By: Aaron S.
As I sit here enjoying the train ride home after a fantastic two week ride through the north east and Nova Scotia, I find myself reflecting on my first guided trip from BMW Motorcycles of Tampa bay.
How did this whole thing start?
Prior to taking ownership of BMW Motorcycles of Tampa, I was of course a customer and always looking for a place or reason to ride. I wanted to take trips and use my motorcycle for what it was designed for but I lacked direction. I would talk to people about bikes and hang out at the dealership. I found most people would do day trips around the state but no real, multi-day rides. I ventured out on my own, doing a fair number of trips around the world exploring and enjoying the open road for about 4 years.
After purchasing the dealership I was determined to give my customers the opportunity to ride their bike and explore the world around them as much as possible. We started with group rides around the state and continue to do them but have now added long distance tours. This was our first long distance trip, lasting two weeks from September 22nd to October 6th 2013. Eight of us took the trip.
Who went and on what bikes?
Darryl, an architect, rode his New 2013 BMW R1200 GSW. Ryan, a construction manager, took his 2012 BMW R1200 GS Adventure. Paul, an I.T. guy, rode his 2012 Triumph 800 Tiger. Don, the retired one of the group, saddled his 2011 BMW K1600 GT. Josh, a recently graduated college student, brought his 2011 BMW F800 GS. Jim, an I.T. executive, rode his new 2013 BMW R1200 GSW. Larry, an investment manager, took to his 2012 BMW F800 GS and me on my new 2013 BMW R1200 GSW.
Why Nova Scotia?
Having ridden Nova Scotia once in 2006 and again in 2012 I found it to be beautiful, safe, friendly and accessible. The Cabot Trail on the north side of the island offers world class riding with spectacular views in every direction. The roads are pristine, wide, and motorcycle friendly. The coast of NS is rocky with lighthouses and beautiful views of classic fishing villages.
The people of NS are some of the best I have met and go out of their way to make sure you have a good experience in their country. In 2012 I made a group of friends that live in NS. They joined us for a couple days of riding.
What was the route and highlights?
On the first day we took the Auto Train from Sanford, FL to Lorton, VA. If you have never taken the Auto Train you are missing out. It’s a quick, inexpensive way to make it 900 miles up I-95 in comfort.
On day two we rode some nice back roads from the Auto Train to northern PA. The third day was the start of great riding through the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Twisty, pot hole infested roads are everywhere and perfect for the GS’ suspension. The views and fall colors were perfect with vibrant yellows, reds and greens set against rolling mountains. The scenery made for beautiful distractions.
The next day we made our way to New Hampshire to the summit of Mount Washington. Most of us made it to the top where the weather was a cool 33 degrees. After reaching the summit you get a lovely “This bike climbed Mt. Washington” sticker to go on your bike. We were lucky enough to see a black bear and cubs coming down the mountain. We finished our day in Bangor ME.
From Bangor we took a nice ride north and hit Route 6 across the state of Maine. Much to my surprise, the road was empty of traffic with beautiful rolling hills and the wonderful smells of deciduous forest in the fall. We Crossed into Nova Scotia later that day in the rain and made it to our hotel in Truro. After our arrival I noticed Josh was missing. I found a text that his chain had broken and was stranded about a mile from the hotel. One of our NS friends Scott surrendered his bike to Josh so he could continue the ride while waiting for a master link. He even repaired Josh’s bike for him. What was I saying about the fantastic people of NS?
From Truro We made our way along the coast north to Sydney at the base of the Cabot Trail. We spent two nights in Sydney with one day to explore the trail. Our first night we made our way to a restaurant called Governors where we were able to get our first and by no means last lobster of the trip!
On our days’ ride from Sydney to the Cabot Trail, we had the most amazing weather. The temperature was in the low 60’s with sunshine and views that seemed to go on forever. Having done this ride twice before I was never able to see views like this. I was in awe at the beauty and majesty of the cliffs and views of the ocean and mountains.
We finished our night at The Lobster Pound in North Sydney. The reviews were unanimously fantastic. If you ever make your way to that area, it’s a hidden gem of fantastic crustacean delight.
On day eight we followed the coast from Sydney to Halifax with more amazing ocean views and amazing riding. We met up with Scott on Josh’s bike and they made the swap. We had a great night out in downtown Halifax with great food and great company.
On day nine we made our way to Digby from Halifax the long way, traveling along the coast and then cutting across the bottom of NS. We took a day off in Digby while it rained like hell. . First thing in the morning the next day we hopped the ferry to St. John, New Brunswick.
We followed the Maine coast down to Camden. Camden is the quintessential New England town. It’s on the water and has a picturesque downtown filled with little shops and great restaurants. We walked from our hotel to downtown and had dinner while preparing for the next day.
Vermont and route 100! We had to leave Camden early and skip breakfast, but it was well worth it to get to northern central Vermont and route 100. Amazing colors again, sweeping corners and breathtaking views around each corner dominated VT’s route 100. It’s not to be missed on any tour of the North East. We entered it around the Killington area and headed south, crossing over in Massachusetts to Albany New York.
Our last long days ride was nothing special. We rode highway most of the way to get to Baltimore. We finished the night out in downtown Baltimore, eating blue crabs. If you have never eaten blue crab it is an experience of its own and should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Our last riding day was to Lorton Train Station to catch the Auto Train home.
What States did we go to?
We rode in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts. In Canada we rode in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
How many miles was the trip?
The way up.
View Trip Up to the Cabot trail in a larger map
The Trip back.
View Back to Lorton from Cabot trail in a larger map
How was the weather?
Our lowest temperature was 33 degrees but that was at the top of Mt. Washington. On average it was in the mid 50s and low 60s. We did have a day in the high 40s most of the morning and a couple of days in the 70s.
How much did the entire trip cost?
Depending on your spending habits, how much food you eat, wine you drink and accommodations, the entire 14 days will run you between $2500-5000.
What gear did you use?
I wore my Klim Badlands suit…
Having a waterproof external shell is priceless, especially on rides like these where you will be going through random rain showers and from cold to hot and back to cold again. An extremely versatile riding suit is a must.
A Gerbing heated jacket…
It makes a great liner, and when it’s really cold you can plug it in!
BMW all around boots…
These are the best touring boots on the market. Completely water proof, and comfortable in all tempratures.
Revit summer gloves and BMW Rain Gloves…
Shoei Neotech Helmet…
I am going to add an additional trip every year until I am happy with the number of trips we are doing. I am thinking of about 6 a year. Not all run by me. Next year I may add two more. We will be doing the Overland Expo in May again as well as Nova Scotia again. The Overland Expo Ride includes Big Bend National Park in Southern Texas and the Mountains in New Mexico and Arizona. I am thinking either an additional 1 week trip to just do New England for people with less time. There is also the possibility of an Auto Train up and mountain ride back to FL.
How does someone join and how are they run?
Its easy to join, Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on the list to keep you informed as to what is going on.
These trips are all pay your own way. I do not take any money from you. You make your own reservations. I do the leg work to sort out the route, the hotel, places to eat and things to see.
For all of the photos from the trip CLICK HERE