The Train Has Left This Station

Local loop to Plymouth NH
Sunday Aug 29, 2021
(~ 345 miles)

Shortly after my day trip down to Pennsylvania four weeks ago, I noticed a small leakage on the garage floor on the left side of the front wheel. Upon closer inspection, I found this.

fork oil leak

After verifying that the leak wasn’t starting higher up on the brake lines, I diagnosed a leaky fork seal, confirmed it with more knowledgeable friends, and immediately went online to order parts. I’d rebuilt the forks once before, so knew it  was a task I could handle. This being the Time of Covid, said parts took a few weeks to all arrive, plus a couple days to find time to work on the bike. The work to replace both fork seals (after 110K trouble-free miles) went smoothly. By then I was jonesing to get out somewhere for a ride.

My friends Bob and Cheryl invited me to ride up to Plymouth NH with a small group to try out a diner there that they’d picked out of a hat. The Main Street Station had good reviews and the online menu looks scrumptious, plus I was eager to ride with my friends again. Sunday morning, I headed up to their house in northeast Mass for a 09:00 KSU. After everyone arrived, introductions were made – I said hello to Pete on a GS, and Dean and Tanya, both on Triumphs. After some idle chit-chat, off we went, with Bob leading the way.

I rode mid-pack, happy to be just along for the ride, north into New Hampshire, where we picked up NH 107A to 107 in Kingston. 107 can be a nice ride, but today was a bit of a slog with enough slow traffic to take the edge off. Nice scenic route, however, and it was good to be on two wheels again after a few weeks – felt like the summer was rapidly passing me by.

We followed 107 all the way up to Laconia, then 106 up to Winona Road, usually a fun stretch of curves, but again stifled today due to slowpokes. We picked up US 3 in Ashland, crossing the Pemigewasset River to arrive in bustling downtown Plymouth a few miles further, right around midday. There was a fair bit of traffic and pedestrian activity, but we managed to all find some parking along Main Street. Spotting the state university campus across the street, all the traffic today suddenly made a bit more sense – it was move-in weekend for many colleges.

Main Street Station started life as an actual diner car, manufactured in Worcester MA. It’s been mostly enveloped by the permanent structure built up around it, but they did a pretty nice job allowing the classic New England façade to shine through.

Main Street Station diner

riders waiting on sidewalkIt seems a popular eating spot for the area, and there was about a 45 min wait, so we goofed around on the sidewalk for a while, talking and relaxing until we were called in.

The Train Has Left This Station

The front dining area is also classic diner decor, but we were led further back into a larger dining space with larger booths. Though it was midday, I’d skipped on breakfast and the raspberry-stuffed French toast caught my eye. The others ordered lunch fare like burgers.

our table

While the company and conversation were fun, the food, when it finally arrived (Covid wait times) was no longer hot and was generally underwhelming. My stuffed French toast on challah bread looked and tasted like nothing more than a toasted jam sandwich, and the bacon was just OK.

Some of the others reported their food being cold and/or average as well. Staff was friendly enough, though you could tell some were probably new and overworked. Mid-way through the meal three young college-age men sat down at a table nearby, as far apart from each other as possible at the table, and proceeded to dominate the room with their loud conversation. Ahh, yutes.

With all the stellar online reviews of this restaurant, it could very well be that the “Covid-effect” of short staffing has simply resulted in a blip in their normally stellar fare/experience (?). I and others I’ve spoken with have certainly noticed it with other restaurants that are struggling to come back after the pandemic. After more than a year of eating mostly fresh home-cooked food, maybe our expectations have to be adjusted a bit as well.

I had planned out a return route for myself on some fun back roads, more or less directly south towards home, so after finishing up our meal, I said my farewells to the group as we all geared back up. I headed north out of town to pick up NH 25 east for a few miles. Turning south on Halls Brook Rd, I enjoyed the curves and scenery on an NER BONE stretch of riding encompassing Groton and West Shore Roads, along Newfound Lake.

Newfound Lake

In Bristol, I banged a quick right to explore Smith River Road, which turned out to be a really nice little mile-long stretch of narrow lane along the river, looping back to route 3A. Several miles south, I breezed through the outskirts of Franklin and picked up NH 127 for a great ride down to Hopkinton, where I stopped to admire Rowell’s Covered Bridge.

Rowell covered bridge

Rowell covered bridge

I crossed US 202 to Old Concord Road, a nice quiet back way into Henniker, where I could cross the Contoocook River. Students were back in town here too at New England College, but the bustle was a bit less overt than Plymouth! Proceeding south, I followed my old standby “make decent time with decent riding” north-south route for this part of the state, cruising quickly down routes 114, 77, and 13 back into Massachusetts. Then some zig-zags on local roads through Townsend, Ayer, and Harvard pick up I-495 for the quick slab home.

map of the days ride

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