Thursday began when we noticed that one of the tires on my wife's car was almost flat. Figuring that it was a slow leak that would allow us to replace it at some convenient point along the way, we filled it up and went on our way (like fools, not checking the spare). Jim and I were covering ground at a somewhat more rapid rate than the car, and at the next major intersection, we stopped to wait. And wait. No sign of the Escort, so back we went to find them with a shredded tire. It turned out that the "donut" spare tire had only about 15 lbs of air, rather than the recommended 60. Fortunately, a very slow backtrack brought us to an NADA place with an air pump, and also a fire engine red Boss Hoss out front. As most of you probably know, a Boss Hoss is a motorcycle powered by a small-block Chevrolet V-8 car engine. The proprietor said that he had formerly sold these beasts, and that this was the last one. He said that he had made some performance enhancements that brought its power up to 400 HP. He let us sit on it and rev it, which produced the torque reaction of a boxer engine, multiplied enough that it felt like it might throw itself on the ground. He recounted how an apparently performance-oriented friend of his had installed a big-block high performance V-8 engine in another Boss Hoss, so that it made almost 600 HP. I opined that 400 HP was probably adequate, and he admitted that he had had his bike up to about 170 MPH. He said that it was still pulling strongly, but that he couldn't hang on any longer. No doubt. After following the proprietor's directions to a large auto parts store in Gorham for new tires, we again rode down Pinkham Notch to the auto road up Mt. Washington. For the third year running ÔÇô and as part of the relatively nearby Laconia Bike Week -- the auto road was closed on this day to cars: motorcycles and the Mt. Washington tour vans only http://www.mountwashingtonautoroad.c...ikesrule.html. This is a narrow, steep, twisting road, part paved and part gravel, that runs 8 miles to the summit of Mt. Washington, at 6, 288ÔÇÖ the highest mountain in the Northeastern US. While not high by western standards, Mt. Washington has a harsh climate ÔÇô a sign at the summit reads: ÔÇ£Mt. Washington, the Worst Weather in the WorldÔÇØ. The highest wind recorded on the surface of the earth ÔÇô 231 mph ÔÇô was recorded at the summit, and on average, the summit experiences hurricane-force wind every three days. Not surprisingly, the unstable weather conditions have resulted in the death of many climbers over the years. Fortunately, the weather we experienced when our bikes reached the top (wives arrived by van) was just about ideal. Even the notorious New Hampshire black flies were not out in force (as they were last year). As the tire problem had robbed us of significant time, we departed from Mr. Washington as soon as we got back to the base, rather than participate in the cookout there sponsored by the local HOG chapter. At this point I took mercy on Jim and swapped him my Beemer for the Buell. After retracing the previous dayÔÇÖs ride down the notch and partway back to the hotel, we turned south on the Bear Notch road, which is unmarked on some maps, but is quite a blast to ride. Going up this winding, twisting road through pristine forest, I had one of the purest motorcycle moments of the trip. On certain roads, a Buell is perfectly suited to the task of rapidly eating the tarmac with almost no shifting required, and this is such a road. With the BuellÔÇÖs big torque at hand, I easily and smoothly reeled-in the constantly recurring tight S-turns in third gear, varying my speed between 40 and 65 mph, arriving after about 8 exhilarating miles at the well-known Kancamagus Highway. The ride over Kancamagus Pass brought us down to the town of Lincoln, and to another entertaining ÔÇô albeit poorly surfaced ÔÇô road: NH 118. At the first stop on this road, Jim said of the Beemer, ÔÇ£This thing is SMOOOTHÔÇØ. At the next gas stop he said, ÔÇ£If I was going on one of those rides where you go 1000 miles a day for ten days, this is what IÔÇÖd ride. As much fun as that Buell is, you can stay on it for a while if you want ÔÇªÔÇØ. Thanks, Jim. An hour or so later, as the sun began to set behind the hills beyond the lake, we were at the nightÔÇÖs destination, the Inn on Newfound Lake, in Bridgewater, NH. US 302; NH 3 and 115; US 2; NH 16; US 302; Bear Notch Road; NH 112; NH 118; NH 25; NH 3A.
Because Laconia Bike Week was taking place about 15 miles away, the innÔÇÖs clientele was almost exclusively ÔÇ£bikersÔÇØ, complete with the requisite look and attire and, of course, loud pipes. They were also, to a man (and woman), very friendly and outgoing. Many were from Canada, and seemed to be repeat guests who stay at the inn every year at this time. Laconia is a big event, the biggest commercial week in New Hampshire, so closer accommodations are scarce. The inn, which boasts a huge porch overlooking the lake, was comfortable and the food was very good, but next morning it was time to saddle up for our final nightÔÇÖs destination before returning to Connecticut: Dorset, Vermont. I again took the Buell (no protest from Jim), and we meandered back across New Hampshire and Vermont at a moderate pace, as the traffic, though sparse, was always present. People in agricultural areas are seldom in a hurry, which takes some getting used to for an urban dweller like me, but the day was fine, the roads were good and the scenery soothing. An uneventful ride with a good lunch (BentleyÔÇÖs in Woodstock, Vermont) brought us, eventually, to the Dorset Inn, the oldest continuously operating inn in Vermont, where I have stayed many times (I was there on the morning of 9/11). On the way, we dodged some heavy -looking weather, but by putting on my Darien jacket, I was able to stave off most of it. The best meal of the trip awaited, followed by a restful night. NH 3A; NH 104; US 4; VT 100A; VT 100; VT 103; US 7; Danby cutoff; VT 30.
At the beginning of the last day of a motorcycle trip, thereÔÇÖs always that feeing that itÔÇÖs time to get home. Nonetheless, we resisted the impulse to take the straightest route, US 7, all the way. Instead, with Jim back on the Buell, we slalomed down the Vermont/New York/Massachusetts borders, stopping briefly in the town where I grew up, Williamstown, Massachusetts. We reentered Connecticut at Salisbury, in the far northwest corner of the state, and stopped for a late al fresco lunch at the excellent White Hart Inn. From there, we made a winding but pretty direct shot down the Housatonic River Valley on Route 7, and arrived back in Wilton in the late afternoon. Time for a hot shower, and a cold martini. VT 30; US 7; MA 43 NY 22; CT 23; CT 41; CT 112; US 7.