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Sunday, 7 May 2017

That Time of the Year Again and More

Every year Transport Canada requires me to complete recurrent training in each of the aircraft that I currently fly. For the last three years the training for the Falcon 2000LX takes place in lovely Teterboro, New Jersey, across the river from the madness known as The Big Apple. I do think a lot of that madness makes it's way across the Hudson, because it isn't too calm or tranquil here either.

I've been flying since 1988, and the training thing is starting to get old. I know it's required, but for me it's like a mandatory trip to the dentist. I know it's good for me, but I don't like it. It's a week of my life I'm not getting back. Basically it consists of 2 full days of ground school, where we review aircraft systems, operations, changes that have occurred in the last year, yada, yada, yada. Then it's 3 days of flight simulator. That's not too bad. We go over emergency procedures you couldn't do in the real airplane. Fires, engine failures, multiple system failures, etc, etc.

The Box, or the simulator

To make matters worst the company expects us to travel to training on our weekends off, and we only get two of them a month. So basically for this month..........none.

To make this little foray into training a little easier to take I ride my bike to Joisey. I take two or three days to get there, and two to come home. If it's my weekend off, I'm at least gonna enjoy it.

I've done this trip once on my old Vstrom, and now, this is the second year on the Guzzi.

I love the Guzzi, but really miss the ol' Strom. Never should have sold it.

Mount Washington

Each year I try and find a slightly different route to get here, avoiding the Interstates as much as possible and sticking to the secondary roads in an effort to find the best motorcycle roads out there.

This year was the best one so far.........as far as roads go. It was the worst for weather, unless you enjoy being wet........and I'm not going there.

Bike is loaded and ready to go.........the dog is not too impressed that I am leaving again.

The forecast was looking rather ominous for Saturday in our neck of the woods, so I decided to try and beat most of the rain by leaving a day early, and making my way as far as Lewiston, Maine. I figured if I left at noon, I'd probably only end up riding in the rain for about an hour, then I'd sleep through the worst of it.

The ride to the border was pretty good, it's divided highway, and boring, but it gets you out of the country fast. The weather was overcast with a balmy temp of 10C. I had the heated jacket on taking away the chill. Within an hour I was exchanging pleasantries with the nice CBP officer at the border and after a few "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir" I was on my way. 

Route 9 to Bangor is not a bad road, speed limit is 55mph, or as Scotty Goggles says "a double nickel" (Harley thing). It also happens to be the best cruising speed for the Guzzi, it's happy place. It'll do 70 all day long, but for me and the Guzzi, 55 is where it's at.

The 9 snakes it's way westward, a lot of hills, and sweepers, and not much traffic. The pavement has seen better days and big cracks, potholes and frost heaves abound, keeping me alert.

From Bangor, I jumped on the I95 and pushed towards Lewiston, I was in a rush to head off the rain, so that was the quickest route. The further west I rode the darker the skies turned, and the cloud ceiling dropped lower towards the ground. Just as I had planned it, the first drops of rain hit my shield about 60km from Augusta. Before long the road was rain soaked and so was I.

My Olympia gear that I used on our Labrador trip is still working well, it kept me completely dry, with my heated jacket keeping me comfortable as the mercury continued to fall to a pleasant 8C.

Before long I was pulling into the Residence Inn, having another 466km under my belt. Supper tonight was the last frozen pizza from the cooler, and two Goose Island IPA's to wash it down.

I went to sleep hopeful tomorrow would be a little better weather wise, because my route through the White Mountains would be very scenic.

I woke up in a very dark room, no slivers of sunshine cutting through the bedroom. Peering through the blinds I was greeted with RDF. Any Newfoundlanders will know what that is, or ask Carl Wells the former CBC weather man from Da Rock. RDF (rain, drizzle, fog)

The day was shaping up to be a very wet one. Forecast was for showers, but improving closer to my next destination. 

After a less than stellar Residence Inn breakfast I loaded up the Guzzi, plugged in my jacket for added warmth and headed off into the fog. For added measure I wore my heated glove liners. It wasn't the warmest of mornings at 8C. 

Maine is very international.

Nothing against Maine, but I find the riding drastically improves as soon as you cross into the "Live Free or Die" State. The roads get nicer and views (if you could see them through the fog) get better.

I love the water, love living near it, playing in it, but riding motorcycles is so much better in the mountains, and New Hampshire does not disappoint. 

The only disappointing thing was old man weather. The drizzle and fog was now a steady rain. 

This year I took a southern route through White Mountain National Park, cutting west below Mount Washington. I had no idea what the route would entail, but I saw a very cool road on my Garmin Basecamp mapping software and took a chance. 

The chance paid off, the roads ran next to fast flowing rivers in the valleys, before I turned onto Kancamagus Highway which snaked it's way further skyward into the cloud and fog. 

Now, the roads up until now had been pretty quiet, not a lot of Mainers or Live Free or Diers on the move. Once in the National Park it became void of cars. I passed one other silly fucker on a bike. No he wasn't on a Harley either. I'm guessing the weather has them all to scared to leave the garage. Nope it was a guy, or girl, could really tell, on a Ducati Multistrada. All the Italians out in the rain. Bellissimo.

The Kancamangus Highway tops out close to 3000ft. I'm guessing the views from the summit must be pretty nice. I was full on IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) at this point.

Not sure, but there maybe something scenic worthy viewing over there.

A balmy 9C!

Descending the backside of the mountain through the hairpin turns the fog started to lift, and the temp began to rise. Soon it was a blistering 15C, and I was dialling back the heat on my jacket. Shit, could it be turning into a nice day?

Best view of the day in the White Mountains.

I slowly made my way out of New Hampshire and into the Green Mountain State, otherwise known as Vermont. The short lived respite in the rain was over and it was back to a steady pour. I rode a mix of backroad with short stints on the Interstate. The further into Vermont I rode the better the weather turned.

I was getting hungry and desperately needed a coffee, however exits off the highway continued to pass by, the rain was relentless and as funny as this sounds I didn't want the bike sitting in the rain. At speed the GPS and tank bag are shelter from the wet. Sitting still they get soaked.

On the horizon I see spots of blue sky, and before long the makers of May flowers have stopped their deluge. I pull off the highway and find a gas station/deli/garden centre. No shit.

Need some groceries, a chicken salad wrap, begonia, gas.......

The weather improved dramatically at this point, the sun came out and the temp soared to 21C. Heated jacket was switched off, lightweight gloves went on, and I asked Garmin to reroute me on a slightly friendlier route than the Interstate it currently had me on.

A little bit about GPS's. They only tell you to go where you program them to take you too. Faster route is not always the shortest distance, and shortest distance may take you long time. Oh and don't rule out ending up on gravel roads that may not have qualified as a road since Roosevelt was President. It maybe your programming error, or a dreaded database error.

So off I go the Garmin leading the blind, which had me second guessing the routing in question. I had gravel roads selected as an avoidance, but here I was heading onto the dirt, with the Interstate a mere 100m to my left.

Fuck it,  you only live once, as my daughter says. Plus, I'm still an ADV rider at heart. Actually the road was pretty good gravel, probably smoother than most paved NB roads. A little greasy at best. When in doubt gas it, right.

Beats the Interstate any day of the week.....month.....year.

The dirt didn't last long and I was spit out on the pavement, which turned into a lovely backroad romp at 80kph.

Oh and I was sent on another Garmin shortcut. It sent me up a nice little gravel road again, which Guzzi and I had no problem riding on......until the gates at the end. Oops. Database error me thinks.

Wish our paved roads at home were as nice as this gravel one.

The Guzzi doesn't mind getting dirty

I crossed into western Mass, which looked oddly like the rest of Vermont. Beautiful state, and the incredible riding continued. 

What was a long day in the saddle was brought to a close as I pulled into the parking lot of the Fairfield Inn in Great Barrington, Mass under sunny, warm skies. Great Barrington is a quaint little town, just south of Pittsfield, Mass. Too bad I was too knackered to explore it more. 

Tonight it was Subway and listen to the Ottawa Senators win in overtime on the internet. Video was not available in the USA. Thank you Rogers. 

More to follow in a later post because I'm too tired to write anymore. Oh and one more thing......The Mad Bastard is off for me. It sucks I know, too many logistical things and time off to get it done this year, I am disappointed. In honour for Rally Master Harris I did this,

Not a bad day of riding.

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