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 Blue Ridge
Six years ago I took Rt60 across Virginia
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 Lexington
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.
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"Ě 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 George Washington National Forest
"Ě 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 Blue Ridge Parkway
is an engineering wonder. Following the Appalachian Trail
, It winds along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains
from Front Royal, VA down past Ashville, NC
. 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.
I follow the BRP from Lexington/Buena Vista up to Waynesboro
. 2 white tailed deer, one wild turkey, one very fat ground hog and a Ĺ 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 Waynesboro
to I81North. Once out of the mountains, I have gray skies but the roads are dry. I pass through West Virginia
, and into Maryland
and pull off for a gas/food /butt break around
. 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.
I start to pull out of the gas station and a customer that has just pulled in starts shaking his head and saying, ‚ÄúDon'
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.
I81 to I78 East to 76E to 176N and I pull into my sisters driveway in Reading, PA at . 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!
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.
That's it for this installment. Please remember to say that prayer for Steve Z.
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.