Kirk walked in and told me that a weather front was moving in on the day I had planned to leave, Wednesday August 17th, and that the East Coast was to be blanketed by rain calling for 40mm or more, and suggested that I might want to leave on the Tuesday instead. That didn't work very well with my plans to arrive Thursday evening at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park aka Mosport for the Canadian Superbike Championship weekend, so I put aside my summer riding boots and brought out my spring/fall waterproof Alpinestar Web Goretex leather riding boots. I was to regret this later on...
|Jordan Szoke watches his family ride in the trials demonstration|
|Day 1 - Borden-Carleton PE to Jefferson NH|
Sure enough, it was raining as I left the driveway at about 630am, and the only picture I snapped for the next four hours was that of my start mileage on my odometer while sitting in the driveway.
That was a hard slog. I started to get damp, then by the Salisbury Big K I was downright cold, and after a coffee stop at the Tim Horton's there, put on another layer, my heated vest. After that it was a decent ride until about twenty minutes East of St. John NB I finally left the rain behind and rode under overcast skies. I was finally able to lose the rain gear in St. Stephen NB where I'd cross the border over in Calais Maine to continue my journey, and to leave the super slab behind me.
|I added 3,900 kilometres to this start mileage.|
I've ridden much of this first part of the trip many times, and have taken a number of pictures so my camera stayed put for much of the first day of the ride, until I pulled in at my supper stop in Bethel Maine, to the Smokin' Good BBQ trailer...
Man, the food is so good here, that I couldn't let this go with just a sandwich, so I bought an extra pound of the beef brisket to haul to Ontario with me in my top box! Yes, it really is that good.
|Texas Smoked Beef Brisket on a bun|
I usually think of Gorham New Hampshire as a halfway point, so when I rode through it on Route 2 and put it well behind me as the sun started to sink, I needed to start thinking about a campground and Garmin supplied me with one located not too far away in the direction I was travelling, the Israel River Campground had a vacancy for my tent, and I was set.
|Home for the night|
|It helps me relax. Honest. |
There was a bit of ATV traffic later that night, then early in the morning, and while my tent went away wet covered with morning dew, I got an early start. In fact, I think I got less than six hours sleep the whole night!
|Day 2 - Jefferson NH to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park ON|
So while looking at my GPS and trying to avoid the truck route 2, I noticed that I was too far north for the Kancamagus highway, but only by about twenty or thirty miles, so I let Garmin plot me a shortest distance "up and over" the hills to get me onto my track from earlier this spring when I rode out for my Dad's 80th birthday. I have such great times with Garmin...
|This road is looking well used... Not!|
Old Cherry Mountain Road was a lovely road that went from asphalt to 8 miles of gravel road along the foot of Mt. Washington, then led me to a lovely road, Route 302, then onto the Kancamagus highway. A beautiful little trip highlight that had me wondering what I was doing with a fully loaded Versys on street tires climbing hills in the middle of Nowhere, New Hampshire.
Old Cherry Mountain Road. it'll get you there, but it's 8 miles of bumps
|The view along Bear Notch Road|
More sights from along Bear Notch road...
As I've said, I've done the Kancamagus a few times in the past, and I pretty much left my camera in the bag for much of this trip out to Ontario.
|The White Mountains.|
The weather today was overcast and a tad wet in the morning, but later on I rode under cloudy skies, and by two in the afternoon in New York State along the St. Lawrence, I was hot and drinking plenty of water. My stops were getting longer as I was getting closer to crossing back over the border in Gananoque ON. Now my stops could no longer be called 'short' and I was getting tired.
|A rest area off of Route 12 along the St. Lawrence|
|You share the roads with the Amish in upstate New York.|
It was now about four in the afternoon, and I'd just crossed over from New York State into Gananoque ON, and I did three hours of '401dom' where you play dodge and weave with cars and transport trucks. I had a transport pull into my lane, but I was anticipating the move by reading traffic conditions and was able to accelerate out of the danger zone. I hate the 401. You must have heard me mention this before. East of Kingston it's alright, but then I liken it to Death Race 2000.
I hopped off the 401 in Port Hope with the idea of dropping in on my friends Tammy & Darryl as they were on my way to CTMP, but as I was downshifting in a small town, the shifter didn't want to come back up, and I got nervous. I'd put about 1600 km to get here, and pooched the transmission?! Man, was I worried, but I spotted a grocery store and I needed to get some food to last out the weekend at the racetrack, so in I went. Thirty minutes later, the engine and oil had cooled down somewhat, and the shifting, while a touch hard, had returned to normal, so I now needed to do an oil change before my trip back East at the end of the weekend.
I found that my time estimate was off, and that I needed to forego dropping in at the farm, and best make tracks directly for the park as the light was getting low, and I prefer to set my tent up in the light.
CTMP was pretty good about letting me camp for the night without my wristband, as I showed them the email confirmation in the office, and they sent me past this security guard who has been working the CTMP admission booth of some time. :)
|Let's see that wristband, fella!|
Whoot! I'm here, and so are my friends. I got my tent up right away, with the interference (help) of a couple of friends. I thought about it for a minute, and found that I've had my tent for four years now
, and I can pretty much put it up in my sleep. I was nice, and let them help though. I'm that kind of guy. :P (Thanks Wobbly and Lauren!)
To sum it all up for those of you who are new, I've been hanging out with Carrie & Dan at Mosport (Now Canadian Tire Motorsports Park) for the Canadian Superbike Championships for the last ten years off and on. More on than off. We're the Turn 2 gang, and camp out at the race track every year and tend to have a good time. A really good time, and this year was no different.
|John helping Carrie out with her luxury air mattress.|
|Honda is here with the Africa Twin and there are no line ups!|
I signed up to ride the 2016 Honda Africa Twin with DCT. That means it has a fully automatic transmission, but can be set to 'manual' mode, although there is still no clutch lever or gear shifter under your left foot. I invited Lauren to tag along with me, so we signed up, then got our gear back at the camp and returned just in time for the briefing. They need to take DCT riders aside and offer them a bit more instruction as it's a pretty complicated system, but if you were to just leave it in automatic you really could just treat it like a giant scooter with a high centre of gravity. :)
|Lauren donated her hair to charity, and it has finally grown in long enough to braid. She's tickled.|
|My girlfriend Sadie|
The half-time show this year was a trials show featuring
|4 years old and following in his Mom and Dad's footsteps, little Wolfgang Szoke|
|The proud father and husband, Jordan Szoke|
While every one at the track got their party on, I had another party to get to, Darryl's 50th being hosted on his farm, just a few minutes further east. When I arrived I was immediately challenged to a race over the obstacle course, and I lost to a younger, more determined foe. I wouldn't settle for second place and demanded a rematch.
|This is where my 245lbs give me that advantage|
|Clearing I am in the lead here. |
|Whoot! Fat old man for the win!|
The best part of parties that involve riders, is they tend to bring bikes with them.
|The Usual Suspects appear in this line-up|
Al made the mistake of riding a demo bike up from the dealership, a 2016 Triumph TigerXCx and made the mistake of letting us take it for a short toot around the farm. This bike was very impressive! It has such smooth throttle control, and standing on the pegs riding rough rocks was a breeze with this bike! Sadly it was out of my price range so I handed back the keys and asked for my beer back. :P
There was so much food there! It was a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new ones, as Darryl and Tammy had invited all the neighbours and their kids too. Thanks so much for the invitation!
Back at the track I got to ride back to the site in the darkness to find that I was pretty much alone, but for a few that were too tired to bother heading down to the bandshell put up by BMW, so we sat around the fire and began to accumulate the empties. Good times. I vaguely remember going to bed, but how many stakes, guy wires and tents I tripped over on my way to my tent is now a blurred memory best forgotten.
|That's a fire!|
|64, Rob MacIssac, Summerside, PEI|
I was happy to see an Islander was entered in the race... #64 Rob MacIsaac of Summerside, Prince Edward Island.
It's always a good time with the Turn 2 Gang.
|The Turn 2 gang|
|And it's over for another year.|
Everyone is packed and ready to leave, and it's five in the afternoon, so I call my brother in Oshawa and make arrangements to spend the night at his place.
|Day 5 - Canadian Tire Motorsports Park ON to Oshawa ON|
Hahaha! They were out at Costco when I rolled up, so I got to treat myself to an ice cream cone while I waited for them to show, then shared my Smokin' Good BBQ with them. Rich said it might be worth a visit out to Maine.
|Ice Cream Selfie!|
I had a shower, and got a great night's sleep on a real mattress! I was pretty pleased about that.
|Day 6 - Oshawa ON to Gravenhurst ON|
Highway 12 up the East side of Lake Simcoe is a fairly straight, boring ride, but I told my Dad I'd be there just after lunch, so I had to take a straight route up, but closer to lunch I stopped in at a chip truck and had some very tasty poutine made with local ingredients.
Highway 169 was certainly more entertaining than 12, and I opted to take a few back roads from Washago rather than use Highway 11 straight into Gravenhurst. Coopers Falls and then on into Houseys Rapids, followed up with Doe Lake road, that will take you into the North end of Gravenhurst.
Dad was happy to see me, and had his 1951 Pontiac Chieftain out on the driveway, and I jumped at the chance to go for a ride in it with him. He offered to let me drive, but I didn't want to scare his neighbours or the wildlife, so opted to wait until no one could see me behind the wheel.
|1951 Pontiac Chieftan and the proud owner.|
We headed over to Canadian Tire for some oil and a filter for my Versys, as I figured that a fresh bunch of the slick stuff might help with the gear shifting problem I was running into. It had been shifting like garbage when it got very hot, meaning that the gear lever didn't like to spring back much if at all, so down shifting was becoming a real pita.
|Oil change on the V|
I had to change the oil on the bike, as I had some real problems shifting gears, for when the bike ran hot, I had some real problems down shifting. Fortunately that was all put right with some fresh oil in the crankcase, although I did have to buy an oil filter wrench.
Some of Dad's art on display around the house. Kawasaki is represented. :)
Dad and I headed out for a spin in the '57 Pontiac Chieftain, grabbed some gas, then headed out onto one of my favourite roads in the area, Muskoka 17 heading out of Gravenhurst bound for Bracebridge.
|I've been in the passenger seat many times in the past|
So dad pulled the car over the offered to let me take the wheel, and I was defeintely up for it, but what I had managed to forget, was how bad the steering was on vehicles back in those days, and how hard it was working the "Armstrong" steering while the car was at rest.
I had problems keeping the car in it's lane as we rolled on our way to the "ReStore" just up the road, and I was pretty grateful have put it into the parking lot without mishap, whereupon Dad out with "You don't need to rev it so high when letting out the clutch. It's not a Civic." Right, I put it into first and almost dump the clutch giving it no gas at all, a sure stall if I was indeed behind the wheel of my Civic back on the island, but as Dad said, this power plant just shrugged it off and we lurched into a motion and away we went!
|Dad's source for artistic inspiration|
|This may end up as a the next flower|
My brother Shaun headed up from Barrie to show me his new bike, before I headed back home to Prince Edward Island, a Honda CB650F I believe, just this side of a sport bike, with bars rather than clip-ons. While I appreciate the beauty of a new bike, I find I prefer the "Dirt bike" riding style of my old KLR and newer Versys. I get to sit upright in comfort while I break the speed limit. :)
|The old and the new|
|It's marking it's territory again. |
It was a short visit, but sometimes those are the best kind. I enjoyed spending the afternoon with my Dad, especially that trip in the old Pontiac, as it brought back memories of my Dad letting me drive the car after church when I was eleven or twelve, a very long time ago.
|Day 7 - Gravenhurst ON to Lake Placid NYS|
I set out after breakfast the next morning, with the idea of trying to avoid southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area completely. The idea was to cross the border and run down into the Adirondack mountains in New York State where I knew the roads were fun and a great gateway to Vermont and New Hampshire's twists and turns.
The roads in this area are well maintained and I had a blast ripping down them as I filtered my way East. I passed a gas stop and saw this bike parked outside, Donquita "email@example.com" and had to stop and do a U turn to find out what kind of bike it was. Obviously an adventure bike, but so heavily modded that I couldn't tell from the quick glimpse I had as I rocketed round the corner in front of it.
It was a KLR and I happily chatted all things KLR and Versys with the owner when he stepped out of the store.
I had the camera away for a while as I crossed the border, and as I've taken pictures previously in Lake Placid, you won't find much in this ride report, but I did get a few.
|A Bombardier Iltis|
I was serving in the 48th Highlanders of Canada when they retired our '64 Willy's pattern jeeps and replaced them with the Iltis. It was a luxury upgrade at the time, and we were super impressed with the top speed of 140 kph, although the canopy only had a top speed of about 110kph, as it had a tendency to let go the clips and flip over backwards at high speeds.
I had to stop and get a couple shots to remind me of my misspent youth doing 70kph in black out drive down roads that saw this thing get air. :D
Sometimes I let boredom get the better of me. :)
|The roads are getting a makeover along NYS Route 3|
I love the Adirondacks with rarely a straight section of road, and I made decent time running along Route 3.
As always the sun was getting lower, and in the mountains it gets dark faster,as you end up in the shadows of the setting sun.
I found a campsite at the Wilmington Notch Campground
run by the state of New York. I got out my tent up on the pine needle covered ground, then got my supper ready on top of my SVEA123R.
|Mmmm! Canned stuff! lol.|
It was nothing spectacular, but a place to rest my head and enjoy a good nights sleep before making time back to the island.
|Day 8 - Lake Placid NYS to Skowhegan ME|
You could spend a few days riding around in the Adirondacks and not be disappointed in the least, except possibly by traffic, but I was a bit early in the year, and the weather cool enough not to be conducive to much holiday traffic yet.
Who knew that they would have bi-lingual signage here in NYS? Grimper is french for climber.
|Tracy Road off of 9|
Route 6 East of 9, almost under the underpass of I87 is a delightful little road that winds it's way East taking you into Moriah, then south to Crown Point. It's reminiscent of Southwood Road in Northern Ontario.
|NYS 6 - twists and turns, over and over again. |
My goal was to cross over at Crown Point which would put me in good shape to head to my midway goal of riding the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
|You're not in New York State anymore, Toto!|
Vermont on the Eastern shore of Lake Champlain, is starkly flat in contrast to that of New York State, and as you ride East, you see in the distance Mount Ellen, and anytime there is a mountain, you know the roads just get better.
|Mount Ellen in the distance|
On this trip I decided to meander as long as the GPS indicated I was heading roughly East, I was going to avoid the major thoroughfares and truck routes, and work my way across Vermont and into New Hampshire.
|My Dad will know the Make Model & Year of this. :)|
Vermont 17... Go check it out on a map and tell me you aren't impressed. I know it's a short run, but what fun!
|Are we there yet?|
Make sure you hit Vermont 17 if you are in the area. It will take you up and over the mountain and dump you out onto that wonderful Vermont 100 that David and I ran a few years back.
The road isn't in the best of shape on the West side, so you need to be wary of some pressure cracks and frost heaves, then it just gets fun in the sun.
|There is a lookout at the top that I've stopped at many times before, so didn't bother this time round.|
|Conti Trail Attack2. Chicken strips with a full load.|
My tire choice of the Conti Trail Attack2 is brilliant for these roads, nice and sticky with excellent feedback and feel, but they aren't wearing as long as I'd like, and I'll have to replace them as soon as I get back. I've got my fingers crossed that they will get me next 1000km and back onto the island.
|I think I'm running these at 36-38 lbs on the rear, and 32-34 for the front.|
|Tiny little kickstand needs help... |
I got so tired of trying to stop for lunch or to take a photo only to have to dig out a kickstand plate, drop it and get it underneath my kickstand, that I found an inexpensive solution on FleaBay that I call my $12 kickstand fix.
(Two years later and I'm still in love with it)
None of this is planned now, and the only agenda is to get down to New Hamshire's Route 112 aka the Kancamagus Highway. I love riding like this, a full tank of gas, the GPS pointed somewhere in the right direction, ready, steady, go!
Around noon I was riding through a small town, Rochester Vermont and spied a green Versys by the side of the road, so doubled back as it was conveniently located next to a restaurant, and I thought I'd drop in and have a chat with the owner while grabbing something to eat.
|I like those stock bags|
The stock bags look so much nicer than my ten year old Givi E41s, but the flexibility of the SW Motech Quick Release side racks make me very happy with my setup. I only tour four or five times a year, and the only evidence you can see of that on my bike is the locking tabs for the quick release mechanism on the bike. I mounted this setup for a ride to Prince Edward Island back in 2014
|Gen 1 Versys|
It was an artisanal restaurant and the corned beef sandwich and coffee that I ordered was over priced and not terribly good, but I did meet the owner of the Versys out on the porch, and invited myself to join her for lunch and chat about all things Versys and motorcycles. Sheila has only had it for a month or so, but she enjoys it, but for the wind protection as she'd like a bit more there. I wouldn't mind that myself, and I already run an aftermarket Givi windscreen on mine. It's the best solution I've ever had on a bike, that allows me to crack my visor and ride along in spoiled air.
|The proud owner. |
|Little town America|
I think I crossed the Connecticut River from Vermont into New Hampshire at this point.
|It follows a river. This is gonna be good!|
I took some side cuts today, it slowed me down and I did have to double back at one point but I think I got repaid with some great pictures. You can be the judge of that.
|I can't help but wonder how old this house is. Dressed stone. |
|Ahhh! The reason for my detour...|
|A covered bridge in Lyme New Hampshire|
|Road Trip Selfie!|
I'm on NH 25A heading roughly North East with the plan of hitting NH 118 and finally linking up with NH 112, the Kancamagus Highway that runs through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest.
|Wow! I thought I had a lot of stickers!|
|Oh yeah! Freshly groomed. |
I've lots of photos of the Kancamagus,
|And I made it!|
so have a look here if you would like to see what I took earlier this year.
Once through Conway New Hampshire, I wanted to head up the East Conway Road which crosses the state line in Maine, but by means of following the Cold River up into Maine via Evans Notch and out to the town of Gilead Maine on US Route 2. If you've never done this route, give it a go. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
|More of the White Mountains as seen from New Hampshire|
Fresh corn, who can resist? I'll boil some of this up for supper tonight perhaps?
|I've got a bit of room left in the topbox. |
It's around four in the afternoon, and I've yet to get to US Route 2, so I think I'll be camping somewhere in Maine tonight.
Now that I know I'll be camping again, I'm in no real hurry and I've decided to enrich my experience with a number of photos. :)
|I was quite take with the stone fence surrounding this graveyard. |
|It's getting some work done on it|
|I can't help but wonder when the stream is going to topple the tree. Not today. |
|Stow Maine! Not Stow(e)|
Where there is a good road, you will always find motorcycles, and I was really happy to have stopped here, as they suggested I could head due north and cross Highway 2 and take a secondary road that would take me all the way into Bethel Maine where I'd be dining at Smokin' Good BBQ
this evening if all went to plan.
For local riders, they do some mileage when day tripping. I tipped my hat to them, tried to match them tale for tale, then headed North to my waiting supper.
|Kinda neat, eh? The water has to decide which way to go at this point. |
I thought I'd try to explain these next shots. It was the golden hour and I was trying to get some pictures that might be worth hanging onto, but as you can see I clearly failed. :P
|This one isn't half bad... |
|Now I'm worried that I'll see belts showing soon. |
|Androscoggin River, Gilead MN|
You cross over US Route 2, then the Androscoggin River and end up on North Road that runs follows the river and takes you straight into Mayville MN, where it's a hop skip and a jump north up the road to the Good Food Store, and my favourite BBQ, the Smokin' Good BBQ, both conveniently located across from a new gas station.
|It sure don't look like much, but I made it!|
I thought I'd give the smoked chicken a shot, but I made sure to get some takeway beef brisket as well. :D
Here are some google reviews on the subject.
It was five and I still had another 800km to home, so I hopped back on the bike, topped off the tank next door, and got to goin'. This time I'd stay on US Route 2 until Skowhegan or Bangor where I aim for Maine Route 9 on into Calais, but that wouldn't be for a while yet.
|Again I wonder how old this store in Dixfield Maine is? The history interests me. |
Just outside of Farmington Maine, there is Route 156 which undercuts the town, and not only saves you from a bunch of truck traffic, it presents and engaging little ride that will wake you up again.
Around 7pm I made it was far as Skowhegan Maine, and decided it would be in my best interests to start looking for a campsite for the evening. I kept heading East on 2 and found what I was looking for just on the other side of the Kennebec River on the outskirts of Skowhegan MN.
The Two Rivers Campground
|Home for the night|
would be my home for the night, and they gave me a premiere spot, almost on the river itself, and I have to admit the ground was pretty spongy, needing only hand pressure for the tent pegs.
Perhaps it wasn't as choice as possible, for the mosquitoes drove me back into my tent where I snacked a bit on some American junk food, and found I was just able to take advantage of some of the free WiFi that came with the site.
|Baked cheese. Mmmm!|
I had a good nights sleep and was a bit slow in the morning to get going, but really enjoyed the atmosphere.
The breakfast of Champions, instant oatmeal and tea.
|The view at this restaurant is awesome|
The ground was so wet that my ground sheet was soaked! I was going home with a wet tent, and it hadn't rained at all in the night.
|Dry on one side only. |
I still had last nights takeaway on the bike, and that doesn't leave much room for anything else. I had another 675km or seven hours of riding to do today, so it was time to gear up and let out the clutch.
|Day 9 - Skowhegan ME to Borden-Carleton PE - 675km|
My plan today was to make time, and I chose to get a good start by hitting I95 for as long as I could stand it then to jump ship before Bangor and undercut the city, hooking up with Maine Route 9 which would take me to Calais and the border crossing into Saint Stephens New Brunswick, but I had a ways to go yet.
|Maine Route 9 Heading East|
|No worries with a 120/60/17 front|
The Versys large front tire rocks on grooved pavement. No worries at all except the start and finish, where I could possibly damage the rim if the step was really brutal. I tend to slow down and clutch up wheelie over those bits.
Just on the other side of the Saint Croix River is St. Stephen, and they have a Tim Hortons where I'll grab a coffee and a bite before hitting the Trans Canada and booking it back through Saint John, Moncton and back onto the Island.
|The US Border patrol|
|Nothing to declare but awesome roads!|
|Highway Selfie, sucking on my pacifier. :)|
The weather when leaving had been cold, the weather in Ontario had been stupid hot, and so to the entire journey back East until I rode into this fog bank outside of Saint John and wanted to zip up every vent and zipper to offset its chill.
|I must be near Saint John, there is the fog!|
|Another fog bank. |
|Somewhere in Saint John|
Salisbury New Brunswick boasts an Irving Big Stop
|NB 114 into Alma NB is a fun run.|
and next to it, yet another Tim Hortons where I stopped for a coffee as I figured I had another two and half hours to go before hitting the island, and I was in need of another coffee.
|I should order the tires now, No?|
Ice cream, what a great idea on a hot afternoon like this.
A ran into a few other bikers that were touring as well.
I was quite taken with this early model Gold Wing, and met the owner Robb and chatted with him so long about it that we became facebook friends. He was on his way home from Prince Edward Island, and I was bound there.
|Robb does his own tire changes and balancing. He always has enough spare change for a cup of coffee.|
|Robb on his way home|
It wasn't too much longer that I was on the home stretch, the Confederation Bridge back onto the Island.
I don't know why, but my 454 pound Versys always trips the truck lights as I ride through the way station at Borden-Carleton. :)
|It must be the pizza combos. |
At my last stop before home, the Esso station in Borden-Carleton for fuel and yet another coffee, I saw a tow truck that had been customized extensively, and really enjoyed the effort he'd sunk into it. I hope you enjoy the following shots of it, although I'm not a huge au naturel rust fan.
Another bike hitting the visiting the island from Alberta. He makes it look easy with a slick packing job. I'm going to have to get better at this.
|Kinkora traffic jam. It lasts about four minutes.|
|Just under 4,000km round trip|
It was a four thousand kilometer round trip and you will note that I didn't bother to take the fastest route there or back. :)
And home at last. Zippy was overjoyed to learn that the treats would resume flowing, and his world was back to normal. I had a wet tent to set up and a bag of laundry, and some smoked beef brisket to share with my family. :D
|Home Sweet Home|
I hope you enjoyed following along with me. Cheers until next time!