Monday, April 21, 2008

2 Day Trial Run for TN

The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday was not optimal: Showers and thunder showers both days with temps near 60º f.

I had cleared all my weekend appointments and responsibilities (mowing the grass can wait!). I shared with Teresa what I had in mind. She thought for a minute and slowly nodded her head in agreement.

So, Saturday afternoon came and we packed the tail and saddle bags, put our helmets on and took off. Destination: Not sure, but probably Wheeling, West Virginia. Estimated return: Sunday evening.

We traveled US Route 40 east through Zanesville, Cambridge, and St. Clairsville. We visited the big shopping mall in St.Clairsville about 10 miles from Wheeling and then got a room at a Super 8 motel. The rain was beginning to fall and I didn't want my first rain ride to be in the dark. Road time for Saturday: about 3 hours.

The next morning it was obvious that the rain fell most of the night and was still trying hard to let loose. But we had covered the motorcycle to keep some of the elements away so the seats and saddle bags were dry.

We took off and followed US 40 another 10 miles or so until we picked up Ohio State Route 7 which parallels the Ohio River. We rode SR 7 and West Virginia State Route 2 for the next couple of hours until we got to Marietta, Ohio. In Marietta we turned north on State Route 60 which follows the Muskingum River back towards our neck of the woods. It rained on us most of Sunday morning and the first part of the afternoon. The total road time Sunday was about 6 hours and though we rode in rain and cooler temps both Teresa and I consider the trip a great success for a several reasons.

It was a success because of what we learned and what we saw and experienced

Here's what we learned:
  • Maneuverability - The Boulevard is a little sluggish with the bag we packed and our weight. Compensate
  • Rain riding is OK - Slow down and read the road. Watch for the shiny spots.
  • Road surfaces - Tar ribbons on the road are very slippery.
  • Visibility in the rain - The windshield deflects most wind away from my face and visor.
  • Fatigue - Stop every 90 minutes or whenever you see something interesting, whichever comes first.
  • Extra Gear – Be prepared for gear malfunctions. Add duct tape to the tools list.
  • Maximum ride time BBF (Before Butt Fatigue) - about 5½ hours.

Here's what we saw and experienced:

  • Downtown Cambridge - A place to stop and spend a few hours. Quaint and nostalgic, old buildings with small shops.
  • Scenery - Beautiful hills and country sides. Green pastures between rocky outcrops. Reclamation areas of former coal strip mines.
  • Ohio Roads – Ohio SR7 is about half 4 lane highway and half 2 lane and is in rough shape.
  • West Virginia Roads - WV SR2 is mostly a 2 lane road but the road condition is far superior to OH SR7.

The Boulevard is a mess with dried road spray and water spots evident everywhere. But like Earl Thomas at Two wheels and an engine wrote to me recently, now I can “enjoy spending some quiet time detailing the bike, reflecting on past rides and daydreaming about the future ones.”

2 comments:

Earl Thomas said...

Call me a little off center, but I have always enjoyed riding in the rain (everything in moderation though). I enjoy the change in riding dynamics of wet weather on a bike as opposed to dry, it keeps me on my toes, especially towards the end of summer when the continuous dry spells that we have around here can lull me into a false sense of complacency.

Doug C said...

Earl,

I had great anxiety about wet riding and with the vacation trip planned at the end of May (gotta go rain or shine) I needed some ride time in the rain.

Advice from Dan and others helped prepare me but there's no teacher like experience.

I found that it was not as scarey as I anticipated but I did need to pay attention and be more deliberate in my actions.

Seeing through road spray from other trafic is still a concern but I expect we'll have an opportunity to try that hat on between now and the trip.