Well I have finally have completed my first long distance, overnight, multi-state ride. It was a solo run to visit the girlfriend while she was away on a vacation of her own. When I first came across this board, the first ride report I read was Jammin thru Alaska. What an amazing story that was. I thought to myself, "it would be awesome to take the time to just myself, the bike, and the road and see what's out there." Would I have what it takes to go on such an adventure? Would it test my abilities as a rider and as a person? These questions would be put to the test. I have some social anxiety problems so a solo ride to the unknown presented a mental challenge to me. How would I react to certain situations, people, problems, etc?
Physically, I am in decent shape, been slacking on the running though lately, lol. The report may be lacking in some areas but hopefully you will enjoy the trip.
The trip: A few months ago the girlfriend was invited to coach a softball tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC. At first it was that I would fly down and just spend a week at the beach (in a free hotel
). After some thought, I decided to turn my week's vaca into my first road trip adventure. I would leave a few days before her and start my route south and meet her in Myrtle Beach once she arrived. Spend a few days with her and then head west to Deal's Gap and the Dragon! Following that, I would make may way north along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Preparation & Gear: May is inspection month in Mass; went for my inspection and I failed because of my rear tire being 1/16" of an inch short on the tread. I was planning on new tires before the trip, but this was 3 months ahead of time! Ce la vie. New tires ordered and installed. I already had my Zumo 550, just recently bought a Givi E52 courtesy of Radlefty of this site, had a tank bag already, and recently purchased a Pacsafe80 Bag
for this trip. I wanted to be able to leave my bag securely on the bike for when I would grab lunch, or go into a store, whatever. Plus it had the waterproof feature which would come in handy. I also added on outlet for power, new battery, bar risers, and had a Corbin Seat since the beginning of this season. About 3 weeks before the trip i noticed some oil just below the risers and needed to have the fork seals replaced. This was getting to be expensive and I hadn't even left yet. Oh well, the bike was tip top at this point.
01 FZ-1, 32,100 miles at start, first aid kit, C02 tire plug kit (not needed thankfully), chain lube and cleaner, HJC Switch Helmet, Zumo 550, sneakers and clothes for a few days, boots, gloves, mesh jacket with liner in case it got cold, chargers, 2 phones, emergency phone card, contacts, etc.
Day 1 (August 1st): Mass to Maryland ~ 460 miles.
Since I'm from Mass, I slabbed it through Mass, CT, NY, PA, NJ, DE, and into MD. Prior to this, my longest day was 420 miles and I didn't ride the following day. I was aiming for Myrtle on Monday so I still had another 400 plus miles for day 2 and then some to get there.
Yeah, I know I'm on empty, forgot to fill up the night before.
Packed and Ready
At first I was going to ride with no destination, no hotel reservations, etc and just end where I end. But the anxiety I mentioned above kicked in and I said to myself "do I really want to ride for 10 hours and then not be able to find a place to sleep?" The answer, "hell no!"
I made reservations at (2) hotels (Saturday and Sunday nights, my stay in Myrtle would be free courtesy of the g/f's hotel room).
I stayed at a Best Value Inn ($83) in Princess Anne, MD. Clean, working AC, and a comfy bed. Weather was very hot and humid. Bike ran great and I felt pretty good. Met a gentlemen from Quebec who was riding an 82 Goldwing. He had 182K kilometers on the bike and was on the tail leg of a 4k kilometer run when I met him at the hotel. Reminded me of my Pepere with his accent, lol.
Day 2: MD to NC ~ 350.
There was a chance of rain in the direction I was headed. Not too nervous, had rain gear and the bags should all be good to go. I made good time and miles. I had a reservation in Warsaw NC because it was $30 cheaper than staying by the ocean. In hind sight, probably would have been a better idea to stay at the beach. One of my destinations was the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel/Bridge. It was an unbelievable site. Only have a couple pictures from before I started over.
While I was riding over the bridge I glanced to the water and low and behold, a pod of dolphins!!! I never thought I would get a chance to just see them out in the open like what unless I was on a cruise or something. It made my day to see that.
As i got deeper into NC the clouds were threatening. For those of you not from the NC area, as you move away from the ocean, areas are spaced out and there isn't a lot around. I stopped at a small convenience store and put on the rain suit. No sooner had I zipped it up that I saw a wall of rain coming at me. I started moving forward and I couldn't even see. I saw a fire station that had an entrance port so I went for cover. Waited about 30 minutes and the rain passed. Alright I thought. How wrong I was. I continued toward the hotel and got caught it monsoon rain conditions and just decided to keep riding. I had to stop again at a school that had a port. The rain was just getting to be too much. At this point in my trip, I was nervous. I barely saw any cars let alone towns where I could get help or find another place to stay. If I crashed or the bike died, etc, I would be screwed. Honestly, I was scared. I called my sister for a weather report (didn't want to take out the iPhone in the bad weather, used a backup cell) and she said from 5 to 7 it shows a break. At that moment, it stopped. So I made a break for it! Made it to the hotel. The suit either leaks or it ran down my helmet and got in by the collar. Once at the hotel area, I noticed a sound coming from the bike when I was going from a stand still (details here: Rear Wheel Knock
). At this point, I had no idea what to do. I started searching for U-Haul locations, motorcycle shops, etc. In the end, along with the advice I got on the page referenced above, I lubed the chain in the morning and decided to head to Myrtle (140 miles). If something was wrong with the bike, I would probably have more luck getting help. Made the ride and it was easy. The bike ran fine. I would still get the bike checked on Tuesday just to be sure. Got the bike checked at Redline Powersports
. Staff was friendly and courteous. They confirmed the dry chain problem. Road trip would continue!!!
Day 3 thru 5 I hung out at Myrtle Beach with the g/f. Not a lot of pics from the first few days but here are a couple:
Who knew that Marvin the Martian rode HD?
A Japanese hibachi steakhouse: Food was good, just slightly overpriced I think.
Wednesday night dining was the be had at Sticky Fingers
Food was excellent and the price was great.
I ordered the classic trio (ribs, pulled pork, and chicken, with rice, spicy fries (they were freakin awesome), and cole slaw. Throw in a couple Sam Adams and I was stuffed!
Day 6 I would leave Myrtle Beach and head to Robbinsville, NC to stay at the Two Wheel Inn
. My intent was that since I was so far south, I might as well try to tackle the Dragon while I was down here.
I would highly recommend the Inn. The room was clean, staff was great, and the bike garage is awesome. Twin beds but after a hard day of riding, it was fine. Day 6 detail and pics to follow in next post.Posted on: August 09, 2009, 11:05:41 am
Reserved for Day 6 thru 8 Details:
Finally I have a little time to update:
Thursday morning I left Myrtle Beach and headed west to Robbinsville. Took the slab most of the day. Once close to NC the gps put me on more mountainous roads as there wasn't a direct route. Came across The Ghost Town in the Sky
. It looked interesting enough but it was $30 to get to the town via the lift. Had I of been traveling with others, maybe I would have gone for it, but since I was solo, I passed. Continued through the mountains towards Robbinsville and arrived right around 5 oclock. There was still plenty of light, and it was a perfect temperature for riding, I decided to head over the Dragon to check the area out even if I didn't ride it that night. (Plan was to ride it in the morning on my way out of town). I rode through the town and came upon this dam and thought, this could be some good shots:
Gratuitous bike shot in front of the curve in road sign:
Info on the dam project:
A bit higher up the road:
As I continued past the dam, I found what I was looking for:
There were about 10 to 15 guys in full leathers who look like they had been riding the road for awhile but other than that, it was quiet. I bumped into a rider on a cruiser from TN who took a few pics of me next to the signs and I of him. Figured I had to post one of me at the sign or I didn't actually do it right,
Since it was very quiet I decided to go for it and man, the best riding I have ever experienced in 10 years of riding. I mean we just do NOT have roads that nice here in New England. I made the western run to about the reservoir before I turned back. Only 2 of the hard core guys past me. I push my limit ever so slightly but never exceeded it. Managed to rough up a bit more of the edge of the tires finally. Dam roads up here suck!
It was starting to get a little late and rather than push it in the dark, I headed back to town for dinner. Grabbed a pizza at Papas Pizza right on 129 heading back to Robbinsville. On the ride back, before dinner, I passed a small bridge that looked quite interesting:
Views from the bridge:
Spoke to a local couple who were there just riding around and they said that coming that night to ride the Dragon was probably the best idea because on Friday and more so on weekends, its just a crazy scene there and I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did. Whoo hoo!
Friday morning there was a thick blanket of fog around so I decided not to return to the Dragon at this time
I headed north and hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Cherokee. Here are a bunch of pics from the ride along the parkway:
I was ready for a nap so I thought this sign was appropriate:
I heard through various sources that the Parkway was washed out a bit after Ashville so as I was in need to lunch, I hopped off the parkway and onto surface roads. Grabbed some Starbucks and decided to slab in north for awhile. I had made the decision to head as far north as I could that day and then head home on Saturday being a bit tired from being on the road. Since Saturday would be a loooong day on the slab, I stopped in a bike shop hoping to find a cruise control device of some sort. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the shop but it was huge with a separate service building. Very nice and helpful staff. While I was unsuccessful in finding a throttle lock so I could completely let go (they only had a set up for a 1" bar, not 7/8"), I did grab a throttle rocker which worked great actually. (More on the rocker in the conclusion post).
I managed to make it to the "end" of the Parkway a few miles from where Skyline drive started. I stayed at a Days Inn in the area which was fine.
Saturday was a hard day of riding (for me). 580 slab miles up 81 through PA onto 84 across NY, into CT finally onto the Pike in MA and home. As I mentioned, I was tired of being on the road and since i was slabbing, I was hunched over a little more than I should have been and my back was in some pretty rough shape at the end of the day. A throttle lock would have been a better device for that many highway miles.
And my tour was complete. See conclusion below.