY picked up.  I felt like a piece of paper being blown all over the rode.  At one point I pulled into a rest station and frantically texted both Gregg and Rich, “WTF is the trick to riding in these gusty and high winds? I am being blown all over the road.”

Rich came back with, “There isn’t one, don’t fight it.”

Gregg’s answer was, “Relax into it.  For me at least the bike seems to lean into the wind on it’s own.  Not a good answer I’m sure.  But the best I have.”  Please remember that Gregg weighs 275 so he’s got 125 pounds more mass holding his bike to the road than I do!!

Regardless – they were both right and as the day progressed and the winds picked up I did relax and it got better.  Or I got used to the bike feeling all squirrely.

LESSON #15: Although bridges may freeze before road I apparently freeze 10 degrees before bridges.

Trepidation for the day: I am not looking forward to riding across Kansas.  I’ve done it about five times in a car and even then it was hard.  Not just do to the winds blowing the car all over the road, but due to severe boredom have had all I could do to keep myself from driving into a cement bridge abutment.   And it’s not just a distant memory.  Did it most recently once in April 2012 and then back again in May 2012.  Hmmmm

New least favorite road sign: Heavy Cross Winds

Bad news… Good news…

Bad news…

The bad news is that I still have an overwhelming smell of gasoline coming from the bike.  But that’s the ONLY bit of bad news about Margarita. The  other bit of unfortunate news is that Karen G. (new rider I’ve befriended) wasn’t feeling well Saturday and so had to cancel our ride together.

Good news…

The good news list is much longer.  Saturday I attended the Street Cycles (local Triumph dealer) open house.  Reconnected with Bill  C.  Hadn’t seen him since my days in the early 1990s hanging out at the northern New England AMA flat-track races.  How is it he’s not aged?  No gray hair?  Must be

thank pennant from Dave all the way from Bagram, delivered in person at the end of his tour

thank you pennant from Dave all the way from Bagram, delivered in person to me at the party

the six of seven bikes in his garage!  Evie came up to meet me there and we had a nice visit.  I was able to notarize something she needed.  Handy.

Saturday night I attended a surprise 50th birthday and welcome home from Afghanistan party for my high school classmate Dave S.  I sat at the BEHS table with Wynn (yes, she was also my ‘date’ for our 30th reunion last year), Kyle & Shelly, Dan & Patty, Alan & Diane and Tami and Jack.  Professionally DJed by Dennis with karaoke to boot.  OMG – it was so good to get a birthday hug from Dave and see him with his lovely wife Renee and their children.  Every month while Dave was deployed I sent Renee to get a massage. The first one Wynne co-funded with me … and then I decided to keep doing it each month.

I was blown away Dave’s recognition of my gift to Renee.  The two of them got me all teared up.I had such a great time hanging out with my BEHS Class of 1982 friends that I didn’t get home until nearly 10.

How could I leave Alan singing Dean Martin and Wynn Patsy Kline?  Dennis’ wife has an amazing voice as well.  Too much fun.

NOTE TO SELF:  get you butt out of the house to more of Dennis’ karaoke nights and get the BE folks to show up.

I had the bike all packed up and ready for Sunday.

packed and ready for Nova Scotia ride 12 October

packed and ready for Nova Scotia ride 12 October

Sunday I left the house at 7:20 and headed south to Rich’s place.

Rich giving ADV rider greeting

Rich giving ADV rider greeting

odometer reading 13 Oct 7:45 AM Brunswick, ME

odometer reading 13 Oct 7:45 AM Brunswick, ME – 21,240

Left his place at about 8 and headed north up Route 1 to Waldoboro and then out 220, across 17 then 3/1 into Belfast and up across the Hancock bridge into Bucksport and then out 46 to 9 (the Airline Road) all the way up to Calais.

Strangest thing seen en route: In Eddington saw a guy (grandfatherly running, pushing a jogging stroller) running barefoot.

Strangest thing someone said to me: Where: at the Irving station in Baileyville  as I’m filling up.  What: He’s shoving some jelly-filled pastry into his mouth and wanders over and reads what it says on the bike, “Triumph Tiger 955i – so what is that like about 600 cc?”  I very politely replied, “Nope, it’s 955 cc.”

Margarita in Nova Scotia

Margarita in Nova Scotia

Great ride up – perfect weather.  Got into Amherst, Nova Scotia at about 7 PM.  A bit chilled and tired.  Tried to find a B&B.  Pulled into one, but they were closed.  I knew I was tired when not once, but twice I tried to start the bike with my horn. (For those who don’t ride – horn in on the left, starter is on the right.)  Road fatigue.

With the temperature dropping and Pugwash still 45 km away we headed a mile west to West Amherst to a place next to Hwy 2.  It was expensive, but clean.  The restaurant had just closed … so Rich had a protein bar, I had a can of smoked kippers and we shared my flask of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and called it a night.

odometer reading  13 October 7:30 PM West Amherst, Nova Scotia

odometer reading 13 October 7:30 PM West Amherst, Nova Scotia 22,669

LESSON #13:  No matter how hard I try I can neither blow my nose or apply lip balm with my helmet on.

Woke up Monday early brought Rich coffee and OJ while he was still in the room.  We took a walk to get the blood moving and loosen up our backs while the dew soaked bikes waited for us.  We  grabbed a bite to eat and were on the road by 7:30.  Temps were in the low 40s and it was very foggy.  Had to stop a few times and have Rich clear my visor for me.  As we headed back toward New Brunswick it stayed foggy and then the temperature started to really drop.  There was evidence of a hard freeze in the fields and in the median.  32 degrees F, then it dipped to 28 degrees.  Hard to believe I wasn’t cold riding at those temperatures.  I didn’t have my long underwear or fleece pants under my riding pants.  I did have on my winter riding gloves and my grip heaters were blasting on high.  Felt good.  I didn’t put my balaclava on as I want to wait until I get out west and it’s really cold before I spoil myself with that.  Rich has a heated jacket – if the cold out west proves too much I may invest in one.

The fog cleared, the temperature rose and by 10 it was really nice.  By 11:30 when we crossed back into the States it was in the upper 50s and were shedding layers and putting on mid-weight gloves.  Waved goodbye to Rich where 27 heads north in Wiscasset and drove home.  Pulled in at 5 PM.  850 miles in two days  if I include the mileage from my house to  Rich’s yesterday.  Not bad for a weekend’s riding.

odometer reading 14 October 5:00 PM home

odometer reading 14 October 5:00 PM home 22,071

LESSON #14: In 28 degrees F, at highway speeds, on the TransCanada Hwy 2  those heated grips that felt like they were burning my hands on low in summer gloves back in September felt pretty darn good on high today through my winter gloves!  I wasn’t cold and wasn’t even wearing long underwear or fleece pants under my lined riding pants.  Had tights on under my lined Taos River Road riding pants.  Had a turtleneck, a Patagonia Capliene 3/4 zip, a fleece pullover and the First Gear jacket that Gregg gave me for my birthday.  Toasty – who thought I could ride for an hour or two with the temps varying from low 40s to 28 and not be too cold?