The Shire Rally ride report.
Normally there are 4 of us that trailer together, but I had a work trip to London, ON that had to be coupled in. Luckily, it was on the way to New Hampshire. The customer I had to visit also rode a FJR which is also why I wanted to take the bike. We hoped to have time to go riding together, but it didn't work out. Once I was done, I'd just ride until I got to the hotel or the other guys caught up. But ugh, was it hot.
I crossed into Canada in Port Huron / Sarnia. This was Tuesday, probably around noon. Traffic is backed up on the bridge. The only redeeming thing is the breeze from the water helping cool it down a little. Still roasting in the sun, I didn't want the engine heat from the bike so I hit the kill switch. I was on the down slope and was just able to coast down as traffic allowed. When I got to the bottom, I realized I hadn't put the bike to just accessory (for music), but I had left it on. Headlights, taillights, etc. Press the start button, *click*. Nothing. Had to do the waddle of shame to border patrol. I asked the girl if they let idiots into Canada. She responded "Don't worry, most of them already live here!"
Felt stupid, got a jump but didn't get a picture. It was more me looking like border patrol decided to search my vehicle. Ugh. But I got on my way...
I got done with my business in London earlier than I expected to. The guys that were coming behind me in the trailer got a later start than they expected to. I had roughly a 7 hour advantage on them so I decided I would just keep riding. From London, I could either go through Montreal or Niagara Falls. Time-wise it was about the same. One way was about 80% chance of rain, the other was 40%.
40% is better than 80%
Niagara Falls crossing seemed like the better bet. I stopped and took some pictures of the falls. I had my drone with me and thought about flying, but it was way too windy. After that, it was a nightmare getting through Buffalo due to traffic. It was smooth sailing once I was through. The mission was miles and I was going to get as many dry miles as I could in. My goal was Syracuse, but once I got there, it hadn't rained a drop. It was still supposed to rain the next day, so I thought riding at night was better than riding in the rain. I pushed it to Albany and got there around 11 PM.
I woke up the next morning and pleasantly surprised that the forecast had changed. It was supposed to be nice most of the day with rain in the evening. It was only 4 hours from my hotel to Conway, NH where we were staying. Took some roads less traveled and tried finding some new sites to see. My first stop was in Keene, NH. This is where the movie Jumanji was filmed with the late great Robin Williams. As you can see, the Parrish Shoes sign from the movie is still painted on the side of the building.
It was a busy little town with one confusing traffic circle. I still have no idea how the crosswalks worked. But I pulled into a parking spot and the meter still had time. Actually, it had over an hour on it. Wow, must be my lucky day! I got my picture of the sign and then wandered into a local shop for some lunch. I ended up talking to the girl behind the counter for a good 30-40 minutes, maybe longer. She talked about some memories from when the movie was being filmed. The Parrish Shoes sign was about all that remained. Once Robin Williams passed away, there was a makeshift memorial at the sign for a while. A similar thing happened to the Mrs. Doubtfire house apparently.
Walked back to the bike to find a nice little envelope wedged in my seat. I looked at the meter and I still had 5 minutes left? What the hell? I should have taken a picture of the meter. Basically, I was off by one so the meter I thought was mine turned out to be the car next to me. Doh! That ticket was written about 5 minutes before I got there too. Oh well. Turns out the place to pay it was right across the street. The girl behind the desk had no sympathy and rightfully so.
The next stop was Warren, NH. The town is famous for two things. 1) Being the smallest town of the 6 named Warren in all of New England and 2) this Redstone Rocket. Some retired Army sergeant came across a bunch of these Redstone Rocket shells. For some reason, he thought he'd bring it up to his hometown of Warren. I think they were in Alabama or someplace south. He got a ton of tickets for not having permit to transport something that size. Something different, but I would have never stopped there in the first place.
After seeing the rocket, I checked the weather. Time to get a move on. It was a fun ride to the hotel. Kancamagus Highway was a blast to ride. I made it to the hotel, unloaded, and got the cover on the bike. It wasn't long after, I took this picture. Met up with Dan and Kitch. The trailering crew was still on their way. When they arrived, the picture above was the least amount of rain they saw. Once it was clear that we wouldn't be meeting up along the way, they chose Montreal and it never stopped raining. Guess I made the right call.
One of the incentives for this particular destination was to visit Searles Castle. My last name is Searles and I thought it was cool that there was a namesake castle. The rest of the group was happy to indulge me. The castle is pretty much used as an event venue now. A nunnery owns it and leases it to an event company. I was in contact with them ahead of time to make sure it was OK.
The event staff was busy settings things up, but they let us wander wherever we wanted and take as many pictures as we liked. The spiral road up was really cool. I took the drone out and shot some video as well. Here's what I put together from it.
A look of the inside. The events were held in a large tent outside, near where the bikes were parked. The inside of the castle wasn't used for any events. Mostly just sitting rooms or someplace a bride & bridesmaids might get ready, or something.
There was a tower just outside the main gate. The bottom was used as storage for lawn equipment. You couldn't see any of it when the door was closed. The top of the tower was home to pigeons and pigeon crap. The 2nd story of the tower is where this photo was taken. The white triangle on the left is the event tent. You can see more of the tower in the video.
I put together a video of our visit.
I should have stolen this sign. Put it on my driveway or something.
The ride down to the castle wasn't all that exhilarating, but I was coordinating a time with the event staff. The way back was a little more relaxed. We spent more time than I had planned on at the castle so we altered the route back. Just the old fashioned way by looking at a map and heading in that general direction. Turned out to be a great ride back to the hotel.
Cookies & Cream Belgian Waffle. It's better than it sounds even. And yes, that is chocolate milk I am having.
This was Saturday morning's breakfast. We were headed up to Mount Washington after this and then had a couple hundred mile ride afterwards.
It costs $17 for a motorcycle to climb Mount Washington. A bit steep (HA! steep) but since we were there, we paid for it.
About 1 mile of the 7.5 miles is unpaved gravel. There was a Toyota FJ that was barely idling up the hill. Arguably the most capable vehicle of going up the road was making us almost stall out. Had there not been 7 cars behind him and then us, I would have gone around.
This was taken at the pull off right after the gravel portion.
There is still plenty of sun here.
A couple minutes later, not as much.
Time to go! We jumped back on the bikes. You could still see the road. Nick decided to try and take pictures of us going up the road with a telephoto lens. Within minutes, the fog rolled in and he was never able to see us.
He jumped back on his bike to catch up. We had CB communication, but he wasn't near us. The fog rolled in so thick, the only way I could see the road was the center line down by my tire. The rest of the group just followed the brake light in front of them.
When we got closer to the top, we still couldn't see a thing. I saw a sign that said parking right, so I turned. The next couple of minutes were spent trying to get Nick to where we were. The fog had shifted and he no longer saw the sign we did. He saw an entirely different parking lot. He eventually made it up to where we were.
We were still having trouble finding Nick and Dan. But the rest of got a picture at the summit.
We wouldn't let Kitch put his sticker on until after we got to the top. You get a "This bike climbed Mt. Washington" sticker as part of your $17 entry fee.
Mt. Washington weather station held the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded. That may have been surpassed as it was 1934. But it was 231 MPH. The view pretty much sucked at the top so I concur with their claim.
There is a train that can take you up, a shuttle that can drive you up, or you can insanely hike up. The hikers were upwards of about 5 hours to climb it according to some.
It turned out as we left, we had been parking in the handicap lot. I didn't try to, but you really just couldn't see that far. We got admonished by one of the staff, apologized and went on our way.
This is that same pull out and we decided to stop before the gravel.
The bike on the right was a couple going up. We chatted with them for a few minutes. Someone that came behind them decided to pull off. The poor guy was on a brand new Victory cruiser, easily 1000lb bike. The gravel portion was too much for him, so he pulled off the first chance he got and waved the rest of the group up. It's hard to tell, but there is a bit of a slope to this pull off. When he got off, the bike went the rest of the way over.
We went over and helped him pick it up. He was obviously embarrassed but there was no reason to give him a hard time. We've all done something like that. He asked me to move it a better spot, so I did. But he also said it was his first motorcycle. Brand new bike, all new Victory gear on. Just no experience and even more so on a bike that size.
Kitch's Aeon Flux
Dan's wishing he had a FJR.
That's what we had to look forward to even after the the gravel portion. It's really not that bad. An engine brake in 1st gear was easy enough, except for the car that was burning his brakes on the way down. His brake light never went off and hogged the entire road.
We had offered to ride down with the Victory guy. He was still to rattled and declined. We couldn't wait forever and still had a lot of riding to do.
After Mt. Washington, there weren't many picturesque spots. There was a ton of great roads though. This was once scenic thing I read about and it's called Frankenstein's Cliff. Not sure why. There isn't really a pullout, just a campground entrance. Quick snap of the picture and finished out the day. We did hit Bear Notch Road after this. Wow, that was fun. We had the road to ourselves and let loose on it.
Sunday morning, we woke up to a lot of rain. It looked like we were going to be wet all day, so the decision was made to end on a high note. I have a knack for bringing bad weather and this trip was no different. It would have been nice to get another good ride in, but it just wasn't worth it. We had a lot of driving to do to get back home. Everyone made it back without incident and we had another great trip!