Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bitchless in Belchertown...

 (Guest Blogger - TomV)  
Late October in New England brings certain  inevitable things, fewer bikes and less people willing to ride (including my old lady). That doesn’t stop me though as my IQ is lower than the high temps this time of year (45-50 degrees to be precise) and I own a pair of Long Johns so let’s frickin ride.

 This weekend, I went out alone. Well me, the bike and my camera. Had no plan, other than to head to central Mass in search of funky colored leaves and perhaps a new watering hole. I did not time it very well, missed peak foliage by about a week but I did manage to get a couple of pictures.

Even though I nearly struck out on the leaf peeping, I did come across a great find in Belchertown, a little Irish Pub called McCarthy’s Pub.  Bikers don’t normally think “Irish Pub” when they go looking for hot spots but the lineup of H-D iron out front told me that this place was different.

I must admit, I did get a few eyeballs when I walked in but that was probably because Belchertown is a lot like Mayberry and they knew I was from out of town because I don’t look like my mother married her own cousin.


The owner is a charming woman, who also works behind the bar. She was busy getting all excited about setting up the guy on my right with a friend of hers who was in her words “super hot” (you know cause most single women who can’t find a man without their medaling best friend’s help, usually are “super hot”).
The guy on my left was a fellow rider who has an 01 Road king with 80,000 plus miles on so we had a lot to talk about. He showed me pictures of his bike (on his I-phone mind you) like an overly proud grandmother shows you a wallet full of grand kids while you sit on her plastic covered couch eating hard candy out of a fake crystal bowl.

I felt like a regular instantly. Everyone wanted to know what brought me to their sleepy little village. So after a beer and a few introductions, I took a gander at their menu. Ahh…..all the traditional Irish fare. So what did I order?  Bangers and Mashed…. don’t think so.  Corned Beef and Cabbage….not on a frickin bet. Sheppard’s Pie perhaps, fuck no! I ordered the Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy, like any red blooded American Boy would. It was very good. 4 crispy pieces of finger-frickin-lickin goodness.

I did get a few more looks when I was snapping pictures of my soon to be devoured deep fried fowl.  So I told everyone I was the Phantom Gourmet hoping to get a free beer or something but it did not work. They just asked more questions about who I was and why I was there.  Several of them kept making funny gestures that I assumed were local gang signs. Turns out they were trying to point out that I had a spot of gravy on my nose.
I will definitely go back again. It was a very friendly place, they had Keno, they had plenty of bike parking and the food was good and cheap. Next time I might be a little more adventurous and try something a little more traditional like the Pizza.
Next time you find yourself in the Pioneer Valley, head to McCarthy's Pub in Belchertown.  Think you'll like it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 Season in Review

The days are getting pretty chilly in New England and looks like the number of days to ride are coming to a close...for me anyway.  Some friends went out yesterday when the temperature was around 40 degrees...brrrrrrrr. Some day I will have the proper gear and will join, but for now, I will be content reminiscing about the fun riding season I had.

The season was a beauty. Days were warm, with little rain and not many were stifling with heat and humidity. We took full advantage and spent our time riding through New England. We were fortunate to visit many places within Vermont, Maine, RI, NH and Mass. Hmmm...seemed to have left out Connecticut...we're coming to you next year, my little Nutmeg state.

We spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, including taking a week-long vacation in a cabin along the shores of Lake Winnepausakee. We drove around the lake many times and stopped at several bars and restaurants, a few of which I have already reviewed on this blog.

Covered bridges are not just for Vermont! Many are found around the beautiful state of New Hampshire.

Enjoyed several picnics at the many free state parks located throughout New England.  Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, Masschusetts, pictured below, is our go-to for quick picnics but we discovered Colt State Park in Bristol, Rhode Island, with a little help from our friends. It is truly a wonderful spot to take the bikes.

One of my favorite weekends this past summer was visiting Southern Maine. We drove along the coast, ate fresh seafood (well, I did anyway) and took in some wonderful sights.  The Bush Compound in Kennebunk is a popular stop. If you are lucky (or some may say 'unlucky'), you may just bump in to one of the Bush's in a local restaurant. Our friends dined right next to President Bush, Sr. and his wife, Barbara. 

The weather cooperated so we chose to extend the trip and drive over to Laconia for a stop at one of our favorite bars. Along the way, we came across the Hawg's Pen and stopped in for a quick beverage.  A longer visit is on our to-do list for next year. It's a cool place.

And you can't ride through Laconia without a stop at the Broken Spoke, can you?

We also participated in a few charity rides.  I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie and spirit involved in tagging along on a poker run or a charity ride. Bikers are very generous and what a way to give back...doing something you love and helping out those less fortunate. Looking forward to participating in more rides next year.

A new destination for me, on the bike, is Bristol, Rhode Island. Many waterfront restaurants with beautiful views, outdoor seating and delicious food. A winter visit might be in order this year...don't think I can wait til the weather warms.

It's been a great summer, lots of riding and great times with good friends. Sad the season is just about over....road trip anyone?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Heading to Biketoberfest? Some of the recommended hotspots...

Biker-Friendly City
 I have been going to Daytona for many years and have seen several events, including Spring Break (don't remember much), Black College Week (accident), Daytona 500 (nothing like it) and a few bike weeks. By far, my favorite visits have been to Bike Week but have yet to make it to Biketoberfest. We were hoping to go this year but alas, plans fell through. Boohoo! But I can give you some of our fave hotspots...

Night time at the Boardwalk
 The Pier and Boardwalk along the beach is a fun time although seems to decline each year we go.  Many years ago there were several arcades and shops but it has slowly dwindled down and the homeless population that hangs around has increased.  Never had any issues though. There are still some rides...I did the crazy skydive one a few years back and about had a heart attack...there is the skyline that goes out over the ocean and a lengthy pier with a restaurant, also sits above the water. It's all very retro, old school and somewhat like a step back in time.

Main Street is where all the action is...bikers ride up and down the strip and spectators line the street to see the latest, craziest and most unique bikes around.

Who would do such a thing!?

Of the many bars along Main Street, Wiseguys is among the more popular. People can stand on the balcony and watch the bikers ride by. Daytona's own Mardi gras..

Froggy's Saloon, also found on Main Street, is the largest bar around. It seems to go on and on with plenty of room and outdoor space. Lot's of shenanigans going on in this place...

If needing a break from the craziness, head north (I think) to Ormond Beach and ride the Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail. The OSLT is easily accessible from AIA and is a 30 mile loop of scenic roads through several state parks. Plenty of photo ops as there many canals, marshes and scenic vistas along this windy road. There is usually a professional photographer setup along the road during bike week to capture riders in motion.

And you can't visit Daytona without going to the track, can you?

On your marks....

Wishing you all a great weekend with sun, warmth and safe travels.

See you in February, Daytona!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Visiting Southern Maine? Suggest this biker-friendly property...

We made our own balcony
When traveling on the bike, we have found that each of us has our own desires/needs. Me...clean, safe and affordable. where he can see bike from room where he can see bike from room. Travelers know that this can be a tall order for a lot of roadside motels/inns.  Our late summer visit to Wells, Maine found us at the Sanford Inn on Main Street (Route 109)

Paved sports, directly in front of door
We were prepared to pay $139 a night for this property, as indicated on website for a king non-smoking. I know, seems a bit pricey but it was high season in an expensive area. After speaking to the owner, who was very kind, he suggested we try the smoking room for $40 less. He even told me there was a Walmart nearby that I could go buy some febreze if the smoke smell was really bothersome haha.  He was quite convincing, and I thought, heck, why not? He is trying to save ME some money, and not put it in his own pocket. I liked him already.

Off we went.  Property is very easy to find. Right off exit 19 from the Maine Turnpike (95).

We spent the day touring the area and arrived at the property around 5:00pm. Check-in was quick and simple, and owner was as friendly as he was on the phone. Even asked if he could get a ride on the bike. Room was very clean inside, has AC/heat, flatscreen TV, fridge, and microwave. Definitely suited our needs for one night and the best smoking smell. There was an open window and we left door open for some time so we never had an issue. Very pleased with our choice.

Not the Ritz, but clean and convenient
The property has a seasonal outdoor pool, which was quite cold but refreshing. The standard continental breakfast is offered from about 7:30am-10:00am, I, juice, and muffins and there is computer/printer for guests use in the main office area. 

There is a seafood restaurant nextdoor, Weathervane. We saw many guests heading over there for dinner and some bringing takeout back to room. Other than that, have to hop back on bike for other choices. There is a Walmart a couple of miles away and a pizza place, liquor just nearby. Restaurants and shops in Wells are about a 15 minute ride on Route 109. Easy to find and lots to do. 

Outdoor pool

Overall, we were very pleased with our choice of the Sanford Inn, Wells, Maine. Perhaps the best part of the stay though was meeting a couple riders, who were also staying at the motel.  They were two men from the mid-west, semi-retired, who chose to hop on their bikes (from Nebraska or something, I forget) and drive to Maine for a lobster roll. Now, that's an adventure and they both agreed that Maine lobster is worth the trip. I would agree. We spent a couple of hours, late at night, sharing our riding stories and then wished them well on the rest of their journey. The people you meet and the stories you's what riding is all about.

Contact Info:
Sanford Inn
1591 Main Street (Route 109)
Wells, ME

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Although it has only been open for a few months, The Red Rooster Pub is quickly becoming a favorite of local bikers.  Located in the old 'Le-Sorelle' building, the Red Rooster sits at the intersection of Route 1 and Thurston Street, in Wrentham, Massachusetts. This convenient location is only about a mile from Route 495, and a few extra minutes from 95. It is also only a few miles from Normandy Farm Campground in Foxboro, Mass

Not sure where the bar got the name Red Rooster, but I think this guy ------> might have something to do with it.  The shiny, copper rooster sits proudly atop the newly renovated building. A quick google search indicates the rooster is a symbol for good luck...perhaps this rooster brings good luck to all who enter? That'd be nice.

Inside has been completely renovated from floor to ceiling, everything is brand new, including the bathrooms.  It is very bright and nice but the new interior seems to be a bit more mainstream and lacking the biker-bar persona it previously had. Think the owner might be aiming for another demographic.

The Red Rooster has a full-bar, several HD widescreens and a full menu.  Pool table has been removed which allows for more seating and more room. It is quite compact inside. We have not yet tried to food, but it certainly looked and smelled good.

As I previously mentioned, the place is a bit small inside so conversations can easily be overheard. And listen, I know bikers can be rough, tough, macho, etc...and it is what I like most about them but good lord, there was a man  speaking VERY loudly and every other word was eff-this, eff-that.  Seriously, I'm not a priss but I counted seven f-bombs in one sentence.  Zero manners and class. I felt like telling him to shut-the-eff-up, but thankfully I didn't because I soon found out he was  a local cop. Nice. But I digress...

Parking at Red Rooster is convenient and the set of lights at the intersection makes an otherwise hairy exit, quite simple. All-in-all I think renovations make it more desirable and a good option for a stop-in.

Contact Info:
Red Rooster Pub
510 Washington Street
Wrentham, MA
(508) 384-6669

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ridin' and Rock & Rollin'

Beautiful fall days in New England are about as good as life gets and this weekend, we found ourselves with a beauty of a day and no plans.  Not too often that happens!  So hopped on the bike and drove to Indian Ranch in Webster, Mass, to see one of our fave musicians in concert. 

The Ranch is located on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg ...Translation  "You fish on your side of the lake, I fish on my side of the lake, nobody fishes in the middle". We'll call it the 'Lake' from here on in.

Indian Ranch is a unique music venue that also serves as a seasonal campground, wedding venue, and banquet facility.  Each year from summer to early fall, the Ranch lines up popular county and southern rock acts to perform concerts along the lakeshore.

Bike parking

Bikes and bikers are welcome at this venue. There is a dedicated area in front of the entrance, along a stone wall that is for bikers only. Parking is free and the area for bikes, as well as entrance road, is paved. Few high speed bumps along the way to watch out for...the bottom of the bike scraped, but that might have more to do with us than with the speed bump. ;-)

Concerts tickets are very reasonable priced, we've paid as low as $15 and as high as $50, depending upon the act.  General admission seats seem to always be available, and honestly, there isn't a bad seat in the house, We paid $40 to see Phil Vassar on this visit and bought our tickets at the door. Still had plenty available on the day of the show. 

One thing that separates this venue from other concert locations is that it allows guests to bring in their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. It's a big money saver and fun to bbq amidst the pine trees and listen to music.  The Ranch also provides grilled items, burgers, chicken, dogs and ice cream at very reasonable prices. There is a full-bar and a few beer stands around the property. Beer costs $5 per bottle which is inexpensive compared to most music venues in the area...$10 for a beer at Great Woods/Comcast...highway robbery, I tell ya.

The 'Lake' Beach

Above is the beach that is behind the stage. Guests can fish, sun, swim or rent paddle-boats while at the show. Several boats float by the shore listening to the music...nice way to see a show.

Good views from all locations in the venue; seats closest to stage are plastic chairs, and there are covered bleacher seats behind. General admission is off to the side and is uncovered.

Just another day in paradise...
 Phil Vassar gear...sittin' behind the stage

On the road again...

And if you are really lucky, you might even be able to get an autograph or picture. The performers leave behind the stage, with security of course, and through  a roped off area. Phil was very gracious and signed shirts, hats, took pictures, and was an overall nice guy.  Called me baby-doll.

My photographer...ahem... missed the shot...I was RIGHT THERE! ;-)

It was a great day and even better so that it was spontaneous and not planned. If you happen to have a free Sunday between July and September, like we did, head on out to Indian Ranch.. Or if nothing else, head to the onsite giftshop for a souvenir....I went to Lake 
Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg and all I got was this lousy shirt!

Contact Info
Indian Ranch

200 Gore Street
Webster, MA