Friday, September 21, 2012

Three perfect excuses for a quick evening ride

Motorcycle enthusiasts can come up with any type of excuse to go for a ride. We had three perfect excuses tonight:
  • It's a beautiful early Fall day in Vermont, with warm temperatures, sunshine, and the beginnings of the leaves changing color.
  • We plan to ride tomorrow afternoon, but the weather report isn't looking good:  high winds and torrential downpours.
  • I haven't gone to the grocery store, so dinner is either canned soup or we can eat out.
Even though it was 70 degrees and sunny at 4:45pm when we got on the BMW, we knew it would be dusk before we finished tonight's trip. That means packing the cold weather gear and wearing my Celtic Rider neckwarmer. Of course whenever I put on the neckwarmer, I remember the fun we had this summer in Ireland.

Riding to dinner at Jake's in Londonderry is a familiar trip, which gives me time to pay attention to the small details that I seem to miss when we're in a car. The crisp edge to the air that feels so different from hot and humid weather just two weeks ago. The brown curl to the ferns that line our dirt road. We haven't had our first frost yet, but it's coming, and the plants are already curling up for the winter. The colorful purple, yellow and red mums that our more energetic neighbors already planted. Halloween decorations at Dutton's. Dusty brownish-orange maple leaves that in another week will pop in bright colors and draw hordes of tourists to our mountains.

We sit down for dinner before 5:30, the first ones in the dining room. We don't usually eat dinner this early, but we prefer to get home before it's completely dark to miss the coyotes, deer, bear and moose that prowl the area. After dinner I pull on the cold weather layer I thankfully packed and stay warm behind Mike as we head west over the mountain toward home. The setting sun hung just above the mountains and blinded us for a few seconds each time we crested a hill. I read in today's paper how a woman earlier this week ran into the car in front of her. She didn't see the car until she slammed into it, blaming the sun for momentarily blinding her. We rode in and out of the shadows until finally the sun was completely below the mountains.

We were on the bike for 16 hours our first day on the trip to Missouri this summer, and we've spent 11 days in a row riding in the Alps. Our short ride this evening took less than two hours, including dinner, yet we accumulated memories, enjoyed the cool breeze, and pointed out the signs lining the road for the Peru Fair this weekend. Plus we pulled into the driveway just as our neighbors were turning on their lights. Home before dark.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mountain summit, hang gliders, and wind turbines

It's a sunny, warm Labor Day and we don't have any set plans. Time for a motorcyle trip!

This summer took us east to New Hampshire, throughout our state of Vermont, and west into New York. We decided to go south into Massachusetts today, with Mt. Greylock, at 3491' the highest mountain in the state, our destination.

Continuing with our philosphy that the journey is more important than the destination, we took the scenic route. It was our first trip on the second leg of the Bennington Bypass, which opened only four days earlier. As we rode along the smooth, new pavement it was hard to believe that it took five years and $72 million to complete the three mile-long highway.

Bennington Bypass

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's the first Sunday of the month, and time for the BMW Motorcycle Owners of Vermont (MOV) breakfast at Tozier's Restaurant in Bethel. Mike's been to the monthly breakfast several times, but this was my first trip. There were 47 bikes and 50 people in attendance, almost 10% of the club membership. We welcomed five new members plus a couple of fellow BMW riders from Yankee Beemers.

Everyone was upbeat with a lot of laughter, talk about motorcycles and motorycle trips, and the upcoming rally. The club motto: "Live to ride, ride to eat" was upheld in fine fashion with plenty of eggs, bacon, potatoes and pancakes. When folks ride over 100 miles for breakfast, you know it has to combine good food and fun. Pamela, the treasurer, received a tiara with a BMW logo on it from one of the club directors, much to the amusement of everyone present.

After breakfast we continued our ride to Calais where Mike's parents own a summer camp on Curtis Pond. It was another partly sunny end of summer day, with fluffy white clouds scattered across the robin's egg blue sky. Mike knows the best motorcycle roads, and we zoomed along Route 12 into Montpelier.

Montpelier, the smallest state capitol at just under 8000 people, is a mixture of stately government buildings including the capitol with a gleaming gold dome, and off-beat, funky stores. We ate lunch at Bagitos, an eclectic cafe that serves bagels, burritos, and tacos along with live music, a shelf full of children's books, and local artwork on the walls. Locally-sourced ingredients included kale, eggs, bacon, tempeh and beef. The quirky atmosphere both inside and out added to the fun.

The road from Montpelier to Calais winds through farmland and forests and up and down hills until we turn off at Curtis Pond onto the narrow dirt road that leads to the Ryan's camp. The R1200 GS handles both bumpy pavement and dirt/gravel roads with ease.

dirt road into the Ryan's camp

Curtis Pond

A "truck" built out of rocks and filled with flowers near Curtis Pond

Sticking to our goal of traveling different roads whenever possible, we rode south toward home on Route 2 and then on Route 100B along the Mad River, continuing south on scenic Route 100. It wouldn't be a summer day on the motorcycle without a stop for ice cream, and the maple/black raspberry twist dipped in chocolate didn't disappoint.

Route 100 took us into Rochester where we turned west to go over the Brandon Gap. Gap roads in Vermont wind up and over mountain passes, and the Brandon Gap is a favorite for both human-powered bikes and motorcycles. With a 9% grade on the east and a 12% grade on the west, the views as the paved road crests the mountain are amazing.

Brandon Gap looking east

Brandon Gap looking west

Once in Brandon we turned south on Route 7, riding through the valley with the Green Mountains to the west and the Taconics to the east. Late afternoon shadows spilled over the road, reminding us that summer is almost over and the cooler temperatures of autumn are on their way.