Stowe, Vermont

If you are going to Stowe to attend a wedding, I recommend riding your motorcycle. I took the occasion to do just that and try out my new Saddlemen TS3200 rear bag.  I had recently adjusted the valves, changed the coolant and put in the 20W50 summer weight oil. The bike was loaded and I ran 32 psi in the front tire and 34 in the rear.

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Saddlemen TS3200 bag with the bike rain cover on top of it.

The bag sits on the passenger seat and just clears my back. I can lean back onto it or not. Pretty much ideal in that respect. I have to help my leg bend enough to clear it when getting on and off. I can still open the top box enough to get at the contents pretty well. The bag hangs down over the sides of the seat, but is still well above the exhaust, and it sits just in front of the rear directional lights. It’s held securely with quick-disconnect straps, sort of pulled back against the top box, conforming to the shape of the available space.

The bike is more top heavy when loaded this way but it handles fine once you get rolling.

I was headed to the Field Guide Inn there and got Google Maps to cook up this 123 mile “back roads” route through the mountains northwest of Plymouth, NH and into Vermont. It was a sunny, 70 degree day. Perfect. I wore my Revit Wind summer weight armored jacket my wife recently bought me. Very comfortable all the way up.

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Bridge over the Connecticut River between Piermont, NH and Bradford, VT

The roads typically follow small rivers flowing towards the big Connecticut River and I leaned into a lot of curves on the way to Stowe.

I arrived at almost the same time as my wife, who prefers her Infiniti G37X over anything with only two wheels.

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The newlyweds

In addition to a great wedding, great food and company, we enjoyed hiking in the area, visiting Moss Pond Waterfall and Bingham Falls in Smuggler’s Notch.

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Moss Pond Falls – about 60 feet top to bottom

Stowe is a wonderful place to spend some relaxing time.

On the way home, though, the iPhone radar was showing rain approaching from the west. It was 42 degrees. I layered up and wore the Sedici three-season jacket that I had squirreled away in the TS3200. Also the down mittens with wool liners. Got on I 89 for the short run from Waterbury down to Barre, but the bike felt so good with little wind that I decided to cover some quick miles by staying on the interstate down to New London and then taking NH Route 11 east. I was comfortable running 65-75 mph with an occasional unintended streak near 80 mph. The bike always runs silky smooth in 5th gear and the torque peaks by design at 70-75. I only passed a few vehicles because I was mostly just keeping up with traffic in the right lane.

Stopped for gas and then again for a quick snack. Pulled into the driveway just ahead of some heavy rain. I love radar!

2017 Spring Winnipesaukee Ride

When a good day suddenly appears, I’m apt to find myself on a ride around the big lake. Like today, for example. Snow in the woods, bare roads, a high near 70 degrees and sunny.

I recently acquired a new Sedici three-season armored jacket for a closeout price of $138 and I wanted to try it out.

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It has zip-out wind and thermal layers. I had them both in. I was too warm when stopped, but it was okay moving. In several pockets of snow and shade, the jacket was just right.

I should have removed the thermal layer when I got overheated but I was too preoccupied (lazy).

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Cottage on Alton Bay with a red roof

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Tuftonburo Town Beach

The bob houses have retreated off the spring ice after curing several fishermen of their post Christmas blues. See December photo.

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Mount Washington cruise ship resting up before the summer season begins.

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Bad BMW man peering in the window at Meredith Harley Davidson

The bike ran well as always, traffic was sparse, things to see, spring in the air. And I like the jacket a lot. It was a good ride.

 

 

Trivia: People per Bike by State

How many residents are there per registered motorcycle in the various states? I have wondered. I found enough data on the internet to calculate it, but then I found a site that already has a nice article.

You can check it out on Motley Fool.

The national average is 36 people per motorcycle.

Iowa is third with 18 people per motorcycle.

New Hampshire is second with 17.

South Dakota is first with only 12  inhabitants per bike. By the way, the Stugis, SD motorcycle rally draws about 1/2 million riders annually from all over the country. Bonafide bike country.

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2015 Sturgis, SD Bike Rally Riders

 

It’s interesting that the warmer states have the least motorcycles per capita. I have no idea why. It should be the other way around but it isn’t. People with cold winters have more bikes.

But I think New Hampshire is too far out of first place for me to help much by buying a second motorcycle. It was a pretty good thought, though.

Down the Road

The old, hardwired part of my brain arrived genetically, a product of millions of years of evolution. It existed before agriculture and was used hunting and gathering. It knows how to carry all my possessions with me, to live light and free. It’s still there, operating in the background. There hasn’t been enough time to change it much.

That’s why a motorcycle feels natural. A minimal machine, carrying my gear down the road to the next good spot.

I can do civilization pretty well, but part of me objects to it and gets angry.

That’s why a regular dose of “the bike” is necessary. Even a photo does wonders.

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Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels.

 

 

 

Cold Weather Riding: Part 6

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Some people drive up from Boston to go skiing at Gunstock. They look over as an old BMW pulls in with a pair of snow shoes strapped on the back. “Whaaaaa?”

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It’s alarming. No one rides a motorcycle to a ski area in February.

“What does that guy know that I don’t know?”

For one thing, it’s only 1/4 mile from my house to the ski area. I don’t get cold on a three minute ride.

I disappear into the woods.

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Steep Part

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Half way up Cobble Mountain, I notice some critters have been sharing this section of the trail. But their tracks veer off towards this shelter:

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A warm south facing rock overhang, dry pine needle floor, no mortgage.

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Snow-coated Alton Bay in the distance.

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Gunstock Downhill Ski Runs

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Panorama High Speed Quad running full capacity in the distance.

Back home an hour and a half later. Hot tea. Then, more hot tea.

Cold Weather Riding: Part 5

The F650 has been accumulating that white powdery, road salt, metal-eating,  winter worn look. It’s 33 degrees, sun is shining, roads are dry. That’s right! Time to head for the local car wash.

But why not do it with a bit more comfort?

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Check these out. Got them for Christmas.  They come in a foil pouch and as soon as the air hits them they start producing heat. How? It’s a blend of iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite. Sort of a very slow-acting, self-igniting gunpowder, I imagine.

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I have been using an LLBean wool mitten liner inside an old pair of down ski mittens. I put the Yaktrax pouch just on the outside of the wool mitten above my fingertips.  With the wool mitten already inside the down one, it’s easy to slip the pouch in-between and get it where you want it.

Sure enough, I could feel the heat as I set off down the road. My face was feeling cold until I realized my face shield wasn’t down all the way. After that it was all cozy.

At the car wash do-it-yourself bay, I took the mittens and helmet off and put on a lighter pair of gloves to handle the wash equipment.

A nice thing about having the heat in your mittens is you can afford to get your hands cold performing a task that requires your fingers out in the open, like putting 12 quarters into the wash machine. You get relief as soon as the mittens go back on.

I use up my 3 minutes with prewash, soap, wax and rinse. I try not to blast away near the wheel and suspension bearings. Some places you want the grease to stay. I wipe down the bike. I’m on my way on a clean machine.

Do the hand warmers work? I’m riding back into the driveway thinking I’d like to stay out longer. Why not. My hands are fine.

Let’s see now, how far south do I need to ride in the cold before I find 50-degree weather? It’s been on my mind.

 

 

Last Ride

It’s  just after Christmas, sunny and in the mid forties. That’s right. Time for a motorcycle circumnavigation of Lake Winnipesaukee. Quite likely the last such ride in 2016, by anyone.

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Alton Bay, already frozen over.

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The F650 loves cool weather.

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Route 28 north to Wolfeboro. White Mountain National Forest in the distance.

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Big lake house under construction. Just the top of it visible.

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A bay on the big lake, north of Wolfeboro

There are actually some guys in those bob houses. Recovering from Christmas.