ROAM: New England via Mt. Washington

The view is always better from the top

(click on any photo for full size)

Route: Being unfamiliar with the area, I chose to use to help plan to roads we would take. I really wanted to find some great scenic and twisty roads to help explore Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. We didn’t stay exactly on route, but it was a great ride. Here’s a recap of the general route:

Day 1: Rt. 9 from New Britain to Middletown to pick up Jodie. I91N to rt103 in VT.

Day 2: Rt103 S to I91N, Rt4 E to 118 N(Nice road, mediocre condition) to Rt112 E (Nice views, hairpin turn!). Left onto Bear Notch Road to Rt302 E, connect with 16 N to Mt. Washington Auto Road! Back on 16 N to Rt2, to I91. I91 S to Rt131 W and back to Rt103.

Day 3: Rt121 S to Rt35 S, to Rt30 S. Rt9 W to Rt8 S(nice drive) into Mass(bleh). From there Rt7 S to Rt183 S, to 57 W, to Rt8 S back into CT.

Odometer:Night 1: 160M Quick shot up the highway intended to help us avoid riding at night(Moose- eep).

Day 2-360M: (Big day for us) – Started with highway to get into NH, then some nice relaxing drives through 118 to 112, which was a gorgeous scenic drive through the Whit Mountains. Did the Mt. Wash. Auto Road and then took Rt2 across NH. We decided to head home the quick way and shot down 91to end the day.

Day 3-220M: (Ride home) – Nice roads in VT, some dirt, Poured on us into Brattleboro. Rt. 9 was a nice scenic drive, and Rt.8 had some good twists to it, but we hated the drive through Mass.

Total:740Miles (In about 48hours)

Accomidations: Jodie’s dad was nice enough to let us stay at his VT home both nights!

Meals: Late night Pizza at Zachary’s in Chester. We hit a diner in Chester both Mornings. Friday we ate lunch at S.A.L.T.. Dinner was a la Progresso Soup. Sat we had lunch at “The Hot Dog Ranch” in North Adams, which had terrible food and staff.

Day 1

Due to work schedules, we only had two days off to make this trip, and since I don’t like the – Go, Get there, Come back – kind of trips I thought it would be a good idea to head into VT Thursday evening after work. While it did get us about 2.5 hours closer to Mt. Washington and this lovely sunset, we ended up having to ride at night. I try to stay away from this, especially in deer and moose country (namely VT & NH). It actually got a bit cool and we made it to VT fine. Once in the state we stopped at a pizza place that made us their last pie of the night! Happy to have had dinner, finally, we headed to Jodie’s dad’s place. This entails driving up a steep(about the steepness of MT. Washington) dirt/gravel road and an equally rugged driveway. As I planned we just took it slow and the bike handled to road fine and without incident. We slept hard in the cool Vermont air.

Day 2

We got up bright and early and got dressed warm as the temperature in the hills probably hovered around 45 degrees. Since this was scheduled to be our longest single day ride, I wanted to be sure we had plenty of time to make the loop if we needed to stop later on to relax our buns. So after a quick diner breakfast we hopped onto 91N to cover some ground.

The ride was easy, and the northbound side of the highway had just been paved, making for a smooth comfy start to the morning. We got off the highway and jumped onto Rt. 4 West, which took us into New Hampshire for the first time on the bike. Rt 4 is sort of a main road, so the riding wasn’t anything to remember. From there though we switched to Rt. 118N which proved to be a nice and relaxing road. The conditions varied, and like most of the NH and VT roads there was cracking and various road imperfections throughout. These weren’t bad enough to cause any trouble though.

On Rt. 118 I caught a glimpse of a pristine stream running alongside the road and had to pull over. Had we more time to relish the occasion I would have jumped into the crystal clear mountain water. These kinds of beautiful roadside rivers and streams were a common sight in both VT and NH. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes and got back on the road.

118 w was a fine road, offering good twists and a few great views. Again, conditions weren’t the best, but

were hardly behind a car for the whole route.

Here’s a shot of Jodie on one of the pull offs located on Rt. 118. With so many mountains abound in New Hampshire, it’s hard to say what is pictured in the background.

Soon 188 led us to Rt. 112, the Kancamagus Highway. This might have been my favorite roads on the trip. Although it’s not a terribly technical road, it offers amazing views throughout all while claiming the only hairpin turn of the whole trip. I saw the sign indicating the hairpin and my heart skipped a beat! The road condition was great and the tires warm so we were really able to lean it over here. I’m sure Jodie was a bit tense as this is probably the most lean she’s experienced thus far. With all the spectacular views I had to try hard to keep on going and not stop for pictures every few minutes. But, some other tourists were stopped at this sign so we decided to ask them to snap a pic of us and the bike. Probably the only photo of it’s kind as the bike usually serves as a tripod therefor rarely makes an appearance when both of us are in the photo.

This breathtaking view comes up suddenly just after the hairpin, and we couldn’t resist but to pull off and enjoy what God had put in front of us. We helped ourselves to a snack bar and then hopped back on.

Like you might imagine, the road was a popular road to motorcycles and cages alike, so it wasn’t long till we were stuck behind a caravan of slow moving, well, vans. So as we approached the point where you can turn left onto Bear Notch Road or continue on 112 to rt16(the more common road), I decided to take Bear Notch and experience the twisties reported on the motoroads website. Bear Notch, while being a resonably twisty road, was in terrible condition. It’s an extremely tight two lane road that is seasonal, so when we got stuck behind four cars the fun of the road pretty much went out the window. I passed a couple, but then gave up as the opportunities never really arose to safely pass. So we meandered behind two more vans through the bumpy and often mishapped road. Doing this kind of restricted me from hitting Hurricane Mtn Road, which I am told is a great twisty bit, but since we only had so much time I didn’t want to back track back down 16 to get to it. Luckily, New Hampshire Isn’t that far away, so I plan on heading back up again, although it might be 09 before I find time to make it up.

And so we make it to the Mt. Washington Auto Road! Here’s another panorama near the top, not quite as high as the pano at the beginning of the post, but about 5,000+ feet. Also a short video clip the view during part of the dirt section of the road.

And a look at the view for the Bandit..

We really enjoyed the whole experience, the ride up was so magnificent, I wouldn’t have had it any other way but on a motorcycle. And apparently we were lucky, as 3 out of 4 days the mountain is hidden in clouds, fog, or high winds.

After we descended the mountain, following two extremely slow moving vehicles, we headed back onto 16N into Gorham to route 2. Here Jodie spotted a diamond in the ruff, S.A.L.T. A family owned restaurant serving lunch and dinner. The place is close to a Ski Resort as well as Mount Washington, so I’m sure it has no problem attracting customers for their fine dining. This was the “Summer Chicken Sandwich,” with chicken, mozzarella, pepper and lots of summer veggies. It was delicious! S.A.L.T. stands for the names of the parents and their children who own an operate the place. Lunch is served downstairs from what used to be a savings bank. You have to walk through the old vault, which they knocked a hole through, to get upstairs!

After a filling meal we headed back onto the road, following Rt2 west across New Hampshire. The road was nice, but nothing special. It’s a pretty slow pace with the 50mph speed limit, but most of the travel was done at around 60. Even so it took us a while to reach I91, at which point we need to make a decision to continue taking the scenic route or to take the easy way home on the interstate. Both of us were tired, and with glooming rain clouds in the area we decided to take the highway for the better part of the return trip.

We held the highway for a while, but I ran out of ear plugs and the buffeting was giving Jodie a headache, so we got off early and traveled Rt131 to 103 back into Chester. 131 turned out to be a nice ride, much of it following along a river. We made it back up to Jodie’s father’s house and kicked back to a beer and a movie, while warming up with some Progresso soup. Prefect end to a perfect day.

Day 3

Since we only had about 220miles to make it home, there was almost no time time table for our trip back. We woke up when the sun was too bright to keep sleeping, and headed out to get breakfast and enjoyed another meal at the Chester Diner. We got back to the house, double checked everything and then got on our way. Here’s a shot Jodie took as I maneuvered down the dirt/gravel driveway at her dad’s. From here we headed down dirt roads for a while, taking Rt. 121 to 35, and then down to 30. These roads were nice to experience. Ranging from dirt to pavement, with hardly any traffic. The threat of rain loomed throughout our time on 121 and 35, but never seemed to hit us. We’d see some wet areas on the road, but not a drop on us. Finally our luck ran out once we got a bit through 30. The road was wet all over, and the precipitation went from very light to light in a few seconds, so I turned off so we could get our rain gear on. By the time we got it all out and in it was coming down. Wearily we made it back onto Rt. 30 and continued on,. After seeing a lightning strike I was ready to pull off and wait out the rain, but just up ahead you could see blue skies in the western horizon.

This was coincidentally the direction we were headed, so we rode through the heavy rain and within 10 minutes it was done. We turned onto Rt.9, and were soon getting weird looks from passing motorcyclists(wondering why the rain gear, but they’d soon find out).

Rt. 9 Turned out to be a nice road, but with all the Saturday traffic abound, it was nothing to seek out specifically. There was however a beautiful pull off at a peak of the road. Lots of people stopped and there was a cafe there too. I’m assuming this is what the Hawk’s nest Cafe once used to be like. From here we took Rt. 8S, and we should have stayed on it… Rt.8 proved to be a fun road with lots of twists in decent condition. It was a fun to ride and traffic was minimal.

After that, well, after that we got to Massachusetts. Now, I can’t rule the state out and say it’s a bad state to ride in, but everything we hit was loaded with Traffic, and stop and go. We turned off Rt. 8 in North Adams to visit Mount Greylock, but apparently all the roads are closed for the year for maintenance and repaving. So that went out the window. We decided to stop at “The Hot Dog Ranch”, which served us thick skinned dogs and dry burgers.. Now with a bad taste in our mouths, literally and metaphorically, we continued down through MA. We took 7s for a bit, but quickly realized that it would be all lights and hopped on Rt.183 S. This, while being a two lane road, was like driving through your rich uncle’s neighborhood. We seemed to have to slow or stop every 5 minutes. Needless to say it wasn’t very enjoyable when held to the light of the prior day of smooth riding. We got off 183 onto 57, which was a bit better. Finally that led to Rt.8 again, and back into CT. From there we dropped into Winsted, and stopped for some ice cream and to take a break. We contemplated staying for a parade that was about to begin there, but decided to just get home.

The approximate 48hours proved to be the most and best riding we’ve done to date. The White Mountain area of New Hampshire was a real joy, and I look forward to being able to get there again and experiencing other roads.  As for now, the Bandit’s making a weird sound, so I’m bringing it in for service. We’ll see.

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