Scoot Commute

I got all 6 New England states…in one season!

Posted in BMW F650GS Dakar (Maxx), Ride Reports, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2010/10/22

This is a repost of my first ride report on the ADV Rider website. It’s nothing all that adventurous but it was a fun weekend and a nice break from the ordinary.

My boyfriend and I planned a long weekend in western Massachusetts and southwest Vermont over the Columbus Day weekend (Friday to Monday). Friends were planning on meeting us at the Clarksburg State Park campground on Saturday afternoon.

We got our gear ready for quick packing on Friday morning. I discovered that we pack more crap for short camps than long camps, probably because I always want to experiment on the short camping rides. I rarely bring a lot of clothes but I didn’t know how cold it was going to get up in the mountains in early October so I did bring more warm clothes that I usually would.

We rode out toward Connecticut on Route 44 and stopped at “the Bean” for breakfast in Pomfret, CT. The bacon was goooood.

There were lots of bikes in the lot, including this sweet little Honda. I think the GS in the background belongs to an employee.

I didn’t take pics as we rode through Connecticut and Massachusetts because I’ve ridden a lot of the route before. As we were riding near Brookfield, MA on the same nice road that we came home on after Rice-o-Rama last month, I spotted a TARDIS in someone’s yard.

I yelled into the intercom, “Oh my god, stop! There’s a TARDIS in Massachusetts!” I only noticed it because of the giant woodpile. Large, neatly stacked split wood always draws my attention.

I was REALLY excited but too cautious to open it up. I truly didn’t want to know if it was bigger on the inside than the outside. Can you tell how freakin’ excited I am in this pic? My hands are clenched because I’m flipping out. Is Jon Pertwee inside?

We were riding back roads, but in an effort to gain some time, I had agreed to ride part of I-91 from the Amherst area up to Route 2. After getting stuck in lots of traffic near UMass, we pulled the right to get on the Interstate. I looked up at the overpass and the traffic was parked on 91. We pulled over to find an alternate route. I hate riding interstates, and I hate riding parked interstates even more.

Well did we find a nice alternate route or what? We continued on Route 9 through Northampton to Route 112. What a beautiful ride…you’ll have to trust me on this one as we took no pics. Slow winding roads, little traffic, endless colorful views of trees, trees, and more trees.

We eventually hit Route 2, aka the Mohawk Trail. Yet another winding, twisty road with spectacular views and some nice switchbacks. I was giving my other half on his F650GS plenty of room so I could get some good lean on the motard. One stupid bike, even with loaded saddlebags.

We got into Clarksburg about 4:30pm. Here’s the view from the entrance.

In our typical fashion, we missed this turn initially and wound up in Vermont with very little fanfare. One of the reasons for this particular ride was so I could get my last New England state this year. And poof, there we were, in Vermont and me yelling at my boyfriend for getting lost…again. In my defense, I was hungry. And yes, if I’m going to be mean about getting lost I should lead, but I have no sense of direction. If I had been leading, we’d probably have wound up in Pennsylvania!

I had cooked up dinner the night before and brought everything with me for yummy tacos…that would be if I had remembered to bring the meat which was sitting in the freezer. So despite my best efforts to avoid the grocery store, we had to ride into North Adams and grab some ground meat.

We got the site set up in less than 10 minutes (we got it down!), including getting the fire started. We settled down with a big meal of tacos with all the fixings in front of the fire. What a nice way to end the day.

Total for the day: 180 miles

The two of us headed out looking for some fire roads in the Green Mountains National Forest.

We headed out on Route 9 toward some fictitious road that we never found. We stopped at this obelisk that explained why Route 9 is called the Molly Stark Highway. It has something to do with the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Bennington and the Stark family.

We kept riding on Route 9 toward Bennington trying to find Forest Road 275 (I think that’s the number). We wound up at an Appalachian Trail / Long Trail crossover. I’ve hiked the trail in a lot of states, including doing Katahdin twice. But I had never been on the AT in Vermont.

It barely counts, but I was there!

We wound up turning around and heading toward Somerset Road. While it was past peak, it still was outrageously beautiful.

We turned onto Somerset Road which is a nicely hardpacked dirt road that follows a river. I stopped for this pic because I thought it was hilarious. Perhaps it will be re-gravelled more often? And yeah, my pants are too short.

We made this left turn and discovered a small, open field campground. It even had a privy. Site 6 was the nicest, and it’s carry in-carry out, including water. However, the river is right there so you could drink that. At least I would.

Here’s some more of Route 71 in the Green Mountains National Forest. The Dakar looks good. When I was taking this pic, a guy on a KLR rode by and gave a thumbs up. Back atcha.

We continued on Forest Road 71 as it was supposed to lead into Kelley Stand Road which everyone told us we had to ride.

Forest Road 71 got a bit gravelly. My boyfriend HATES gravel because he went down in it this summer in Nova Scotia. He’s got the fear now. I’m too stupid to know any better, but even I was riding this in second gear. I was leading and trying to pick decent lines, but it seemed like they were always heading off into the ditch on the side of the road. I would have grabbed the center but there was traffic; a bunch of Jeeps, a guy in a Saturn, another Jeep.

We finally got to Kelley Stand Road and we were both pretty happy for that. I have got to get dirt wheels on my bike. As soon as we turned onto the road, a guy on a Husky rode by. Pretty Husky. Me like the Husky.

Kelley Stand was awesome. Hardpacked dirt. Fantastic river view. There were pull-offs all along the road with fire rings. You can just pull over and set up camp. You’ve got cold, fresh running water from the river and loads of downed wood for the fire. If I had known, I would have camped along here.

I was working on riding the dirt fast so I led. It felt great, able to get up decent speed and take the turns successfully. I usually follow when we ride together because I don’t like to have to keep checking my mirrors for my fellow rider (yes, I’m lazy), but if I get to go fast, I’ll sacrifice having to keep an eye on him.

Kelley Stand led us to Route 7 which is a big dual carriageway with a posted limit of 55. It looks like a little road on the map so we were both surprised when we got on it. We were only riding into Bennington to get back on Route 9.

I still have the stock tank on my DRZ so I was eager to get to Bennington to fill up.

This gas station conveniently sells gas, beer, Doritos and guns. Team Glock!

Bennington was irritating with traffic and lots of people, so we didn’t even bother to stop. We rode back on Route 9 and then onto Route 8. Lemme tell ya, that Route 8 between Route 9 and where Route 100/8 join is a freaking blast. The road surface is rough (there’s even a sign letting you know), but every two miles there’s a “curvy roads ahead for the next 2 miles” sign. Basically the whole road is curves. Fun fun fun!

We took a curve and I looked up and there were my wind turbines! I knew they were somewhere and bam! there they were up on the crest of a mountain.

We rode back to the campsite and our friends had arrived. He was riding a VStrom and she was on a Honda CRF230. The ride to the campground was more miles than she had ever ridden previously. You go, little Honda girl!

He wanted to go for another ride, but since she had just ridden over 140 miles on a 230 to get here, I suggested we ride into town to pick up some food for dinner. New York strip, baking potatoes and green beans. Yum.

When we got back, I got the fire going and started to bake the spuds. We settled down with our baked potatoes (with thyme, butter and cheese), New York strip barbecued properly, and steamed beans. Ahhhhh.
Mmmm, New York Strip over the fire

This is the first time I’ve camped with other people. I moto-camp because 1) I like to ride; and 2) I like to camp. It’s not just about riding for me; I like hiking and the being away from modern life aspect that can be camping. Sure, I bring stuff with me to make it comfy (I gotta have a chair, a sleeping mat and a pillow), but I don’t have any electronics with me. My friends, on the other hand, have kids and did great with not doing too much texting or surfing on their phones. Heck, my boyfriend and I even got a TracFone for our ride through Nova Scotia only to realize it doesn’t work up there. I like not having any of communication, but I know it was difficult for my travelling companions. But they did really good.

Total for the day: 125 miles

We got up and cooked up some breakfast. It was really, really cold overnight and it was continuing the cold theme Sunday morning.

I actually broke down and made a fire this morning so we could huddle around it and eat our farina (me), oatmeal (the boyfriend) and scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon (my friends). This is the end of the fire as we’re getting ready to head out for our ride.

We had decided that we would head up to Mount Greylock, the tallest peak in Massachusetts. Why not? Who doesn’t love an -est?!

Here’s the little parking lot at the bottom of the mountain where people park to hike up the mountain.

The mountain road had lots of switchbacks and my friend’s wife did fantastic on her little Honda.

Here’s me at one of the pull-offs.

I was looking all over for the USGS marker for the high point but didn’t find it. Oh well, at least we grabbed this snap to add to my High Pointers collection.

There were A LOT of people at the summit. Too many for my taste. We didn’t hang around too long, but did run up to the top of the memorial (to those who fought in the Great War).

On the way down I was in the rear. Again, I don’t like leading and we wanted the wife in the middle so we could keep an eye on her. I was trying to get a lot of space between me and my boyfriend so when the switchbacks came, I would have the space to accelerate out of the turns. Again, much fun was had. The SM is stoopid.

We stopped at the grocery store in North Adams and headed back to the camp site to drop everything off and plan the afternoon ride. We decided to head back to Forest Road 71 so I could have a chance to ride it on the little Honda.

We rode back to the open site camping. My boyfriend didn’t want to do the gravel thing again, and my friend’s wife didn’t want to try it. She kindly offered me her Honda CRF230 and off I headed, following my friend on his VStrom.

Here’s me heading out with my friend following.

The Honda is fun! The road is good for a while and then it gets more and more covered in loose gravel. We rode for a good while until my friend decided we should head back. The gravel was getting thick, he was on the big Strom, and everyone was waiting for us.

After we turned around, he said I should lead to set the pace. I learned that I shouldn’t lead not because I always get lost, but because I do stupid things.

I had that little Honda going between 50 and 60 mph on the gravel. Woohoo!

But then it happened (of course). You were expecting this. A turn came up and I was going too fast. Instead of grabbing some brake and possibly (probably) laying the bike down on the road, I continued my line off into the side ditch and into the vegetation and trees. I travelled for what seemed like a long time into the bushes and vines until something clicked in my head that said, “You have got to stop this bike” as I looked up and saw a tree.

Instinctively, I hit the kill switch. My daily commuter is a scooter and it’s built in to scooter riders to hit the kill switch if something bad is going to happen. The bike finally stopped and I realized I was lying on the ground with the bike on top of me. I knew my friend was behind me and would stop and help.

With the bike still lying on top of me, I see the VStrom cruise on by. No look, no slow-up, nothing. That’s when the reality of the situation hit me. “Get the bike off of you. Get it upright. Get up!” was my brain screaming at me.

I crawled out from underneath the bike. As I’m sitting there in the leaves and vines, a car stops up on the road. It’s a guy in a little hatchback with VT plates. He yells over, “Are you OK? Do you want help?”

“Oh no,” I laughed, giving an air ‘get outta here’ wave. “This happens all the time.” He sort of hesitated, but I insisted I was fine. He nodded and continued on his way.

So there I was, sitting in a ditch. I got the bike up in a flash; much, much easier than trying to get the DRZ up by myself. (And no, I don’t fall over that often.) Both wheels are filled with weeds and vines and little branches. At some point I took my gloves off and set them in the weed. That was a mistake.

I get all the weeds out of the spokes and throw my left leg over to mount from the right. I’m now sitting on the bike and ready to ride it up onto the roadway. I turn the key and hit the starter. Ernnhhhh, ernnhhhh. Nothing. I hit the starter again; same sickly sound.

Hmmm, now what? Ahh, the kill switch! I rock it into the on position, hit the starter and the little Honda roars to life. I think for a moment that I should grab my gloves so I can just ride out of the ditch and back to the meeting spot. But something in my head says, “Ah, no, just leave ’em. You can come back and get them in a second. How are you going to get off the bike without it falling again in this precarious ditch?”

Don’t listen to the voices in your head.

I rode the bike along the ditch and up into an area that looked easy to get the bike up and over onto the roadway. I managed it a lot easier than I thought. Once up on the road, I continued down a bit to a little off parking area. I then got off and headed back to collect my gloves.

But where did they go? I couldn’t find them. I was frantically looking, scrounging through the leaves. I knew that people would start worrying about me if I didn’t get back soon.

After not finding them, I stood on the roadway and thought for a moment. Where did you actually go off the road? Start there and walk that line. Even in moments of utter stupidity, my brain can give good advice. I finally found them, pulled them and ran over to the bike to ride back. It actually took longer to find my gloves than the whole getting it off me and up onto the road.

Here’s the offending spot. Notice the rut where I rode up onto the road.

As I’m riding back to the meet-up spot, first the VStrom with my friend and his wife, and then the BMW are headed toward me. I give a big “Hello!” wave and keep on riding. I didn’t want to stop and explain what had happened.

When we got back to the open field campground, we all parked and I got to tell my story. I wasn’t going to make it so dramatic but I missed a spot of vegetation.

The most stupid part of all this is I had been telling myself, “Take it easy. It’s not your bike.” There was no visible damage to the bike and my friend’s wife did ride it back to Rhode Island, so I guess it’s ok.

After a few moments to get my head back together, we decided to ride up to Somerset Reservoir.

After the Reservoir, we headed back to our campsite for a huge fire, barbecued brats and Dalwhinnie. Mmmmm.

Before going to bed, I stopped in the bathroom. As I’m standing outside waiting for my boyfriend, I see this sign. For some reason it just struck the both of us as bizarre that German is the second language in the list. Are there really that many Germans visiting Clarksburg State Forest?

Total for the day: 84 miles

We got early but took our time making coffee and breakfast. I made another fire and we relaxed before starting to pack. Well, most of us relaxed. My friend, I don’t think he relaxes like most people relax and he was busy organizing and packing. My boyfriend and I were in no rush to get back home, and we have a routine when we pack up. We each have our own jobs, who packs what, where, and how is all worked out.

Sitting around the morning fire, we worked out a route home. I didn’t want to ride all together because I like to dink around, make random stops, and I really wanted to visit a nearby state park called the Natural Bridge State Park which features the only natural marble arch in North America.

We were packed up and left the campsite around 11:45 am.

We rode the handful of miles to the Natural Bridge State Park. As we rode up the entrance, a woman was collecting parking fees. My boyfriend was first and asked how much it would be…$2 to park. I told him over the intercom that I had cash handy so he rode up and the woman came over to me. I gave her the $20 I had pulled out of my pocket, and she gave me $18 change. I said, “Oh, it’s for both of us.” She laughed and said that because we would share a spot, it’s only $2. I said, “That’s the way it should be.” Well, apparently that is exactly what my boyfriend had said to her. I guess we are supposed to be together.

Here’s the dam that built to power the mill that took the marble and smashed it into smaller pieces for everything from door thresholds to powder for toothpaste.

The big roundy carvings in the rocks are made by rocks that come loose and spin around in the current. They’re called potholes. It was so freaking cool. We did get a pic of the arch but it wasn’t nearly as cool as these roundy things. And I thought the potholes in Providence were bad!

After we left the park, we rode home on Route 2 (the Mohawk Trail), then to Route 122 through the Quabbin Reservoir which supplies Boston with its water. We will definitely go back to camp in the Quabbin location. Lots of dirt roads and peacefulness.

We eventually found our way to Route 12 (via Route 56) in Webster/Dudley where I stopped to grab this pic of the sign for the lake with one of the longest place names in the world.

Here we got on Route 16 through the Douglas Forest and then onto Route 7. I knew we had crossed over into Rhode Island when we were passed on the double yellow because we were only going 5 miles above the speed limit on a quiet, richly forested country road. Rhode Island drivers are truly the worst I’ve ever had to deal with.

Heading toward Providence I suggested we stop at Bob & Timmy’s for some pizza. We were in luck because Rick, one of the owners, was there and we haven’t seen him in ages. We got all caught up on the gossip and enjoyed some delicious pizza in celebration of Columbus Day.

The guy leaning on the pickup in the background is the dishwasher at the restaurant; Auriel is his name. He was asking all kinds of questions about the BMW because he’s looking to bring a bike back to Guatemala with him. I told him the BMW is for sale, but he said that’s what the cops ride down there and it’s difficult to get parts. He’s looking for a 250cc-range Honda.

We headed back to the house.

Total for the day: 156 miles


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