Chapter 1: The solo ride from Michigan to Massachusetts

This trip was planned farther into the cooler autumn months than most riders are willing to push a long distance ride. The nights were averaging the mid thirties with the peak afternoon heat rounding off at the mid forties/low fifties. The air was heavy with dew up in the mountains and the leaves were in different stages of colors as I went from one mountain range to another.

I started the run Saturday afternoon from my marina north of Detroit. After taking 3 hours of stand still construction traffic to get to the Ohio line I finally broke loose and the adventure begun. Michigan has a freeway infrastructure that rivals any 3rd world country and the endless road construction is of no help.

I prefer to ride the backroads but what I have found over the years is that the top end of Ohio with the Toledo-Clevland metro mess there really isn't a good route worth the hassle. There is no fun way through the mayhem of the suburban sprawl .

I have learned the hard way that it's better to just get it over with and bullet through the mess on the super slab of I-80 right to the Pennsylvania line. In about five hours time out of Detroit you're in two wheeled paradise and the concrete jungle is but a memory.

I stay up on top until a few exits into PA before dropping down into the two laners. This trip I was aiming to stay at a friends place near Foxburg lost in the mountains of western PA. Having ate up to much time in the Michigan cluster fuck o'construction I was running short on ridable time. The Temps drop like a rock when the sun goes down and adventure quickly becomes a dark dewy wet 40 degree hell. I shut it down about an hour west of foxburg in Youngstown Ohio along the freeway.

Morning brought 50 dgr sunshine and a whole day of twisty mountain roads across the state. The cold damp chill in the morning made it real easy to justify sleeping in and not hitting the road until noonish. Hooking northeast on rt-66 is a great ride all the way to the top of the state where I jump on US-6. This is considered the best motorcycle road in the state and it runs the full width of PA.

The road winds through the Mountains with long sweeping corners and plenty of "stop n take a picture" pull offs. The towns are true Americana dealing with hard times or booms depending how close your are to an oil fracking operation.

The bars have creaky old barn plank floors and local hotties pouring drinks. I got lost in the scenery and found myself unexpectedly in New York State where I took US-17 east to Hancock NY for the night. This ended up being a great run. I usually stay below NY to avoid it's helmet law. This trip's temperature put you in a helmet anyway so exploring some of the foot hills of the Catskills was a fresh treat.

Morning #3 brought sunshine and 50 dgrs again. I rode through the Catskills past Woodstock up into Connecticut. The towns quickly changed over to the quaint New England stereotype old villages with the obligatory tall white church spire reaching up into the crisp Berkshire mountain air. I was getting into my old stomping grounds and my past was catching up with me with every curve. I stumbled upon a kick ass bar in Winsted CT, the Red Rooster Saloon. A small old world biker bar with the dive bar charm that makes me feel right at home.

I stopped in for a draft to warm up before the final sprint to the house. Next summer I want to set aside more time to play at the roost. I toke my time winding around the old pre-revolutionary war towns right into Massachusetts arriving at my dad's in Holyoke shortly after dark. I parked the bike in the barn, grabbed my bags and settled in for the rest of the week. It felt good to be home. Rolling in on Monday night gave me some catch up time with the family before Pam flew in on Friday.

My dad and I did motorcycle stuff checking out old Indian collections in the area and pulling out his VW trike that we have both worked on over the years. After trailering it between Massachusetts and Michigan a few times it was fun to actually ride it around as a finished project. Friday morning put me in Hartford CT scooping my partner in crime up from the airport. Since luggage was already on the bike all she traveled with was a massive 9 pound home made corned beef from her families meat market in the Eastern Market of Detroit. Wigley's Corned beef is world famous and after three generations the family's market has become a detroit landmark.

The plan being to spend the weekend in town before launching north into the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont on Monday. I had reserved a cabin at the foot of the White Mountains just outside of Woodstock NH.

We spent the weekend touring the area visiting local breweries and stopping by North Hampton to walk around the trendy shops and people watch all the freaks. The Corned beef feed a house full of people with plenty to spare. I nibbled on it for days while sampling the local craft beers we brought home from our expeditions.

New England is a patchwork of old towns centered around a river powered mill left over from the old days. Holyoke went a step farther and built a canal system to bring businesses in over a hundred and fifty years ago. Holyoke was the largest producer of paper in the world for years. The history is fascinating. Now Holyoke's mill building like the rest of the area's has been reborn as shops and businesses.

One of those old buildings now houses Paper City Brewing Company. Paper City is a hands on craft beer brewer using volunteers to label and pack the bottles. It is a great operation that I would definitely be part of if I still lived there. My dad took us to a weekly tasting party on Friday night. It is an unmarked building in a shady neighborhood. The old steel door in an alley along the canal gives no hint at the fun inside.

On Thursday and Friday every week they open the old steel door at the top of the worn out back stairway of the four story building at 6:30 PM till 8 PM. Friday night has a band included. The door fee is $7 and with that you get a 12 ounce plastic cup. There you enter into the open old worn brick loft style industrial area with a walk up bar at one side and a few tables on the end.

The owner's collection of antique motorcycle are unceremoniously stacked up in the corner and fun to look at. The main hub of the area is Springfield Mass, the home to the original Indian Motorcycle company. You can't swing a cat without hitting a classic old Indian bike covered in dust anywhere within a hundred miles.

The bar has a half a dozen flavors to choose from on tap and it is all free!! I played up and down the selection and settled in on their dark beer. We partied with the people there and enjoyed the band. I joined the dollar raffle for a case of beer and the place rocked. At 8PM the taps go dry and the party is over. Included in your $7 door fee is four bottle of your choice on the way out! Plus I won the raffle and picked up a case of Holyoke Dam Ale to take back to the house. $7 covered the band, the beer, the fun and a case and a half of beer for the fridge. I like this place.

Come Monday morning we packed up the bike and said good bye before rolling north to the snow covered mountains of New Hampshire a few hours to the north. That half of the trip I will cover in the next chapters of the adventure. The final section will be the ride from the passenger seat. Pam's experience in her own words and the very different point of view from the back seat. stay tuned.

Chapter 2: The ride from Massachusetts to New Hampshire's White Mountains



CH 1

CH 2

CH 3

CH 4

CH 5

CH 6