Monday, August 15, 2011

BigTrip2011–Day9–Tanks and Meetups Galore!

For the first and only time on the entire trip, I used an alarm to get up. Today (August 6, 2011) started much too early. The plan was to get a quick breakfast and then ride south to Natick, MA for the WWII Military Expo which was about an hour away. Chris wanted to get there by 10am. It turned out to be an ambitious plan.

I slowly packed up my tent and put everything back on the bike. Chris’s two sons were ready to go before I was. I was moving slowly.

chris and kids on the dnper 

We had a nice breakfast at a local diner and then hit the interstate. We rode south in Massachusetts to meet another rider on a Ural.

chris and dnper on the interstate entering mass

We stopped three different time at three different spots before we finally met up with him at 11-something. It was a frustrating morning of waiting.


Fortunately, the last place had some shade as it was becoming a hot and humid day. He finally arrived, but was complaining of shift issues. Chris told him to take his tool kit out, and got down on the ground to fix it right there. As any Ural owner knows, it attracts quite a crowd when it stops, but when combined with the Dnepr it was something else. In less than 15 minutes, three separate guys walked over to offer tools and to ask the usual questions (what is it, how old is it, it’s a what?, who makes that?, etc). I love it when they ask original questions, but that is pretty rare.


Repair completed, and we were back on the road. I was following Chris, and the other Ural was behind me. Two of us had a GPS, but Chris who was leading did not. We got turned around a few times, and then he asked me to lead. Even with the GPS, I had a hard time finding the place! Many u-turns later, we eventually saw a small sign and followed it. We saw this truck and I got excited that we were probably in the right place.

WWI Military Expo

When we parked, someone in uniform came to ask us if we wanted to go down to be part of the show (referring to the Dnepr and Ural). Chris and the other rider both declined; a 2009 and a 1980s aren’t quite WWII. After we parked, then we saw these signs. Getting warmer (unfortunately literally). Way too hot!

WWI Military Expo

We walked into the vendor area. We got a snack and something cold to drink. Did I mention it was hot and humid?

WWI Military Expo 

Some great looking old machines were around. Of course, my favorites were the bikes.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo 

Some of the vehicles were for sale.

WWI Military Expo

I’d love to figure out how to get this recoilless rifle on the Ural. It’d be the perfect cure for traffic.

WWI Military Expo 

The bulk of the event was in a forest near a lake. An excellent place as the trees provided ample shade. All the vehicle are owned by private individuals and were driven or trailered to the event for the weekend.

The driver doesn’t look to be in the right costume.

WWI Military Expo 

I loved the wide variety of tanks and other similar vehicles.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

Most were in fantastic condition considering their age.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

It was impressive how much effort the hosts put into the event. Many were dressed in period uniforms.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

They were happy to talk and answer questions. This was the Russian tent.

WWI Military Expo

Did I mention I loved all the old motorcycles? Many of them were original, but some had replaced older parts with replicas like this BMW with a CJ engine.

WWI Military Expo

This Zundapp was my favorite vehicle of the show. A beautiful machine.

WWI Military Expo WWI Military Expo

There were various shows going on throughout the day including these three women singing. They had great voices, so I stopped and listened for a few songs.

WWI Military Expo 

On the way out there was even a modern Humvee present. Cool!

WWI Military Expo

I said my goodbyes to Chris and his kids. Thanks again for the fun times!

A short time later, I met up with Manny who I know through my work. We’ve worked together for almost a year; this was my first chance to meet him. He rides a ZZR with a nicely tuned sport exhaust. His bike was entirely too clean; he needs to ride more and polish less! :)

IMG_1695 IMG_1694

We retreated to a nearby restaurant to catch up over a cold beverage (iced tea) before I needed to hit the road again. I pointed the SV south and rocketed down the interstate towards the border. I crossed into Connecticut. Norwich was my destination. I thought I would get wet as the clouds kept getting darker and darker the further south I rode. Graciously, the temperature also dropped. I didn’t get wet.

connecticut state line

I arrived later than I wanted due to my mistake in the distance from Natick to Norwich. Norwich, CT is a small city. To me, it was dripping in the stereotypical new england look. (sorry for the bug on the lens of the GoPro). It was founded in 1659. I love this part of the country because of old towns like this.

beautiful norwich beautiful norwich2

I roamed around the city looking for my destination. The signs being flush with the buildings kept the historical feeling, but made finding the establishment more difficult. Eventually I saw a bright yellow/orange triumph and quickly pulled over.

fuzzy speed tripple

FuzzyGalore aka Rachael was waiting on the side of the road for me. (Sorry for being late!) I believe I captured her taking a photo of me with her phone.

meeting fuzzy

We had a blast chatting over dinner. She took the ferry across from long island just to meet me. How cool is that? Thanks again for dinner! We had so much fun chatting that she missed the 8:30 ferry, so I invited her to come with me while she waited for next one.

My destination was an overnight stay with JohnsAlaska. The original plan was to sleep outside in my tent. With impending thunderstorms, John offered me a space inside instead. I happily accepted. Thanks John!

He came out to greet us as we pulled up. We chatted for a minute and then he offered me some space in the garage for my SV. When I went to move it, I lost my balance on the sloped driveway and the bike started to tip. The bike normally weighs about 400lbs wet, but with the bags fully packed I couldn’t catch it.

I watched in horror as it fell over in slow motion. I was holding onto one handlebar trying as hard as I could to keep it from hitting the ground. I managed to stop the decent just an inch from the ground, and then I couldn’t move. Flashes of a broken sidecase or worse a broken rack flashed through my head. I tugged hard, but it wouldn’t come back up. I might as well have been trying to move one of the tanks. 

I called out for help, and John rushed over. We both tugged on it, but it wouldn’t come back. My arms were starting to get shaky and tired holding the weight of the bike. I was going to loose my grip and drop it. Rachael came to our aid and the three of us righted the bike. Disaster averted.

I felt so stupid. I couldn’t believe I nearly dropped my bike. I haven’t dropped the SV since I bought it. I was very happy to have John and Rachael around to help me lift it. I would have had to take the cases off if I was by myself. I’ve lifted the SV myself before, but it was extra heavy today. I beat myself up for a while. John comforted me with a beer. It helped.

The three of us started chatting, and all too soon Rachael had to leave to catch her ferry. She got caught in the rain on the ride home. Thanks for riding over Rachael. We’ll have to do it again!

John and I stayed up past midnight chatting. When it was time to sleep, I crawled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep very quickly. I was exhausted which was probably why I tipped my bike. It was a fantastic day fun filled day that wasn’t tarnished with the minor incident.


About a 200 mile riding day.

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  1. Great set of pics from the WWII vehicles gathering! Like you, I liked the old motorcycles best.

    Lucky the others were there at the end of the day and helped you with your ride!


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  2. Dom: Thanks. I loved the old motorcycles. The more I see of them, the more I want to try riding one. Older than that '64 bridgestone I rode too.

    yes, I was very happy I chose to stay with a new friend that night. however, anywhere else -- I would have parked once and not moved it until morning.

  3. Loved the pictures of the WWII equipment, would have loved to visit. The recoilless rifle would come handy in NJ

  4. Dear Chris Luhman:

    I wonder what it takes to get to own a tank... I can think of so many uses for one. And the equipment pictured absolutely flawless. You certainly got to meet an extraordinary number of bloggers and riders on this trip.

    I love the character of New England cities and small towns.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  5. George F: I'd love to see that thing mounted on your new Super Tenere. That'd be a sight to behold...

    Dear Jack Riepe: when you come to visit MN, you should take me to this place: it's not far. it seems to own a tank in the USA you just need some $$$$.

    Yes, after all the drama in July, I redefined the trip to meet as many fun people as possible.

  6. $500/hr 4 hours.... ouchies... but still... i could see the thrill in that :) I've actually seen tanks for sale.. but not turbine powered ones... older diesel ones.


  7. William: yes, a bit expensive. If I was going to do it. I'd get the extra car crushing upgrade! a tank would be neat. I asked my wife, she said we could park it in the front yard. sweeeet.

  8. Chris,

    Nice read. I thought you'd let the bike go - I probably would have. At this point all of my machines have been on their sides in low-to-no speed tips. Even the new Kawasaki.

    You're a man right after my own heart when it comes to washing motorcycles. If you've got time to wash, you've got time to ride - though I've been cheating a bit. I've washed the Kawasaki no less than three times since I bought it in late March, but if you look at it another way, that's only once every four thousand miles.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  9. I'm so glad we got a chance to meet, Chris. I really had a great time.

    I was kinda bummed that I didnt really get a chance to hang with you and John together and talk about traveling over beers. Raincheck? :)

    Its pretty neat how the dynamic of meeting and getting to know someone in real life changes the way you read their writing and their blogging approach. Even though you post videos, they dont capture the animated REAL you, if that makes sense. I'm glad I got to see that.

    I've loved following along on your trip. Keep the posts/tweets comin' :)

  10. Brady: I thought about it, but I didn't want to damage the luggage or rack 1,500 miles from home. All of my bikes have been down at one point or another too.

    Fuzzy: Thanks! I am also very glad we got to meet. It was way too short though. We must plan a longer get-together next time.

    I would agree that after the meeting the view of the blog/tweets/etc change. I can hear your voice when reading now. It is nice! hmm... I'm aware of the gap, but not a clue how to resolve it. lol.