Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Hampshire and the 8k mile mark.

Friday, 10/19, was the start of my first real trip since I bought my BMW. A friend I used to game with was throwing an Octoberfest party at his place up in New Hampshire, and I thought it would be appropriate for my first big trip to be one to visit friends from my last obsession.

At 6:25am, I pulled out of my garage for what was supposed to be a single day, 680 mile trek to Center Sandwich, NH. I had over-packed a bit, but not so much that it made riding unwieldy. I had tried to cut back on what I brought. But, having never taken a trip this long, this close to winter, and having never used a lot of the gear I have on a run this long, it was hard to reduce too much without taking some risks that would make me uncomfortable. With forecasts of rain, as well as the possibility of having to deal with temperatures in the 40s, I'd rather have too much gear than too little.

The first picture was taken around 10am at a gas station in Dover, DE. At that point, the trip was still going quite well. I was making good time, and the predicted scattered showers hadn't materialized yet. Sadly, when the rain did show up around 11:30, it was a bit more than scattered showers.

New Jersey was when the fun started in full force. First the downpours came. Then I discovered that the "waterproof liner" in my pricey Rev'it brand gear wasn't all it was cracked up to be. By the time I had reached a rest area, and was able to put on some proper rain gear over top of my Rev'it stuff, it was too late. I was already wet enough to make the rest of the trip less than pleasant. My next joyful experience was hitting the G.W. Bridge into NYC around 2pm.

From there, it pretty much consistently went downhill. Apparently, traffic
is always bad around there, despite was a co-worker who grew up there tried to claim a week prior to this. But the torrential rain that was sweeping the northeast that day had created almost total gridlock.The true suffering hit when I crossed over into Connecticut. I-95 basically stopped at that point. Over an hour, I covered about 14 miles. I thought that getting away from the coast might help, but Rt 15 and I-84 both ended up being just as gridlocked as I-95.

By 5pm, I had spent nearly 3 hours barely moving, and I was stuck in horrible downpours for most of it. I even got ankle deep at one point on Rt. 7 (that's ankle deep while riding...not standing), while heading towards I-84. I was damp, miserable, and cold.....and then I saw a Chili's. An hour, and two bowls of hot chili later, I was good to go again. Danbury to Hartford was another 2 hours of 25-30 mph on average. Fortunately, things started to pick up at that point. The roads had cleared and, despite the continuing rain and the darkness, I started making good time. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. My Garmin indicated that I wouldn't reach Jeff's place until around midnight, if I didn't stop anymore, which was unlikely. In addition, I had already hydroplaned twice and my legs had started getting cold. It was time for a hotel, and Andover had plenty of them.

Day 2
Saturday morning was everything I had hoped the previous day would be: pleasant temperatures and clear, sunny skies. The fall leaves were peaking in that region, and I got to enjoy every second of it. After about an hour on the interstate, and another hour of winding, tree covered roads, I was at Jeff's place. Seeing the 400 foot gravel/rock ascent that is his driveway made me very happy that I had gotten there in the day time.

Once I got there, it wasn't long until I had changed, and the eating and drinking commenced.

Day 3
I had intended to take a few hours riding some more of the beautiful New Hampshire and end up hanging out in Boston with a friend at the end of the day, with Monday being the real ride back. So I left Jeff's at noon, and spent 3 hours exploring some of the twisties in the area. At 3pm, I was at the Mass state line, and got the voicemail from my friend letting me know he had spaced and went golfing for the day. Given the choice between trying to find a way to kill time for three or more hours, only to have to sack out two hours later, or just seeing how far I could get before I was too tired, I chose the latter.

Long story short, I hit the 8k mark near the I-93/I-495 interchange, and I pulled into my garage at around 3:30am. With sunset being so early, but still having moderate traffic, I was able to do 15-20 mph over the speed limit all the way to Wilmington without any real fear of a speed trap. Once I hit Rt.13, I had to do the speed limit again. But I was almost home at that point.

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