Friday, May 29, 2009

A few months back I told of the phone call I received inviting me to consider taking the trip of a lifetime: 16 days starting from San Fransico, north into Oregon and then east back towards home in Ohio.

Unfortunately, as the only person in a one man IT shop where I work there was just no way I could take 2 weeks off in a row. So, on July 3rd I will wish a dozen and a half of my local friends bon voyage from Port Columbus airport as they fly to the west coast to collect their motorcycles which started the trip via semi trailer 4 days earlier.

I was really envious of those that are making this trip. I enjoy their company and have never seen the beauty of the pacific northwest, or many of the places west of the Mississippi river, first hand. (There was a weekend sprint to Boulder, Colorado once, but I slept through most of that trip!)

Well, a couple of weeks ago while I was day dreaming about what I would miss, I said out loud to one of our cats, "Too bad this trip isn't for only one week. I can be away from work for a week. How far could I travel in a week?" Hmmm. Good question.

The answer, as it turns out, is about 1,300 miles away. Geographically speaking, I'd say about to Sturgis, South Dakota. Which, as it also turns out, is on the route my friends are taking on their trip.

So, to make a long story short, I will leave central Ohio a week after my friends fly out, and hook up with them 3 days later in Sturgis, SD. We'll spend a couple of days seeing the sights in and around the Black Hills and then start the 3 day trek back home.

To many riders (and readers) this 1,300 mile trip would be considered a short cruise around the block. But Lady is not a touring bike, although she dresses like one, and 300 miles in one day has left me stiff and saddle sore in the past. Making the trip in 400 mile per day segments will take a toll on me. I'm just not sure how much of a toll will be required.

I'll be riding solo for this trip. The Mrs. doesn't want to take time off this early in the year and knows that her maximum distance riding pillion is about 200 miles per day. But she has given me her blessing for this adventure which is saying something. She probably will replace the furniture or something like that while I'm gone. Happens nearly every time.

My neighbor, John, says he might join me on the journey. John, a retired navy master chief, has ridden American iron for 30 years and I would welcome his experience and company.

(Image:Faulkingham-Public Domain)

(Image:Public Domain)


So what advice do you have for someone that's riding a cruiser where only touring bikes normally tread?

Ride Safe!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Late Start Adventurer

[As I mentioned in an earlier post, the camera died a terrible death during the first day of this three day journey - heat stroke, I'm guessing - and therefore there are no photos to share.]

The second day of our trip would take us through Huntington, West Virginia, and into Ashland, Lexington and finally Carollton, Kentucky. The day was hot for late April; forecast for 87ยบ F and windy.

Traffic was light as we travelled I-64 westbound and moving at a speed I seldom see back in Ohio. A few miles west of Ashland a yellow BMW decked out with hard cases and something wrapped in an oil skin tied across the rear seat zipped by us.

He wore a full face helmet riding jacket, pants and boots. I could tell the jacket and pants had armor and my first impression was that this was a serious long distance rider. Something I think I'd like to try someday but not of this bike.

Twenty minutes down the interstate we found a rest area and pull in. The BMW rider was there getting ready to continue his journey. I parked beside him and struck up a conversation.

His name was Carl and judging from his graying beard and snow white hair a few years older than me. He mentioned that this was his first bike, purchased 4 years ago. He said he decided that if he was ever going to learn to ride, he better do it while he still could.

So at the age of 68 (15 years my senior!) he learned how to ride. He said, with a little bit of pride, "I'm seventy-two now and I've ridden 55,000 miles in 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces. My longest ride was from Indianapolis to the arctic circle."

Wow. Not just a long distance rider; he's an adventure rider. The arctic circle is +1200 miles north of the 49th parallel, the US/Canadian border along Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington. To travel that distance from Indianapolis, I'm guessing he travelled +2600 miles one way.

Carl said he had left Virginia Beach that morning and was headed for home in Indianapolis, another 3 hours or so away. With a look of admiration and maybe just a little envy, I wished him a safe journey and he took off.

I rejoined Teresa under a shade tree sipping some water and wondered if that was something I had the grit to do.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This 3 day trip was something I had planned for about a month and as if we needed a reason to ride it was the celebration of our 32nd anniversary. The forecast was for dry weather and warm temperatures and for once the weather guessers got it right.

We were excited about all the great pics we took the first hour, but then the camera malfunctioned and no amount of chicken bones or dancing would revive it. So, no pics on this trip. But we do have a couple of stories and some recommendations on some great Ohio roadways.

We headed south out of Newark on SR 13 for several miles but just outside Somerset we turned west on SR 256 for about a mile or 2 and followed SR 664 south.

While SR 664 is indeed a state route it is definitely a rural road that travels through some picturesque farmland. The route goes through Rushville and Bremen and is in good condition. It has several hills and dips with many gentle sweeping curves and a few head turners; you know, the kind where you need to really turn your head to see the exit of the turn. There are a few Amish farms in the area so watch out for horse drawn vehicles and the occasional string of road apples.

We followed SR 664 to Logan where we stopped for a quick bite to eat and then hopped on US 33 going towards Nelsonville where we planned on visiting the Rocky Boots and Outdoor Wear Factory Outlet store.

The store is in a century old factory building that’s about 60 feet wide and 200 feet long and has 3 floors. They have dozens of styles, models, and brands of boots and outdoor shoes for sale along with apparel from T-shirts to overalls to infant onesies. The bike apparel section was modest but held my attention for about 20 minutes, which in “husband shopping with wife time” is about half a day.

Teresa says they had a great selection of collectible and gift items which is where she spent most of her time and would have spent most of her money had we not been traveling with full saddlebags and very little room in the tail bag.

We moved on after about an hour and continued south on US 33 to Athens where we hopped on US 35 going towards Polmeroy, Ohio. The winds were coming out of the south west and gusts were up to 35 mph. My helmet's not the quietest on the market (or my head) and after about an hour of traveling the high ridges of US 35 we arrived in Polmeroy and I was glad for a little quiet.

Polmeroy sits beside the Ohio river and is a small town, it turns out. It has only one hotel and we had passed the turn off for it about 5 miles back. So, we continued on to Gallipolis, Ohio, another 20 minutes or so, where we stayed the night.

After we unloaded the bike, we traveled into the center of town and had dinner at a local eatery, the Court Side Bar and Grill. Good food and a fun wait staff. During dinner we took the time to plan the next day's travels.

Huntington, West Virginia, Lexington, Kentucky, and our final stop, the historic town of Carollton, Kentucky.

More to come...