A motorcycle rally in which I ride until I feel the burn, and keep on riding. Although not on a 250cc machine, so perhaps not “madness” so much as neurosis that found me strapping my gear onto the pillion of my Kawasaki Versys and tearing off down the road towards the Confederation Bridge and Moncton, where I would be sleeping overnight in order to make the rally start at 0600 at Toys for Big Boys in Moncton New Brunswick.
I geared up, got onto the Kawi, and let out the clutch. What a beautiful afternoon to be on a bike, with scarcely a cloud in the sky, and as the weatherman was calling for a low of 4 degrees that night with a risk of frost, the temperature fell faster than I was expecting and I began to feel that cool air making its way onto me through gaps in my gear. By the time I hit Port Elgin the temperature must have dropped to about 12 degrees. I was getting colder and turned on my heated grips, but still didn’t feel the need to stop and don my heated jacket, so it couldn’t have been that bad, right?
It was by the time I hit Moncton, I knew who to blame for that one, right?
Do you notice that green indicator on the right? It’s a newly installed battery voltage monitor that I’d put on the bike Thursday after work. Now I have something to tell me when I’m killing the battery with my heated grips, gps, high beams and heated clothing. I can’t do anything about it other than to turn off the accessories and suffer, but it is comforting to know that the bike will start again after stopping.
It was a cool start, you know one of those rides where you just don’t feel the need to pull over and don an extra layer, but later on you begin to regret that decision. It got cooler as the sun went down. I mean sore nipples type cold!
It’s 11 kilometres of this…
Sunset over Cap Pele New Brunswick
I wasn’t the only one on the road tonight
I really should have pulled over and at least plugged in my heated jacket, but oh no! Not Rotten Ronnie… I’m too thick to think of that…
And I made it!
I met up with the organizers Rob and Zac from Canada Moto Guide along with some of the other participants, Murray and Doug, who kindly offered me the pull out bed in the honeymoon suite they shared. I should have crawled into a waste bin somewhere, as I would have got more sleep, but then I’d have gone without the entertainment. 😀 Thanks again guys!
Right, so when Rob tells you that we’ll meet down at the bikes at 0530 in the morning, you would expect that sensible people would set their alarms and try to get to sleep at a decent hour, am I correct? Not us. It was like a CMG slumber party only with Crown Royal and Labatt’s, minus the pillow fights.
Did I mention the rally starts at Dawn for the lucky few? For us it began even earlier…
Damn, it was early. And cold, very cold. Brrr! But we few, we idiotic, few fell in behind Rob and headed out to Toys for Big Boys in Salisbury and rolled into the parking lot to find Larry and crew had donuts and coffee waiting for us. Wonderful! We managed to get the waivers signed and witnessed before Rob’s harangue, and eventually releasing us with what could only be called an optimistic picture of the route we were to follow that day. I should be kind here, as Rob went out of his way to send me a google map of the route we were to follow, allowing me to convert it into a track for my GPS, a venerable old Garmin 60cx that I’ve had for a few years.
The Route as envisioned by the highly optimistic staff at CMG
I was to lead the big bikes, and while I queued them up in the parking lot, all one of them, the other participants gathered in behind Rob and Zac. Think of Hare and Tortoise, although we’ll call them CRF250L and Konker.
I knew these guys would string out and be unsafe to pass, so I got Dan and I rolling right away before they headed out… To find that I’d misinterpreted Garmin and had headed the wrong way down the road and had to play silly bugger and u-turn, sheepishly passing the riders in the parking lot once again. Sigh. Adventures by Garmin™.
In which I ride the Versys with a fully loaded top case, a canoe bag, a tank bag, and a loose nut behind the bars from Oshawa Ontario to Prince Edward Island via a poorly plotted route, but with great fun.
The roads past Lake Placid NY
Poorly plotted route you say? Yes, I have to admit that I didn’t do my customary pre planning and routing for this trip, nor did I do it for the Pennsylvania trip that Corinne and I just got back from the previous day, and what with packing and easing sore muscles in a lovely bathtub full of hot water, the best I got was a picture in my mind of riding through the mountains in Stowe Vermont, and the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire.
So here is what actually happened:
Day 1: Oshawa ON to Bethel ME
Start mileage. Oops, someone should have filled up last night!
Er, yeah. So here I was leaving in the foggy morning during rush hour, and I had an empty tank. Joy! That little side trip cost me twenty minutes I bet, for I detoured along Taunton Road instead of heading south and directly onto the 401 Eastbound.
It looks small, but it feels so much bigger than the DR650E that I traded for it
Okay, so a little misadventure, and when I looked at the Garmin GPS that suggested to reach Stowe Vermont I ride the boring super slab all the way to Montreal and beyond… I rebeled and rode across the border at Ganonoque just three hours after I’d left Oshawa. Adirondack mountains, here I come!
I’ve ridden this route many times, so check my blog for more pictures if you really need them.
Route 3 enroute to Lake Placid. Picturesque and fast sweepers
Yep, that’s Whiteface in the distance. I think. A mountain anyway. What do I look like? National Geographic? It’s beautiful, you weren’t there and you want to be. Now keeping reading…
Leaving Lake Placid NY you get to ride through this.
Yeah, it was worth taking that many shots. Simply magical.
See this road? It’s five hours away from my friends in Toronto.
I told you so!
It looks like the glacier scrubbed bits of Vermont sort of flat…
Am I riding into rain? At least I know the mountains await me.
These mountain streams are just so beautiful.
The ride up to here is well worth it. Damp roads, twisty corners. Brilliant!
The occupants of the car laughed when they saw me taking this shot, but when we get to the nursing home, I can back up my stories with proof. 😛
I rolled another grand on the odometer
I made it! The Kancamagus Highway awaits!
Well, I was losing my light fairly quickly and the roads were damp, the speed limit 35 mph, and my deer fear started to set in near dusk. *sigh* so I wimped out halfway and got my butt onto the highway to head for Gorham New Hampshire and then Bethel Maine. What follows is the best my camera could do in the light available.
Yes, it was this breath taking. It reminded me of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina
And now it was largely a night ride to Gorham New Hampshire on good ole Route 2, and once past Gorham, Bethel was my destination to find that my favourite fast food place, Smokin’ Good BBQ was closed, so I stayed at the Rostay Inn located next door, and headed over to the pub for a burger and a cider before heading back to the “Bear Room” at the Rostay.
Yep, the Bear Room
Clean and nicely appointed, but the rates had increased since my last stay here a couple of years ago, and I found that $80 US was a bit much.
Day 2: Bethel ME to Borden-Carleton PE
I awoke to a fog so thick that i made sure I applied some anti-fog wax to my visor before setting out that morning, and found that I fogged up in spite of it at a faster than usual rate, and my Respro Foggy had not made it into the trip bag, an oversight that I regret, as riding at this time of year can be uncertain, and the foggy does a magnificent job of keeping your hot breath off of your visor. One year I’d like to try the pinlock system and see if it is worth it.
The sun breaks through
One of the few stops I made for a photo. It was worth it.
Calais Maine. They pronounce it Calis.
And I’m almost across the river and into St Stephen New Brunswick where my lunch awaits me!
Greco Donair with extra sauce! Yummy!
The coastline is beautiful, but the new highway routes you away from it and into the interior much of the time, but travel is considerably faster as a result.
More fog?! I must be near St. John
Sussex NB. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
And now Confederation Bridge. It’s late, mu butt is sore, but not much further to go.
And I roll another 1000 on the odometer.
New Brunswick, the drive through province. I made excellent time on it’s highways, and as I rode through thick fog much of time, can’t say a whole lot about the St. John area. lol. That fog was so thick in fact, that my riding gloves were soaked completely through and I donned extra layers due to the five degree drop in temperature.
Anyhow, that Versys is a brilliant touring bike that needs a few niggles ironed out, like a Corbin seat, some hard luggage and racks to make it perfect. I’m very happy with it at the moment, having rode it four days straight at this point, and clocking over 2500km during that time.
Pennsylvania Bound… Or it might have been a wild weekend in Niagara Falls, but thankfully my passenger was adventurous and wanted to see the sights on a two day ride…
Pennsylvania’s “Grand Canyon” as seen from the Western rim
Ordinarily I do some research and prep before riding down, but in this case I wanted to cruise some roads that I’d traveled a number of times in the past, namely Route 44 and 872 out of Coudersport PA, while taking in the view from Hyner View State park. After that? Well, We would be leaving on a Sunday, so I figured we would be able to find something in the area without too many troubles.
Oshawa ON to Coudersport PA to Renovo PA to Williamsport and return
Crossing the border on Fort Erie’s Peace Bridge
I’ve always thought of the ride down the Fort Erie as the worst part of the ride, coupled with some necessary Interstate on the opposite side of the border, until you get onto Route 219 south bound and stop at the Springville NY’s Tim Horton’s. After that, the ride gets interesting.
Sunday morning border crossings are fairly short, and saw us both across in no time flat.
My passenger enjoying herself on the ride.
Coffee stop! I tried the pumpkin flavoured coffee, not bad if you like it that sweet.
You see Olean NY on the map? It’s a place that experience has taught me to avoid. The best way I found was to have a look at Google Maps in Terrain view, and take Route 305 down and avoid the city entirely, mostly due to the large number of traffic lights and slow 30mph speed limit through much of the city. Well, Garmin plotted me right smack dab through the middle of it, and I rebelled and stayed on the highway only to find the detour was more than I could take and would put me out of position, so I doubled back and braved the big city to head further south in Pennsylvania on the Portville road.
Usually what I do is plot a route in Mapsource on my laptop, or on Google Maps then convert it to a track, load it onto my GPS and follow the blue line that will take me on exactly the roads I wanted to travel on. Well, not this time. Garmin do your thing and get me to Moshes Tavern in Coudersport PA in time for lunch.
And we are here, next stop, the Alleghany mountains!
Corinne enjoyed herself snapping pictures of the countryside as we ambled along.
Prime Rib on garlic bread at Moshe’s Tavern in Coudersport PA
Okay, when I ride solo, I tend to move around a lot more, so I thought of this trip as one where I could be in Renovo after lunch in the afternoon. Believe me, I’ve done it in the past, but why wasn’t it working for me today? We didn’t hit Coudersport until about 1400 in the afternoon. The stops, as I was making more of them because Corinne and I needed to rest our aching butts, and just because I wasn’t in a terrible hurry, so the stops went longer than they usually do, so I have to remember that when you have a beautiful passenger, you need to add 1/3 more time to the trip. Right? Okay. On down Route 872 and onto Renovo Road Route 120…
The scenery along PA Route 120
What a lonely little bike abandoned by the roadside
That thing dangling under the topbox? Read about it below.
Corinne packed like a trooper, and stuffed all her gear less a rainsuit into her backpack, then I thought to myself, OMG, that backpack won’t work with the top case! What if she can’t sit on the bike? She unloaded some more stuff from it, and packed almost nothing but some socks, underwear, and some toiletries along with a sweater and some thermal pants to wear under her jeans if necessary. While I was waiting for her, I found that I could strap her backpack on the top of the case, and if she wore my camelbak with 2 litres of water, we were good for the trip. It took a load off her shoulders, and I was glad that it worked out for us both, for it allowed her greater freedom of movement, and a much more pleasant ride, allowing her to concentrate on how painful her monkey butt was.
This doesn’t need a caption. 😛
The road leading up to the lookout on Hyner View is probably the closest thing I’ve found to those in the Alps that I did last year, and found myself rather a bit surprised to find how fast we were ascending the mountain this time on the slightly larger than a lane road that switchbacks it’s way up the mountain. While it has not a tenth of the views of a true alpine road, it was thrilling and beautiful. Corinne trusts me enough that I tried to behave myself and keep it fun, but overall safe.
She’s got the prettiest neck warmer you’ll ever see.
They hang glide off of this when the wind is in their favour…
I would have loved to stay atop the lookout and watched a sunset with her, but we needed to find lodging and eat dinner, so off through Lock Haven to Williamsport we went.
It’s golden hour as the sun begins to set, and the photo just doesn’t do the colours and aura justice
After a misfire with a hotel that wanted $144 US dollars a night, we found a place opposite our favourite restaurant, The Olive Garden, and settled in after a wonderful dinner. Corinne quickly found that a day in the saddle means that you’re not up to much in the evening other than getting everything all charged up for the next day, and falling asleep in the hotel room. Well, perhaps a bit more than that, but I want this thing to have a PG rating. 🙂
We had a mission. Corinne wanted to stop at a Dress Barn near Buffalo before we crossed over the border, and I located one in Cheektowaga, but had a huge conflict as I wasn’t sure if I should do the fun route up Route 144 and over, or the fastest route, so I chose compromise, and went up Interstate 15 which turned out to be a lovely two lane divided highway with nice views and sweeping corners as it winds its way through the river valleys and foothills, until I turned off and headed via secondary roads north west towards Route 20A and the highway that would take us to our shopping destination.
The sky is incredible
The courthouse. A bit of Americana on display in every town, but this one was rather imposing.
Route 6 gave us the opportunity to visit the western rim of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, and let me tell you, the road to and from was another trip highlight that I’ll add to subsequent travels in that state. It was perhaps 30 minutes out of our way, but well worth the time.
Colton Road will get you there…
Fun, turns, and more fun
The view from the top
The Western rim of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon
The view from the Colton Road Bridge
This next series of photos I have to thank God for looking out for us, as I was watching my GPS to see that we were about to cross a state line, and I wanted Corinne ready with the camera to catch a shot of the sign welcoming us to the Empire State. She did a superb job, but as she was readying the camera, I rolled off the throttle to give her time, so from a speed limit of 55mph, I was perhaps doing 35mph, when the deer vaulted the guard rail and ran in front of us. Those of you who know my past can understand my fear of animals, especially deer. Three months recovering from a collision with one can do that to a person. I have deer fear, and it gets much worse at dusk and at night. Perhaps you will understand…
The doe is down by the guardrail past the green sign
Now it’s vaulted the rail and about to move out in front of us
Yep, there she is right in front of us
And there she goes up the hill
Corinne says she saw two, and I believe her, as they like to travel in a herd, but the only one I saw was on a collision course with the bike, and because I’d slowed down to let Corinne get a photo or two, I was able to keep the bike under control. Had we been doing 55mph, I might be typing this from my hospital room in New York State.
Whoot! I roll another thousand onto the odometer! This bike just makes the ride easy!
Oh yeah, she sees the need for that Corbin saddle now, poor girl.
Pushing the bike up to the border, we’re almost home!
Check out the passenger.
Getting there! Another thirty minutes or so!
And that’s it folks. Just a bit over 1200 km I think.
What a great ride, and even in spite of the butt burn and sore shoulders, we both had a great ride and saw many beautiful things, without a drop of rain in two days. The weather was perfect as was my companion, although we both agreed that I had underestimated the length of time we would be on the bike to get to Williamsport, so next time around, we take a few days and take our time.