About a month ago we decided to take a foliage trip (“leaf-peeping”, as we Mainers like to say — and by the way, anyone who refers to a Maine native as a “Mainiac” has no idea what they’re talking about; just like those out-of-stater weathermen who refer to snowstorms as “nor’easters”, when any good Mainer will tell you they’re “no’theasters”) and settled on the venerable Kancamagus Highway, NH-112, one of the great motorbike roads in the northeast. This road winds through the White Mountains of New Hampshire affording spectacular mountain views and outstanding riding, so we were prepared to make a day of it. We decided we would ride ME-26 north to Bethel, where we would pick up US-2 west into Gorham, New Hampshire and then follow NH-16 south through the Conways to the Kancamagus.
Things went pretty much according to plan as we passed the lovely Shelburne Birches on US-2 (should have stopped for a photo!) and turned south onto NH-16 toward the Conways. There are a lot of interesting stops on this stretch, including the spectacular Mt. Washington Auto Road, which climbs to the summit of Mt. Washington, 6288 feet into the air. Take note, however, that scooters are not permitted on the auto road, because their CVT transmissions do not permit downshifting in order to slow the bike. The road is so steep that the brakes will burn out and fail on the descent, with predictably catastrophic results.
NH-16 continues past the Wildcat Mountain ski area, which was having some sort of event slowing traffic considerably, and then passes the turnout to Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine, one of the great climbing and skiing trails in the northeast. The less athletically inclined can continue on to the scenic Glen Ellis Falls, on the left. Continue south through Jackson, NH to Story Land (a kids’ spot based on familiar fairy tales), then past the Mt. Cranmore ski area and pull into North Conway.
And….stop. And….wait. Ride six feet and stop and wait some more. North Conway is a massive tourist destination, crammed with shops and restaurants catering to the skiers in the winter and the leaf-peepers in the fall. We waited an hour in stop-and-go traffic trying to get through North Conway, precious daylight melting away with each passing minute, and finally realized that with the delay there would be no way that we could make it south to the Kancamagus, ride it all the way west to its terminus in Lincoln, NH and then make it back home before dark. So — let’s ride ME-113 instead!
This little gem of a road connects Fryeburg, ME to US-2 just west of Bethel, ME, passing through the White Mountain National Forest along the way.
Farmland alternates with forest along ME-113, with lovely views of both the White Mountains and the Saco River sprinkled in for your enjoyment.
ME-113 is unique as well, in that it narrows through the National Forest to the point that two cars barely have room to pass. The edges of the road are so close together that the trees form a canopy overhead, giving you the impression that you are riding through a tunnel.
Take careful note! This section of ME-113 is CLOSED in the winter, gated and unplowed, when it becomes part of the extensive interstate snowmobile trail system located hereabouts! Anyone considering traveling this road between November and April should check the Maine Department of Transportation website to ensure that the road is open. http://lb.511.maine.gov/melb/truckreports/routeselect.jsf
Just as an aside, the Vespa turned 20,000 miles on this trip, something of an achievement, I think, given that it is only three years old.
And that’s ME-113 — quiet roads, mountain scenery, forests and farmland, and a ride through an arboreal tunnel of green. We’ll save the Kancamagus for another post!