Take one 40 something Scotswoman with a bucket list topped by the words ‘tour the United States on a motorbike someday.’ Add a lifelong fascination with all things American, a desire to eat grits, see a Grizzly, ride a Quarter Horse western style and, most importantly, ride a Harley. Complicate matters with an auto-immune joint disease meaning constant pain and an end to motor biking days. Pipe dream? I thought so – till I got the opportunity to stay with friends in Shapleigh, Maine for three weeks.
A couple of days into my Maine visit, my host Calum Stonehouse, a fellow Scot, and I, took a run down to North Hampton, to the Triumph dealership to see a bike Calum was thinking about buying. Whilst prowling through all things bike, I noticed the most amazing T120 Bonneville, late fifties/early sixties complete with a Stieb open sidecar, sitting to one side of the parking area with a Scottish flag attached to the sidecar. Pointing it out to Calum, we went for a closer look, and as we approached I suddenly realised MY travel bags were sitting next to it. Lots of tears and shrieks ensued before I was kitted out in warm clothing, goggles and a helmet and sat in the sidecar. Calum started up the Bonny and we set off on an eight day tour of several of the Northern States and a brief trip into Canada.
Now you will understand we didn’t ‘burn rubber’ – the most we covered in one day was about 170 miles. But for someone who thought her biking days were over, it was the perfect trip – once I’d got rid of the feeling that my butt was going to meet with tarmac! And I hate to think how many bugs I ate on the journey. The Bonnie attracted lots of attention and I perfected a royal wave. By the end of day one, where we finished up in a mountain resort in Vermont, I was completely at home.
Day two and grits for breakfast! We headed north, then west, into NY state and north again to see Fort Ticonderoga. Back to Vermont then we headed north on Route 100. Twice we were suddenly surrounded by bikers’ en-masse and I thought we would be laughed at but they were very cheerful and friendly. I have to say the Harley guys were far less intimidating than the all-female biker gang!
Day three and four were spent making our way up to Canada, to Coaticook, where I met a guy whose great grandfather had been a government bear trapper, and still had some of the skins – so I got my close encounter with a grizzly, even though it was a little moth-eaten!
By day five we were in Lincoln, NH, riding the Kancamagus Highway. From then on, the next three days were spent making our way to the north east tip of Maine and slowly down the coastal route, making detours to places such as Fort Knox, before finally reaching our starting point at North Hampton – where there was a Harley, Heritage Softail Classic waiting to carry me back to Shapleigh. I bid a sad farewell to the Bonny. All credit to her mechanic; she had completed the trip without a single mechanical problem. I managed a short trail ride on a sorrel Quarter Horse some days later. Dream accomplished.
There is a traditional Scottish folk song that will always remind me of that trip – it includes the words ‘my bonny lies over the ocean, oh bring back my bonny to me.’ Wonderful memories of a fantastic trip.
This article was written by Kayti Aitken, staff member of Carman Online Content Publishing. The staff at COCP enjoy working on a myriad of topics, including all things motorcycle and motorcycle accessory related, including riding glasses and other related accessories.