Americade 2017 by way of Maine

This would be my first big trip with the new Caponord, and also my first solo multi-day trip in years. The plan was to spend a long weekend riding around New England before arriving in Lake George for Americade on Monday to meet up with Dave and Peter. My main goal in New England was to ride the Kancamangus Highway, a road I'd heard about since I first started riding 20+ years ago but had never been able to get to.

I'd made some changes to the Capo that I'd be testing out as well. Like I had with the Multistrada I struggled to find a good screen that doesn't beat me up with buffeting too much. The stocker on the Capo is pretty bad at anything approaching highway speeds, but I like the small size of it. Over the winter I had purchased a CalSci large screen, and that did a great job creating a calm bubble and keeping the elements at bay. But it also blocked so much wind that on a hot summer day it was too effective. So I took a chance on a 3rd screen, an MRA Vario with the adjustable wing. While I hate the look of that wing, some riding around town suggested this might be the perfect compromise. I actually strugged with the screen decision until the very last minute on this trip - so much so that I left for the trip with the CalSci on, rode a few miles, and came back home to swap it out for the MRA.

I love to take photos during my trips, but stopping the bike and dismounting to get the camera out of the top box meant sometimes I would just keep going and pass by the photo stop instead of making the effort. To make the camera more accessible I bought an SW-Motech tank bag that attaches to the fuel filler cap with a dedicated mounting ring. Installation went well (rare for me), and the bag had just enough room for the camera (an Olympus E-M5 Mark II for this trip) and some shield cleaning solution. The Capo hardly needed additional storage, but the convenience factor was strong for this.

The OE Dunlop Qualifyer rear tire was getting near the end of it's life with under 3,000 miles on it so I had a Michelin PR4 put on (thanks Chris!). Following the wisdom of the folks on the Aprilia forums, I went from the 180/55 to a 190/55. This gave the rear a much rounder profile (which I can attest to, cornering felt much more natural now) but also raised the bike height. The Capo is not a short bike to begin with, and I would struggle at times during the trip gettnig the bike off the stand if I parked on even the slightest downward incline on the sidestand side.

Up until now I had been using my iPhone and Waze for navigation duties, but for this trip I needed something that supported Garmin routes. Not wanting to shell out $$ for a motorcycle-specific Zumo I picked up a cheap refurb Nuvi 50LM and made a DIY mount for it off the windscreen brackets. Only to find out that it doesn's support routes - as a matter of fact, almost none of the car Garmins do. A refurb'd 2589 was ordered that would. I was also surprised to find out that none of the car Garmins support bluetooth connection to Sena headsets.


This would be a short ride to kick off the trip. The bike needed a recall fix to the master slave cylinder, and I scheduled that for 9am Friday at Eurosports in Coopersburg, PA. Rather than dealing with rush hour traffic through Philly Friday morning I used some hotel points and booked a cheap hotel close to the dealer. So after work I had dinner, packed up the bike, and punched in the route to the hotel. Rather, I tried to, only to find out that I had neglected to transfer all my carefully-layed-out Basecamp routes to the GPS. Sigh. Back into the house with the GPS, connect to laptop, transfer, and off we go.

A nice and unremarkable ride through South Jersey farmland was followed by a stint on 476 enjoying the benefits of cruise control. The controls for cruise are not well-thought-out on the bike (hold button on right handgrip 5 seconds to turn on, then 3 seconds to set, no resume, no accel, no coast), but once engaged it's nice to waft along and relax for a bit.


73 miles to kick off the trip


Home for the night


After checking in to the hotel walked across the street to get dinner from the WaWa and ran into 2 guys heading to Florida on the most loaded GS's I've ever seen.



Day got off to a great start when I left my Ray-Ban's on my back seat when I pulled out of the parking lot of the hote. I immediately circled back (sun is in my eyes, wait, why don't I have sunglasses on?) but they were nowhere to be found. I think the guy leaving in the truck after me scooped them up. Tried the hotel desk, even called them later, no luck. So now a Target stop is on my itinerary for some cheapo polarized glasses.

Visit to Eurosports was quick, I was out of there before 10am. Had some crappy ground to cover before the first good roads of the day, 447 and 390 up through Promised Land State Park. I remembered some of these roads from one of Doc's rides on STN and was eager to revisit them. 447 and 390 were pleasant enough, and it was just a great warm sunny day to be out riding. Got turned around a few times trying to find the connection to 590 due to some sloppy waypoint marking. The run on 590 was initially very frustrating as I (and a big pickup) were trapped behind a bus going very slowly. 590 is quite narrow and twisting and offered precious few opportunities for passes. Finally there was enough room for a decisive double-yellow pass and I took advantage of it. This is one area in which the Capo has a huge advantage over the Multi 620 - pass anywhere, any time. The Multi needed some planning depending on speed.

590 led me to the Roebling Bridge, the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the US (opened 1849). Over the bridge and onto 97, and what I thought would be a short detour to Hawk's Nest. I should have looked more closely at the map when routing, it was a 30-mile round trip to the picturesque twisties high above the Delaware River.

Hawk's Nest is always nice to visit, but it's really, really short - maybe a mile at most. The rest of 97 is nice enough, but the section of Hawks Nest you see in pictures is tiny. While getting pictures I chatted with a guy on a Gold Wing who had just ridden over from Brooklyn. I asked him where else he was heading in the area, and he said this was it, now he was heading back home.

Waiting it's turn at Eurosports

447 or 390, can't remember which


The Roebling Bridge


Hanging out at the Hawk's Nest


This is why people ride here

I doubled back on 97 to connect with NY55, which I had read about on It turned out to be a pleasant-enough country road, but certainly nothing special. I should have done 30 through Pepeacton Reservoir like I've done on prior trips. 55 took me over the Neversink reservoir, and shortly after that it was time for a lunch stop near Claryville. I was getting chilly so put on the liner to my new Olympia Switchback jacket which did the trick.

Next up was the highlight of the day, Frost Valley Rd/Oliverea Rd. Not picked for any reason, just looked twisty in Basecamp when laying out the day's ride. What a gem! 20 miles of desolate curvy road, nary a car to be seen for almost the whole length. If I had more time I would gladly have turned around and ridden it again. Another trip...

When planning the route(s) for this trip I had layed out some optional loops along the way to be rdding if time and mood allowed. After the goodness that was Frost Valley Rd it looked like I had time for today's optional loop, riding around the Ashokan Resrvoir on 28 and 28a. That turned out to be a big waste of time - 30 miles round trip to get there, and the roads around it were nothing at all special. 28a, on the south side, was curvy but not really scenic (I had expected views of the reservoir), but 28 on the north side was just a highway.

Doubling back to the original route, I was then on a combination of 42, 32, 10 up to Albany and to tonight's hotel. Some sections were decent enough, not really any traffic which was nice but there was quite a bit of gravel on some of the roads.

Stopped for a bit to walk around my old alma mater, SUNY Albany, which I try to do any time I'm in the area.

I had booked a hotel in the area weeks ago, and then booked a cheaper one a few days before leaving. Of course when I arrived in Albany I completely forgot which was which, and ended up at the wrong hotel first. Fortunately they were very close to each other, and even better, within walking distance of a BBQ place for dinner :)

The Capo performed admirably all day. Very comfortable, the screen worked out great, and I still absolutely love the sound of that motor when working it. There's the front end at times, where it feels like it's reacting to bumps that aren't there, but other than that I'm loving the Capo.


Just after lunch passed this place. McLaren outside, collection of Porsches and Ferraris inside. One woman working inside who got up and locked the door when I came near.

Neversink reservoir

Starting to get a bit chilly on the Neversink

Frost Valley Road, a fantastic surprise


More Frost Valley Road

Should have noted where this was!


My old alma mater, SUNY Albany

Odd textured walls. Felt like I was in The Flintstones

Dinner at the Warehouse BBQ was OK


330 miles for the day


Woke to drizzle. Today's plan didn't involve a lot of miles, just needed to get across VT and into NH. Plenty of time for side trips and stops along the way - the best kind of motorcycling day!

First stop was Target for some new shades, and some sunscreen - my face was getting a bit red. Out of Albany, over the Hudson River into Troy, then on 7 and 2 into the tip of NW Mass. Stopped for gas just before MA, and stupidly put my helmet on my seat. Next thing I know... Fortunately it appears it landed on the shield, which is now sporting some scuffs right in my line of sight. I could find no other nicks or marks on the shell, so I think I'll count that as a win.

NY 2 approaching the border to MA was a very nice road, lots of curves, but cursed with deplorable frost-heaved pavement. As soon as the road crossed into MA the pavement became perfect. Rolled through North Adams, which must have been something back in the day. Mill after mill after mill. After North Adams headed up into VT on 100 and 8. VT 100 is a known quantity, for the most part a gently curving road that cuts most of the way to the top of the state. Nothing tricky, not much traffic, pretty scenery. And hardly any passing zones, which is annoying when you are behind a couple very slow cruisers. VT 8 was a nice surprise.

GPS gave me a little trouble coming into North Adams, as it was locked on a single instruction. The map would scroll, but the guidance up top was stuck at "2.2 miles left on...". And earlier it had given me the cryptic instruction of "Leave Road", which I wasn't sure was a premonition or not. A reboot got things back to normal.

For some unknown reason I plotted a shortcut off of VT 100 in Basecamp. What looks like an interesting road on a map can turn into a 15% graded dirt road in real life. Did not enjoy my detour on Hill Rd between Wardsboro and Jamaica VT. At all.

About this time the temps were starting to drop, and it was feeling all the world like October in June. Maybe mid-50's, gray overcast skies, and a fair bit of wind. Remarkably different than yesterday's sunny goodness. The jacket liner wasn't going to cut it, time for the electric heat. Man, what a world of difference in makes when you plug in. You go from "I can take this, it's not that bad" to "ahh, I could ride all day!"

Shortly after finding myself back on pavement I rode through Londonderry VT and noticed a bunch of vendor tents in a field. Just in time for lunch, this turned out to be a very Vermonty farm-to-market fair with all kinds of tasty things to eat.

Yesterday the lost sunglasses, today...

Um, no thanks?

North Adams must have been something back in the day


More mills

Vermont 8 was fun

VT 8

A rare paved stretch on the shortcut of death

Farm-to-Market fair

I had a delicious bacon and egg sandwich

After lunch it was back out on 100, and up to 4. I had no great expectations for 4, just needed a road to get me east towards NH. It had some nice sweepers, but I was VERY pleasantly surprised to see Long Trail Brewery along the road, and pulled in to park alongside many other bikes. While I would have liked to sample a few of their fresh beers, I limited myself to one small glass of Double Bag double altbier. Very very tasty. Would have loved to sampled their Triple Bag. By the time I was leaving it was warm enough to put the heat away.

Took 4 onto a brief stint on I-89, then some more 4. then I would hook up with NH 118 in Canaan for the run up to Lincoln. I had a nice optional loop planned on 25/25a/25c going into and out of the White Mountain National Forest, but a little before 118 it started to rain pretty solidly. NH 118 is probably a decent enough road in the dry, but the rain combined with more awful pavement made it a pretty terrible ride all the way to Lincoln. No sense added 2 hours of extra loops in the rain.

This would be a theme in NH over the next couple days - great roads marred by truly awful pavement. Most of the issue is frost heaves running parallel to your direction of travel, so the bike keeps moving left and right to follow different ridges, or ride in the cracks. Not much fun. Vermont had no such issues.

Checked into the hotel, donned some real rain gear (very glad I brought a real rain jacket along) and walked a mile or so to the One Love Brewery. Interestingly they only had one One Love brew on tap, but they did have a decent selection of others. I had a couple Spencer Trappist Ales, a delicious tripel. Turns out Spencer is the only Trappist Brewery outside of Europe. They are off to a good start!

Heading onto 4 (I think)


Welcome surprise

Plenty of other riders had the same idea

Double Bag

Long Trail has an excellent location

Oh my


Only covered bridge I rode through on this trip

Fully waterproof GPS

227 for the day

Spencer Trappist Ale, very tasty

Under cover for the night


Tonight's hotel is only 40 miles away, but it's going to be my longest and busiest day of the trip. I had a lot of good riding planned, as well as 2 small amusement parks to visit. Roller coasters are a passion of mine and I was eager to hit these 2 out-of-the-way amusement parks that I've known about for decades.

After the previous evening's (and night's) rain, I was very happy to see bright sunshine outside when I woke up. I did delay my departure from the hotel long enough to watch the MotoGP race from Mugello - go Dovi!

First order of the day, and starting practically right outside the hotel, was riding the Kancamagus Highway. The Kanc is a 34 mile long scenic highway that runs through the White Mountain National Forest, and has some terrific views along the way. The western portion climbs up to about 3,000 feet, while the eastern side meanders along a stream. Traffic was very light, the sun was shining, and I enjoyed a great ride, stopping quite a bit at different overlooks and riverside pullouts. I filled up with gas at the eastern end in North Conway, and doubled back on the Kanc 12 miles or so to pick up Bear Notch Rd heading north. Bear Notch was even more fun than the Kanc, if not quite as scenic. Had a deer pop out about 30 yards ahead of me that got my attention.

Go Dovi!

Viewpoint along the way on the Kanc

On the Kanc

Very pretty

Crazy reflections on the bike

Beautiful scenery

What a gorgeous day

Mount Washington in the background

Bear Notch Rd took me onto 302, which I took east to Story Land any my first coasters of the day. The junior-sized Polar Coaster had been the park's only roller coaster since 1987, but was joined 3 years ago by the wooden coaster Roar-O-Saurus. I locked up all my riding gear and headed into the park ($35!) to ride coasters number 549 and 550 for me. Roar-O-Saurus was quite fun for such a small wooden coaster, and I could have ridden it many times but I had a lot more to accomplish today.

First amusement park of the day

Entrance to the Polar Coaster

Me on the Polar Coaster


Fun ride

The forecast earlier in the day was calling for developing clouds so I wasn't planning on doing it, but leaving Story Land it was nothing but clear skies and sunshine. Next stop, the Mount Washington Auto Road. I had some trepidation about riding up the mountain as there is a section that is dirt, and dirt is not my thing. But the views were supposed to be amazing, and as I got closer to it riding up NH 16 I could see the mountain and it looked beautiful. I decided to give it a try, figuring I could aways bail if the weather changed or the dirt was too nerve-wracking. I'm very glad I chose to do it.

The ride up the first section is paved and through forest, and quite narrow and quite fun. Steep but not crazy steep, tight turns that weren't quite hairpins, and really good pavement made for a fun ride - especially since there were very few other vehicles. It would be quite difficult along most of the road to pass.

I was behind an FZ-1 and a Spyder when we got to the dirt section. The Spyder guy immediately started shooting up rooster tails and generally being an ass. I hung back for a bit and figured I'd shoot some photos and let him get ahead some. The dirt section was very well groomed, but it was still quite steep and narrow, and even had a minor hairpin about halfway up the mile-long section. I was NOT looking forward to coming back down and doing the dirt downhill. But I'll worry about that later, right?

After the dirt you're back on pavement, and up in the clouds with amazing views in every direction. I stopped multiple times to take photos, and to plug in the electrics at one point. Before not too long I was at the summit, with a small sense of accomplishment. It was a really great experience, and reminded me of time spent in Colorado and the Alps.

Clouds looked like they were rolling in so I did not stay long at the summit (and it was COLD!). Stopped for a lot of pics on the way down, and gritted my teeth through the dirt section and survived it. The last forest section I was stuck behind one of the official tour vans they take people on, and he had no intention of letting me by.

Overall a terrific experience and I was very glad I had done it. Not entirely sure I would do it again, it might be a "been there done that" kind of thing.

Here we go!

The start of the dirt mile

Back on pavement, with amazing views in every direction

Not a lot of margin for error

At the summit. To the right you can see clouds rolling in

Summit selfie

Heading back down

Downhill dirt

After Mount Washington it was time to head to small amusement park #2, Santa's Village. I'm very surprised - and delighted - that this area of the country can support not one, but 2 small amusement parks. 16 north took me to 2 west to Jefferson. I parted with another $35, and added coasters #551 and #552 to the count. They had a new spinning junior coaster that was fun, but the surprise of the day was the older Rudy's Rapid Transit. Fairly large by junior-coaster standards, and they gave you 2 laps which extended the fun. The coaster runs a huge 20-car train that makes for very fun physics in the front and back. There are also a couple of crazy-low headchoppers. I rode this a bunch of times as there was no line and you could just move around to different seats. Really, really fun.

On the way to Santa's Village I had seen a sign for "Crawford Notch" so I planned to go that way on my next leg. Unknown to me I had already plotted that road in the GPS, but I did not know what the area was called. 115 and 302 through Crawford Notch was pretty enough, and the road had some nice sweepers, but nothng too special. As I got closer to the hotel area in North Conway the rain started again, just drizzling at first. Now I had to decide between calling it a day somewhat early or do the last 2 roads I had planned, Hurricane Mountain Road and Maine 113. I was having such a great day riding I really didn't want it to end, so I busted out the hiviz RevIt rain jacket and turned onto Hurricane Mountain Rd.

Another quirky little amusement park

Fun spinning coaster

Yes, I am actually having that much fun. Ride is way better than it has any right to be.


Crawford Notch


Crawford Notch

I read about Hurricane Mountain Road on, and reviews were mixed between "great fun" and "terrifying, never again". It was the quickest way over to ME 113, which I was really looking forward to, so it had to be done. It certainly lived up to its mixed reputation! It was in turn great fun and terrifying (in a good way?). Super narrow goat path through the woods, maybe 1.75 car widths, twisty, busted-up pavement, no sightlines, pouring rain, and up to 17% grade in places. It was definitely intense in spots and I was honestly relieved when I popped out the other side.

The rain was letting up some as I started north on 113, which starts out as a regular country road going past houses and such, and sporting typical NH awful paving. But then it enters White Mountain National Forest and things improve somewhat, and in a few more miles you cross the border into Maine and it turns into one of the most fun roads I've ever ridden. Perfect pavement, zero traffic, nothing but woods on both sides, a narrow green tunnel that was a blast to ride through. It opens up at the top to follow a river, and when I got near the terminus at US 2 I made the decision to turn right around and ride it again. Originally I was going to take 2 west to 16 south back to North Conway, but I really wanted to ride 113 again - even if it meant I would have to endure Hurricane Mountain Rd a second time. At least it would be uphill this time! I don't know why, but I always feel secure on the uphill twisties than the downhill ones.

At the top of 113 I had taken my helmet off for a bit to check the paper map, and was instantly surrounded by swarms of bugs. An old software saying came to mind - "buggier than Maine in June" - and now I knew exactly what they meant. Helmet back on, maps away, and I enjoyed a super fun and quick ride down the 15 or so good miles of Maine 113.


Good sign

Starting on the west end of Hurricane Mountain Road

That's pretty steep. In the rain.

Woohoo, a state I've never ridden in

ME 113

ME 113

Near the top of ME 113

More ME 113 goodness

Getting dark on Hurrican Mountain Road. You can see how crappy some of the NH pavement is

Hard to see in the pic, but this is heading up some of the steepest sections of Hurricane Mountain Rd

Swarms of bugs

When I got to the hotel I was bone-tired, and starving. Somehow I forgot to eat lunch, and only had a banana since breakfast. I parked the bike under the portico, and after getting checked in I walked down the block to the 99 Restaurant. There was a brewpub maybe another 1/2 mile farther but I just didn't have it in me. Had a pretty good chicken parm dinner and chatted some with Dragan, my server from Yugoslavia, who highly recommended Macedonia as my next Eastern European destination.

When I got back to the hotel I was surprised to find an additional bike parked right next to me, so close I could barely walk between them. With a bench right next to the back wheel and a garden behind the bike I had a hell of a time getting stuff out of the side case and the top box. No idea why he felt he needed to park so close.

I parked with lots of room for other bikes

I came back from dinner to find the blue/silver Road King right next to me. Could hardly get to my bike between him and the park bench behind me

238 miles for the day


I had an interesting route layed out that would take in 3 Vermont gaps but the weather did not look like it was going to cooperate. A steady rain and low clouds greeted me as I packed the bike and left the hotel. The Kanc was a fun ride yesterday in the sunshine, today in the rain not so much. I kept an easy pace on the eastern lowland section but once the road began to climb the fog became worse and worse until I could barely see 20 yards in front of me. I only saw a couple other cars during the whole length of the road. It was helpful to follow taillights during the worst of it and I was quite relieved when the road descended again out of the mist.

I had a pair of Bilt rain gloves with me, but discovered that they don't have a squeegee on the fingers. That was quite annoying! I also had some Aerostich 'lobster claws' with me, which are great for keeping hands dry but a PITA to take on and off. I used them for a bit and then tossed them back in the case.

I gassed up in Lincoln at the western terminus of the Kanc, and took some time inside to lay out the map and think about an alternate plan for the day. No reason to head up into the Vermont high gaps in the fog, or head to the Ticonderoga Ferry in the pouring rain. I plugged in a more direct route, and of course when I stepped outside again the weather had improved. I figured I would take it section by section, and head towards the VT gaps until I had to make a final choice.

NH 112 was a scenic ride out from Lincoln and through the White Mountain National Forest again. I think by this time I had ridden just about every road through that forest. 112 led to 302, which was just a big open country highway, and made for a decent enough place to make some time in the changing weather. I had a northerly loop planned up 232 but decided to skip that and stay on 302. As I got closer to Montpelier the weather took a turn for the worse again, and it was time to finally let the thought of hitting the gaps go. Had a couple wrong twists and turns around Montpelier and Waterbury trying to connect with VT 100. I figured VT 100 would make for a low-stress pleasant ride in the rain since it doesn't have much traffic and no real twisty sections.

NH 112, west of Lincoln

Same place, different direction

VT 100 was exactly as I had hoped, a scenic non-demanding way to ride through on-again, off-again rain. I had been keeping my eyes out for Moss Glenn Falls on 100, and it still popped out of nowhere and surprised me. Unfortunately it was in a section of road where there were no good turnoffs for quite a while, and the rain had picked up quite a bit, so I decided to skip it this time around.

The rain had let up by the time I got to Rochester so I took a chance and headed over VT 73 and Brandon Gap. Threre was some construction on the road, and as I was approaching a road worker with a STOP sign a device next to her started flashing/strobing like a police car, and when I got a bit closer a siren went off, again exactly like a police car. I chatted with her a bit while I waited for my turn through the one-lane construction zone and she said it was brand new. If you are approaching too close and going over 30mph it triggers the lights and sirens to get your attention. Seems like a great idea to me.

73 was OK, not great, but the weather had subsided and the sun was coming out so it was a great little ride. The gap itself wasn't the best part of the road though, that was the flatland S-bends farther west. 30 to 4 to 149 too me into New York and then picked up 9 for the short run up to the Holiday Inn to pickup my Americade registration packet. Once I got on 9 the rain picked up again with a vengeance and would last a couple hours after I got to my hotel after registration.

VT 73

Looking back on VT 73

The hotel we had chosen, the Colonel Williams Resort, was pretty empty when I pulled in in the rain. I got checked in and rode over to my room, and was not thrilled that their whole parking lot was loose gravel. Even less thrilled when the Capo sank down to the wheels when I put it on the centerstand. That would be fun to get moving again. I neglected to pack a sidestand plate so that was going to be my #1 thing on my shopping list tomorrow.

Eventually the rain subsided and I took some time to clean the dirt and grime off the bike. I had packed just enough clothes to get me this far in the trip and needed to do laundry so I went to the office for change for the machines. They felt bad they didn't have quarters so they insisted I bring them my bag of laundry and they would do it for me. Nice! Sure enough, by the end of the evening I had all clean clothes for the rest of the trip.

Dave and Peter arrived some time later, and the rain was on and off again. No one was in the mood to go out riding again, and there were no restaurants in quick walking distance, so we ordered some pies from Pizza Jerks. Turned out to be a perfect choice, they were delicious and it was great to kick back in the room and catch up with old friends.

I'm official

I have a pink PP (parking pass, good for all the spots in Lake George for the week)

Bike sank into the gravel

Time to clean a little. Honda Spray & Polish to the rescue


The Americade Trip Report Continues Here