Tag Archive: rides


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 ->

 

July 21, 2012 – Day One – Skyline Drive Ride

As predicted, Mother Nature threw us some more clouds, rain, and cool weather; did that deter Rachel and I: I say No!!  It did make us hesitate a little, mainly on my part, because I didn’t want a ride in inclement weather to affect Rachel’s excitement in riding motorcycles, so we talked and she assured me that it wouldn’t.  So we checked the weather and recalculated a start time.  Waiting only about an hour or so, we packed, showered, changed, and we were off to Frederick.

It rained on us a little, but it wasn’t bad, and the temperature wasn’t a problem.  We arrived in Frederick in about 20 minutes and stopped off at Harley Davison of Frederick.  I wanted to buy Rachel a rain suit, but she wasn’t having it.  She is very stubborn when it comes to buying gear for herself but is willing to buy shirts in a heartbeat.  We wandered around the store, and texted a couple of friends to see if they were going to come, but the rain had changed the plan for them.  We made our purchase but had to get a meal before heading south, so we stopped off at the Double T diner.

Just after getting into the diner, the clouds opened up and dropped a lot of rain, but we sat and ate, talked about people at the restaurant, and discussed our travel plans.  We waited until the rain had come to a reasonable down pour then I got Rachel into the rain gear, and I put on the chaps and we were set.  Oh, we got her a bandana to cover her face from the rain.

It rained for the first 30 or so minutes until we were south of Washington, then it stopped.  The clouds remained ominous yet kept quiet.  We traveled along back roads and small quaint towns that looked as though time had stopped for them many decades ago.  Rachel, being the navigator, made sure we stayed on course; and just before getting on the Skyline Drive, we stopped at the visitor’s center.  We picked up a couple pamphlets pertaining to surrounding attractions and learned a little more about Skyline Drive.  There is a toll to get on the road; it is $10.00 for motorcycles ($15.00 for cars) which lasts for seven days: you can get on and off of Skyline to visit neighboring towns and cities.  So now we are on Skyline Drive, which has an average speed limit of 35 MPH, and the resort was at mile 41.5.  It would take us an hour, and in that hour we drove through some of the thickest fog I’ve ever seen.  Our resort was positioned about 3680ft above sea level, so I knew we were going to drive through clouds, but holy hell.  I didn’t think that much.  I used a leading car to help identify turns in the road.  I turned on my hazard signals through very dense fog, but we stopped at points for photo ops, if it wasn’t completely fogged out.

Just as predicted, our resort appeared on the right, and we took the turn.  You couldn’t tell what you were in for just from the outside.  City dwellers are used to viewing the gleaming steel and concrete construction of hotels and the reflections of the sun from the windows, but this isn’t what I had in mind.  I wanted a place that was different and more naturalistic…..Rachel loves nature.

We parked, stripped off the rain gear and walked to the office to check in. We got our cabin key and its location.  Rachel admitted to finally having rider’s fatigue, so she walked to the cabin while I repositioned the bike closer.  I parked, pulled out the bag given to us by HD when we purchased the new bike, locked everything up, and walked to the cabin.  I unlocked the door and walked in with Rachel immediately behind me.

“Where is the TV?” was the second sentence out of her mouth, the first being “Oh.”  I wanted to get away from technology and reintroduce her back to nature, as she keeps saying that I have deprived her.  This room has no television, no central air….well no AC of any kind, except for the windows.  We had a chill from the ride and we were looking for more heat than cooling.  There was a heat register on the far wall and I turned it on to the midpoint. Well I can’t think of a better way to warm up then a happy jaunt between the sheets, but that isn’t for this blog.  We laid about thinking what to do next.

Rachel’s addiction to the television prompted her to suggest that we go into the city to see the new batman movie, but I wasn’t as willing especially after driving through that mess, not to mention the temperature dropping because the sun is setting.  Luckily, I was able to provide other entertainment.  There is a great restaurant just a couple of doors down from our room.  We got cleaned up (she had to get rid of the helmet hair) and off we went.  It was about 9pm now and the dining hall closed at 10pm.

We walked in, asked for a table for two and were seated in a comfortable spot with a spectacular view.  This place didn’t have a huge menu, but it had a little bit of everything.  I got the beef and Rachel got the fish, and as we were waiting for our dinner, we could see the sun setting–simply beautiful.

The meal arrived and the scene was like one of those places you see on a reality TV show.  Perfect setting, and the chef was amazing.  It is funny to watch two skinny people inhaling their meal because it was so good.  We ate, and then we had dessert. I had the apple pie and Rachel had the blackberry cobbler. I think I made it half way through before I was stuffed.  Rachel placed a sizeable dent in her treat.

We paid for the meal and wanted to see what else was available.   There was live entertainment: a singer was playing songs from various artists all with a guitar.  We listened for a few minutes while walking around the gift shop, then headed back to the room.  We stopped at the office to pick up a book for Rachel to read.  I knew I wouldn’t make it through two pages in a book.  As we walked back to the room, nature has a way of appearing in the night and Rachel got a little freaked: some small animal crossed our path on his way back into the darkness.

Back in the room, we adjusted the windows and vents and heater to provide a little heat while circulating the air.  The sandman was beating me down, and before I knew it, I was asleep; I crashed into that wall and there was no coming back until morning.

July 22, 2012 – Day Two – Skyline Drive Ride

At 7 am, we both woke up and lazily laid around until about 9am just talking. We knew we had a checkout time of 11am, and I didn’t want to waste too much time not doing anything.  The sun was peeking through the trees, you could hear the birds talking and absolutely nothing else–an excellent morning.  No cars starting, no people screaming out the window, no engine revving, just quiet.  So we each got up, showered and dressed and we packed our bag.  On a side note, the bag that comes with my bike is phenomenal.  It held everything we needed, changes of clothing, toiletries, my laptop (had to blog), and a small assortment of electronic items.  The weather was playing tricks as the clouds hid the sun from view.  It would give the appearance that the weather was below average for this time of year. We loaded the bike and headed back north.  We wanted to stop off at Luray Caverns to check it out.  So headed north on Skyline Drive and took the exit for Rt 211W.  Another 10 miles down the road and we were there.  Tickets were a little pricey ($24 for an adult), but we were on a mini-vacation so screw it.  We took the tour around the caverns and saw some really nice stalagmites and stalactites.  Hell I actually learned the difference.  We got some really nice pictures.

After the tour, we ate lunch and took a tour around the Car & Carriage museum. There are some really cool vintage vehicles, dating back to the 18th century. Both tours were self-paced and self-guided within defined boundaries, but very enjoyable.  After the tours we knew we had to head back home: the kids would be getting restless at this point, and we didn’t want them to burn anything down.  So we had two options:  take 81N back home, which would be quicker, or return to Skyline Drive (which is still paid for) and ride it again, this time with far better weather.  Rachel made the decision to return to Skyline Drive, which I was very happy to do.  Back on the bike and in route, we quickly returned to Skyline Drive and turned towards the north.  The weather was absolutely perfect: sunny without a lot of heat.  It was in the low 80s, and the sun would break through the trees quiet frequently.  Since we were doing about 35-40MPH it took about 45 minutes to make it back to Front Royal.

We stopped for gas, just wanted to fill up again before we started, and we headed down 340 north.  Once again, traffic and weather played in our favor.  We rolled along at the speed limit (maybe a little above) listening to the music and talking at times.  Oh before I get to far ahead, Route 211 toward Luray was a very cool stretch of road.  It provided some extreme curves at a higher rate of speed.  Rachel did an excellent job matching my lean through the ride.  Okay, so we moved from VA to WV then got hung up in traffic from what looked like a water rescue in progress.  There was enough emergency equipment on this little two lane road that blocked up one side.  We waited so long that I actually shut off the engine for a while to allow it time to cool.  I was tempted to put down the jiffy stand and stand up, but just as I was about to have Rachel hop off, the traffic started to move, so once again we were off.

Thankfully, traffic opened up quickly, and even though I deviated and took some side roads during the ride home, we found ourselves quickly on route 270 headed south.  Close to home.  I fell in love with my bike very quickly during and after the initial purchase; however, during our ride down 270, holding steady at about 60-65MPH, the traffic came to an abrupt stop.  No warning, no hint that speeds are going to change.  I had to squeeze hard on both the rear and front brakes.  Rachel’s only reaction was to hold herself back.  Within a few hundred feet, the bike was stopped, no skidding, fishtailing, or loss of control.  The ABS system on this bike really saved us.  We stopped about a foot short of the car ahead of us, and the truck that was following us–mind you he was following too close and I couldn’t sway him to back up–stopped off to our left over the shoulder.  Quickly shifting down to first gear, we were moving again, before I could even put my feet down.  Traffic sped off as if nothing had changed.  I praised Rachel for remaining calm throughout and officially deemed her a biker chick.  Following that, I was able to move out from the other vehicles to a new lane and we made it back home without another incident.  Rachel didn’t comment about any rider’s fatigue today, but she is ready for her boots to break-in.  She walks around like she is wearing sky boots, a treat to see. We agreed that this type of trip will NOT be the last one and we will try to schedule as often as we can.  BB is extremely dirty and needs a full bath, but since I have to take my Advanced Rider Course tomorrow, and it is supposed to rain, I don’t want to go through the ordeal of cleaning her just to get her dirty the next day.  If I learn anything new at the course, I will be sure to blog it.

Blue Ridge Parkway Ride

Well the big day is just about here.  Originally scheduled to go to Williamsburg, VA, I have modified the ride to head to Big Meadows off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I thought it would be a nice ride and based on the weather forecast (when I initially scheduled it), I knew it would be.  I am not sure if any friends would be coming, but I still on planning to go, even though the weather hasn’t been working in our favor.

Speaking of weather, I’d like to say that weather people or meteorologists are the only group of employed people who can be wrong 60% of the time and still maintain their high paying jobs.  I mean wouldn’t it be cheaper to get a group of monkeys, some darts, and a dart board of weather options for our predictions.  Holy crap, the weather is completely inconsistent and there is always a chance of rain….which usually doesn’t pan out.

Anyway, Mother Nature has been pounding the east coast with not just rain, but serious thunderstorms.   Seems like they come in bunches as well.  I waited to the last minute to reserve a room in the area, and because of that I had to pay $60 more for the night than if I had made the reservations three days prior.  Oh well, live and learn.  Regardless of the weather, Rachel and I are going to make the trip, on the bike.  I have a set of rain gear, which I tried out while in Tennessee last year. I will make sure she is wearing it and I will just go without.  We will look into new rain gear for her later, but for this trip it shouldn’t be too bad.

Initially, I planned to meet friends at 10am at the Harley Davidson in Frederick, but not sure if anyone will want to come because of the unpredictable and rather hazardous weather that has been forecast. If I plan on taking more road trips with the bike, then I have to be prepared to ride in not so sunny weather, and this will be an experience for Rachel as it will be her first time dealing with rain using a half-helmet.  If you’ve never had to do it before, it is a treat.  Falling rain while travel at 55+ MPH feel more like pebbles hitting your face.  I can bring the full face helmet for her just so she won’t have to deal with all the “pain”.  Anyway, hopefully tomorrow we will be posting more as we trek down south, this time we pictures.

Keep safe, and happy riding