New England Sport Touring
New England Sport Touring

3 days in the life of a duck

Just wanted to share a little tail of my ride last weekend.  This will not be a trip report like I usually do.  Mostly because I didn’t take too many photo’s  I tend to enjoy doing these reports with more photo’s then text.  But I will try and do my best to explain my experiences I had on my 2 wheels.

Friday 8/24/07-220 miles

Hooky day with Charlie, Pat, Chinook, Gerry & Willie.

I took these guys on a little back road adventure of the quiet corner area and the Connecticut river valley.  We found ourselves on some very fun roads like Eastford/Westord rd, Rt 320, Devils Hop yard, Joshua town rd and Grassy Hill rd.

Denny & Roundsy met us at Harry’s for lunch.  A great little place in Colchester that is famous for their hamburgers.

My switch from Lobsta rolls to burgers was reward with a great one at Harry’s.  After lunch a run thru Devils Hop Yard was needed.  This road is fun, but far too short and after riding down in NC/TN it seems kinda lame for a twisty road.

We crossed the Ct. river the first time with a little help from a ferry.

Willie was excited to get some points on this ride.  After the ferry ride we road Joshua town road, a great find by Easy Ed.  If you like narrow, twisty & challenging roads then this is one you need to go explore.

After a quick jaunt on I95 to get us on the other side of the Thames River we found ourselves on Rt201 north.   Traffic was starting to get heavy as we were closing in on 4pm.  We ended our day with dinner at the Vanilla Bean Café.  Phil & Mike rode their sport touring bikess down from central MA to meet us for eats.

Saturday 8/25/07 624 miles

Well I didn’t start the day off thinking I was going to ride so many miles.  Things just came together this way.  Chinnook & I had a  breakfast sandwich at Goodhiles early.

We were hoping Dave would be up for this ride, and while we waited we came across this guy! Phat Pat couldn’t ride with us today

7:30 came and no others showed up so Chinook and I headed north.  Our plan was to ride the 6 major gap roads in Vermont.  Our only other brave soul that came hopped in the ride in Charlestown NH.  Bill Brown really wanted to show us young pups what that big GS could do on some of those dirt mountain passes.  This is the only photo I have of Bill from a previous ride

We stayed on NH rt12a all the way up to Rt89.  Just before we got on the highway I let both guys know we would get off at exit 3. So if you want to fly go right ahead.  I had a hard time keeping Chinook in site.

When Bill & I exited at # 3 Chinook was parked on the side of the road sipping water and waiting patiently.

Now the real fun was about to start.  The only real problem was I still had the roads of NC & TN fresh in my memory.  I was hoping Vermont’s gap roads would give me good reason to forget those southern gems.

Our first was Rochester Gap, or other wise known as Bethel Mountain Rd.

We had a clean run on this road, no cars or bikes to pass.  Yes it’s a great road to ride. Plenty of corners to keep those chicken strips narrow.  But at only 10 miles its pretty short.

Before you know it your on Rt 100 in Rochester.  A few miles south on 100 then a right onto Rt 73.  This is the second gap road. Brandon Gap.

At 23 miles ( I included the ride up rt53 ) its much longer then Rochester and with fresh pavement its very clean of bumps and bruises from the harsh New England winters.  I had a sports car in front of me for most of the ride moving at a very good pace.  He or she was doing 30 over for most of the road but then decided at the last minute to pull over and let me by.  The rest of the ride went without incident.

I knew the 2 boys behind me were getting hungry and I wanted to enjoy lunch on the deck of the Warren Store in Warren VT.  This meant we needed to do some more gap riding.

The next on the list was Middlebury Gap or Rt125.

At 20 miles from Rt 7 to Rt 100 it’s a road to eat some miles.  The biggest problem is its getting a little bumpy.  Im sure it will be repaved in a few years, but until then you gotta be a little careful on certain sections.  I had my first incident on this road.  In one very tight twisty down hill section I came upon 3 cruiser riders really heavy on the brakes.  Usually when I approach riders like this at the speed I was traveling they pull to the side and let me by.  These 3 were not having any of that.  I watched them spend most of the time watching me in their mirrors and trying desperately to keep me behind them.   I had to make a choice, slow down and stay behind, or pass on a double yellow.  There was just one opportunity to do this on a long left hand sweeper, I had a clear view of what was coming. All three were heavy on the brakes the whole way around the corner, I took my hands off the handle bars to give them a thank you wave as I blasted by them.

Once we reached Rt 100 and the town of Hancock we pointed our fenders north on Rt 100.  Gravnille State park is not really a gap road, but certainly worth talking about.

Its roughly 15 miles from Hancock to Warren, filled with long gentle sweepers and some tight twisty stuff.  This last section before lunch I just felt it all come together.  My bike felt like it was part of me, every corner I was able to lean it in further & further.  I had no idea what my speed was, or how much I was over the posted limit, but I knew I was at the speed of spending a night on a cold cot if I got caught.  As a approached a right hand corner at a very high rate of speed 2 guys were sitting on the side of the road taking a brake from their bicycle ride.  Both guys gave be 2 huge thumbs up as the duck thundered by.

Just before the turn off to Warren I needed to stop and wait for my 2 riding companions of the day to catch up.  If you haven’t had lunch at the Warren Store then you should get up there soon.
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It’s a small general store with a little deli in the back.  Great home made sandwiches and fresh pasta or fruit salads are available.  We sat out on the back deck over looking the gentle river as we enjoyed our first real break of the day.

It was close to 1pm, Bill & Chinook were getting tired and didn’t want to travel any further north.  Bill was close to 100 miles from home and Chinook was 280 away.    So I didn’t blame them that they wanted to start the ride home after lunch.  The only problem for me was the Appalachian Gap was only 20 miles away. I figured this was the last time this year I would be up here on the bike and I really wanted to ride it.  They both agreed I should do it, and told me to be careful as they headed south.

This road is some 25 miles of very tight twisty turns. Some are very steep and by far the biggest challenge of the day.  At the top I turned around and did it again heading back to Warren to get some batteries for my camera.  While stopped to reload the camera my wife called to see how I was doing.  She seemed a little disappointed that I didn’t ride up to Jonesport ME to see her and the kids.  She took the girls to our friends cottage Down East in Beals Island ME.  Once she told me that they would be coming back to Bangor to their home I got an idea.  But I didn’t tell her.

After we hung up I did a little calculation on the gps. Seems the way I wanted to go home was 218 miles,

or if I went to Bangor it was only 290 miles.

I decided I was going to spend the night in Maine!

But I still had one more gap I needed to do.  Roxbury Gap is only 10 miles but it’s a tough 10 miles on a ducati sport bike.

The ride east climbs mostly on paved roads, with a few small sections of packed gravel.  Going down the mountain on the other side heading into Roxbury was a little different.  Loose gravel, sand and some areas that had the sides washed out really kept me on my toes!

Once I reached Roxbury it was time to move and get some miles under my belt.  Rt 12 north to Rt 2 east were the only 2 roads I needed to think about.  Rt 12 from Roxbury to Montpelier was a nice little road to ride.  Going thru Norwich University I thought I was going to get my first speeding ticket in 15 years.  Coming around a sharp left hander I was faced with a police car coming the other direction.  As I watched in my mirrors he quickly turned around and gave chase to me.  I didn’t even hesitate and dropped a gear and took off as fast as I could, I was gonna out run him to the interstate and disappear from site.

Well that’s not what I did at all, I just put that in there to see if your still reading and paying attention.  Yes he did turn around and follow me for a little while. I was expecting to get pulled over, but once I reach the center of town I pulled into a gas station to get fuel and he just kept going.

The next few hrs just flew by, quite literally for that matter.  Rt 2 is one road that can be a pain if your in a cage and cant accelerate like a motorcycle can.  Some areas had the passing lanes and I took advantage of those when I could.  It didn’t take long to get thru Vermont and into New Hampshire.  I stopped somewhere along the route  to fuel up and get a quick snack.  As I walked into a Rite Aide to get some ear plugs I came faced with my next  incident.

The temps were in the 90′s for most of the day and when I walked into the store I was looking like I just rode 400 miles in 90 degree heat.  I didn’t bother to take my jacket off because I was just going to to get plugs.  While waiting in line to pay I had a “biker dude” walk in and get behind me.  He looks at me strangely and says ” man your nuts for wearing that coat on a day like this ”  I just smiled and say, it’s a lot easier to wipe sweet off then road rash and gave a little giggle.  He then says oh, ” your one of those type of f’ing idiot riders ” By then It was my turn to pay and I just ignored him and bought my stuff.

When I went out to the bike he was parked next to me.  A nice American bike, all shiny with lots of chrome. I took out my bottle of Poland springs water and took a quick sip and then poured the rest of it in his gas tank!

Just kidding..

He did come out as I was putting my ear plugs in and gear on, he hopped on his bike sans helmet, gloves or jacket and took off down the road.  I though who’s the real idiot.   I really believe everyone has the right to wear what they want when riding their motorcycle, I’m only for helmet laws when it comes to new riders or under a certain age. But I just don’t understand why some people need to tell me why I’m a fool for wearing what I wear?

Oh well.

My ride continued down rt 2 It didn’t take long for me to catch up to my new buddy. It couldn’t have been a more perfect time to meet up with him either. We just started to climb a slight hill and the road opened up with a slow lane to the right, and a passing lane on the right.  The few cars in front of my friend pulled over to the right to let him by, I just gassed it and passed him and the cars all at the same time over the double yellow.  Like all bikes that I pass I give a little wave with my left hand as I go by.  This was the last time I saw him.

I’m not sure what time it was but I made it into Maine and when I entered Rumford I knew I was close to a certain NERd name Tim.

I pulled over and gave his cell phone a quick call.  It went right to voice mail. My message to him was that I would drive right thru Rt 4 in Jay Maine ( his home town ) and I should be there in 20 min or so. If you get this in time go out and look for me.  When I reached Jay I drove around a bit looking for him.  But no luck, I figure he was working and I couldn’t for the life of me remember his address.  I pulled over at the fire dept to take a photo of me with the Town Of Jay sign so I can show him I was there.

Wouldn’t you know it as I was just leaving the parking lot a bike rode by and it was Tim!  He nearly fell over when he noticed it as me. He had just got home from work and was taking his lovely bride out for a ride and never checked his messages.

Tim & Kimi led me on a nice ride thru some towns I have never been too all the way leading me toward I95.  We waved good by to each other as I headed north and he headed south.

It was getting dark and I was getting close to my wife and kids.  Earlier in the day I had talked with my friend Tony ( the hosts for the weekend ) and told him I was going to surprise Michelle and show up at their home.  But when I pulled into a rest area on I95 and noticed that she had called my cell phone several times and left me a message that she was getting worried cause I wasn’t home yet I decided to tell her of my plans.

It was around 9pm  when I pulled into  Bangor Maine, some 14 hrs since I left my house earlier that day.  624 miles were completed, with only 70 of those on a highway.  I did all my gaps I wanted to do, got to see a good friend and rode the wheels off my bike. But the best part of the day was the hugs my kids gave me as I walked in to the house and surprised them with my arrival.

Sunday 8/26/07 298 miles

This was just a get home ride, for a few reasons.  Mainly because Michelle and the girls were coming home.  I followed them for most of the way down I95 to I 495. But before that I needed to find a few places that I planned on using for a treasure hunt rally I host. So Michelle took the kids shopping for a few hrs in the morning while I did a little hunting

We hooked up for the un eventful ride home.  A straight shot with only 1 stop for fuel on the Maine turnpike.  This ride was harder then my previous 2 days of riding. Mostly because of the heavy traffic leaving Maine on a Sunday and the boring ride interstate highways are for sport bikes.

I pulled into my driveway around 4:30 Sunday.  Tired and hungry.  1,142 miles in 3 days of some great riding.

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