Days 1 and 2: Long Haul to Murray Beach

day 1+7After working out logistics, reserving campsites, and starting to pack Monday, I spent Tuesday finishing packing, loading the bike, and heading to a friend’s house in Maine. It’s only a three hour tour, but the purpose was to give me some time to pack, see a friend, and get a head start on day 2 that would let me clear most of New Brunswick. This was strictly a point A to B day, and superslab all the way. I won’t dwell on this part too much because it wasn’t fun, especially because a downpour in Portsmouth, NH seriously put my rain gear to the test. Fortunately, the rain gear passed the test with flying colors, keeping me dry. I was also thrilled to escape the oppressive humidity we’ve been having for many days at home. I was in and out of rain all the way to Augusta. I also stopped at the LL Bean outlet in Freeport to pick up a tent for less than half price. My now ex-girlfriend needs hers back that I’ve been using, and it wouldn’t have been fair to run off to another country with hers. I did keep the waterproof stuff sack I bought, though, and used it for my new tent instead.

I got a later start than I planned on Wednesday. Back to the superslab, 95 to Bangor. I had a wake up call in Waterville when a heard a funny noise, then saw a lot of dirt coming out from under a camper trailer I was about to pass. Just as I realized it was a tire on the trailer that was about to blow, it blew, and the carcass came spiraling toward me. I was already riding in the left groove of the left lane and got around it as it slid through the right groove of my lane as I went by. At that point I dropped a gear and hammered the throttle, hard, to accelerate away from any more flying debris as fast as I could.

day 2As I continued up 95, I finally broke out of the clouds and saw the sun for the first time in a while. From Bangor I turned right onto Route 9 to Calais (pronounced the same way as “callous,” not the French way). This is a pretty ride through a sparsely populated area of eastern Maine. And by sparse, I mean some areas with no population at all. I saw signs proclaiming “Entering Township 29” instead of town names. It’s a wide, good quality road with numerous truck lanes and a 55mph speed limit. Most people go a bit faster than that, since there’s nothing there but trees.

In Baileyville, where 9 merges with Route 1, I fueled up myself and the bike, then waited a short time at the border in Calais. They were fast, efficient, gave me no trouble whatsoever, and before I knew it I was motorcycling in another country for the first time.

IMGP0348The tiny blue km/h numbers on my speedometer are nearly impossible for me to read while riding, so I switched my GPS to metric (and set the clock an hour ahead to Atlantic time). This way, I could use its speedometer to calibrate myself to the different speed limits in Canada. This also made my distance measurements match the road signs. I was amazed how quickly and easily I adapted to the metric speeds and distances. It’s just a different unit of measure, and still just numbers counting down until my next turn. I don’t know why most Americans seem to have so much trouble with it, and are so resistant to using it.

I hopped NB 3 out of St. Stephen toward Fredericton. The pavement was of far worse quality than in Maine, and with speed limits from 70-100 km/h (about 45-60mph), it was challenging to keep up the pace. At one point I even pulled over to let a semi pass, who wanted to go a fair bit faster than the limit. I stopped at a store to buy some drinks and pull some Canadian money from an ATM. As I took my helmet off, I overheard this exchange (with apologies to my Canadian readers):

IMGP0351“Eh, the sun’s finally oat.”

“Yeah, it’s a boat time!”

This was the real sign to me that I was in Canada!

New Brunswick geography is different than I’m used to – short rolling hills, and lots of short pine trees. There are few trees with leaves in this area, despite the country having a maple leaf on its flag. The roads are also long, straight, much worse quality than Maine, and honestly I didn’t find them too exciting to ride. Well, except for the car that pulled out from a driveway in front of me, then stopped, blocking half the road, when I honked the horn. Good brakes on this bike, even fully loaded.

Because these weren’t great riding roads, and because my GPS said I wouldn’t get to the campground until well after 7pm, when I saw signs for  Trans Canadian Highway 2, I took it. The limit is 110 km/h, which is about 70mph, and that got me an hour back that I’d lost earlier. It was also not an exciting ride, but the pavement was mostly better and it got the job done. I passed through Fredericton, Moncton, then turned onto NB 15, hung a left onto 955, and pulled into Murray Beach just after 6pm. Check in was a breeze since I registered online, and the guy called me by name as soon as I walked in the office. He must’ve seen the Massachusetts license plate on the bike as I parked. He also gave me directions to nearby gas in one direction, and food in the other – a ramshackle food hut with a million dollar view.

IMGP0353I got my brand new tent set up, in daylight as I’d hoped since I’d never set this tent up before (not recommended – try it at home first before leaving the country), then fueled the bike and myself. Sadly there was no nearby source for beer that I found. I went for a walk on the beach, took a bunch of pictures, and enjoyed the view for a while. After a shower, I went back to watch the sunset and start writing this post on my phone. Also, I had no need to worry about time. The sun set at 9:15pm, much later than home, and there was remaining daylight until nearly 10pm.

This was a long riding day with a lot of miles put under the wheels, as well as half a day Monday. That was about to change, as I skirt the northern edge of New Brunswick all the way to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. The GPS said I’d have less than 5 hours of riding tomorrow, while Google Maps said I’d have 7.5 hours. Either way, now that I’d gotten this far, I intended to slow down a bit and enjoy the ride.


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One thought on “Days 1 and 2: Long Haul to Murray Beach

  1. Pingback: Four Wheels vs. Two Wheels - Right Foot Down

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