June 1st, Bennington Vermont to participate in the Triumph Bash. This was the first time camping carrying all my stuff on a motorcycle. I love camping but I always bring my truck loaded with everything. I hate carrying extra gear on my motorcycle. However, if I want to do a world tour someday, I must learn how to camp by carrying my stuff on the bike.
This year I invested in good camping gear designed to carry on a motorcycle. Purchased the NEMO Moto 1P and it fits nicely in my small saddle bags. However, it is bit small and my helmet and boots do not fit. I managed to keep my helmet in my trunk/tail bag as it is secure with lock and waterproof. My motorcycle riding boots tucked in a large plastic bag outside of the tent. My previous camping experiences taught me well. The tent is super nice and all I need to be comfortable for the night.
I arrived alone at the campsite and shared the big area reserved by Seth from the Connecticut Rockers. I pull in and there were quite a few tents and Seth was working the fire pit. I was greeted by all with such a warm welcome. There were a few women with their husbands and they came over and asked if I was staying alone. I said, "Yes". Their response was, "You are one brave woman to just ride out and camp in a group alone." I thought, "Well, I follow other women riding around the world alone and camping, why can't I do it?" I did not say anything to the women, but at times, I do worry for myself. I started setting up my little tent and it took me about 2 hours. The guys kept coming over to talk with me. Such a wonderful way to set up a tent, the nicest bunch of people. The night was the typical motorcycle camping night where everyone sits around the campfire until 2 in the morning, then get up with the chirping birds tired. ;-)
I go into town to meet a Rachel who presented herself on the TriumphRat.net forum as the "the tall girl on the bird". I love the TriumphRat forum, there is always someone willing to meet up with you. On the ride to meet people, my front tire was low on air. I had ordered some new Avon tires but by the time I received them, it was too late to install them. I thought, "heck, if I rode my Bonnie from Panama with bad tires and sprockets, Bennington is just up the street, I can survive it". The weekend riding would have been more enjoyable if I had ordered the tires earlier in the season.
I ride down and meet up with the groups. While sitting waiting for the ride to start, someone took this photo and posted it on the forum. There were hundreds of bikes in the lot and it seemed like my bike was the dirtiest and fully loaded with bags. I did not feel comfortable removing my bags and leaving them behind at the campground unsecured. The dirty bike, well, it is what it is.... I ride so much that I cannot find the time to wash my bike after every ride. Let's be real, the bike is designed to be riding collecting dirt, ha!!
A little chaos in the beginning while the groups were being organized. I was recruited by separate groups and it was hard deciding. I decided to stay with the group Rachel gathered since we had agreed to ride together. The other groups were all men, very few females. Sure enough, excellent choice. 7 Triumph Thunderbird owners with brand new shiny clean motorcycles. I was the only oddball with the dirty Bonneville. The group accepted me so well. The ride in Vermont offered some spectacular riding via routes 9, 100, 155, 103, 4 and 12. All beautiful twisting roads with rivers alongside and bridges. We did not see any of the beautiful covered bridges, but I've seen plenty of those to quench my thirst. The heat, lack of sleep, faulty tires and bad sprocket made riding feel long and boring. To be honest, I did not enjoy the ride, only the group of people that I was with. The guys were so nice to me. At one point I shared my feelings with Rachel about the ride, her comment was, "Madeleine, you have done so much riding in your career with greater challenges on the road, now riding to you is about the destination, not about riding in circles like we did today". OMG, it was like she knew exactly what I was going through. She has only been riding a little over a year. How did she know how I felt? Amazing!!!
In my motorcycle riding career, I have been on hundreds of group rides with men. Never have any stopped to see birds in a sanctuary. Yes, this group did. I did not enter because I don't like seeing birds in cages. That is why I ride a motorcycle for the freedom and air. When I drive my truck, I feel caged, imagine the birds.
After the ride, I went and gathered my gear at the campsite and stayed in a motel, I needed some sleep. The guys convinced me to pay the $25 for the buffet and participate in the evening's ceremony. Here again, another super amazing decision, the food was spectacular, met so many nice people and made new friends. I never win anything at these events and this time I won a t-shirt. I don't like wearing t-shirts unless they have a special reason and a v-neck. One of the guys I made friends with Gerry, mentioned he has a daughter, I gave him the shirt for his daughter. He had bought me a few beers, why not, give him the shirt. Very nice man, a new found friend.