Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle vacation riding’

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WELL…. Pulling out of the B&B and heading south on the Maine coast in a blue sky morning was just a picture perfect motorcycle vacation, too bad it did not last. With Boston and New York on the horizon we were not thrilled with the thought of the traffic that lay ahead.  Our intention was to ride around Boston on I495 and then head south west toward New York. 

Those plans did not really hold hard due to a series of rain storms.  With rain drops the size of small birds smacking me in the face and my glasses fogging up repeatedly we decided to pull off early and find a room… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  It seems that every hotel along the I95 corridor was sold out!  WARNING….do not travel on the I95 corridor during the summer vacation season if you are free-styling (i.e. no real plan). 

Luckily for us our daughter jumped on the computer and started looking for a hotel while we were riding.  During one of the stops, attempting to hide from the rain, she called and told us we had a room….in Rhode Island. The hotel was about 50 miles away and it was raining hard, sigh.  BUT (insert a choir of angels going AHAAAAAA) all of a sudden the clouds cleared and the rain stopped.  According to the weather radar that was not what was supposed to happen.  Not looking a gift horse (Trojan horse) in the mouth we quickly remounted our steed and took off.  The rain, and some hail, resumed almost as soon as we were checked in.  I really did not ride faster than my guardian angel could fly! 

WP_20170628_09_09_30_ProSeveral band of storms later we woke up to another beautiful morning and the weather radar showed that there was no rain anywhere!!!!!!!! Our new plan was to ride cross county to Hartford, CN then down to Danbury then on to Orange County Choppers headquarters in Newburgh, NY.   

The stop at Orange County Choppers was a blast.  Regardless of your thoughts on the WP_20170628_16_02_47_ProTeutul’s, the bikes they produced during the run of their show are just so cool to look at in person.  Too soon it was time to get back on the road.  Making it to Scranton, PA we stopped for the night.  The next morning we made the push for home. 

2982.6 miles from Virginia to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Niagara Falls to Lake Placid, Bar Harbor and back.  Even with all the rain we endured this was a great motorcycle vacation.  If you have not stepped up to long distance motorcycle touring it is something you should consider for your future.  What you feel, see, and hear while riding your motorcycle is so much more intense and impactful then riding in a car. For me it is being in the movie not watching the movie through your windshield.

 

 

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 Pulling out of the Lake Placid hotel into a light rain (yup wet again) and lots of road spray day 7 of our motorcycle vacation begins.  The Adirondacks was just an awesome place to ride, even with the rain. 

WP_20170624_09_33_31_ProWe needed to reach Port Kent, New York no later than 930AM in order to make sure we are on the first ferry of the day to cross Lake Champlain.  We made it to the landing with about 10 minutes to spare!  We were the first to board the boat (they move motorcycles to the front, not sure why but I enjoyed the perk).  The ride across the lake on the Valcour (built in 1948) took about an hour before we rolled off the ferry and into Burlington, VT. 

Our first stop in Vermont was Green Mountain Harley Davidson.  I am very glad we did, Alan at Green Mountain turned us on to a different, more twisty, route over “Smugglers Notch” to get to our second stop.  That second stop was the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.WP_20170624_13_10_51_Pro 

During the factory tour we got to see some of the history of the company, it started in a gas station, and how the ice cream is made today.  At the end of the tour we got to sample a new ice cream “Triple Carmel” which both Debbie and I really liked! 

After leaving Ben and Jerry’s it was only a short time before we were on theWP_20170624_16_19_58_Pro Kangamagus (and no I don’t know how to pronounce it!).  This could have been a great ride through the White Mountain National Forest, but, alas, it was a chore and a bit of a bore.  There were way too many cars on the road that had no clue on how to drive the curvy, somewhat mountainous route.  There was even an accident in one turn that I have no clue how it could have happened without a serious lack of driving skill and experience.  

Coming out of the other side of the Kangamagus I was beat.  We found a hotel, had a Mexican dinner and went to bed!  The next day we are heading to the top of Mount Washington.  By the way we are over 1500 miles on the trip so far.

 

WP_20170621_09_54_49_RichWe did not do a lot a riding today.  We took the motorcycle to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls to check out the sites an some of the tourist trap things.  We ended the day riding the Maid of the Mist boat up to the falls… and that is where we got wet today!

Tomorrow we hit the road again.  The plan is to travel up the coast of Lake Ontario then inland to Lake Placid.  So for now here are some random picks from today!

 

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Rolling out of Eire, PA we headed north along the Lake Erie coast on Route 5WP_20170620_09_43_14_Rich(The Seaway Trail, an American Byway Seaway Trail, an American Byway).  We made an assumption that this part of our motorcycle vacation would be along the coast.  It was a great ride in good weather, for a change, but the road is not directly on the coast so that was a bit disappointing.  For the most part you only see Lake Eire a few times.

 Along Route 5 we stopped at several locations including a coupleSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES lighthouses.  The one thing that really surprised me was the amount of vineyards along the road.  There was miles upon miles of grape vines, thousands of acres.  This day’s ride, along route 5, has been our best, so far, for this year’s motorcycle vacation.  

After a few hours we riding the motorcycle through the cool mid-morning we decided to take a side trip over to Gowanda Harley Davidson.  Talk about being in the middle of know where, this is one of the most remote Harley dealerships we have been.  

Riding out from that dealership I set the GPS to take us to Buffalo Harley Davidson. Unlike the past, the last update to the “infotainment system” seems WP_20170620_09_24_55_Richto have fixed the problem of the GPS not quite finding the dealerships but, there are still some problems like the road showing up in Lake Erie.  If you follow me on FaceBook you know I collect the dealership pins but Buffalo HD was sold out, dang!   

After we checked into the hotel, and clocking 900 miles, we decided to ride down to the American side of the falls.  BIG MISTAKE…not to check the WP_20170620_15_17_29_Proweather radar.  About half way to the falls we could see rain in the distance and it was very clearly a heavy rain.  Turning around at the first opportunity, we made a run back to the hotel…. LOL we did not make it.  Quite well soaked we stopped under an overpass to wait out the storm.  I am very happy that the hotel has a laundry. 

After dinner we tried it again…this time we had no rain and had a good time at the falls.  Tomorrow we are going to travel to the Canadian side and check out the sites.  I know for a fact that we will be getting wet again tomorrow, we plan on taking the boat ride to under the falls! 

2017 Motorcycle Vacation Day 2

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So why 9?  Because everyone does 10 and 11 is too much work.

First of all this list is not for one of those around the globe motorcycle adventure trips.  I will not be mentioning things like lion repellant, spare tires or satellite phones.  These tips are more for that multi-day to couple week trips via normal roads/interstates motorcycle trips.

These tips are primarily based on our own experiences and may or may not be fully applicable to you.  However, Debbie and I are not any different then you guys so I hope that the tips get you to at least think about a particular item.

9.  Carry a few tools.  Yes, this is dependent on the type of motorcycle you ride.  A sport bike is not going to carry as much as a touring bike.  At a minimum get a multi-tool that is appropriate to your bike.  By that I mean, if your multi-tool has a hex tool but your bike has Torx screws, it is not going to be of much use.   Here is what I carry on the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited:

Multi-tool that came with the motorcycle, which turns out is quite limited based on our summer 2015 trip.

Mini screwdriver and ratchet sets with Torx, hex and standard bits in the sizes I need for my motorcycle.

Stop n Go tire Repair kit.

8. The weather is going to change, be prepared.  No matter what you think is going to happen, plan on getting wet or cold or both.  Again what you can carry is dependent on the motorcycle you ride.  At a minimum you should carry rain gear.  You need to stop and put on the rain gear as soon as you know that it is not a tiny little shower, especially if you are in the mountains.  It sucks to put on your rain gear after you are soaking and then the temp drops.b1

7. ATGATT  All The Gear All The Time – Every time I see or hear this I can’t help but think of the green Martians from the cult classic movie “Mars Attacks” (ack ack).  But what it should mean is good boots, motorcycle pants and jackets that are armored and abrasion resistant and a full face helmet.  I know that I do not do this all the time myself, it is something that we all know we should do!

6. Start Early End Early – This one is more from personal experiences with longer motorcycle trips.  After so many years in the army I still wake up early.  Because of that I get on the road early and, depending on where you are riding, that can get us out before traffic gets heavy.  It also allows you to beat the heat in the summer months, for a while anyway.  By ending early you have time to get your motorcycle unloaded and prepared for the next day, give you time for a shower and a bit of rest before dinner.  I like to be kickstand up no later than 7AM and stopped for the evening no later than 5PM.  This also helps with any bickering or sniping with your passenger because you are both tired or hot or cold.

5. Get in a Routine – Load and unload your motorcycle the same way in the same order.  Do your post ride checks in the same way at the same time (after diner). A routine of this nature will help ensure you do not forget anything while loading and unloading.  It will help to ensure that you perform your ride checks and preparation.b4

4. Inspect your bike at night – As part of your routine, do your T-CLOCS before you close down for the evening.  Wipe down the grime on your windshield/faring and if you have room to carry one, cover your bike.  Performing these activities on your motorcycle each night, I like to do mine after dinner, will allow you to be on the road little quicker in each morning. Do it in the evening or in the morning, but on all long motorcycle trips you need to do it every day.  Things become loose or need attention, better to find out when you are parked.

3. Snack Smart – Eating a big turkey leg at noon and then riding on the interstate might cause you get a bit sleepy.  Snack smart is just a tip to make sure that you can operate your motorcycle in the best manner possible.  Drinking soda or coffee might not be the best option over water or a sports drink on those days where heat might be a concern.  If you are on one of those rides where you only stop for gas consider adding a cup holder or hydration pack to your ride kit. Additionally, consider what you eat, would a banana be better for your riding or do you really, really want that turkey leg!!!

2. Tweak don’t Twerk –  Move around on the seat to stay comfortable and avoid saddle sores on a long motorcycle trip.  This is easy on a touring bike, with larger seats, highway pegs and large footboards the touring motorcyclist has it easy over the sport bike riders.  But, either way, you have to remain a comfortable as possible.  If you plan on lots of long distance riding, look into getting a seat that really fits your seat.

1. Stop and smell the roses! – Yes we all know we need frequent breaks but, if your breaks are only gas stations you are likely missing out.  If you see something that peaks your interest check it out!  Even if you have to turn around and go back to get the picture with the giant roller skate do it.  You might never know what you are missing…. maybe dinosaurs! b-2

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Today’s HOG motorcycle tour started early.  We were on the road a couple minutes after 7AM (tomorrow will be earlier).  Pulling out of the motel parking lot we headed towards Natural Chimneys State Park, the first stop of the day.  

It took us a few days to figure this out but this HOG event is really an unstructured structured event.  You can go to as many of the stops as you want or none of the stops. You can follow the pre-planned routes or set your own.  We all just start and stop at the same location each day.  This day we chose to skip the State Park and go directly to the second stop the Museum of the Confederacy. 

On the way we had multiple animals try to kill themselves by throwing themselves at our motorcycle.  A rabbit, a squirrel, a blue bird, yellow bird, robins and a couple other critters all threw themselves at us, luckily they all missed by quite a bit.  

WP_20160620_10_45_40_RichThe Museum of the Confederacy is laid out in a fashion that walks you through from what leads up to the succession to the aftermath of the civil war.  In addition to the main museum there are several outdoor features including a “log cabin” built in 1832 and used as a home up until the 1960s. 

From there we headed to Lynchburg Harley Davison.  The Lynchburg HOG chapterWP_20160620_23_08_39_Rich was hosting us for lunch and we had to be there between 12 and 1.  I enjoyed the brat’s and thanked the HOG crew for their hospitality.  By the way, I now have yet another dealer pin for my collection. 

After lunch we remounted the Ultra and headed towards the National D-Day WP_20160620_13_18_32_RichMemorial.  The memorial honors all the soldiers, from twelve nations, that participated in the invasion of Europe in WWII.  As a retired soldier I can say the memorial was quite impressive and provide a poignant reminder of the cost of that invasion.  If you are in the area a few minutes of your time to visit this site would be a good idea. 

Debbie and I skipped the next stop, Foamhenge.  Turns out I wish we had not. Apparently the display will be removed in a couple months.  Oh, well. 

The last stop on this leg of the motorcycle rally, and our hotel, is the Natural Bridge Park and Historic Hotel.  The Natural Bridge is really a bridge with traffic running across the top.  Down below you can hike under the bridge and admire the vista in the same manner as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  As part of our package we also got to view a light show projected upon the face of the cliffs.  About 10PM we were in our bed with dreams of the  next day.  

To see what happened on day one check out that post!