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Old 09-07-2013, 05:48 AM   #1
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
Ballad of Beast and Biker

Ballad of Beast and Badass

(Note: The full title is Ballad of Beast and Badass, but I swapped Badass to Biker in the post title as I didn't want to run afoul of the forum rules. If the mods are ok with Badass in the title, they're more than welcome to change it back :) )

An adventure? Pshaw. Thereís no such thing as adventure. Adventure is an adjective in my dictionary, not something as banal as a noun. A ride along the TAT can be adventurous, but it is still nothing more than a motorcycle trip. Your vacation may involve being chased by drug cartel mercenaries through the Darien Gap while you escape with the drug lordís Amazonian Princess of a daughter and a million in unmarked bills. Sure, itís adventurous, but itís still a vacation.

Yet this also means that anything can be adventurous. You donít have to trek the back forest of Glacier National Park or have a trip around the world to have an ďadventure.Ē Whatever activity you choose to do can be as adventurous as you like. Need some milk from the corner store for that kickass triple chocolate fudge cake waiting to be baked? Hop on the olí pedal bike and see how many rail slides, wheelies, and bike-assisted parkour jumps you can do before you get there. Then double that on the way back with the milk in one hand. See? Itís just a milk run, but itís an adventurous milk run.

So here we have a ballad, of beast and badass. Perhaps the motorcycle isnít as much of a beast as some, or myself Ė its pilot Ė much of a badass. But together man and machine interweave as lucidly as a fabled poem. Together weíre not having an adventure, weíre signing a ballad.

Before I begin, let me just say that Iím going to be stupid and try to cater to many different crowds at once. So Iím going to format the posts in such a way you can skip over sections you might not like. Anything that is directly related to a ride report entry will look like the above introduction in terms of formatting. It Ė plus photos Ė will be the bulk of the report. Oh, and daily/trip stats at the end of the post for those mathematicians and staticians that like to lurk along. I admit, Iím a bit of a stat whore, myself.

Anything in plain text, such as this, is either prephrial to the core ride report, random comments, replies to other messages, or otherwise not directly part of the report.

Paragraphs like this, however, are narratives. Bits of story-like text that donít move the ride report along, but on the other hand can provide character, feeling, verbose description, or otherwise enhance some part of the ride report. Feel free to skip these if you want, or read for a better literary prose.

Moving on.

My original plan was simply to take time to do a ride. It slowly morphed into being after purchasing a Moto Guzzi V7 Stone. I love the look of classic bikes and UJMs, but really didnít want to fret with the reliability and/or work that an actual classic might entail. Plan the First, as I like to call this initial plan Ė was to take the ďnew classicĒ V7 Stone and travel to various US ghost towns and forgotten places, connecting the modern age with the old using the V7 as a catalyst.

Plan the First faltered a bit when my query on ADV met with only one reply Ė from an expat at that. Good advice from the friendly fellow, though. It completely died with my V7 Stone. A trip of a few days signaled the beginning of a multi-month saga of despair and anger. To spare the details Ė lest anyone perhaps is curious as my details are in the V7 Classic thread Ė the nice looking V7 Stone has been sitting at the dealer for over two months waiting on repairs, which is actually the third time since May of 2013 itís been in for service. Combined with the lemon of a Multistrada that it replaced, I suppose that says something about me and Italians, no?

With that Plan dying off to horrific chromosomes, Plan the Second passed along briefly before expiring in a gurgling mess of bad DNA. Looking to expand my horizons and actually do some dirt road riding, I swapped my CBR250 for a lightly used BMW Sertao. By this time I had booked three weeks totally to myself and thought ďhey, dual sport, tons of time, I can do the Midwest and actually see unpaved roads!Ē

Thatís about as far as that plan got. It was a good plan, mind, but I didnít feel comfortable enough humping around 420-odd-pounds, plus baggage, by myself, who knows how many thousands of miles from home, when my dirt experience mostly consists of a few hours on a forest road and some short gravel roads. Around this neck of the woods you have your choice of surfaces: beach, pavement, farm, or swamp. There are eleventy billion logging roads in the area, but theyíre gated works on private land.

Enh, who am I kidding, I would have done it but with a wedding coming up next year Iíd rather at least wait until my future wife would get all my death benefits before I kick the bucket doing something totally stupid. Oh, and the Beemer has recently developed a small oil leak from somewhere that Iím not too keen on getting bigger while plodding along in the wilderness. There's adventerous, and there's going out with a known issue.

And hence, Plan the Third: no plan. Planning has been about as successful as me winning the Olympic weight lifting competition, so I tossed out planning altogether. Well, there was some planning involved, but that was mostly just making sure all my stuff fit and the bike would run. And I washed the bike. Sorta.

Thus begins Ė in two days on the 10th Ė my Ballad. I have virtually no plans, nearly three full weeks to do with what I please, a credit card, and a general sexual open-mindedness which I hope will get me out of any situation the bike, my mind, or credit card canít. This ride might last all three weeks, it could putter out within a day, I might find spiritual enlightenment and start a commune. About the only concrete thing is that Iíll be sticking to the lower 48 in the US. The US is so damn big with so many things to see and do, why not? Besides, I donít possess a passport and my job makes international travel way too difficult.

Seeing as how there arenít any plans involved, Iíll take discarded ideas and scraps tossed down from the peanut gallery as to things to do, places to go, and generally what random ass crap you FFS can come up with for me. Iím toting along two lenses plus SLR, two GoPros, a waterproof Nikon camera, micro tripod, RAM mounts, laptop, and all the assorted paraphernalia for charging, taking, and storing. If it wasnít for this metric ton of electronics to support my adoring fans Iíd probably be able to cram my stuff into a duffle bag. My rain gear alone is nearly as volumetric as my clothes.

Hence my two-day-early post: if there doesnít seem to be enough interest, Iíll just leave a lot of crap at home and wing it solo. Also, any suggestions that I can jot down to see while I'm out are welcome.

So, would you like to listen to my ballad?

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Old 09-07-2013, 05:52 AM   #2
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
Supplimental Info

The Beast

Beast as in “grr, I’m a mean bastard,” or beast as in “beast of burden?” Either way, due to process of elimination, I’m going to be riding my 2012 Kawasaki Firefly 1000.

Alright, so Kawasaki doesn’t make a Firefly 1000. It’s just a Ninja 1000 with new decals because I didn’t want to pay 15-20 damn dollars per sticker to replace them after my vehicle vs. animal crash. Firefly is an awesome series cut short by the guillotine of TV production companies, the bike is green and black, and the script/size of the new decals looked good on the black. So there. It’s my bike and I’ll rice it if I want to.

It’s provided me with nearly 10,000 trouble free miles despite the two minor crashes I put it through. Though I must admit, switching to Maximum4 Extra oil from my usual Motul V300 did a number on the bike, sputtering a bit at low RPMs and reducing gas mileage by 1-2 MPG. Not enough to cause me to change the oil back before the usual interval, but it’s still annoying.

About the only prep work for this trip was actually buying the Givi side cases which I had racks for (lounging around for over a year, doing whatever it is unused accessories do in their free time), getting a bigger top case, and doing a little jerry-rigging to accommodate the missing support bracket due to my tail tidy. A test run with soft cases “worked”, but I wasn’t happy with how to secure the top duffel and keep it from jamming into my back, so I just went all hard. I also wired in my own SAE connector so I can charge things in the top case.

The Badass

Me. Can’t say I’m really all that badass, unless it comes to computers or getting shit done when it needs to get done. Otherwise I’m just a 125lb stick on two legs who relies on Adderall and Ritalin to stay awake (legal script!). Imagine a geek. Place said geek on a sports bike with luggage using the fascinating capabilities of the mind’s eye. There. That’s me. No, not that, that.

I camp, I ride, I walk, I bicycle, I photograph, I play games. Introverted and generally anti-social. Hell, what do you expect, a personals advert?

Although my micro-studly self is a far cry from the fine Webster’s definition of badass, it serves to make a catchy title. Or perhaps I’m the degenerate beast atop the badass machine?

Links and Rinks

All photos will be placed in a special set on my Flickr stream. Sorry ADV, but Smugmug is blocked at work for any pre/post-trip uploading and editing, so I’m stuck with Flickr or Photobucket for now :( And feel free to view my 855 other photos on Flickr, neatly categorized by tag and set (I have one just for vehicles, for example).

2013 “Where the Hell am I Going?” Set:

My Flickr Photostream:

Because I love you guys, I diddled with my data plan so I have 4GB worth of tethering data allotment on my cell phone. So long as I can get a signal, I should be able to at least post a text update and hopefully some photos. Any photos you see with “Low Resolution Proof” watermarking will be replaced with original sized versions later on, but are big enough to fit in a post yet not take up too much data. I’ll let everyone know when one gets updated.

Any video will be on my YouTube page. I’ll upload both raw video clips and fully edited ones (as I’m toting along a decent laptop with a full non-linear video editor) when I get a solid connection.

My YouTube Page:

Once I set it up, I'll post a link here to track my progress. I use MotionX versus a Spot because the subscription price is silly. But MotionX will do the same: you can see my track overlaid on Google Maps so long as I have a cell signal -- and remember to keep the program running.

Tracking link now online. Go here:

And use channel number 87543. It'll show my location for the past 24 hours, updated every 5 minutes so long as I've got the app running and have a cell signal.

kamikazekyle screwed with this post 09-09-2013 at 03:44 PM
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:02 AM   #3
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Taxachusetts
Oddometer: 2,381
I'm in
List of my old bikes that no one cares about
Current bikes go here to make others jealous

"I like my ride plans like my women...loosely put together with a chance of getting wet."
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Old 09-09-2013, 03:40 PM   #4
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
Originally Posted by univibe88 View Post
I'm in
Woot, first thread stalker!

Thread update incoming...

EDIT: Tracking link now online. Go here:

And use channel number 87543. It'll show my location for the past 24 hours, updated every 5 minutes so long as I've got the app running and have a cell signal.
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Old 09-09-2013, 03:41 PM   #5
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
September 09, 2013 - Day 1

Mundane, Exciting
September 9, 2013 Ė Day 1

What many consider mundane and average; what many glaze over for the countless time; what many see every day and not spare a second thought. It may be the boring and mundane, but to someone itís a new experience. Itís exciting in its own way despite what we may think. I remember the palatable excitement as I first went to the beach. Now, I live only a few blocks away and only went once this year. What we must remember is that experiences we take for granted were once fresh and exciting for us, and still are for those to come.

As per usual on a Monday when I get off shift Ė I work the midnight shift Ė I sprung home with the knowledge that I didnít have to go to work tomorrow. Or for another three weeks, for that matter. After petting the cat, plugging up the car to the battery charger, and generally unpacking from work, I had about two and a half hours left for my intended ďleave at noon or dieĒ deadline.

Hrm. I should probably pack.

Thankfully most of my gear was sitting still in the cases from my luggage test run about a month ago. Of course I changed things at the last minute, swapping out my sleeping bag to something more substantial than a ultralight summer bag, and moving oddsíníends about. It really didnít take me all that long.

After a half-hour aborted attempt at taking a nap, I plopped the gear on the bike and hauled ass. As much as lunchtime traffic in downtown Hampton permits, and only after stopping to get some cash (first time in half a year, I think) and gas.

Most of us use the first travel day to just get the Hell out of Dodge. Iím no different. But even though I was mixing things up and trying to find a curve or two along the way, it was all along roads Iíve been on before. To me Ė and many, many others in the region Ė these roads would be boring. But to those of you out there that have never seen them, itís all a new and potentially exciting experience.

So I tried something new: view the same old roads from a different perspective. Iím not talking about shifting with my teeth and throttling with my toes, but stopping at places I wouldnít think of stopping at; looking for photo opportunities that Iíd passed by tens or hundreds of times. Doing such simple things can bring life back to even the drabbest of interstate. Hell, next time youíre stuck in a gridlocked standstill, people watch and see a veritable swath of different reactions and coping mechanisms from your fellow human.

Beyond that, the ride wasnít exactly diverse. By the time I had left I was going on 16 hours awake and 6 hours without food. Getting to my parentís house was priority. Still, I stopped for a photo or two. A quick rest stop at a church netted a few interesting photos.

The gist of the trip too me up I-64 for a dash to Williamsburg, then over to US 5 for a scenic change to 64. Scenic with a few big sweepers, but otherwise forest, forest, forest, plantation, forest, Chihuahua on side of road, forest, plantation, forest.

From there it was a zigzag through farm country until Farmville, VA for gas. And a broken GPS.

Just outside of Farmville, my ever so untrustworthy Garmin Montana went bonkers. Iíve had it do weird things before, such as route me to a destination but fail to give me turn by turn. Every now and then I need to slap in a fresh pair of earplugs to keep the battery contacts in place. But this was a new issue: map activity would cease and if I changed the screen (zoom, bring up the menu, etc), the entire map would vanish permanently and the GPS would fail to power on.

I eventually traced the issue down to the ARM mount and its power connection. I wired in a molex connector to both the bike and GPS mount, and it seems as though something within that setup is causing the GPS to go bonkers. It was working just fine, so the only thing that crosses my mind is a grounded wire or loose solder joint. In any case, itís not a major deal, but annoying.

Later on the battery came loose, of course.

The highlight of today had to be my ride through the Appomattox-Buckingham Forest, location of Holiday Lake State Park. Hidden within the forest is a multi-mile bicycle trail with some gnarly hills that set my pedal bike spinning tires earlier in the summer. And perhaps even more fun for you ADV types: the forest is home to several public use dirt service roads and even a tiny water crossing or two. I havenít had the chance to get back here on my Sertao, but itís on the to-do list.

Right around 4:30 PM EST I managed to drag my sorry ass up my parentís driveway and clamber through the door. I really should reconsider trying to do a 4 hour ride with no sleep Ė as of this typing Iíve been up 22 and a half hours. Some quick photo editing, a dinner that looks like itís the poster child for Southern Cooking (I tried to figure out which had more salt: the shaker or the mashed potatoes), and now this report before I crash. Mentally, that is.
And thatís about it for the day. Some minor drama with the GPS, a touch of headshake on the Ninja due to me firming up the rebound on the forks, and a brief visit with my parents. Forgive me if my creativity has bombed like the skydiving whale in Hitchikerís Guide to the Galaxy, but Iím exhausted.

Tomorrowís ďplanĒ, if it can be called thatÖermÖI think Iím going to catch the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside of Roanoke and head south. Iíve been on the BRP umpteen times, but mostly up Lynchburg way. My logic being that the BRP will serve as a good warm up for the burdened beast and acclimate me to the load on twisties. More photo ops, too, though Iím starting to think if youíve seen one pull off on the Parkway, youíve seen them all.

Oh, and hereís the Mandatory Off Road Photo, so there:

Daily Stat Whore Stuff
Total Miles (GPS reported): 234.4 (270+ estimated)
Total Time/Moving (GPS Reported): 3h 31m/2h 58 (4h estimated)
Speed Max/Avg (GPS Reported): 76.7 MPH/66.6 MPH (Yep, trip is doomed)
Dead Squirrels on Road: 3
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:29 PM   #6
Dirt Road Cowboy
Sometimes I'm A Jerk
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Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Tyler, Texas
Oddometer: 497
Pass the popcorn, I'm in!

Originally Posted by Ginger Beard View Post
Motorcycling has become something where a bunch of terrified cunts wont so much as ride to the corner store without wearing a Storm Trooper helmet and covering themselves in dayglow Nancy suits.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:08 PM   #7
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
I'm alive! Still! I was stuck in a semi-primitive camp site on the 10th without any cell signal. Heck of an update for the 10th. Hopefully the posts for the 10th and 11th are incoming soon.

Originally Posted by Dirt Road Cowboy View Post
Pass the popcorn, I'm in!

Thanks for following! Quickie "ins" like this help spur me on to do live ride reports. Nothing like editing photos and typing up the days happenings while trying to scarf down dinner after 9+ hours of riding :)
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:01 PM   #8
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
September 10, 2013 - Day 2

The Walks of Humanity
September 10, 2013 – Day 2

Two of the three were assholes. The third seemed OK: a friend of the numbnuts in front that happened to be along for the ride. Clad in skullcaps and sleeveless shirts, their horns blared, hands gestured rudely, engines revved to asinine levels, yet the car continued on its slow pace. Frustrated and angry, the Harley bastards would rather cause a ruckus and perpetuate the bad stereotype than simply pass on a double yellow. Illegal as the pass may have been, I’m certain the poor soul in the car ahead would be grateful never to see the idiots again. Eventually the car veered off into an overlook while the hooligans bored off at top speed, fist pumping and hooting their victory.

And yet, fifteen minutes later as I turned around for camping, I came across humanity in its best. An elderly lay prostrate on the road, his Victory cruiser crashed off the road. Several people had already stopped, and not because his body was blocking their lane. As inconvenienced as they were they still rendered help to a person in need.

An exciting day, no doubt. And it all started with a boring breakfast of Chex and decaff instant coffee.

After my post, I set about the usual bits of charging gear and making sure I didn’t smell. Those tasks done I lay in bed fiddling with my iPhone until my brain suddenly remembered it had been awake for over 25 hours by that point. “Oh. Uh. Ok, sleepy time,” it said as it suddenly flipped a switch and I crashed. Actually, crash isn’t the correct word. More like “immediately fell into unconsciousness.”

I awoke at a prompt time of 4-before-the-crack-ass-of-dawn-am. I was so tired I didn’t even remember sleeping. It reminded me a lot of when I had surgery and they put me under. There were also these odd moaning sounds coming from somewhere -- certainly animal or bestial. I hope so, because my dad was the only one in the house and on the opposite side at that.

Shrugging off the monster under the bed, I still wanted more sleep but couldn’t fall back asleep, so a melatonin knocked me out till 8 am.

A quick breakfast of Chex while I argued with the GPS for a route to Asheville, NC, and I was out the door and on the road by 9:15. It wasn’t until about two hours later that it dawned on me I left a pair of my boxers at my parent’s house. Oops. Well, I’ve always subscribed to the idea of having a spare and it paid off. I can survive on two. One if I’m creative.

The trip up US24 wasn’t too bad. A little traffic here, revisiting old haunts there. One pucker moment when a perfectly straight and boring bit of road went multiple personality on me and turned into a piece of spaghetti dropped by a toddler. I went careening at 60 MPH into a 15 MPH bend, so a little brake work and modifying the center of gravity with the amount of metal I sucked up my ass solved the problem. Otherwise it was business as usual to the Parkway: GPS going Cybil, bike wanting to bleed me dry in gas, the usual.

Greeted by the expected twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I hurled the bike back and forth to the rhythm of the road; at least until it straightened out between Southern Virginia and Northern North Carolina.

Oh look, the park rangers have a sense of humor

I stopped for a quick jaunt up to the Roanoke Mountain overlook, but skipped the semi-famous Roanoke Star (ok, so I missed the turnoff).

The road up to the overlook was super tight and twisty – 1st gear stuff on the Ninja – though I had to stop and smell the flowers.

Some twists and turns.

One of many bridges.

And the odd building or two to break up the forest.

Not much of circumstance happened until I took a break for lunch at Groundhog Hill (must be some effin’ big groundhogs). On Groundhog Hill there’s a nice, shaded picnic area and an overlook tower. I was currently the only one occupying the location until half the Parkway decided to roll in at once. I guess I’m that sexy.

I ate my homemade “super peanut butter wrap” (tortilla, almond butter with maple syrup, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, granola, honey) and watched as someone in a beat up Ford Ranger dumped a month’s worth of garbage into the picnic area only bins. I thought about calling the national park hotline, but considering most stuff was closed for sequestration I doubted anyone would catch the guy before he veered off to somewhere else.

After lunch I hit up the tower for a few shots, and overheard some new arrivals talking about the Firefly decals on the bike. In an irony of ironies, more people are interested in the decal than the actual motorcycle. I’ve had the damned things on for a week and it’s already received more comments than my Ninja has over 2 years. Blah.

More vroom vroom.

I came up on a Harley sidecar rig and thought it was pretty nifty. I’ve always wanted a sidecar rig, but when I look at one and see the cost and gas mileage, I begin to get a desire to just drive the car.

But it did give me a new idea for a driving game. Instead of Punch Buggy – where someone punches another’s arm when they see a Volkswagen Beetle first – do it with sidecar rigs. They’re probably as rare as a classic Beetle is nowadays. Be kind of hard to play in a group ride though. “Sidecar Swipe!” as someone bodychecks the rider next to them.

I kept getting stuck behind a guy on an older model K-series BMW GT of sorts (see photo at the lunch break above). As I was nearing reserve, I pulled off at the Traders Station with another rider on a Harley heritage. He came over and complimented the hell out of my Ninja (look, up in the sky! It’s my ego!). Turns out he raced vintage MX bikes – a ’74 KTM 640 (not totally sure on model), and a ’79 Husky 500 (not sure on year, this time). It was a good, short chat, with a guy riding the Parkway as far as it’ll go from start to finish.

Hauling butt down 16 I plopped into a Marathon to fill up, on regular no less. I figured I’d be around 3-5,000 feet all day so might as well. Right when I was getting ready to helmet up, a Tiger and V-Strom rolled in to the next pump with two riders kitted out in well-worn ‘stich gear. I didn’t catch their names, but I had a chat with one of the riders who again complimented my bike and was interested in its differences from the ZX-10. Nice, friendly guys. Helps to get over this whole “I actually have to talk to people” issue of mine.

I saw a “Ride the World” decal stuck on the side of the Tiger and I knew it looked incredibly familiar, but I couldn’t place it until about fifteen minutes later when I was back on the Parkway. Damnit! I think I just talked to an ADV member and didn’t even think to ask.

Anyway, back on the Parkway it was much of the same: twists, turns, traffic. I did notice North Carolina’s Parkway roads were in kinda shoddy shape, riddled with potholes. At least they had good signage warning you.

I did stop to smell the views from time to time.

The Linn Viaduct is, of course, one of the staples of the Parkway and can’t be missed:

I caught back up with the BMW rider for the third time until he peeled off to sights unseen. It was getting on 5 pm at that time and I was still 80 miles out of Asheville. I hit up Kayak on my phone when I had a signal, decided that $69 a night for a Holiday Inn was too much, and petered on down the Parkway to Crabtree Falls Campground. Which was closed. Eff me.

Finding Toe River Campground and routing that way is when I came upon the group of Harley riders mentioned in the intro. To be honest, I have zero care what anyone rides. I say it’s the rider not the ride. Like the guy on a Harley earlier with whom I had a good talk. But damn, these idiots were about as stereotypical as you can be. When we caught up to a car doing 35 MPH, the first two proceeded to blare their horns, rev their engines, gesture all sorts of things at the car, and generally be the assholes that people believe in. The third rider seemed along for the ride, so to speak, and just cruised along behind the charade. The car finally pulled over to let the group pass, and I wanted to follow the car and apologize for the poor examples of our species. Their victory cries were nearly as bad.

But I have to admit, for the stereotype, they were pretty damn good riders. Not the best of form, but they weren’t afraid to haul it a good clip around bends. And they even pointed out big potholes and stuff with the third rider making sure to point it out to me following the troupe. So props for that, as they say.

Realizing my GPS was totally lost, and as a consequence so was I, I took the opportunity to pull over and find a new route to the campground. I pulled out and not two hundred feet later I came across a biker on the road.

From what I could tell, he had target fixated and ran right off the road, thankfully into an embankment of dirt and trees. Not too much ahead or behind and he could have gone over the side of the mountain.

The elderly gentleman was a bit beat up, but the only visual injury was a cut on his nose. People already on the scene had said he was unconscious, but by the time I arrived he was at least sitting up in the roadway. I stopped and flagged down a passing car who happened to be an off duty EMT. After a brief assessment the EMT determined that the rider was fully aware and didn’t have any apparent brain injury, though he was worried about spinal injuries. The rider’s helmet was rashed a good bit, but he didn’t have anything on besides jeans and a windbreaker. Thankfully it didn’t look like a high speed crash as the Victory cruiser was more than rideable (and HUGE in person, wow).

As an ambulance was already on its way and there wasn’t anything I could do (someone already had a first aid kit, and his bike was uprighted), I left after the EMT.

Away I wandered until I stumbled across a national forest campground, where I sit without a cell signal and am typing up this report. A few minutes to lube the chain by the old fashioned push/squirt/push method, some water for a quick Mountain House meal (given the time I didn’t feel like cooking), and some really rust colored water out of the drinking water tap. I Steri-Pen’ed it just in case. The camp’s by a nice river, which I hope can lull me to sleep.

Daily Stat Whore Stuff
Daily Mileage: 386.2 miles
Total Trip Miles: 656.2 miles
Daily Time/Moving: 9h 6m/6h 32m
Speed Max/Moving Average: 93.8 MPH (error, I’m sure, yep)/58.4 MPH
Dead Squirrels on Road: 14
Live Squirrels on Road: 3
Other Roadkill: 4
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:04 PM   #9
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
September 11, 2013 - Day 3

Head in the Clouds, Ass on the Asphalt
September 22, 2013 Ė Day 3

Itís still the Blue Ridge Parkway. Nearly any segment of the Parkway will look identical to any other. Some parts might be straighter, others, curvy; a mountain offers gargantuan views while a valley sprouts green fields.

Yet today the clouds rode low, enveloping me in a dense, dark shroud of mystery. Suddenly it wasnít the Parkway I knew. It was a road in a tunnel, screaming at the tires to meld into one endless curve after another. There were neither distractions of scenery nor a single car of traffic. For miles and miles I simply was: motorcycle, man, and road without anything else to care about.

I do not believe in Heaven or Hell, but I found Nirvana.

Goooood morning, North Carolina!

I actually woke up just before my alarm to a silent campground. The temperature plummeted overnight so I was quite thankful I remembered to pack my down sleeping bag.

As I had no idea where I was heading for the day, I boiled up some tannin-colored water for a cup of Joe, some oatmeal, and a hot shave. Have you ever tried to shave in the rearview mirror of your motorcycle with a dull blade? And have you tried to do a self-portrait while doing so? Not fun. And the photo didnít turn out.

I scarfed down the oatmeal as it cooled while plotting an ambitious route to Roswell. The Georgian Roswell, not the one out West. Maybe later. Wham, bam, thank you maíam my campsite is packed and Iím on the road by 8:30. Gung ho I turn out the campsite entrance and BOOM construction holdup within ten feet. Good start.

Oh well. I plod along back to the Parkway, getting chilled in the cool morning air. Godrays peaked through the morning mist as the sun filtered through the tree canopy. It put a smile to this scarred face on the race up the mountain. Some stunning views greeted me in spite of the low lying clouds.

Racing on I plowed headfirst into the cloud layer, and literally drove into a rain cloud. Actually inside it. The storm was brief and mild, but cut the temperature sharply in a watershed with almost not pulloffs and leaving the roadway prohibited. I finally came upon a savior little nothing of an ďoverlookĒ, and zippered up all my vents to help stop my teeth chattering. At least I didnít have to turn on the heated grips.

Outside the raincloud, I was ďlostĒ inside a neverending bank of clouds. They enveloped me like a white tunnel, blocking off the beautiful scenery but focusing my mind and body to a knife. I rode the edge of the blade, riding every turn in the peak of concentration and harmony. It was the rare moment in a motorcyclistís life where every sense and atom of being comes together from mind to pavement. In its own way, the Motorcyclistís State of Being was more beautiful than the grandest of sunsets or the greenest of forests.

The riderís high faded with the clouds, to be replaced by a general peace with the surroundings.

My exit came up, and I cut off the parkway towards the Headquarters, finally arriving after years of riding along the Northern ends of the Parkway. It was my own little victory to get the cancelation stamp, and a magnet for our fridge.

A brief stop for lunch at a rest stop (beef jerky for the win!) and I moseyed on.

From there I zig zagged a bit towards the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for another cancelation, and hopefully a curvy road. Heading through Cherokee was a bit depressing as it seemed to commercialize on the stereotype of Native American culture, though who am I to argue valuable tourism income.

I wasnít left wanting in curves or crowds: the park was packed. It was like Skyline Drive all over again Ė and looked identical to boot. Still, I soldiered on and snapped a photo or two along the way.

Traffic was so slow that I was able to coast with the clutch in for miles upon miles without using the engine at all. Hurrah for gas mileage boost!

One theme I noticed today was the countless Harley cruisers out and about. I suppose thatís common itís in own right Ė you see few sportbikes touring in the middle of the week during sub-prime season Ė but I imagine today saw a bit of a surge. Given that today is the infamous September 11th in the United States, my hypothesis is that many HD chapters organized rides in remembrance. I could be entirely wrong as I was never able to actually ask one (today had little in the way of social interaction).

Anyway, moving on literally and figuratively. Gavingston greeted me with the plastic faÁade of a tourist trap, and my ride into Pidgeon Forge was like entering Hell. Someone suddenly turned back the months to July as heat blasted me like Danteís Inferno and I fell into a pit of yet another Tourist Trap.

On the flip side, people lined the streets for an upcoming classic car ride of sorts, and the exhibits were lining parking lots and hotels all along the ďstrip.Ē I wasnít able to get any photos as I was too busy riding the clutch and brakes in traffic (the Ninja isnít a fan of sub 20 MPH speeds).

I figured I wouldnít make my goal of Roswell, so tried to figure out a place on the way to get a hotel. Next thing Iím going to buy: a damn atlas. I have one at home, but itís a huge large print version. Trying to find a general city or direction to go via GPS or most phone apps is an exercise in frustration. Once I know where I want to go, then the electronics can take over for my crappy direction finding skills.

Finding a hotel for $47 in Cleveland (Tennessee, not Ohio), I decided to book it then and there. The average price for state forest campgrounds with electric hookups is around the upper $20 range, and KOAís are just stupid overpriced.

Traffic was bumper to bumper for half an hour as I fought my way out of Pigeon Forge to I40. From there it was racing in a blast wave of heat Ė my keychain thermometer on my triple tree read 100F and it was 185F on my valve covers Ė and working the cramp buster to the limit.

I humped into the hotel right around 5:30 and waited for ten minutes while the group of ladies ahead of me booked different rooms for different people using different pools of money, all at the same time. Then change their minds. I shrugged it off, chatted a bit with them and the clerk who was astonished that I rode a sportbike 9 hours, and then crashed into my room. I had leftover Mountain House to eat and a microwave. Protip: the bags contain aluminum and create a nice fireworks show. So I tossed the remnants in the ice bucket, nuked it, and had a cup of hotel room coffee while I wrote up the report and processed photos.

Tomorrow is a total unknown at this point. I think the further West I go, the more time Iíll take to smell the roses. A lot of things in this neck of the woods I can see within one of my weeks off I get every other week. And I often ride for the road, not the destination. As the roads straighten out and the scenery turns to corn and farming, I think Iíll have to look beyond the road to find the things I seek.


The Beast and Other Burdens
My Ninja 1000 continues to hum along. I still have a bit of headshake but that was present before the trip due to suspension tuning. Come to think of it I probably should increase the compression damping on the forks to accommodate the heavier load, but enh. Overall the ride is smooth, the power is always there when I need it regardless of altitude, and I only notice the load when coming to a stop.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not), now that I have about 1,000 on this oil change my mileage seems to be improving. At the moment thereís too many variables to really tell for sure, but Iím all for an additional 2-4 MPG.

Despite my comments from September 10th on sidecars, I ponder if I should explore something more suited to riding with my girlfriend and smelling the flowers than grinding pegs in the corners. Perhaps a metric cruiser? Maybe a CanAm to make the missus more comfortable?

Daily Stat Whore Stuff
Daily Mileage: 291.0 miles
Total Trip Miles: 983.2 miles
Daily Time/Moving: 8 h 20m /2h 14m
Speed Max/Moving Average: 86.6 MPH / 47.6 MPH
Harley Davidson Motorcycles on Road: 2e6
Highest/Lowest Altitude Today: 5499 ft/728 ft
Total Ascent/Total Descent: 18,451 ft/19,804 ft

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Old 09-12-2013, 04:47 PM   #10
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
Just a heads up, no post for tonight. I've been on the road for over ten hours and with the 90+ temps I'm beat. Bit under the weather mood wise, as well. I didn't intend to go for so long, but by lunchtime I had run out of ideas and things to do. So I just started riding till I got a hotel in Columbus, MS. Outside of the Parkway, everything I've seen thus far has been identical to stuff I could find within 2 hours of my house, so there's a lot of "why did I even bother to come here or do this trip" funk going on.

I'm thinking I might go with semi-live or post-ride reporting. The past three days I've spent every moment not riding working on the ride report, including working through meals. Though half of that is because I seem to be getting too ambitious and wind up riding 9-10 hours a day (and yet I'm only 13 hours from home )

Besides, the core reason behind doing this report live is to engage the ADV community. I don't have any plans starting this ride except GO as all my planned rides had busted, so I had hoped to see if ADV would chime in with little suggestions on places normal tourists won't see. I can't really ask in the regional forums as I might be out of the region by the time someone posts, and I tried asking in the US general forum but that thread got all of one reply at the time.

So with so little interactive engagement, I kinda lost the motivation to blow 2-4 hours a night working together a nice ride report with plenty of photos. Without feedback from ADV, I might as well do this after the ride as you'd get the same information but with full resolution photos.

I might post some updates if I have a particularly short day, or if this report becomes more interactive.

Until then,
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:52 PM   #11
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Apopka, FL
Oddometer: 412
Found your RR today. Like many of us you've had that travel bug for awhile. Yet like many of us you took the challenge of making it a reality. I've never done a ride like yours or many out there but I can't wait. The freedom seems like no other. Like the choice of bike for the trip. Keep it coming however your pace allows. After all we will all be here waiting like suckas til your next post.

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Old 09-13-2013, 06:07 AM   #12
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
Originally Posted by Eagletalon View Post
Found your RR today. Like many of us you've had that travel bug for awhile. Yet like many of us you took the challenge of making it a reality. I've never done a ride like yours or many out there but I can't wait. The freedom seems like no other. Like the choice of bike for the trip. Keep it coming however your pace allows. After all we will all be here waiting like suckas til your next post.

Thanks for the support, John. It's much appreciated.

Yesterday after noon was just a sucky-ish day in general, which all culminated in a sore ass and lots of fatigue. The tractor trailer merging into me didn't help any (yay lane splitting at 85 MPH).

I think I'm going to try to do this report semi-live, post full days reports when I can. The text doesn't take very long at all. I do tons of writing and type fast so that bit's easy. It's importing photos from 3 or 4 cameras, sorting out the bad takes, digitally processing each one, then uploading, tagging, titling, and getting the URL's to insert into the ride report that takes the longest, even with custom tools I've designed to speed up the process.

So while the main updates will come when I have time, I'm going to try to do a quick post every day showcasing the highlight of that part of the trip, and toss up only a relevant photo or two. Something like a teaser to keep you guys checking back from time to time until I can get a full post up. As I said, I enjoy doing the report, but have way too may cameras :P

As an aside, I think today I'm gong to stop by WalMart (again), grab an atlas, and just go. Forget plotting out routes on the GPS or even doing a day plan: just total ad-hoc all the way.
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:36 AM   #13
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: 505
Oddometer: 1,810
Sick camera locations!!! Do you have multiple mounts or something??

Nice bike btw
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:55 PM   #14
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140
Originally Posted by Dubl-A View Post
Sick camera locations!!! Do you have multiple mounts or something??

Nice bike btw
Depends on the shot :P I've got about 5 or 6 different shot locations for the GoPro along with a mini tripod -- I think so far on this thread the only one I've posted is on the swingarm (that shows my foot). That one yields awesome video. But outside of those everything else has been handheld or an ad hoc setup propping the camera up on something. Ironically I just used the tripod today and that was to get a ground level drive by video.

Thanks for the comments :)
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:56 PM   #15
kamikazekyle OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Hampton Roads, VA
Oddometer: 140

History in Alabama
September 12, 2013 Ė Day 4
The road was straighter than a ruler, the sun was burning down with a relentless glare, and my water had run out miles ago. I trudged on to my waiting hotel for relief, when the tractor trailer in front slowed as I was making my pass of another. Suddenly, the tractor trailer to my right triggered his turn signal and I knew what was coming a moment before his tires crossed the line.

I tried to sleep in a bit, or at least a little later than I had intended. The sun was just cresting over the horizon, diluted by a dense layer of clouds.

There was a chill in the air as I sat down to the hotelís continental breakfast: waffle, muffin, and some cereal rounded out the breakfast of champions. Protein could wait.

Northwest Georgia has a few decent twisties, to my surprise, which I gleefully swayed with until Alabama and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park. Through a critical misunderstanding, Rosecrans redirected his troops to cover a supposed gap in his line, only to open an actual gap right when Longstreet was attacking, resulting in a route of Federal troops.

They had a fantastic shoulder arms collection from the 1500ís to the 1900ís called the Fuller Arms Collection. Some unique weapons Iíd never seen before were dotted about, plus some Iíd had heard of but not actually seen in person.

Early 1900ís scope:

A tinned carbine for Navy use, to resist rust. Iíve never seen one before.

An interesting pistol turned into a carbine with stock:

No need for individual percussion caps:

A blunderbuss:

Cochrane Repeating Rifle:

They even had some more exotic things, like calthrops/caltrops and a glass hand grenade:

There were some other artifacts inside the visitorís center and museum.

I havenít seen much of reunion items:

I decided to do the vehicle tour, but started to lose interest halfway through. I do so enjoy Civil War history, but Chickamauga was little more than a giant collection of monuments with scattered plaques that werenít as engrossing as other parks. I cut out halfway through.

A pair of deer wanted to play:

I wandered through Alabama Ė and what seemed to resemble no-manís land at times Ė stopping for a quick photo shoot at a bridge. Damned if I can remember the name of the river, though. It was a fun stop, and required me to jump a curb and do a little gravel riding to get to the position. Turned out nice, I think.

From there I made my way to Russell Cave, a prehistoric site used by humans over many centuries. So many layers have been uncovered there it represented a clear, almost stratified, history timeline. The cave entrances were enormous, worn away by millennia of erosion. The site was a little chintzy and could use some updating, but was located waaay out of the way. Itís not something you can find by accident unless youíre dual sporting in super-rural Alabama.

A local greeted me.

It was about lunchtime when I finished, so I hit up a Subway at what was little more than a truck stop oasis. Eight bucks got me lunch and dinner, plus dessert and drink. Sweet.

I ran out of ideas at this point and saw that I could probably make it to Columbus, Mississippi and knock out Alabama. The slab was the name of the game, but I dodged off once or twice at random to see the sights. Which, really, looked like the sights I could see an hour from my house, just twistier. They were nice detours, but I wound up back on the interstate just to make time.

Miles after miles ticked by largely uneventfully, until a truck decided I should be a pancake. I was passing a tractor trailer in the far left lane when another tractor trailer in the lane suddenly slowed, closing down the gap in front of the tractor trailer I was passing. He started to speed back up, but the one I was passing flipped on his signal and started merging into my lane. I plowed my thumb into the horn as I cruised along next to his cab, but he didnít notice. Quickly I dodged onto the shoulder and discovered what it was like to lane split between a guard rail and tractor trailer at 80 MPH until I completed the pass.

More ďfunĒ miles before I made it to Columbus, only to have Waze totally miss my hotel. Oh well, another 16 miles out of the way. A quick stop for some foodstuffs at WalMart, more getting lost, and finally a mostly cleanish room for $40 a night. I checked prior for camp sites, but it looked like mid $20 range. I was so exhausted that I just took the hotel. It rained overnight, so at least I felt justified.

Daily Stat Whore Stuff
Daily Mileage: 403.8 miles
Total Trip Miles: 1387.0 miles
Daily Time/Moving: 10h 46m /7h 43m
Speed Max/Moving Average: 98.2 (silly GPS) MPH / 53.3 MPH

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