Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Podium Finish ... really .... me?

The 6th Annual Void Rally - October 7-8, 2011

I have sat through a fair number of after rally banquets over the past four years and have always been amazed at the accomplishments of the podium finishers. Although I have secretly strived to be one, I was pretty much resolved to the fact that I will probably never make it there. I thought that I just don't ride aggressive enough, but this past Void Rally proved to me that you don't have to ride overly aggressive to place in the top three. Others have said it, and I never truly believed them, but if you plan a good route, execute it exactly as planned, and just ride smart over the entire rally, just about anyone can bring home a trophy. I now understand that.

The riding weekend actually began on Thursday morning as I left Athens for the Void 6 start in Albany. Earlier this summer, I partook in the Tour of Georgia fundraiser for the Lions Club Summer Camp and completed 16 of the 19 possible Georgia First locations (you only needed 16 to be deemed a finisher). More out of a sense of accomplishment, I decided to use the trek down to Albany to hit the three Georgia First locations in the western part of the state (Griffin, Columbus, and Shellman). The trip was only going to add about 70 miles and the weather was going to be beautiful, so I decided to bag them. The HHM in Griffin documented the fact that Spalding County was the first county between Chicago and Miami that had a continuous concrete roadway on what is referred to the Dixie Highway back in 1919. Something that is pretty amazing considering Spalding County was extremely rural back then (and probably not that well off financially).

After the stop in Griffin, it was over to Columbus. Not much traffic or development in this part of Georgia, but the rolling nature of the topography is really something I enjoy riding through. Although most of the routes were two-lane, I was making great time. The major disappointment was when I stopped to get gas, I noticed that I had "attracted" a Dremel grinding stone from my garage floor to the bottom magnets on my the tank bag (I had taken the tank bag off after the Georgia In-State ride and put it back on Thursday morning). So the past 150 miles the slight vibration of the tank bag allowed the grinding stone to do a nice number on the gas tank's paint job. Pulling into Columbus right before lunch, exposed me to the typical traffic of any city as I traveled the local streets to the First Black Combat Aviator marker.

After a quick lunch at Arby's, I made the rest of the trip down into Albany with a brief stop in Shellman and it's City Hall, the home of songwriter Boudleaux Bryant (The Everly Brothers would still be unknown if it wasn't for Boudleaux and his wife Felic). As I drove through the quiet streets, I wondered what it is like to live in one of these sleepy, rural Southern Georgia towns. Some of the homes from yesterday are amazing to look at as you drive by and you wonder how people can afford to keep them up.

I pulled into the hotel a little after 4:00 p.m. and attended to the last minute details (a quick trip to Wal-Mart for tank bag food and a quick tour of northern Albany gas stations looking for a good starting receipt). Thanks to an on-line deal that I found for the Country Inn & Suites, most of the Albany starters were staying at the same hotel. So we all met up in the parking lot for some general discussion about the pending rally while we waited to walk over for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom. I had the honor/privilege of sitting next to Karl Snell who recently placed 13th in the 2011 version of the IBR and he was more than willing to share some of the stories from his adventure plus other observations about motorcycles, riders, and rallies. Of course, most of the discussion centered around the rally locations and possible routes. It seemed that most people felt that the Group N (or the "Virginia Loop" as I was calling it) bonus was impossible since you needed to be in Danville at dawn to take the required picture of the water tower and you couldn't finish the rest of the "Loop" in time. I felt pretty sure that you could and had spend all my prep time on since Tuesday planning to do that ride, but by the end of the night, I was convinced to route out an alternative plan. So instead of having a relaxing evening, I started routing again at 9 p.m. By 12:30 a.m., I was pleased with the alternative and decided to go with that unless I got into Virginia much earlier than I was anticipating and feeling extremely well.

One of the best parts of the Void Rally is how heavily theme oriented all of the bonus locations are. This year is spooky things and water towers. So every bonus location will have one or the other (sometimes even both). The water towers had to be bagged during daylight hours, so routing and time management was critical at those locations. I learned some really great folklore along the way.

Okay - Now the fun begins. Friday morning, I get the starting receipt at 9:08 a.m. (meaning I had to be in Lynchburg at 2:07 p.m. on Saturday), call into the rally headquarters, note my odometer as 16,886 and head off to Americus. I follow John Bailey up US19 out of Albany to Americus, we arrive at 9:44 a.m. (5 minutes ahead of schedule), note the odometer as 16922, and take the required picture of the haunted Windsor Hotel (with the water tower in the background). One done, several to go.

John and I quickly part ways after the first boni and I head up to Between to grab a photo of the two water towers. Arrived at 12:35 p.m. (3 minutes ahead of schedule) with an odometer of 17088. Next, I head over to Waynesboro for another water tower. Ms. Garmin is telling me to get off I-20 and cut over on Georgia state routes. I ignore her and stay on I-20, I figure it will be about 10 miles longer, but I will be able to maintain 70 mph speeds without going through small towns or deal with school buses. I snap the required picture at 2:55 p.m. (4 minutes ahead of schedule) and have already logged 353 miles in a little under 6 hours. One of the salesman from the Ford Dealership where the water tower was located came over for a little chat. I tried to be polite as possible, explained what I was doing - easiest explanation it's a "scavenger hunt on a motorcycle", he looked over my bike, wished me well and I was off.

Next was an old relic from the slave trade days in Downtown Augusta. Zip into town and bag that one at 3:30 p.m. (10 minutes ahead of schedule) with 17270 showing on the odometer. I head out of town thinking that since I am good on time, I could afford a short break at a gas station before heading onto I-20 towards Columbia and the Longstreet Theatre. Of course after the break and about 20 minutes outside of Aiken all lanes of I-20 come to a halt. Fortunately (or maybe not), I am at an exit ramp so I take it. Most of the vehicles are turning left at the top of the ramp, so naturally (like a dumb-ass) I go right. I thought that I would be able to pick up a county road that runs parallel to I-20 jump down an exit or two and hop back on. Well, Ms. Garmin's map resolution sucks and instead of stopping at the gas station and come up with a plan, I just follow her until I work something out. That probably cost me about 20 minutes. So instead of finding the parallel route (the second left), I go about 20 miles out of my way towards the southeast (I-20 runs towards northeast here) and see a central part of SC that was not on the agenda. Lesson learned. So I finally pull into the Longstreet Theatre at 5:22 p.m. (26 minutes behind schedule now) at 17358. While in the vicinity, I see several fellow riders including Rick and Barbara out of Alabama and Jim and Donna from just down the road from Athens.

Desperate to get make up the lost time, I put my head down and become bound and determined to be back on schedule by the time I hit the NC/SC bonus location on US1. While making my way there, I go through Cheraw, SC. Why do I know this place? Then I pass the "Dizzy" Gillespie statute on my right which was a 2010 Cape Fear bonus location. It is amazing how these towns get burned into your brain during these rallies. Anyway, I pick up a Harley rider and his old lady - yes, I am being stereotypical here, but that is what they were even had the straight unbaffled pipes and enough leather to be mistaken for cows. We rotate the lead for about 30 minutes or so when I pull over to take a picture of the upcoming Historical Marker at the North Carolina state line (7:07 p.m. 11 minutes behind schedule at 571 miles). They pull over too. Seems that it is time for them to put on their helmets now that they are out of South Carolina. They notice that I am taking a picture of a sign and ask what the heck am I doing. I go through the abbreviated version and they seemed generally interested in the concept of the long distance rally. She made it clear that there was no way they were going to do one, though. From my brief encounter, I really think that they were good people, just doing their own thing, their way, on their bike. We parted ways just north of Rockingham, after passing "The Rock" (glad to see NASCAR is coming back there in 2012).

Next came Chapel Hill, NC. Of course, it was Friday night of a home football game weekend. You can imagine the traffic (both vehicles and pedestrians). The bonus point here was a cross that was on the ground next to the Dromgoole Castle - the site of a pistol duel gone horribly wrong. The street where the castle is located is lined with (easily) $1 million homes. It appears that we have attracted the attention of the local residents since a couple comes up to me and wants to know what is going on since he has seen a dozen of motorcycles taking a picture of this cross over the past hour. Again the abbreviated scavenger hunt story, and he seemed relieved. Since he says that he really doesn't trust bikers. I assure him that most of us are really good people. He smiled. Anyway, again loosing time due to traffic, I pull in at 9:21 (15 minutes behind schedule) with 17562 on the odometer.

After Chapel Hill, it was time to claim the rest bonus in Danville, VA. I had hoped to be there before 10:30 p.m., but it was closer to 10:46 p.m. before I pull into the Super 8 Motel where I had a reservation (bonehead move on my part by reserving a smoking room, but I was tired and didn't care to push the issue). Easy check-in, and with a 2:00 a.m. wake-up call, I am back on the road heading towards Lynchburg by 2:15 a.m. I have learned if you carefully take everything off in a certain order once getting into the room, you can reverse the process very quickly and get out of the room in minutes.

This year, the Rallymaster threw an interesting twist to the route planning, if you make your way to the hotel mid-rally and conduct an odometer check, all points after the odo check would be doubled. It is about an hour ride up from Danville and I arrive to start the check at 3:30 a.m. After given the instructions, a big right turn box, I head out. Five minutes into the ride, I cross over the James River and into a wall of thick fog which stays with me through most of the box. Riding a bike through fog is disconcerting since you really can't see whats in front of you and your reaction time is greatly diminished. So the check takes me longer than what an open roadway at 3:30 would typically provide, but I make it through and complete the 14.6 mile odo check in 21 minutes and head back on the road about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Given the relatively low bonus point locations around the hotel, the only logical route was to high tail it out and head either north or south. Since I always wanted to be in Gettysburg at sunrise, my routing plan had me head to southeastern Pennsylvania. Getting to Gettysburg from Lynchburg is not a hard ride. Ms. Garmin had me take a "shortcut" over the mountains instead of staying on the divided highway of US29 to I-64. A quick scan of the route makes me believe that it is not a bad option, even for 4:00 a.m. and it turns out to be a pretty good road. Some twisties, but none that were that tight and (of course) no traffic. Along the way I had the "normal" wildlife encounters including a doe crossing my path about 50 feet in front of me, a beautiful 8 or 10 point buck and a flock of does off the field to my right, and the occasional possum scampering across the road. I hit the interstate at around 4:30 and settle in for a 2 hour I-81 ride while waiting for the sun to rise.

Just before hitting the West Virginia line, I cut over through the northern part of Virgina to Harper's Ferry, WV and then Maryland to pick up a water tower bonus. As I am riding along the Potomac River, it suddenly dawns on me that there is a lot of fog coming up from the river valley and I hope that it isn't going to mess with the bonus picture. Pulling into Brunswick, it is clear as day with the sun shining. Looks like I am going to be okay - but then I follow the road down a slight hill to the Southern States store (required to be in the picture) and into a wall of fog. How can that be? Literally 100 feet up the road it was clear.
Typically, what the Rallymasters tell you to do in these cases, is to do as much as possible to prove and document that you were at the bonus location. So I took a picture of the Southern States sign in the fog, went around the corner and took the clear picture of the water towers, and then ran over to a store and bought a drink to get a receipt to prove that I was in Brunswick, Maryland at 7:22 a.m. This proved enough to claim the bonus. So I am now 19 minutes ahead of schedule after traveling 1028 miles in about 22 hours (another undocumented SS1k).

From Brunswick, it was a quick hop up to Gettysburg. As I arrive at Devils Den, I see Karl Snell at the bonus location. At first, I am excited to see him because he is a great rally rider and one that is always near the top of the finishers, so I thought I was on the right route. I also thought he was just about ready to take off, but then I notice that half of his bike is sprawled out on the parking lot. Not a good sign. It seems that his transmission froze on him about 30 minutes ago and his rally was over. Knowing that I couldn't help him with the mechanical side of things, I offered any other assistance that I could - a ride somewhere, food, water. But he seemed quite content staying right there, he assured me that he already had AAA on the way, had wireless internet service, and that I was burning precious time talking to him. He encouraged me to take the bonus picture and head out. So I did. Upon reflection of our brief visit, I was truly amazed as to how calm and accepting of the situation he was. I know that I would not be. He kept saying that he was fortunate that it happened there and then and not along the side of an interstate at 4:00 a.m. He has given me great advice (through words and actions) as to handle the time (and yes it will happen to everyone in one of these rallies or long distance adventure) when I get stranded somewhere. So thanks, Karl. Anyway, it's 8:19 a.m. and I am still 17 minutes ahead of schedule with an odometer reading of17964.

From Gettysburg, it is a quick ride down I-270 and I-495 to Fairfax County. Along the way I ride through the job site that I worked on 20 years ago as a surveyor. As I ride past the center bridge abutment, I glance over to the median wall looking for the benchmark that I set that summer. No clue if it was still there, but in a moment, it was 1990 all over again. Any way, Roundtree Park is just off US-50 near Falls Church and I ride in at 9:55 a.m. (13 minutes ahead of schedule) with 1,160 completed. As I leave the park, I hear a slight pop from my splitter cord to my 12 volt receptacle and then the GPS goes dead. WTF???? A quick check of all other electrical components (they all are working fine), leads me to believe that I blew a fuse. The splitter was always cheap anyway and probably shorted out. At first, I think I can finish the rally without a GPS and then sanity returned. My GPS has about a 4 hour battery so there is a chance that if I conserve power (turn it off for interstate travel), I probably could make it back to Lynchburg. So I head south on I-95.

As soon as I leave Springfield on I-95, traffic immediately starts to slow - never quite stop, but very close. Since the GPS is off, I can't tell how much time I am losing, but I know that I am losing time. When I get within a stone's throw of Fredricksburg, I hop off I-95 and over to US 1 to head to Morton's BMW to get Steve Anderson's autograph and photo. I arrive at 11:09 a.m. (now 1 minute behind schedule) with the odometer reading 18098. While there, I ask Steve Anderson if they happen to have any fuses. They don't, but I decide to check my bike just in case I have a spare 5 or 10 amp on the bike since I really feel like I am going to need the GPS to get back into Lynchburg on time. So, I play a little parking lot mechanic and lo and behold, once I pop off the seat I find a spare 5 amp fuse. I immediately remember putting it under the sear just for this possibility. So in 5 minutes, I have the fuse in, the seat on, and heading out right behind Jim and Donna Phillips who happen to have pulled in to Morton's immediately behind me.

Jim and Donna are truly exceptional rally riders and an incredible team. It is common knowledge that if your route meshes with theirs (and you can pull it off) you will be near the top. So I immediately decided to stay a respectful distance behind them, but at the same time I wasn't going to lose sight of them as we make our way back to Lynchburg. Traffic is heavy, but passable as we head towards Gordonsville for the last water tower picture. Along the way, we pass Orange County Airport, I am convinced that is where I first learned to skydive while at Virginia Tech. It was one of those places that I have not given a second thought of in 20 years, but as soon as I saw the layout of the airport and the restaurant on my right, I knew when and why I was there in the past. The Gordonsville Water Tower was an uneventful stop at 12:14 p.m. (4 minutes behind schedule) with 1,259 miles bagged so far.

The road out of Gordonsville was heavy with traffic with no places to pass. It was about a 30 minute trek down to I-64 so I had nothing to do but accept the fact that I was going to be at the mercy of the train of vehicles that I was following (Jim and Donna were now immediately behind me). Once I accepted that fact, I started noticing the scenery. It was breath taking gorgeous. Too often on these rallies, you don't get to enjoy the countryside that you are riding in. But for the next 25 minutes, I got to really soak up beauty of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah mountains. The last stop was a simple 66 point bonus location at the Winton Country Club immediately north of Lynchburg at 1:27 p.m. (2 minutes ahead of schedule) with 18213 showing on the odometer.

After bagging the last bonus, it was a quick ride back into Lynchburg and the Quality Inn. Knowing that I was going to make it with a few minutes to spare, made the last miles much more enjoyable. I pull across the "finish line" at 1:51 p.m. (16 minutes before I needed to) with 18237 on the odometer meaning 1351 miles ridden since leaving Albany, GA 28 hours and 44 minutes ago.

The scoring process was really quite straight forward, primarily due to the index card system that I use to keep track of my bonus locations, times, and mileage while on the bike. That information is easily transferred to the rally book for scoring. I turn everything in at 2:45 p.m. and take a shower before getting scored at 4:00 p.m. The scoring process goes smoothly. The scorer has no problems or questions with my photos and documentation and I wind up with 10,237 points. He mentions to me that that was the highest he had seen from Albany. That is when I first believe that I may have done a very successful route. But then again, there were 10 different scorers and not everyone was scored yet. So, I thank him for the kind words about my route and head over to Outback for a pre-banquet snack. I meet up with John Bailey who tells me that he successfully ran the Group N bonus, since that bonus was worth 6,666 points, I pretty much believed that I was looking at the winner.

At the banquet, I am surprised to hear my name called behind John's, and Jim/Donna's for third place of 19 starters from Albany. It is really isn't a big deal and I won't be all that moody if it doesn't happen again, but that trophy looks good in my office now as Marie quickly informed me that it was not going to be in the house :-)

Sunday morning, after getting to say good bye to a number of people, but not everyone. I head down to Beth's for a brief visit with her, Travis, and the boys. They both wanted turns sitting on the bike. So there is hope for them yet.

I guess the only disappointment in the trip was how much of duplicate roads I was on this trip. I usually can make it work out that I see different routes through the weekend. But this trip had a lot of duplicates (both getting to and from the rally as well as during it). The rally season is over for 2011. Lord willing, the Cape Fear 1000 awaits me in April.

This is what SPOT saw during the weekend (including the trip down to Albany and home via Beth's):

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sept 10th - Welcome to the IBA

Well, I finally did it.

Ever since I first became involved with long distance motorcycling, it has been my goal to properly document an Iron Butt ride. I have had a few opportunities over the past few years, but just never to the time to document the ride to the high standard that the IBA requires, so I never sent in the rides. But I was determined to check that off the list in 2011 and thanks to the MTF, I had the opportunity.

Every other year the MTF has been sponsoring regional Saddlesore rides throughout the year - typically in May, June, and September. Fortunately for me, the September ride was starting in Byron, GA (about 100 miles south of Athens). So I signed up. The ride offered two options - a traditional out and back SS1k down to Naples, FL and back on I-75 and a more challenging in-state route. Usually, the in-state routes are limited to current IBA members, but after pleading my case to the sponsor (not really, just asked nicely and gave them some reasons why I think I am qualified to ride the in-state route - mainly due to my Not Superman and Cape Fear rally experience) I was given the green light.

The ride started a little after 5:00 a.m. on Saturday as I left the Chevron in the dark heading to Columbus. It took me about 15 minutes to get into the grove of riding and comprehending what I have in front of me for the day. But, I quickly started grinding out the miles. The first check point in Columbus was an easy in and out at the pump and I headed up to Dalton via Atlanta. There was very little traffic out on Saturday morning and I made amazing time up I-185, I-85, I-285, and then I-75 - by the time I rode into Dalton, I was almost 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I then proceeded to lose a little bit of time while fooling around with the pumps and the station manager to get a good receipt before saying screw it and went next door to BP and got one. However, my left highway peg would not say up and given the fact that I was about to enter the mountains, I didn't want it down. So I rigged up a way to keep it up with velcro. I later found out it was just a stuck spring that once I cleaned it out really well it hasn't given me any trouble.

After leaving Dalton, I headed over to the mountains. I was both looking forward and dreading this part of the trip. There is nowhere else I want to ride than the mountains in the early fall, but so does everyone else. So I was expecting a fair amount of bike and vehicle traffic along US76. I didn't count on it being the Thunder over Georgia weekend. Mostly Harleys traveling in packs of about 6 bikes under the watchful eyes of the Georgia State Patrol. But it wasn't too bad, sure I lost some time like I knew that I would, but overall, I was able to keep moving. The only trouble was when I went too hot into a turn and had to use the pull-off for extra riding room. Just a dumb, inattentive mistake.

After the mountains was US441 through Clayton, down into Athens and Madison - obviously it is a route that I know well and just kept moving. The UGA/South Carolina game was the same day of the ride and I was worried about gameday traffic. There was some, but not a lot. So, I made it to the Madison check point still 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

The ride on I-20 over to Augusta was uneventful and I was able to keep up my speed. From Augusta came a back road route to a suburb of Savannah. I was taken back at the shear beauty of GA17 south of Augusta. Coming into Savannah the Spanish Moss hanging in the trees around large farming plantations was a page out of the old south.

Next was a quick jaunt down I-95 to Brunswick. I was able to pick up the UGA football game on my headset at this point of the ride so it was nice to kill the time listening to the game and rooting for UGA to blow it (they did). I did find myself in the middle of a sportsbike group on I-95 which wasn't a big deal but I can't stand the way they speed and show off. But they didn't pay me a second look.

Riding from Brunswick over to Valdosta was a reverse of the Cape Fear route that I took earlier this year - even about the same time. Given the fact that the game was still on, traffic was light on US82 and I was able to continue to make good time.

Pulling into the Shell station at Valdosta, I took a bit of a longer break than I had intended. I still was way ahead of schedule and knew all I had left was about 140 miles of interstate travel, so I lingered at the station watching the scene of people coming into and out of the station. After about 20 minutes, I headed north.

Pulling into the Chevron about 30 minutes early and seeing the ride sponsors was a great feeling. The Grubbs came over to congratulate me as I went into the store to pull together the documentation. Given the fact that it is a MTF sponsored ride, they handle submitting the documentation once they give it the once over. It will probably be a couple of months before I get the official certificate, but I am fairly certain that the receipts will be accepted by the IBA. I hung out with Quinton and Wanda for about an hour before heading across the street to crash into bed.

All in all, it wound up being about 1,030 miles in 17 hours and 15 minutes including a total amount of stopped time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Therefore, I averaged around 59.7 mph with stops and about 66.5 mph while moving. Yeah, I guess I was moving when I was moving - but to be fair the route had over 500 miles of interstate travel (posted at 70 mph), about 400 miles of four lane divided highway (generally posted at 55 or 65 mph), and about 100 miles of two lane roadway with very little traffic on them (with the exception of the mountains).

I can see why collecting in-state certifications can become addictive. So I hope that this is the first of many in-state SS1ks for me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 27th - Hunting Lions in South Georgia

Sometimes the best laid plans go wrong after everything was going so right.

Since I could not do the planned ride a few weeks back, once I saw an opening my schedule I jumped at the chance to pick up the remaining 6 Lions Club stops that I needed to finish the required 16. One of the aspects of Long Distance riding that I am not completely comfortable with and need some practice is early morning riding. So I decided to use this trip as a chance to work on those skills. So off I go at 4:00 a.m.

I haven't gone 1/2 mile out of the subdivision when a family of deer decide to cross the road in front of me. Not directly, but close enough that I can easily make out individual hairs on their bodies as I pass. This is exactly why I don't like early morning riding. Though, the moon was rising late in the night (or early morning) on this day and the sliver crescent shape coming up over the eastern horizon was incredibly beautiful and it was fun to watch it slowly rise in the night sky during the first 2 hours of the ride.

I make my way over the First Georgia Welcome Center on US 301 shortly after sunrise just as planned. As much as I think it is really neat to have this building as part of our history, I question the cost to keep it running - especially since how many people (more importantly visitors) enter Georgia along US 301 these days. I am guessing it won't see the next decade.

After the Welcome Center it is down and over to the coast to visit the Jekyll Island Club. Traffic was very light on I-95 and I was making good time until my drink cup holder decided to break. I quickly make my way over to the nearest exit ramp to figure out plan B (basically shoving it into the tank bag). I elect to get off I-95 just north of Brunswick so I can ride over the bridge to Jekyll, traffic was not as bad as I feared along US 17 coming into Brunswick, but I certainly lost a lot of time. Jekyll is under construction right now so I really did not do much exploring on the island. Paid my $5, visited the phone, and then back off the island.

Going to the Lions Camp along US82 was uneventful. It is nice to see what it looks like (boring) in the daylight as compared to the midnight ride from Cape Fear. The Camp is right next to a State Park, but easy enough to get to and then back into Waycross. The smell of smoke from the swamp fires is still heavy in the air.

Just north of Waycross the weather starts to turn and a line of storms is coming at me from my left. I luckily out run them and make it into Baxley just after 12. However, the tip end of the storms catch up with me and I get wet for about 10 minutes. Nothing too serious.

Ridding through south Georgia is pretty at times and boring at others. The really small towns are quaint and the smaller cities are cookie cutter versions of each other with the same fast food restaurants and strip malls. I can't imagine what it is like living in them. Into Soperton, I head (after running through another line of storms) and are greeted by a swarm of gnats. Gotta love south Georgia. I found the news building after making a loop around the downtown area.

I am just about on schedule, maybe a little off due to fooling around with my mp3 set-up before getting into Waycross, but overall I think I should be back in Athens around 4. Even start thinking about stopping by the office. Then I get to I-16.

For the first 30 minutes, I am flying on I-16. Averaging 80+ and barely keeping up with most of the traffic. Then just west of Dublin, the traffic jam starts. I elect not to take the exit and stay on I-16. BIG MISTAKE. An hour and about 2 miles later, I slowly crawl my way through the work zone and start back up to speed. Sitting on I-16 in 95 degree weather is as bad as it can get on a bike.

I roll into Macon about an hour behind schedule, find the marker and take a picture. Though, mainly because I am cranky, tired, hot, and thirsty, I take the picture but it is blurry as hell. Instead of taking a deep breath and thinking it through, I say f*ck it and move on. The picture definitely does not meet the requirements of having your name on the passbook clearly visible, but I am going to send it in anyway. What frustrates me the most is the fact that I know better when it comes to pictures. Lesson learned since no RallyMaster would accept the crappy picture. Would you?
Anyway, I make my way out of Macon and head home. Truck traffic is heavier that I would like, but I make it home a little after 5:00 p.m. So overall 13 hours of travel to cover 650 miles. Certainly not a record, but it was a fun day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 11th - 15th: Running to North Carolina

That dreaded 3:30 a.m. phone call. We all know that they exist and we all know that over time we all will get our share, but nevertheless, they are never easy. Marie, Landon, and I had a good week visit with Mom and Beth, Travis, Carter, and Austin. We get home on Sunday night and all seems well. At 3:30 a.m., Mom calls to tell us that Duane died quite unexpectedly. Well, we all know the right thing to do is to get back over there, but the question is do I leave right away or in the morning? Given the fact that Mom was just now leaving the hospital and was trying to get some sleep - leaving now and getting there around 10 really doesn't make a lot of sense. So the plan is to go into the office button up a few things and be on the road a little after 9.

Well things never go completely as planned but I manage to get out of the office a little after 11 and on the road to Mom's by 11:20. It was by far one of the fastest trips over in my 10 years of making the trip - I think the September 2002 trip over was faster only because I didn't stop at all on that one. I averaged a running speed of 73 mph the entire way and only had a 7 minute gas/pee stop in Camden. Because I was running so well on the interstate, I stayed on I-95 to US 74 instead of heading towards Conway at Florence. The distance is about 17 miles longer but the GPS says it is about 2 minutes shorter - something that seems about right. It was hot the entire way - well over 90 the entire time. I got in to a good routine of drinking every 10 minutes or so. Thankfully, it was an easy trip over and I got to my Mom's at 5:00 p.m.

After the week helping Mom as best as I could, I headed back on Friday morning at sunrise. It was a cool ride back (never got above 75) and one that I pushed about equally as hard - averaging the ride at 70 mph with just a couple of gas/pee stops due to fuel management issues. I did confirm that the Conway route is shorter in distance but slightly longer in time (mainly due to lower speeds on 501 as compared to 74). I pulled back home a little after 11:30 a.m. and headed back to the office.

I also confirmed that the motorcycle odometer is generous by about 1.44% (hey, gotta do something to keep the mind sharp while grinding out interstate miles). In other words, for every 100 miles of riding, the odometer will read 101.4, for every 300 miles it reads 304.3.

Yeah, I got to ride the bike, but I hate it for my Mom.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 11th and 13th Rides

Due to a variety of work commitments, house projects, kindergarten graduations, and family vacations, I have not been able to get away on the bike for a couple of months. Not that I am complaining, it has been a good couple of months being with the family, but I missed the call of the road.

Therefore, when an open Saturday appeared and a RTE call was voiced, I jumped at the opportunity to ride over to Hickory, NC for lunch with the hope of catching a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway. About 10 of the MTF guys met up for lunch and tire kicking. It was an easy ride up to Hickory from Athens being mostly I-85. After lunch a number of use headed up to the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Shortly before we got to the Parkway a hard rain/hail storm came upon us and we found shelter in an abandoned gas station. After a 30 minute delay, we headed onto the Parkway. The rest of the group only traveled about 10 miles before heading back to the Charlotte area. I decided to stay on all the way to Asheville. Overall, it was a beautiful ride but one filled with rain from time to time. As soon as I would dry off from the last shower, another one hit. Plus the Saturday afternoon leisure drivers were out in full - I know that the Parkway is not a private motorcycle course, but why people don't simply pull over a 10 seconds (okay 5 seconds) to allow a bike to pass is beyond me. Those few seconds would make everyone much more happy since I am sure that most don't like a bike inches from their bumper.

Overall, I think I came in about 490 miles and besides the rain storms that I had to contend with all after and early evening, it was a good day and I enjoyed the company of other MTF riders.

On Monday, Steve H. and I decided to get out and collect a few of the Lions Club passport book locations. We hit Duluth just after rush hour, but traffic was still heavy as we made our way up to Dawsonville. Once we left the Racing Hall of Fame, we traveled through Dahlonega (I had forgotten how beautiful the town is) we traveled up to Neels Gap and the Store which I had never been to before. After the Store, we hit a cemetery north of Helen before heading over to Royston and Ty Cobb's museum (why it is in a medical office is beyond me). We rolled back into Athens and hit Ben Epps just before 3 o'clock. Unfortunately, the office was calling and I needed to head in from that point. I like riding with Steve, but it is a lot of stopping (I even planned stops along the way to allow him to stretch). But it is fun to have a riding partner especially since most of the riding I do is solo stuff.

All in all, it was about 750 miles of riding over the two days. It was good to be on the bike again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cape Fear Adventure - April 14th - 19th

Wow - what a crazy week of weather. Thankfully, I made through all of it safe and sound.

Of all the rides I seem to do, it is this one that I look most forward to every year. Probably because it was the 2008 Cape Fear Rally that I first tried long distance endurance riding.

After getting the rally book on Wednesday evening and figuring out what I could or should attempt given the anticipated weather, I headed up to Savannah, TN on Thursday morning. The first stop was in
Cedartown, GA to capture another picture for the Lions Club Tour of Georgia. Next, I was completely taken back at the beauty found in northern Alabama (not so much Muscle Shores or Florence) but the rest of the area was really beautiful and easy to ride in. I checked in at the Quality Inn shortly before 3 p.m. and had to return some phone calls and other work related tasks before talking to a number of other riders and continue to tweak my riding plans.

Dinner was at the Catfish Hotel near the Shiloh Battlefield. About 25 of the riders showed up and it was a good time. I changed my route again (deciding to go for the Meridian bonus after all). I make my reservation for a hotel in Pooler, GA for Friday night and then crash for the night. I awoke at 7 a.m. to the sounds of weather sirens blaring. It was not going to be a good day. I moved on to the Hotel lobby to mingle with the other riders. One thing for certain, most (if not all) of the
LD riders really do look after one another if asked and when necessary. There was a lot of anxiety in the breakfast area and most were willing to share their thoughts and perspectives as to what route might be the best to get around (and through) this storm. All of the talk reassured me that staying in Mississippi was going to be the right move.

After breakfast, I did some last minute routing against the weather channel's
forecast and decided to make a beeline for Meridian. My thought was if I could get south I would be below the tail of the storm and should have a ride into Wilmington without storms - or at least until late Saturday morning. So a few minutes after 9:30 a.m., I packed up, checked out and headed out to a gas station to get the starting receipt. About 20 of us were at a BP and in the excitement of the start, I forgot to get gas and just got a starting receipt for a bottle of water (or "grocery" as printed on the receipt) with a starting time of 9:59 a.m. CDT - meaning at 2:59 p.m. EDT I needed to be in Wilmington - about 1200 miles down the way. I headed due west on US 64 to US 45 (even though Ms. Garmin wanted me to do something slightly different) but I figured I needed to just get out of town and due west was the best direction based on what the skies were looking like.

Shortly after crossing the Mississippi state line, I realized that I didn't get gas since pulling into town yesterday afternoon so I don't have enough to get to Meridian without stopping. Nuts. So down US 45 I head. The weather was actually pretty decent - a little wind but no rain until I got to
Tupelo (about 90 miles into the ride). About that time, my body was done with the morning coffee and orange juice so I figured that I might as well kill two birds with one stone. So I stopped at Shannon, MS at 11:29 a.m. I pull up to the Texaco and no one is there except for a guy cooking chicken in the parking lot and the store clerk. I go in and use the restroom and come out to (seriously) 10 cars that had pulled up to the station to get a chicken lunch. It appears that he starts selling at 11:30 (not a minute sooner) and people come out of the woodwork for his chicken (it did smell good). Anyway, I topped off the gas tank and head out. The weather has definitely turned and I am riding south in a fairly steady rain now and directly into a storm.

Just before I get to West Point, MS (about mile 135), I really start getting uneasy about being on the bike- the wind has picked up, the rain hasn't slowed, I'm getting cold, and it is getting dark - no- not dark, the sky is actually becoming void of light as if all light is being sucked out of the clouds. I get just inside the city limits and there is a Shell station on my right, I decide to play it safe and pull in. I barely get under the canopy when the tornado sirens start going off and buckets of rain start coming straight down. I put my heated vest on and start waiting out the storm. Over at the next pump I notice a bike, but didn't think much of it until Barbara notices me and calls me over. Shortly after Rick comes out of the store to give Barbara and me a weather update. It appears that the real nasty stuff is going to the north of town (we can visually confirm that from the gas station) and if we wanted to make a run for it the south appears to be okay. So once the rain subsides a little, we take off. Fortunately, that is the last of the really bad weather.

The remaining 100 miles to Meridian are (comparably) uneventful. We ride in and out of rain and wind but nothing is too bad. Just before Meridian I decide to part ways with Rick and Barbara and take off ahead of them. That was short lived because they had the fastest gas stop in Meridian and get in after me yet out before me. Time to head west. I decide to pass over the Exell's Fish Camp (first of my poor point shedding mistakes) and head straight to the Old Alabama capital site.

For the next hour and half, it is a constant cat and mouse game with the rain showers - nothing serious, but I would always seem to find a way to ride into a stray shower when the rest of the sky looked promising as I head into the former capital site. The area,
Cahaba (mile 340), is really neat in a ghost towny way. But it is an easy ride in, snap the picture of the stone marker, and head back out. There are about 6 other riders at the site at the same time. I always enjoy seeing others while picking up boni, if nothing else, it reassures me that the route that I chose seems to be attractive to others as well. As I pull into Selma, I pick up a few other riders and tag along with them through Selma, across I-65, Luvrene, Brantley for gas, and then into Enterprise.

While riding through
Luvrene, I fall about 1000 feet behind the other riders and gun it shortly before leaving the city limits to catch up trailing right behind a white sedan. Of course right at the city limits sign is a cop running radar, thinking that I am busted, I fall in line with a number of vehicles and watch the cop come up the line wondering which vehicle he is going to signal over. He gets right in front of me and directly behind the white sedan when he turns on his lights. I just maintain the same pace watching to see if he is motioning my direction, thankfully, he doesn't and just pulls over the white sedan. So thank you officer.

Enterprise, AL (mile 475) is home to the Boll Weevil monument in the middle of town. I (along with about a dozen riders now) pull in at about the same time and take the required picture with our flags. I can't imagine what all of the locals were thinking watching the show. As we head out of town, the group of riders seems to start breaking up, some are heading north towards some of the lower
Georgia point locations (but more numerous), while some continue east towards Bainbridge.

The ride over to
Bainbridge occurs during the time of the day that I absolutely love to ride - about 90 minutes before sunset. The air is beginning to take on the coolness of the night air and the angle of the sun illuminates the countryside in a really unique way. The ride over on US 84 is mostly a four lane highway with ample opportunities to pass. I pull into the BP Bainbridge gas station (mile 560) just after dusk, get the receipt that I need and head back on the road. But now it is decision time, do I stay on US84 and head over to Saint Simons or cut up and over through Georgia to hit a bonus or two before getting into Savannah Georgia? I am beginning to feel the fatigue of the stress the first three hours of the ride caused to set in, but think I can make it over to the island. So, I shed the two point bonus locations (821 in Vienna and 685 in Vidalia) in favor of the 1415 points in St. Simons. Off I go. Yeah, I realize now that 1415 is actually less than the 1506 these two would have provided. A classic simple stupid mistake you seem to make on these rides.

Okay, Ms.
Garmin tells me it is 3 plus hours to St. Simons, but it really doesn't sink in until I get about half way there. It is a long, long way in the early evening and night hours. Still I just pluck off the miles one at a time. But by the time I reach Waycross, I know that hitting St. Simons and then up 95 is going to be too much for me. Damn, why did I reserve and pay for that room in Pooler before starting this Rally? Even under the most ideal of conditions, it was the questionable place to stop and now it's just plain wrong. I still like the idea of reserving a room before hand since it gives me a place to shoot for when I start getting tired and it is nice to know that a room is waiting for me when I pull up (good thing too in this case since everything in Pooler was sold out by the time I pulled up at 1:30 a.m.). However, with the room being where it is and the amount of time it will take to get to the end of the island for the bonus, I know I will not make it safely. So I have to shed the St. Simons bonus. Therefore, right before I get close to Brunswick, I detour up towards Darien and I-95.

It is a quick 60 minute ride (including a gas stop) from
Darien up to Savannah to get the receipt I need. Luckily the station that I stop in Savannah has a good receipt and rings up the bottle of water that I bought as "grocery" as well. Therefore, I have matching receipts and 4,250 points. Though by the look I got from the clerk, she was taken back why I wanted/needed a receipt for a 99 cent bottle of water. The next exit up 95 is for Pooler and my hotel room (mile 822). I stop at the convenience store next door to the hotel and grab a banana and container of milk to officially document the start of my rest period. I ride over to the hotel and check - in. I actually enjoy watching the expressions of the clerks when I tell them I need a wake-up call in about 4 hours after checking in. Yeah, the rules say you only need to stop for 3 hours, but I know my body and it needs more, so I am more than willing to get an extra hour. Yeah, I will probably lose another bonus or two, but I wasn't going to win this thing anyway.

The wake-up call comes at 5:45 and I hop into the shower and then back on the bike. I am pulling out of the convenience store at 6:10 a.m. heading towards the Old Sheldon Church. It will be an easy stop for me since my former in-laws once lived less than a mile from the site and I visited it several times over the years. As I ride up, I quickly scan other bonus locations in the area as an attempt to salvage some of the lost opportunities from last night. Once I pass the exit that I would need to take, I notice the St. Helena Island bonus - shoot I could have got that one and then the Old Church without loosing much time if I noticed it about 5 minutes earlier, but the way the rivers and inlets carve their ways into the low country of South Carolina the next exit up 95 would require way too much back tracking so I decide to head directly to the Church (mile 875). The rules state you could not submit a picture until after 7:00 a.m., so I make sure that the picture is taken at 7:02 a.m. to be sure - easy 488 points.

After the church, it is over to the Isaac Hayes burial site. Heck, I didn't even know he was dead (Ed's note: I have recently been informed that he did in fact die in 2008 - RIP) much less that he was from South Carolina. I ride down the sandy dirt road to the historical marker and find out that it is Isaac Hayne from colonial times (mile 902). Reading comprehension is everything in these rallies. I come to find that I luck out with the road condition for this bonus, it typically would not be advisable to try it in a C-14 after the rain that we had. But it wasn't too bad - soft in places, but I never felt like the bike was getting away from me.

Next was a couple of stops around Charleston. Typically, I shy away from Charleston due to the traffic, but it is only 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I think I can get both of them by 9
ish. So I head into the city. Both (a cow advertising a dairy - mile 933 and the National Park Service sign for Fort Moultrie - mile 946) prove to be easy boni to pick up in very light traffic. They were preparing for a civil war reenactment at the Fort and I was quite the spectacle riding in taking the picture and riding off while a dozen of Union forces were standing around. I guess we all have our own ways to burn our free time. Looking up at the sky, I wonder if I am going to stay out of the weather today. It is evident that the area has had some showers already this morning, but I seem to be about 15 minutes behind them. Not going to complain.

Upon leaving the Charleston area, I hit a lost sea memorial just off US 17 (mile 984) before visiting an old church in
Bucksville, SC just outside of Conway (mile 1037). Before getting to the Church, I do a little on the bike version of the "happy dance" near Georgetown when I cross the 1,000 mile mark 23 hours into the ride. Although it may not seem to be that big of an accomplishment on these rallies since almost everyone does it, I still find joy in the fact that I have ridden 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours every time I do it. Checking the clock, I see that I should have plenty of time to make the 1 p.m. Southport ferry (current ETA is 12:15 p.m.) so I call Mom to see if she wanted to meet me at the front gate of St. James since I would be literally driving by at noon and had a couple of minutes to spare. She says sure and offered to bring a sandwich to eat on the ferry - great news since I am starving - jerky and granola for 24 hours is beginning to get really old. However, as I get close to St. James on 211, the road is closed due to an accident. We are rerouted over the new Oak Island bridge and through Oak Island before coming back into Southport. I call Mom and let her know of the situation (she noticed that no vehicles were coming from that direction while she was waiting) - she offers to drive down 211 to meet me at McDonalds, I decline - but she does anyway but stupid me doesn't stop and just wave as I ride by - too bad she said that sandwich was really good.

I arrive at the ferry terminal at 12:39 p.m. (mile 1120) and am the first bike in line. Within 10 minutes about 12 of us show up to score the 3750 point ferry ride bonus. Although I have taken the ferry countless times, it is the first time while on the bike. Didn't really notice much of a difference in the voyage - they load us up last and we are under the tunnel which means we are one of the first ones off. A number of us lead the pack of riders through the beach towns south of Wilmington and over the draw bridge to get over to see the special guest at the Battleship and the necessary 2860 points.

I pull in to the Battleship at 2:01 p.m. (mile 1145) and meet Bob Higdon. Since it is an easy ride to the hotel from here and I don't have to be there until 2:59 p.m., I linger longer than I normally do at bonus spots and talk to Bob and watch some of the riders arrive for the picture I find Bob to be a really pleasant and funny fellow and enjoy the show.

I take off and head back over the Cape Fear river to head to the hotel and grab a six pack for the final bonus. Coming up onto the bridge, I am completely taken back by the blast of wind coming down the river and the fact that it truly feels like it could blow me over (or at least into the parapet wall). Thankfully, I make it over the bridge and head towards the hotel. I stop for the beer and the clerk comments that she knows where the party is going to be tonight. She presents me the receipt as soon as I pay for the beer. I take it I am not the first rider she has seen this afternoon.

I pull into the hotel parking lot at 2:31 p.m. (with 28 minutes to spare) and about 1160 miles on the odometer. Overall, I am very pleased with the ride.

Scoring is uneventful for me. I enjoy hearing all of the stories that many riders tell of loosing points at the scoring table, but I have found the process to be fairly straight forward as long as you stay organized. The one key rule that I follow is that I never do any of the paperwork while on the bike. I keep a running log with me with all of the necessary information, but I don't actually fill out any of the paperwork until I get a shower and sit down at the table in the scoring room. Adding up the points, I find myself pleasantly surprised that I have 37,703 - which should mean a solid middle of the pack finish. I will admit while I was missing some stops that I should have planned better for, I had visions of finishing at the bottom. At the
banquet, I find that score means 17th place finish. I can live with that.

The banquet was fun as always. I think we are all so starved that we will eat anything that is placed in front of us. But Jim and the rest of the Rally
Krewe always do a really good job with getting barbeque brought in and there is usually enough for seconds. This year is no exception.

Sunday morning, I say good by to as many people as possible before heading over to Mom's for a few days. I really love the fact that when I leave the hotel on Sunday, I have a whopping 30 miles to go when most of the riders have hundreds of miles. So before 9:00 a.m. I am back off the bike and waiting for Mom to get home from church.

After two days of helping Mom out around the house, I head back to Athens with stops in Augusta and Washington for more Lions Club Tour of Georgia stops. The only problem with the ride home is the heat. It was over 90 degrees in Augusta - way too early in the year for that.

Overall, the trip yielded about 1900 miles so given the Master's RTE and Milwaukee/Moonshine trip, I top out at about 4,000 miles in a little less than 4 weeks. A really good start to the 2011 riding season.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Apr 5th - 9th - Milwaukee and Moonshine

Okay here was the plan. Ride the bike up to Milwaukee - visit Purdue (fist time since 1993, catch a Brewers' game, go to a Stormwater conference, ride to Moonshine, and then home). Simple enough 1800 miles in about 5 days. And, believe it or not, it actually was minus the 90 minutes of rain that we had to ride through between Paxton and Casey (rain gauges in the area suggest that over an inch of rain fell during that time).

Leaving Athens on Tuesday morning was cold - upper 30's, it actually snowed a little the night before in the Smokies, but it was still cold and then very windy on the ride to Purdue. Got in about right on schedule and then explored the University a little the next morning. Some things were completely different, some were almost exactly the same. I can't believe it has been almost 20 years. Heading out of town lead me (by chance) into a field of windmills. Must be some sort of alternative energy experiment associated with Purdue. Riding through Chicago was hairy so I just stayed in the far left lane to minimize the direction that some of the vehicles could come at me. Milwaukee itself was fine - just cold, gray, rainy, and dreary. But the hotel was great - Iron Horse Hotel. It is a converted loft with a motorcycle (mainly Harley) theme. They said that I was the first one to ride in this year.

After the conference, I made it about 200 miles south to Paxton, IL. Small farming community not much to see - expect for the high school girls hanging outside the only bar that I found open. The next morning I headed to Moonshine to pay my respects to Terry. As I said earlier, not much to say about the ride down except for the rain (and rained it did). Met up with a Chicago rider on the way down (Ed) and it was fun to have some company during the storm. Miss Garmin sent us an interesting route through the fields of Illinois but it was all good. After a quick stop at the hotel to pick up the shirt and cinnamon bun - it was off to Moonshine with the others (good thing too since I didn't have the correct coordinates - didn't check them from S&T will in the future). After the burger and tire kicking, it was back to Athens. Not much to report, at times I really didn't want to be riding any more, but I would either stop or pick up another rider for a bit (thank you Gold Wing from Dalton to 316).

On the way up, I picked up a stop on the GA Lions tour and another one on the way back.

Interesting story while at Moonshine. After getting the burger (picked up by Ed - thanks), I sat down next to an older gentleman talking to a younger guy across the table. Didn't pay them much attention when all of a sudden the older man said something about looking for a "David Clark from Athens, GA while here" I said, rather nonchalantly, that would be me. It was Ronnie who made me my highway pegs. After quite of bit of disbelief that I actually sat down next to Ronnie, we had a good talk, saw each other's bikes, and wished each other well. Really good guy.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 24th - 26th - Master's Weekend

It was supposed to be three days of riding to really kick off the upcoming riding season. On Thursday, I took the morning off and rode over to Two Brothers Tires in Lawrenceville to get a new set of tires on - the decision was pretty easy once I picked up the nail with Roger and Tim. Tim did a great job - about $60 to put on the tires and the cost of the tires matched what most internet sellers were charging. I am definitely going back.

Friday morning was a ride over for a Barb-e-que lunch with other MTF riders. Up until then, I had only met a couple and didn't really care one way or another, but these guys were great and super friendly. Will definitely do this again. Wanting to see some scenery (plus the weather was perfect) I tried to take as scenic route over and back as time allowed. The town of Ware Shoals, SC may not be much, but the shoals are beautiful. Also, riding past the test track for Michellen was an unexpected surprise.

Saturday was supposed to be a ride with Steve but given his accident earlier in the week, I was on my own. Got off to a late start in the morning - didn't have everything ready - lessoned learned. So I moved on down US78 to meet up with Jim for breakfast. Again a really good group of guys. Then it was off to Sconyers for lunch. Many in the long distance community don't like group rides, but I actually enjoy them at times and it was fun zipping down I-20 as a group of about 20 bikes between Atlanta and Augusta. Lunch at Sconyers was good - though a little un exciting the weather held a number of people back this year. Leaving Sconyers, I got caught up in a pretty good rain storm for a few minutes but quickly dried off by the time I was in Thomspton. Given the weather, I didn't try and do much more than zip on back to help Marie since Landon had a birthday party to go to and she still had clients.

March 13th - Ride with Roger and Tim

Since Marie took Landon over to Charlotte for the start of Spring Break, I had an open Sunday so I took advantage of it with a couple of co-workers. I laid out three different routes and had them choose they chose this one because I said it was only about 170 miles - missed that it was closer to 205, don't know how I missed it.

But it was fun riding with Roger. His riding style closely matches mine and we seem to have a good sense for when we need to stop. Plus he loves to go hard in the curves at times. Tim is a fun rider, but is mostly in the laid back cruising sense instead of wanting to eat up the miles. But I enjoy both of their company on rides. Anyway, I think this is a good afternoon route and one that has a touch of the mountains and a little bit of the lakes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

February 11th - Friday Fun Day

Trying to take advantage of (what we were led to believe) was going to be great Friday weather, Steve, Steve, and I played hooky for a couple of hours during the middle part of the day and did a quick 100 mile loop south of Athens. It never really warmed up as they promised it would nor did we see the sun until we got back into Athens. But like they say about the golf course, a day riding is better than being in the office.

February 23 - 25th - Orlando Trip

As a surprise to Landon, Marie treated him to a week at Disney and Universal for his 6th birthday. We all know my "love" for Disney, so I used it as an excuse to stay at home and be a bachelor for the first part of the week. On Wednesday, I drove down to surprise him at dinner for his birthday and then spend Thursday at Universal with him and Marie before heading home on Friday. In all, about 950 miles in a little over 48 hours. The bike is really sweet grinding out the miles on the interstate (as much as I dislike slab riding). The seat modifications, pegs, and new windshield all fit my riding style really well now and I only need to stop for fuel now (about every 200 miles). I was pleased to see that I was averaging 47 mpg on the trip. The route was nothing to write home about - literally down and back on the same roads. Wednesday's trip down was gorgeous with very light traffic. Friday started off with a very strong crosswind (coming at me from the west) until Lake City and then I rode through about 20 minutes of a light rain (not enough to worry about or stop for rain gear). But once I got back into Georgia, the clouds broke and it was a beautiful ride up from there.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20th - Clemson

While Marie and Landon were visiting the Gigantic Rat, I took the chance to do some riding with Steve. It wasn't as nice as yesterday - low 50's the entire ride, but it was nice to see that part of the state again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jan 29th - 68 degrees!!!

What a difference a week makes both in terms of weather and attitude. Last week 37 degrees and just not into a riding mentality. This week, 68 degrees and carving hard into the curves. I had forgotten how great the roads in southern Walton County are - especially around the horse farms. Since I was in the area, I swung by in-laws. Played around a little with the pegs. Each day, I am more glad that I got them. Probably need to save a few pennies for the windshield (and a new set of tires) before the Cape Fear rally.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Testing out the Pegs

Saturday January 22nd: Overall not a great Saturday afternoon ride. But I do like the new highway pegs and believe that they will be a good addition, especially for the longer days. Trusting that future rides will be better.