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post #21 of 50 Old 06-11-17, 00:19 Thread Starter
The Underdog
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We made the Dragon today. Came down from the north because we had to divert to a couple of dealerships to buy and install rear brakes on both bikes so we ended up making our first pass of the Dragon fully loaded and with 5 hours of riding fatigue on us. We took it easy, though, and made it to Robbinsville and our hotel without incident. More details and pictures to come but, first, philosophical musings. Hmmm.

I've got different gear this time around. Namely a Bluetooth headset through which I can listen to audio books while riding. This goes a long, long, long way to keeping me out of my head. However, sometimes, when Erin chimes in to tell me she needs gas, the book won't restart and there I'll be. Alone with my thoughts.

That did happen a couple of times today and I did have some musings. One of which is the fascination people who aren't doing motorcycle trips have with people who are doing motorcycle trips' trips. Now, on a side note, I try not to run my mouth about my experiences unless people really pry because I hate it when someone gets on their personal stage and won't shut up about something they know/did/saw and I don't want to be seen as that guy. Usually I'll just say "yeah, I did such and such and it was pretty cool" and leave it at that. When people do get interested, though, one phrase they use a lot is "the open road."

"The open road" has always seemed kind of like a trite phrase to me. It's loaded with all kinds of deeper meaning when people say it. Hell, nobody even "says" it. More like they "invoke" it. Sometimes they invoke it with a broad sweep of the arm to call attention to the grandioseness of it all. Sooo, I guess I'll muse, philosophically, on "the open road."

"The open road" is just the road. Like how long do people think the fascination with "the wind in their hair and the sun on their backs and nothing but the road in front of them" lasts? A few hours, maybe? Maybe I'm different or jaded or something but I feel like these people have never woken up, for the tenth time in a row, to a complete mess of a hotel room, bike luggage everywhere, stuff all strewn about which must be condensed back down and then strapped back on the bike. Then, if you're me, you've got that goddamn camel back. It's essential for making time so you don't have to stop or risk crashing every time you want a sip of water but the straps always get caught on stuff while you're trying to put it on and, sometimes, you even forget to put it on till you're about to let the clutch out and you see it there, mocking you, as it hangs from the mirror. Now you have to get neutral, but sometimes you forget and let the clutch out anyway and kill the the engine with a dramatic forward lurch like a squid. Bonus points if you do it in front of an audience. Then you have to take off the helmet which, depending on your situation, could also mean taking off a pair of glasses and removing a perfectly positioned pair of ear buds. Well, you're too lazy to do that, of course, so you try to let the straps all the way out on the camel back and put it on with the helmet in place, only to find out that your head with a helmet plus an arm is like seventeen feet in diameter in real life and you get nice and tangled up till shit is wrapped around your neck and your arm is tied to the side of your face. Finally, you have to concede defeat, remove the helmet, put on the camel back, which is now resting on its usual pressure points, making something that weighs five pounds feel like twenty. Now, put the helmet back on, then take it off again, put the ear buds in, then put the helmet on again, then the glasses (which now fog up because you're all hot from being geared up for ten minutes but don't have the wind yet), glove up, check key on, clutch in, mash the start button and nothing. The goddamn bike won't start! What the ever loving **** now??? Well, the battery is a few years old and I didn't bring a tender with me, maybe the headlight ran it down. No, there would at least be a click. Get off the bike and check the headlight anyway. Remember the kill switch, which you never use but could have bumped in the chaos. No, that's fine. Then you remember killing it like a noob and it's still in gear with the kickstand down. Kickstand up, start button, BOOM, you're off and running. Bonus points if there has been a car behind you waiting to get out of the gas station this whole time.

If all that weren't bad enough, sometimes you roll out of your hotel / friend's house / park bench / patch of grass and your brain just won't come on line. You're drowsy, lethargic, and you check the odometer every what seems like 30 minutes only to find you've gone like a mile or two. 8 perceived hours into the ordeal and you've gone ten miles. Only a perceived week left till the end of this tank of gas and then you have two more to do today if you're gonna make your next spot, which you've already reserved, so there's no punking out or you lose $70. What to do? Your eye lids are sooo heavy but not riding isn't really an option. Well, there are several things to try that your brain thinks are reasonable in its highly crippled state. In no particular order: "Well, maybe if I just keep my eyes open a little bit and slouch some?" Then it's "well, what if I just close one eye at a time?" Then it's "well, what if I close both eyes but only for a couple of seconds?" At some point, some part of you realizes that this is all bs and you're going to have to stop and get coffee. After coffee, you can either wait for the coffee shits to kick in, which they may decide not to do at all, thus, putting you behind schedule for no reason, or get back on the road only for the coffee shits to kick in twelve minutes later, making you stop, yet again, which, again, puts you behind schedule. Or, maybe, instead of coffee, you can get off and do some jumping jacks, which invariably result in the "jumping jack shits" except you are on the side of the road now or in a parking lot rather than a gas station and now you have to find someplace to go to the bathroom. Which, yet again, puts you behind schedule.

Of course, if none of that has wiped the glamour off the "open road" yet, there are always the people who want to know "where you're headed" immediately followed by"where ya from" immediately followed by "oh wow" immediately followed by some question relating to logistics, or how you deal with the heat, or the cold, or the rain, or all them crazies out there, or how did you get all that time off, or some comment on how they used to have a Suzuki SV 650 (I swear you could have a "how many degrees from an SV 650 are you?" game just like the Kevin Bacon one). People, God bless their souls, are the biggest time wasters ever. My suggestion is to, whenever possible, keep your helmet on and stay astride the bike while gassing up. This keeps most polite folk at bay. God forbid you sit down and start lubing your chain or checking your oil or patching a tire... "Hey maing, everything okay there? I got a buddy two towns over knows a guy with a mechanic shop's got tools an shit. Ain't open on Sundays though. But there's this nice hotel about three miles back. Gitta room for about one fifty. Real nice lady runs it. She used to be my nephew's aunt but then they got divorced and now we don't hear from er much anymore but there's a lil ole restaurant out back of the place an they got real good corn beef hash there." Twice on my 9000 mile trip I had people strike up conversations and end up talking to me, literally, all night. Like no shit, a solid 6 or 8 hour conversation that started sometime in the evening and didn't end till the sun was up. Not even joking.

The bottom line is that the "open road" is a chore. I don't know who first romanticized it but they were either a genius at playing off people's existential cabin fever, or it wasn't as complicated back in the day or, maybe, I'm doing it all wrong. I will never understand how someone can put in 700 or a thousand miles on a bike, then have time for a hot shower, change of clothes, nice sit down meal and conversation with the waitress, then get to bed at a reasonable hour after scribbling down a few pages of notes and drawing a sketch of a bald eagle while watching the sun set over a cup of Earl Grey on a grassy hill side only a mile's brisk hike from the quaint bed and breakfast that just happened to have a vacancy with no notice because it's the off season and the only other people there are a retired British Air Force captain from the Vietnam era and his mail-order Croatian bride who is 40 years his junior and is just there making sure his oxygen bottle is full, waiting on the big payout.

But, I mean, aside from all that it's not too bad I guess.

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post #22 of 50 Old 06-11-17, 12:13 Thread Starter
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Skipping back a day...

I didn't do much in the way of pre-trip checks on the bikes. The clutch thing was basically it. As it turns out, though, both bikes had worn out rear brakes. Erin's still had some pad left:

Mine, not so much:

In my defense, the Speedmaster only has 13,000 miles on it so I didn't really think it could have a worn out rear brake. Either they're dragging all the time or Levi used the rear most of the time.

We rode frome Boone, NC to Abingdon, VA for brunch with a Friend of Erin's, then on to Kingsport Cycles in Kingsport to pick up rear pads for the Speedmaster.

While there, I discovered Erin's rear brakes but Kingsport didn't have rears for the R6 so we had to haul ass to Knoxville for those, making it to the parts counter with ten minutes to spare.

All brake jobs went successfully and we were back on the road. Made it to the Tail with some daylight left and got the usual pictures.

I should have worn sunglasses...








Today, we wasted half the morning fiddling with the gopro cameras and, now, we're heading back up to the tail to shoot some videos and dust off the chicken strips a little. Hopefully that's all that will happen. Knocking on wood for a safe day at the circus...

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post #23 of 50 Old 06-11-17, 19:09 Thread Starter
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Our day at the tail was short but incident free. We did one out, which sucked because traffic and one back, which was much better. We got some video but it looks slow as shit because we actually are slow as shit and because gopro's are what they are. I'll post up a link once I get something on YouTube. Meanwhile, the Killboy store now has two hammocks on the upper deck.


On the way back to town, we stopped at the suspension bridge.



We were going to do the Cherohala tonight but messed around on social media too long so we'll do it tomorrow.

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post #24 of 50 Old 06-11-17, 23:12
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DAMNIT!!!!! I missed you! I would have happily ridden the brake pads up to you in kingsport. I ride in and out of Abingdon some on my northern NC/VA rides. The snake is just outside Bristol TN and is the place to be up there.
Been wanting to meet you for years.

Great day to be riding, and the hammocks addition at killboy are awesome.
Glad to see the trip has been enjoyable and really enjoying the philisophical musings.
I would take some time off of work and come ride a ways with you this week, but life must go on here.

Spent the weekend in the deep mountains today and woke up to sunrise overlooking the skyway and thought it would be cool to ride with @harcourt and @The Underdog

Got an idea for you. And this comes from part of me wanting to be a sarcastic bastard, part of it comes from being an educator, enlightened, and wanting to share to better humanity...., and part of it comes from me Actually being a sarcastic bastard.
If you know you forgot the camel back, and you are stressed and annoyed already, and you KNOW that its going to be a super hassle. just take off the helmet and glasses, brush away the sweat, take a good long drink from the camel back BEFORE you put it on... it will make putting it on worth it, you have the immediate satisfaction of the work you are doing and wont mind it so much. Then put everything on and cinch it/ fit it BEFORE you put your glasses and helmet back on.
(keep in mind, this is coming from the guy that go so damn excited to be riding in A group that he abandoned his pre-session system and did a two hot laps before getting flagged from a coach because he didnt zip up or secure his boot.... not to mention the many many times on the street I have done something stupid.)

part of the ride, the open road, is just being you. If that means being frustrated, ask yourself WHY, go through any number of emotions while you ride and dissect them. learn more about yourself. That's what I do, and find my rides bear good fruit for life.


Enjoy "the open road" my friend

That Others May Live

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post #25 of 50 Old 06-12-17, 01:09
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Or y'know, stop being a pansy and just flip the visor, look down, and hold your mouth open when it next rains.

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post #26 of 50 Old 06-13-17, 11:13 Thread Starter
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Lol @ ditchdoctor and harcourt. Went drinking for the first time on the trip last night and am now hung over. Sucks. Post more later.

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post #27 of 50 Old 06-13-17, 16:07 Thread Starter
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I've partially recovered from my hangover and ridden the 45 minutes to the next spot. However, because I spent the morning recovering, I wasn't able to ride out with Erin to the bottom of the Blue Ridge Parkway and see her off. Instead, we just made the few turns leaving Easley and my heart sank when I saw her go left in the mirror as I went right. You don't realize how important people in your life are until moments like that. I found myself checking off the list of things that could go wrong. New tires, new brakes, fresh chain lube. She's got all she needs. Just needs to stay awake and keep her wits about her.

Waiting for my friend now at a coffee shop.


Greer seems nice. So did Ashville. So did Boone. Wasn't super fond of Easley, though. I'm looking to move out of Baltimore so I'm always entertaining the possibility of moving to these areas I'm visiting. I saw this map on the wall in Kat's at the end of the Cherohala and was instantly sold on the amount of motorcycle related entertainment in the area.


Starting to look like I might get rained on...

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post #28 of 50 Old 06-13-17, 19:19
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is it raining yet? Looked bad heading north east.

Boone is the place to be. Lil' switzerland is just around the corner.. some of the curviest roads in the world, and only in the winter do people go up there to ski, rest of the year its WTFO.
Cherohala is one of my favorite places in the world. Next time you come through, We ride together!!

I had to pause when reading your bit about leaving your girl. There was a lot of emotion that came through the screen, and it was a beautiful moment. (i know @harcourt is going to give me hell)
Never lose that heart @The Underdog .

Safe travels

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post #29 of 50 Old 06-14-17, 11:32 Thread Starter
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I got sprinkled on shortly, 3 minutes maybe, on the way to my buddy's house but he had a garage I could pull straight into so nothing really got wet. Erin, on the other hand, went through three separate thunderstorms on the way to Asheville. She had rain gear, though, so the didn't get too wet. Just her boots.

Not sure why, probably because I'm riding alone now, but I woke up feeling like I was wasting time and needed to get on the road right away. It passed, for the most part, while I was eating breakfast with my friend (his name is also Rob) but it's weird how those feelings creep in and kind of trample on the "I'm on vacation" vibe. I think some of it also had to do with seeing Rob's big ass nice house and his perfect family and getting a little jealous. Next stop promises to reverse that sentiment. Another Army friend but she's a divorced mom of two and it's bound to be chaos.





Sitting in another coffee shop this morning.

There's a big BMW assembly plant here so I'm going to go visit that in a bit. Should make for some good pictures. Then, lunch with Rob, and on to Augusta.

As for my girly feelings, it's funny. I'm usually not like that and Erin sometimes tells me that she has no idea what's going on in my head. We've been together since just after the 9000 mile trip and most of our life feels like normal routine now. But taking opposite forks in the road, yesterday, both of us going off to do one of the most dangerous forms of travelling there is, for multiple days and many miles, alone... The moment gets heavy. Part of me can't help but think that I'm going to lose her to a motorcycle accident some day and I'm sure she feels the same way about me. I like to crack jokes about people who's spouses force them to get rid of their bikes but, in moments like yesterday's, I can totally understand how that happens. But you can't live your life in fear like that or you'll just end up really old and never have done anything.

Went riding with my buddy and his brother yesterday evening.

Saw some neat shit from around town.
Covered bridge where everyone gets their prom pictures taken:

Old hydroelectric plant remains:

The dam portion of it:


Here's some bonus content from the previous stop. Gun collection :





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post #30 of 50 Old 06-16-17, 17:19 Thread Starter
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Here's a few shots from the BMW plant. They didn't have any tours going but there was a museum area. I'm not a BMW guy so it was only mildly interesting. Biggest thing for me was the I8, which reminded me I wasn't rich.








Blah blah blah BMW this and that who cares. Lunch at Rob's (my buddy) work cafeteria and then it was travel time. Some hours later I arrived at Jacinda's house. Another Army friend. Didn't get a single picture of the two of us. Probably because we spent most of the time arguing about this incident where she cock blocked me from hooking up with another girl. She had good reason but a cock block is still a cock block... Here's what we used to look like. Back in the day.


Next day we went and saw something called the Georgia Guidestones. Some kind of sculpture put up in 1980, out in the middle of nowhere, inscribed in different languages with advice on how best to keep humanity afloat. The first point was that we should keep the population below 500 million. Oops.








I think it was probably pretty profound stuff when they first did it. Now you read it and think. "We sure didn't listen to any of that."

After nearly 5 hours in the car to see that thing, I took a nap and hit the road for a fairly short ride to Macon, GA to my $33 motel room.


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