1th, Newark, New York, Stopp: June 7th, Windham, Maine Distance: 1585 km (990 miles) [Map]
Rocinante is released from her custody. We travel north
and north east into Maine, visit a ex patriated Norwegian in Cape Cod,
and tries to adjust to the new saddle and the new riding gear.
Rocinante wrapped up in the crate,
A warm start
Finally came Thursday June 1st, the day we would collect the bike from
the cargo terminal. We got up around six thirty, anticipating a long day
with customs and unpacking, clearing the paperwork and whatever other
intrusion would slow us down. A confused taxi driver found the right cargo
building at Newark, after passing mile after mile with cars lined up in
the general direction of Manhattan on their way to work. How can anyone
manage to do this day after day? We had really fallen in love with New
York, a metropolis where you can sing on the subway, wear two different
shoes or dance merengue in the streets without catching anyones attention.
People might enjoy it, if you are good, but they will never condemn it
or say "Who the hell does he think he is?". The downside is
the tempo, the rush of the big city. Everyone is in a hurry all day long,
and after a week we were ready for the open road, far away from the constant
buzz and rush of Manhattan.
Unpacking Rocinante outside the SAS
Cargo building at Newark
The bike had arrived five days earlier, but we had wisely chosen
to leave it in the terminal while in New York. I introduced myself
and gave the woman behind the counter the Air Bill number, and
in a second she presented me with the papers I needed for the
customs. Bente sat guard over our bags and clothes while I walked
over to the customs office. Inside the little cubicle two uniformed
men nodded and asked me to present my errand.
I said "I'm temporarily importing a motorcycle, sent over
from Norway with SAS Cargo. Here are the papers". The guy
who was standing in the background looked at me and said "What
brand of motorcycle is this?". "Ehh, it's a Triumph",
I said, wondering what that had to do with anything. He smiled
politely and said, "Sorry, we only do Harley Davidson on
Thursdays". I didn't know what to say. After all, I was faced
with two people who could make life very miserable for me, so
I decided to try to catch the joke without making a fool of myself
if I was wrong, so I said with a half smile, "OK, when do
you do Triumphs?". The guy who was sitting had been reading
from some magazine. He turned towards me and said, "Well,
let's see. On Mondays we do Suzukis, Yamaha is Tuesday, Honda
Wednesday. Triumphs...". He shook his shoulders. I kept my
half smile, not daring to make it wider. They just kept staring
at me, saying nothing, revealing nothing. Finally I broke down
and said, "Are you serious?". The solemn faces broke
up in smiles, "Nope!", then laughter.
Slowly the bike is coming together
The papers were done and ready in no time, and most of the half an hour
I was there was spent telling them about the trip we were doing. When
I finally left, one of the guys shouted, "Don't forget to check the
weekday next time you come by". I smiled embarassed, waved and left.
Back at the Cargo terminal the bike was collected somewhere in the back
of the building and placed on the outside for us. We had been granted
the unusual favour of being allowed to leave the crate to the guys in
the terminal, and even to borrow tools from them, like a hammer and cowleg.
One of the truck drivers helped us lifting the bike up from the crate
to attach the front wheel. It was a very hot day, and after two and a
half hours of working in the bright sunlight, we were sweating and exhausted,
which resulted in a few annoyed comments to stirr up the mood. We got
the new gear on and started off.
The new Corbin saddle had arrived the day before we left, so this was
our first ride on it. It felt very strange. The riding position was pushed
a lot further back than what I was used to with the stock seat, which
meant we had to remove the backrests on the topbox. If we didn't, Bente
would be stuck solid between me and the topbox. I didn't like the position
at all in the beginning, used to the near contact with the tank as I was.
During the frst couple of days I did numerous adjustments to the handlebars
to try to find a correct position. I'm not there yet, and we're still
contemplating what to do to improve it.
Indoors in Framingham
Our first stop was in Framingham, a short drive west of Boston. Dag Rune
had just moved there to work. The 400 km drive from Newark took
us through Connecticut and a lovely scenery in the Berkshire area.
The roads narrowed to what would best be described as good Norwegian
back roads, and with the hot weather we had, it was a good introduction
to what we could expect for the next year. We stopped at a little
road side restaurant in Sandisfield, a small village with many
kilometers between each village house. Inside was Hank, a man
in his sixties. Or so we believed until he revealed that he had
passed his eightieth year. He had been retired for twenty years
and was sneeking away from his girlfriend to sip down a couple
of beers. We laughed and encouraged him to take another one. The
owner of the restaurant, a woman in her fifties, smiled and shook
her head violently when we told them about the trip we just had
started. A lovingly couple the two of them, and an hour passed
without us realizing it.
A car pulled up in the driveway, and with a dissapointing sound,
the owner warns us that here comes mister never-stop-talking.
The old man saw him and excused himself, said goodbye and left.
In comes a forty year old guy with a ponytail. He looks around
the empty room, catches my eyes and starts to talk about Triumphs.
He never stops, and when we leave, it's almost like we have to
shake him off, since he actually followed us outside and continued
his speech even when our helmets were on and we no longer could
seperate the words. One of the things we understood because he
repeated the story ten times, was that he had gone straight into
the woods with his Triumph back in the seventies, and that we
had to be very careful around the bend one mile down the road.
I think he actually tried to say he had done it twice in the same
The next few days we hung around Dag Rune's apartment in Framingham,
enjoying the escape from New York. Framingham was a strange place though,
and I guess it was an introduction to a typical American township. The
town is actually not that big, but we had never seen such a collection
and variety of shopping malls, all of them located far from the town centre,
leaving the centre rather deserted. The appartment was just by the main
six lane road through the suburb, or whatever you might call it. If we
wanted to cross the street, we had to walk half a mile down the road and
wait for a green light to let us over. Traffic were never ceasing and
a constant rush of cars passed the apartment complex twentyfour hours
a day. We visited our first roadside bar, and I was amazed to see that
the number of cars on the outside almost outnumbered the drunk bunch on
the inside. Back home the police would have had a feast when a place like
And then there's the chains, food chains that is. They're everywhere
and so far it has been hard to find a little coffeeshop or snack bar which
doesn't feed you like you were part of a production line. This said, the
food in these chain restaurants is generally tasty. But there is something
weird about a place where a totally stranger comes up to you and says,
"Hi, I'm Caroline and I'll be serving you tonight. What can I get
you." Then Caroline is all over us for the whole meal, not having
any limits to how many times she asks if everything is all right. She
might carry a short distance radio to efficiently communicate with her
superiors. Imagine the time she saves when the alternative is to walk
ten feet over to the counter and get her orders. It is so time oriented
that we felt we had to eat a lot faster than we were used to, to avoid
feeling as outsiders. Are they all in a hurry in the States?
Sigurd, a Norwegian living in Cape
Cod, demonstrates just that.
Dag Rune has got a friend living in the centre of Cape Cod, famous for
the beaches and the celebrities that hang around there. We drove
down one day, Bente and Dag Rune in his brand new Wolkswagen Beetle,
while I took Rocinante. I wanted to try to get adjusted to the
Corbin saddle, and also the check the general setup of suspension.
Or, I just wanted a solo ride. Sigurd, Dag Rune's friend, lived
in a splendid little house by a small lake in the interior of
the peninsula, and we fell in love with the property immediately.
It was Saturday evening when we arrived and Sigurd was hanging
out on his private pier with two of his friends, Adam and Ann.
They were drinking Margaritas and preparing for a late night in
the local hangouts.
We spent the next few hours with them, and with a few more of
their friends, eating seafood and regretting we didn't bring along
whatever we needed to stay over. Sigurd worked in a computer related
business, and had changed his Norwegian over the years to a somewhat
American accent, something we didn't hesitate to comment. He was
shocked and denied that it could be true. Back home in Norway
it has been a standing joke for many decades that when people
return from the States they bring home money and a broad, American
accent. For most expatriated Norwegians the language is important
to keep alive, hence Sigurd's reaction. We joked a little more
about it, and fortunately he had his humour still and reacted
with a resigned smile. It was a real pity to leave the party.
Three green Tigers
The next Monday we drove down to Hartford and visited Blake, a fellow
Tiger owner I knew from the internet Tiger Mailing list. He was expecting
us and as a good intro to the American way of life, he took us to the
shooting range for a introductory lesson. For a couple of hours we fired
handguns and old machine guns on very close targets. Blake guided us through
the safety issues, and when Bente got hold of the machine gun, she almost
scared me with the look in her eyes. She went for the targets with full
concentration and smiled like a kid when the magazine was empty. Both
of us are kind of sceptical to guns in general, but there's no reason
to hide that when we got the weapons in our hand, we enjoyed ourselves
immensly. It's kind of funny though, after all we have heard through the
years about the American weapon culture, that the first thing we do in
the States is learn how to shoot.
Blake, me and Justin, all on green
Tigers, outside a Triumph dealer in Enfield, Connecticut.
After the shooting lesson we drove up to Springfield and hooked up with
Justin, another Tiger owner from the list. It must have been the first
time in the history that three 1998 British Racing Green Tigers, all with
crash bars from Thunderbike Motorsports, were together. Justin's bike
looked like it came straight out of the production line, leaving the other
two looking older. It was really fun to meet up with these guys who we
knew only from the maillist.
We stayed six days in Framingham, and finally it was time to move on
to Maine, where Dennis Kesseler, another Tiger owner and Ironbutt rider
waited with dinner and a spare bed. He and his spouse lived in a little
farm just by the road, with one daughter still living in the house, five
dogs, three horses and a cat, working out of the house in publishing and
design. Dennis is a real hard butt motorcycle rider. Last year he participated
for the first time in the Ironbutt rally, a crazy eleven days ride that
starts in California and covers all the four corners of the USA, a total
of about 11000 miles, demanding an average of 1000 miles, or 1600 km,
each day of the race. This sounds like a real torture to me, and to make
it even crazier, Dennnis rode from Maine to California, which is across
the whole country, to start and rode straight back home again after the
finish, giving a total of about 17000 miles in 17 days. He's got a plan
to cross the States in a manner that hasn't been done before, although
revealing his plans would possibly give others the same idea, so I'll
leave it a secret. All I can say is it's another crazy feat.
We really enjoyed the company and wished Dennis the very best in getting
his Tiger fixed - he crashed it just down the road from where he lives,
the fault being an old tunel visioned man who crossed the road in front
of him. Imagine this guy crossing the States three, four times in 17 days,
then he's driven straight into almost in his back yard.
Bente fires away with a big grin
under the careful guidance of Blake.
Vermont, New England is very similar
to Norway in its nature.
A quick stop at a grocery store to
fill up with coffee and crackers.
Dennis' Ironbutt Tiger, modified
with Dynamag wheels, Fiam lights, and all kinds of navigational gadgets
on the handlebars, was a real sight.