Well the weatherman was right for a change. At 6:45, I was sitting on Joe's steps having a smoke, listening to the rooster next door and admiring a bright blue cloudless sky. It was cool but you can't have everything.
By 8:30 when we left the house, there were a few clouds but nothing even remotely threatening. We rode up to our usual Laconia breakfast stop, The Circle Restaurant in Epsom, to see who would be riding to Bethel with us today. The Circle is named for the famed Epsom traffic circle located a hundred feet or so to the south. Charlie and Nancy, on their new, mean-looking all black Harley were the only other arrivals.
After a hearty breakfast, we headed out on a convoluted route towards Maine. Even with the GPS, I wasn't sure where we were most of the time. Good thing the trip log remembered or I would never have been able to construct the map below.
One thing I did note was that there is a lot of resurfaced road in this part of New Hampshire. We were having a blast until we briefly crossed into Maine, where the pavement immediately sucked. Luckily, it was a short stretch and soon turned back to the fine new asphalt we had been enjoying.
Just before the road cut back to New Hampshire, we stopped at a small country gas station bearing the creative name of Country Gas. We were looking for rest rooms for the ladies but the place was not so equipped. The old gentleman who ran the place, however, was worth the stop. He was the quintessential Mainer, mayor of a town with a population of five. The straight stretch of road that led to his place was in Maine, as was the station, but the houses on the west side were in New Hampshire.
We rolled on looking for a bathroom on the improved New Hampshire pavement. Heading back towards Maine, we came upon and more modern gas station. Oddly enough, they didn't have facilities either. They suggested Cornish, Maine would have something so we went past our planned turn and found a Dunkin' Donuts in Cornish.
It was in Cornish that my perfect day started to unwind. I had been noticing the front end was not behaving quite as it should and, looking down at the forks, I could see oil on the left tube. At the donut shop, I confirmed my fear. The left fork seal was blown. Not weeping like last month, large quantities of oil were appearing on the tube and blowing back on the fairing. I phoned Paul in Merrickville and found him in. He asked how soon I could get there and we settled on first thing Monday morning. So much for my plan to ride in three of the four states I was missing (Rhode Island, New Jersey and Mississippi) on our way to Arkansas.
We continued on to Bethel with me trying to avoid any bumps I could. The road through Evans Notch in the scenic White Mountains National Forest was rough but it was a pretty ride.
We got to Highway 2 and found it was under construction. Make that STILL under construction because they were working on this the last time we were here two years ago. The flag girl holding us back said the road wasn't wet and the construction zone was short. She lied on two counts because as we worked our way through several miles of rough construction, the water truck was right ahead of us keeping the dust down. Of course, that made it a greasy mess too.
We pulled into the Sudbury Inn in Bethel Maine about 2:15. We were the first bikes to arrive and found they had the Suds Pub open early.
We checked in and got our gear up to our usual room on the 3rd floor. Then we adjourned to the Suds where Sandy and I shared a chicken panini sandwich and she had the first of several fruity rum drinks as others started to roll in. Eventually, we had quite a crew including Steve & Dee, Rhinoman, U-Turn, Brother Bear & Laurie, Brad & Judy and a few others.
For supper, I had a veal sandwich. Those who were there will know that the fingers weren't appreciated. A local lady named Nancy Ray sang and played guitar. She had a good repertoire of Irish ballads and some of us joined in loudly. Sandy and the ladies put away some more fruity rum drinks and a good time was had by all. The gang did start to wander back to their rooms eventually and, as befits our not quite so young demographic, I was one of the last to leave about 10:30.
Today's Route (142 miles):
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