AUGUSTA — Carmel Rubin’s bags were packed when she came to her final day of work as court communications manager for the Maine Judicial Branch.

After a good-bye lunch with co-workers from the Capital Judicial Center, she was heading south on her 2006 Kawasaki KLX 250, a dirt bike equipped with blinkers, horn and lights so it can be legally ridden on roads.

“Motorcycling is my yoga,” she said. “For me it’s all about mindfulness, balance and mental alertness. It slows me down, refreshes me, recharges my internal battery, centers me, grounds me, and helps me shift my perspective to what really matters — focusing on, and in, the moment. Not to mention it’s much more fun than riding in a car!”

The Bowdoinham woman was on an adventure expected to last at least 14 months and maybe longer.

“After a 5,000-mile solo ride last year, I decided I was really ready to take an extended ride,” Rubin said. She also spent a month riding a small bike in Baja, California, Mexico.

Rubin, 50, quit her job, rented her home and gave away most of her belongings in order to begin the sojourn.

It begins with a leisurely ride to Atlanta where she leaves her bike and will board a plane Oct. 4 to Cape Town, South Africa, go on safari, and then head to a 15-day motorcycling adventure tour of Madagascar with nine other women led by accomplished British motorcyclist/adventurer Tiffany Coates.

“We’re calling it ‘Mapless in Madagascar,'” Rubin said.

They will, however, have a support van carrying spare parts and a mechanic.

Next Rubin will complete a biking circuit across the southern United States, aiming for the byways rather than the highways, visiting Key West, Florida, and maybe Mexico with plans to end up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, next May.

“It will be the middle of the country and the middle of the ride,” she said. Then it’s north to Alaska for the summer and back east possibly across Canada “before the snow flies.”

For much of the ride from Atlanta, Rubin will be accompanied by friend and fellow biker Gregg Bolton of Buxton. The two met as students at Bonny Eagle High School. “He’s joining me in Atlanta for as long as his money lasts,” she said. In fact, she first got on the back of a motorcycle in 1979 to ride with Bolton.

Along the route Bolton will contribute photos and Rubin the words to a blog they’ve titled the ThinLine Ride at thinlineride.wordpress.com/ and define as: “There is a thin line between doing something brave and doing something stupid. We quit our jobs and decided to spend a year riding.”

Rubin graduated from Bonny Eagle in 1982, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in marine sciences and a Ph.D. in cryobiology. She spent 11 years working for the state as director of special projects for the state Department of Environmental Protection before joining the Maine Judicial Branch in 2012.

First stop Friday was to be at the Buxton home of her parents, Marvin, 92, a retired dentist, and Joy Rubin, 88.

“I come by my adventuresome spirit honestly,” Carmel Rubin said, scrolling through photos on her phone to show a 1941 “selfie” of her dad sitting on his 1936 Indian Chief.

He took the photo with his camera on a tripod and then developed and printed it himself, she said.

Carmel Rubin’s preparation for all her upcoming adventures meant culling items down to bare necessities: tools, tent, sleeping bag, camp kitchen and stove, a pot, one set of silverware, one pan, dish soap, sharp knife, cutting board, couple pairs of underwear and socks, a pair of quick-dry pants, two pairs of quick-dry shorts two sleeveless shirts, a dress, water sandals, a pair of hiking boots, riding pants and jacket and rain liners for both, a heated liner for the jacket, three pairs of riding gloves, as well as a fleece top and pants, biking shorts and a pair of long underwear pants “because it eases getting sweaty riding pants off. So even in hot weather, I’m essentially wearing long underwear.”

Two panniers draped over the engine provide easy access to oil chain lube, sunscreen, bug dope, etc. Tools tubes are mounted on each side of the bike containing bike manuals, etc. A friend donated a Kindle Paper White already loaded with hundreds of books for Rubin to peruse inside her tent.

Her motorcycle — which she bought 21/2 years ago for $2,500 — gets 75 mpg and can travel 180 miles before needing another gulp. Rubin calculated she put another $2,500 into it in the lead-up to her ride.

The KLX, named Verde-ita for “the Little Green One” is well dressed.

“This spring I added heated grips and a power outlet for my heated gear,” Rubin said, still concerned about electrical capacity. She will have to choose between heat and navigational aids. She said “probably not both” are possible.

Newly installed LED headlight and tail lights should lessen the load.

Interestingly, Rubin has a larger bike she’s leaving in storage, a lime green 2002 Triumph Tiger 955i.

“I want to keep off the highways,” she said with a sigh. “And if I had a big bike the temptation might be to hop on a highway. The idea is to slow down and enjoy the journey and let the road conditions and the weather and the people I meet along the way determine where I go and how long I stay.”

She’s budgeted about $30 a day for the U.S. tour. That will have to stretch to cover food, fuel, camping, tires and bike maintenance.

“I hope to write some articles for some motorcycle magazine and sell them along the way,” she said.

Rubin purchased a National Park pass, but she intends to camp in friends’ backyards, Bureau of Land Management land and national forests.

She’s carrying a cellphone and wearing a SPOT, a GPS satellite tracking device that allows family to follow her along her route and can send emergency help when activated.

Rubin said a number of other people take similar journeys. “There is a very strong, very tight adventure motorcycling community and its called advrider. “They have an entire forum called ‘We quit our jobs and are going riding.'”

Now she’s joined them.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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