Road Trip 2000

The following is a brief description of my 5,000 mile trip on the Sprint ST in July of 2000.
  
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In addition I also logged a couple thousand miles at the TSRA Rallye - pictures and write up can be seen on the TSRA page at

http://www.tsra.cc/rally/rally00/index.htm

Dates: Fri, 30th June - Wed, 12th July 2000

Rough plan - July 4th with the family in CT then head north to Canada for the Sport Bike Rally. Return down the Blue Ridge Parkway and plan the routes for the Rallye later in August.

Day 1 - Fri June 30th

Port Saint John Florida to Scotland CT

The plan was simple - leave Friday morning and run straight through to my parents house in Connecticut. My wife and daughter were flying in on Saturday morning so I wanted to arrive before they got there.

I rolled out of bed around 7:00, got ready in a relaxed fashion and headed off around 9:30am. Unlike my last non-stop blast up the coast I decided to do this one on my normal sleep schedule (as trying to change it had failed during Roadtrip 98). While I would be in the southern states during the heat of the day, I felt that I would be better rested for the journey overall. The journey itself was pretty uneventful as far as my rides are concerned. The traffic was not too bad considering that it was the July 4th weekend, but there was the occasional idiot out for a Sunday drive just to keep me on my toes. The weather started off good, but by Edgewater (about 30 miles north of home) I was in the rain. I stopped on the side of the road and the camber of the road was so severe at the edge that I nearly dumped it trying to get back on the bike.... Once I put on a few more hours (around South Carolina) the weather was good (although it got cold at night) and I made very good time. By sunrise I was running the Cross Bronx at what I felt was a high rate of speed, but as the other traffic was moving that quick I decided to run with the bigs dogs lest I become a hood ornament.... I ran up 91 into Hartford and then picked up 384 toward Route 6. Headed down the 384 I was running right into the sun and when I turned onto 6, I realized that my low fuel light had been blazing for quite some time.... I knew 6 did not have an abundance of gas stations but I was not worried - until I hit the first station and was greeted by a "Closed" sign. Luck for me, I was able to proceed on fumes to the next station which by this time was open...

A short time later I was rolling into the driveway at my parents house in time for breakfast.

Day 2 - Saturday July 1st

Having finished the 1,360 mile non-stop run from Florida you would think that this was a sleep day... Nope - although I was smart enough not to try and tackle any of the local roads though. Hung out and waited for Kim and Allison to arrive. Spent the rest of the day with the families (my brother had come down from Boston as well).

Day 3 - Sunday July 2nd

Short ride to dinner in Pomfret. Kim and I two up and my mom on her Heritage. Nice to be on some roads with real curves again.

Day 4 - Monday July 3rd

Rest day - did a short loop of about 120 miles up through Storrs and out to Putnam and down to Plainfield.

Day 5 - Tue July 4th

No riding today - too many drunks on the roads in the US. Spent the day with the family and enjoyed there company as I was planning on departing the following day.

Day 6 - Wed July 5th

Scotland CT to Saranac Lake New York

After the torrential rains on Tuesday I was hoping that the system was all rained out and I was greeted with bright sunshine to start the ride.

Today I was beginning my trek north to Canada. I know the run down the St Lawrence is pretty boring on the Canadian side, so I decided to run up through Vermont on Route 100 to pick up some good roads and then cross over into New York and ride across the Northern part of the state to I-81 where I could cross into Canada. The first part of the day was pretty tame - was only interested in covering miles so did all highway miles until I reached Vermont. Outside of Brattleboro I ran across Route 9 to pick up 100. Once on 100 I really started to have a good time. Even though it was the day after a holiday the traffic was wonderfully light - I had a great time exploring the local side roads and scenic overlooks. Even caught a few waterfalls seen here - a sight I would never see in Florida...

       

Looking at my watch, I could see I was really chewing up the day, so I picked up 17 and headed off to the west to Port Henry. Between 100 and 116, Route 17 goes over the Green Mountains - I highly recommend this road if you are ever in the area. Crossed into New York at Port Henry and headed toward Lake Placid. Stopped along the way and phone to Paul who I was meeting in Toronto. He had just made an unsuccessful trip across Toronto to pick up a spare shift rod for me - the dealer had the wrong one - so Paul wasted a trip and I was without a spare.... Oh well - think good thoughts and I won't have any problems with my stock one (and I didn't). Passed through Lake Placid and the Olympic Village - I was amazed at the height of the ski jump - it looks big on TV but it seems much higher in person. As I had to be in Toronto the following day I wanted to get as many miles in as possible, but by the time I reached Lake Saranac my hands were cold despite the heated grips. I first thought about camping but decided on a nice cheap motel by the side of the lake - $40 a night can't be beat - and considering it dropped below freezing overnight I felt I made a very wise decision indeed...

Day 7 - Thur July 6th

Lake Saranac NY - Toronto - Parry Sound

After a hearty breakfast consisting of a peanut butter power bar and a bottled water I loaded everything back on the bike and headed off to the west just as the sun was beginning to break over the pines.

I continued on Route 3 to the west toward Fort Drum and Watertown - the road was very lightly travelled - just me and the logging trucks. It wasn't long before the morning chill was taking its effect and I found myself thinking quite a bit about a heated vest. After an hour I decided to stop and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee at a small truck stop. I shared a bench with a really talkative local - our conversation went something like this...

Me: "Sure got cold last night"

Him: "yuh"

Me: "Normal for this time of year ?"

Him: "eh, nuh.."

If it had been dark out at that point I probably wouldn't have even waited for the coffee to cool...

By this point the sun was higher in the sky and the temperature was coming up quickly. Back on the road I go. Soon I found myself crossing the St Lawrence and was amazed at how beautiful the area was. Very quickly however it changed back into the flat glacial plain and I turned west on the 401 for some pretty unexciting miles on my way onto Toronto. I came through Toronto in the early afternoon and was amazed at the volume of traffic - 6 lanes running each and with pretty heavy traffic. This definitely is a motorcycle nightmare with cagers coming at you from every direction. I was happy to be off it. Met up with Paul Wilson, who lives just outside of Toronto. After a visit to the bank for some currency exchange and a nice dinner out, we headed off to Parry Sound (about 160 miles to the north). The weather was clear, but the full moon had a chilling effect and at our first stop just north of Barrie, I broke out my windbreaker and put it on over my leathers in an attempt to cut down on the cold air entering through the multiple vent zippers. Once we got past Barrie, the population thinned quickly and soon it was us and the moon blazing through the dark night. We arrived at the motel around 11:30 and checked in - we were warned to watch out for the bear that had been seen in recent nights in the parking lot...

Day 8 - Fri July 7th

Parry Sound

After a huge breakfast, we headed off to the Rally grounds to sign in. Filled out the forms to register and was told that I was in the running for longest distance travelled to get to the Rally. After handing over some money for a styling Rally shirt, we headed inside for the vendor exhibits.

As we pulled in we found the Triumph display trailer (the mini one) manned by Chris Ellis (The one man Triumph Canada show) - so we picked a prime spot and parked. The ST as normal did a good job of drawing a crowd - Paul said that he was not riding with me anymore because no one was looking at his bike...

Chris let us know that there would be a RAT (Riders Assoc of Triumph) ride later in the day, so we made plans to attend and then headed off for some of the local roads. The roads were fun, but a little on the rough side. If the roads had been newer, it would have been heaven.

Chris put on a great (but short) run for lunch out to a restaurant right on Georgian Bay. After sitting down, Chris let us know that Triumph would be picking up the tab - can't beat that. Paul and I then headed off for some more of the local roads. He knew a great spot to get some pictures of the bikes, so we headed off for the resort.

After dinner, I decided to check out the "indoor" flat track races being held at the Parry Sound Ice Rink.The races were a blast, but the between race entertainment put on by Chris Ellis, McBride and another racer on Honda 125s were the hit of the evening. There was a raffle put on by Honda with a paddock jacket as top prize - the number ended in 116 - my ticket was 115.... typical.

Day 9 - Sat July 8th

Parry Sound

Another lumberjack breakfast - thankfully the exchange is on my side. Paul had gone over the local events and we decided to head of to Gravenhurst for the Wooden Boat Show.

The first stop was the Rosseau General Store - A great backdrop.
From there we headed off to Gravenhurst. The event was huge and I was amazed at the variety and quality of the boats on display. One of my favorites is pictured here and while not an antique it was unique - the roadster look really hooked me. I need to make about $100,000 more per year though....
We headed back off to the Rally site for the group dinner and to see if our door prize tickets bore any fruit (they didn't). While waiting in line though, Chris came over and told me that my bike had been chosen best looking new Triumph and the grand prize was a new Triumph Paddock jacket - too cool !!! Plus I got one of the new flame caps - what more could a guy ask for ? After dinner I headed off for the group ride through Parry Sound - Paul headed off to take some pics as we went by. While lining up I met a guy on a BMW from Deland (about 50 miles north of where I live) - travel 2,000 miles to meet a neighbor. The group ride was really neat - it was a short run through town and the locals packed the streets to wave us on - it was an awesome show of support from the community.

The ride ended at the local mall where the awards for the event were handed out. I ended up in a tie with another rider for furthest distance.

Day 10 - Sun July 9th

Parry Sound - Toronto

Well, we packed in the food every morning at the motel restaurant, so what was going to be hurt by one more day ? As we were finishing up it began to rain again - it was going to be a wet ride back to Toronto.

We donned the rainsuits and headed off. Paul had told me about the boat railway on the way up, so we worked it into our ride home. The railway scoops boats from one lake system and deposits them in another. Unlike a lock system, this system moved quickly and seemed to be a perfect solution - I don't know why there are not more of them.
We continued on and once we were south of Barrie the rains picked up and so did the winds. By the time we made it to Paul's I was ready to be off the bike. A quick shower and we were off again (but this time by car). Paul being the ultimate host, took me on a brief auto tour of Toronto and its sites. Then the three of us (Paul, his wife and myself) took in a dinner at their favorite Thai restaurant By he time we were done, I was ready for sleep.

Day 11 - Mon July 10th

Toronto - Beckley WV

Monday morning as most were headed back to work from their weekends I was planning the next leg of the journey. As I had not been to Niagara I decided to head that way and Paul graciously agreed to act as tour guide once again. We took some back roads through the vineyards and then

ended up in the tourist clog that now plagues the falls. The falls are amazing - I only wish I could have seen them in their natural state (before the surrounding build-up). After a short time at the falls, Paul and I parted ways and I headed off to return to the US through Buffalo. I had checked the weather before heading out and everything looked clear, so I was really enjoying my ride. My plan was to make it to southern West Virginia to camp in a national park. The weather though, had other plans for me. When I hit Erie PA the sky was dark and I knew it was going to get wet. A few miles south and the skies opened up - no big deal I told myself and looked down the road to see what looked like clearing.
I decided to push on instead of putting on my rain gear - big mistake. Ten miles later I realized that there was no clearing in sight - only a slight reduction in the force of the rain. So, I bit the bullet, pulled over and put on my gear. Of course I was already wet underneath, but it would keep me from getting cold.

I stopped outside Pittsburgh for fuel and turned on the weather radio - the news was not good. The whole east coast was under rain. I wonder how the Canadain weather missed it..... By the time I reached Sutton WV, I was wondering if I was ever going to see the sun again. Another check of the weather radio found me in the path of a severe weather broadcast including a Tornado Watch. I decided to put some more miles on in a southerly direction. I got off I-79 and picked up Route 19. Route 19 was two lanes in each direction, but I had the entire roadway to myself. It was close to sunset and everything was shrouded in a dark haze. As I road down 19 through a valley between two ranges, I watched as lightning struck one side and then the other - eerily lighting up the valley with quick flashes of light. By this point it was raining so hard that even on the downgrades the water was beginning to pond on the surface.

By the time I reached North Beckly, I was done - stick a fork in me (and hand me a towel dammit). When I saw the billboard for the Ramada hotel with attached restaurant, I shouted in my helmet "We have a winner!!!"

I pulled into the lot and headed for the covered entrance. As I walked through the lobby I am sure that I looked like a cross of Mission to Mars and the Creature from the Black Lagoon... The gentleman at the front desk looked up from his call and laughed.... He said he was a biker and I was the funniest thing he had seen in a while.... nice.

After checking in, he mentioned that the restaurant had been closed due to a grease fire. No nearby restaurant, but a well stocked snack machine. At that point I was so wiped out that I didn't care - a hot shower and a bag of chips and I was a happy guy. All the leathers were draped over the ac unit set to high fan in an attempt to remove some of the water...

Day 12 - Tue July 11th

Beckley WV - Asheville, NC

Up early today and on the road. The leathers were mostly dry and it was a beautiful day. I headed down I-77 looking for one of my most favorite roads - The Blue Ridge Parkway. It was not long before I was enjoying the gently twisting two lane road. Once I got close to Asheville I switched to mapping mode to begin laying out the routes for the TSRA Rallye that would be taking place thirty days later (see link at top of page).

After a day of mapping out local roads, I headed for the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground - located on 276 just off the parkway, it is a campground run by Henry and Dee Hartsfield just for motorcyclists. There are a series of small cabins and then plenty of grassy areas for those of use with tents on board. I stopped at the office and found that they were out. The note said to go on in and pay later...

Afyer a few minutes, my site was setup and ready for habitation. Tossed my soup on the sterno can and headed off to the stream to watch the butterflies. After dinner I turned on the "rain" radio and found that I was in the path of another severe weather system. I decided to turn in early. Minutes later the rain and winds came. During the night I was awakened by a loud crash - at first I thought my bike had gone over but a quick check with the flashlight showed it still in the upright position. As it was still raining I went back to sleep. The next morning I found the source of the crash - a dead branch that was over the tent broke off in the wind and crashed to the ground next to the tent. Lucky for me it was not a foot to the right....

Day 13 - Wed July 12th

Asheville, NC - Port St John FL 

After dumping the water from my fly and ground covers I packed up everything else and strapped it all back on the bike. I played on the parkway for a little while and then made my way back to Asheville to pick up I-26 for the ride home. The ride home was pretty boring - lots of straight, flat roads - a real let down after the roads of the last couple days.

Ah, the price I pay for year round riding. I pulled into the garage in the early evening. While I had a great time on the ride, I missed Kim and Allison and was definitely glad to be home. Plus I had all day Thursday to recover before going back to work.

I have been blessed with a great life....

-Eric

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