Manchester, New Hampshire

They found a body in the river. That’s a story that’s got to be as old as Cain, but they did, just the other day, right here. The woman’s arms, legs, and head had been removed. She was found in a swimming hole where I’ve swam before. Just an hour before the body was found I walked right over the river above it; I’d dropped my bike off for a tune-up and was just coming back across the bridge. If I’d looked more carefully I might’ve seen it: an abstraction, a dictionary definition of a torso.

It chills my blood, but it isn’t completely surprising. There’s just something about Manchester that says it was only a matter of time. I’ll be glad to be gone.

My bike is an old warhorse: a black 1981 Kawasaki KZ440 LTD- two cylinders, belt drive. It gets no respect. I was talking to a mounty who warned me against taking a particular road because it was gravel and, he said, your friend’s bike might get hurt. Nothing about my bike, but Heaven forbid that anything should happen to Sean’s Vulcan. At another point we were parked next to a guy with a Goldwing who immediately offered Sean some special polish and a soft rag to touch up his bike. It was understood that this offer did not extend to me and mine; his rag might’ve gotten dirty.

It’s a small bike, but it’s all I’ve got. I owe a lot to small bikes anyway: a ’72 Honda 350 4 cylinder that was heavy as lead, a ’76 Honda CB550 that ran and ran, a red MZ 250 that took me farther than I had a right to go. I’ll get a big sprawling cruiser someday, but there’s something to be said for making do with what you have — right now my motorcycle and my laptop combined cost less than $400, and both of them took me to Labrador and back. Every mile from here on out is just a bonus.

I’ve always wanted to go up to Hudson Bay. It’s immense, it dominates any map of North America, but somehow you never hear anything about it. For a long time I wasn’t even sure how to get there- the maps I saw never showed any roads, just train tracks. Finally last summer when I was driving a cab one of my fares told me that he’d not only been there, but he’d been there by motorcycle. Apparently the road doesn’t show up on a lot of maps because it’s actually a private road, hundreds of miles long, owned by Hydro Quebec. At one point there’s a stretch of 230 miles between gas stations; I’ll need to bring extra gas to span that.

A secret route, passed between travelers by word of mouth.

I have a full tank of gas and a bag of food to give me a head start. There are 24,262 miles on my odometer and 751 dollars remaining.