Although Rhode Island is the smallest state, it offers lots of historic sites to make it a good Shamrock Tour® base. This tiny piece of America is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long, so trips into neighboring New England are unavoidable and certainly well worth it. Some interesting facts to note about the little state: Governor Lincoln Chafee is from an Independent Party making it the only state without a Democratic or Republican governor, prostitution was legal until 2009, and unfortunately, The Drunken Clam bar doesn’t really exist, at least the way it’s portrayed in Family Guy’s world.
My daily loops lead out of Exeter, where I’m staying with friends from Twisted Throttle. We’re close to the Atlantic, so my preplanned routes take me north, east, and west. Every day somebody from the Twisted crew joins me for the ride, partially because I’m riding one of the company bikes that appear as display models at trade shows. Fortunately for me, the Street Triple and the new V-Strom are ripe for my picking. So Adam Redford, Kevin Nixon, Ken Condon, and Erik Stephens take turns accompanying me through their backyard. We mostly stick to the rural byways and cruise from cafés to historical landmarks and racetracks.
After prepping the motorcycles, making sure all necessary paperwork is filed, and screwing on license plates, Adam, Kevin, and I follow the lazily sweeping country roads to Mystic, CT, where we tour the Mystic Seaport. Admission prices vary between and depending on age.
A huge anchor, surrounded by gift shops and exhibition buildings, greets us in the courtyard. Once inside Mystic Seaport, colorful buildings line the gravel footpath. Some of the structures that have been here for decades have been restored, and others have been transplanted from miles away. We watch an ironsmith working in his shop, fishermen drying their catch in the sun, and rope-makers twisting their craft in a particularly long and narrow building. Just imagine the length and weight of the ropes!
As I explore the galley and sleeping quarters below deck of a wooden ship, I gain a new respect for fishermen. They must have been shorter in stature than my tall frame. Maybe if I had some chains around my body, a lazy, single eye, grunted instead of speaking, and beat on a drum with sticks the size of baseball bats; I would have a place on a ship. Okay, maybe my view of fishermen still needs work. Thankfully, several buildings on the historical lot are dedicated to preserving this culture’s history. From naval operations to wooden beauties and maritime art, everything about ships and life on them can be learned here. At the end of the day, I certainly know more about real life at sea other than the fleeting images of Homer’s Odyssey. Shipsmithing and traditional boat varnishing classes are also offered here.
Motorcycle & Gear
2012 Triumph Street Triple with Twisted Throttle accessories
The Bean and the Speedway
It’s Kevin’s turn to lead and keep a watchful eye on the bike and me. He also provides extensive local knowledge and makes a few introductions. Brian Jessurun, co-owner of “The Bean,” has a little bit of a rock star status, especially in the motorcycle community. He pulls up on his customized 1973 BMW R75/5 out of nowhere, and immediately a crowd forms around him. In addition to its popular owner, the food at The Bean actually blows my socks off; that’s how good it is.
Thanks to Kevin’s hard pressing, Brian doesn’t hesitate to swing a leg over his vintage ride and show us some nice backroads. He takes off so fast that Kevin and I hurry to keep up. We crisscross west and eventually ride by UConn in Storrs where Brian shows us his newest business venture, Dog Lane Café. If the food is half as tasty as at The Bean, I think he will do just fine. On the way back, we dead end on an unpaved path in Yale Myers Forest. The fairy tale surroundings please the soul.
Back in Pomfret, I barely have my helmet off when Brian comes by riding passenger in a car. “That was fun boys. I’m going fishing.” He’s gone as quickly as he came.
Thompson International Speedway is the only fourth generation, family-owned and operated racetrack in the country. One can always see the heart, soul, sweat, and tears that go into such a labor of love. It’s a short distance away from The Vanilla Bean Café, and we arrive as numerous teams are preparing for practice sessions before tonight’s race. With our freshly baked and fancy press badges, we stroll past teams that range from big operations (including RV and mobile garage) to small ones with a tent and some lawn chairs. But no matter how much money is invested, it doesn’t matter here. These people love to wrench, race, and compete, no matter the cost. I particularly enjoy watching the teams where the entire family is involved. The air is electric with excitement. After all, everybody is here to win and have a fun time. Through the pits and later watching from trackside, I am eternally grateful for earplugs.