Someone asked me earlier this year, ” why do you want to ride to Harley Dealers?” Like wanting to ride one was like some kind of disease that you could catch if you walk into a dealership selling these thing.
Okay, I will admit something, Ive never been a big fan of the company that makes motorcycles right here in the good ole USA. But that’s because I feel motorcycles should be designed to be light, powerful, handle well and be able to stop safely. Before style, but I understand there is a large group of people out there that feel style is important, and Harley oozes style. And I would love to own one, I just don’t want to pay for it, I want to win one!
So incomes the Harley Tour card event for 2008. Visit 27 Harley Dealerships throughout New England, get your card stamped at each one. Then your name gets dropped in a hat to possibly win a bike.
Ive always been known as the map man, and over the last 25 years of riding and working on the roads in New England I figured I could come up with some really nice and fun routes taking me to all these dealerships. This story is about my trip to the Vermont ones.
It starts early Saturday morning, Michelle gives me the green light to spend the day in the saddle. I leave WB at 5:30am
Im on my new MultiStrada made by Ducati. This will be the first ride with my corbin seat. The stock multi seat was horrible causing severe pains in my tush at 150 miles. Today’s ride was gonna be over 600 so it was gonna be a good test.
I took the back roads thru Central MA leading my way to Orange. Here I was to meet up with STdave. The only crazy rider to agree to run this ride with me. For once I beat him to the meeting spot. DD of course
Or route north took us on such great motorcycle roads like Rt78 in MA. This road is a relatively short numbered highway. Starting in Orange MA at rt2a and ending on the NH line just a few miles north. But it does pack some nice twisty sections. Its worth the ride if you find yourself up in that area.
Once we crossed into NH we used Rt10 to get us past Keene and onto Surry rd. Which use to be a fantastic little road that chases the Ashuelot River. Surry Rd. did not survive the winter well, many frost heaves and broken pavement make it not very fun anymore. But at the end you go north on 12a for bit and then take another left onto Walpole Valley rd. Now that road is ready for primetime!
It was kinda drizzly for this part of the ride and i didnt take my camera out at all. Once we crossed into Vermont that seemed to change. The sun started peaking out thru the clouds. We found ourselves on Rt5 heading north along the Connecticut River.
Lots of corn fields along this section of road way. It was tall..
We stayed on rt5 until we reached the…
Which brought us back into NH and back onto Rt12a. We used this road to lead up to West Lebanon NH and my first stamp of the day.
We didn’t hang out long here, just a quick stamp and go. Rt 4 brought us back into Vermont and then a quick run up rt14 along the White river. It didnt take me long to figure out that most roads that follow a river are twisty. Back in the mid 80′s I would ride my trusty little RZ350 all over New England searching for River roads. It was an unlikely touring bike, but back then I didnt know any better
Now back onto rt 14 and Vermont. While looking at my map planning this ride I noticed a list for a monument. One for Joseph Smith. I wasn’t sure who he was so I warned Dave we might do some exploring. So just before rt110 meets Rt14 you take a right onto Dairy Hill rd and you climb the hill to this place
Which was kinda neat to see. I like visiting monument to people or things that happened in our past. The view from Dairy Hill are equally beautiful
From here we grabbed Vermont state route 110. Which is a road Ive never been on. And how did I miss this one? Its got some twisty sections and a few picture postcard villages that you ride thru. It also has 4 covered bridges right off it, none of them we stopped at for photo’s. But here are a few shots from the road
This road brought us all the way north to Barre Vermont. Before our next Harley Stop we rode right by this place
Which supplied the stones for the famous Hope Cemetery in Barre
It didn’t take long for find our next Harley Stop. We both got a chance to chat with the owner of the place. Mrs Wilkins was walking around greet customers. She was very nice to talk with. At one point Dave explained that we were both on different makes of bikes and she quickly said…” well not everyone can ride a Harley” . In my younger days I would have said something in response to that but I just shook her hand and thank her for the time she spent talking with us.
We needed to get back on the road. I wanted to head south before we went north. Seems Dave has never been to the…
that was gonna change.
But too bad its closed this year so you cant ride over it.
I once caught a fish this big..
And what the whole bridge looks like.
And yes it is very slippery. Several motorcycles have gone down crossing it. But the few times Ive done it there has been no problems.
There was another local land mark I wanted to find in Brookfield so we took off in search of it. We headed north along Stone rd, which follows along I89. Stone Rd is dirt but dirt roads in Vermont are unlike many other states. Usually they are pretty easy to ride on. This was one of those roads. The item I was looking for was not found, so I need to do some more research and return to the area soon.
We found ourselves on Rt2 heading towards Burlington. Once we approached Waterbury we got detoured onto Rt89 for a little while. Rt 117 was our exit to Essex Junction where Dave pulled up along side me and said ” follow me ” Our ride thru the back roads of Essex and Westford brought us to his daughters home. A beautiful old farm house in the middle of nowhere. Dave’s Grandkids and Daughter came out to greet us for a few minutes.
From here I wanted to stop at the only Ducati dealership in Vermont. Frank’s Motorcycles is in Essex Junction and carries BMW, Triumph and Ducati’s. Or so they use to carry Ducks, seems they dropped them a short while ago. I did like the big Rocket 3 that was parked outside. This is a Magilla bike if I ever saw one. 2300cc of raw power.
Now it was getting close to 2pm and I was feeling hungry. We still needed to do one more Harley stop before lunch so we quickly made our way to Green Mountain Harley Davidson which was right down the road from Franks.
They were just shutting down the grills from lunch they serve on Saturdays and the show room was full of people shopping for t-shirts and chrome parts. More then one head turned to look at me with shock as I walked in looking like I do. It was a warm day and as you can see bright sunshine. I smiled politely at everyone that looked my way and always offered a hello.
Once I was done scaring the locals and my card was stamped Dave and I headed for lunch. Al’s French fries has been on Williston Rd or Rt 2 for many, many years. Ive eaten there when I was a young gun riding around Vermont, and have taken the kids up several times as well.
Its always been a good cheap meal at Al’s. The problem this time is they must have run out of bun tops because both Dave and I got 2 bottoms for our burgers. The hot dog was good, and the fries were awesome…
From here it was all down hill.
Oh not the ride, but the direction, see it was time to start heading towards home. 3pm and we are in Burlington Vermont. Some would take the highway home but not us. We used Rt2 to get us down to Richmond then took a right onto bridge st. This is where we came to…
The Old Round Church was built in 1812 and is a beautiful example of an old New England building. I wanted to stop but there was wedding going on and I didn’t think they would enjoy a couple of bikers stopping by. I did beep as we went by and of all people to look and way it was the bride!
From here we took The Main Rd south. Which goes thru Huntington, Starksboro, Bristol and Buels Gore. Gore’s are a odd thing and usually found only in New England. Its basically a piece of land that got missed placed when two towns were formed. Some Gores have small limited local government. Buels Gore has a population of 12 people. Many motorcyclist have spent time in Buels Gore. The pull over spot on Rt 17, which is also called Appalachian Gap road is in Buels Gore.
Another small piece of OSJ history about this road is my Uncle, Robert Cormier who penned some novels. Also had a few of them made into motion pictures. One such book, The chocolate War which many young people in High School still read and I am the Cheese
Was filmed all over New England and one of the last scenes in I am the Cheese has young Adam riding his bike along Rt 17 in Buels Gore.
Dave and I had planned on riding Rt 17 but we needed to find another Vermont roadside oddities, but your gonna have to wait for that.
Im off to a football game with the family. The report will continue soon
Back to the story!
Dave and I go past the entrance to the Appalachian Gap road, and continue south to the small town of Bristol Vermont. The road that leads into town use to be called 9 bridges road. It was a popular road for logging trucks log ago. Because all the twisty section ( which we motorcyclist love ) many of the loads back then would fall off the trucks. When a young logger named Joe Green drove this route he would look forward to when he arrived to the big rock on the side of the road. That meant he made it past the scary parts. He would always say a prayer as he passed thanking the lord for a safe journey.
Many years later he returned to this spot to carve the Lords Prayer in the rock.
Its a neat spot to check out, and in the small grassy area we are parked in are some picnic tables and a few out door grills set up for visitors. Dave and I relax a little while here just enjoying the late afternoon break.
From this spot we wanted to make our way to Rt100. I gave Dave 2 choices, App Gap ( rt 17 ) which is very twisty and steep but paved the whole way. Or Lincoln Gap, which is also steep but some of it isn’t paved. Since he figured this was a true adventure lets go Lincoln and get dirty!
Luckily the dirt sections are not the real steep sections. Once you start your climb it is paved. We didn’t stop at the top for photo’s we just made our way over and down. Heading east on this road means the steepest part is going down hill. And boy is it steep!
At the bottom of the road you have the intersection with Rt100. Which is one great road in Vermont. Its almost 200 miles long and it bisects the state running north and south. We turned right and followed it south for quite a bit.
In the small town of Hancock we stopped for a break and some desert. Our choice was one of my favorite places to stop up here.
You cant miss this place along this scenic route. Its a great spot to sit on the porch, put your feet up and watch time roll by…..like this…
We decided it was time for some pie and Ice Cream. Dave treated, I had home made bread pudding and Dave had apple pie!
It was a welcome break after almost 450 miles in the saddle. Which BTW was working great. Up to this point my rear end was feeling great. I couldn’t believe the difference the Corbin saddle was making on my multi. I think Ducati should make that standard equipment on every multi that rolls off the factory floor!
From here we continued south on 100 until we reached Rochester. We took a left onto Bethel Mountain road. Which is one of many gap roads up in the green mountains. This one goes thru Rochester Gap. I tend to like this one more then the others. Because its not a numbered highway it tends to be less crowed.
Here is a map of the 6 most common gap roads in the area. Rochester is the one in the shaded area of the photo.
From Bethel we took North Rd thru Barnard into Silver Lake state park. What a beautiful road this is. If your in the area skip the section of Rt12 thru Barnard and take this road!
Rt12 brought us in to….
Which is a little village my wife loves to stop and shop at. Its the picture prefect little New England village. We rolled thru town and grabbed Rt 106 south. Which brought us twisting and turning into Springfield. Several back roads were used to get us thru Springfield and onto rt121 in Saxtons River.
From here Dave and I spit up, he took I91 towards his home in Western Vermont and I head south on Rt12 into New Hampshire. Dave is a guy I really enjoy riding with, if you ever see a silver ST1300 scraping pegs around a sharp corner and a grey beard sticking out of his helmet I sure its Dave!
If your ever traveling on rt 12 thru the Walpole area you will notice a large hill with a apple orchard on top. I decided to drive to the top of the hill and catch the sun setting. At first you drive thru the gate
Then greeted by this fellow
I found a comfy spot to park and sit to watch the sun slowly set over the horizon.
I snapped a photo with my cell phone and set it to my wife with the text ” Wish you were here with me ” on it. She quickly responded with…
You bet I do!
The last hour was spent in the dark riding roads I’ve spent many hrs on. When I pulled into the driveway I had just click a little over 600 miles for the day. My 2 youngest daughters came out to greet me and asked to sit on the bike. Something they love to do when I come home. Its always the best part of my rides!