Vermort 19

I donít have time to read all this, just show me the pics...

Below is my Vermort 19 report, basically grabbed and slightly edited from RMH:

I'm hoping I can recall the details, or even better, the order in which they took place, but that might be hoping for too much. My Vermort trip started on Thursday and I could tell right away that I was acting like a woman (or Kickstart), 'cause I packed too much shit. I wanted to be prepared for anything, and since I had the hack I thought, WTF, I've got plenty of room. 

I had the necessities, tent, sleeping bag, camping pillow, toiletries, clothes, tools. While on the surface this doesn't sound too bad, clothes ended up being a t-shirt for every day, two jackets, rain pants, quilted overalls, two pairs of gloves, a couple sweaters, and plenty of socks and underwear. Tools consisted of the Ural tool kit, 18" 2x4, jack stand, fuel line hose, funnels, electrical wire and connectors, extra inner tube, oil, spare gas can (not counting the jerry can on the hack), duct tape, electrical tape, replacement bulbs, wire ties, spark plugs, towel, rag, toilet paper, spare plug wires from the Triumph, etc, etc. I packed it all up and still had part of the hack empty and the trunk empty, allowing Grizz, who I'd be traveling with, to add some stuff. Oh, and Camera, passport and money in the tank box.

I headed over to Grizz and Babe's at around noon, with the understanding from Grizz that he would be packed and ready to go when he got off work and we'd be hitting the road at 1:00pm. This must have been my misunderstanding. When I got to his place, about 59km from my place, he wasn't there, although they did pull up in their car before I even got off my bike. They weren't quite packed, as I had anticipated. I probably have more pictures of my time at Grizz's since I had nothing better to do than to wait the hour and a half while they packed (I would get Grizz back later by making him wait on the side of the road for me).

Oh yeah, ignore the time stamps on my camera, I hadn't set the proper time on it and it's behind by a few hours.

We finally got on the road at about 2:30pm and had 500kms to go to reach our first stop, St. Stephen's, New Brunswick, right across the river from Calais, Maine. I followed Grizz through some back roads for about an hour until we hit the main highway between Halifax and Truro, at the Truro end. It was a nice ride, and the weather was great, and continued to be great for a majority of the trip. After gassing up I took the lead on the highway since my bike can barely hold highway speeds and I didn't want Grizz to have to constantly be checking his mirrors to see how far back I was. I realized at this gas stop that my waiting wouldn't be  limited to Grizz and Babe's packing. My gas stops on long trips (not that I do a lot of them) are gas, piss, go. I had to adjust this thinking for the trip, which gave me a little more time to stretch my legs. The Ural has very limited foot placement options, so moving around at the gas stops was a nice break.

We hit the highway just outside of Truro and headed towards New Brunswick. There was a strong headwind and plenty of hills, add to this the extra cargo of another tent, 2 more sleeping bags, two collapsible chairs and two air mattresses and the giant wind catcher known as the sidecar, and I found the bike struggling to maintain highway speeds. On some of the uphill runs I wasn't able to keep it up to speed and I was pushing full throttle against the wind on the flat sections just to do 65mph. The Cobequid Pass in Nova Scotia on the way to New Brunswick is very windy at the best of times.

It was during this stretch of road between Truro and New Brunswick that the beginning of my troubles started. The bike started cutting out on me. I was pushing it hard and you could tell when it didn't fire on one of the cylinders because the bike would slow suddenly and the hack would push the bike to the left with it's momentum. Within a few minutes I had to pull over and investigate the problem. I shut the bike down and tinkered around a bit, but really did nothing more substantial than just reseating the spark plug cables on the plugs. I fired the bike up after a few minutes and it ran as it should, so we headed off again.

We reach New Brunswick and were just outside of Moncton, where we planned to stop for a bite to eat. Before we got there the bike started doing the same thing, one of the cylinders stopped firing. It starts off in spurts, occasionally not firing and then getting progressively worse. I pulled over and we sat for a moment (time for Grizz and Babe to wait for me), during which time I removed the coil/timing cover to reseat the coil side of the spark plug cables. We were only about 10km from the stop I had in mind so after a few minutes I fired the bike up and we made it to MacDonald's for a bite and to give the bike a chance to cool down. The thought at this point was that it was the coil overheating and then cutting out.

We got back on the road and things went pretty well for next hour until we reached just outside of St. John, when the bike started cutting out again, this time it was more abrupt and both cylinders shut down. My initial reaction was that things overheated again. It had just started to get dark as we pulled off to the side of the road again. It only took a minute before I realized that this stall didn't have anything to do with the electrical system. Had I not had the electrics on my mind I likely would have realized that I was simply out of gas, in which case I could have hit reserve on the road and kept going for a bit. Since we were stopped I emptied out the small red gas can I brought. It's got a built in spigot but leaks like crazy, so this was the only time I opted to use this can during the trip. It also doesn't hold much, and the combination of the gas from that can and reserve didn't give me enough juice to get to the next gas station and once again we ended up pulling over with an empty tank. This time I emptied out the jerry can into the tank after pulling off an off ramp and onto a sidewalk. As you can tell it was also starting to get foggy out, with a nice heavy mist.

We hit a nearby gas station and I filled the bike and jerry can and left the red plastic jug empty. This was in St. John and we still had a little over an hour to St. Stephen. As we hit the highway just outside St. John we saw a big deer grazing on the side of the road, not a good thing, but it stayed where it was and we carried on into the foggy/misty night. The fog was getting very heavy, making it hard to see very far in front of us, and after about 10 minutes I was getting that familiar misfiring. I carried on for a bit until it got too bad and I had to pull over. Part of the problem this time was my own fault. As you'll recall I removed the coil cover earlier on. I never bothered to put it back on since it was sunny at the time, but now the heavy mist was getting on everything and it was causing the coil to short out. I wiped everything down and put the cover back on but it still wasn't running right. It was at this point that I pulled the cover off and pulled the stock, carbon core plug wires (which were quite hot to the touch) and put on the wires that I pulled from the Triumph for the trip. I put the cover back on and the bike ran great. This would have been a lot harder to do at night had Babe not packed 2 flashlights, something Grizz gave her grief for back when they were packing. For the next hour to St. Stephen the bike ran without a problem, even in the heavy fog there were no misfires.

We carried on through the fog with an eye open for deer and moose and ended up making St. Stephen by midnight, 9.5 hours and about 500kms from Grizz's place. We found a place to stay and parked the bikes, had a seat outside for a moment (I bet you didn't know that Babe is a dwarf).

Grizz pointed out that my right turn signal in the back was out, so the next morning I swapped it with one of the spares I brought and I was go to go again. We also noticed that the plastic connector piece for the crankcase vent was cracked, this meant that it was venting all over the left side of the bike and the intake had access to unfiltered air. Not much I could do about this on the road besides put a wire tie around the hose and try to restrict the air getting into the airbox.

I believe it was around 7:00am when I we got up on Friday and I took a few moments to check the oil and replace the defective rear right turn signal bulb. I was hoping to bring down a case of Keith's to the party but it was midnight when we got into St. Stephen and around 8-8:30 when we left to cross the border, so I missed my chance to hit the liquor store, which was directly across the street from the motel.

The border crossing was uneventful, fairly short line and only a few questions from the border cops. We stopped shortly after entering the US for gas and my odometer was reading exactly 14,500km, it was right on 14,000 when we left Grizz's place, so we traveled about 500kms on Thursday, plus and 59kms from my place to Grizz's. We hit the number 9, also known as the Airline Road from Calais down to Bangor. This is a nice twisty little road and there wasn't much traffic. There are a few big hills along this route but the speed limit was such that I could downshift without losing much speed. It was another great day weather wise, although it was early enough in the morning that I was bundled up for the ride.

At Bangor we hopped on the I-95 after hitting a gas station, where I got the typically questions about the bike.

We hit the I-95 and in an effort to get through it quickly I snuck in behind an 18 wheeler as it passed by. This allowed me to run the 40 or so kilometers on I-95 to Newport at about 70mph without over taxing the bike. The only problem with this is that I can't see anything coming down the road that the truck would straddle and I would hit head on. Fortunately this didn't happen and we stopped at the Burger King off exit 157 in Newport for lunch. The next stretch was the best riding of the trip. US-2 from Newport to Montpellier, VT is a great road. Very scenic with a few small towns interspersed. The bike loved the backroads and ran great the whole way. I found that right hand turn I was concerned about, it's just as you enter Norridgewock, ME. The speed limit drops to 25mph and the road takes a sharp right. Both times I did this in 4 wheels I squealed around the corner because it was night, there was little traffic and I was usually speeding. This time it was day and there was a truck in front of us that slowed to 25mph, so taking the turn was no problem. 44.42.46.72 N 69.47.19.50 W for you google map types. You've got the right of way as you come down Skowhegan Road and turn right onto Waterville Road (from the aerial shot you're heading south and then west).

Here's a couple shots on the side of the road near Mt Washington. No problems with the bikes, just stopped for a photo. As you can see the leaves are beginning to change. It looks a little overcast in the pictures but it was a beautiful day and I was in a t-shirt for most of this ride.

This one shows the weather a little better, and Babe having a smoke.

We hopped on the I-89 after Montpellier and took it up past Burlington before getting off again and taking the short run to Ken's place. The bike ran great all day, no misfires, empty gas tanks, blown bulbs. The speeds were perfect and the weather was great. The only incident was when Grizz passed me and got me to pull over, something about Vermont and helmet laws, but I'll let him elaborate. One issue with the bike was that the crankcase vent finally let go.  I ended up folding the hose and putting a hose clamp around it to keep it airtight, as I suspect that wire tie, as tight as I could get it, wasn't closing off the air.

We arrived at Ken's around 6'ish if I had to guess. There were a few people already there; Bep, my brother, who once again rode down from Ottawa on his '69 hardtail Triumph chopper and Rob, a childhood friend of mine who rented a Heritage Softtail for the trip and left his 7 month pregnant wife at home with their 2 kids (7 and 4). I suspect he's got some sucking up to do. The usual suspects were there, Banker Bob and Julie, Ken and Cathi (of course), Cathi's son and daughter (if only I were 10 years younger) and her boyfriend (oh, and if she didn't have one of those), Bear, Wildflower, Traci and Tory, Peter and Linder (first time meeting them) and shortly after Wacko and Mouse showed up, Android and Effie, Lisa and then Allen-1 and Katie (in a pick'em up no less), and Island Joe and (shit, I can't remember his wife's name, but she was there). Don Anderson showed up the next day, actually it might have been Saturday when Island Joe showed up as well. These are the details the easily escape me. There were some notable regulars missing, and they were missed, but we tried to have fun without them. Unfortunately I didn't dig my camera out again until Saturday when we went to the hot rod show.

By the time we hit Ken's the odometer was reading a little under 15100, so it was about a 600km day which took us about 9-10 hours. IT was great to get there in one piece and to have a nice cold beer waiting. Tents were setup, drinks were had, lies were told, food was consumed, all in all a good evening.

We woke up Saturday to a great breakfast and eventually a few of us got up enough energy to hit the hot rod show that was in town that weekend. It was myself, Bep, Rob, Wacko, Grizz and Babe. There were too many cards to single out and take pictures of, so for the most part I just looked and enjoyed, although after a while they all seemed to blend together, it was a bit of hot rod overload.  Here's a few

A Ranchero I believe

Bep eyeballing a possible project

Another style I liked, nice and simple

Grizz (with the camera), Wacko and Babe. The guys to the left weren't with us.

My preferred hot rod body style, 5 window coup, chopped roof, no fenders or running boards

A sea of cars. Apparently they let some post 1950 cars in this year

Something I thought the wife would like for lugging the ankle biters around in and running to the grocery store, she didn't like it as much as I did

Grizz, Rob and Babe. Apparently that's a quick dry shirt that Rob's got on that he uses for camping, personally I thought it made him look a little queer, and being the good friend that I am I made sure he knew. Being the good friend that he is, he didn't give a shit what I thought.

Some shots from Ken's backyard, if you don't know who the people are then get to an IRL.

I'm sure someone thought this was funny, but every time I got out of my tent at night to take a piss, it scared the shit of me

Rob was quite taken with the scarecrow, and vice versa.

I was equally as scared when I saw the banker in shorts (I think someone slipped something into his beer)

Rob looking for more people for his picture.

Rob giving Bep a wakeup call.

Grizz and Bear oblige.

That's it for Friday and Saturday. So far the weather was the best it's been at any of the Vermort runs I've done. There wasn't even any dew on the grass in the mornings. The down side of this was that walking around the hot rod show all day took it's toll and I was wiped by Saturday night. I think next year I'll skip the show for the first time and just hang around the yard.

Sunday morning and it was time to pack up and get ready for the traditional breakfast at Libby's. The bikes started lining up in front of Ken's when we were joined by a biker and his sister from across the street.

You can tell from the pack behind my brother Bep (sitting behind the kids in the pics above), our packing methods are very different. That's everything he brought from the weekend, including tent. That's his '69 Triumph hardtail chopper that he rides down from Ottawa, a 400km trip each way.

 Some more shots of everyone getting ready to roll and at the diner.

After a great breakfast and much hand pumping and back slapping we all mounted up and went our separate ways. Instead of heading straight back to Nova Scotia the plan was to ride back to Ottawa with Bep and Rob, so off we went with Bep in the lead, followed by me, Rob and then Grizz and Babe. We took US-2 up through the islands to the top of Lake Champlain. Along the way Bep over estimated the passing capabilities of the hack and took off out ahead of us. It's one thing to get the bike up to 55mph, it's another to roll it up to passing speed in the small amount of room available along this route, plus the rig is too wide to squeeze between the cars if things get dicey. At the top of the lake Bep stopped and waited and was explained what the issue was.

Bep did a pretty good job of keeping the speed limit, given that he doesn't have a speedometer. No issues crossing the border, although Bep just blew by the duty free shop, followed by me, but Grizz and Rob pulled over. I knew Grizz wanted to go and I knew that we could just wait on the other side, which we did. Instead of heading up to the highway to get to Ottawa a little quicker we stuck to the 2 and ran west along the river for a while and stopped after a bit for a bite to eat. This close to Quebec and I thought the poutine would be a little better, shredded cheese instead of actual cheese curds? Come on.

After a late lunch we were about 1.5 hours from Bep's, although it seemed that every time Babe asked Bep how much further it would be it was 1.5 hours, and we hit the 417 to make the trip a little quicker. I had to hit reserve along the way and pulled up to Bep to tell him I needed gas. Fortunately we found a station before I had to roll onto the shoulder. We made a pit stop at Rob's to say hi to the family, drop Rob off, pose for a couple pictures and then we were off again and were pulling into Bep's about 30 minutes later.

This was our shortest day of riding, but with the later start do to breakfast it was around 5:30pm when we rolled in. Some pizza and a beer and a couple hours later I was fast asleep. Bep's '70 Bonneville is looking good, I should have snapped a couple pics but unfortunately I didn't. He still has a fair amount of work to do but it looks good so far.

We started the next day by getting up and 7am and having quick bite to eat. At about 8:30 we were on the road and heading for home. We had a fair distance to cover so it was gonna be the slab all day, no back roads. The traffic in Ottawa was light and in a couple hours we were heading into Montreal. Fortunately the traffic there was light as well. Past Montreal and the highway becomes a long, straight, flat run up to Riviere Du Loup. The scenery was a bit better past the city of Quebec but still just straight and flat. The bike chugged along between 65 and 70 without much trouble. Initially I wasn't sure if we were going to spend the night in Riviere Du Loup or Edmunston, but we were making decent time and Edmunston would cut an hour off our next day. The sun was setting as we past Riviere Du Loup and it was dark by the time we hit Edmunston. We found a Quality Inn by the highway with a pizza joint across the highway, so we got a room and ordered some supper. It was around 8:30pm, taking into consideration the time zone change between Quebec and New Brunswick, it was an 11 hour day and we covered 775kms.
 

IHere's a shot from the hotel, and the bikes

Once again we were up at around 7 and on the road by about 8. New Brunswick has a bit more in the way of hills than the previous day, which meant losing speed up the hills and not making as good of time as the day before. There were also the odd construction zone to slow things up. At one point Grizz pulled by me and pulled over, then waved me on, indicating that they were stopping for a smoke. I figured he was also getting tired of putting along behind me and wanted to open it up a bit, so I kept running. After about 30 minutes I was running low on fuel and started looking for a gas station that would be visible from the road in case Grizz and Babe came by. No luck, and eventually the engine started to sputter. I reached down to turn the petcock to reserve, that's when I realized that I had to hit reserve yesterday and didn't switch it back. Looks like I was pulling over to empty out the jerry can again. I expected to see Grizz go by as I was filling the tank, but he didn't, and I got back on and continued my search for a gas station. I found a gas station at King's Landing that had the pumps and parking clearly visible from the highway, and visible before you passed by the off ramp. I pulled over, took a piss and then filled the tank and jerry can. For the first time in a couple days I checked my cell phone. There were two messages from Grizz, apparently he had a little trouble with the primary and had to pull over but was back on the road. I called him and it turned out he was just a couple miles away.

We were back together and heading into Fredericton. We made a decision not to bother stopping, just to grab some junk food during the fuel stops and to push on. Another gas stop and more waiting for Grizz and Babe , giving me time to ponder the meaning of life in the reflection of my spotlight shell:
 

It was in New Brunswick that we did a little mileage comparison, it turns out that my odometer is running a little low. Grizz's odometer and mine were off by about 5-10%, so I watched the kilometer markers go by and watched my odometer roll over and sure enough I'm off, so take all my distances with a grain of salt, I think they're a little short. We broke off just past Truro and within an hour I was pulling off the highway and passed the local gas station, that's when the oddest thing happened. There were two guys standing on the sidewalk after having just pulled in and they were waving their arms wildly in order to get me to pull over. I was about a mile from home and tired, but what the hell I figured, I pulled over.  Apparently they saw me on the highway and had a bet about whether it was a Russian or German bike. Someone made $20 on the bet, unfortunately they didn't see fit share with me for the inconvenience.
 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

I pulled in the driveway with a little under 3000 new kms on the odometer, the kids were all over me and the bike's still not completely unpacked. I ended up taking the Honda to work because of the crankcase vent and all this typing has just about done me in.

I'd like send out a huge thanks to Ken and Cathi for a great time, I know they both worked tirelessly on this so that everyone could enjoy themselves and it doesnít go unappreciated. Thanks to Grizz and Babe for keeping me company on the ride and I hope they enjoyed their first big IRL (not counting the small IRL at Minesweep a couple year back). It was great to see all the familiar faces and to meet a few new ones.

While typing this I got a message from one of the Ural guys, the plastic crank case vent unscrews, apparently it's a big course thread, so it should be easily replaceable.think I covered just about everything above, but a couple things I missed.

Grizz and I checked our numbers when filling up a few times and he would put about 9 litres of gas in for every 14 I'd use, so the Harley was getting about 50% better gas mileage than the Ural, at least on the highway, we check while running the back roads. The hack and the extra wieght make quite a difference. I'm torn between getting an auxiliary gas tank so I can go more than 100 miles on a tank, or just letting the bike take that rest every 100 miles in order to cool down. This isn't really an issue on the back roads, but when pushing it on the highway it tends to get a bit warm.
 
I think next year I'll skip the trip to Ottawa, I'd like to head back on US-2 rather than the TransCanada, I might even look into the cost of the ferry from Digby to St. John's and cut out the Cobequid Pass. Maybe I can convince Bep to ride back to Halifax on the chopper, although I don't think he'd then want to have to haul himself back to Ottawa on it.

I rode the Honda to work yesterday and today since I need to replace the crank case vent on the Ural. When I left this morning I forgot about the kickstand, it's been a while since I've had to worry about it. The old '74 CB550Four is still running pretty good.

I was mentioning to someone that I was disappointed that some noteables weren't there, since this is really the only IRL I can make in the course of the year. It was then pointed out that this may be the reason that they DIDN'T make it. I hadn't thought about it like that.

I watched the cylinder head temperature gauge quite closely during the trip. To and from work I'm used to seeing the left cylinder get up around 425-450, there were a couple times on this trip where it approached 500F. The left rarely got above 400F, all the air being pushed over the cylinder by the hack keeps that side a lot cooler. I'm not sure what my threashold was, but at 500F I was beginning to wonder if I shouldn't pull over and let it cool. I didn't, and to my knowledge the bike is non the worse for wear. One time the cylinder head temperature gauge came in somewhat handy was when the bike start misfiring the last time between St. John's and St. Stephen's. I could tell right away that it was the left that wasn't firing because the temp dropped significantly. This ended up being a moot point since I replaced both plug cables at that stop.

Women with 4 pairs of pants on take forever to go to the can at gas stations, next time I may have to bring a book.  If I'm going to do this again, the bike either needs a back rest or I need one of those back support belts. I bought a gel seat cover from a guy that makes them down in the states before I left. It worked pretty good, kept my ass from getting too sore during the ride. Those pegs also don't offer much in the way of different riding positions, so my legs got tired occassionally.

I need better gloves. For some reason my hands would get numb while riding from the vibrations, but only when I had the gloves on. I rode most of Friday without them with no problem. I brought my electric gloves and could have given them a try without plugging them in, but I didn't.

We were fairly close to Mt. Washington. I'm thinking if we get an earlier start next year and make it past St. Stephen's that I'd be tempted to run the bike up to the top.

The hosts did an excellent job again this year, and the place is looking fantastic. I can't thank them enough for the effort they put in year after year and for the great time and chance to see old friends, although from the looks of the ride reports you'd think I was the only one there. Thanks to everyone for making the newbies feel welcome. I know that a few of you are familiar with Grizz through his infrequent posts, but Rob and Babe were unknown to everyone and I appreciate you all treating them like part of the family. I should have expected nothing less.

If I didn't mention the weather, I'm going to now, it was perfect. The nights were warm, the days were sunny, it's been the best weather yet for any Vermort run I've done.

No glasses were harmed or stolen in the making of Vermort 19.

Additional photos of the post ride cleanup.

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