Frank approached me with the idea. This being my roomate Frank, who you might also know as Joe, depending on how he was feeling when he introduced himself. I don’t recall what name he was going by on that particular day. It doesn’t matter. The pertinent information is that Frank/Joe asked if I wanted to join him and a couple of friends on a weekend motorcycle trip to Killington, Vermont for the Killington Classic, Vermont’s premier motorcycle rally.
Frank/Joe rides a brand new Yamaha R1 (R-fun). I currently own a more…experienced steed, a 2003 Suzuki SV1000S. For those readers who know little about motorcycles, both of these machines are great at going a million miles an hour, and not at all designed for long-distance riding comfort or convenience. I immediately agreed to go.
Hurricane Irene must have read my blog post where I made fun of her for being a weak and inconsequential drizzling shit, because the very next day I received an email from rally coordinators stating that Irene had destroyed every road in Vermont, and completely levelled the Green Mountains, thus plunging the native population back into the stone age, and worst of all, cancelling the rally.
Frank was unimpressed when I told him the horrible news. His attitude was so what, we don’t need the rally, we can still go riding. And so we did. I packed my shoebox sized tank bag with clean underwear and socks, Joe dropped a few t-shirts into a backpack, and Saturday morning we were on the road at the altogether indecent hour of 8am.
The first leg of our trip was all about covering distance, as the two guys we were meeting up with had already ridden into Vermont the previous afternoon, and were eagerly waiting for us to join them. Since we weren’t yet sight-seeing, Frank and I stuck to I-91, and made it from Hartford Connecticut, through Massachusetts, and into Brattleboro Vermont in just under 26 minutes.
Here we filled up on gas, waited for the other guys to find us, and got our first taste of a recurring Vermont phenomenon. I’m talking about the HoBros. Smelly, bearded, and perennially drunk or high, these nomadic ambassadors eventually found us in every town we spent more than three minutes visiting. My reaction to the homeless is usually pretty uniform. I wrinkle my nose, I pretend to fish around in my bulging pockets for a moment, and then I walk on, explaining that the metallic clinking and jingling they can hear whenever I move is just their imagination, and definitely isn’t loose change. The Vermont subspecies of homeless however, seems to have evolved past the customary need for low denomination coinage, and instead subsists entirely on gossip. It’s true. Not one bum in all the land asked for money, all they seemed to want was to hang out and tell us rambling and uncomfortable stories about their lives. In my opinion, if somebody wants something for free, it’s my solemn duty to not give it to them, even if that something is just a little friendship and self-worth. They can get friendship just like everybody else. By buying it.
After we got our gas, and semi-successfully avoided conversing with the local HoBro population, our two friends, Bob and Rob joined us. Bob and Rob are brothers. You can tell because they look alike. Except for a huge height difference. And one is philipino. And they look nothing alike. With our mini-gang complete, we hit the road for some serious recreational riding.
Our ride took us along rt.30, then rt.100, then 155, and then 103. The weather was perfect, and all the riding we did was at a leisurely enough pace that we could enjoy the fantastic beauty all around us. Everywhere we looked, we saw lovely forests and rivers and meadows and nature at its finest. It was the type of beauty that looks boring as fuck in photographs after the fact, but is truly awe-inspiring while you are experiencing it. We stopped briefly in Rutland to say hello to a friend of mine who happens to go to school in Vermont, and also happens to be a lovely young lady, who we hoped could introduce us to a million other lovely young ladies, preferably ones of ill-repute. After our completely reasonable demands were made and promptly ignored, we decided we were too hungry to hang around for long, so we headed back out onto the road.
For lunch we had planned to eat at the Long Trail Brewery, but unfortunately route 4 leading over to it was closed due to storm damage. This was a recurrent theme throughout our trip, Irene really had done significant damage to Vermont’s infrastructure. Usually we just had to detour around ruined bridges or washed out areas of roadway, but in some cases, like on route 4, there simply were no detours to be had, and instead we had to avoid the whole area entirely. The amount of work that had already been done to keep most roads open was very impressive, and highly appreciated by us, since we still had plenty of options for safe and scenic motorcycle travel. After being warned of more extensive damage further north, we decided to start heading back south, and travelled route 7 from Rutland down into Manchester. Rt. 7 is a lovely road, but is not quite twisty or technical enough to really satisfy an aggressive rider.
In Manchester we got a room at a hilarious place called the 1878 Carriage House
Motel. I shouldn’t poke fun, the rate was reasonable, and everything was clean. Its just that the proprietor was the world’s oldest lady, and it showed. Everything smelled like old lady, it was full of 1940s era decor, and there was even a small bowl of random bits of stale candy on the nighstand in our room. Basically we were spending a night at great-grandma’s house. After check in we walked into town for food, and to find the best place for some serious drinking. For the food we chose a local pizza joint, and for the drinking we were directed to “The Perfect Wife”, a restaurant/bar a mile up the road. Feeling lazy, we obtained the number to the town’s one taxi-cab, which when it arrived to pick us up we learned was just an old man in a buick sedan. There wasn’t even a meter. Perhaps he wasn’t actually the cab we had called. Maybe he really was just an old guy getting gas, and when we all climbed into his car he was only too happy to take twenty dollars from us to drive us a few hundred yards up the road.
The Perfect Wife gave us an enjoyable night (as she should). We drank and drank and then drank some more, then played fusball, and darts, and listened to live music provided by The Black Mountain Symphony, a band out of Albany NY, who rocked sack, and had a violin player, which was cool. At some point we confiscated Rob’s phone, because his wife kept calling and texting him, which was unacceptable because he has known her for 3 months, and he has known us for 3 million years, and this was our dude-weekend damn it, and really we were doing her a favor, because he was too drunk to function and
talking to her would have only made her angrier, so pretty much we are heros. She failed to see it that way. Come closing time, we paid our two-hundred dollar bar tab, collected our ladies of the night, and stumbled out to where the old fart in the Buick was waiting for us. He charged us 30 dollars to drive back down the road to the hotel. What a bastard.
Back at the motel I was kept awake all night by the cumulative effects of drunken snoring, drunken bro farts, the hookers, and Rob’s Wife’s incessant, and unanswered, texts and calls. The story does have a happy ending though. They are now getting a divorce.
Sunday morning came far to early, and yet not quick enough, and we were back on the road, this time heading for home on rt.7, rt.9, and rt.8, respectively, which, with periodic detours, and a moderate rain shower, brought us all the way back into CT, sore, hungover, exhausted, poor, and altogether satisfied with a weekend well spent.
Note: Some names may have been changed, and events altered, because i’m a liar.