The nice thing about traveling with a group of guys is that there’s not much delay between waking up and hitting the road. In fact, there’s a small element of competition, since nobody wants to be the one who took too long in the bathroom or got labeled “high maintenance” by the other guys. No dilly-dallying admiring the lake, no makeup, not even much chatting. Grab your gear and load up, because the road awaits! So less than an hour after waking, we were ready to go and the camp was cleaned up. Steve even mowed the lawn for the owners.
Since we weren’t cooking on this trip (traveling light), we had to ride to breakfast. I had a stock of breakfast bars in my bag to tide me over. I ate a couple of those and then we saddled up and rode 14 chilly morning miles or so to the nearest town with a breakfast place, which was Long Lake, same town where we had dinner. Even with the cool morning temperatures it was a nice ride, with continued sunshine and wide green views all around us. The restaurant in Long Lake had a sign left out from last week’s Americade, saying something like “Welcome bikers!” and we weren’t the only ones there.
Our plans were a little in flux at this point. Steve had a route in mind but we didn’t want to overwhelm Colin’s bike with too many rough dirt roads. I spotted a nice long backcountry road on the map that probably would have rivaled the previous day’s 30-miler, but we skipped that in favor of a more sedate tour up Route 30. We took a lengthy detour to Little Tupper Lake, where the state has acquired 15,000 acres of land and a lake (great fishing, they say), then back to Route 30 up to Tupper.
I had left a crucial bag of supplies at home by accident, so Tupper was my only chance of the day to find a proper pharmacy and pick up a few replacement items. While I was in the store, Eric’s Ural attracted another admirer, so we ended up spending half an hour there. Nobody took notice of our cool BMWs as long as the Ural as in sight. A few miles north we encountered a Border Patrol roadblock, and they stopped us. The officer said, “It’s OK, I just stopped you so I could check out the Ural!” Steve replied, “That’s what everyone says!” and the officer replied, “Oh, your bike is nice too.” So we got pity from the Border Patrol.
The Ural definitely got attention but most of it was from Eric. Every day he had to make another adjustment to it. The day before we left it was the brakes, and today it was the carburetors. The original Russian carbs were replaced with Japanese ones, but still Eric ended up taking them partially apart and tweaking again, trying to eliminate a small “miss” in the engine at certain RPMs. He never did manage to get it quite perfect (despite being a professional mechanic for many years) but the bike ran fine anyway.
Before we left Eleanor said her major safety concern was the idiot texting on their phone and not seeing me. That’s no problem in the Adirondacks, since cell phones rarely work. When we did pass through a town with cell service, Eric would whip his iPhone out and update his Facebook page or something, Colin’s Jurassic-era phone would ring with a question about axles, and Steve & I would reply to a few emails. It was really horribly geeky but fortunately the phones didn’t work about 80% of the time and thus we were left alone by the majority of the world. To keep the phones charged, Steve and I had installed waterproof mounts that plugged into the BMW accessory sockets. This also allowed us to use the phones as GPS/moving maps while riding.
We continued to wander up Rt 30, eventually past Meacham Lake and east on Rt 26, then along a county road to the tiny village of Mountain View. I’m not sure why we were there, but predictably Colin’s Harley needed gas again, and there was exactly one place in town to get it, at the price of $4.39 per gallon. It felt like a remote spot in Alaska.
It turned out also that the same place was the only restaurant for at least 20 miles, so we stuck around. As with almost every place we’d been in the past two days, we were practically the only customers. I liked that.
From there we headed east to Loon Lake, on the absolute worst (meaning best in adventure terms) so-called-paved road of the entire trip, namely “Old Route 99” or the “Port Kent-Hopkinton Turnpike.” Calling it a turnpike was certainly glamorizing it. The road twisted and rolled, with wash-outs and potholes everywhere. We didn’t see a single car the entire distance. The BMWs loved it, and I think the other guys found it pretty fun too.
In Long Lake we had scored another free camp belonging to a fellow Airstreamer and friend of Colin’s, so it was the same procedure: divvy up the bedrooms, take a walk, hang out, listen to other guys snoring all night, and then in the morning mow the lawn and watch Eric do another service on the Ural (this time, tightening the steering head bearings). But that was part of Day Three, which I’ll document tomorrow.