8th, Windham, Maine, Stopp: June 14th, Midland Michigan Distance: 2449 km (1530 miles), Total Distance: 4034 km[Map]
We're going through
the New England mountain states of New Hampsire and Vermont, stumble upon
a huge motorcycle touring rally, meet the head of Triumph, USA's consumer
events on the road, buy the stupidest tourist trap tour ever in Niagara
falls, and get lost in little Midland, Michigan.
We left Dennis and company on June 8th, heading north into the Maine
mountains. There was this small village an hour's drive away called
Norway that we just had to visit. The story goes that a Norwegian
once founded the village, but gave it a name no one could pronounce
or understand, so they decided to call it Norway, which fitted
well in, since we passed through Paris, Mexico, Poland and later
Berlin, Milan and a few more.
This area is very similar to northern Europe with the hills,
the forest and the lush, green vegetation. In the afternoon we
passed Mount Washington in New Hampsire, and I looked longingly
towards what looked like a perfect stretch of dirt road to the
top. It was late however, so we decided to wait until the morning
and then decide if it was worth going back for. Our first night
in a typical American motel was a treat, with nice beds and a
TV with a thousand channels - of which we only looked at the weather
channel to get an idea of the next day's riding. We showered and
fell quickly asleep, having set the alarm to six thirty in the
morning, to let me get a shot at the mountain trail. Bente decided
that I could do it by my self, shaking her head.
The morning ride up to the gate to Mount Washington was a disappointment,
because the mountain road was closed due to heavy winds on the
top. It blew more than 120 km/h up there, so I wasn't too angry
with the rangers. Instead I got back earlier than planned and
we set off eastwards along the Cangamagus Highway which crosses
over the White Mountains. The ever returning alternator rattle,
caused by a loose bolt inside the alternator, had returned and
I knew I would have to find a workshop with a knowledgeable mechanic
to sort out the problem. I put the problem aside and enjoyed the
Later that day we crossed winter holiday famous Vermont into
New York State, and was told by a middle aged Harley Davidson
rider that the Americade, the worlds largest touring rally was
held in the area of Lake George, just southwest of us and in the
direction we were heading. The rally started as a pure Gold Wing
rally, but has since grown to accept all motorcycles. In reality
there are two brands that dominate the rally, the Gold Wings and
the Harley Davidsons. The latter are driven by a strange mix of
people over here. Some would salute us with their left hand when
passing us, as is customary between motorcycle riders in most
of the world, while most of them would look straight forward and
ignore anything that didn't resemble a Harley. It annoyed me for
a while, then it started to humour me, and in the end I broke
out laughing. What had struck me was that these arrogant riders,
who wouldn't recognise us who rode on a different brand bike,
were on their way to a Honda Gold Wing rally - Harley riders on
a japaneese motorcycle rally. The irony amused us for a long time,
and each time a Harley showed up in the horizon, I was early out
with my hand to be sure he saw us.
With about 50 to 60000 motorcycle expected to the rally, we were kind
of sceptical to where in the world we would get a room for the night.
We had decided we wanted to pay the site a visit on Saturday, the next
day, to shoot some pictures and meet other bikers. After hours of search
we ended up in Scroon Lake, about 80 kilometers from the centre of the
rally. We got lucky, since even that far from the centre, the motels and
camping grounds were all filled up with bikes.
Zillions of bikes at the Americade
In the morning the mosquito infested area we lived in was sunny and warm.
Outside our little cabin, the little agressive beasts were all gone. Or
so I believed until I saw poor Rocinante. They were all over her, and
our attempts to mount bags and pack the bike resulted in numerous itching
bites. I moved the bike into the sun, believing it would be too much for
them, but no, they must have laid eggs while the bike was warm, because
they stayed with the bike, not giving us a instant of a break to do the
job. I gave up and accepted a few bites, then I rode the bike fast up
to the gate, but still they clinged to it. We hurried up and left, and
finally, on the highway somewhere, they gave in.
Down in Ticonderooga, a small town on the northern shores of Lake George,
the number of bikes on the road indicated that we were close to something
big, and as we drove along the lake, the numbers increased until we were
riding among a zillion bikes into the little town of Lake George, the
centre of the rally. It was a very hot day, and we were dressed completely,
so at the first available spot we stopped and got out of the armour. We
were surrounded with a cacaphony of open exhaust Harleys, mixed with the
silent buzz of the Gold Wings. Now and then a high rev. Japaneese sportsbike
passed by, making a nice change of scenery. Lots of people stopped to
take Rocinante into closer view. The Tiger stuck out of the crowd with
the aluminum panniers and a total of six bags, not to mention the Norwegian
licence plates flanked by to small flags mounted upside down - a mistake
we felt kind of embarrassed about. We were told the rally was a sort of
warm up for the Laconia, a week long rally somewhere in New Hampsire,
receiving up to 300 - 350000 bikes, most of them Harleys.
We pretty soon realized that we needed to get out of this place. The
heat were getting to us, and since we weren't able to store our gear anywhere,
we hit the road westwards. After half an hour I spotted eight different,
brand new Triumphs parked by the roadside. I pulled over and the first
guy in the flock came over, giving us the thumbs up and a broad grin.
He presented himself as Greg Casey, head if the Triumph Consumer Events
in USA, and he was at the Americade to promote Triumph. The people with
him were potential buyers test riding the bikes. We talked for a while,
and he got very interested when we told him about our trip, and insisted
we got in touch with him on e-mail. We might hook up with him later on
a RAT trip (Rider Association of Triumph - the official Triumph motorcycle
club, which I'm a member of and he's running in the States) from Seattle
to Mount Helene. Our plans are still vague, but it sounded like fun, so
we might fit it into our plans.
This day had started real slow, and we were both tired and hot by the
time we got far enough away from the rally to open the throttle and get
some cooling wind. So it came as a surpise to us that we managed to keep
driving until late in the night, covering 700 km and reaching Niagara
Falls without being exhausted.
Dag walks into the tourist trap
Half an hour before the tourist trap tour started, the skies let
go of it's load.
We stopped by the first "Visitor Centre" we saw after crossing
the bridge from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. All we wanted was a map, but
the guy inside was quite a salesman, and by the time we left we had bought
a tour of the Falls for 55 dollars each. Bente protested heavily, trying
to convince me it was a classical tourist trap tour which I wouldn't enjoy.
She has worked as a tourist guide and I should have listened to her, but
did not. I insisted that it would be a great way to see the sights, forgot
about the terrible weather forcasts for the next day, and got my way.
Bente shook her head and resigned.
The morning came, sunny and warm. It stayed like that until two in the
afternoon. Just when we were exiting our room in the motel, the rains
started. In an instant everything was wet and flooding, and by the time
we had crossed the road we were drenched. The tour got on its way, and
I started to realize what I had done when the tour guide and bus driver
started to tell jokes and introduced everybody on the bus. We had to put
our hand in the air, while everyone looked at us and smiled and cheered.
Then each one got a tag to hang around their neck, so we could easy be
spotted among the other herds of tourists. I tried to avoid Bente's eyes,
and when I finally looked at her, she was struggling to keep the laughter
The one positive aspect of the tour
was the boatride into the Niagara mist.
For four hours we were led through the different sights and "specially
cheap souvernir shops" in rain that competed with the falls themselves
in amount of water. We got more drenched as the day passed, and after
an otherwise very fun boat ride into the mist of the falls, a rip in the
disposable raincoat we got for the trip, caused my crotch to drip with
water. I said at least a hundred times that I accepted all fault and would
never, ever buy such a trip again. The crescendo came when we went up
in one of the highest towers to overlook the falls, and nothing could
be seen, since the clouds were below us. As a compensation the tour guide
took us to a botanic garden. By then our laughter had hints of hysteria
Lost in Midland
After a day's ride through the southern part of Ontario, Canada - were
going through customs was a breeze, we reached Midland, home of Tiger
list member Kevin Henry. Kevin was expecting us, and had been wondering
for a while when we would show up. In accordance to our rather random
schedule, we called Kevin the day before we arrived and asked if he had
any plans. Luckily he didn't, and we met him at the Pizza hut, a chain
restaurant in the middle - I think - of Midland, which would be a rescue
point for us later. Kevin is a Ph.D. in something chemical and moved to
Midland one and a half year earlier to start working for DOW industries,
a giant chemical production company. He knew about the problem with the
alternator and had checked which dealer would be the best for us. We chose
the Detroit Triumph dealer, and went there the second day, after talking
to Norm on the telephone, a mechanic who had worked with Triumph motorcycles
the last 31 years. He recognized the problem at once and fixed it within
The fun started when we returned to Midland, a small town spread out
in the flat inland of Michigan, and which doesn't seem to have any landmarks.
Or that is to say, we didn't recognize them. When we got back from Detroit,
we realized we had forgot the map, didn't know Kevin's adress, and for
all that we tried couldn't remember where we had driven when we arrived
the day before, or when we left in the morning. No problem really, we
just cruised around looking for a landmark. Nothing showed up, and after
trying a number of "It's there, it's definately there.." roads,
we gave up and found ourselves once again at Pizza hut, finally getting
through to Kevin on the cellular, laughing and saying, "Please come
and save us again!". Still we haven 't tried the pizza in that restaurant.
When it rains in Michigan, it rains. It RAINS! We're waiting for
the softball field to clear.
Each Wednesday through the summer season Kevin's coworkers at DOW have
a beer/softball night at the local playground. Softball is a softer version
of baseball, and we were invited to join in. We did, but only as spectator
and photographer. The game started as seriously as a softball game should
do, I guess. But after half an hour the skies opened up and drenched the
field and everyone in it. In no time the field flooded and made nice ponds
for people to dive into. Most of the players were already quite deep into
the coolers of Budweiser, and two of the girls started the fun by jumping
into the water. Soon almost everyone was in the water, fighting and trying
to achieve the longest belly slide. We didn't join in, excusing ourselves
with that we were leaving the next day, and we had a very limited wardrobe
for our trip. Excuses, nothing more.
When we left Midland, we were riding on Kevin's stock Tiger seat and
with his Throttlemeister, a device that allowes you to lock the throttle
for more comfort on long stretches. The Corbin seat was left behind, and
Kevin will send it to a fellow list member in San Fransisco who lives
close to the Corbin factory, so we can get it slightly rebuilt to fit
us better. Another list member will send his spare stock seat to Kevin,
and we will return the seat when getting the modified Corbin. How could
we survive without the Tiger mailing list? Thanks folks!
The game was rather boring before
the rains. Now we're getting somewhere..
Size is no limit. Down they must go ..
.. and down they went.
Who could do the longest belly slide
and splash the most water at the same time?