Adventure junkies are always seeking bigger and riskier adventures. Adventure for most of us comes with reading, planning or visiting a new place or trying new things.
I write a lot about adventure, and I do seem to have my share of them as I criss-cross the country chasing the cure for Multiple Sclerosis.
I have experienced adventure in places like the solitude of the Arctic Circle, The scorching Nevada deserts and the lush mountains of North Carolina, even in January.
Sometimes however, adventure finds me even when I am not looking for it. In December, I was presenting at a patient program in Maine. Now, riding a motorcycle in Maine in December might seem a bit unusual to most, but by now you know two wheels is the only way I travel. The event was only 150 miles from my house, and I certainly did not entertain the thought that it would be anything more than routine.
On this particular trip, the roads were clear and despite a stiff easterly breeze, it was a toasty 39 degrees when I left my house. it was just after a snowstorm, and all the vehicles looked related, covered in a fine powdery salt. I was driving at the speed of traffic, only accelerating to get by trucks that were shedding bits of trailer ice and slush. At one point, a chunk of ice frisbee’d off the top of the tractor trailer ahead of me and I caught it miraculously across my face shield. Oh the joy. Startled and after recently watching a movie about avalanches, I throttled up and past the cab of the truck and then again to clear a few additional big rigs ahead of him. The ice that hit me was not fatal, but a bigger glob could certainly ruin a motorcyclists’ afternoon. I slowed back down and even ventured over to lane one, and continued at the posted speed limit. I was not in a hurry, and I was a bit chilled by the wind.
I saw the State Trooper sitting on the off ramp peninsula and nodded my helmet as I drove by. This time of year I often get a wave or tip of the hat, possible the only rider they see on the road in weeks. Oddly enough, he threw on his lights and pulled out behind me. I moved over to let him pass, but he got right behind me and closed in on me. It took half a mile to realize he was pulling me over. I though maybe he saw something wrong with my bike or it was a mistake. When I asked him why he pulled me over he said, “I’ll let you know after you provide me with your license and registration.”
“Ok”, I said and it took me a minute to get at my wallet as I was all bundled up and my fingers were cold. After looking them over he said, “Aircraft spotted you back a ways and estimated you were traveling 85 mph in a 70 mph zone.
I decided not to say anything else, it would not have helped anyway, this officer was not a witness to my alleged infraction. After 20 minutes of dangerously standing on the side of the highway with trucks whizzing by and freezing my butt off, he delivered my speeding ticket. As I rode off, I spotted a second vehicle pulled over by a second Trooper, a bright red unsalted car. It then occurred to me we were signaled out, not because we were faster than everyone else, but we were the only vehicles the plane could identify from the air because of all the salt! I also realized if I had indeed been doing 85 mph, it could have only been as I was passing the trucks. I would have done the same exact thing if the officer was behind me, as it was a safety measure to avoid the flying objects. As an experienced rider who puts safety first on a daily basis, speed traps like these do not make the roads any safer in my opinion, but the $185 fine will fill the state coffers. Not very happy with the first hour of my ride, I decided to put it out of my mind.
The patient event went well, it was the regular crowd and entertainment was provided by Dr. Mitchell Ross, one of the more enthusiastic Multiple Sclerosis specialists. He and I have a great rapport and he was excited to tell me he bought another Harley. “Did you ride it here, as well?” I teased.
The next day I waited for the black ice in the parking lot to melt before leaving the hotel to head home. I decided I was going to boycott the Maine Turnpike and ride west through New Hampshire before heading south. I stopped to visit the staff at a motorcycle supply store called Whitehorse Gear.
I asked them about the conditions of the famous Kancamagus Highway. The 35 mile scenic road is one of America’s Scenic Byways and leads you through a path in the White Mountain National Forrest with breath taking views and an elevation of about 3000 feet. There are no comforts of the modern day world; no gas stations, no restaurants, hotels or other businesses, and there is also no cell service. It remains open through the winter, but often closed for days because of treacherous mountain weather conditions. I was told there had not been snow for a few days and that the road should be passable.
It was 22 degrees, cloudy and windy when I turned onto infamous Route 112, but I did not expect the adventure I was heading into.
It took me almost 3 hours to go 35 miles, and I should have known something was up after I passed the first two snow plows!
Maybe I should have turned around when the snow and ice covered the road, when the temperature dipped below 11 degrees or when I crapped my pants sliding around the hairpin turn at the speed of molasses, but, well, I didn’t.
I was able to get some hairy video from my helmet camera and it’s been uploaded to my YouTube channel, where I am starting to share some of the the lighter side of my adventures with video.
I eventually made it to the other end of the road, exhilarated and exhausted. I changed my underwear in a gas station and headed home. I’ll admit it was a bit of a risky ride, but the pay off was huge!
MS is a progressive disease that can strike at any moment, so when adventure finds it’s way into my portfolio, I invest in every share I can get my hands on!
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