Western Maine and Quebec with my son.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by CAW, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. CAW

    CAW Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2010
    As a bit of an introduction, I’ve been on a bike for 41 years and on my road bike for 30 (29 officially had one year of “pre certification” riding). I’ve done a couple of longer rides, but nothing like some of the epics that are usually posted here.

    Fast forward to my adult life, still riding the same old BMW r65 I had at age 15, and my son saves up and buys himself a used sportster 883 (great first bike btw). He’s generally an awesome person (Dad brag), and I have had a great time introducing him to riding. First it was on an old dual sport we rebuilt together 2 years ago, and last year he started on his road bike riding. He graduated from high school this year and to celebrate that and his soon to be new college experience we planned a motorcycle trip together.

    The night before the trip we had our bikes partially packed and ready to go:


    The morning of I woke early and started looking over the maps again. I felt nervous for the first time ever about going on a ride. I was nervous for my son. Obviously I have been nervous for him before, but I’ve never been nervous about motorcycling. It is something I’ve been doing forever and don’t usually think about the “what if’s”.


    Then we were off. This trip is also the first time I have used a host communication device, and it opened a whole new world of enjoyment for me. Instead of feeing like I am riding alone with him behind me, it feels like I am riding with him.

    An analogy: motorcycling is like pancakes. I love pancakes. Life is better with pancakes. Motorcycling with headsets is like adding blueberries to the pancakes.


    The first stretch was great. I didn’t snap many photos, but the roads were typical Maine rural highway, fast enough for my old bike and not too fast to make it work hard. Traffic was light interrupted by small areas of congestion around Sebago Lake. We slipped up to Rumford, Maine, which was clearly a much more vibrant city in the past. The mill towers were still putting out smoke, but the downtown was an eclectic collection of empty storefronts, odd thrift stores and used clothing shops with the old mannequins from days gone past, a karate studio and the ubiquitous “House of Pizza” found in Maine towns from York to Fort Kent. The Architecture of the old hotel downtown was interesting as was the layout of the Main Street itself. (Again sorry, no pics).

    From Rumford we progressed up route 2 to route 17 and hit our first National Scenic Byways to Height of the Land. The road itself is great with undulating turns and small dips climbing to the peak of the height of the land and our first stop at a scenic overlook.


    In addition to the Thoreau shout out we bumped into a lovely young couple from South Carolina buzzing around the dirt roads and paved roads on an F800GS (possibly my next bike). They were nice enough to take a picture of the two of us


    That’s Mooselookmeguntic Lake in the background.

    There were a couple of Urals and the riders of each or the Urals were entertaining themselves by riding their side car passengers up on the sidewalks as they left the pull off. I need to try a side car some day.

    We left this overlook and rode up a quick stretch that crosses the Appalachian trail to the next pull off which looks East towards Rangeley Lake.


    Then we rolled into Rangley and after a brief detour (missed my turn) gave is another view of Rangeley


    We turned up route 16 to Stratton and then followed the Carrabassett stream to Sugarloaf.


    With the Bigelow range in the background


    We stopped at the Rack for some giant burgers


    Well fed we moved on to the Wire Bridge


    And then to my father’s camp for the night.


    After day 1 - I still love my old bike. (The f800gs would be an addition to the bike stable). Helmet communicators change the entire riding experience (for me that is a big plus). And motorcycling still brings people together. 5 and a half hours with my son’s voice in my head and mine in his and we weren’t lost for words a single minute of the ride.

    Today we push on through more old timber towns to the largest lake in the state and then on to Canada and Quebec.

    Au revoir


    Attached Files:

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  2. Ks-Rydr

    Ks-Rydr from the land of Toto

    Nov 22, 2009
    Nice start... I like your R65, my brother had an R65 which he loved. We rode many miles together, he and his R65 and me on an R100RT. It's great you and your son are able to enjoy a ride together. I hope you'll enjoy many more.
  3. CAW

    CAW Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2010
    Day 2 found us in north western Maine.

    We started with a ride back over the wire bridge and the Carrabassett River

    IMG_2727.jpg IMG_2729.jpg IMG_2728.jpg

    A run on a dirt road back to the Woodsman diner, a regular haunt when we ski, still delicious in the summer.


    From breakfast we gassed up and headed down 16 W to North Anson. Stopped for a shot with the old grain mill (totally forgot to stop for a photo with the falls).


    We rolled From Anson to Solon on 16/201 where we stopped for a photo with the Inn that looks like it hasn’t changed since the early 1900s. (Sweet triumph speedmaster parked at the hotel)


    My son also got to witness one of the real dangers on these roads: logging trucks. A truck barreled through Solon and nearly flattened a Yaris that was stopped to turn left because he failed to recognize it was stopped until the last possible second.

    We rolled up to Bingham and turned off 201 onto 16 to Abbott.

    Along the way we got distracted by some graceful and beautiful wind turbines and explored some dirt roads to see if we could get closer to them.

    IMG_2741.jpg IMG_2740.jpg

    And we did get close. Very close.


    It was interesting to think about the mill we saw earlier in the day that used to harvest the wind energy, and our current attempts to do the same.

    Back on the road we found a cool spot to refuel (our bodies) in Kingsbury.


    We turned north on 15 once we hit Abbot and paused at the (closed) welcome center for a stretch and a drink. Looking north we could see big Squaw mountain, a ski hill from my youth. It started having difficulty when the ski trains stopped, but hung in there. It then closed. Reopened now but only half way up.


    Rolled through Greenville and stopped at Moosehead Lake.

    I always loved the float planes I would see there when I was a kid (and still do).


    We were able to get real close to Big Squaw. Many memories.


    The roads from Greenville to Rockwood to Jackman were fast and fun. This was a straight stretch where we could pull over to take a break.


    Jackman to the border was a great stretch. Road was a little rough. We also saw a moose. It happened right after I was saying how I was surprised we hadn’t seen any. Then, there she was on the side of the road. No pic as we were rolling down the road when we saw her. We made it to the border and paused to celebrate.


    We ran north on the highway and finally nous sommes arrivons. Quebec did not disappoint. Cool city and a great air BNB that had My son excited. We went out to eat and got to soak in the hot tub at the end of a long fun day.

    IMG_2776.jpg IMG_2777.jpg 58673689020__7627C895-BB27-4AAC-9387-6AB43487C2A4.jpg

    Unfortunately I had a bit of an issue when we started our bikes to move them to the garage that was included in our stay.

    I attempted a start the electrical quit completely. No lights, no nothing. Dead. I pushed it up the hill and around the block to the garage and we began tearing it down to see if I could fix it. No voltmeter means my ability was limited. All the fuses were in tact and no obvious broken wires. I did find that the rear drive developed an oil leak from a blown crush washer. It had painted my rear tire in gear oil. . We put it back together and went out to eat.


    Today started with a call to AAA/CAA and a tow.


    Moto Vanier is an awesome shop 7 km from our BNB. First guy fixed the rear drive leak and replaced the battery and there was power, yay!. But it wasn’t charging . Then they handed it to Laurent who is their airhead expert.


    My son and I decided to have some croissants on the bench in front of the dealership.


    When I checked again, Laurent had diagnosed the problem: a broken main ground wire. It lasted 40 years, I guess it was time. Bolted back together, new battery, new drain plug crush washer, and new main ground wire. Moto Vanier to the rescue and rescued our trip.


    I don’t have to figure out how to get home and get a broken bike home.

    Onward for a day in the city and then two more days of riding. Now to find some poutine. Merci a Laurent and Moto Vanier. Et maintenant nous mangons.
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  4. Hollywood D

    Hollywood D Been here awhile

    May 24, 2018
    I like to see the ride reports where people go with their kids :thumb
  5. dpaolini

    dpaolini Slow is smooth and smooth if fast

    Feb 12, 2018
    Royal Oaks
    Very cool ride report, brings back many memories. You rode past my old stomping grounds. Lived in Solon Me, in the 70's, we lived a mile or so north of town on 201 right across from an overlook along side the river. Went to the Solon Hotel as a 16 year old and drank beer while my brothers band played on the weekends. They weren't very strict on carding back then. High school in North Anson, Carrabec High. Go Cobra's. Skiing at Sugarloaf, Squaw and the mountain in Rangley. I think it was Saddleback. They used to have a weekday special, all day for 5bucks. Haven't seen pictures of the wire bridge in years. Very very cool. I've been on the left coast some 40 years now but would love to return to ME. and do some riding. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Also, hat's off to the dad who rides with his kids. Taught mine but he wasn't really interested. Thanks again.

    ROYAL COACHMAN Long timer

    Sep 11, 2007
    Defiance, Mo.
    Pretty country up that way!!
    Good to see a father and son spending quality time together!
    CAW likes this.
  7. CAW

    CAW Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2010
    Day three of riding after a day cruising around Quebec.

    New Battery on board my bike, New negative ground wire, new crush washer and rear diff oil. Fingers crossed that things would go well. Packed the bikes up and prepared to depart.

    View attachment 1829159

    The first part of the trip was navigating the outskirts of Quebec City . Strip malls and industrial parks are more interesting in French. . Stopped for breakfast and tried to navigate the experience in my French that has been diluted by 30 years of not speaking it and living in Italy for a stretch. The lady asked me if things were fine, and I answered in Italian (doh!).

    View attachment 1828402

    After breakfast we continued along 138 on the northern coast of the St Lawrence River. We didn’t grab many photos from that part of the ride because of the rarity of pull off spots. It was beautiful and the road was great, but mostly we would have been pulling over in private driveways for photos. My son had his first experience with a steel grate bridge (why are they legal?). I was able to navigate a fuel stop with my rudimentary French. The pump assistant was very gracious.

    View attachment 1828405

    We crossed the St Lawrence at Trois Rivieres over a huge bridge and cruises down 161 to 55. At the merge with 55 we paused as the sky was looking more interesting and we thought it wise to don our rain gear. This was about to be his first experience riding in the rain.

    View attachment 1828407

    It intermittently spit on us, but nothing really concerning. We were riding through sections of soaked asphalt followed by sections of dry asphalt that let us know there were heavy storms in the area.

    Then, as we were preparing to drop off 55 onto 243 for for fuel, a rest and the stretch of rural roads we planned we felt the barometer drop. The air switched from warm humid air to cool humid air like hitting a wall and felt it getting cooler and cooler. My son’s voice came over the headset remarking on the air change just as the sky opened up. There was so much water I couldn’t clear my screen fast enough. It was like riding underwater. My son’s helmet cleared better than mine and he has flashers on the sportster that we turned on. Happily it happened just as we were getting on the off ramp, so shelter was close. The soaking was brief and stopped before we made it to the gas pumps. Still smiling.


    We crested the hill rising up from Richmond and we could see the rain in the distance and just hoped that we were heading towards the gaps on the storms. But we weren’t that lucky. Soaking number two lasted a bit longer, but we were still smiling . . .
    And the roads turned to dirt.


    Then the road turned in the exact wrong direction. I paused to get a shot of my son riding into the maw of the beast (you can zoom in and see him).


    Soaking three was longer than the first two and heavy at times, but we were still smiling. Then the sky seemed to say enough is enough. It wasn’t willing to play tag anymore. In the second photo you can see what a cloudy sky should look like on the right, and the cloud touching the ground on the left, which also happens to be where the road goes.


    Apparently the local children had enough and were laying in the streets, but we were still loving it. Several more dirt sections and we paused near this rocket for a photo. The fourth soaking was the most complete and carried us through our last 90 minutes in Canada.


    The route was 243 to 220 to 253, and it traverses farms and rural villages and was an absolute treat of a ride. We loved every soaking minute of it.

    We rolled up the border near Troy, Vermont and had a great chat with the border agent.


    105 to 101 to 100. We paused to snap a photo of the cows to prove we were actually in Vermont.


    The sun poked through several times as we rolled down Route 100, a great riding road.

    Then we turned north to our evening residence, an amazing restored and amazingly maintained Victorian farm house.


    We awoke today to rain, it is supposed to stop around 10 AM, then we will start on our last ride through the green mountains, a state forest, the whites and home.
    popscycle, Amphib and B10Dave like this.
  8. CAW

    CAW Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2010
    The ride to home started at 11. The rain let up at 10:45 and the sun began cooking the moisture from the trees.


    We untucked the bikes from the barn where we stashed them overnight and began our last day of the trip.


    Our route covered some great motorcycle roads today. Route 100 in Vermont is lovely with a good surface, views of the mountains, and quaint towns along the way.

    From route 100 we transitioned to I 89 for a short jump to Montpelier. 89 is one of my favorite interstates in New England. It rolls and turns with the land, crosses rivers and rides along the valley’s between the mountains.

    Pulling into Montpelier, we turned onto the Main Street to check out the gold dome of the capitol building. The dome is a pretty shocking contrast to the natural beauty of the land it sits on (didn’t get a pic as there was no parking near the dome). We paused on Main Street for a quick map check and photo and then rolled onto Route 2 north towards one of the best surprises of the trip.


    Route 2 is a typical New England secondary highway, 50 mph, rolling fast turns, interrupted by small villages and farms and interesting vistas along the way. From Route 2 we turned southeast onto 232 for a ride through the Groton state forest.


    I was hoping for some pretty scenery, but this road was our little buried treasure of the trip. Cambered turns, very little traffic, beautiful forest, and a 40-50 mph speed limit that permitted enjoyment of all the road had to offer. The surface was rough and bumpy in places, likely accentuated by my 40 year old bike, but it was an amazing motorcycle road.

    One of the several joy signs we encountered on the route:


    We made it to the end of the road, and had so much fun that my son suggested we do it again. So we turned around and headed back into the forest for a second run at the road. He is really falling for motorcycling and surprised me (happily) with his suggestion. It turns out the road is great in both directions. We paused after our second run in the south east direction for a drink and snack before transitioning to the next leg of the trip.


    From 232 to 302 and then 112, the Kancamangus.

    We stopped for a photo at the start of the Kancamangus as it is known as a spectacular road, and I wanted to document the beginning of this stretch.


    It turns out shortly after starting down 112, another stop presented itself. It was the only covered bridge along our route, and was visible from 112 so we took a turn and paused for a shot.


    (My son was making fun of me for leaving my blinker on)

    I’ve not ridden the Kancamangus on a motorcycle before, even though I grew up in Maine. Discovering it with my son was an awesome experience greatly enhanced by our helmet communicators so we could call out our joy to each other.

    We began rolling over some wet patches of pavement and getting a light mist on our visors, and parts of the sky were turning ominous.

    Because of this, and likely influenced by our experience the prior day, we paused to don the rain gear again.


    My son’s take on waterproof footwear:


    Happily, the roads remained dry and the Kancamangus didn’t disappoint. The traffic was light and the cars understanding that motorcycles can comfortably set a slightly faster pace on the winding mountain route. We were waved by several times with smiles and thumbs up.

    The road itself has an excellent surface. Riding east, the twists and turns of the small forest road before you get to Lincoln and Loon Mountain transform into wider, sweeping, and smooth transitions. The views transform from glimpses of mountain peaks and river beds through gaps in the trees to giant sweeping views of mountain valleys and distant mountain tops. We were chattering with surprise and excitement each time the road changed or turned as each new view of a mountain peak or a valley floor presented itself.

    The smiles were clear even with helmets on.


    We paused for a panoramic photo after one particularly nice stretch where the left handed turn felt like it went on for a quarter mile of sustained radius. Every time you felt as if you would come to the of the turn it kept going and just when you were convinced that you may end up on the same road going west, the road straightened out just briefly enough to transition to an uphill hairpin right. The photo spot was about a quarter mile up the road from the hairpin turn.


    And just further uphill from the vista we paused at the peak of Kancamangus pass for another pic


    (Pardon the perspective, a Moto glove makes a mediocre tripod).

    In hindsight, you can see the curves I am referring to on the map.


    The remainder of the Kancamangus was excellent, and if it wasn’t for the epic turns and peaks we had just traversed it would be some of the best riding we had all week.

    Continuing east from 112 onto 302, we then turned onto 113 to head for home.

    Pulling into the driveway with my wife waving and snapping photos, relieved we arrived home in one piece brought a warm end to what was my first real multiday motorcycle trip in 41 years of riding.


    My bike was not done with me though. The rear drive redeveloped a leak from the drain plug/crush washer during our last day of riding. That is the second BMW mechanic installed crush washer that has failed. Maybe a surface scratch on the casing?

    And, as if to say, “I made it and that is enough for me” as we were standing on the driveway embracing and chattering with my wife, as one does when you have been away from someone you love for several days, my bike dropped its tank badge onto the ground with a definitive clatter.


    Completing this ride with my son was a real treasure. Hearing his joy during the entire ride, through heavy rain and mechanical breakdown, and his developing passion for long motorcycle journeys really changed me. I feel like I may have sparked a new generation of rider, but he also sparked a renewed joy of riding in me. Maybe it’ll be the start of a new chapter in riding from dirt rider, commuter, daily driving duty rider to adventurer. I can’t imagine having a better time with anyone else on the trip and it would not have been as fulfilling, exciting or just plain fun by myself. I think I now have a riding partner for life, leaving us with one big question:

    Where to next?

  9. justdrew

    justdrew Triple Powered

    May 23, 2009
    White Mountains, Maine
    I think I saw you! I was heading north on 113 near Fryeburg. I remember seeing a real nice red R65 heading south with another bike tailing behind. Thanks for the report, looks like it was a good time.
    CAW likes this.
  10. CAW

    CAW Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2010
    That was us heading towards home. It was a great time.
    justdrew likes this.
  11. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

    Feb 2, 2018
    New York
    Great trip and pictures. I just did a 2 day with my son to Watkins Glen from Poughkeepsie. I know how great it is to be making those memories together, and I know how you worry too. I guess based on your report I will invest in comms.

    I would really like to see a google map of your route. I believe I have ridden most of the roads you mention but I am not sure. Also what was your approximate total mileage and number of days?

    the tank badge thing is either ominous or lucky, I am not sure. I think you got your money's worth out of that bike either way. That is an amazing long tome to own a bike. I always liked those airheads.
    CAW likes this.
  12. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

    Apr 10, 2011
    Central MA
    Great RR! The best kind (i.e., with your kid(s)) Thanks!
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  13. RedEX

    RedEX NeverSatisfied

    Apr 25, 2007
    S.E. Michigan
    Excellent thread, CAW! I could really relate to your writing, including the maps and prep, helmet comms, even the pre-ride anxiety. Recently divorced and with two boys in their 20's, i'm free to go wherever / whenever. (Unfortunately my boys have no interest in riding.). I've had planned vacation time coming up next week, but only within the last few days could even decide WHERE to go, if at all. Ugh! Really enjoyed your ride report, in so many ways. I've been researching Maine as a destination for a while now, (from southeast Michigan), and your adventures with your son have given me a nice incentive. Thanks! :ricky
    CAW likes this.
  14. CAW

    CAW Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2010
    Day 1


    Riding Day 2 and 3 with a little bit of 4.


    Final day of riding


    This is not the exact route, but the major roads are on there. The crossroads I chose as a neutral starting and finishing point. We took some dirt side roads along the way and rode 232 in Vermont twice. Hope this helps.

    For comms I bought the freecom 4 mostly because they are cardio and waterproof and they are older technology so they are cheaper. The sound quality was excellent. The major drawback to that system is that you can’t have gps directions and conversation at the same time. You are either talking or having communication from GPS, etc. it wasn’t that big a deal until we were in some congested areas in Quebec.

    I’m hoping the tank badge incident was just lucky it happened where it did.

    Definitely got my money’s worth out of this bike. No question. Going to keep riding it, but strongly considering a more modern lightweight tourer.
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