Two things Roo and I wanted to be sure we did on this trip: immerse ourselves in the natural beauty of Vermont, and, to seemingly go back in time to small town Americana. Taking in the natural beauty of Vermont on the motorbike was easy. Vermont’s rural landscape was our canvas as we carved our way through the state. But we also became one with nature on foot, taking a few hours to run the trails of Stratton Mountain and vicinity.
Getting into a “small town frame of mind” is also easy here. Outside of the population centers, every town you pass through is a small town. The magic of Vermont, however, is the feeling of being in a Norman Rockwell painting as you visit mom & pop shops, lie on the grass in the town green, sit in a gazebo eating ice cream, locals welcoming you and directing you to the best place in town to eat, and, on this trip, every town making preparations for the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations.
With this in mind, there was no question as to what road we would plant the RT’s rubber to realize our desire’s: Vermont’s most famous road, The Scenic Route 100 Byway.
Vermont is full of great motorcycling roads. Just about any road here will put a grin on your face, with the exception of Route 7. Stay off Route 7! It is a main traffic artery that is always heavily laden with traffic (for Vermont).
VT 100 is THE road in Vermont. It snakes its way all the way from the Massachusetts state line to the Canadian border, and traffic is virtually nil. It goes through and runs alongside the beautiful Green Mountain National Forest. Natural beauty abounds, and the byway provides access to outdoor recreation such as fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and mountain biking. The roads that offshoot from VT 100 provide an exceptional network popular with bicyclists and, of course, us motorcyclists. After passing under I-89, about 30 miles east of Burlington, VT 100 passes by probably the most visited tourist trap in Vermont, world famous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.
Scenic Route 100 Byway
VT 100 by-passes all the population centers in Vermont, but travels right through many of the quintessential, small town Americana, Vermont towns and villages Roo and I were seeking. And so, we pointed the RT east, then a turn north onto VT 100 and began our ride back through time.
Today is the final day of STAR, with the closing ceremonies and banquet this evening. We left the Black Bear Lodge early for our ride up VT 100. This afternoon I have one more date with the Honda NC700X DCT, so our ride today is relatively short. But our first small town sojourn is not too far up the road; the beautiful village of Weston, VT and home of the famous Vermont Country Store.
We pull into Weston and park the RT right by the Village Green. The focal point of every New England town or village is the Village Green, and has been since Colonial Times. Folks gather here to catch up, relax on the lawn, frolic with the children, play with their dogs. In Colonial and pre-colonial times, the Village Green was also used as a centrally located marketplace, selling anything and everything, including farm livestock.
Weston Village Green gazebo-preparing for America’s birthday
(yes, that is the RT parked way back there in photo on the right)
Standing here looking at the red, white and blue banners, I can envision women in their long, bustled dresses, men in their frocks and waistcoats, a Dixieland Jazz band playing, parades marching through town, unregulated fireworks going off everywhere, kids and dogs running amok. A romantic vision of late 19th and early 20th century America perhaps, but that is the magic of Vermont.
Civil War Union Memorial
Every small town in the North and the South has the obligatory American Civil War (1861-1865) Memorial. In the North, they commemorate the Union soldiers fighting in the War of the Rebellion. In the South, Confederate soldiers are remembered for fighting in the War of Northern Aggression. Semantics.
Hanging out at the Village Green for a while, we began to get hungry, so we wandered over to the Weston Village Store for a really good set of sandwiches.
Weston Village Store & the two car Corvette Club
Directly across Main Street is the world famous (everything in Vermont is famous) Vermont Country Store. Purveyors of everything old-fashioned, they produce a mail order catalog that is circulated around the globe. There are two brick and mortar stores in Vermont, this one in Weston village being the original.
Roo bought her piece of Vermont from the VCS.
Inside The Vermont Country Store: if it’s not high tech and you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist. Roo found hers.
Cold winter days, hot apple cider, a game of checkers and a pot-belly stove.
Got syrup? Vermont’s main export; authentic, certified Vermont maple syrup
Much of Weston Village hasn’t changed in the last 150 years
By now it was time to head back to Stratton Mountain for my date with Honda. Our buddy, Jon, designated today as his official demo ride day, and that is what he did all day long, riding every motorbike American Honda had with them. I had reserved the NC700X DCT once again, and I was excited to swing a leg over as soon as we returned.
There she is again. I think I’m smitten.
Once back, Roo showered and relaxed while I went out on the demo. Happily, our group had the same young lady as ride leader that took us out on a spirited jaunt the other day! Out on the main road, and once again, she turned up the volume. A totally different route was taken this time, and she even took us on……….DIRT! Whooaaa! Totally unexpected! But this street rider did pretty well, applying some of my old mountain biking skills, and the NC handled it with ease. Having ridden the NC twice already, and feeling quite comfortable, I really started playing with the DCT. I fell into it like I’d been riding this bike for years. No phantom clutch pulling this time! What a blast!
Back in the Honda paddock, I snatched up a few of these stickers that Honda was giving out to all who rode demo bikes. In my opinion, this is Honda’s second most popular ad campaign. It can, of course, apply to anything we humans do, but for motorcyclists especially, it says it all in a hard hitting, no nonsense way:
What was Honda’s most popular, and arguably, most effective ad campaign? If you are a student of motorcycle history, or you are of a certain age demographic, you will recognize it:
You meet the nicest people on a Honda. I agree!
By now it was late afternoon, and time to get ready for the STAR banquet and closing ceremonies. First is our group picture, then dinner, and then the much anticipated guest speaker of STAR 2016!
Next post: Mr. Happy makes everyone happy; a super-star at STAR; a glorious day on the Scenic Route 100 Byway.