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.

 

 

 

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My Maine Ride

The plan involved riding the F650 from Lake Winnipesaukee, NH to Millinocket, Maine, and then into the woods to the family-owned cabin near Mount Katahdin. Sleeping the night and then returning the following day. A total round trip of 585 paved miles and 40 on gravel, as it turned out.

I traveled light, but I wanted a little more luggage than the top box, so I used a zip-top, water repellent camp bag strapped on with bungee cords. It worked well enough and cost nothing.

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Leaving for Maine at 7:20 AM

It’s a great feeling heading out in the cool of early morning for a multi-day adventure. You, your gear and your bike. Rolling down the road, sort of self sufficient, taking a break from your normal routine.

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In MapQuest, I selected the “Avoid Highways” option and got the route shown. Google Maps gave me a slightly different route but I liked this one better. You don’t use any  interstates in either case. The route was good although I ran into some serious road construction between Fryeburg, ME and Bridgeton, ME. Now in hindsight, I see the Google Maps route avoided that bad stretch. Oops!

I roughly knew where I was going and I looked at the names of towns I would be passing through, and headed for them via the road signs I encountered along the way. This worked quite well with an occasional look at the map.

If you are navigating using the “towns” method, be aware of three kinds of towns. Towns you are passing through, towns you are turning at, and towns you are turning at just before actually entering the town center. I should have turned towards Skowhegan just before Farmington, but wound up riding straight through Farmington and had to jog over to get back on track quite a bit north of Skowhegan. Didn’t add much mileage but the roads weren’t as good.

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Just kidding. I encountered this mud hole deep in the woods a few hundred feet from the cabin. It was worse than it looks because the ruts were maybe 8 inches deep and there was no shoulder to get around it. It was a bit slick, but not soupy. I couldn’t ride down in the rut because my foot pegs would have dragged, so I rode the highest, widest flat part but if I had to put my feet down, they were over ruts, so I would have tipped over. I was tired and had a cloud of deer flies on me. I should have stopped and studied it more and cleared some sticks off it, because running it straightaway was risky and I was deep in the woods alone.

I made it.

I lashed the bike to a tree for the night, worried that a bear might tip it over trying to get at some crumbs, letting fuel and oil drain out onto the ground while I slept. But the night was uneventful.

Coming out was easier. I was rested and the deer flies weren’t around. I started the bike about 6:45 AM. Noticed fresh moose tracks in the gravel as I got going. Later, saw a young moose disappearing around a bend ahead.

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Mount Katahdin in the distance, northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail

By the way, I got less than 30 mpg in the woods. Carried an extra 1.5 gallons just in case.

This bridge was pretty decayed. Can’t ride the middle in any case. And no side rails. You have to know what the bike is going to do, same as you would if you were walking across it, because if you lurch toward the edge, you can only hope you wind up dumping onto the bridge and not over the side.

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The bridges are designed to handle large flooding during spring runoff, so in the summer you are going to fall a long way before you hit something. Hopefully water and not rock. This was taken from the bridge.

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The 30 mile stretch from Millinocket to Milo is through forest. No buildings or services of any kind. I was zipping along when all of a sudden a deer appeared on the shoulder ahead to my right. Very noticeable velvet rack. He started running parallel to my travel and I eventually went by him. Thankfully he didn’t dart out in front of me. Then I noticed another deer a few hundred feet ahead on the same side of the road. I thought, “Pay attention!” I hadn’t even considered deer at 9 AM.

Going south I missed my “turn” at Turner, ME. Duh. Wound up in Auburn and meandered home via Sebago Lake, Cornish, and Ossipee, NH and Wolfeboro. This latter route was actually an alternate proposed by Google, so it was fine. However, the “towns” method of navigating failed me this time. Too many little towns and a cobweb of little roads.

I just bought an $11 on-board charger so I can navigate with the iPhone next time.

Well, the bike now has 12,850 miles on it. Had 3600 when I got it two years ago.

I can’t really explain why someone would want to ride a motorcycle all day long, but I am already itching to get going on the next big adventure.