Wondering where to go on that first ride after a (not so) long, dark winter? You might be surprised at the scenery and winding roads that lie just to the west of Manchester. While many motorcyclists head for the mountains way up north, if you only have a narrow little window of time to get a ride in, this might be for you.
Start our by taking exit 6 off of I-93 north/I-293 and head east towards Auburn on Candia Rd. At the rotary in Auburn, go straight across to the 12 o’clock position onto route 121. Route 121 is a pleasant road that takes you right up along the coast of Lake Massabesic and through some rolling hills. Very good fun and you should expect to see other motorcyclists out doing the exact same thing. The lakeside portion offers pleasing views and a couple places to park and take in the scene. Should you wish to do some walking, there are a number of state “rail trails” along this road.
Bear right in Auburn, staying on 121 (awkward intersection) until you come to route 102. Cross over 102 and continue straight as the road becomes 121A. Route 121A is much like 121 only no lakeside. Just the same, it’s long and twisty with little traffic and no intersections. There’s even a winery off on the right if you’re so inclined. The Chill, Grill and Pizza in Auburn is a decent place to stop for a bite with outside seating and a view of the lake (sort of). As it winds through the trees and hills, route 121A leads you through the towns of Chester, Sandown and Hampstead where it meets route 111.
Take a right onto route 111 West and five miles from that intersection go right onto Island Pond Road. Island Pond Road is a bit tighter and twistier than the previous routes and if you’re a little free with your interpretation of the posted speed limits, it can be quite entertaining. Expect to come across a few switchbacks, a couple sharp, blind corners as well as a few curves where the elevation changes part way through. Good Fun indeed! Damage from this past winter’s wind storm is still evident and in spots there are some very large and ominous pines leaning precariously over the road, held up only by other trees. Keep an eye out for the water wheel at the Taylor Mill historic site.
When Island Pond Road meets the Route 28 by-pass, taking a right will ultimately bring you back to the rotary in Auburn. If you weren’t in the mood for pizza or subs in Auburn, there are two great seafood joints on the Route 28 by-pass. Right at the intersection of Island Pond Road and 28 is Clam Haven which is quite famous among the locals and you can expect a pretty good crowd on some summer weekends. At the rotary in Derry is the Lobster Claw II and the same can be said of them. Both offer good, fresh, seafood cheap. As you approach Lake Massabesic and the Auburn rotary, keep an eye out for downed trees as this area got hit hard in the windstorm.
Following this route exactly will have you covering a tickle under 40 miles and will take you almost exactly one hour (without stops and in light traffic). If you’re familiar with the area, there are plenty of options to both shorten the route up if needed of maybe stretch it out some, but as it’s laid out, it’s a great way to burn a gallon of gas.