My never ending sad tale is that of few vacation days. I worked 30 years to get enough days and that ended when the industry I was in went totally China. Since then I've have recovered somewhat, even though for 3 years nobody would consider hiring an old guy for anything.
So, money improved, available time diminished.
That is why I took only two days (my wife and daughter were there for a week) for the beach. And I decided to take the VStrom on the I-65 trek down and back. 470 mi each way of mostly interstate.
And you know, it was a blast. Night riding going down and love bug day riding on the way back. The weather was perfect and the Wee ate up the miles with ease. In fact, I got home not very tired.
Oh, Dauphin Island was nice too.
A little history. Years ago my friend Phil and I rode down the road. He on his ST1100 and I on my CB1000C. This was before GPS and even the maps weren't very good for this area. It then was a logging road mainly, but graveled well enough. Our rides weren't all that well matched for the trip, but, what can I say, we did it anyway. The road mainly follows new river and the rail line. Right in the middle (about 30 mi of gravel) we got directions from two of the drunkest guys I have ever seen. Their eyes, like the old saying, were like fried eggs in a slop bucket.
I have wanted for a couple of years to retrace that route and have been deterred a couple of time, but this weekend the stars aligned and I accomplished the retrip. The VStrom is much more capable on these kinds of roads, so I make good time. There was some rutting and washboarding, but not so bad considering how much rain we've had this summer.
It was a great ride.
Been riding a good bit, some written up in ADVRider:
Today: Old Short Mountain Road
It has been consistently cold and wet. Not really bad, just bad enough. Today, I installed a new clutch cable. It was something of a fight because the little mechanism that the cable attaches to consists of loose balls in grooves. I tried to not to let the thing fall apart, but.... I finally found all the little balls, cleaned everything up and got it back together nicely greased. The clutch operates like new now. Pain equals gain sometimes.
Since I had to get the tank off the bike to route the new cable, I decided to check the air filter (even though I didn't think it would be all that dirty. It wasn't all that dirty, but the filter (Pipercross) was coming apart. So, I can't run the bike until I get a new filter.
Well the weather isn't all that great. Part ordered (K&N) and should be here in a couple of days.
Consistently cold and wet. Almost two weeks since riding, but yesterday, when the temps broke 41°F...time to ride. I put on the FULL rig so I could ride as long as I wanted. Went some places I ride often, rode a few new roads. Didn't matter really, any riding would do today. A couple of hours of therapy.
Under-employment helped. Cut back to 3 part days a week, I thus had the time to ride with the ST guys at the annual Blue Ridge Gathering. I also had a going route and a returning route plus a bunch of good riding with the ST guys.
Everything worked great. Camping was fine: no rain, lows in the 40's.1110 great miles.
Highlights:Kimsey HighwayMax PatchPics
Out at daybreak, 40 to 68 to Tellico Plains. Short run up Cherohala, meet Uncle Phil back in Tellico Plains. Back toward Nashville on 39, 310 and 30.
A great day of riding.
Probably around 400 mi. No pics.
Prentice-Cooper WMA was having a managed hunt this day, so even the hunters had to stay outside in temporary camps. So, I got to see a quarter mile of the area.
Oh well, hwy 27 over the mountain was interesting but not a reason in and of itself.
River Canyon Road was nice, secluded, rough and unpredictable. A lot of fun.
315 mi day ride.
Tried out new GPS. Worked great.
Good weather and a free place to stay in the mountains. What a combination. Faye and I decided we needed a getaway weekend and headed to my brother's house in Pigeon Forge. We left Friday afternoon and burned I40 all the way there. The temp was pleaseant and the Strom sang right along. A very nice interstate jog. On the east side of Knoxville we ran into the only rain in 150 mi. We stopped and ate to let the rain leave; and it did for a while. But it headed to Pigeon, so we ran through it again. That was the only rain we had to deal with.
Next day we headed around Gatlinburg and over the mountains on 441. This is always a slow ride on a nice road that can be frustrating. But, with a slow, touristy frame of mind it can be nice.
At Cherokee we turned onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was a great ride with great views all the way to Ashville. Initially we got behind some slow Harley guys which was OK for a while, but I got tired of it and decided to run up the Heintooga spur, a nice, low traffic excursion.
I thought we might have a chance to see some Elk. Turns out we saw about 30 and one big bull who got frothing mad when we approached. He grunted, bellowed and slashed into low tree limbs with his 6' rack. I fact I turned around and got out of sight so he could calm down and hopefully wander off. After a few minutes we tried again. There were two cars stopped and people were out taking pictures of him. He seemed pretty calm and this time I had a car between him and us, so around we went with no problem.
When we got to Ashville I decided that I didn't want to pass all the bicyclists who were going toward Cherokee, so we hopped on I40 and had a brisk fun ride back over the mountains.
We exited at a short section of the Foothills Parkway that I had never been on. Very nice. The it was on into Gatlinburg and then to the house.
Next day we took the Little River Road to Townsend. Then on to the Foothills Parkway and on to 129 just north of "Tha Dragon". Being a weekend I didn't think "Tha Dragon" would be any fun, so on to 72.
I had only been on bits of 72, so I decided to go the whole way to Kingsport. It was pretty dull until we got past I75 and then turned into a nice rural two lane that was fun.
At Kingsport, back on I40 and home. But the temps were still nice and it was a very pleaseant ride home.
Total miles: 792
A little time to ride (as single day) during a hot, hot summer. The method: take off in the morning a little after daybreak to allow the deer some time to get off the road.
The route: a quick run east on I40 to Crossville, TN so as to have more "fun time" riding. Even this part was wonderful; sailing along with car and truck traffic in the mild morning air.
Destination: Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. I was there before during deer season; the Rangers might ask you to leave if you don't have a hunting license. I wasn't too worried about that, but I didn't have any blaze orange to wear. Being none too fond of being mistaken as a fast buck, I did not go.
But today it seemed like I was the only one there (I did ask for directions from the only people I saw in there). There are no road signs inside the area, so you need to study the Google Map or acquire an actual map of the area.
The original plan was to beat it back to the house before the massive afternoon heat set in, but the day and the ride was so great, I decided to go further east and ride the "Prison Road", TN 116. The western half of this road is mostly new blacktop and is a great ride. The eastern half has significant repair areas with loose stuff strewn about. I enjoy riding both kinds of roads.
This all took longer than I'd planned, so as I turned home I got out my cooling vest, loaded it up with water, and took TN 62 (another great road) to Monterey, TN where I hopped back on I40 west to the house.
A month ago I did another hot weather ride to the east and was stranded by a grounded stator (still a great ride). Today was just perfect.