Took a little ride...
ok... I think I got this thing figured out...
Hello welcome to the second installment of As the crankshaft turns.
When last we left our hero, he was about to head off into the wilds of western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee to a magical land known to motorcyclists as Deals Gap (search Tapoco/Fontana RT129 on mapquest.com if you wish to view area). This 11-mile stretch of road consists of 318 mountain switch back turns. It has become a mecca of sorts, for bikers worldwide, and is high on my list of places to visit.<o:p></o:p>
I've spoken to John Delucca at BMW of Manhattan and he has informed me that Steve Zizic (service manager) has had a very bad motorcycle accident and is in the hospital in critical condition. (This explains why he hasn't been able to respond to my attempts at contacting him) Please say a prayer for his swift and full recovery. John offers to send the replacement GPS unit but I decline and tell him I'll contact him with a mailing address as soon as I can. Jacob Meetze has, as promised, gotten me the parts I left at his place in Williamston and Ive uploaded the GPS DCA info for the next leg of the trip. Monday night I pack/prep the Beast and Tuesday morning I head for Capitol BMW to address a few last service items and take them up on their offer to utilize their high speed internet access to send you all some pics (ok, that didnt work out as well as I had hoped most of you received a pic of an old guy looking at a couple of bikes, thats George, at the ripe young age of 76. I met him at a gas station that had no gas, sitting outside selling t-shirts to raise money for a local high school. We talked a bit about his 1965 Honda 50, and snapped a few pics. Great old character.)<o:p></o:p>
Jon, service manager and resident road maven, on consult, advises that I super-slab it on I40 West to Ashville (275 miles) and then hit the back roads. I agree and set off about <st1:time minute="30" hour="12">12:30pm</st1:time> on the 24th. The ride on I40 is relatively uneventful, save a pullover by a N.C. Trooper that I passed on the RIGHT at 75mph. Your along way from NY, where ya heading? We gab a bit; his name is Sean (well how about that?). He checks my papers, lets me know the cushion is 9mph over the speed limit, wishes me the best and sends me on my way coooool!<o:p></o:p>
I test the 8 gallon gas tank on the Beast and at 200 miles non-stop in the saddle, my butt is SCREAMING for mercy as I crest a rise and the Smokey Mountains come into view (whaddaya know! They're REALLY Smokey!) I pull over for a butt break (cig/glutei, pun intended) with 214 miles showing on the trip odometer. Just shy of Ashville, I gas up and the proprietor of the station/mini-mart shows me what the folks on the coast did not: HOW TO DRINK BEER IN THE BIBLE BELT. One giant plastic Slushy cup and all is fine and good in the world.
I catch St19 into the Smokeys, wow, truly a Gods Country area starting to finally see some bikes on the road as well. The skies are gray and this adds to the smoke effect. <o:p></o:p>
In <st1:place><st1:placename>Maggie</st1:placename><st1:placename>Valley</st1:placename></st1:place>, obviously a vacation oriented town (quaint hotels, mini golf, homey restaurants, taverns and scenic views), I pass a road sign that reads Wheels Through Time The Museum That Runs. All <st1:place><st1:placename>American</st1:placename><st1:placename> Transportation</st1:placename><st1:placetype> Museum</st1:placetype></st1:place>, 1 mile ahead on right. A mile up the road there is a 60 some odd year old motorcycle next to a fountain and a one-lane bridge, the gate is open The bridge alone is enough to entice me to check this place out and I am not disappointed (Brian & Shira, you guys have got to make a run to this place!). I pull up to an airplane hanger sized building. Walking through the door I am greeted heartily by Jeff Ring, G.M., and almost immediately I see a 1942 Harley Davidson model X1000. This bike is the only opposed twin engine/shaft drive HD ever made and was built on consignment for the U.S. Army to copy the superior performance of Rommel's Desert Campaign BMW bikes. Only 1000 were produced and Jeff informs me they have a total of FIVE in the building, I'm hooked and happily hand over the $12 admission fee. I wont bore you all with details, this place has to be seen to be truly appreciated. In short, 100's of bikes spanning the entire motorized era (Flying Merkel, Ace, Indian, Pope, Harley etc), Roadsters, sidecar rigs, trikes with paddy wagons and delivery cabs on the back, classic cars (1932 Dusenberg, 60s Vettes, Model T's 50's Caddy). All, yes all, of them RUN! Many of them are set up in dioramas that show them in there original environs (hill climb bikes are on an indoor man made mountain). The museum opened 3 months ago and I am informed that many improvements are still to come. This place should be on the list for any MC or car enthusiast as a must see. For more info, write to Jeff at email@example.com.
Daylight is running short and I still have a lot of backroad mountain miles to cover so I say my goodbyes and continue on 19. Twisty scenic mountain roads, I ride through Cherokee National Forest and Reservation, hmmm, quite a few casinos here, funny, never expected to see a Hilton, Holiday Inn & Embassy Suites in this area, money makes the world go around. I resist the urge to stop, take a room and blow some bucks. I press on. <o:p></o:p>
Full dark now, I catch US74 to ST28 North (on full deer alert) and reach the cross roads of 28/143 about 9pm. Ok, this is a bad time and place to realize I don't have a clue where I'm going, its pitch black, the crickets are huge (about the size of a ½ a pack of cigs) and quite aggressive (one flies at my crotch and actually grabs on! You should have seen THAT dance!). And the warning sign regarding Kodiak bears that I read at my last pit stop has all sorts of crazy thoughts going through my head. In short, I'm getting a little freaked.<o:p></o:p>
A Jeep Liberty with BMW K1200RS in tow pulls up out of the blackness. "You OK?" a voice calls from within. I meet Mike Makarov, my latest savior. Mikes up from <st1:state><st1:place>Florida</st1:place></st1:state> by way of <st1:city><st1:place>Atlanta</st1:place></st1:city> and somewhere north 2300 miles in 3 days to pick up his new '03 K12 and break it in on The Dragon and I am eternally in his debt. He's heading to a BMW rally at the gap, tells me where I am, where I need to go, and as the RAIN begins to fall AGAIN, offers to share his hotel room with me so I won't have to camp! After a moments hesitation I accept and we proceed to <st1:place><st1:placename>Fontana</st1:placename><st1:placetype> Village</st1:placetype></st1:place> (see mapquest), check in and get settled.
The terrain around the compound is very steep, and I successfully drop my bike with the high side down while trying to negotiate a u-turn outside our lodge building. My helmet bounces down the mountain about 30 yards and I've busted my RF turn signal lens and scratched the hand guard and back of the mirror. Not bad at all considering. The engine bars did a great job. Mike says, "Good that you finally got that out of the way." I expected to camp in the rain, I end up with a dry room and a dropped bike (and a very banged up helmet, but my head wasn't in it). Like the song says, "You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you'll find, you get what you need."<o:p></o:p>
Wednesday the 25th
Mike and I awake to tame The Dragon, open the window and you guessed it, RAIN! Pouring freaking rain! Here is a condensed version of the situation: TV out (sat dish hit by lightning) no cell service (both of us afraid to use the room phone for fear of losing our first born child to debt) the county is dry (no beer/booze) breakfast is tearing both of our colons to shreds, pouring rain and we absolutely will not brave these twisty, leaf covered roads, there is internet access in another part of the compound for $1 a minute and is connected at 2600 baud... slooooww. I'm relatively cool about the whole thing; I have a roof over my head and can't complain. Mike is pretty damn frustrated, as he hasn't even gotten to ride his new bike at all yet. We both agree, prison would be better, in prison there is television and sex (chuckle).
Our homemade entertainment center...
Mike begins to look at me strangley...
Thursday, September 26th
We wake up, more rain. I can't stay here any longer. I've got to get on the road, wet or dry. Mike and I exchange contact info, he will attempt to meet me out west at a later date. Seems my trip has him jonesing for mileage. The Beast is loaded and off I go. The plan is north (following Isadores storm track) to <st1:city><st1:place>Knoxville</st1:place></st1:city>, I40 East to I81 North and if I can get some weather, onto the <st1:street><st1:address>Blue Ridge Parkway</st1:address></st1:street>. if not, straight up to <st1:place><st1:city>Reading</st1:city>, <st1:state>PA</st1:state></st1:place> for a visit with my sister. The only way out of this area is through the Gap (on the Dragon)
(side bar, we drove it yesterday in the Jeep. This road is SO twisty it made us nauseas)
I'm not looking forward to doing this on a bike in the rain, but the choice is out of my hands. The road is definitely treacherous, little memorials are numerous on the route signifying a lost loved one. At one point, I turn a corner and there is a man on the side of the road taking pictures. That one moments distraction causes me to lose my line and I cross the double yellow and blow the S-turn in a straight line. Whoooooaa! I thank God there wasn't a vehicle coming the opposite direction. Heart racing and knuckles white, I get back in the game, making the mental note that there is no room for mistakes here. 11 miles and I'm clear. the Dragon tamed today by the Beast! Well, ok, the Beast kind of sneaked/crawled through, but at least I can say I was there.
129N to <st1:city><st1:place>Knoxville</st1:place></st1:city>, I40E to I81N the rain let up in <st1:city><st1:place>Knoxville</st1:place></st1:city>, still overcast and damp. I make the Tennessee/Virginia border around <st1:time minute="0" hour="18">6pm</st1:time>. At a gas stop I find my rear break is dragging, that plus the busted signal lens and a couple of other problems leads me to seek a BMW service center. I locate Hammersley BMW, the GPS says it's 187 miles away in <st1:place><st1:city>Lynchburg</st1:city>, <st1:state>VA</st1:state></st1:place> and I make that my next destination. Continuing north on 81, the rain returns and by <st1:time minute="0" hour="20">8pm</st1:time> I am totally wiped out. I stop in <st1:place><st1:city>Roanoke</st1:city>, <st1:state>VA</st1:state></st1:place> GPS finds me a room at a Motel 6 for $39.95 completing one very long, wet, treacherous day of about 300 miles. (Eventually, I'll set up this tent and save some money.)
(by george I think he's got it)
More to come and to all, forgive my earlier failures at proper posting... learning curve you know...
nice pics but the white text is not really conducive to reading.
NM, changed from waxy to rabiaaaaahhh and all is well.
Took a little ride... pt3
Friday Sept 27th
Yes, more rain. Check out of the motel 6 and 70 miles to the BMW dealer. The rain is very heavy; Isadore and I have become intimate, except for my torso (covered by my Gortex Dainese Jacket, which is amazing, it has kept me warm, dry and safe for almost a year now), I am soaked to the skin.
"Please God, cut me some slack."
I pull into the service department, ragged and depressed by the rain, pull off my gloves to once again find my hands dyed completely black, and dismount. I walk in and meet Greg Waddell, service manager. We shake hands after I inform him that the dye won't come off and we run down the work I need done. This dealership is well set up, staffed with friendly professionals and they obviously understand what it means to be "on the road."
I was in and out in a little over 2.5 hours! They addressed the rear brake, turn sig lens, adjusted my handle bars and fixed the wiring problem that caused my headlight/tail light and speedo/odo array illumination to flick off intermittently (since I picked up the bike). They adjusted the potentiometer to fix a slight hesitation problem I was having in first. They even pulled a spare tail light bulb out of a new Tailblazer package for me since they didn't have any spares in stock ($3, more than fair after a call to the manufacturer)
(side bar: the accessory shop at Deals Gap would not do this for me)
Big thanks to Greg, Bob Jason and sweet Sandy, the hottie at the reception desk ,wink (and if you know Sandy, you know I what I am talking about).
2300 miles on the odometer.
While I have been waiting for the bike to be finished, someone has answered my prayers and brought the sun out. The humidity is way up from the rain but I'm not complaining. Let's take a shot at the <st1:place>Blue Ridge</st1:place>!
Six years ago I took Rt60 across <st1:state><st1:place>Virginia</st1:place></st1:state> from <st1:city><st1:place>Richmond</st1:place></st1:city> with my friends Andre Corpuz and Andy Brindle (hi Guys). The road terminates in Buena Vista/Lexington VA and crosses the BRP. I have been dreaming of the twisties we hit at the foothills for years and have recommended the road to many a traveler. I punch <st1:city><st1:place>Lexington</st1:place></st1:city> into the GPS and HOT DAMN its 26 miles away!
GPS maps a route that will intersect with Rt60 just east of the BRP and I set off with a smile and higher spirits than I've had in days. At a gas stop on 60, a nice gentleman assures me that the bright round ball in the sky is in fact the sun and I head for the hills.<o:p></o:p>
The twisties are just like I remember them, but wet and slippery so they have to be negotiated tentatively as I ride along 60, I occasionally catch a dirt trail or logging road in my peripheral vision and an itch to try out the Beasts off road capability starts to worm it's way into my thoughts. I pass a gravel/dirt road with a sign reading "Lexington Dam 5 miles" and after a moment of debate, I turn around and head up it for a little adventure.
One brief moment of sun, literaly...
The road is loose but the knobbies were designed for this. My off-road experience is non existent and I'm more than a little cautious. The bike is loaded, heavy, and wants to wander in the turns. I pass a sign that says, "Welcome to <st1:place><st1:placename>George </st1:placename><st1:placename>Washington</st1:placename><st1:placetype> National Forest</st1:placetype></st1:place>" A half mile in I am surprised to see 2 men at the side of the road. Loggers.
I continue on and after a few miles start to feel a little more confident. Unfortunately, I am not destined to see this dam today. As I round a corner, I see 2 or 3 wild dogs (or wolves, I can't tell) 100 yards ahead of me. On a paved road I might have tried to pass, but I am pretty sure I would not be able to outrun them under these conditions. I turn back. By the time I'm exiting the park (app. 8 miles of unpaved under my belt) I'm feeling significantly more confident. The Beast is a hell of a bike.
Chased off by the big bad wolf...
Elevation readings on the GPS show me at 1900ft above sea level and as the number rises, so does the precipitation. 2300ft has mist, and by the time I'm at 2700 it's raining again (of course). I enter the BRP and head north.
The <st1:street><st1:address>Blue Ridge Parkway</st1:address></st1:street> is an engineering wonder. Following the <st1:place>Appalachian Trail</st1:place>, It winds along the top of the <st1:place>Blue Ridge Mountains</st1:place> from Front Royal, VA down past <st1:place><st1:city>Ashville</st1:city>, <st1:state>NC</st1:state></st1:place>. 600 (yes I'm guessing, I don't really know) miles of twisting 2 lane, perfectly paved black top and not one descending radius turn.<o:p></o:p>
I follow the BRP from Lexington/Buena Vista up to <st1:city><st1:place>Waynesboro</st1:place></st1:city>. 2 white tailed deer, one wild turkey, one very fat ground hog and a ½ dozen squirrels manage to avoid meeting the Grim Reaper on my route. I ride through sunshine, rain, clouds, and at one point, at 3300 feet, fog so thick visibility is reduced to 15 feet. That said, this road is one of my all time favorites to ride on and the views (when weather permits) are inspiring.
The Weather Channel Surfing...
you may notice my wet you know what... crappy rain pants (no really!)
I catch 64West in <st1:city><st1:place>Waynesboro</st1:place></st1:city> to I81North. Once out of the mountains, I have gray skies but the roads are dry. I pass through <st1:state><st1:place>West Virginia</st1:place></st1:state>, and into <st1:state><st1:place>Maryland</st1:place></st1:state> and pull off for a gas/food /butt break around <st1:time minute="30" hour="17">5:30pm</st1:time>. While I'm chomping down a grilled chicken salad outside a mini mart, I see an ominous black cloud approaching fast from the direction I'm heading.
(Do I see four horsemen at the front of it, nahhh,can't be)
I know this is going to be a rough one. The wind is picking up fast and heading toward the cloud, never a good sign when the wind sucks as well as blows, and before I can finish my lunch the cloud has blotted out the light and is almost on top of me. As soon as I finish gassing up the bike and securing my helmet the skies open up. (I really should have bought that ark). I wait an hour and it doesn't look like it's going to pass.
<st1:time minute="20" hour="19"></st1:time>
<st1:time minute="20" hour="19">7:20</st1:time> I start to pull out of the gas station and a customer that has just pulled in starts shaking his head and saying, βDon't do it! Don't do it man! It's bad out there! Great! And to make a bad situation just a little worse, I realize that while my headlights now work great, my speedo array is dark (thankfully my faithful GPS has a speed reading) and worse still, my taillight is also out, which renders me invisible to vehicles behind me. Afraid of being rear ended, I engage my hazards and the blinking dashboard indicators are giving me night blindness through my rain soaked visor.<o:p></o:p>
I81 to I78 East to 76E to 176N and I pull into my sisters driveway in <st1:place><st1:city>Reading</st1:city>, <st1:state>PA</st1:state></st1:place> at <st1:time minute="30" hour="22">10:30pm</st1:time>. Soaked beyond belief, I remove my boots and dump out the water. One consolation, the guy's at Hammersley BMW put a few rubber surgical gloves into my bag and I wore a pair of them under my bleeding leathers, no dyed hands!<o:p></o:p>
Okay... a 500 plus mile day,highway, twisties and off road, everything but snow for weather... stick a fork in me, I am done.
Saturday, September 28th
I decide to put off the western portion of the trip in favor of a run back to NYC and BMW of Manhattan in order to get the lights fixed and pick up the replacement GPS unit. The sky is blue. The air is crisp and cool. There is a good bit of a head wind but this is the nicest day I've had since I got on the road. <o:p></o:p>
That's it for this installment. Please remember to say that prayer for Steve Z.<o:p></o:p>
Hope you guys and gals enjoy reading this. I know it's rather long but I'm getting a real kick putting it to paper. To those of you that have emailed me with cheers and support (and a couple of bits of understandable envy) I can't thank you enough keep those emails coming.
Until Update#3, once again I wish the best of life and health to you all.<o:p></o:p>
Keeping fingers crossed, still confused on the dates... but funny thing, that Mike Makarov savior guy is SPARTACUS before he moved out to Reno.
He is an AAARRRGGGHHH rider, and rescued many riders from disasters!!!
Any news of him?
Pretty cool pic :clap
might be wallpaper for a bit.
He hangs out here w/ username=ossi, below is his thread....
if you search for spartacus you might find more of him around though...
it easy on the eyes, just like herself...:rofl, I think I'm gonna get my ass kicked tonight at home, swwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeet!
Looks goood, just needs thread start date by the tread starter...
Pic link is up and running... pics pics pics...
I am getting all the pics (well actually only about 1/4 of them) posted slowly but surley. They will go up in correlation with the reports. (this will proably still be close to 1000 pics total, it was a very long ride).
You can see them at:
They are in the "Odyssey" Galleries that correspond to the legs of the trip.
As I stated in the first post, it starts off a bit slow... the continual rain did not leave much to photograph. No great sights or amazing rides just yet (good ones though)... wait till we get a bit further down the road... In fact... the only time it didnt rain was the few days I was down for repairs... aint that always the way...
Next report on the way...
That there fog looks to be pretty nasty. I'd rather ride in pouring rain than fog. Nice report, nice pics.
Part 4 (report 3) New and improved!
And welcome to Trip Update # 3. A lot has happened since the last time we checked on our hero and the read is going to be long (reeeaall long). So long in fact, I'll be separating it into at least two parts. I apologize for keeping those of you who are truly interested waiting, it's not easy to do this on the road, and I apologize to those of you who don't really give a hoot for filling up your mailboxes with all this useless information. A few notes and such before we dive in.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>As of Tuesday the 8th, having spoken to David at BMW Manhattan (covering for Steve), Steve Zizic is out of danger (after multiple surgeries). He still has a long road ahead of him and the outcome was at that time unknowable, please continue to keep him and his family in your prayers.<o:p></o:p>
To all you great people I have met on the road that were kind enough to show interest in my tales, thanks and welcome aboard! To all the people who have helped me, bailed me out of tough situations and generally saved my ass so many different times, a thousand thanks! To all the BMW dealer employees/techs that have kept The Beast (who now sports a name, but we'll get to that later) on the road, many, many thanks!<o:p></o:p>
So let us pick up where we left off...<o:p></o:p>
Monday September 29th through Thursday October 2nd
...are spent getting The Beasts light system working properly and the GPS replaced as promised.
Lets nutshell it... with Steve Zizic out of the picture BMW Manhattan won't exchange the unit that their tech damaged by improperly wiring it! I can't say that this wasn't a real problem for me. I also can't say that I wasn't pissed off. I also can't say that I was surprised, I had a feeling this might happen.
In the end, we work it out. BMW will contact Garmin for a replacement unit and notify me on the road of the progress. Worst-case scenario, I will continue to use this GPS until the end of the trip and send it back to Garmin for replacement at that time, as I can't give it up for a week for the exchange. They find a problem with the wiring harness for the PIAA lights and get a new one overnighted for install (cost/no labor). The acting as service manager in Steves absence is trying very hard to help me within the confines of his situation and company policies. I am sorry for having to be such a hard case with him. I don't like myself as "That Guy."
My apologies David, I know it was a rough first day on the job.<o:p></o:p>
Side Bar: I contact no one in NYC. I don't go to my apartment (that would be cheating), choosing instead to crash (among other things) in NJ at a friends place. This way, (at least in my mind) the Road Trip remains uninterrupted.
The friend in New Jersey... can ya blame me for the detour???
She even drives a BMW...
With the top down I can almost feel like the Beast isn't in the shop...
Friday October 3rd
The weather for the few days I was in the NY area was sunny and warm (highs in the 80s). In a word, perfect riding weather. On Friday morning (gray skies), the first raindrops fall as I swing my leg over The Beast. At this point, I almost find it comical. Once again I head out onto the road and into the storm. This time, however, without any rain pants at all, as I was wise enough to leave them at my sisters house in PA, where they will be safe and dry. (Pretty smart, hmm?) I have family in <st1:place><st1:city>Cuyahoga Falls</st1:city>, <st1:state>Ohio</st1:state></st1:place> (470 miles, yeah, this ones going to be a long/wet one), a full tank of gas and I intend to make a straight run on I80 West. <o:p></o:p>
I have to put on my electric vest to fend off the cold. My jeans are soaked and my poor boots (I'll have to put these in a glass case if they survive this trip) are once again full of water (it's a strange and sickly feeling when your toes squish in your socks). 200 miles out, the rain lets up some and then completely.
The ride is uneventful except for a little gas scare. Pushing the 8-gallon tank, I skip a gas exit with 297 on the trip odometer (T.O.), 8 miles later, no gas at exit! ooops! I get back on 80, and I know I'm running on fumes. I draft behind a truck towards the next exit. With 316 miles showing on the T.O., I pull into a gas stop and pump 7.94 gallons, whew, that was as close as you can get.<o:p></o:p>
<st1:state><st1:place>Pennsylvania</st1:place></st1:state> is a lot bigger than it looks when you are driving east to west across it. The sun peaks out for a while revealing cloud capped green mountains, rolling hills, rivers and valleys. This is cow country and you can smell the rain fresh air mixed with the scent of wet bovines and manure (and this is not necessarily a bad thing).<o:p></o:p>
I reach the <st1:state><st1:place>Ohio</st1:place></st1:state> state line at <st1:time minute="30" hour="18">6:30 pm</st1:time>. The GPS tells me I have 70 miles to go to my Aunt and Uncles doorstep. Piece of cake you say? Yeah, sure, as I remount the bike the black clouds and high winds sweep in with a vengeance. Within 15 miles I'm being blown across the lanes and have to take my speed down to 40mph. Hairy, very hairy! Is rain supposed to fall sideways???
Apparently, I am being introduced to Lily, Isadores horny sister who wants a piece of my fine damp ass as well! Whoopee.<o:p></o:p>
I make <st1:city><st1:place>Cuyahoga Falls</st1:place></st1:city> about 1.5 hours later, and find myself in the strip mall capitol of the world (who'd a thought?).
Every conceivable chain restaurant is here in one very condensed area. I smell The Outbacks Bloomin Onion before I see the restaurant. The whole area is a plethora of scents designed to incur salivation and obesity. As I make the final turn towards my destination, the MP3 player kicks into "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", I can't help laughing at the irony.<o:p></o:p>
Pull into my Uncles garage (thank God they had a garage) and out of the rain about <st1:time minute="0" hour="20">8pm.</st1:time> soaked more than ever before (if you can believe it) and say hi.
Aunt Bridie, thanks for the Sloppy Joes, they were great and just what I needed. Uncle Paul, what can I say, thanks for the beer and the massage chair. (J) Good too see you too Barbara, sorry I missed the rest. Out cold by <st1:time minute="0" hour="23">11pm</st1:time>.<o:p></o:p>
Uncle Paul and yours truly
Saturday October 5th
Cold and cloudy. Up at <st1:time minute="30" hour="8">8:30</st1:time>, long needed sleep. Shower, no shampoo, because Uncle Paul doesn't need any! (lol, just ribbing you Paul). The Sloppy Joes are workin' it (I knew three was too many J). I stop for a healthy breakfast of 2 eggs, bacon and flap jacks. Gotta eat light, stay quick.
Just one of the classiest old houses I have ever seen (in not too hot a neighborhood outside Cleveland)
The original plan for today was a non-stop super slab to <st1:place><st1:city>Chicago</st1:city>, <st1:state>IL</st1:state></st1:place>. But as I entered <st1:state><st1:place>Ohio</st1:place></st1:state> last night the signs for <st1:city><st1:place>Cleveland</st1:place></st1:city> remind me of the "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame"... time for another detour. First a quick stop at Sills BMW for rain pants and a new starter switch. Mine has felt like it was going bad since I left BMW in NY.
No rain gear but Zack the service tech is quick to help out with the starter. He agrees that the solenoid switch feels like its going to fail (which we both find confusing on a bike thats less than a month old) but doesn't have the part in stock.
He tries to take a used one apart with no success and then opens mine up to see what is going on. What do you know? It's not broken! There is a small screw that is supposed to hold the back of the starter button in place missing... hmmm... how could that happen?
Apparently BMW of Manhattan forgot to replace it when they had it apart for the PIAA wiring harness. Zack says there would not have been a reason to remove that screw in the first place, if it went completely (and Zach said 2 days at best) I would have been stuck God knows where without a clue.
I decide I am going to leave this one alone.
Adrian just can't take his eyes off the Beast
I meet a nice guy with a K12RS, Adrian and his 2 year old son, looking at a GS ADV. Adrian wants to know how what I think of the bike... heh heh heh... to quote Ferris, if you have the means; I definitely recommend you acquire one!<o:p></o:p>
I punch the name "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame" into the GPS and like magic; it gives me the directions and guides me right to it. (Btw, the GPS has voice routing which is piped into my helmet with music via an on board intercom system. Tunes and guidance, all the toys)
I find closer parking...
35 miles to downtown Cleveland. Not a bad looking city. (Although the surrounding area is all industrial and train yards) Clean and bright as the sun has come out. I arrive at the Hall of Fame... beautiful building, right on the shore of Lake Eerie. I can't leave the Beast for security reasons and settle for a couple of pics outside. Down to the Lakeshore, Lake Eerie appears more like an ocean... jet skiers are zipping about and life is pretty cool.
<o:p>Cleveland Brown Stadium and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...</o:p>
Next stop, the Windy City, Chicago IL. (340 miles) I punch in the coordinates (heh heh) and head out.
Back onto I80 West out of Cleveland @ 3pm, the weather is sunny, a little cold, and the sky is big and blue. I cross the border into Indiana (farmland and cows, some hills).<o:p></o:p>
I'm doing about 75 (the speed limit) and I am passed by a woman in a red sedan doing about 85, she has a hanger on, and a BMW X5, Black with NY plates passes me soon after... great, their my new bandits. I roll on and fall into step with them.
We all know whats going on and take the lead in turns. Fun and productive as for all intents and purposes, this is one hell of a boring ride. I lose them eventually in traffic. Later, the X5 is close again but we are out of our home state and without radar. I slow to take in the scenery (and so the guy in the X5 with the surfboard doesn't think I am following him).
Rolling hills and the sun is getting low. Magic hour makes the countryside all the more scenic.<o:p></o:p>
A guy in a beat up blue compact doing about 90 passes me and the race is on again. 10 minutes later we pass the X5 and with a wave he is on our tail.
I'm approaching 190 miles without stopping and the gluteis are starting their protest. I stand on the pegs for a few miles and the blood returns to my lower middle. At 225 I can't take it any longer, pulling off onto the next Interstate service area. The Black X5 follows me. <o:p></o:p>
I meet Kenny from Brooklyn, heading to Malibu CA. with his surfboard. Nice guy. Rides a K12LT and isn't happy with it.
I ask why and he says he had a Vmax previously. That's like switching from a funny car to a Winnebago! He says he would have ridden the bike but couldn't fit the board in the bags. My kinda guy.
I didn't ask him why he wasn't flying. We trade emails and take off separately. (Hey Ken! How were the waves?)
3500 miles to date...<o:p></o:p>
Back on the road, 150 miles to Chicago. 90 miles out, pee break and I'm freezing. I start to think "hotel time". A quick call to my Chicago contacts, John and Andy, still no answer. 20 miles out I pull off to hunt for a room. The hottest spot in this industrial area appears to be the local bowling alley.
The GPS finds me a room for $35 at a motel next to an "All Nude" strip club (hmmm). After a moments reflection I decide to live large. It's Saturday night, I'm near the great city of Chicago... let's splurge and head on in to the big city and get to partying! <o:p></o:p>
15 miles of steel mills, chemical plants, train yards and burning spires later (looks worse but smells better than Elizabeth, NJ). I am starting to think a night on the town was a mistake as I pass small oases of drab housing interspersed among the plants and factories.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>More to follow....
Part 5 (Report #3 part 2)
Arrrggghhnut... The start date id 9/14/02... I had the original post under a different name and it was poorly done... Dukegirl is trying to tie it in/together for me... sorry about the confusion... and I'll look for Spartacus... thanks!
Another toll (Chicago Skyway), the MP3 is playing Tony Bennet, "I left My Heart in San Francisco" and I am wishing I had some "Frankie". I cross the Skyway and as the city comes into view I am renewed, refreshed and excited. I'M IN CHICAGO! Home of deep dish pizza, Elwood and Jake and "Da Bears and Da Bulls." Coool!
The GPS is trying to take me too the geographic center, but that wont do and I make my way onto the "The Loop" towards the tall buildings and downtown Chi Town. I pull over to take in the air and the view of The Sears Tower (top is lighted purple). I can smell the water of Lake Michigan and the night is crisp and clear.
(Sears Tower in background)
I make a call to Amex for lodging advice... no help; I gotta get a platinum card. I ride around a bit to take in the sites. What a great city... fountains in time with patriotic music, bridges and gardens and parks all lit for effect. Very clean everywhere (in this area, downtown).
I hit the Hilton and Cesar at the door says no vacancy. I hit the Travel Lodge and the clerk isn't quite as nice about letting me know same. I hit the Essex on Congress and Jessica also says "No room at the inn."
She calls 20 some odd hotels for me, all the way out to O'Hare! N.G. Uh Oh! I'm homeless. I feel like Joseph on December 24th.<o:p></o:p>
Back to the Hilton and Cesar tries to pull some strings: no go. There is a HUGE convention in town and every single room in Chicago is occupied. (Perhaps I should have taken the room by the strip club).
Cesar discovers that Hilton is actually overbooked and is turning away reservations. They are sending people to The Monaco and he gives me directions. A wrong turn takes me to the river and a dead end...
I find myself in front of Hotel 71, VERY chic, trendy (read expensive) hotel in the vain of the "W".
The doorman, dressed in black Armani tells me, in a thick Irish brogue, that they are only accepting guests with reservations. I introduce myself to Phillip and he says give it a shot.<o:p></o:p>
At the front desk I meet Reyna... very sweet... no rooms but she calls her hubby at The Westin... Damn, still no rooms! I am starting to think park bench. Damn.<o:p></o:p>
Outside by the bike, Phillip charges up and says Reyna has got something for me. Inside she tells me she has been holding a room for a VIP from The Westin and they have agreed to give it up!
"Gadzooks!" I say (well, not really). I am thrilled to have a roof over my head (in such a fine establishment) but I know this is going to leave a mark on the wallet.<o:p></o:p>
Reyna hooks me up in a big way at a rate of $159 (the rates on the door upstairs start at $350)!!! She is my latest savior! Thanks darlin'! <o:p></o:p>
<o:p>The View from my room at the Hotel 71 :D </o:p>
Phillip helps me up with the bags after the security agent (Jesse) says hell keep an eye on the Beast overnight. Upstairs I find a cheese and fruit plate and a chilled bottle of white wine (must have been some VIP, mine now!!!) and Phillip and I have a wee taste. Slainte.
Before Phillip takes his leave, he offers to show me the local pub scene as he is meeting up with friends when he gets off work in a ½ an hour to which I reply with a hearty affirmative.
(BTW, I have crossed a timeline and gained an hour but it is now 11:15pm central, as it took almost 3 hours to find a room.)<o:p></o:p>
The room is amazing, 37th floor overlooking the river, downtown and the Chicago Sun Times building. The view is right out of a movie only better.
I keep thinking of Belushi's "Kolchak" character in The Continental Divide
After a shower and change of clothes (and a good bit of that wine) I am ready to rock Chicago style. Phillip and I meet up with his friends and we end up at a fine Irish pub called "Fado."
The place is packed and huge but cozy. Snugs all over and the pints of black & tans are going down nicely (and the tequila, I should do a Cuervo commercial). At 1:30am (2:30 on my internal clock) I call it a night and head back to the hotel. I'm out like a light.
New and Improved....
<st1:city><st1:place>Chicago</st1:place></st1:city> is amazing! My kinda' town! I will definitely return there someday! And I will make sure I stay at the Hotel 71. If any of you are ever there, that is the place you want to stay, and make sure you say hi to Reyna and Phillip!
Sunday October 6th
Partly cloudy to full sun, cold in the shade. I am up at 8am packed and off to the only Kinkos open on Sunday to dump my pics, burn them onto a CD and clear the cameras memory cards.
<o:p></o:p>Kinkos, to say the least, is not very helpful. Thankfully, I bump into another savior in the form of Dawn Furman. Dawn is mentally a New Yorker and is running a little impatient and edgy due to Kinkos competent and helpful staff.
Armed with her Mac G4 Power Book, complete with on board CD burner (man I need a laptop) she agrees to help me, warming up as I relay my situation. Apparently her boyfriend Ian (pronounced "eye-an") just bought a new BMW R1150RT (imagine that!) and has aspirations of taking the "Long Ride" as well.<o:p></o:p>
We chat while the pics are transferring and I find out she produces TV commercials. I tell her I'll eventually get to Cabo San Lucas and shes just been there filming the new Volkswagen Beetle Convertible commercial. She shows me covert pics (which she has signed a confidentiality agreement on, shhhh!) and I will tell you now, they are going to sell a million of them!
My new best friend...
<o:p>C'mon! Baby dontchawan ta go... Sweet Home Chicago... I can't find Jake</o:p>
We finish up the transfer and Dawn lets me know I have a place to stay if I am ever in Miami (seems shes from out of town as well) and we part company. (Hi Dawn& Ian! Get on the road guys!)<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>Okay... I am OTR at 2:45pm (very late) and heading for St. Louis, MO. GPS guides me to I55 South. It's breezy, chilly and sunny. It feels good to be on the road again.
50 miles south of Chicago the wind picks up on the plains of Illinois and once again I am being blown across lanes of traffic (which is, thankfully, very light). When you are sweeping into a right turn but leaning to the left, you know it's windy.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>I am now in "Big Sky" country, flat with thousands of square miles of corn or wheat or whatever fields. It looks like corn, but no one could need this much! My speed is down to 65 due to the wind.
The wind has bent the prairie grass to a permanent 90 degree angle
I pass Joliet IL and am unable to find the prison Jake was in... darn, I wanted that picture.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>The small roadside towns with service stations rise out of the cornfields like oases in the desert. Shangri-Las set in a sea of wheat, waves blown by the wind, the 4 and 5 story sign posts like palm trees on a desert island. (Waxing poetic, please indulge me)<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>I exit for a fill up and am almost blown right off the road. As I turn east onto the over pass, putting the wind at my back, it goes quiet and eerily calm. I am riding the wind.
I probably snapped a total of 100 pics at various points of this one sunset... it just kept getting better...
Later, after one of my frequent photo stops, I am almost flattened reentering the flow of traffic! ...oops, objects in mirror are close than they appear.
... but worth it...
South to Springfield IL (Home of Lincoln) I exit to find room for the night. Dinner at Appleby's... nice people, awful salad. I check into a shabby Budget Inn and at $35,
I don't complain. (Someday I'll camp... maybe when I get south into the warmth, right now it is just too damn cold).
Cover shot... wow... this could be a BMW ad... maybe I could get in on this....
<o:p>...hmmm... wonder if BMW needs a rep? whaddaya think? OK... I know, don't give up my day job...</o:p>
Monday October 7th
Its 42 degrees and sunny and as I load the Beast a redneck with bad hair (a mullet, circa 1978) says "That bike is tight!" Thanks man.
My contact in St. Louis, a long lost and dear friend, Leslie, will meet me for lunch when I arrive. We agree to meet at the BMW dealer there, BMW Motorrad of St. Louis, where I plan on getting a long overdue oil change (almost 2800 miles since I got serviced in Raleigh NC) and a pair of waterproof lined pants to replace my long gone rain pants and keep me warm. (Of course I have 3 pairs of similar items sitting in my closet at home, some boy scout I turned out to be) Maybe some cold weather gloves as well (also safe in a closet at home).
<o:p></o:p>I am on the road late at 11am and I am scraping 100mph on I55 to make up for lost time and get to BMW St Louis by 12:30 (145 miles).
The road is straight, flat and boring. 30 miles north of St Louis I spy another bike ahead of me and accelerate to catch it. Wow, at 105 plus it takes a while to catch him, this guy is really hauling ass. As I get close... uh oh... It's a cop!
Well isn't this just dandy. I know he knows I've come up behind him ultra fast as I have my 110 watt PIAA driving lights on to get the idiots to keep right (not that that works). Even if he was blind he'd still feel the heat they project. No sense faking it (not my style) I pull up next to him and match his speed (now about 90). <o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>I give him a nod and thumbs up on his ride and he returns the compliment with a smile! Hmmm... okay... I accelerate and pass, he doesn't follow.
30 seconds later I realize I missed a unique photo op, slow and wave him up to me... pulling the camera out at 85mph (funny how no other cars are coming near us) he starts laughing as I snap a few pics of him and I .
You guys have got to see these shots... one of a kind... me and an Illinois State Trooper breaking the sound barrier with a smile!
YOUR GONNA LOVE THESE!
The Man is Laughing! AT 90!
God Bless America... and very cool Highway Police!
I give him a salute and leave him in the dust... what a great country we live in!
20 miles north of St Louis I see the Arch on the horizon... each hillcrest brings it a little closer, a little larger.
I cross the Mississippi into Missouri and enter downtown St Louis making my way to The Arch via GPS directions (flawless). The Mississippi is just like Mark Twain describes it. Big, wide, slow and muddy. The Arch gleams like brushed aluminum in the high afternoon sun.
I arrive at BMW Motorrad at 12:50pm to find them closed on Mondays. Damn, I should have checked on that. OK, I'll just get a haircut then.
Nope! ... all the barber shops are closed in St Louis on Mondays as well!?!?
No pants (I'll freeze) No oil (Beast will seize) and no hair cut (I need a tease)
(I kill myself! Ok, after that one, some of you are probably wishing I would... sorry)
As my cell phone battery dies a truck pulls up and out comes Neville McNaughton of Midwest Rider News, a local motorcycle newspaper ala Backroads in the NY/NJ area. We chat a bit, I ask Neville if he is familiar with Backroads and its publishers, Brian & Shira Rathgen and I am a little surprised that he is very well acquainted with them. He states, in fact, that his paper isn't quite as established as Backroads but he will get there eventually. He gives me a copy of his paper (which was a great read) and directions to an open shop (Donelsons) where I can get what I need.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>I find an open barber on the way and "FLOW" from Mel's Diner gives me the worst haircut I have ever had!
After 3 attempts to get it right (shorter every time) I stop her and run like hell while there is still some hair left on my head. I look like a chemo patient.
<o:p></o:p>Donelsons supplies me with a quart of oil, a great deal on a pair of Fieldsheer water proof Cordura pants with a quilted liner ($49, very inexpensive) and a pair of First Gear winter gloves ($44)and a little charge time on the cell phone.
While I'm there, a Red Bull rep asks me about my ride, after hearing a condensed version, he loads me up with free Red Bulls, "Your gonna need these!" Yes I am!<o:p></o:p>
<o:p></o:p>I meet up with Leslie and we have a great lunch, catching up on families and rehashing old times. It was great to see you Leslie, been too long. We part and I end up "journaling" at the bar, watching Monday Night Football and downing ice cold Coronas. (GB 21/CB 7). It's too late, too tired and too many Coronas to ride, I Catch a room at the Days Inn and prep for tomorrow.
Leslie was sweet not to make fun of my abortion of a haircut... it's ok, I don't expect the same of you guy's...lol
Tuesday October 8th
Cloudy, cool and The Beast has 4193 miles to date.
I pack and proceed to check out to find that dear Leslie has paid my Hotel bill (don't get any ideas here folks, bunch a little perverts!... chuckle).
It was a very generous and sweet thing to do, thanks kiddo! Outside, a few employees are admiring the Beast; again, I am asked about the ride and wished a hearty good luck. As I pull out, I shout "HI OH Silver!" and the three people watching me shout back in unison "AWAY!!!"... and bang, just like that the Beast has a name... Silver. (Cheezy or not... thats how these things happen.)
Till the next one...
I especially love the pics of Chicago -- my old home town. You gotta hook up with some of the members of "New England Chapter" of Advrider. There's plenty of us in the NYC area.
It would be great to meet up... I was looking at the NJPB run April 24th...
Any of your people going?
... and there is always the Tuesday Hang at The Ear...
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