Part 2: Days 4-6
Day 4 – Lovell, ME to Benton, NH
The sun rose and so did we. Dave had some coffee for us. What a guy! Going to Dave’s was the right move. It’s kinda wild that you can meet total strangers who will take you in and treat you as their own all due to the fact we both enjoy sitting on an engine with wheels and shredding through the woods. Dave gave us all the advice on what to do this morning. He pointed us to Gorham, New Hampshire. It had everything we needed. Food, gas, a powersports stop for Will to get a spare tube, and Walmart for us to stock up on some supplies. Gorham is where the climb for Mt Washington is located. We had intentions to climb it while planning this trip but decided to pass due to the time crunch. We took care of our errands and left Gorham, rounding Mt Washington to its northside via forest roads. This led us balls deep in the White Mountains. These mountains are the biggest mountains I’ve seen in the East. Just awe-inspiring to ride between them. We took a break by a creek to relax. Brian and Jake decided to get in for a dip. Jake got in some trunks while Brian decided to swim in all of his gear. We left the creek and headed deeper into the mountains. It was all dirt from here on out. We started to see amazing vistas and even more amazing homes. The latter would be a very big theme in both New Hampshire but even more so in Vermont. I was very impressed by the Sandwich Flats area. My only complaint was the dust. Being the guy in the back meant a lot of visibility issues but, whatever, I was still having a great time. We took a break at the most idyllic crossroads by a Quaker Meeting House. This spot really stuck with me. I felt like I was in a fairytale or a set from a movie. I could not believe such a perfectly peaceful, summertime spot existed. Leaving the crossroads we came upon the Durgin Covered Bridge. What is it about covered bridges that are so exciting to see and ride through? It must be that chance to experience a small bit of what was. A slice of old Americana.
Soon after this, we got onto Sandwich Notch Road. Holy hell what a ride! It’s not a typical road but a mountain pass that is only open in the summer season. I don’t know how or why but it was full of some great jumps. The whole road was stupid fun. The downhill portion was a little busy with large road repair trucks and other traffic. I would love to go back and do that one again. Technical but not so much that it was scary. Finally, we came out of the mountains and took a lunch break. The rest of the riding for the day was really good but was more road than track like we had earlier. We came upon a small closed ski mountain and had a bit of fun. As we neared the spot we had picked out to camp, the first of many rains began to fall. We got into our rain gear on the side of the road just in the knick of time. On the way to find a camp spot in the White Mountain National Forest, we saw the most high definition rainbow I have ever seen. It was so intense that it appeared tactile. Have you ever seen the end of a rainbow? Never have I until this day. It was wild and in that moment I wasn’t bothered by the rain. The closer we got to its end, the quicker it moved away. There would be no gold on this trip though. The rain stopped as we got onto the forest road that we intended to camp on. We found a large clearing near the road but big enough that we would be hidden from anyone driving up the road. No fire tonight so an early bedtime for all.
Day 5 – Benton, NH to Pittsfield, VT
Two more rainstorms moved in as we slept. It wasn’t raining when we packed but we did have to pack our gear away wet. No bueno. It was a chilly ride into Woodsville, NH. We posted up to get breakfast but realized we would be here for a little while. That 21” tube in Will’s rear decided to give. Pretty great it got us as far as it did and pretty great he got a spare tube in Gorham. Will took to swapping the tube while I laid my rainfly out to dry in the morning sun. I hate a wet tent. We all took the time to do some chain tightening and couldn’t believe how much stretch we were getting. With Will all patched up, we crossed the Connecticut River into Vermont. It was not long before we were on dirt roads. In fact, I’d say 90% of what we rode in Vermont was unpaved. We knew from BDR reports that Vermont was the most technical (rocks and mud) of all the states. It sure did not take us long to find out how true that was. Right off the bat, we hit some ATV trails. Fucking rutt, mud, and rock city. Everyone rode it at their own pace. I was the turtle of the group. I was determined to have a good time without injuring myself as I am quite prone to injury. Brian ended up looping his bike. He was 100% ok. He picked up his Husky and we ripped on. The scenery became rolling, green hills and farmland. After a small break in Corinth, we got back to the technical shit. Will ended up getting stuck in the mud on a long hill climb. It took some work to get him out. The trail became gravel and soon we were swimming on the stone. We probably were riding the dirt, gravel, and rocky roads a little too fast but fuck it. One thing I love about my WR is, while it is not a flashy bike, it always does what I ask of it without giving me any shit.
In the town of Chelsea, we got lunch and enjoyed it out in the middle of a small brook that runs through town. After some more backroads, we came to Vermont’s only floating bridge in Brookfield. It was here that I was inspired to find a swimming hole. A quick search on swimmingholes.org and a check of the map, put us right on track to check out Warren Falls. The rolling hills became the Green Mountains and we crossed a few ridges to get into Warren, another beautiful New England town. We got to the falls and were absolutely blown away at what we found. Crystal clear water, cascading falls, jump spots, natural water slides, etc. Basically a natural water park. We wasted no time jumping off the cliffs. The water was ice cold and beyond refreshing. This spot is easily on my top three swimming holes I’ve been too. Honestly, it might even be my number one. We could see dark clouds rolling in so we left Warren Falls and rode up and over the Lincoln Gap Road. As we came down from the mountain, the rain began to fall. We geared up and rode on, deeper into the Green Mountains. Somehow we managed to escape the storm and found sun in a different valley. With lighting speed, Will led us through forestry roads all the way to Hancock. We stopped to fuel up and eat at a great country store. It was for sale. Both Brian and I started turning the gears. Fuck the city life. Let’s buy this store and retire to the Green Mountains. Live that good life. Later in the trip, I checked the listing. The store was under contract. Bummer. I was able to find a campsite for us outside of Pittsfield. It was a good rip out to the site and what a good site it was. We took our time setting up but another thunderstorm moved in super fast. We all got into our tents just as the rain began to fall. When the storm had moved on, I joined Will by the fire while Jake and Brian had called it a day. Will and I burnt all the wood we had and soon crashed.
Day 6 – Pittsfield, VT to Stratton, VT
More rain came through as we slept. It was another chilly, wet morning. We packed up and rode into Pittsfield to warm up at the general store. I fucking love all the general stores in this area. They have a little bit of everything, and this one had the coffee and breakfast sandwiches we required. It was all pavement into Barnard. We gassed up at their general store. The sun was now in full effect and warming us quite nicely. As we left Barnard, it took no time to hit more of Vermont’s technical riding tracks. All the rocks! All the mud! And tons of fun. I even did my first true rock crawling. Just me and three other guys having a blast in the woods of Vermont. I was on cloud nine. The tracks would come out into what seemed like people’s yards but these are all legal roads. I was the guy who would not shut the fuck up in the Bluetooth about all the amazing houses. In my opinion, New England homes are the best homes. As with all of Vermont, these quaint roads led to technical trails again and again. I was far in the back from the crew but as I came down a very steep and loose rocked hill, I heard over the Bluetooth that Brian went down and went down hard. When we got to him he was on his back and holding his hip. I was terrified that he had broken it. Thankfully he had not but he could not stand nor walk. When he came down the hill he rode over a very large piece of bedrock that happened to be wet. That’s all it took to lose it. We stayed in this spot for some time to let him recuperate. Eventually, he was able to get up but needed support to walk and someone to help him swing his leg over the bike. While we were waiting, another storm came in. The rain fell harder just as we got him situated on his bike. Pretty quickly we were outta the woods and onto a main road. This led to the White Rock Recreation Area and back on dirt. By the time we got to Londonderry the rain had stopped and the sun was burning off all evidence of said rain.
We took a lunch break at a grocery store where Brian was able to use a shopping cart as a walker. Use the tools that you got, right? With full stomachs and full tanks, it was time to go. Outside of Londonderry, we had another wipeout. In the words of the great Alex Quinn, Jake ‘…got caught partying’. He decided to grip it and rip it on a dirt road but didn’t realize there was a hard right after a blind hill. He and his DRZ ended up 10 feet in a wooded embankment. Thankfully the only thing that was hurt was his luggage, though it was a struggle to get his bike out of the woods. He got his bike in order and we rode on and on. Mountains, woods, creeks, quaint towns, and villages. It just kept coming and coming. Vermont was my idea of Shangri La. I was in my element. It took us a little longer to get to a camp spot than I would have liked. Admittedly, I got a bit cranky. It was worth the wait and the sore ass. It was a great spot outside of Stratton in the Green Mountain National Forest. A large pad that should give us plenty of sun in the morning to dry off our tents. We set up camp, scavenged for wood, and had a fire. Brian was in good spirits and semi-mobile. The stars were on again tonight and it was just as good of a show as every night has been.
3 responses to “NEBDR-20 (Part2)”
Published - May 30, 2014
Roughly six months ago Ben bought an XR650L. A week later I bought one. A few weeks after that Alex bought a XR650R. Then Andrew picked up a XR600. The plan to ride to Aroostock, Maine became a reality. Then last month Dana picked up a XR650L to make it a five man Honda commercial. […]