Uraling Vermont’s dirt roads and more……

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MeRide, May 22, 2010.

  1. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

    Joined:
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    Over the winter I decided that a multi-day Ural ride on the dirt back roads of northern New England was in order. I began planning for a 3 day vacation in the spring. Since most of my Uraling has been in New Hampshire, I decided to hop the border into Vermont to do a mostly dirt road slow paced scenic ride. Taking it easy and just enjoying the views and experiences. Limited pavement and doing my best to stay off the state roads. Over the past few years I’ve read about the Bayley-Hazen Military Road and the Puppy Dog Route, both of which are dirt road rides and in Vermont. So those became the focal point for this trip. The decision was made. I gathered maps, GPS tracks and routes, did a lot of reading, over flights of the routes on aerial view maps, and studying the Bayley-Hazen history. Quick sidebar on the main section routes. Google is your friend but I’ll paraphrase them real quick. The Bayley-Hazen Military Road is a military road built in the late 1700s to move supplies and troops from Wells River, VT border to the Canadian border. That’s a real loose description but this is a ride report not a history lesson. The Puppy Dog Route was created more recently by motorcyclists as a mostly dirt back road motorcycle ride route running from the Canadian border to western Massachusetts.


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    Fast forward to May……. The trip is now over, having taken place May 17<SUP>th</SUP>-19<SUP>th</SUP>, but the ride report has just begun.

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    Bike prep done, luggage packed, and suited up my wife and I hit the road Monday morning. The weather was beautiful, blue skies, sunny, and 70+ degrees. We headed north from southwestern New Hampshire with a destination of Wells River, VT to pick up the Bayley-Hazen Military Road. The ride was pleasant this morning. We took in the sights of the countryside, mountain views, and many lakes and ponds. Reaching Bristol, NH the ride went up the west side of Newfound Lake.

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    Newfound Lake, Bristol, NH

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    Continuing north and making good time on the paved roads which would connect us with the beginning of our dirt road adventure we reached Woodsville, NH just across the river from Wells River, VT. Here we stopped for lunch at Shiloh’s. Great restaurant and nice meal. We were told that the owners are riders too so offer a motorcycle rider discount. So, if you find yourself in the area or are going to do the Bayley-Hazen stop in for a bite.

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    After lunch we geared up and crossed the river to Vermont to seek out the southern end of the Bayley-Hazen. It was here that I ran into a technical hiccup. Being new to the GPS unit the Bayley-Hazen section of our ride almost didn’t happen! The B-H map was a “track” and didn’t “navigate” directions for me plus the track line looked like just another line on the map. I was determined to figure this out so fumbled around with the GPS for a while. I finally dialed it in with a viewable color for the track and decided to at least try to follow the line as far as I could then just make my own route for the afternoon. I wasn’t happy. I had planned and tested so many things to prepare for the trip and despite that here I was faced with not being able to do the ride section I wanted to do most. We started off and following the line was working. OK, this is easy. Failure avoided and we were happy campers once again. Whew!

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    Once riding on the dirt of the Bayley-Hazen the views of rural Vermont filled our eyes. There’s nothing quite the same as the Northern New England countryside.


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    B-H views

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    After a while the B-H road turned and here we were at the Cabot Plains Cemetery. There are many small cemeteries peppering the Vermont countryside but this one is set up on a high point of the land with an almost 360 degree view. The setting itself was beautiful but the views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and snow capped White Mountains in New Hampshire plus a wooden covered bridge were special.



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    We continued on. The many signs marking the route of the B-H come in various styles.


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    B-H marker


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    A country meeting house along the route


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    I spied a red fox next to the road so we stopped and began watching him. Eventually he began watching us before trotting off into the woods.


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    While most of the B-H looks like this…..


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    There are small portions which are like this……


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    The long sweet trail ahead


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    Well into the ride and the afternoon we pass through a small farm waving at an older gentleman and his dog and around the bend the dirt road begins to morph into a trail which undulates and twists while being peppered with rocks and waterbars.


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    The hero section begins!


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    The bumps on the trail makes for a difficult time for the camera operator in the hack!


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    Tree across the trail


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    The trail begins a steep incline and the surface becomes a rock garden. Pictures never show the reality but these rocks are pretty big and as I lost speed I stalled the Ural out when the hack wheel ran up against a curb-like rock. So I got out to survey the situation and check for what lies ahead


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    The trail seems deceptively smooth looking in this photo doesn’t it?



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    Other views of the rocks


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    Get pitched on steering by a rock and end up somewhere down there


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    I got the clutch smoking good while extricating from the rocky jumble so I let the bike rest just beyond this rocky section while we swatted bugs, caught our breath, and sweated a bit. The trail now turned to earth and mud. We began riding the trail again following its many twists and turns. Lots of large rocks at this point which popped up out of the mud as the trail now went down the other side of the mountain. The many waterflows crossing from the high side to the low side of the trail made for lots of mud. We both rejoiced when we saw these signs near the end of the hero section. Neither of us knew the end was near but we hoped that’s what the signs meant as it had been a long day!



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    This B-H hero section is really only a couple of miles in Albany/Lowell, VT. As we exited the off-road portion we came out onto a paved local road that connected to Rt58 which would route us back east to our bed and breakfast lodging for the night. We stopped in Orleans at a market for some dinner supplies. A simple meal of sandwiches but being pre-tourist season and also a Monday there wasn’t a lot of options plus we knew we wanted to shed our riding gear and relax at the inn.


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    Over the years we’ve taken several motorcycle rides through Vermont and the Adirondacks in upstate New York and have stayed at the WilloughVale Inn in Westmore, VT. Lake Willoughby is so beautiful and relaxing. We knew this would be the overnight lodging spot after the B-H ride and before the Puppy Dog Route (PDR).


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    Tuesday morning refreshed from a good nights sleep and fueled with breakfast we pack up the bike. My wife starts snapping photos of the mud on the bike from yesterday’s B-H hero section. Ha ha.


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    I had mapped a connector route from the inn to the beginning of the North-To-South Short GPS route of the PDR which included a side trip to the border of Canada. More country back roads with views.


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    Canadian border in North Troy, VT


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    Along the back country roads of the PDR are many farms. Mostly pleasant smelling cows (insert sarcasm here) but occasionally other animals too like these shaggy fellows.


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    Needing nourishment we stop at a small general store in Eden, VT. After eating we turn around to pick up the PDR again. Many more fun dirt roads and lots of miles of views. Our senses are on overload after a day and a half of this great ride so the photo taking tapers off and we simply drink it all in.

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    I pull the rig over in Hardwick, VT for a stretch. We make friends with Willy the llama who is out for a walk in downtown Hardwick, VT.


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    Llama – it’s probably faster than the Ural


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    Boo!


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    More riding and views for the afternoon. We decided to drop off the PDR as it’s getting late and we’ve reached saturation of the dirt roads no longer able to take it all in. I re-route the GPS to state roads and we head towards Montpelier for dinner.


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    We stop at Sarducci’s for an excellent dinner overlooking the river in Montpelier, VT. The food, service, and atmosphere are all great.


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    TO BE CONTINUED…………………





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    #1
  2. waltwhitman

    waltwhitman Been here awhile

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    looks like a damn good time
    #2
  3. whatsgnu

    whatsgnu Scheissekopf

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    Great ride report and a beautiful area ! :clap
    #3
  4. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Nice report, mark!:clap

    If I remember right that is the first place I was impressed by a Ural afield. Crank was in the chair and Baron Von Roth motored up through the rock gardens of the hero section of the B-H.:clap

    Good stuff there, Mark. Keep it coming!

    :lurk
    #4
  5. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    Nice work :clap Thanks for taking the time to write it up.
    #5
  6. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

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    Thanks everyone!

    I've got to be honest. As the week progessed I was less interested in spending the time to write up the report, process the photos, and post it. Vacation relaxation I guess. But I've spent the time and effort because I have gotten so much from the many riders of ADVrider over the years and their efforts of posting ride reports and much more which has in turn inspired my riding. One must give back.



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  7. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

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    We left the restaurant full and content. Next stop was the bed and breakfast we were staying at for the night. Since we were now off the Puppy Dog Route we continued south on a state road to our destination. By state road I mean a 40mph paved road but still a twisty scenic ride out in the countryside.
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    The PDR North-To-South Short route ends at Allis State Park. The B&B was in Brookfield a mile or so east of the park and it sits across from the Brookfield Floating Bridge which is one of very few wooden floating bridges remaining in the US. More on that later.
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    Our lodging for the night was to be a beautiful third floor room at the Green Trails Inn (www.greentrailsinn.com).
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    We were welcomed by the owner, Jane Doerfer, as well as several locals who were curious about the bike. Jane showed us the room and we began to move our gear into it but she wanted to show us a building across the street before it got too late. It was the old fork shop, a building which once had housed the Peck-Clark Fork Company, a maker of hay forks and other similar items back in the 1800s. Abutting Sunset Lake and the floating bridge, the fork shop was once powered by a water wheel. Recently it had been beautifully renovated inside as a private home. She offered us the fork shop for the night’s stay and we were without words. We loved the room at the inn but how could we not take advantage of the rare opportunity?!!
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    Ye Olde Fork Shop
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    View of the old fork shop many years ago
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    Current view of the old fork shop
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    Our private view of the floating bridge and Sunset Lake
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    The floating bridge was closed to vehicle traffic in 2007 because it had water logged. Little did we know the next day we would be too!
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    Wednesday we awoke to a light rain. The forecast was for a 20% chance of showers so we were worried. After coffee we crossed the road to the Inn for breakfast. Jane is a cookbook author so we knew the meal would be excellent and disappointed we were not. She was very interesting to speak with about many subjects and took the time to ask what it was that we liked in a breakfast. She had make cheese pastries, bacon, kielbasa, a wonderful lemony pound cake, and more plus offered fresh strawberries, eggs any way we wished, crème fraiche, etc. As we ate and conversed we kept an eye on the weather. But the rain had only gotten heavier. We said our goodbyes and went back to the fork shop to pack our things for the ride home to New Hampshire.
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    We rode south from Brookfield in the rain and overcast darkness linking up with a state road. With the weather there was no interest in taking slower longer routes. We were lucky that the previous two days had been sunny and warm, perfect riding days. We had gotten more than our fill of the roads and views. Dealing with the usual rain issues when riding we kept putting miles behind us. No photos were taken. When we entered Woodstock I went looking for gas. I even stopped and sat in the rain dialing up gas stops on the GPS but I wasn’t having fun with that so drove around until we found a gas station. Fueled up we continued heading south again.
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    We crossed over the Connecticut River, the natural border between Vermont and New Hampshire and I decided it was lunch time. I knew the roads from here and also a place to eat that I’ve enjoyed many times over the years. The Tumble Inn Diner in Claremont, NH is a Worcester Lunch Car Company manufactured diner which was delivered on October 10<SUP>th</SUP>, 1941. It’s still very intact with its monitor roof and streamlined styling. Even the interior still has its blue, yellow, and red tile work plus original mahogany woodwork and booths. We enjoyed the hot coffee and food while we gathered ourselves for the final leg home.
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    So ends the ride report and a wonderful trip. The Ural ran flawlessly, not one hiccup or even a burnt out light bulb. The Heidenau K37 tires were great on road and off. In the dry, rocks, mud, or rain.
    #7
  8. PWRCRZR

    PWRCRZR Grumpy Old Bastard

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    Excellent ride report :clap

    I absolutely love riding in VT and it is even more special when your wife joins you.

    I am going to need to go ride the BH road...do you have tracks?
    #8
  9. stitchergary

    stitchergary Been here awhile

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    Thanks for taking the time doing the great ride report.. Vermont is one of my favorite states for motorcycle riding... I've taken my Ural Patrol from my home in Northern NY to Vermont & New Hampshire a few times. I even ventured to the top of Mount Washington just to see if the Ural could do it...Of course it did!!! Hope to see more of your rides...
    Gary
    #9
  10. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

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    Thank you!

    It was my wife's first long distance Ural ride. She's been a two-wheel bike passenger for many years. First time off-road for her too except for a tiny Class VI ride at home. The Ural has been great because she can go on the dirt bike rides with me and see what I've been seeing on the dirt bike. The helmet cam is nice but just not the same as being there.

    The tracks for the B-H are here:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=12984869&postcount=852



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  11. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

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    Thanks.

    Consider coming to the New Hampshire Ural Rally in July.

    DETAILS HERE:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=572043

    AND MUCH MORE HERE:

    http://sovietsteeds.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11349




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  12. MichaelWater

    MichaelWater Adventurer

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    I enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks for sharing!
    #12
  13. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

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    You're welcome. Thanks for making my ride report your first ADV post! Welcome!!
    #13
  14. Boondoggle

    Boondoggle Gear Grinder

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    Great report, thanks for sharing... I grew up a mile from where you took this photo.
    #14
  15. Angel372

    Angel372 Yours Truly

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    I have to jump in line here - I grew up on a dairy farm near the BH and was pleasantly shocked/amazed to see pictures of it here. I had no idea people actually seek it out. The pictures make me homesick. Thanks for sharing! My two cents - if you have the time you should ask people in these small towns if they recommend any other roads to check out while you're there. There are some interesting things up there if you like stuff having to do with history and the remains of things past. Not everyone knows about them but you may get lucky.
    #15
  16. MeRide

    MeRide Me like bikes!

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    Glad out trip was able to stir up a couple of memories for you both. Enjoy!
    #16
  17. kdennan

    kdennan Been here awhile

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    This is sweet!
    I live by Stratton Mtn. in Southern Vermont and have done the PDR. I picked it up in Townshend, VT. I was wondering if you could lend any advice on how or where I could split off the PDR and start the B-H in Wells? Then link back over from the top of the B-H to the north south short route of the PDR.
    Awsome report!
    Thanks
    #17
  18. kdennan

    kdennan Been here awhile

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    The other thing I'd like to do is take PDR to Wells, cross the river to NH and take dirt/back roads up around the presidentials.
    I want to camp along both of these rides.
    Thanks again
    #18