Day 1 – Monday June 4th
I set the alarm the night before to go off at 3:30am. I had everything packed up, and even took the bike out for a hundred miles to make sure the load was secure the day before. All I needed to do was get up, brush my teeth, get a quick bite to eat, put my gear on, and go by 4:00am.
I woke up to my wife elbowing me and telling me to get up. I check my clock and it was 3:50am. Oh well, leaving a few minutes late won’t really hurt anything. I checked outside and noticed it had been raining all night, but it wasn’t raining at the moment. Great! I had been checking the weather and it looked like it would be intermittent rain throughout the day. I made the decision to leave without my rain gear on, as I could just put it on when the rain started, if need be. I put my gear on, put my iPod in its waterproof case and plugged it into the charger… and it had no power. The 12V DC to USB adapter was the only part of that equation that was new, so I plugged in something else to see if it was getting power and it was. I took a closer look at the new adapter and saw that it was too short; it wouldn’t reach all the way to the bottom of the port. I took apart one of my el-cheapo LED flashlights and grabbed one of the battery springs and attached that to the bottom of the adapter. Success! I now had power! I said bye to the wife and dog (already said bye to the kids the night before) and took off at 4:45am. Forty five minutes late wasn’t the end of the world.
Precisely 23.2 miles into my trip I noticed that my right toes felt wet. Shit. The spray from the wet road was enough to get my feet wet. As soon as I noticed my feet getting wet, it started raining. By the time I got pulled over, both of my feet were damp and so were my gloves. Nothing like wet hands and feet less than thirty miles into a several thousand mile trip! I pulled under an overpass and got suited up with my cheap Walmart rainsuit that has successfully seen me through countless rain storms during my normal commutes, some new rubber overgloves, and some Nelson Riggs overboots that have only been used twice and for only about ten minutes or so each time.
My first stop was to be in Groton, Connecticut to meet up with my friend Jeff (articam6 from SBN) for a coffee near where he works. It continued to rain… No. Pour… Right until I got to Connecticut. I got a short reprieve from the rain for about an hour and met with Jeff in partly sunny skies. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts and grabbed a coffee (Thanks Jeff!) and shot the shit for about 15 minutes. I then had to head off if I wanted to make it into Canada today, and Jeff had to get back to work anyhow.
Oh, and as a side note: I used to think New Jersey drivers were the worst in the country… Well, I’ve since amended my position on this matter. Connecticut drivers have now slid into first place. They seem to have a penchant for not being able to see motorcycles…
Only a few minutes after leaving, it started raining again. Rain would be my constant companion for the rest of the day. I was making slow progress on account of the weather and drinking too much coffee in the morning, which meant frequent stops into the woods to piss. I was averaging about 50 miles per gallon for the first part of the trip. I did 220 miles until my first gas stop, then 180 miles for my second stop, with gas to spare. From Connecticut up to Maine, there was a really strong headwind I was riding into. This obviously affected my gas mileage, as I ran out of gas at 200 miles. Since I have a 4.8 gallon tank (realistically 4.6 gallons in actual usage), this meant I only got 43 mpg out of that tank. Fortunately, I had two 30oz MSR fuel containers strapped to the bike for the trip. I pulled over on the side of the highway and emptied one of the bottles in the tank, since I my gas exit was coming up in about two miles anyhow. Damn was I glad I had them (of course, I probably wouldn’t have pushed so far between gas stops if I knew I didn’t have them)! That would have been a long two mile walk to the next exit in the cold rain.
I realized I left my camelback by my door before leaving, which was my only water vessel for my trip, other than a coffee mug. I also forgot to bring any coffee filters, so I stopped in Maine to grab a new Camelback and filters. This stop ended up taking me over an hour and a half due to a series of random difficulties. Once I hit Maine, the rain was off and on for the entire distance through the state. Most of the ride thus far was super-slab, as I had a ferry to catch almost 1200 miles from home 40 hours after leaving, so I needed to make good time. After hours and hours on the highway, I turned off onto route 9 through Eastern Maine. This was one of the best roads I’ve ever ridden before. It wasn’t super-technical, but there were enough curves to keep it interesting, road traffic was almost non-existent, and the scenery was amazing. On the downside, I saw my first wild moose on that road. It was standing on the shoulder of the road… Scary. A fox also ran out in front of my bike. That was the first time I had seen a wild fox as well.
One of the few pictures I took the first day.
I hit the Canada border about a half hour before it was getting dark in Callais. Crossing the border was as painless as I could have hoped for. The border patrol agent was very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in my trip (and not just the stuff she needs to be interested in). I told her about the bear spray and she just asked if it was bear spray, not mace or anything. She never checked any of my luggages and the only paperwork she needed to see was my passport. I was in and out in about five minutes or less. Easy peasy.
My first order of business was to get away from town a bit and find a place to put a tent. I rode for about a half an hour down route 1 east before spotting an unfinished section of highway that looked promising. I pulled off and noticed there weren’t any ‘no trespassing’ signs or anything, so I rode down the newly paved highway that turned to stones that then turned into a small four-wheeler trail. I spotted a small clearing just big enough to put my tent. Perfect. I was almost exactly one mile down the trail. I set up the tent, lubed the chain, and passed out… and forgot to take a picture of my campsite.
Total mileage for the day: 735 miles
Day 1 route