A Sensible Road Trip

The Endmost

Rain fell breaking the soft humid spell of the early afternoon at the McClish house. Fog crept in and rose from the damp earth and weaved up through soaked pine and gloomy sky. There were only two. Chris left after eating an early lunch to visit a friend. Logan planned on staying in Mansfield until he could troubleshoot his bike and head towards Columbus. Levi and I debated over whether or not to depart, both of us heading to Marion, IN. He was eager to return home as was I, just not in the rain. The cadence of the downpour intensified and we were sure the lighter misting from earlier on would not return so he decided to wait and I packed up and left. 

Slow cautious cornering, was made increasingly more sluggish as an untimely rear tire slide reduced my confidence to wishing I had training wheels. Providentially, the precipitation surrendered to streaks of sunlight that glistened off of puddled streets and windshields dimpled with raindrops. The remaining three and a half hours on the road melted together as my mind turned to reminiscing about our trip. Memories bound to each other, people, breakdowns, scenery, fears, moments of seclusion, and periods spent in the company of friends and family, all interlaced replaying arbitrarily but somehow, with significance.

Chris' face shield fell off so, he superglued it.

Chris' face shield fell off so, he superglued it.

Supergluing cont.

Supergluing cont.

Our hosts in Montréal.

Our hosts in Montréal.

Logan's bike finally stopped after 3 batteries and a pool of oil.

Logan's bike finally stopped after 3 batteries and a pool of oil.


Les Américains

The entirety of this trip has been marked not with miles or views but with people. Every time we were in a pinch someone unexpected came through with a solution or in the most recent case, Haddock. We arrived back at our campsite to find a pack of Ravens picking apart our stash of food. Without hesitating, one of the grounds workers, Justin, came down to us with soup, fresh haddock, garlic, and onions. He even brought us tin foil to bake it in and advice on the proper technique. Hospitality is plentiful at Meat Cove Campground.

Attempting to out run a storm we unfortunately had to leave Northern Cape Breton entering what we soon found out to be the void.

Every pebble sent a vibration through my spine. 35 year old suspension systems aren't that great.The evening light was fading just beyond a nearby peak as I tried to shake off the early onset fatigue. The occasional pothole would catch me by surprise as every vertebrae in my spine compressed under the shock. I watched the golden light dance between the spaces of dust that floated up behind Chris as I swayed and slid on the dirt road. There were intermittent patches of old pave scattered throughout the troughs that provided some relief. Then, I saw Chris flip.

Evidently, drifting on dirt roads can lead to high sides. He flew like The Man of Steel off the saddle and into the dirt. After a moment of shock he lifted up his new custom bike and rode on. 

And with that we left paradise 2 days ago and made way towards Montréal. We still haven't made it to Montréal. 

The first day back on the road bullet rain besieged the open spaces in our rain gear and helmets. Upon arriving and Hyclass campgrounds we opted to seek shelter in a cabin for the night. Cordage was strung over beds and the miniature space heater pulled overtime drying out sets of gloves and boots.

The morning after heavy condensation formed over every inch of our motorcycles. Dew dropped off of mirrors and grips while we reattached our gear for the day. The scent of petrichor pervaded the tiny lakeside campground quickly being replaced with exhaust while we warmed up our bikes and left. The brisk air chilled and bit and stung down to my core between every patch of light. Then, Logan ran out of gas. 

On the side of the highway he filled up with the auxiliary tank and we continued until Levi's muffler tumbled off into a ditch. A quick chrome retrieval and we were off again. Then Logan's bike wouldn't start. Legs burned and lungs strained for air as we (Chris) pushed his bike after every fill up. 

Despite the setbacks we continued on for what became our longest single day of travel the entire trip. 601.875 miles. We did eat poutine at a gas station, that was the highlight.

We rode into Camping et Chalets de la Demi-Lieue late in the evening surely waking up the entire establishment. However, in the morning we were greeted with smiles and French-accented "hellos". Greetings were cut short by the recurring rain and also probably because we smelled bad and didn't speak French.

(Present time):

Logan's battery officially died today so we push started him a lot, but what's new. It also started leaking a lot of oil out of the engine. A lot of oil. All over the gas station concrete. Levi's speedometer, and turn signals aren't working and a side panel ejected on the highway. Additionally, his engine head is leaking oil from the seals. Chris is constantly leaking gasoline, and his tire is misaligned. I broke a baffle in my muffler when I tipped over this morning. It was a slo-motion out of body experience, really. I rocked off the center stand in mud after adjusting my chain and there I went. By the way, Chris and I need new chains, urgently. Send to: Motel in Québec.

This is a learning experience.

Chasing The Rabbit Down The Cabot Trail

It was amazing. All of it. Riding tight twisties up and down a mountain road, cool coastal winds too keep us in check, and surviving a motorcycle crash.

After taking so much from Nova Scotia it's incredibly humbling when it continues to give back. 

Stories of trapez-ing through massive sweeping mountain curves and leaning heavily into hairpin corners were shared enthusiastically as we sat around eating our seafood dinners. It seemed surreal to recall what we had just done. It was so perfect it seemed like a dream, however, we were given a severe dose of reality when we reached the middle of the trail. 

As we left a corner and reached a stop light Logan hit a wave in the pavement locking up his rear tire after a foot of air. The result was a rough high side landing. He limped to the side of the road where he laid a few feet away from his motorcycle. It must be the robust gene in the McClishs seeing as his only injuries were a sore knee and a dime-sized brush burn where his glove and jacket left a space. His motorcycle even kicked to life immediately afterwards, sustaining some minor dents.

So there we sat, eating our lobster and talking about where we were going to stay the night. It was, at least, on my mind how we could be at the hospital right now, how our bikes are still working after everything they've been through, and how Logan was able to do a night hike with us.

There are always risks, but the choice of risk over fear is certainly freeing. Perhaps not so much for our parents but we were fortunate enough to take only a story from today. 

Return Of The Push Start

We made it. Almost.

Logan needs push starts again, Chris' running lights are on the fritz, there's a 2 page stepwise sequence to start my bike, and Levi gets wobbly.

From Indiana to Nova Scotia.

Tomorrow we head north to the final destination of Cape Breton. It's difficult to recall just how much time and work went into this trip and the effort that still needs to be had for us to return. But for now we relish the fact that our 30+ year old bike still had enough in them to make it here. 

Once in Cape Breton we'll have some time to ride without the burden of our gear but we still managed to still have some fun on the way.

Vroom

Vroom

Subtle Reassurance

We're nearly there. So far the past two days have been breakdown-free, which is surprising because more than half of this trip has already been spent repairing and troubleshooting... except for Chris' bike, which has been perfect*

Today we left the hospitality of the Varoskovic's/Dave and Laura's to ride The 1 North for a couple hundred miles. We ended up at a campground called Seaview where we just finished up eating a hearty meal of beans, rice, and veggies.

Tomorrow we make a run for the border and hopefully we get through.

*Chris did have an electrical issue, but it lasted about 3 seconds.

No News Is Good News

Being a day of riding behind our schedule and in the spirit of keeping things brief, here is a recap of all (most) of the important things that have happened over the past few days.

  • Left Hamburg, NY
  • Said goodbye to Doug McClish
  • Push started Logan's bike
  • Stopped for gas
  • Push started Logan's bike
  • Made it to Cayuga Lake Campground
  • Push started Logan's bike
  • Got groceries
  • Rode back to camp in Lightning storm
  • Camped
  • *End of Wednesday*
  • Push started Logan's bike
  • Drove 20mi to Auburn
  • Broke down at gas station
  • Logan bought a new battery
  • Charged Logan's bike battery
  • Field stripped carburetors
  • Put snails on Chris' bike
  • Met Mike at Eliminator Auto for mechanical help
  • Drove to Syracuse 
  • Met Jon at Sportsman for mechanical help
  • Reconvened and rode east
  • Broke down en route to Lake Chalet
  • Lost ignition en route to Lake Chalet
  • Made it to Campground
  • Met Mike
  • Ate at Patty's Pub
  • Camped 
  • *End of Thursday*
  • Left Camp
  • Went to Wal Mart
  • Got caught in a storm
  • Rode 10 miles
  • Logan's bike stalled on a hill
  • Pushed Logan's bike to abandoned gas station
  • Ate lunch
  • Sped through Vermont
  • Stopped at another abandoned gas station
  • Waited out the rain
  • Explored a creek
  • Played with salamanders
  • Learned environmental ethics from Logan
  • Did not take salamanders out of natural habitat
  • Arrived at the Varoskovic's
  • Ate dinner
  • Showered
  • *End of Friday*

Beware: Animals

We actually made it to NY last night.

The day started regularly, making some last minute tunes to our bikes, checking oil, and strapping down gear. It honestly seems like an idiotic undertaking to make a 33 year old bike run like it did in the '80s. But there is a pride in attempting something outrageous. I think we all have the mindset  that we'll be ok if we don't make it to our final destination but the triumph is in not giving a shit and going anyways.

(*Breaking* Mr. McClish lost his RFID key for his Harley and is stranded.)

As we began to exit the garage Logan cruised around the yard to iron out some final issues. Their dog Nitro, appropriately named, dashed in front of his bike leading to a minor crash and the death of his new windshield. While no dogs were harmed yesterday there was an avian casualty. While cruising along the west most edge of Allegheny National Forest, we hit a large pot hole dislodging some of Chris' gear. As we all stopped to assess the damage Levi found a small bird wedged on top of his engine by his spark plugs.

(*Breaking* We found the RFID key and Mr. McClish is no longer stranded.)

The animals are out to get us. It's probably Chris' fault.

(*Breaking* Levi hit another bird en route to the mechanics. 4 of his spokes broke. Not because of the bird.)

Today, after spending some time at the mechanics we'll part ways with Mr. McClish and head east towards the coast. We'll stop and camp for the night and then head north towards friends in Maine.

Now it's raining. Probably Chris' Fault.

Mansfield, OH

Riding to Nova Scotia on old Honda's seemed like an awesome way to spend a month, until Chris lost his rain pants when it started to drizzle. Then as we pulled out of the first refuel I heard a gunshot pop and lost all power at full throttle. There could be worse possibilities, but there we were, on the side of the highway less than 2-hours into our 4,000+ Mile trip.

Soon after making it to Mansfield I pulled and cleaned the carbs, and checked the fuel lines only to find that a spark wire had died. I'm still learning the smart way to diagnose motorcycle problems but I've got time to figure it out. Today we head to Buffalo NY and this time Logan and Mr. McClish will ride with us. And Chris got new rain pants.