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01 New York
02 New England
03 Maine to Midland
04 Midland to Sturgis
05 Indians'n Cowboys
06 British Columbia
07 San Francisco
08 SF to San Diego
09 Baja to Canyons
10 Baja California
11 Northern Mexico
12 Mex. to Guatemala
13 Gua. to Costa Rica
14 CR to S. America
15 Ecuador
16 Peru and Bolivia
17 Chile
18 Patagonia
19 Argentina/Brasil
20 The road home
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Norwegian version

E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
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Chapter 02 New England

Start: June 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 crated
Rocinante wrapped up in the crate, before departure

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.

Putting Rocinante together
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.

Putting Rocinante together
Slowly the bike is coming together again.

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 bend.

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 this closed.

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 in Cape Cod
Sigurd, a Norwegian living in Cape Cod, demonstrates just that.

Cape Cod

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.

Three green Tigers
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.

An Ironbutt'er

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.

Shooting lessons
Bente fires away with a big grin under the careful guidance of Blake.

Vermont landscape
Vermont, New England is very similar to Norway in its nature.

Grocery store
A quick stop at a grocery store to fill up with coffee and crackers.

Dennis and his Tiger
Dennis' Ironbutt Tiger, modified with Dynamag wheels, Fiam lights, and all kinds of navigational gadgets on the handlebars, was a real sight.

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