NERDS was great fun. And so successful... So, now it's time to start planning our next group ride...
Therefore, and without further ado, I shall duly proclaim:
This year's date for the Covered Bridges of NH Foliage Tour will be Saturday October
This will be primarily a one day, organized ride, but there are all sorts of other cool things to do in the area at this time of year. Why not make a weekend of it? Many riders will have their photo-happy pillions aboard for the day. The pace will be very easy (speed limit, flower sniffing, easy), so as to enhance your every photographic opportunity. And we'll have several rest stops along the way to stretch the gams and flap the gums. Your friends on bikes other than FJRs are also welcome to join along, as long as they do not have noisy open exhaust pipes and are willing to ride along with a bunch of photo-shooting old fogies on their FJRs.
IOW, sporty riders will
We will try to adhere to the full traditional ride route (need to pre-ride to make sure roads are all open after Irene), starting out with kickstands up! at 9AM from the Fiddleheads Cafe in Hancock, NH. Plan on arriving as early as you can manage, as Fiddleheads makes a killer breakfast sandwich on their home-made, toasted bread.
From there, we'll meander around the countryside in the southwestern corner of NH. We'll be "bagging" at least a dozen covered bridges along the route, most of which we will actually be able to ride through! (only a couple of them are drive-by "decorator" bridges, closed due to weight restrictions).
As usual, we'll stop for lunch at Diamond Pizza in Walpole. They have good (and cheap) pizza and grinders (subs to you non-natives). After lunch we'll wend our way back to the south and east, around Lake Sunapee, bagging more covered bridges all along the way, and eventually wind things up near the Hopkinton Dam in Contoocook.
For those coming from "outta town", there is a B&B directly across the street from Fiddleheads called the Hancock Inn, which is quite lovely. However, I think they are also quite spendy (~$200 / night), and they do book up early in the foliage season. In the past, folks coming from out of town have stayed at chain motels in down in Keene, NH to the southwest. There is also the Jack Daniels Motor Inn, just down the road in Peterborough, or the Inn at Crotched Mountain in Francistown, which is where The Axeman stayed last year and liked it. I would just be careful about cancellation policies in the event of rain.
Assuming the weather allows the ride to go off on Saturday as planned, we can regroup (anyone staying in the area) at Fiddleheads on Sunday AM and I'll take you on over to (and up) Mt Kearsarge. There is a nice little goat trail of an auto road that runs most of the way up the mountain, and then a short 1/2 mile hike up to the bald summit with some spectacular views. Geezer, thingfish and I did this last year after the Bridges and it was worth a repeat , IMO.
The route has now been fully tested and it looks like this (click the picture for full window interactive version)
You can also download route file for your GPS here (Both versions were created with 2009 maps)
2011_Covered_Bridges_Tour.gdb - Gamin proprietary DataBase format
2011_Covered_Bridges_Tour.gpx - Generic gPs eXchange format
The optional Sunday ride route to Mount Kearsarge is here also (click the pic for full interactive map in a new window).
GPS files for Sunday ride to Mt Kearsarge, lunch at the Flying Goose, and a few fun roads here and there.
Planned to start and ends at Fiddlehead's Cafe in Hancock.
Do look back through some prior years ride report threads for more pictures of what you can expect to see.
Disclaimers (aka the fine print):
Because riding on New England back roads in the rain at that time of year can be an iffy deal (cold and raw, wet leaves, wet wooden bridge decks, etc.), and because this is primarily a FOLIAGE sightseeing tour, (which doesn't really look all that special in the gray drizzle) we will reserve rain dates: Sunday the 2nd as the 1st option, and the following weekend of the 8th or 9th if necessary.
To get through some of these covered bridges requires traveling down a few short sections of dirt road (and as is generally the case on any Fred W ride routes). These dirt roads are some of the more scenic ones we will traverse (in more ways that one ). They are all very smooth and well packed, though there are some elevation changes (some folks report that being a bit skeery). Nobody should have any problems getting down them, just use your rear brake and copious engine braking and it's all a piece of cake. But I wanted to let you all know about them in the interest of full disclosure. If it has rained a lot the night before we will make detours to avoid them.