The new wave -- motorbiking the back roads of New England

... "Mirror" editor Don Norris and daughter Nancy in the White Mountains

from Don Norris

It's tough to ride a motorcycle through such a huge metropolis as Boston, so this father-daughter team have taken their wheels north where competition for road space borders on nil.

The pair are Don and daughter Nancy Norris of Melrose -- although Nan has her own place now in Northfield, New Hampshire. While Don has been riding (or racing) bikes since 1945, Nan two years ago took the compulsory three-day training course to get a license to put her new wheels on New Hampshire pavement -- or dirt roads, as the case presents itself.

Their last excursion was a summer run from Northfield, north through unmarked backroads to New Hampton, then west into the high foothills of the White Mountains. Both were riding 200cc dirt bikes with knobby tires, and after some five hours out, accumulated some 90 miles of little hidden byways and woods roads. At one point they found a dirtroad that led up the side of a mountain, and three miles later their path ended at a remote barn -- which obviously at some time in the past had been part of an early New England farm.

The two spent well over an hour climbing through the old barn -- in which, among other ancient things, was a 1920s Ford truck, covered with an inch of dust and grime. They investigated what had been the cellar of the farmhouse, and at one point discovered a huge safe, its door hanging by a single hinge. Inside were remnants of several documents -- nothing of value, but an interesting find.

It was only on their way out did they find an old, totally faded sign on a tree: "Keep Out".

On another trip Nan and Don followed the Pemigewasett River south from North Hampton, tracing an ancient railroad bed. The area was normally off limits to vehicles, but was opened for one holiday.

It was a great time, and the day ended at Nan's sister's place (Joanne Phillips) in nearby Belmont, New Hampshire, for a cookout.

September 7, 2012

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