Ive been reading trip reports on the puppy dog route, and Bayley Hazen for quite some time now..and its been 3 years in a row I planned on doing the trip but had to cancel due to family/job and other life commitments.
For those that don’t know the Puppy Dog route it is a trail of dirt roads strung together starting in Greenfield MA ending some 350ish miles later near the Canadian border. Almost all of those miles are in Vermont. The Vermont BMW owners club put together the route, and not only do they offer it up as a GPS file for others to save, but they plan a weekend trip for those that want a “guided” tour of the ride.
The Bayley Hazen route is a old Military highway commissioned by George Washington during the Revolutionary war, only to be completed by colonel Moses Hazen in 1779. General Washington halted the roads construction before it entered Canada because of fear the British would use it to attack the small towns of which it went thru. The route connects with the puppy dog way up in Lowell Vermont so it just made sense to put that on the list of roads to ride.
I had a few friends that enjoyed this type of riding and would always say they were in when I picked dates for this ride in the past. However it just never seemed to happen. Over the winter my accountant and riding buddy Wild Bill…who has sweet little KTM…made plans to do the ride in late May. I told him I would be in but knowing its usually my busiest season for work, and I also coach my youngest daughter’s softball team I figured it would take a miracle to get the time to do the ride.
Things started out great this spring, Ive been very busy but also way ahead of schedule, and as luck would have we had no games or practices scheduled for the 4 days that was planned for this trip. I couldn’t believe it but this year it was going to happen!
Monday morning Will Bill met with 5 other riders in Hancock NH at a great little restaurant called Fiddleheads. The trip was officially starting at 10 am and heading north thru some back roads of NH. The plan was to camp in Ryegate VT right at the southern start of the Bayley Hazen route. However I had some last work that needed to be done so I wouldn’t be leaving until 1 pm on Monday. I would meet up with another good friend and riding buddy Wild Bill Brown (thats him holding the bread)..
at 4pm in Ascutney VT and we would meet up with everyone at the campground.
I finished work a little early and was all set and ready to go by noon, which meant I could take the long way and snag a few tags if possible. Mrs OSJ took the first photo of the trip…its time to “just ride”
Mrs OSj is the best…not only does she love to ride with me, she also gives me trips like this. She stays home and takes care of the kids while I’m away and never complains. I’m very lucky to have her in my life. Thanks honey!!! My plan was to head up to Fiddleheads and follow some of Wild Bill’s route thru NH, it has some dirt mixed in with some twisty paved roads. However my first official stop was in Lunenburg MA for the MA tag on the NER message board.
which also will ad to my list of town halls in MA, I’m slowly working on a
photo from every town/city hall in the state. Once I have them all they will be posted up. I quickly replaced the tag with a location not too far away…
I have two daughter that ride…I’m sure they would love one of these in the front yard! Not too soon later I found myself in NH and getting hungry. I knew Fiddleheads would be a great place to grab lunch. I pulled up into the parking lot around 1pm. The only other person there was a girl on a Harley. Who was about the rudest person I’ve ever met.
She was sitting on the front porch having a cup of coffee and clearly didn’t want me to even ask her a question. Shortly after I sat down with my she left, and almost fell over in the gravel parking lot. I thought to myself if she falls I don’t know if I would help her pick up the bike. It too bad because she had one wicked nice softail!
I did have one of the best chicken salad sammies I’ve ever had…boy was that good!
After a great
lunch I found myself on the first dirt road of the trip.A few more like this
lead me up to Lake Sunapee. Along the way I stopped for a few more photo’s one
of them was to snag the theme tag (painted cow)
I found myself starting to run a little late. I had set up a spot to meet Bill Brown at 4pm, and my gps was telling me I would get there around 4:20. I had to make up some time,so I stopped the planned route (more dirt roads) and told the gps to get me to Vermont the fastest wayJust as I pulled up to the meeting spot so did Bill. We greeted each other, gassed up than headed north. No stops along the way, we stayed on Rt5 the whole way up.
I think it took us just a little over 1 hour to make it to Tickle Naked Road and our campground for the night..
Wild Bill and the others were already set up in the group camping spot. It didn’t take long for Bill and I to setup our tents. If you ever go camping with Bill Brown, take some hints.
This guy knows how to camp in comfort, his tent is huge with big soft air
mattress and a small chair. I on the other side of the coin was sleeping on the
ground, but I did bring my favorite 2 leg camping chair ( no pics of it so you gotta check out the
Now I’ve done a lot of moto-camping in my younger days, and Im not ashamed to say I’ve been trained very well by Mrs. OSJ into the comforts of a nice hotel after a long day on the road. So its been a long time since Ive slept on the ground, a good 20+ years long…
I will say we had a great night sitting around the campfire telling stories of past rides and other adventures. I really enjoy this part of camping…and the meals were not that bad either….some of the guys rode down to the P&H Diner for supper, while Bob, Wild Bill and I stayed back at camp and cooked our own meals.
Here is Wild Bill after he drank a whole bottle of grape juice, does this guy ever smile?
I didn’t take any more photo’s I was saving my battery on the phone for a light in case I needed to escape to the bath house in the middle of the night. Which I never really needed. I did wake up at 3:30 and thought I heard a large animal breathing heavy outside my tent…it was just my neighbor Bill Brown snoring away enjoying the nice air mattress. Good thing i saved my photo battery because I played angry birds until 5am.
Its about then I got up and fired up the jet boil and made myself a nice big cup of coffee. Again no photo’s for some reason, other than these ones…
Now back to cooking for a moment. My kids bought me a Jet boil for fathers day, and I brought along some of that freeze dried meals in a bag for this trip. Plus some Starbucks Via
Which is their instant coffee. I was very surprised to find out that stuff is pretty good. Even with some of that non dairy creamer added to it. And the jet boil will boil water in what seems like less than a minute. And boy does it stay hot for a long time.
For dinner the night before I had one of these…
Shepard pie to be exact, and yes I would say it tasted good. Just a little hard eating out of a bag. I wish I had brought a small bowl or plate make it a little better. Wild Bill brought one of those self cooking MRE’s and Bob had a couple packs of Ramen Noodles.
Was it better than P&H, maybe not…okay I’m not gonna fool any of you..it was no where near as good as the P&H would have been….but hey I wanted to have the full camping experience on the first night. I’m glad I did!
Wild Bill’s plan
for the day was to meet at the P&H for Breakfast at 8am with a KSU by 9. Two
of the crew were not camping but staying at a local motel. This worked out good
and we got rolling right around 9ish.
But first lets
introduce the crew….Wild Bill on the KTM
(our ring leader)
Wild Bill Brown on the
John (Bob) Brown on the
old BMW GS
Chet on a brand new BMW
CJ on a KLX
Fred on the ManStrom
Bob on a new KLR
Me, AKA OSJ on the old
All lined up at
PH Diner, ready to tackle the Bayley
The official road starts right around the corner from breakfast so it was 5 minutes into the ride and we found ourselves on the route. Which started out on pavement but quickly turned to dirt.
Not very challenging or twisty up this way, but the scenery was
just fantastic. It would take me a full week to do the route we did in 3 days
because of stopping for photo’s. It was tough riding by all these great shots, but sticking with the group was the plan for now..Bill would stop the group at certain points to take photo’s or to make sure we were all together.
I was pleasantly surprise to see that the GPS was on route and never lost satellite reception on his first day.
After one twisty down hill section (my first pucker moment of
the trip happened here) Bill Brown pulled up next to me and gave me the best advise of the trip! “your riding the bike like a sport bike, don’t lean off into the corner, but lean off just slightly out side, try to lean the bike under you and sit straight up” oh and I also kept thinking about what Wild Bill was telling me earlier…”when in trouble. Give it gas!” & “relax your grip on the bike, let the front end move around a bit” Boy was this different than the way I was use to riding.I was really trying to
concentrate on what I was doing, and really trying to take in the sites of the area. It was exhausting! At one point we saw signs telling us the road was close but we went up the hill anyways…about 3 miles later we came to this sign…I think someone
said…I bet a bridge is out…someone else yelled…great our first water
Bill Brown and I waited here…turns out it was too steep for
wild bill and the KTM to tackle!Later on we came across
this moument…modeled by John “Bob” Brown…
Now John (I called him Bob for some reason the first day, and he never corrected me!) is one of those old school riders. He can rip it up with the fast boys if he wants, but he also likes to poke his way thru areas soaking up the local history and enjoying the views. He is retired from the phone company and lives on the cape, but you might just as easily catch him at a small diner in Vermont, or a country kitchen in Down East Maine. I guess he also loves to fly fish so you might just see that old BMW parked next to some stream in NH or CT.
If you happen upon him make sure you stop and say hi. He is one very nice guy! However you can post on line anything you want about him because he is not. How do you say it…tech savvy? He kept asking me if I would put my photo’s on that Face thing when I got home. I would say…”nope, because I was posting it while you were asking me that” he would shake his head in disbelief. I’m supposed to send a link to his daughter so she can view this ride report. Maybe we can get him signed up on ADV someday??
On day two he was right in front of me and had to keep pulling over to wait for me to snap a photo. I told him I had the route and knew exactly where I was going and he didn’t need to stop and wait for me. He told me that was the way he loved to do these types of rides and offer would come back to get in my photo..
At one point John said we would do well together on a ride…I would have to agree, he is a cool dude!
after a short break at the road closed sign we back tracked our way back down to Highway 14. I don’t remember the roads but we found all dirt ones bring us to 14
This brought us up to Rt58 in Irasburg. We took 58 west to Lowell. Our first official stop for fuel and lunch was to be at the Lowell Store, This section of 58 was all paved and went by very fast. It didn’t take long for the back 4 riders to catch up to CJ on the KLX250. However I didn’t pass him, I had to do a fast uey to grab a photo for the “WTF is that doing there” thread we have on NER. A pyramid of bowling balls?
I caught up to the group as they were coming back up Rt100, seems the Lowell Store had no gas. We rode north on 100 on all pavement until we reached Westfield.
Food and Fuel!.
Here is Bill & Bill enjoying a sammie from the general store. Here in southern New England you have a BK or McD’s in every town. Up here most towns just have one general store that sells everything as well has having a deli in the back that makes sandwiches. If your up here make sure you try them out, some great food can be found at these little stores. And fuel without ethanol (sign says 10% but that is only in winter, summer fuel has none) boy would those Ducati’s love it up here!
From here we took pavement up to North Troy and the start of the puppy dog trail. The first 15 miles of the trail were just awesome, flat twisty sections of dirt. I started to feel much more comfortable riding this stuff at higher speeds.
northern section of the Puppy dog is so nice. Flat, twisty dirt roads that have
very little traffic and even less people around. But that didn’t mean the few
people you did see along the route were not
beeping and waving to people I see along the ride. This women had a great big
smile, maybe she knew her photo was being
taken?One thing I liked about many of these dirt road was
they would just open up into a beautiful view, or someone’s farm. I think we did
a good job of not blasting thru farms like this. Because I was the tail of the
group I was a little worried by the time I came rolling thru farmer Bob would be
out with his shotgun after watching the BMW’s and KTM’s go flying by.
We had some
brief moments of rain during this section, nothing really heavy and it really
didn’t seem to make the road slippery at all. It was nice because it did keep
the dust down. That is one down side to being the last rider in a group like
this…your bike gets dirty!
Because of the
heavy rain that was forecast for that night we all agreed we should find a hotel
to spend the night. It was pretty clear we were not going to get as far as
originally planned (near Barre) and we were very close to a great hotel in
Commodore Inn is a great
place to stay, they are very motorcycle friendly. One of the managers came out
to move his car so we could all park under cover.
This was the
final pic I took on Day 2. My phone/camera was dead, and I forgot my wall
charger so I needed to leave the phone on the bike to charge. However I will say
the hot tub felt great after 200+ miles of dirt riding.
Dinner was in town at a place called “The
I really wish Ihad my camera for this place. Which wasn’t cheap, but very good. Mrs OSJ would love this place! I had the Whip Burger and Shake…it was a Parsnip-vanilla milkshake. It also came with fresh homemade potato chips. Although I LOL when the
waitress put my meal down in front of me, why? The shake was served on the plate
in a shot glass Good thing to,because one very easy way to ruin a vanilla milk shake is to add Parsnip toit!!
After dinner a bunch of us hung around the lounge at
the hotel and talked bikes. It was a great way to end a awesome day of
at one point during the middle of the night I woke up and listened…whats that noise??? It takes me a few minutes to realize where I am and what I’m listening too, I roll over and smile thinking to myself..good thing I’m not in that tent in this pouring rain
.Bill Brown wakes me up at 6am, the sun is shining but the puddles are huge. Water is still running off the roof of the hotel. Boy did it rain last night!
Bikes were still dry, just waiting for us to head out.
With all the hotels and restaurants in the Stowe area you would think we wouldn’t have any problem finding a place for breakfast?? The kitchen was closed at our hotel so we needed to find some place for bacon and eggs. Sorry those little free breakfast stands most hotels offer are not good enough for me. Yes I’m a breakfast snob! Especially on motorcycle trips. I love to sit down at the local diner or café for a great big breakfast!
We ended up finding one at a different hotel, just up Rt108 heading towards Smugglers Notch. I almost got a photo of Wild Bill smiling. But he quickly covered it with his coffee!
I did however had a great breakfast! Great way to start the day!
Once we got on the road I resumed my position in the group. Dead last!
It didn’t take long before we found our first dirt road, it was about 2 min out of town. Coming down the hill on upper hollow road you see this beautiful barn up on the corner of the next road (goggle image search red barn in Stowe and its one of the first photos that come up) I knew I had to stop and take a photo, than once you make the left turn onto Stowe Hollow rd and look back…my god it was beautiful.
my cell phone camera and lack of shooting skills makes this shot look like another shot taken on this trip. But let me tell you this view was awesome!
Once I got back on the road I started to think about this great day. It was a Wednesday mornings in May, while most people were busy at work, Kids were at school here I am riding my motorcycle with a bunch of friends on some back roads in Vermont.
Its day 3 of my 5 day ride and I just was overwhelmed with emotions. I was missing my wife and kids but was simply over taken with emotion as to the beauty of what I was seeing, I started to have tears run down my cheeks.
John had turned around and rode back to see if I was okay….I just pointed at the view we were riding thru, I could see the smile on his face as I knew we were feeling the same things at the same time. I drive for a living, and have been doing it for 28 years, I’ve also been riding now for 30 years and these are things you only feel when your on two wheels. I had fallen behind a bit because I was stopping and taking photo’s and when I finally caught up to the group everyone was standing around Bill Brown’s BMW looking at the drive shaft. Seems there was some oil leaking from it and dropping onto his exhaust pipe.
After a few min making sure it wasn’t really a problem that required a tow we decided to make our way to the closest city on near the route that would have a part store. It turns out south Barre wasn’t too far away. Once we reached the store Bill purchased some gear oil, then noticed it stopped leaking. He checked the level and it seemed okay. I had promised Bill and my wife that I would take care of him on this trip. He had asked that someone watch out for him. Even though he rides that bike like a 30 year old, the guy is 73 and he gets tired. He also isn’t gps equipped and doesn’t know the exact route. I’ve had the pleasure of spending many miles on two wheels with BB. We shipped our bikes to FLA together and rode around the sunshine state, and spend many miles chasing each other all around New England. Keeping an eye on him was something I was honored to do.
However I almost blew that promise…but that has nothing to do with the final drive leak…your just gonna have to wait to read about that!
so after a brief section where I took over the lead I let wild Bill go back out in front. We were going thru Bristol Vermont and somehow I lost sight of BB and JB on their BMW’s A big 18 wheeler had gotten in between us, but at one moment I saw two motorcycle headlights behind the truck so I figured it was them. When the next corner came up I had no where to pull over, plus there was major bridge construction going on right at that spot. I was relieved to see the two headlight make the turn with me.
Once past the bridge I pulled over to let the 18 wheeler go by and I could get right in front of the two of them. Only to see that the two headlights I saw behind the truck was a yellow goldwing and another cruiser??? Oh no…so I doubled back to see if they were still at the intersection I last saw them at…nope! Turns out they didn’t make the turn onto rt12 south but continued onto rt 107 towards Roylston. So I hightailed it down 107 hoping to catch up to them…just when I was about to give up and go back to the group I noticed them sitting in a bank parking lot. BB was on his phone sending me a SOS message! I led them back to the group, which was parked on the side of the road waiting for us.
It was here that we made the decision to stay one more night up here in Vermont, and finish the Puppy Dog on Thursday. Bill Brown offered up his house for the place to stop for the night. Its quite to spot to stay at, 46 acre on top of a mountain near Grafton. Not everyone could stay another night, some had to get back home tonight so they could work on Thursday. It was also getting close to lunch time, and Fred knew of a great little place in Bridgewater. We all had one final meal together.
can anyone smile?
It was here we said goodbye to Chet and John, they headed towards John’s summer cottage in the Keene NH area, and BB made the beeline home but stopped and picked up some steak tips and beer for tonight’s meal. So we were down to 4.
I don’t know if it was the pizza or the several hundred miles we had already done on this ride but the last few hrs. of todays ride really started to take its toll. We had all stopped for fuel and a break at the Cavendish General Store, and it was here CJ said ” I think I could lay down on that lawn next door and take a long nap!” We all felt the same way!
From here Fred took 131 east towards NH and his ride home, then CJ, Wild Bill and me continued south. We stayed on the Puppy dog right until the center of Grafton, which is where we detoured to BB place. The only stop for photo on that section of the ride was for this place.
again I think Bill is smiling under that helmet…ya think? CJ & Bill wanted to camp here but I knew how nice BB’s place was so I convinced them to keep on truckin They were just as happy once they saw our place for the night
Many of you that are reading this report know Bill, and many of you might have even been up here. Well I’m not the first to tell you that Mr. Brown is truly one of the nicest guys you would ever meet. He welcomes everyone he comes in contact with to his home and really means it when he tells you that you are welcome! I should have taken more photo’s of the night but my cell phone was just about dead. I did however take a few of our dinner on BB’s porch…some great steak tips cooked by yours truly and a very good salad make by Bill’s girlfriend.
CJ is napping with his hand in the air?
do FJR/KTM riding accountants know how to smile? our most awesome meal! we had a great night of sitting out on the deck just telling stories and asking questions about the house and the property. What an amazing life BB has lived, and he loves sharing stories as well as listening to our stories. It was a awesome night. Later once night had fallen we all took showers in the outdoor shower that is attached to the side of the house..no not together (not that there is anything wrong with that) but one at a time. The three of us retired to the loft above the barn while BB and Marve stayed in the stone house.
we awoke on Thursday morning to some clouds and what looked like the threat of some rain. Marve had told us to come over for pancakes at 7am. We enjoyed the last breakfast together on BB’s porch.
And don’t look now but I finally got Wild Bill to smile! Seems pancakes with freshly made Maple syrup made from sap from BB’s own trees brings a smile to his face!
after a good breakfast and a great visit with BB we loaded up the bikes for one last push. Finish the puppy dog and head home! I think all 3 of us were missing our families, I know I was. The GPS said we would arrive in Greenfield MA around 11:30am, however as we took off on the first dirt road the ETA kept falling. Its funny to see the 35mph speed limit signs in the middle of nowhere
I had no idea on how fast we were rolling, but I do have a feeling is wasn’t 35 mph!
Our fist stop of the day was at the location of a treasure hunt item that was on my contest a few years back. I had never been here but knew the story well. Dr John Wilson AKA..Captain Thunderbolt was his name back in Scotland was a common thief that escaped to the new world. Here he took up medicine and teaching. Of course none of the towns people knew of his past, until his death. Many think he built the round school house so no one could sneak up on him, but more likely it was built so the center wood stove would heat the building evenly. Here it is in the late 1800′s
And as of 2012 it looks like this..
I was glad finally got to visit this site.
Not too far away I also found something I had been looking for quite some time. This sign make me LOL the first time I saw it on a puppy dog ride report
I have no idea where this is other than the southern section, I would say no more than 1 hr north of the MA boarder.
The sun never really came out, but we didn’t ride thru any rain either. Over all it was a nice day to be on two wheels riding around new England
Our last stop before the end was at the covered bridge on Jacksonville Stage Road. Many Puppy Dog ride reports have this bridge in them
Once I pulled up to it I realized I had been here before. A few years back I took my concours on a dirty girl ride. That 03 model was my 3rd concours I had owned and was special because Mrs OSJ bought that for me as my 37th birthday present.
The final leg of the Puppy Dog runs along the Green River. Its flat and twisty as it follows the river south into MA. What a beautiful section of road this is. I wish my video camera was running on this section. However I do plan on returning with Mrs OSJ on the back sometime soon.
And before we knew it we arrived at the official end of the Puppy Dog Ride in Greenfield at the Irving gas station on the corner of Colrain Road and Rt 2 (Mohawk Trail) it was lunch time and we were hungry. Wild Bill said no chain restaurants on this trip, so the choices right there were not gonna cut it! I said follow me, I know just the place!
Just a few miles away we officially ended the ride here!
Our final meal together…hot dogs and burgers!
It was a long lunch. I love the Wagon Wheel however they are slow here so if you are not in a rush you should stop by here for a great lunch. They also server breakfast and have outdoor seating.
We said our goodbyes here, than I took Rt2 east towards home. When I pulled into the driveway I saw Mrs OSJ opening the pool. She had her Ipod in so she didn’t hear me pull in…
It was only 4 days that I was gone, but I was really missing my family…it was nice to be home as the bus pulled up and dropped them off.
It was a great ride…meeting new riding friends was awesome and enjoying this trip with some old riding buddies was even better!