First long trip - knocking around New England

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Tiz, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. Tiz

    Tiz Been here awhile

    Sep 22, 2005
    Milford, CT
    Not sure if this should go here, since it was more than a weekend. 5 days to be exact. 1100 miles, of which less than 300 was highway. But it was a comparatively short ride so here goes.

    I'm a flikr user (shoot me) so I can't embed the photos. Here is a link to the slide show, which you can open in another window and follow along:

    I bought the wee-Strom new in 2005 and have never done a trip on it. I use it for day trips and commuting year-round in Milford, CT which is most of my adventure. I had planned this trip a few times but always ended up with a conflict. This opportunity came up and I finally took it.

    The plan was originally to ride the Trans-Mass Trail and Puppy Dog Route, then visit a friend's cabin on Great Averill Lake in Northeast Kingdom of VT. Then head to the coast of Main at Yarmouth to another friend and then home. Then the Maine friend had to do a boat delivery and would not be around so I set about re-planning.

    Another friend lives in Bridgton, near where my family vacationed for years on Kezar Lake in Lovell, Me. I could go there and see how the area had changed and get in a visit. Then it occured to me that if I added a day to the trip I could also visit Lakewood Camps on Lower Richardson Lake in the Rangely area of Maine. Turns out the timing was perfect - my parents had honeymooned there exactly 56 years ago to the day I was there. Last time I was there was 42 years ago just for a day. So the plan came together.

    I was worried about following the gps routes for the TMT and PDR. I can't shut off auto-rerouting on the Garmin Oregon 400c. I received good help from the TMT thread folks and got a track for that from a guy there (thanks much Greg), which I followed with no problems. Greg also provided a southern-PDR track but the gps choked on that. So I followed the 2010 PDR short route that is posted in that thread. I'm not exactly sure I didn't follow a recalc'd route. But I used the waypoints and it was mainly dirt roads so I went along with it.

    The only pucker moment was near Stowe. The gps was telling me to take a right on rt 100 and I wanted to cross "Emily's Bridge" and take Stowe Hollow rd. I somehow got routed down a ledge-and-deep-rut-filled cart path (not even wheel tracks showing). For about 4/10ths of a mile I wasn't sure how it would turn out but I got through ok and lived to tell.

    The weather was cool and sometimes drizzley but it was nice in the woods. The low cloud cover put a big damper on the scenic outlooks except for Saturday coming fromAverill, VT to Andover, ME.

    On Thursday 9/9 I started out from Milford, CT at 8am and took Rt 8 to Winstead. Then picked up the TMT in Colebrook, CT and followed that track to the end. By around 12:30pm I was in Greenfield at the McDonalds. After a quick lunch I headed for the PDR. My goal was to end up the day by 4 or 5 pm and find lodging not too far off the track.

    I wound up getting dinner at the pub in the Three Stallion Inn in Randolph and then staying at the Brookfield B&B for the night. By the time I left the pub it was dark (~7:45) and raining. I was pretty scared of hitting a deer but got to the B&B just fine. I highly recommend this B&B. It was like $70 for the night with breakfast, the folks are really nice (Connie and George) and it's right on rt 65 around the corner from the floating bridge. I slept like a dead man.

    Thursday I set out with clearing skys but it had rained hard the night before and I was leery of the slime/mud on the dirt roads. I bypassed a short section near brookfield by taking rt 89 from about exit 7 to exit 9. I also had already planned to do the shorter northern section since I'd have another 50 miles tacked on at the end to get to Averill.

    I was pretty surprised at how I was feeling - not really sore at all, butt in good shape (thank you LD Comfort) and bike feeling comfortable and running well. It was a nice day of riding but much colder. I had the grips on low since the TMT but I added the heated vest in Brookfield, and pant liner further north and never took them off until back in CT. I got lunch at a great general store somewhere near Stowe. They had homemade Beef Stew which really hit the spot. Also enormous chocolate-chip cookies which I took as emergency provisions....

    Toward the end of the PDR you ride up River Rd near Troy. It's a beautiful road and I wanted to stop to take pictures but I was feeling cramped for time. I still needed to finish the PDR route and get to Averill. I did stop for a shot of the Troy general store to mark the end of the route.

    Aside from a few downed trees along the TMT/PDR I do think you could run the route (at least the one I took) in any sedan. The dirt roads are narrow and twisty at times but were in pretty good shape. I don't have mad dirt skilz but maintained 30-50 almost the whole time. Only a few sections were 10mph and only the one bad detour had me wiching for a helo to lift me out. I was probably quite luck that it had been so dry before my trip.

    The rest of the route I did on paved roads, not specifically avoiding dirt but only using dirt if it shortened the route or led somewhere I specifically wanted to be. My friend's cabin on Great Averill Lake was my destination for day 2 (Friday 9/10). He warned me about moose but I never saw a single one the entire trip. Considering where I was I can't believe I didn't just miss them in the bushes. Probably waving at me for all I know.

    Day three I set out to visit Lakewood Camps on Lower Richardson Lake. "Middle Dam" was a place my grandparents vacationed in the 40's and 50's when my mom was little. Also my folks honeymooned there in 1954 - starting on the same date I was there (9/12 - I was there 9/11-9/12). I felt pressed for time so I didn't stop for many pictures on the way over, but the ride down Canaan Hill Rd to Rt 102 and then 102 to Rt 26 was surreal. Gorgeous twisty pavement on 102 with the mist of the CT river drifting across in the early morning light - and no traffic at all.

    That set up my cross to ME on 26 and through Dixville Notch. The day became brilliantly sunny and dry and I was pretty much flying along at 60-70 anywhere the speed wasn't 35 or below. Starting at 8:45 in VT I was trying the meet the boat to the Camps at 11:30am. Joyous riding for sure.

    I wanted to go clockwise around the Rangely Lakes so I went up 16 and down 17, stopping near Height Of Land to get the required picture. Pressed for time, I had other goals so I didn't spend any time looking around. A short dirt section/shortcut took me from 17, past Ellis Pond to Rt 120 where I took a right onto South Arm Rd to meet the boat. The little community at Ellis Pond looked like a great place to hang out in summer time.

    I met Whit Carter at the boat at just after 11:40 and got a ride to the Camps where I met his wife Maureen. They showed me to my cabin and gave me the schedule for the day - lunch next. The food there is wonderful and you'll never walk away hungry. Mostly folks go for the fly fishing on Rapid River but I was there to just see the place again, and walk down to Forest Lodge. I could tell right away that Whit and Maureen are excellent folks and I'm so glad they run the place.

    As a kid, I read the Louise Dickenson Rich books about living in the Maine woods in the 30's and 40's - and I've always wanted to see where she and her family lived and experience the landscape. So I spent the afternoon walking the Carry Road to Forest Lodge and then going to see the lower dam site and Pond-In-The-River. When I returned, there were two guys in the cabin next door that had been whitewater kyakers. They were back to reminisce running Rapid River (Mike and Tony from Kittery and Kittery Pt). They kindly shared beer and stories and shared their dinner table with me. I met some other wonderful folks (Gail & Dick, Fran and Walt, nancy and ?-sorry) at cocktail hour, gathered in the main lodge before dinner. Afterward we had a hilarious game of hunting/fishing trivia (I do neither) until the lights went out at 9:30 (generator gets shut down for the night). The sky was clear and when the lights went out it was like looking into a bowl of stars. I've only seen that out of the ocean in a sailboat 400 miles from land.

    A fire in the franklin stove warmed things up before bed. I was feeling happily connected to the place and my family. I drifted off to the glow and crackle of the fire and loons calling in the distance.

    Next day dawned cloudy/drizzley again and I was headed to Bridgton by way of Kezar Lake. I had also hoped to go up the Mt Washington Auto Rd. Since the weather was bad and I had been there before I opted for the Jefferson Notch Rd around the west side and really enjoyed the road through (rt302) Crawford Notch - until it really started to pour rain on me.

    By about the time I was half way down Hurricane Mtn Rd heading out of Conway the rain stopped but the sky was solidly cloudy. Still a great ride all the way, with the highlight being Hurrican Mtn Rd.

    Agawam Kezar looked pretty much the same aside from a subdivision (1 house) which I knew about. For only 1.3 mil I could own the place, and probably would if I hit the lotto. It's good to see places retain their character for such a long time. I probably had not been there for 25 years.

    After Kezar I headed down rt93 through Sweden and on to Bridgton. I met up with my friend there who has a 1970 Norton (it lives in the living room during the winter) and also nicely restored BSA 441, Montesa (390?) and a CZ (I think it was a CZ...). Watched the first part of Long Way Down and hit the sack. Very good day.

    The ride home on day 5 (9/13) was from Bridgton via Conway and a stop at Whirehorse Press, then onto the Kancamangus Hwy, Sawyer Hwy, Rt 25a to Fairlee and 91 to home. It poured. All but about 30 min on the Kanc was rainy until I hit Rockingham VT on 91. I started at 8:30am and rode in my driveway at 4:30pm. Only a few pictures were worth taking since the visibility was so poor. But the riding was great - even the Sawyer Hwy in the rain was still fun.

    No bike issues at all. I try to keep it in good shape and properly maintained. I was concerned about the tires (Conti Trail Attack) but they held up great on the gravel. Thank doG I replaced the rear shock with an Elka with remote preload and comp/rebound adjustments. Also had replaced the front springs some time ago with Sonics and recently went to 10wt oil (from 15). I used a bead seat cover on a stock dl1000 seat and with the footpeg lowering brackets (stromtrooper) my butt and legs were happy. LD Comfort shorts really helped on the butt also

    Thanks all for reading!

  2. BusyWeb

    BusyWeb Adventurer

    Apr 6, 2009
    Wow, that's hundreds of photos videos..
    Thanks for the sharing it.
  3. henrymartin

    henrymartin Mr. Tourguide no more.

    Sep 11, 2010
    South of the Great North Woods
    Cool trip. I love messing out and about in New England.

    Two weeks ago I did Mt. Washington. Last weekend I rode the NH seacoast and Maine, and this weekend (Sunday) I want to do either the Berkshires or Adirondacks. Not sure yet.
    I made a few trips to CT as well, but going down 91 gets kinda crazy between Bradley and Hartford (for me). Once I took Rte 10 (?) when going back up from Milford, CT, somewhere along the New Haven. All I kept thinking is I hope my bike won't break down around here, or that someone would jump me when idling on the traffic lights and hijacks my bike. That was years ago though.
  4. Tiz

    Tiz Been here awhile

    Sep 22, 2005
    Milford, CT
    Rt 10 around New Haven isn't any better these days. Further north it's better. Not real scenic as I recall.

    That was actually one of the most magical things I felt about the TMT and PDR is that they get you there (north-south) and the roads are rural and nicely twisty.