A Hell of a Ride - A military retiree meets the country he defended.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Setanta ADV, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Nice looking bike! Not what most on here would have taken, but, it is about adventure, and I am sure you got it in spades.
    #21
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  2. Bobcycles

    Bobcycles Been here awhile

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    Newfoundland
    Three stages of Retirement:

    1 - "Go! Go! Go!"
    2 -"Go Slow!"
    3 - "No Go!"
    Enjoy :clap
    #22
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  3. orangebob

    orangebob n00b

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    I'm in, sir !
    #23
  4. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    Raleigh, NC
    A Hell of a Ride – 2


    I appreciate all the positivity so far. Thanks for the interest. I do want to add one more point about what this trip was for, or rather, what it “wasn’t” for. It wasn’t a nation wide tour to tell everyone that I’m a veteran, get loads of attention, a free desert at a chain restaurant, and a thousand pats on the back. While that is always appreciated, and Americans are very good about showing their support for our military, as evidenced by the comments you all already made here, that’s not what I took this trip for. Possibly more than anything, I wanted to take this trip to say my own “Thank you” to the civilians across the country who make our nation the great place it really is. From the minimum wage worker who struggles every day to put food on the table while being thankful for having that job, to the small business owner who risks everything for a dream, to the big corporate CEO who employs thousands of workers, and back to the stay at home mom who insists making sure her children grow up to be good people, and everyone in-between, you are what is good in this nation – you make contributions in your own way, and I thank YOU for YOUR service. Soldiers are not what’s best in a nation; they defend what is best in that nation.

    Back to the story ~

    So, Ducati purchased, and sanity questioned, I made further preparations for the trip. Initial equipment was purchased and mounted. This equipment included items to ruggedize the girl (radiator guards, folding levers, and axel sliders to start with), and luggage (SW Motech tank bag and panniers, as well as a Kriega 30 tail bag). I also wired in a power accessory for charging my phone and cameras while on the move. Knowing that the weight balance would be far different than stock, as well as the potential for certain items to wear were they weren’t intended to, I decided to go on a trial rehearsal trip. I retired from the Army out John Rambo’s favorite home town (Fort Bragg), and still reside in the Raleigh, NC area, so I looked for a good “epic ride” on this side of the continent. Deals Gap / “The Tail of the Dragon” was about 360 miles away from me, so that fit the bill nicely. Miles went by and camping was done. Lessons were learned, and more equipment was purchased. The mountains of NC are a beautiful area to ride in. The distance to get to the mountains, as well as getting used to the feel of the bike on the mountainous prime roads themselves, were all beneficial. Here is a obligatory “No shit, there I was” photo, along with a shot of the initial overloaded load out. It was because of the second photo that I began thinking this beautiful girl as “The Pregnigale”! As happens with most ladies who find themselves “in a family way”, she would soon get even bigger…

    Ducati 1299S Panigale - Tail of the Dragon trip - Dragon Sculpture - Killboy - 13 July 2017.jpg
    Ducati Pregnigale - Loaded up - Tail of the Dragon trip - 14 July 2017.jpg

    My rehearsal trip to Deals Gap taught me several important lessons. Primarily, despite the load I was already carrying, I still needed both more carrying capacity, as well as a way to carry equipment more securely, if I was going to be able to accomplish the film project I was undertaking. There was no way sticky fingers would leave critical equipment alone if it was simply lashed to other bags with bungies. A company called “Ventura” was recommended to me, and after some research I decided to add a rack system and large bag to the Pani. The addition of a rack allowed me to add a secure, albeit bootleg, way to carry a Rotopax fuel can, as well as a better organized way to carry the sundry items I needed to bring along.

    New items mounted, though not tested to the degree I was comfortable with, departure day was rapidly closing. Departure day was adjusted to 29 August 2017. After years of deployments, and the associated packing preparation, I knew I had a tendency to pull all nighters at the last minute, and not allow myself any good rest the night before. I was determined to prevent that situation this time. I started packing items early, but despite my best efforts, I found myself packing, and repacking. Always finding a better way. The day prior, this activity continued. Bags full and everything Ziplocked, I looked around and found many items remaining. Now, decisions were being made to determine the difference between what I wanted to bring, and what I needed to bring. I had intended to leave at 10:00 in the morning. Seeing as it was now 3:00 in the morning, and I was still fiddling around with setting up the “perfect loadout”, I decided to throw in the towel and get some rest.

    Waking in the morning, continuing a bit of packing, getting in a last bit of play time with the kids. The weather was checked, and it did not look good. My plan on the first day was to travel to Williamsburg, VA to get a colonial perspective of the USA. “Where did we come from?” vs “Where are we now”? A major tropical storm was setting upon the coastline though, and rain was hitting as far inland as Raleigh. I figured I wouldn’t be able to get any filming done in Williamsburg, with the weather being the way it was, so I adjusted my destination to the next stop on my route, Washington D.C. I decided to delay my departure a few hours to allow the weather to push up the coast a little further. The forecast had the rain tapering off in the late afternoon and throughout the evening in VA. The first lesson learned on how to be a civilian was, “This is my schedule and my trip. I’ll leave whenever I feel like it!”


    The weather map showed this tropical storm in the morning.
    NC Weather Radar 29 Aug 2017.jpg

    Packing continued as every nook and cranny sought to be filled by something. Wrenches? That will fit here. Gorilla Tape? Put ‘er there. Assorted adhesives? There’s a place for those. And so on. All along, without my realizing it, one of my closest friends was feeling uneasy about all this packing. Without my telling him directly, he knew from experience that something was going on; that something was taking me away for more than an afternoon. I suppose he felt he deserved more attention than I was giving him at the time, so he decided to claim his ground where I was focusing the most attention, and force me to talk to him. Here is a picture of my buddy at that time, leaving no question as to how he felt about my leaving him.

    IMG_4896.JPG

    There’s no wonder these guys are considered man’s best friend.


    As tradition dictates, I needed a name for the Ducati. She and I would be spending a lot of quality time together, so she was now a part of the family. I enlisted the help of the kids in naming her. Being kids, everything reminds them of a dinosaur somehow, so she was offered the name “Red Rex”. This Pani was a proper lady, so we needed to girl the name up a bit. “Rexy” was quickly settled on. The day was getting late, though remaining overcast, the rain seemed to have gone away, and the time for goodbyes had come. I suited up. Hugs and kisses given and received, a pat on the head for the puppy, backpack shouldered and Rexy straddled, I was ready to head out on this adventure. The engine came to life with the sound of glorious urgency and I was ready to roll out into a new phase of my life. This was an adventure purely of my own making. Despite my efforts in planning, the reality of the situation was that everything I was about to face was unknown to me. I liked that. Much like parachuting, the greatest challenge to overcome seemed to be taking that first step out the door. The odometer read 1,588 miles. Let’s do this!

    Having waited out the weather, the departure time ended up being about 4:00 PM. The roads had a few damp spots, but both they and the sky were rapidly clearing. Normally a slightly damp road wouldn’t be much of a concern, but I had placed a tremendous load on Rexy’s back, and she was showing me that she needed to be treated much more carefully than the first time I had taken her out with a load on her back. I had placed the Ducati ride mode into “Rain” to ensure that the nannies were fully engaged and able to compensate to the best of their ability for any shortcoming I had in riding skill. Raleigh has been under siege by road construction projects on the freeways around the city for years. Passing through the field of obstacles, my attention was fully placed on making it through our version of No Man’s Land without sustaining any damage in my first 30 miles. My ETA for the location I was going to be staying at near D.C. was estimated to be around 9 PM on the navigation. I figured that would be closer to 10 PM because of fuel stops.

    About 2 hours down the road, on I-95, I pulled over for my first fuel stop in Southern Virginia. I was at one of those stops where the gas station doubles as a restaurant, and is the only thing going on in the area. Apparently “Granny’s Fried Chicken” was served there, which sounded great to me, but I didn’t have time to indulge. A check of the weather forecast and radar showed that there was only a “15% chance of showers”. I should have bought a lottery ticket that day…


    Continued...
    #24
  5. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    A Hell of a Ride - 2A

    “Rexy” loaded up and in her first photo on the actual road trip.
    IMG_4903.JPG

    Tank filled, bladder emptied, I hopped back on the bike and continued on I-95 toward Richmond. Clouds were gaining speed, darkening, and dropping altitude. A few drops of rain were spit at me from time to time, but nothing that would lead me to believe the weather report was incorrect. I continued on. Having passed through Richmond, as well as dusk, I was now traveling along well into darkness when a significant rain began coming down. Consequently, traffic began backing up. As luck would have it, an off ramp appeared ahead, with several variations of truck stop present. I pulled over, gassed up a bit, and began weatherproofing myself and my gear a bit more. A rain cover was placed over both the tank bag and tail bag. Rain trousers and a rain jacket were donned. The rain pants proved to be my first mistake of the trip. I had worn them several times before to make sure they fit ok. What I hadn’t done was wear them over touring pants with hard armour in the legs and padding in the hips. Having put them on, the required flexibility needed to ride a Panigale properly was entirely gone. This was unsafe and I wasn’t even going to attempt moving down the road like this. Off they came and packed up they were. I would just have to deal with wet legs.

    Out of the parking area I went. Down the onramp I accelerated, and into traffic I… slowed. This was stupid traffic. It was raining but nothing crazy, they were all in cars – staying dry, and we weren’t even near D.C. yet. Where the Hell was all this traffic coming from? Nobody cared to answer. The traffic, along with the rain, just carried on. For hours. In fact, it began raining harder. Much harder. And I played stop and go in it, on the freeway. The rain came on harder, and the night got longer. It was an inauspicious start to a long road trip with expected difficulties. The bad news? I was taking this maiden ocean voyage with the stock Pirelli Super Corsa high performance track tires on, which are not normally known for their wet weather prowess. The good news? I was driving so slowly, and in such straight lines, that it really didn’t matter. It ended up being a very good trial by fire to determine how everything felt and worked together under extreme conditions.

    Eventually, I drew closer to D.C. The traffic started flowing a bit. The rain started breaking up into pockets. I pulled over for a quick break. Continued down the road. Eventually, my offramp arrived, directing me to the Mannassas area, which is near where my hosts lived. I still had about 45 minutes of travel time to go, so I figured I would top off the tank again and alert them to my progress. As a guest, I felt awful. I was in to the next day, and they were waiting up for me, still. Trudging through the remaining weather, along the unfamiliar Virginia back roads, I eventually pulled up dripping wet, to blessed shelter. This would be my home for the next day or two while I conducted interviews in D.C. It was near 1 AM in the morning. I was sincerely praying that this first day was just a version of jumping into the deep end of the pool and that today was just a fluke. Time, and miles, would tell.

    To be continued...
    #25
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  6. kojack06

    kojack06 Been here awhile

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    25 years for me and retired in 2006. I'm FINISHED with the Department of Defense(political correctness and job programs). Time to ride(and read trip reports)!!

    :D
    #26
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  7. PlainClothesHippy

    PlainClothesHippy My reality check bounced.

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    The third paragraph of the original post told me I was in on this thread.

    The addition of a questionable choice of motorcycle cinched it. Some of the best ride reports I have read involved seemingly inappropriate bikes for the task at hand.

    Great style and fun to read, too. :thumb
    #27
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  8. Elad

    Elad What oil is best in my motorbike?

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    I met a nice fellow in the yukon this summer riding his ducati super bike to Prudhoe without a gas cap!!
    #28
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  9. Setanta ADV

    Setanta ADV Adventurer

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    I actually had plans to do that on this trip initially. A saner side of me said "Ok. Now you're just turning the improbable into the idiotic!" Ha ha. I figured what I did was enough for an initial "generally considered impossible" ride on a superbike. Truth be told though, I may have to make plans for places like Prudhoe in the future! Ha ha.
    #29
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  10. ddavidv

    ddavidv So money, but doesn't know it.

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    What he said. Following along!
    #30
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  11. iBiker

    iBiker ADV Pirate

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    West Virginia at the confluence of US Rt 50 & I-79
    :lurk
    #31
  12. ShimrMoon

    ShimrMoon Been here awhile

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    Eh, choice of bike ... been done before by a guy that rode it all over the world in places it shouldn't been possible. His story/ride report is around here somewhere. He sells some reflective stickers (I bought 3). Anyway, love the theme of your report and your perspective of life after service. Patiently waiting for the rest of the story. BTW, I retired from CMPD in 2013 and road out west on my BMW. Was gone a month and thoroughly enjoyed it. My wife flew out to Boulder to meet me and we rode all over Colorado for 10 days. As for retiring from public service and wearing a bulletproof vest for 30+ years, it took me about 2-3 months to get settled into "civilian life". I'd still like to offer up a sincere thank you for your service. We Americans owe you a debt of gratitude that may be nearly impossible to repay.
    #32
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  13. Elad

    Elad What oil is best in my motorbike?

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    Do what you like, love most of the miles. Life is short and some like to watch it being lived and some live it. Live it and look forward to it. Maybe we will meet on the road some day safe travels and miles of unknown.
    #33
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  14. jeffygs

    jeffygs Been here awhile

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    Thanks for your commitment to defend our way of life. I will be following, I have to say that I agree the hills and mountains of northern GA and southern NC have the best motorcycle roads that I have been on and I've ridden lots of miles. Take that bike to Alaska. I took my K1200LT to the artic circle a few years ago, dirt construction sections were slow and a bit work intensive on the big top heaven 900 lb K bike but all that makes the ride.
    #34
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  15. OldCoot

    OldCoot Been here awhile

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    Blue Ridge Mountains
    Looks like a great adventure. I'm in, too.
    And thank you for your service, sir.
    :clap
    #35
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  16. mickshere

    mickshere Adventurer

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    england
    Here's wishing you all the best and looking forward to your reports, civi life is a bit strange all the taken for granteds ie travel food accomodation suddenly appear.. every confidence :-)
    #36
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  17. mickshere

    mickshere Adventurer

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    good news is (hopefully) you dont need to worry about returning fire :-)
    #37
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  18. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Jack of all trades, master of none...

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    I'm in on this one too! :lurk
    I think you'll find the real USA far removed from the nonsense on the alphabet soup "news"...
    #38
  19. Gham

    Gham Long timer

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    yahoo! Found a good ride report to follow.The snow is starting to fly here and this is just what I need to get through another winter.

    Although your choice of machine kinda makes my back ache just looking at it I admire your spirit.
    #39
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  20. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    "gone to look for America...." What a fine idea. I'll be interested to see what, and who, you find. Cheers, and keep the rubber side down!
    #40
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