The Molly Stark Trail and Americade

It was a relaxed Saturday morning. Certainly not lazy, but not super early either. Although this trip would be a whirlwind tour, the daily mileage wasn’t that high, so I had some time to pull myself together. I’d never done this motorcycle camping thing before, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time to work out the kinks in my plan.

IMG_0719Loading the bike was easy, mainly because I’d practiced earlier in the week and bought some appropriately sized bungee cords when the ones I had didn’t work. I’d taken my top trunk inside the night before and packed it like a small suitcase, which was exactly how I’d use it this trip. I added some tools to the right side of my main trunk, and the air mattress and pillow fit into the left, with enough room for my thermos as well. I know it’ll keep coffee hot for more than a day, so I brewed a full pot, drank some, and packed up the rest. One less thing to think about in the morning. Once the trunks were loaded, I strapped the tent and sleeping bag to the back seat and I was ready. Best of all, I still had access to both trunks with the extra cargo.

After a short super slab blast to get out of town, I picked up 119 and followed it all the way to NH. This took me through part of the Give Back Ride route I’d done recently, but this time I could enjoy the twisty bits through Willard Brook State Forest. The bike handled much better than I expected with the extra load. It was easier than carrying a passenger, and carrying a passenger is not difficult at all. A flock of sport bikes caught up to me on this section. I hope I didn’t slow them down too much. We soon got caught behind slow moving cars as we crossed into New Hampshire. Nearly all of them managed to follow me when I passed them, and when a climbing lane appeared I moved right and slowed down to let them by. A few stragglers caught up to me soon after, and I moved over and waved them by. Clearly they were trying to catch up to their buddies ahead of me.

IMG_0721The rest of the trip up through Keene and into Brattleboro, VT was uneventful. I picked up Route 9 west out of Brattleboro, the Molly Stark Trail.  This is the section where, during last year’s Vermont trip, my trip eastbound on this road, along with at least a hundred other cars and bikes, was ruined by one slow moving RV. This time, I was, for the most part, unimpeded, and was able to enjoy this road in its entirety.  The Mohawk Trail to the south in Massachusetts has traditionally been one of my favorite roads, but I think it’s just been replaced by the Molly Stark Trail.  The scenery is even better, the twists and turns and hills are fun, and the speed is a bit higher. I stopped at a couple of scenic overlooks to snap some pictures. The colors are amazingly brilliant.

After Bennington I set course into New York state, new territory for me on a motorcycle. At lunchtime, I followed Bamarider‘s advice and looked for the bikes.  I skipped the fast food joints, and found a number of bikes parked at Benson’s Family Restaurant in Eagle Bridge. It was quite hot and humid at this point – lemonade has never tasted so good to me as I rehydrated and had a chicken salad sandwich.

I soon remembered something interesting about rural NY. Take a road that, where I live in Massachusetts, is posted at a 40mph speed limit.  NY has a state speed limit of 55, and unless there’s a good reason to slow you down, they don’t.  So, rather like VT, but even a tad faster, I feel like a hooligan as I bomb down these roads a whole lot faster than I’m allowed to at home, legally. In fact, I saw very little law enforcement presence at all along my route.

Before long my GPS brought me into Saratoga Springs and to the Saratoga Automobile Museum – my primary mission objective for the day. It was so hot and humid that I was glad to get off the bike for a few hours and check out the sights inside. I’ll post a separate entry about the museum itself, so that those who are more interested in the travel story can skip along while anyone interested in some sweet BMW cars and motorcycles can stare at my pictures for a while.

day1After the museum, I set a course for Lake George Escape, my overnight stop. Along the way, I saw lots of bikes. I figured it was because it was a hot, sunny day, but the number of bikes became almost overwhelming at times.  As I pulled into the town of Lake George, they were literally everywhere – many of them in both lanes of traffic through the center of town, and hundreds parked on either side of the road.  Unbeknownst to me, I’d ridden smack dab into the middle of Americade – the world’s largest motorcycle touring rally. How did I not know about this?! Mainly, because I’d planned to do this trip the previous weekend, but couldn’t find a place to stay, and then the weather turned bad, so I rescheduled for the first weekend in June without thinking, and that was the very beginning of Americade.

I continued on to camp, despite it being only 4pm. Being my first motorcycle camping adventure, I wanted to make sure I had time to get set up and deal with any difficulties before dark. I arrived, checked in, and found that my reservation did not exist anywhere in their computer.  Fortunately, this wasn’t a problem, as they had plenty of vacancy, and booked me a nice little camp site across the street from the beach.  Only then did I realize that swim trunks were an item I should’ve brought and didn’t.  Oh well – the shower was good, too. I rolled in – passing many bikes there for Americade on the way – found my site, and set things up.  The tent was no problem, since I’d used it before.  I had a small problem with the air mattress – I blew the fuse on the bike when I turned on the inflator.  Unfortunately that also took out my headlights, since they’re all wired together.  I found no spare fuse where it was supposed to be, but discovered that my ham radio power wiring uses the same type of fuses, so I popped the fuse in and had my lights back.  I also turned on the motor, and used the throttle locker to set a high idle around 2000 RPM to generate some extra electrical power.  I was then able to inflate my air mattress with no problem.  So I had a bed, and headlights, but no APRS until I replaced the fuse for the radio.

IMG_0789After unloading the bike, I went back out for provisions – a sandwich for dinner, a light for the tent (I forgot my flashlight at home), and some beer. Back at camp, I brought the top trunk into the tent with me, then slipped into shorts and comfy shoes – completely inappropriate for the bike, but I was done riding for the day. And so I enjoyed my beer and dinner by the beach.

Afterward, I completely failed to build a campfire. What can I say – I was never a Boy Scout, and never allowed to play with fire. I’ve already learned some tricks that should let me to get one going next time, no matter how inept my abilities.  Once it got dark, the bugs came out, despite a completely ineffective citronella candle, so I retreated to my tent. I did a little research on Americade on my iPhone, and it looked quite interesting to a two wheel tripper like me. However, I was on an extremely tight schedule, since I was due home the following day and had taken no time off work for this trip. It would’ve been nice to take at least a day to check out Americade, but I simply didn’t have the time, so I decided to stick to my original plan of heading out to Fort Ticonderoga on Sunday, then heading home.  But now that I know about this event, I may have to see about attending for real, rather than completely by accident, next year. In fact, upon returning home, an old friend of mine asked me “Hey, why didn’t you tell me you were going to Americade? We should’ve gone together!” Maybe next year, with any planning whatsoever, we can.

Anyhow, I soon shut off my phone to save its battery, rolled over, and went to sleep by the sounds of croaking frogs in the nearby river.

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