New England in autumn is a favorite destination for travelers the world round. They come for the foliage, the cool air, small town charm and a slice of home baked apple pie.
We decided to add a new twist to this Norman Rockwell scene, infusing some horsepower and the rumbling of a handful of big twin motors. There is no better addition to a beautiful landscape than glossy paint and sparkling chrome blowing up leaf piles on the side of untraveled roads!
We set out from Framingham and took some highways (I=495) to eventually find RT 117 and ultimately RT 2 and RT 2A. We had to stop around Leominster for a fillup where we met a guy who is the proud owner of a 2013 blue Road Glide. As he surveyed our bikes and commented on some of the differences he asked:
“Where are you heading?”
“West” we replied.
“Cold for a ride, isn’t it”
“Nope, we’ve got gear and we only have a few months left before the salt and sand line the roads. Get in the riding while we can”.
We shared a few Beantown Baggers stickers and were on our way…West would be the destination.
A few miles down the road, RT 2 leads to 2A and the traffic stops. The small towns look as if they’ve grown out of farm fields and the immaculate pavement appears to have been rolled out like a red carpet at the Oscars. It was our road and only a handful of cars to ruin our views. The few cages we saw were along the sides of the road with their owners snapping pictures of the trees, streams and rivers that created this picturesque landscape.
For much of this westward ride, the Connecticut and Deerfiled rivers were to our left – practically guiding our way to what would be our first real stop… lunch.
In Erving, MA:
We stopped at a place called the Box Car Restaurant only to find it was closed (it was late for lunch and opened at 6PM for dinner). Based on local folklore (two South Carolina women who had just finished lunch at the Box Car and now needed to race to the Cape to watch the Sox Playoff game), this is definitely a place to eat during a future westerly trip. We heard that there was a place next door located inside an antique shop. Odd but we were hungry and not willing to chance the next 20 or 30 miles without anything better. We knew the Erving State forest was ahead on our right so food would be unlikely. [Editors note- the next time we ride this route we will head North on Mountain Rd and West on 4 mile Brook Rd].
Freight House Antiques & Cafe
11 East Main St. (Rte. 2), Erving, MA
Walking into the shop proved to be a pleasant surprise. Normally antique stores freak me out. Most shops are overcrowded with clutter looking for a new home to take over. This place was very different. There was breakfast counter along the wall as you walk in and then very orderly placed antiques surrounded you. The specials displayed on the chalkboard were Chili or chicken salad wraps with cranberries and walnuts. There was no need to look at the menu – the specials would hit the spot.
The waitresses – definitely local to the area were as friendly as could be. There was no rush to flip the table and they didn’t make you feel as if there was someplace they’d rather be. To add to our satisfaction, the food came out within one minute of ordering and was just as delicious as advertised. The only item commanding a wait was the fresh pot of coffee brewed especially for us. “Vermont Coffee” was the label on the carafe – it dawned on me, we were less than 30 minutes from Vermont. This explains the serenity. The one missed opportunity for the day was passing on the homemade blueberry pie. It looked delicious but it seemed responsible to avoid an inevitable food coma.
After wandering the shop for a few minutes and speaking with a fellow rider about his 06 Dyna (and wife’s 08 Sporty) we were on our way.
Back to RT 2A and the transition to RT 2.
There was little between us and our destination, that destination simply being “West”. For a moment we stopped and took some pictures of the Deerfield river off a bridge. We were hardly the only photogs on the bridge – the parking before and after the structure gave warning that there was something worth a stop.
Quaint American Town:
It would be a while until we found another town but we took a detour through a picturesque town called Shelbourne Falls . One of the others pulled along side me and commented that a bridge parallel to ours looked like Italy – I had to agree. The road looped and brought us back to RT 2 and the Mohawk Trail.
The Mohawk Trail stretches through Western Massachusetts and between the Mohawk Trail State Forrest and Savory Trail National Forrest. It most closely reminded us of the Blue Ridge Parkway appointed with “Bear Crossing” Signs that give it that true South Western Virginia feel. We were behind just one bike but even with a passenger on his fender he managed to carve the roads like a pro.
Now Entering Florida
This is the most poorly named town in Massachusetts. Florida, the state has some of the most boring roads in the country. Whereas Florida, the city is a biker’s dream. This is likely why hoards of Milwaukee Motors rumbled through the town.
There is a lookout with a small general store and souvenir shop. If you take this ride, stop for a moment, buy some maple candy – maybe a sticker helmet ($.75 for a strip of 5) and take in the views. We went a step further and met a local named Dave. Dave asked us about our cigars and began to tell his story.
Dave has been living in Florida his entire life with a few gaps for good measure. He most closely resembled the Mountain Men from the History Channel TV show. Long grey hair. A Suspender (yes, singular because the other one “was broke” and a mountain bike that moved him the ½ mile he needed to travel. Dave was a writer and surprisingly a worldly man despite his unsophisticated appearance.
“I used to ride” he said. “I remember taking my 350 up this mountain in six inches of snow to meet a girl when I was 15” he continued. He would amuse us for the next hour with stories of the mountains and his lost loves over the years. Before we departed he asked us a favor:
“If you meet a woman on a purple Harley, one who writes poetry – tell her to come back”.
Back on the saddle and time to return. Normally we would map another way back but the Mohawk trail through the park was too good to ride only once. This time we’d do the ride downhill and a lot faster than before. Any opening to pass cars in our way – we’d take. No time for the scenery this time – riding like this makes you think for a fleeting moment that you actually athlete. Cheering fans are replaced by the throttle exhaling through the pipe and grinding of floorboards on the pavement – lean left, recover, lean right, repeat. This dance would continue until we made it to Orange and the roads took on a slightly more pedestrian feel.
If you have any rides time to ride before November – this route HAS to be on the list. My only regret is that we didn’t leave earlier to experience a few more hours of this fantastic track! As a matter of fact, we may use a derivation of this as our next organized ride in early November.
Rating system defined: Map Rating System
- Road Quality: 8 (The roads were all very ridable)
- Ride Length with good roads: 8 (200 Miles round trip but much more to ride if you want to but it takes a lot of highway to get out there. If you live in Orange, MA, the score would be higher). (out of 10).
- Technical Difficulty: 7 (You could easily lose it on the Mohawk Trail if you aren’t paying attention or if you hit a spot of leaves)
- Views: 8 – River overlook views, rural farm, tree lined roads – foliage season dependant
- Food Options: 5 The food was good but not plentiful
- Gas Availability: 8 (You could easily find yourself low at the time when gas stations have already closed.)
- Speed-traps: 10 – none that we saw
- Traffic: 7 -You will find some traffic on the highways and during autumn due to the leaves.
Total Score: 7.625 (out of 10)
If you liked this review, looks at some other Rated Motorcycle Mapa on Beantown Baggers.