Archive for May, 2014

Day 8 – 5/24/2014
Start / End: Lexington, VA to Germantown, MD
Distance: 194 miles
Time: 8 hrs – Uncontrolled delay in travel

This was the start of the last morning away from home.  Not being impressed with the hotel, and since my neighbors have very little consideration, I was up before 8am, but didn’t rise out of bed until 8:30am.  Like normal, my first task was to check on my bike, it appeared to be doing just fine.  Today’s ride marked the last portion, or section to home.  I’ve taken the Skyline Drive previous but I don’t think I ride from end to end, so today, I will correct that oversight.  The end of the drive enters in Front Royal, VA.  I quickly packed and loaded the bike, ate my honey bun and was ready to move at 10am.  I topped off since I only used half a tank yesterday.

I took 81 to Staunton, where I could pick up Skyline Drive from 64.  Talk about a temperature difference.  You need to dress appropriately as there is a good 10 to 20 degree drop from the surrounding area.  I move toward the gate of Shenandoah National Park and it wasn’t until that moment, that I realized that I didn’t have any cash on me.  I quickly had the cars go around me as I backed my bike out.  For motorcycles, there is a day charge of $10, which will get you back in the park on the same day.  5 miles down the road I found an ATM machine, but not until I passed a group which looks like they were gathering for a day ride.  Damn, I wish I could have joined them, but I had a mission to ride the entire 105 miles.

I know 105 miles doesn’t sound that bad.  105 miles on Interstate 81 would take me a little over an hour, however, when you are limited to going 35 MPH, actually 45 MPH, well then it takes a little longer.  As I move along the road, I was very happy that I did it verses just taking the easy route.  The road gave my some challenges and really allowed me to up my game on taking turns with my bike.  I have to say there were many times when the footboards where scraping across the ground.  YEAH BABY!!

Aside from enjoying the natural switchbacks of the road, it was basically uneventful.  I was able to stop a couple of times to take scenic pictures, but honestly, most of the time I spent just trying to get around some slow moving cager.  That was until passing Big Meadow when I ran up on a motorcycle accident.

It looked like it happened moments before I got there.  I didn’t even pull my bike to the side, I just stop, turned it off and grabbed my first aid kit.  From what I gathered a group of German riders were traveling southbound and one of them simply went down.  Another rider not associated with the group believes he witnessed two of the biker bump causing one to go down.  The downed rider was on an Electra Glide and it flipped and slid off the road about 50 ft. from where the rider landed in the middle of the road.  His left eye was starting to swell shut, he was bleeding from a deep cut on his nose, and road rash on his legs.  I was the first EMT to him and there was a nurse from the UK close behind.  About a minute later another 3 EMTs arrived, then an off duty ranger EMT.  I called him Superass, because he was a huge pain in one. No one could do right until he appeared.  He was in civilian clothing, but I could see the cape in his truck and the letter S under his shirt. He was a pain in the ass.  When I first arrived I asked someone to call 911 because we happened to be in a really bad signal area.  Actually the entire mountain had horrible cell phone coverage.  When we got a ranger there, they looked lost, but had a first aid kit with more stuff than mine.

The German riders, a group of 6, spoke German well, but not so much English.  The rangers were able to get a German translator about 15 minutes later.  It took the ambulance about 40 minutes to get on location, but that time we had performed a detailed head to toe examination, and well as getting primary vitals.  We also placed a collar on him and placed them on oxygen. All we needed was a backboard and an ambulance.  When the ambulance arrived, they did more stuff on the street, which I personally believe they should have done in the back of the ambulance, but what do I know, I’ve only been an EMT for 26 years.

Anyway, because of our proximity and distance from a hospital and the apparent head injuries as well as MOI, a helicopter was requested and landed before the ambulance left the scene.  I followed the ambulance to the landing zone and watch them transfer and load.  These guys run at a little slower pace than we do at my station, but they did a really good job.

After the helicopter took off, I was back down the road. At about 5:35pm, I arrived at Front Royal.  From there I decided to top my fuel off again.  An hour later, I was home.  I decided to take 66 to 495 to 270.  Yes I could have taken more back road, but at some point you have to say, okay, I need to get home.

All in all, then was a fantastic trip.  I drove from Germantown, MD to Orlando, FL and back again.  I took many different routes and wasn’t on the highway the entire time.  Riding switchback road, riding in the rain, and crossing multiple state alone really is a rewarding experience.  This is only the start.  I plan on doing something like this annually, at least I hope to.  Traveling to different locations of course.  Thanks for reading my blog, if you have any comments, please post the below.


Day 7 – 5/23/2014
Start / End: Columbia, SC to Lexington, VA
Distance: 329miles
Time: 10hrs 2mins

This morning started like all the rest, the alarm gets be out of bed and by 10am, I am on the road.  I know I want to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will slow me down by half, but that road is the reason we ride bikes, since I am down here it doesn’t make any sense to miss out.

I pushed on to Charlotte, VA and had to top off the fuel, and was again greeted with construction traffic.  The number of cagers and semis on the road does cause a considerable amount of traffic and we actually ended up stopping…….yippie.  I honestly couldn’t tell you why we needed to stop, but we did.  I made my way up Interstate 77, making more frequent stops at rest areas just to stretch and get the pain out of my butt.  Yes, I have one.  Around 1pm, I was across the state line.



Stop 1: Fancy Gap, VA – Although I wasn’t empty, I wanted to top off because gas stations aren’t as frequent on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), and it was time to eat lunch in any case.  I stopped off at a small mom and pops diner, called Lake View, and grabbed a handmade cheeseburger.  It was really good.  The atmosphere was country, but they were friendly and quick and I received my hot food in short order.  With the bike and I topped off, it was time to hit the road.  From the restaurant, the entrance to the parkway was about 100 ft away.

BRP: The speed limit for the road is 45 MPH, which actually is a very good speed because some of the switchbacks will have you going in the opposite direction.  If you enjoy the Tail of the Dragon, then you’ll enjoy this road.  There are lots of turns and I took it for about 170 miles.  I stopped every once in a while to get a picture of the scenery or to just take a break from riding.  Leaning left and right can wear you out if you let it.  I had considered going all the way home tonight, but if you do take the BRP, you need to account that you are doubling your time to travel the same distance.  I arrived in Lexington, VA or Buena Vista, VA around 8pm.  I jumped on BRP at 2pm and except for a couple of stops, I didn’t deviate but only traveled 170 miles.  If I had stayed on 81N, I would have been almost, if not home at this point.  But like I said in the beginning, it is all about the ride, not how quickly I can get to the destination.



Day 7 ended in Lexington, VA [Buena Vista] at 8pm.  Clear weather, with a moment of cloudiness.  The temperature started at 82 degrees and north of Winston Salem, the temperature dropped 15 degrees.  I had to pull over and put on a jacket.  The wind increased and the temperature kept dropping the rest of the ride.  This was a really good riding day.  A little exhausting and I’m going to reevaluate my route tomorrow.  Last night away from home.


Go to Day 8 ->

Day 4, 5, 6 – 5/20/2014 to 5/22/2014
Start / End: Orlando, FL to Columbia, SC
Distance: 430 miles
Time: 8hr 15mins

I decided to squeeze multiple days together because overall while I was staying in Florida, nothing extraordinary happened.  I basically hung out with friends, talking, laughing, and watching them drink and smoke themselves into oblivion.  On Tuesday, I did take a trip to Tampa, just to say I’ve been there.  In Maryland, if you pass a fellow biker, it doesn’t matter what type of bike, you give, and receive, the wave.  This is done with the left hand, either displayed low below your handlebars, or higher above the bar.  This is a signal of respect, as you understand the skill required to ride the bike.  However, in Tampa, it doesn’t appear that anyone knows about this gesture.  You wave and they just ride on by.  Hell, in my case, not only did they ride on by, they also stared because I guess it is some anomaly that a guy who is my size likes to ride something other than a sportsbike.  Speaking of sportsbike, I was able to hook up with my friends JJ and Crystal, it was a blast.  I met a couple of their friends, who also love to ride.  We had an opportunity to go out riding, and for a little bit, JJ and I switched bikes.  That thing scared me to death.  I am use to cranking the throttle to gain speed, but on a bike with that much torque, cranking the throttle could potentially end in a wheelie, then I’d be in a serious mess.  Anyway, we road for a little while and I actually started to get comfortable with the bike.  I even considered buying one as a second vehicle, but that was a fleeting thought.

Sky Writer in Action

Sky Writer in Action

On Thursday it was time to head back.  I didn’t want to stay on the highway all the way back.  The slipping of my clutch is starting to grow to other gears so I didn’t want to delay my return home.  On my way home, I promised to find some beach sand and seashells for my daughter, maybe a starfish as well. I did my laundry, packed, loaded, and left around 11am.  My first stop will have to be a beach.

Seashells and a Starfish....Where?

Seashells and a Starfish….Where?

Daytona Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, FL

Stop 1: Daytona Beach – I was able to ride all the way to the beach and parked almost in the sand.  It must have looked strange watching a fully clothed guy with a storage bag walking the beach.  Yep, that was me.  I walked the beach looking for seashells.  Did I mention that the temperature jumped from the pleasant 80 degrees to the much warmer 90 degrees. I am not a fan of the beach, but honestly is was very nice.  I took a couple of pictures. After my scavenger hunt was complete, it was time for lunch, so I decided on breakfast for lunch at the IHop.  At this point, I think the temperature was nearing a million degrees, maybe a little less.  But I needed to get on the road because I had specific stopping points.

Stop 2: Jacksonville, FL – Exhausted my fuel and decided to make one last stop in Florida.

Stop 3: North of Savannah, GA – Mother Nature kept me guessing on the weather around the corner.  You know my opinion of weathermen, so it was me and my phone making predictions from the raw data.  The temperature started to fall and more clouds started forming the further north I traveled.

Stop 4: Orangeburg, GA – Fuel exhausted, and I had to deal with more rush hour traffic, however, it is nothing in comparison to what we get in Maryland.  This was just a small delay.

Stop 5: I finally made it to the Best Western just north of Columbia on Highway 77.  I wanted to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia, and 77 will get me there quickly.

Day 6 ended in Columbia, SC at 8:30pm.  Partly Sunny 80, 90 degrees.  This was a long ride day.  I probably should have stopped a few hundred miles sooner, but it seemed like a good idea at first.

Go To Day 7 ->

Day 3 – 5/19/2014
Start/End Point: Valdosta, GA to Orlando, FL
Distance: 227 miles
Time: 3hr 21min

Unlike the previous night, I slept until my alarm woke me up at 9am.  I really like the Best Western in Valdosta, I was completely comfortable.  I packed my gear and ate a breakfast bar which I purchased last night.  If you remember from Saturday, I lost my BOA debt card, so the first order of business for today was to go to a local Bank of America and get a temporary card.  I found one about 4 miles away, in the direction I wanted to head.  I walked in and was immediately greeted by a teller who directed me to a gentleman in an office.  I summarized my issue and he quick sprang into action to help me out.  Within moments, I had a temporary card, activate and I withdrew a few dollars in my pocket. I was on my way.

The remainder of the ride was really uneventful because I was forced back on the main highway (75) because I wanted to reach my destination at a reasonable time.  I didn’t want to do it at dark.

Florida Sign

Florida Sign

Stop 1: 20 miles after starting, I was in Florida.  Yippie!!!  I actually stopped on the side of the road to take a picture of the Florida sign with my bike in the foreground.  I made a fuel / lunch stop in Clermont or Leesburg at around 12:30pm.  I honestly can’t remember exactly where I stopped.  I was concerned that at this point I would begin to feel sore, but nothing.  My body and the bike were hanging in there.

Stop 2: I arrived in Orlando, made a few calls and texts to get a couple of addresses.  I couldn’t meet up with one friend because he was working the evening shift, but I knew we would work that out later this week.  I hooked up with friends from my bowling league who were down here on a week of golf.  Five days of 18 holes of golf.  That is more exhausting that riding a bike 1200 miles.  I was able to grab a room with my friends because of a bailout late in the schedule, so I am extremely fortunate because without a doubt it is going to be less expensive than sitting at a hotel.  You may ask, you’re not at a hotel, the answer would be no.  These guy travel in style.  They rented a home, and actual rental home for the week.  It is like bringing your home with you to another state.  You can cook your own meals, do your laundry, and chill at the backyard pool.  Oh yes, I said backyard pool.  Cha-ching.

The house I stayed at.

The house I stayed at.

The remainder of the evening was spent talking and laughing…oh and drinking on their part.  Sometimes it is fun to watch, not so much at other times.  This day was another one of those great one, may be a little longer than planned.

I contacted my mechanic about the high RPM slipping I am experiencing on my bike.  It only shows itself in my 5th gear.  He told me that I will need to replace my clutch, but based on my information it isn’t an emergency and can wait until I return at the end of the week.  Which is good, I didn’t want to have these guys messing with my bike.

Day 3 End in Orlando, FL at a rental home at 3:15pm.  Sunny 80 degrees.  Another day of great riding.

BTW, I am going to update with pictures, but just haven’t gone through the motions of pulling them off the camera.


Go to Day 4,5,6 ->

Day 2: 5/18/2014

Start / End Point: Townsend, TN to Valdosta, GA
Distance: 432 miles
Time: 7hr 32 min

Last night I was in bed around midnight after planning my elaborate route for today’s trip.  I wasn’t going to take the highways from TN to southern GA, oh no, that would be too easy, and I would miss out on some really nice roads, so I planned back roads until I was south of Atlanta.  Now, because I rode in the cold for so many hours the previous day, I had a bone chill, so I turned on the heat in my room, setting it to about 72 degrees.  Well around 6am, my mind told my body that I need to turn the heat off and throw some cool air on, but my body decided it was too early to move and ignored my mind.  Well, not totally ignoring my mind, I did shuck off the covers. Well not an hour later, I was awake again, and there was no going back to sleep.  The alarm was set for 9am, but I was up at 8am, after tossing and turning for an hour.  Did a check of the weather, and all the bad stuff was sitting south of TN, just over the GA border, and that is something I will deal with later.

Getting ready.

Getting ready.

Out the door and on the road at 9:30am, heading towards Route 129, better known as the Tail of the Dragon.  It was chilly, but not cold, and was overcast, but no prediction for rain.  This is good since the last time I did this road, I ended up in a monsoon. Would like to avoid that mess this go around.  At 10:00am, I was at the base of the “switchback”.  I took off and was completely thrilled.  Some of these “turns” were a turn in the opposite direction.  You would have been proud, I had the footboards scraping on the ground on a couple of the turns, UNTIL I caught up with some slower folks.  Was stuck behind them for a mile or three, and they pulled off at a scenic overlook.  I was off again, posing the best I could for the various cameras on the trail. I caught up with another slower group, and remained behind them until I hit Deal’s Gap.  I conquered the mountain.  I stopped and got me a t-shirt and a pin, and I was off again.  Just a note, don’t befool that this road is the only extremely curvy road in the area.  Seems that most of my way to Atlanta was spent leaning through turns, mind you doing this while it is raining, on the Smoky Mountains.  Adds a new level of difficulty, but I managed and really enjoyed the ride.

At the base of the Tail of the Dragon

At the base of the Tail of the Dragon

Riding the Tail

Riding the Tail

On another curve

On another curve

Tree of Shame - No contribution from me.

Tree of Shame – No contribution from me.

Dragon Sculpture

Dragon Sculpture

Dea's Gap

Deal’s Gap

Stop 1: Murphy, NC – It was a little after noon, and I stopped because reports say that the large front sit 5 minutes over the GA boarder, which is about 10 miles from Murphy.  Ate my Burger King lunch (yuck), chatted with another Harley riders (kewl), and donned my brand new rain suit.  An hour later I was back on the road.

Stop 2: Atlanta, GA – I pulled into Atlanta, and passed the location for the ’96 Olympics as well as the stadium.  I was planning on stopping for a little bit, but once a guy rode up on me with his bike and asked for change, I knew it was time to move on.  I mean, I just pulled to the side of the road and was still taking off my helmet when he asked.  This place is a trip.  I was going to visit my nephew, but it was still raining, and I couldn’t find a “safe” place with cover, so I decide to get out of the weather and down the road.

Stop 3: Forsyth, GA – Not much I can say, my fuel light blinked on, so I pulled off at the next fuel station.  While I was there, I watch a guy jump out his lifted 4×4 truck, shoeless, pump his gas, perform the tobacco spit, jump back in and drive off.  He drove off playing some rap music really loud.  I stood there in utter confusion, but I digress. It was still raining, and I really wanted to get out of the rain.  I’ve been driving it for over 150 miles.

Stop 4: Perry, NC – Mother Nature was throwing up clouds in my path.  Once I got out of the large storm over Atlanta, this bright yellow round thing appeared in the sky.  I was worried, but it was warm.  Unfortunately, it disappeared in a few minutes as another storm sat over the road I was on.  I mean, REALLY??!!  I drove a while longer and when I made it to Perry, the storm was gone and the temperature jumped up 20 degrees.  It was time to eat and remove this rain suit.

Hotel Stop: Because I didn’t stay in Atlanta as originally planned, I decided to get as close to the Florida border as I could before night fall.  I ended up in Valdosta, and stay in the Best Western just off Route 75.  I made a reservation while at Stop 4 and when I got there and walked into my room better known as an apartment, it was huge.  The lady behind the desk said it was the smallest room.  I was like, I hope my room in Florida can compete with this room.

Dinner is done, and I am in for the night.  OH, just a small point.  If you take a ride and carry an extra luggage bag, make sure you tie off any and all loose strap.  If not, you run the risk of them tangling up in your bike.  One of my straps was lodged in my rear brake.  I didn’t notice until I tried to take the bag off.  Thank goodness I packed my tool set, I had to loosen the brake to remove the strap.  Live and learn, at least it was corrected.

Day 2 Ended in Valdosta, GA at the Best Western at 9:30pm. Overcast, to Rain for ¾ of the ride.  Rain ended and warmed up after Macon, GA.  Another great riding day.  Riding 150 miles in the rain really improves your confidence, especially when riding on switchback roads in the rain.  Tomorrow should be arriving in Orlando, FL.

Go to Day 3 ->

Day 1: 5/17/2014

Starting / End Points: Germantown, MD (Home) to Townsend, TN
Distance: 526 Miles
Time: 8 hr 26 min

I was up at a reasonable hour, dressed and loaded my bike.  I did most of the packing last night.  Of course, no matter how hard you try, you invariably forget something essential.  Overall, I think I did a pretty good job.  I started the ride at 0930hrs on Saturday.  It was a chilly day with the temperature around 50 degrees with a slight wind.  I threw on the chaps, and I was on my way.

Stop 1: Eating up all but 30 miles of fuel in my tank, I made a pit stop for lunch around 11:30.  I covered about 200 miles, maybe a little less.  Hit the KFC, and filled up the take.  A $30.00 stop in all.  After about 45 minutes, I was back on the road.

Stop 2: My bike was complaining it wanted more fuel, so I needed to make another stop.  It is about 3:30pm and the only place near me is called Rural Retreat.  OMG!! I found a group of people who failed to keep up with the times.  This is one of those times when you wonder if you should have gone to the next exit.  Anyway, I filled up, grabbed a candy bar and Gatorade.  The temperature has been dropping, so I put on my heated jacket.  Yes, I am a wimp, who wants to be cold if they got gear to avoid it.  Packed up and on the road again, this time I turned on the music. OH YEAH!!

81 South at the start of my trip.

81 South at the start of my trip.

Stop 3: I’ve made it to Pigeon Forge.  It is about 4:40pm.  There is a lot of activity, unfortunately, my hotel seems to be on the outskirts of town, so not sure if I’ll have the energy to come back 20 miles just for some activities.  On second thought, I may.  I will get some gas before I get to the hotel.  When I stop at the pump, I realize there is a new problem. I can’t find my Bank Of America debt card.  Is it possible, I left it in Rural Retreat. This can’t be happening.  This is still the first day. OMG!! I called the bank and had the card cancelled, now I have to revert to alternate cards until Monday.  GRRRRRRRR – I hate when I do something like that.  However, if that is the bad part of the trip, then I am glad it is over with.  Just hoping.

Hotel Stop:  I found my hotel, somewhere miles away from the city.  There are good and bad about it, but the hotel is very clean, inexpensive, and filled with old people.  It will be a quiet night, except for the thin black guy on a loud Harley.  Who’s your Daddy!! Gonna unpack the bike, find a place to eat, grab dinner and plan out tomorrow.

Townsend Best Western.

Townsend Best Western.

Smokey Mountains from my room.

Smokey Mountains from my room.

Day 1 End in Townsend, Tennessee at the Best Western at 6:15pm.  No rain, great ride, except for losing my card, and it could have been a little warmer.  Tomorrow should end somewhere in Georgia after I ride the Tail of the Dragon.


Go to Day 2 ->