A second Attempt
Last October, Chris "Holmes" Worth, his buddy Jimmy,
Joe "ClueCollector" McGraw, and myself made an attempt at ascending
Mt. Washington in Pinkham Notch New Hampshire. I've not finished
documenting this trip as of yet, but suffice to say that we were
unsuccessful. We had a brisk ride and quick ride up to N.H. with
temperatures as low as 27 degrees and speeds of up to 137 MPH, but the forest
rangers deemed the Auto Road unsafe for motorcycle traffic.
This past Memorial day, Holmes and his lady friend Cheryl, again
tried to ascent the mountain on their return trip from Nova Scotia. Again
they were turned back by the forest rangers who determined the road "too
greasy" for safe passage.
On June 13, a "Ride To The Sky" day was put on in
which the Auto Road would be closed to all vehicular traffic except motorcycles
and the Auto Road livery vans. My brother, Bart, called and let me
know of this event in which many hundreds if not thousands of motorcycles would
be making the trek up the mountain. I posted on the New England VRCC board
of this event, but unfortunately I could not go because of work and because of
the N.H. Scramble ride which I was going to attend on Saturday. Holmes
posted back "OMG!!!!! Hope Springs Eternal!" and pleaded with me to
make the ride up with him.
But alas, I could not, because that four letter word
"work" was calling. That is until the N.H. Scramble was put on
hold. And Thursday was going to be the best day of a raining week.
And when I realized that if I worked really late on Wednesday and probably
Saturday now that it was free and maybe Sunday to. You see, I really
needed to ride and a long trip was calling and pestering me such that I could
not get any work done anyways, so...
Click Here For Pictures
Time to Meet
Holmes and I were to meet at Exit 37 of I-91 north of Hartford
at 6 AM. So this meant that I needed to leave my house no later than 5:10
AM with 5:00 AM being preferable. So Wednesday night, I had a few drinks
and set my alarm for 4:30 AM and headed to bed around 11:30 PM. I slept
pretty good but remember dreaming that the Auto Road was closed because of snow
and thinking "what the hell is going on, snow in June?". This
must have been because of Holmes' two failed attempts being on my mind. I
woke about 4:28 AM and got up, showered, shaved, and dressed. I kissed
Trudy goodbye and told her I was leaving.
I went down and got the Valk out of the garage and took a look
to see if the camera was in the trunk. There was no camera, so I went back
up stairs and looked on my computer desk. No camera there either.
Now I'm beginning to get worried. What is it with me and this god damn
camera and losing it? Finally I spot it on the living room end table where
it was put after our Americade trip. Now I feeling better. Down
stairs I go and jump on the Valk and head out to meet Chris.
I head down Rt. 8 and over onto I-84 East toward Hartford.
I'm trying to keep the speed down because its pretty early in the morning and
there is not much traffic to mix in with, but unfortunately the Valk had other
ideas. I keep looking down and seeing 80 MPH on the speedometer.
Damn I hope there are no Statey's out this morning. After a brisk ride,
I'm at the Mobil station off Exit 37 at about 5:40 AM. With time available, I
park and grab a coffee and wait for Holmes.
I did not have to wait long because about 5:50 in growls the
green and cream Valk with Holmes aboard. Damn that machine sounds sweet
with its new stacks, lack of piggies, and baffles drilled out. I think of
how I'm going to be doing this safety enhancement to mine soon. Holmes
needs a cup of coffee as well so he goes in and gets one.
First Harley Encounter
While we are waiting, a guy comes out of the store and looks
over the Valks and says "Damn those are big bikes." We
acknowledge this is true and he mentions that the looked about as big as a
"VW Bug". He asks if we are heading up to Laconia for bike week
but we say no that we are heading up to Mt. Washington. He mentions that
its good that we are going because its going to rain down here in Connecticut
the next couple of days. You see he is a little confused and thinks that
we are going to be taking a couple of days to go up and back. We correct
his error and tell him that no, this is just an up and back day trip.
He mentions that he has a Harley and that there is no way that
he could ride it up and back in one day. He says that probably 200 miles
would be his limit. He could ride it up and back but it would take him a
couple of days. At least he says, "I ride mine". He then
goes off and tells us how his buddies are loading up their trailers with there
Harley's and heading up to Laconia for the weekend. "Why have a bike
if your not going to ride it?" he asks. We concur. At least
this guy has the right idea if not the right ride to do it on. He wishes
us a safe journey and we depart.
The Ride to NH
I lead the ride up through Mass. I try keeping the speeds
to a reasonable 80 to 90 MPH and for the most part I do. The morning is
quite overcast and in a few areas it is misting a little. I have on my
leathers with a long sleeve shirt and my shorty helmet. I'm a little
chilly but not too bad. Chris has removed the windshield from his Valk and
has his full face Nolan on with various other pieces of warm clothing. We
tool up through Mass with no incident and enter Vermont and stop for gas at Exit
3. I-91 in Vermont has exits that are pretty far apart and some with no
services so we decide to tank up here for the run up through Vermont.
Holmes decides he will lead this part of the ride so off we
go. Were cruising a long and we come to a stretch of the road that is
quite familiar. On our last Mt. Washington trip I saw the speedometer tip
137 MPH at this point. Holmes twists his wrist and starts pulling
away. I think, "Oh no, here we go again". This time I can
only manage 125 MPH before I shut it down. I think to myself, "must
be losing the top end with the trigger wheel installed" and think about
removing it. I pull along side Holmes and just shake my head but I'm
grinning from ear to ear. He later says that stretch of road is just
begging for wide open throttle. I pretty much agree.
Periodically over the next 100 miles, the process repeats.
Holmes twists the wrist and I follow. At one point I see a deer in the
field off to the right. Holmes does not see it. Maybe that's because
his eyes are watery at +100 MPH. I thought we were supposed to get off
Exit 14, but it really was Exit 15. Unfortunately, this too flew by at 100
MPH. Holmes asked me which exit, and I gave the thumbs back gesture to
indicate that we past it.
Normally I take Exit 17 to Well River VT, so I took the lead and
we exited there. We crossed over to Woodsville NH and stopped at
McDonald's for some nurishment.
We travelled Rt. 302 through Bath and then Lisbon. I was
cruising along in the lead at a respectable pace but not too fast. I
looked in the mirror and there was no Valk to be seen. My heart sort of
stopped and I was thinking that "damn, there were not too many curves...
Maybe I got wide on one and cut Chris off...". I turned around and
started back. I had not gone but a few hundred feet when Holmes came
around the last bend. He pulled over and I did a U-Turn and pulled alone
side. It seems that he had some sort of vapor lock and the Valk acted like
it was out of gas. He opened the gas cap and all was well. Boy did
that sound good to me!
We motored up Rt. 302 and I took a left on to Sugar Hill Road.
I've driven on this road before but always in a four wheeler. I would be
thinking that this would be a fine road on a bike. I was!. The road
was freshly paved within the last year since I remember them working on it last
fall. Long sweeping turns and then those awesome yellow signs that look
like a snake. A few pegs scraped here and there. We continued up the
hill and then down the other side. On the way down, there is the Pancake
House. There were quite a few bikes here and at least one Valk that I
could see. I started to slow to maybe pull in, but indecision caused me to
go past. We then motored on.
At Twin Mountain, we had a choice. We could head down Rt.
302 through Crawford Notch and then up Rt. 16 to the Auto Road. It was
about 10:15 AM or so which would put us at the Auto Road around 11:15. The
clouds were still hanging over the mountains. You could not see the peaks
of any of the presidential range. So I stopped and asked Chris what he
wanted to do. I told him that we could take a ride around northern N.H.
and hit the Auto Road around noon and see what it was like then. I told
him that I would show him an excellent hotel that had just reopened after many
years of being closed and that I wanted to stop by the cemetery to see my
mom. He said it sounded like a plan and off we went.
Through Northern N.H.
We took Rt. 3 though White Field and on towards Lancaster.
I was looking for the Mountain View road. You see, my mom used to work at
the Mountain View Inn. In fact during the summers, she used to live
there. The Mountain View Inn was a resort that people from Boston and such
used to come up and stay for the whole summer. If you've seen the movie
Dirty Dancing and the places in the Catskills, NY, you know what I mean.
Like others, the way of life changed and people stopped coming to these types of
resorts. The Mountain View closed but I can still remember the stories
that my mom used to tell of working there.
In the past couple of years, new owners bought the Inn and
renovated it. The last time I was up this way, they were putting in the
windows. Now it's completed and opened. We stopped for a few moments and
looked around. What a regal Inn it is. It is so large that could not
get it in the camera frame unless of course I went across the championship golf
course across the street. I did my best however. Unfortunately I did
not take a picture of the view that the front rooms have which is quite
impressive of the Presidential Range.
We continued through the Mount View Road back onto Rt. 116
towards Jefferson. We hit the intersection of Whipple Road and Rt. 116 and
turned right onto Whipple Road. This intersection is where I used to have
to switch buses when I was in grades 1 through 4 and brings back memories.
Whipple Road is a dirt road of about 2 miles. Down the road we went.
Fortunately the road is pretty packed and not too washed out. Holmes did
say that I kicked up a rock that he saw coming at his head but could not get out
of the way. Bonk. Right off the Nolan. Fortunately none worse for
the wear. All the time I was thinking of the jaunt that he led me own up
the the Norfork pub here in CT. Through Upper Mountain Road. Dirt
road. Snow. Yeah, I was glad I came down this road with his freshly
Onto 115A we went toward Jefferson village. I stopped at
the cemetery and talked to my mom and my grandmother who recently passed away
and was just interned this spring and my grandfather who has been there a
while. Sort of made me melancholy but the sun started shining through the
clouds and I knew that they were watching and enjoying me having a good time.
We turned left onto Rt. 2 and headed down through
Jefferson. I turned right onto the North Road before Santa's
Village. We road on down and I stopped at my grandmother's house and told
Chris that this is where I spent each summer from grade 1 to 12 of my school
life. The first day of summer to the last day before school I lived with
my grandparents on the farm. Haying. Working in the garden.
Fishing! Damn I used to look forward to rainy days since you could not hay
in the rain! My first bike when I was 12. A Honda CB 175. I
used to bomb up and down the road that my grandfather put in up to the cabin we
built on the mountain. My grandmother nearly had a heart attack when she
saw me flying over a jump in the cow pasture. 187 acres now to be
sold. Some stranger is going to have a large part of my life. The
biggest regret that I have is not having a place to take my kids. It's not
like you can just go out in your back yard down hear in CT and take out a rifle
and blow away some cans in the pasture.
On we went down through Lancaster onto Rt. 3 and over through
Groveton. We turned onto Rt. 110 and head over to Stark. Stark is a
pretty little village. There is a nice covered bridge that crosses the
river there. On the way over, we noted that the rivers that we had passed
were pretty high and the water was pretty rapid. We stopped at the covered
bridge and noted that the river had flooded right up to the parking lot.
We took a couple of pictures at the bridge and I related that up in the
mountains on the other side is Crystal Lake. It's actually up in between a
couple of mountains. We used to go there as kids to cool off. A
sparkling body of water that's spring fed. Warm in many spots but then you
take as step and you can feel the cool water coming up through the ground.
We started to take the little road on the other side of the
bridge West but after a few hundred yards I called it off as the road was too
washed out and marked with frost heaves. Back across the river and up Rt.
110 we went. All along the way I was marveling at how flooded the area
was. Areas that I had never seen have water were now covered. We
continued up a ways until West Milan. I turned left onto Rt. 110A towards
Milan. A couple of places on this road there were signs that indicated
that the road was washed out. Other than those places the road was
sweet. Nice sharp twisties. Where Rt. 110A intersects with Rt.
110B we had no choice. Rt. 110A was closed at this point. Rt. 110B was not
disappointing, however. More sharp twisties and hills to conquer. We
finally hit Rt. 16 in Milan and took a right towards Berlin.
Berlin was where the second part of my childhood occurred.
My parents got divorced after I finished the fourth grade and my mom got
remarried and we moved to Berlin. When I was in the fourth grade, I swore
that I would never move to Berlin. Berlin is a paper mill town.
Experience one sometime. After a while I got used to the fact and I would
not have changed anything. I had a great childhood there and many fond
memories. Unfortunately, Berlin is dying or at least severely ill as a
city. Using the word city is a generous stretch of the word. When I
was a kid, the population was around 16,000. Now 8,000 would be
good. The paper mill was taken over by a business that ran it into the
ground and then declared bankruptcy owing the city millions of dollars.
Fortunately, just recently a company here in CT has bought the mills and is
reopening them so the future for the city looks a little brighter.
Along Rt. 16 I stopped and showed Holmes a ski jump. This is an
70 or 80 meter ski jump (I forget which) that is made out of wood. When I
was in High School, I used to go up to the top with some friends and drink beer
and raise a ruckus. Now I worry about what my kids are doing. At
least my parents did not know or they did not let on.
Across the street is a park were I also used to go and drink
beer. Actually a lot of the time in my high school years were drinking
beer. Not a lot to do up in the sticks and when you have a doctored
license to buy... The park was complete submerged with about 5 feet of
water from the near by river covering it.
As we headed down Rt. 16 towards Berlin and Gorham I was getting
to be a little worried. What with all of the flooding and roads washed
out, I was beginning to think that maybe they would not be letting traffic up
Mount Washington. In Gorham we fueled up and then headed up Rt. 16
to Pinkham Notch and the Auto Road. We passed many motorcycles along the
way but I was unsure if they were just cruising or were turned away at the Auto
Road. When we got real close, I saw construction equipment and flashing
lights. I though. "great, the road was washed out and we can't got
up". But I was wrong. It was just road construction and around
the bend we could see the Auto Road with hundreds of bikes and many heading up
the mountains. I smiled inside. Chris was going to see the top
The Ride Up
We first stopped across the street at the Glen House. We
went into the parking lot that had a lot of construction equipment. At
first the state cop did not want us to go into there since there was saw horses
in front of the lot, but I explained that my brother was working there and I
wanted to see him. So we went into the parking lot and parked. I
looked around and spotted my brother up on a lift with another guy and a bunch
of plywood. I hollered up "Bartholomew ". His name is
actually "Bart" but I like to give it to him once in a while by
calling him this. He hollered back down, pretty surprised to see me.
I had told him on Sunday that I would not be up on Thursday but maybe Saturday,
but there I was. We bullshitted for a few and he asked if we had been up
the mountain yet. No, I said and then he said to wait a minute and he
probably could get us some passes to go up for free. We did and he
did. A pass that said that two bikes could go up for free.
We had some brotherly small talk. He said that it had
rained for about 36 hours straight. He has an older house that he is
fixing and he said that he had recently jacked up the roof. Unfortunately
this caused some cracks in the roof shingles and all of the rain sounded like
music coming into his house hitting various pots and pans! We said thanks
and goodbye and headed up the mountain.
I've climbed the mountain when younger and road up a few years
ago in my van but nothing compared to taking the Valk up. If you've never
been, the road to the summit is 8 miles long. Most of it is paved but
there are parts that are not and are dirt road. Once you get above the
tree line, on one side the drop off the edge is hundreds of feet. On he
other side is usually a gully between the road and the mountain. Go off the edge
and you are done. Forget it. Your bike becomes part of the
mountain. Go off the other and you are not going to get out of the gully
by yourself. Maybe three or four strong people but I think more.
Up we road, following many bikes. Mostly Harleys but a few
others. The dirt parts were what Chris likes to call
"greasy". Tire ruts and loss of traction both to the front and
back. This is a little unsettling when making a mistake could be a few
hundred foot drop. But the bikes handled good and we and the others took
it easy and had no problems. On the way up, the views were pretty
spectacular. We were going through the clouds into a partially cloudy and
sunny sky. The ravines and other peaks remind you that you are in God's
We finally hit the top and pulled into the parking
lot. We made it. Chris had made it. The third time was
the charm. Just when we entered, a guy own a Road King turned hard right
and proceeded to drop his bike into the gravel parking lot. At first I
thought he meant to do this since it happened so sudden but then I saw him
trying to right the bike. A few others came over and back up it
came. Holmes and I parked and he found a few stones to put under the
kickstands to stop the bikes from sinking and falling over.
We noticed a few other Valks in the lot. One from P.A.,
one from N.Y, and one from M.I. We headed on up to the observatory and the
summit. We climbed onto the pile of rocks that marks the summit and took a
few pictures. Other pictures of the majesty of the views followed. I tried
calling Trudy but I could really get through on the cell phone. The number
must have gone through because she called me back. I answered but we could
not hear each other but I hollered that I was on top of Mount Washington and
hung up. I would later call and she said that she had head that much and
figured that I would call later.
We moseyed around the summit and We looked through the gift
shop. We got a snack and something to drink and then decided to head back
down. The ride down was uneventful, but near the bottom I saw that the
bike in front of Chris had a guy riding in the passenger seat backwards taking
pictures. Chris said that he was taking pictures all the way down. I
bet those come out awesome.
We stopped back over to the Glen House and saw my brother and
then my sister-in-law's sister who works in the travel department and then we
headed back to Gorham to see my sister-in-law who works at WallMart. We
then headed back down Rt.16 but I stopped at the N.H. Liquour store to get some
Drambui, my down fall. N.H. Liquor is much cheaper than here in CT so I
need to get a couple of bottles for home. $24 in N.H. verses $35 here in
CT. I'm not that smart but it seemed like a pretty good deal.
Starting For Home
Now we needed to decide on how we were going to get back
home. Holmes said that he was up for anything. Canada and Key West
were options as long as he was back by 7:00 AM on Friday. I mentioned
heading down to North Conway and then down through Wolfborough and down to the
Weare's beach area but I really did not want to get involved with a large
crowed. Chris mentioned that he and Cheryl had taken the Kankamangus over
to Rt. 118 and down some roads to Keene. I had not been on the Kankamangus
from Bear Notch Road to Conway so we decided to go to Conway and do this route.
Conway was jammed packed and it took us quite a while to get
through town and then onto the Kank. Once we did, there were quite a few
bikes in front of us going fairly slow. Mostly Harleys but some
others. Up a few bikes was a Valk from Georgia. We followed these
for quite a while but gradually the others dropped off to scenic views and
parking area. Then we made some time. Around one hair pin, I had my
feet on the highway pegs and these dragged going around the corner. I took
the corner a little wide. So much for the MSF course that I just
completed. I sort of froze when I need to lean some more. More
practice on twisties is called for!. Damn!
We took Rt. 118 down though some towns that I've never head of
before. An awesome road through another National Forest. The road
was a little frost heaved but at speed you did not really feel it. I think
we say maybe 3 other vehicles in about 20 miles. Most ended up in the
mirror and then became very small.
We continued on down this road for quite a ways. At some
point I headed a "beep" that startled me. I looked in the mirror
and there were two florescent yellow sport bikes right behind me. I did
not notice them coming up behind so they must have really been moving.
Once proceeded around the right and I was feeling a little perturbed so I hit it
and started to keep up but this was not really the time nor place so I pulled to
the right and waved the other one by me. They got up behind Holmes who was
leading and then proceeded to blow by him plus a couple of cars. We were
crusing so they must have been doing triple digits.
They passed on the double yellow. Coming the other way was
N.H.'s finest. I though for sure that he would turn around and chase them
sense they were just able to get back into the lane without colliding with him,
but he did not even put on his brakes for a second. I thought to my self
that he probably figured that he would not be able to catch them and he was
probably right. The sport bikes then made a couple other illegal and
daring moves and disappeared down the road.
We cruised along for few more miles and what do we see but two florescent
yellow sport bikes on side of the road with the drivers doing the "license
and registration" routine with another of N.H.'s finest. It
seems that the sport bikes were not faster than the radio!
We continued on down the road and took some others to I-89 which
we got on for a few exits until we hit Rt. 10. We got off and stopped for
some fuel. The bikes needed it and so did we. Some liquids and a pastry
were in order. I mentioned to Holmes that my backside was a little
sore. He said "your no supposed to be done yet". I was not
done, just a little sore. The weather was causing me to sweat and I had a
little "monkey butt" as Chris calls it. After standing for
a few, we headed out on Rt. 10 south for Keene which was about an hour
After we pulled out of the gas station but before we went too
far a town cop came up the road heading the other way. He nearly came to a
stop as we went by. I was reading the road sign trying to figure out if
Rt.114 went near where my sister lives in Hillsborough so I was unaware what
happened. Come to find out we were traveling a little more than the speed
limit. 40-45 in a 30 MHP zone. The cop lit up his blues when he saw
Chris and motioned for him to slow down and shook his finger at him. I
looked up and saw the cop right beside me and hit the brakes. Chris
figures that that's what he was looking for: us to slow down and hit the
brakes. He continued on and so did we.
We traveled down Rt. 10 through Newport, Goshen, Malow and
others. I reminisced on playing high school football against Newport and
remembered how cold and wet it was. We continued on and hit Gilsum.
There was a sign that said that they were having a "Rock Swap" on
Saturday. Chris wanted to know what a "Rock Swap" was. I
have not friggen idea. We joined Rt. 9 and traveled down into Keene.
We stopped along the main drag in Keene. Chris wanted to
get something to eat and new of a Mexican restaurant there. I was all for
the idea so we parked the Valks, feed the meter, and headed over to the
restaurant. It was about 6:50 PM at this point and we had done about 500
miles so far.
Second Harley Encounter
We got seated and a waitress came over to our table. She
was quite young, probably 18 to very early 20's. She wanted to know if we
just came from bike week. I said no, Chris said yes, we both said sort
of. We explained that we just came from Mount Washington and were heading
back home to CT. She asked how long we were up and we explained that we
left in the morning She asked if we had Harleys. We said no, we have
Honda's. She seemed disappointed but then we said that we were heading
back to CT this evening after we ate. Another 130 miles. She was
pretty flabbergasted at that and said that she had to get a Harley. Some
kind of marketing machine that Harley has, that's for sure.
While this conversation was going on, a family at table adjacent
to us were listening. When we mentioned to the waitress that we had
already been 500 miles, the husband said to us that that's nothing for
those machines. He saw the VRCC and the Valkyrie on the shirt I was
wearing. He mentioned that he has a couple of Harleys, I forget which
model, but he knew those Valk's were smooth can could cruise. We chit
chatted until they left and we ate our meal.
Third Harley Encounter
We left the restaurant and headed back to the bikes. When
we got there, an older gentleman was looking the Valks over. He was
looking at mine, but I have no badges left on the bike since I removed them for
easier cleaning. I mentioned that they were Honda's. His next words
were "You've got to have a Harley". Damn. So I said,
"You go get your Harley and come for a ride and after 500 miles we'll park
here and then we'll see.". More marketing brainwashing. He then
talked a little about how he company he worked or got stiffed for some work by
some motorcycle company out in the mid west. He could not remember the
brand but it was not Harley and was not the Victory by Polaris. We had a
few more pleasantries and headed on our way.
The Ride Home
Holmes led the ride home. He said that he did not plan on
going that fast but he may not be able to help himself. I said that as
long as Springfield was interesting that was all I asked for. Springfield
is much more fun at a greater rate of speed than the rest of traffic. We
cruised down through Mass and Springfield and Chris did make it
interesting. We hit Connecticut and were making good time. Then the
signs for road construction appeared and 3 out of 4 lanes were closed. The
first stretch like this went okay but the second took about 15 to 20 minutes of
walking the Valks to get through. I asked Holmes if he was taking the
Merrit Parkway home and he said yes and then said that he could take Rt. 8 as
well which is near where I head for home.
We cruised down I-91 and then took I-84 west back towards
Waterbury. I was looking at my gas gauge on the I/S and was down to about
2 bars. I was pretty amazed that Holmes had gone this far without hitting
reserve with the smaller tank on the Tourer. We hit Waterbury and Chris
motioned that he had hit reserve and needed fuel. I routed us off to a
station near the mall and we made our last fuels stop for the
day. Getting back on the highway I told Chris that this was
cool and that I had an awesome time and that I would be blasting up Rt. 8
North. He would be heading down Rt. 8 South. We parted ways at this
On the way up Rt. 8 North I twisted the wrist. Damn after
over 670 miles, the Valk still wanted to cruise. What an awesome
machine. Up Rt. 262 and to home. !0:30 PM. 17 and a half hours
and 686 miles later. A little tired but not for a minute regretting taking
I thank Chris in a humorous sort of fashion for not being able
to get up to Mount Washington in the previous 2 attempts This made
this journey possible and fantastic to do. Now I know that the Rabbai has
not been up Mount Washington, so I can foresee another journey soon...