New England Sport Touring
New England Sport Touring

A Ducati, Honda and Harley all go into the woods..

Friday December 4th 2009, sunny with temps in the mid 40′s for the day meant only one thing for me.  Im riding! Especially since the all the local weather men were calling for our first snow storm of the year on Saturday the 5th.

 

I had a few things to take care of at the office in the morning so I didnt get on the bike until 9:45ish.  My plan was to ride Rt 62 from Sterling to Barre then up Rt 122 working my way north over the Quabbin Reservoir.

Rt 62 has recently been re paved all the way to the end in Barre and is back to being a really nice road to ride your motorcycle on.  The center of Princeton sits high on a hill over looking central MA.
 
I was due to meet up with Pops aka STdave at the shell/Dunkin donuts station in Orange at 11:15.  I had a little extra time so I did some exploring off 122 in Athol.  Which quickly led to my first dirt road of the day.
Which led me to a nice spot along a very quite and peaceful marshy area
I’m really starting to enjoy these little dirt roads around Central MA.  I’ve spent the last 25 years riding almost every paved road in New England, but I have very little dirt road experience. This was gonna change today…more on that later!

I arrive at the meet spot right on time, and look who’s here waiting on me.

Dave is a lot like me, we ride a similar style and is pretty much willing to ride anywhere the road will take you.  I’ve had a hard time staying with him on some dirt roads out in CT that he led me on in the past.  I told him we might have some interesting roads to check out.  His response was simple…
LETS RIDE!

So we hopped on the bikes and headed west.  Rt 2 or also know as “the Mohawk trail” was our first destination of the morning.  How can a road be a destination you may be asking? If you ride motorcycles you know the answer, but I can explain with one simple photo..

See motorcycles lean when they turn, its a huge part of what makes them so much fun. Some like to lean more then others, as well as some riders like to lean more. The faster you go, the more you need to lean.  And the Mohawk Trail has lots of smooth, sharp corners to lean thru.  This route started as a North American Indian trade route between Eastern MA and NY.  Then was turned into one of America’s first scenic highways.
 
Before we get to the good stuff I forgot to mention one thing.  The day before this ride I posted the announcement up on the New England Riders forum to see if anyone else wanted to join me.  No one other than Dave responded so I figured we would be alone. However when going by a small restaurant in Gill Ma I noticed a black Harley parked.  We did a quick u-turn to go back and see if it had NY plates

It sure did, and low and behold we find none other than Jim Conde inside finishing up a cup of joe

He figured on surprising me and rode up from NYC to enjoy a hooky ride with OSJ!  Welcome aboard Jim!!  I did ask him how he felt about dirt roads, he didn’t mind either….so lets ride
We had a great run up the “trail” had to pass a few cars but for the most part had a clear run thru the twisty parts. Near the end we pull up to this cool monument

I knew I seen this before…oh that’s right it was a tag location on the North East Ducati Rides forum (NEDR) that I spend some time on.  Seems MrGrompers had set the tag earlier in the year and no one had claimed it yet

I took my shot and later in the day claimed my tag
From here the adventure became a real part of the ride.  Just south of route 2 is the Savoy Mountain State park (I wish I found this map before the ride and not just now as I’m typing this) which has the Hoosac tunnel runs under it.  This railroad tunnel is supposed to be one of the most haunted areas in New England, they call it the “bloody Pit” because of all the men that died while digging it out.  One such area is called the Central Shaft, which is a 1,000 foot deep hole that is used to pull fumes from the 5 mile long railroad tunnel.

When the shaft was only 500 feet deep an explosion occurred trapping 13 men down at the bottom of the hole.  Rescued efforts were never attempted and the men drowned from rain water filling the hole.  It took several months for the bodies to be removed from the hole. Here is that shaft

The round cement structure is the shaft itself and the big horns are the fans that circulate the air.  This is located on “central shaft rd”  and up to this point the road is little rough but paved none the less.  That changes just as you pass the entrance to the state park.
The first few miles are easy dirt roads.  The look like this…
We followed Florida rd to New State road.  At one point the gps wanted me to turn up Tannery Rd ( I programmed the route the night before) but it looked really rough and I didn’t think we could make it. Plus New State was looking pretty good, and at one point we merged with another road that was paved.

Okay…so where did I leave off….oh I know, we were on Adams rd in the lovely town of Savoy Ma.  Here is Jim with a big smile on his face. And yes this is a “town road”

 

Did I mention that Jim has a KLR650 sitting at home, do you think he wished he was on that and not his wide glide?

Dave on the other hand had a different kind of smile.

Now these photos were taken at mile #2 of a 7.8 mile long dirt ride.  I would pull up to a section that looked like this…

Stop and look back at Dave, hoping he would pull up next to me to give me some advice on which path to take..but all I would get is this look..

I wish I took more photos of the rest of Adams rd, but quite frankly I was a little nervous, I take that back, I was freaking scared!  We had gone much to far into the woods to turn around, and I was just hoping that it would get better.  Now for a funny part (if you haven’t laughed at me yet ) as we approached the intersection of Adams and Bannis, we were supposed to stay on Adams. But there was a 4×4 truck coming towards us.   We had just made it thru about 50 feet of mud and puddles when the truck saw us and stopped.  He had just come thru Adams and his truck was covered in mud, I took one look down that road and quickly changed plans and headed up the hill that Bannis road was.

The truck let us all go by as he watched a Ducati, Honda Sport touring bike and  Harley go past him.  Can you imagine what he was thinking.  This was the only time we saw anyone else in the area.  And it was by far the deepest part of the woods we were in.

We crested the hill and we found ourselves on a much improved roads.

 

We finally made our way to Rt116 and onto Pavement!  We had survived and no one hit the ground!  Looking back at it now I really wished I pulled out the camera more and even video taped some of the really hairy mud/water crossings…I guess I gotta go back and redo this section!

However that was short lived and we soon found ourselves on dirt again.  This time it was starting to get a little muddy.  Here we are at the beginning of the rough stuff.

Once we made it out of the woods we found ourselves on 116.  This was the western part of this road, or should I say west of 112.  This road is a little different then the east side of 112, much straighter and the pavement is a little rougher in spots.

A right turn on 112 south brings us to the next stop.  Another Tag! This time the ST owners tag.  Which is the Old Time Stove Store

This is a really neat store with some interesting art around the outside…

Inside was just as spectacular…with many restored stoves.  Simply beautiful pieces of work scattered about the small shop.

We stood outside and talked with the owner for a few minutes. I told him about the whole tag concept.  I did warn him that maybe some other bikes might stop by, but he could tell them “OSJ” beat them too it.  However inside I knew that would never happen, see the ST tag had been sitting for a few months…seems they talk about riding more then they actually ride.  Present company excluded of course….STdave  puts on some serious miles…he just rides too fast to stop and take photos!

I followed Dave and Jim to our next stop…Lunch!

That is Jim riding his Harley…did I mention that he rode up from NYC to meet us Gill MA.  No electrics, no long johns,  just jeans and a leather coat!  I don’t think the temp ever got above 45 for the day, and quickly dropped into the high 30′s once the sun went down.

But before all that we needed to stop for some eats!  Dave led us to this little place in downtown Williamsburg MA.

There were only 3 parking places out front, all filled with identical Volvo Station wagons.  I wasn’t sure what type of looks 3 bikers would get walking into this place.  Would we scare the locals?  Was the menu filled with dainty finger sandwiches that cost $18?

Okay so the last I left you guys I was standing in front of Chef Wayne’s Big Mamou restaurant. I’m not usually a big fan of spicy food, or Cajun for that matter so I was a little apprehensive on going in. And the fact that there were only Volvo station wagons in the parking lot might be telling me something… or maybe that last item was more about the village of Williamsburg more than anything else.

http://www.chefwaynes-bigmamou.com/

We walked in and quickly grabbed a table. The menu seemed interesting, it certainly had some Cajun items on it like..Chicken Etoufeé, Crawfish Quesadillas & Louisiana Fried Oysters but also things like Corn Chowder, Meatloaf sandwich and steak tips with grilled vegetables.

I love corn chowder so I ordered up a cup…

It was the best corn chowder I ever had in my life! There was chicken in it and other items I didn’t recognized but boy did it taste great! Next up was a awesome pull pork Poor Boy with rice. Another great meal!

Dave and Jim seemed to be happy with their choices of Meat Loaf and steak tips. They wouldn’t look at the camera for me…I think they were still mad about the mud!

No…they love following OSJ on a ride…its always a adventure when the red duck is leading!

After a hour or so we waddled out the front door and back to the bikes. Dave lived west of here so we said our goodbyes to him as he turned the big Honda toward home. Jim just wanted me to get him to I91 so he could get home before midnight. I took him for one good run up on Mountain Rd in Williamsburg heading toward Whately and finally into South Deerfield. As we crossed over I91 Jim turned and started his journey home.

I crossed the Connecticut river on rt 116 than took some back roads thru Sunderland, Leverett and finally Shutesbury which led me to Rt 202 at the Quabbin Reservoir. I can remember as far back as 1986 riding my RZ350 on Rt122 thru towns like New Salem,Petersham and Barre, this was an old familiar route to me. Every bike Ive owned since that little Yamaha 2 stroke has taken me along that route.

I stopped for a few final photos along a small pond in Harvard Forest. I changed my tinted shield to the clear one, set my Ipod to play the collection of George Winston and tried to take in the moments that may turn out to be one of the final rides of the 09 season. Only did 204 miles on this day…but oh what a adventure it was!

 

Comments

  1. wrote on January 8th, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Just a fan

    Great story…love reading your ride tales…hopefully some day I can meet you!

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