Part 3. Road Trip to New Hampshire.
I collected the Electra Glide from MOMS motorbikes in Foxboro and Matt and I set off on our road-trip to Laconia. Its a couple of hours trip on I-95 or I-495 up to The White Mountain Range where I-93 becomes the most important highway. I have to admit that I was a little worried about how I would get on riding the Harley. I had tried Harleys a couple of years ago and while friends had told me about how comfortable these big cruisers are, I had had a different experience. When I had tried Harleys I had found it hard to get comfortable riding cruiser-style bikes, and Lenny in Waterford Harley, had noted my disappointment when I returned, having tried some of the finest in the shop. In an effort to console me he had said the riding style “is not for everybody”, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that I was going to have no problem on this trip. Matt stopped after a short time in a gas station and I was grateful that I wasn’t the first one to start bemoaning the onset of old age, joint pain, arthritis, and old injuries. Furthermore, I discovered that the older Harley, that Matt was riding, a Heritage Softail, didn’t have a sixth gear and didn’t have electronic ignition so we were going to have very regular refuelling stops. Matt’s bike only had soft bags and the Electra Glide I was riding had the full tour pack with hard cases and a massive top box. Plenty of space to accommodate luggage, helmets and everything else that might be needed for a long touring holiday.
Matt and I were born the same year, long before 6th gears, electronic ignition, World Wide Web or mobile/cell phones were known to the world. So to apportion all the responsibility for sore hips and backs on the bikes would be unfair. At least we could laugh about our age and injury related issues, which we did quite regularly on the trip. When we got back on the Interstate I concentrated on getting comfortable and getting used to this big girl. At 854lbs (398kgs) it takes a bit of getting used to and even when you are getting it upright from the side-stand you really feel the weight. The front of the bike seemed to carry a lot of the weight and that’s no surprise when you take into consideration what’s going on up there. There is a very large fairing which shelters the rider and a massive amount of equipment. There is a radio and large speakers housed in the fairing and lots of clocks and a considerable amount of chrome. The handlebars also have lots of stuff going on, including buttons for lights, cruise control and an indicator switch on both bars, as opposed to just one switch that controls indicators for both sides on most other make of bike. It wasn’t long before I started referring to it as the Lincoln Town Car because of it’s size and weight. A Lincoln Town Car is a full sized luxury sedan or saloon car, made by Lincoln up to about five years ago, and it was the longest, and one of the biggest even in terms of American cars, often used as the basis for stretch limousines.
When you get on the Interstate on this bike the weight becomes irrelevant and I began to relax and try to find a comfortable seating position. I set the cruise control and with Matt taking the lead, I began to become accustomed to the vibrations from this big machine and enjoyed the journey. I was glad of the regular stops even though the Lincoln Town Car didn’t need to refuel anywhere nearly as often as Matt’s Heritage Softail. In fact it was positively frugal, taking only tiny little sips of gas. Gas or petrol costs a little more than two dollars for a gallon. Although an American gallon is a little smaller than the imperial one we used before the change to litres, it is still so much cheaper than what we pay in Europe. A few more stops for fuel and coffee and to stretch the limbs, and we were close to our destination. Or so I thought.
Matt had other ideas and on one of our stops he announced that he would like to visit a property belonging to a friend of his. His friend had a building firm at his property that were undertaking a big expansion to his house and Matt wanted to see how the project was turning out. The property is close to a town called Bartlett and we started looking for it. We turned off up mountain roads and started searching for some familiar landmarks so Matt could navigate to the house. The Lincoln Town Car was not built for these steep roads. The road surface must have been put there back in President Eisenhower time in the 1950s’, and built in his honour, so nobody wanted to interfere with the monument to the great man since. Straight up steep inclines with high trees on both sides with the finest switchbacks, hairpins, loose surface and subsidence known to man. Matt is an avid Motocross man and if we had the motocross bikes I had seen in his garage this would be a great place to motorcycle. The Lincoln Town car on the other hand was far from its preferred stomping ground. After a number of attempts to find what we were looking for, we came across a work crew and they set us straight. Back to the highway and a few miles further on, we again turned off up a mountain road and did some more practically vertical motocross manoeuvres until we found the property. Let me tell you it was worth it. Matt’s friend’s property was on a high crest with a view to die for. In the middle of the White Mountain Range, there was a mountain peak in every direction you looked. The extension on the house was three stories, with picture windows facing in every direction, and a mountain to look at from each one. Over the next few days I heard about so many mountains that I can’t remember for sure which mountains I was looking at from the house. Mount Washington for sure, but there were many more. This whole area is known for it’s views and famous worldwide for fabulous scenery and the mountains and mountain highways and lakes. These are what make New England synonymous with Autumn beauty and winter holidays as well as summer visitors. It’s a backpacker, snowboarder and skier’s paradise in the winter and the summer visitors include mountaineers, hikers, water sports enthusiasts as well as a huge influx of motorcyclists for Laconia Bike Week.