Ballad of Beast and Biker

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by kamikazekyle, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA
    Up until Texas my average MPG was in the low 40's with this oil change. Prior, when I was using Motul V300, I'd get ~44MPG with 93 octane. A little less with 87 or 89 (odd, but that's how it worked out). With the Maxima Extra4 I have this change, I lost 1-3 MPG.

    Texas, well, eats gas. Probably because of 75 MPH speed limits and headwinds. I'm averaging 39 MPG no matter what octane I run: I lost about 2-3 MPG.

    I run a 1.5L Camelbak, which is nice, small, and doesn't get in the way. I have a larger one that can actually store stuff, but it can bang against whatever I have on the passenger seat. I try to remember to drink from it periodically, but often forget. If I'm enjoying the ride, I'll forget or skip lots of things.
    #21
  2. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA

    Whereupon I Define Canyon Carving
    September 15, 2013 - Day 7

    Texas continues to surprise me. Everything I've heard from people that had been through Texas or seen on popular media -- with the exception of my girlfriend who lived there -- has been that it resembled a giant wasteland with endless straight roads. The rider on a supersport veering into my lane as I raced out of a sweeper helped to prove otherwise.

    The rider dodged out to attempt a double yellow pass entering the turn which I was leaving. Noticing his error, he jerked the motorcycle back into his group, wobbling and struggling to not lose control from the abrupt maneuver. I passed by the group as he stabilized, thankfully preventing a potential pile up of riders. I shook my head and went back to the awesome road.

    Splurging for the Best Western last night was a good choice. Not only did I have a comfy bed, nice AC, and shaded parking for the motorcycle, but their "contential" breakfast was damn near of a full on sit-down resturant quality. Tasty orange juice, properly sized muffins, fresh name-branded cereals, eggs, bacon, and even honest-to-goodness breafast burritos. I could have spent $5-$10 alone for that at a resturant, and here it was included in the meal. Yum.

    Outside the day was still cool, though I could feel the first tingles of heat coming on. I also solved several little quirks I've been having on the Ninja for some time, which were exasperated by the different oil. The idle speed on the Ninja had creeped to just below 1,000 RPM, but the bike still idled fine. On a suspicion, I upped the idle speed to 1100 RPMs and the bike has suddenly transformed when stopped. Prior the engine would take a bit to turn over when hot, showing symptoms of vaporlock. Now it kicks over instantly on the first revolution. Secondly, to be expected, the higher idle speed means the engine doesn't lug without throttle when slothing around below 5 MPH and feathering the clutch.

    All in all, a great start to a beautiful day.

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    I did, however, have a series of bug bites on my right leg underneath the boot line I noticed the day before. Too big and welty to be mosquitos, my best guess was a spider. My last camp site had many insects, and I neglected to check my boots before donning them. Oh well, I'll either loose my leg or develop super powers.

    I read in the AMA Road Guide to America (or was that Greatest Motorcycle Rides in America?) about a loop in Texas invovling 1431. It was a nifty squiggly line on the map, and according to the atlas there was a sizeable dam just a bit past. Setting my route in the GPS, I wandered off, mostly on straight line roads.

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    As I neared 1431, the terrain suddenly turned into Western California, or at least what I envisioned Western California to be. Mountains, low growth trees, shrubbery, and sandy colored rocks.

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    And a road that lept up and down, planting me into long, elegant sweepers that would let any vehicle flex its throttle to the limit. Most curvy roads I ride are technical and twisty; better suited for a smaller displacement motorcycle or supermoto. I still prefer those, yet didn't let that hamper my enjoyment of the massive sweepers and high speed corners. Traffic was light as I landed on the road towards the afternoon, and thus far it's been the only place outside of a large city where I've seen sportbikes in Texas.

    If there was a road for superbikes, this was it.

    One rider -- whom I shall name Idiot -- attempted a pass on a double yellow while entering a turn. Now, if you want to attempt a double yellow pass, go right ahead. Just do it logically and NOT when you're getting ready to go into a limited line of sight turn where another rider -- like myself -- happens to be exiting. He yanked the bike back and saved it, and all I could do was shake my head and give him a "WTF" look behind my face shield.

    Alas, no photos. I didn't have my GoPro anymore, and as my point-n-shoot was chaffing my neck it was tucked away in my tank bag. Damnit.

    Speaking of dams, I finally made it to Buchanan Dam. A mix of brick and Gothic architecture spanned across the body of water in the distance, and I instantly wanted a closer look. Too bad the dam doesn't seem to allow any damn tourists. Vehicle after vehicle came in, looped around a tiny parking lot with no view whatsoever of the dam, and left.

    I did, however, get a picture of a bridge. Whee.

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    I wanted to make it further southwest so I could see Big Bend and the Rio Grande, and Junction, TX looked like a good spot to stop for the day. I booked a motel for $30 as I couldn't find any prices or info for the nearby state park on camp sites, set the GPS, and hauled ass.

    It wasn't a bad ride, just hot and the land started to become more sparsely vegitated.

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    Things really started getting big and empty.

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    Even the towns were tiny and seeped "old".

    Downtown London, TX:

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    Though some hills started popping up, hinting at the southern mountains.

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    I coasted into Junction on fumes (PROTIP: fill up when you see a gas station if you don't have at least another 100 miles of range), and payed 20 cents more a gallon on one side of the interstate than the other.

    As for the motel, well, it's nothing to write home about. It looks like a converted 50's motel with a tiny room, but furnished with a small table, desk, and even a closet -- though only a shower and no bathtub. The pillows were stained and I didn't dare check the bed, and my shower towel smelled funny. Enh. It was cheap and I had an nice, icy sleep inside my sleeping bag. It also had WiFi as I needed to find a tire.

    While lubing the chain I spotted a rough spot on the tire. Lo and behold, that section of center tire was cupping and was shredding it's last bit of rubber before exposing cords. Other spots on the same wear line had around 2mm left before the wear indicators, and as I hadn't done any burn outs or really locked the rear tire, I have no idea why that one spot on the tire would wear faster than the rest.

    In any case, after researching I had to give in and decided to backtrack to San Antonio the next day. There I had a good chance at finding a tire in stock and get it put on by a dealer who worked on Japanese sport bikes (the Ninja's chain adjuster is a little weird). Because today is Sunday, it would mean at least one and a half days "behind" still in Texas. Luckily I found a Ramada Inn for $42 a day -- scattered thunderstorms were called for day and night through Wednesday, so I didn't want to camp with a rain fly in 90+ heat.

    To add some more fun, my Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki leftovers spilled out of the bag and all over my drybag containing food. I had everything wrapped up in ziploc bags, at least, so it was simply a matter of pulling stuff out and washing it. Annoying.

    Daily Stat Whore Stuff
    Daily Mileage: 404.7 miles
    Total Trip Miles: 2396.2 miles
    Daily Time/Moving: 7h 36m /6h 36m
    Speed Max/Moving Average: 112 MPH (taps GPS...it works, I swear)/ 61.2 MPH
    #22
  3. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA
    September 12th Quickie post has been updated to a full entry.

    Click here to view the updated September 12th post along with TONS more photos.

    September 13th Quickie post has been updated to a full entry.

    Click here to view the updated September 13th post with lots of pics.

    I'm working on the others and will post when they're updated. I've got all the photos uploaded and done, so it's just a matter of writing them up.
    #23
  4. DMCaton

    DMCaton Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Oddometer:
    18
    Location:
    Edwardsville, IL
    In for the rest of the trip! If you (for whatever reason) end up passing through St. Louis on your way back you've got a place to stay for the night here.
    #24
  5. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA
    :thumbup
    Come Thursday I'm going to start making my way back home, though probably not by the fastest route. I doubt I'll be passing through your neck of the woods, though. I appreciate the offer and might have to stop by on one of my next trips. The way this trip has panned out has given me some good insight in how to plan future trips, which I intend to do once or twice every year.

    At the moment, while I kill time waiting for dealers to open and source a new tire, I'm thinking that I'll meander up through Arkansas, through the edge of Tennessee (and get my Natchez Trace stamp I missed the first go round), and once in Kentucky head East through southern Virginia towards home. That'll let me check off a few states I've never been to, and grab some twisties in the Blue Ridge Mountains before life returns to the flatlands, farms, and swamps of Hampton Roads.

    I'm only averaging about 400 miles per 8 hours of moving time with, oh, 10% Interstate riding or so. And without twisties to get my bum off the seat or something like an airhawk, I dunno how many more miles I could manage before my ass begins to enter the first stages of necrosis. So about 5 days, plus/minus, for me to get home.
    #25
  6. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA
    Managed to source a new sport touring tire for an okay-ish price. I settled on a Pilot Road 3, and the tire + mount and balance ran me $250. I'm not a huge fan of Pilot Road 3's as when I ran a set on my Multistrada I could always feel the transition between compounds and they didn't feel super confident, though part of that was a lack of proper suspension tuning on the Multi. And other Ninja 1000 riders have reported odd feedback from front Pilot Road 3's; I'm still running an Angel ST on the front so I'm not too concerned. But they're undoubtedly long lasting. I enjoyed the Angel ST rear and it did give me about 7,000 miles, but the OEM Bridgestone sport tires netted me 4,000 and still had life left when I replaced. I think after the Pilot dies off I'll try the Angel GT.

    Glad I prebooked the hotel for two nights. Even though I was in at 9:45 am, tires were first come first served and I didn't get out until 12:30. At least the Alamo Cycle Plex had a nice waiting area.

    Later on -- if the weather holds -- I'm going to head out for a quick scrub in ride and dinner, and to also re-calibrate my speedometer. I use a SpeedoDRD to correct the speedo and was running a 190/55 tire. The new one is 190/50, which again I'm not a fan of as I like the extra agility of a 55% profile, so it throws off my speedo again.

    In the meantime, I'm working on getting up the next day's ride report. Stay tuned, er, refreshed.
    #26
  7. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA
    September 14th updated to a full entry.

    Click here to view the updated post. No new photos because I lost the GoPro that day, but I fleshed out the text a lot.

    September 15th post updated and is now a proper full report entry. Lots of added photos.

    Click here to view the updated post.
    #27
  8. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA

    If Life Gives You Slick Centers, Then Use the Sides
    September 16, 2013 - Day 8

    Screw the belts showing in my tire. They're only in the center section, so that only applies if I'm going in a straight line. Naturally, this means I won't go in a straight line.

    I pull out the atlas and look around the dot called Junction. There's some spaghetti splattered on the map heading generally towards San Antonio. I take the beast, slide out of the parking lot, and aim for the corner.

    A $30 motel in the middle of nowhere is about what you think it is. I didn't get any bed bugs, but those bug bites from earlier were still itchy.

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    They reddened a bit after I was up and about, engorged with blood. Yummy. The Ninja was still sitting outside, thankfully. I'd hate to try to find a ride.

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    I loaded up, skipped the free breakfast, dropped the key in the repurposed mailbox, and buggered out. I had time to kill before checking in, and didn't want to just ride the interstate in to San Antonio. Besides, if I have belts showing on the center of my tire, I better minimize the use of it. Hello, Mr. Curvy road.

    There was a little bit of not-so-curvy stuff on the way out, and there were constant remineders of just how empty the regions you were entering, as if the lack of any phone signal for hours wasn't clue enough.

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    Frankly, I don't think they can read.

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    After a while, the curves started to appear with a gradual rise in altitude. Throughout the day the quantity of curves was directly proportional to the altitude, and my enjoyment level.

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    Eventually I began to crest into the montains proper. Texans, in their usual way of doing things, didn't let something as silly as a mountain stand in their way. They carved right on through from top to bottom. Screw tunnels.

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    Traffic was almost non existant, curves were endless, scenery was stunning, and generally the ride several magnitudes of awesome, even if my rear tire liked to slide a bit when the exposed metal belting kissed the chipseal road surface.

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    The curves eventually smoothed out as I went from small town to small town and neared San Antonio.

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    Mountains still called in the distance.

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    I finally met up with the Interstate for the final run into the city. Along the way I ran into my first real rain of the trip as I passed through a variety of localized storm cells. One second I could be in a light mist, then a short jaunt of sun, and next a "I can't see my hand in front of my face" downpour. Those moments were a bit hairy with a failing rear tire. It would go squiggly under braking, slip free when leaving a stop, and generally be a nusance. Nevertheless, I lumped into the hotel, hung my stuff up to dry, and hunkered down to catch up on the ride report.

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    All in all, not a terribly long day and done totally on the fly, but very fun. Your usual day of just riding the twisties, enjoying the bends as they come with little other care than the next turn or how much fuel you have left.

    Daily Stat Whore Stuff
    Daily Mileage: 225.3 miles
    Total Trip Miles: 2621.5 miles
    Daily Time/Moving: 4h 58m /4h 1m
    Speed Max/Moving Average: 86.2 MPH / 56.0 MPH
    #28
  9. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA

    New Tires; It's Like Christmas!
    September 17, 2013 - Day 9

    It was starting to get late in the afternoon and the stoplight slog out of San Antonio exercised my clutch hand. But like rats escaping from a sinking ship, the slower ones soon fell behind while I dashed ahead to the hills.

    I killed some time after breakfast until the motorcycle dealerships started to open. I crossed my mental fingers and hoped that I would be able to find a sport touring tire; I really didn't want to get a sport tire and have it dead by the time I got home. My first call was to the Alamo Cycleplex, and success! They didn't have my preferred 190/55, only a 190/50, and only a Pilot Road 3. So while not ideal, it was within my okay range and they just so happened to have an install special going on for $30, and the tire was only about $20 more than I could get it online with coupons. I still had to fork over $250 in the end with taxes, disposal fees, and shop consumables fees tossed in, but enh.

    Lots of weights to balance the tire, which surprised me. That's the most I've ever seen.

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    I'm glad I booked the hotel for two days, though. I was in around 9:45 in the morning, and didn't get out until nearly 12:30 in the afternoon. Not a huge deal, and they did have a pretty plush waiting area with leather couches and a big screen TV. I even got to see Zero motorcycles in person -- I want one.

    A quick hop back to the hotel for lunch and ride report work, and then out the door at three for a quick scrub in ride and hopefully dinner. It was a pain trudging through afternoon traffic to get out of town, but at least I got a decent bead on the new speedometer error and mostly corrected it with the SpeedoDRD. A little more fine tuning should dial it in so I have an accurate speedometer.

    Once out of town, the traffic disappeared and the dark clouds gave way to blue skies and fluffy cotton. It was time to bang the corners. I dug out my old GoPro HD and propped it on a RAM mount for some pictures. They pretty much speak for themselves.

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    I still like the Angel ST's better. The Pilot Road 3 is a harder tire -- especially on the center compound -- and was a little more squirrely on the chipseal than the Angel ST's. Though to be honest, my last Road 3 took some time to really bed in. On good asphalt, it seemed to plant well enough. On the Ninja I couldn't detect the transition from one compound to the other, and their hardiness will come in handy on the way home.

    On the way back to the hotel, I splashed through a five second downpour and quickly dodged to an exit to don rain gear. I just so happened to pull into a Red Lobster parking lot at five in the afternoon but before the dinner rush hit. I was hungry, I hadn't eaten at a Red Lobster in years, and it was raining. Hey, multiple problems solved!

    I gorged myself on overpriced seafood, still hit some rain on the way back to the hotel as I got lost, and then polished off the last of my chain lube to make room for the new can. Not much else to say on the day as it was largely a "work" day, catching up on bike maintenance and ride reports.

    Tomorrow I start heading for home. By which way, I have no idea, but I'm going to try to see a thing or two rather than just slab it all the way.

    I wish I found an Airhawk or some other seat pad, though. My poor bum is gonna hate me by the end of this week.

    Daily Stat Whore Stuff
    Daily Mileage: 148.2 miles
    Total Trip Miles: 2769.7 miles
    Daily Time/Moving: 2h 44m /2h 27m
    Speed Max/Moving Average: 89.8 MPH / 60.5 MPH
    #29
  10. DMCaton

    DMCaton Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Oddometer:
    18
    Location:
    Edwardsville, IL
    Looks like you're having a good time down there! It's giving me the itch to get out on another long trip...

    I just put a set of Pilot Road 3's on my SV1000S and have no complaints whatsoever about them, but we'll see how their tread life is. I got almost 12k out of the set of Road 2's I had on before, and that's not including however many miles the previous owner had put on them already. I also noticed they had to use a bunch of weights to balance both the front and rear Road 3's so maybe something is a little off with the factory mold or something?
    #30
  11. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA
    I'm pretty lucky in that I get every other week off due to my work schedule, so I can make a lot of shorter trips and it's not too hard to schedule longer periods of time off. Even though this trip didn't go as hoped, I learned a lot from it and plan on making more trips in the future, just with less random wandering. I'm thinking my next trip will take me back to Louisiana. I hated just riding through the state, but want to return not only to explore New Orleans and the Gulf, but take the Sertao down and do some dual sporting.

    As to the Pilots, the set I had on my Multistrada weren't bad per se, just not as awe inspiring as I was led to believe. So far I don't have any complaints on the Ninja. After 1500 straightline miles they're barely showing wear, though I haven't had a chance to really get the edges scrubbed in on good asphalt without a load. I hit some twisties today and almost got rid of the chicken strips, but with a heavy load and a flighty front due to not redoing my suspension settings, it's hard to pass judgement. Thought I'm never putting a PR3 on the front of the Ninja -- seems like *something* on the Ninja makes the front PR3 result in a lot of bad feedback. Many people have reported the issue, though nothing on the rears.

    In any case, I'm not going to go out and change it until it wears out, that's for sure. I liked the Angel ST's as they were basically a longer lasting sport tire which felt better than the sport Battleaxes I had on the bike prior. If the Angel GT's maintain the same grippy sides and up the center lifespan with the dual compound, that's going to be a hell of a combo to beat.
    #31
  12. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA

    Texas, I Love You, but it's Time for US to See Other States
    September 18, 2013 - Day 10

    Listen, Texas, we've been together for several days now. We've got feelings for each other, I know. Your curves snake around sexily, your busty cities are centers of fun and excitement, and your speeds are fast and furious. We disagree on the heat thing, but every good relationship has its rocky parts.

    But, for now, I think we should see other States. It's not you, it's me.

    Texas has been pretty fun, even if I've been stuck here for a while. But, to be honest, if it wasn't for the fact my tire went AWOL in Junction, I probably would have missed some of the best roads Texas had to offer. So I it's good and bad, though the somewhat unseasonably warm temps have gotta go.

    Mulling over the weather maps it looks as though the storm from in Colorado is going to be smacking into me right when I hit the fun stuff around Tennessee and Virginia -- I had plans to visit a few places, ride the Back of the Dragon, etc. Since riding my plans involved about 8 hours of curves, riding those in rain wouldn't have been as fun, not to mention taking longer thanks to the rain.

    Since I can hit those up on one of my weeks off, I decided to bypass the whole shebang and head for home, stopping by my parents house to pick up a few things I left there on my way out. Like my underwear.

    Today was "Get Out of Texas" day. First, dealing with San Antonio Traffic.

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    Not amused, says I.

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    I was introduced to one of Texas's toll freeways thanks to an issue with the GPS. 80 MPH speed limits...oh yes. In Virginia, 80 MPH is automatic reckless driving. In Texas on the toll freeway? It's the posted limit. I humped along merrily, waiting to hit a toll booth to pay my toll. After the first "gate" I realized that the tollway was pretty much totally unmanned: you either have a prepaid tag or they photo your license plate and mail you a bill. Well, my license plate happens to be a weeee bit blocked by my topcase and the crossmember support bar for my side cases. Enh, I'm sure the Texas DOT have thought of that and I'll soon have a scrumptious bill to pay. I wasn't pulled over, so I must have not raised any flags.

    Outside of that, vroom, vroom, sweat, sweat.

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    And sometimes rest stop. I'd occasionally see something interesting, such as this train taking a break, too.

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    Tanker car (we'll assume something boom-able just for argument's sake) plus fireworks shack plus ignition source. Mmm...

    Somewhere near Tyler the cable for my phone tossed the big one, so I found a Wallyworld to get a new one. At that moment it was 95F and the temps were still rising for several hours. Hello, Mr. Hotel. And I was going to camp out, too. I managed to get a room at the Wyndham Garden -- a three star hotel -- for $35. Beats the $17 I would have had to pay for the slab of concrete for camping.

    Daily Stat Whore Stuff
    Daily Mileage: 488 miles
    Total Trip Miles: 3257.7 miles
    Daily Time/Moving: 9h 23m /7h 35m
    Speed Max/Moving Average: 98.2 MPH / 64.4 MPH
    #32
  13. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA

    A Lot of Miles Divided by Two
    September 19, 2013 - Day 11

    A beautiful sunrise crested the hotel across the street. It wasn't the poetic photograph I had hoped for, but in the commercial flatlands of Texakarna it was the best I could get on the fly. Too many miles, too few hours to cover.

    Rain off and on throughout the evening helped to justify my hotel booking. Temps in the 80s while trying to sleep is bad enough, but can you imagine mixing that with humidity and being stuck with the rain fly on all night? Ugh.

    I set out at sunrise, skipping the free breakfast.

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    Not exactly the view I wanted -- what with the hotel in the background and all -- but the colors were fading fast.

    Skipping breakfast saved me some time (I had a protein bar while packing), but also made me hungry at lunch time forcing me to stop. This would sort of prevent me from pushing myself too far.

    Despite leaving early, I still ran into early AM construction. There would be plenty more throughout the day.

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    The biggest queef for the day was tractor trailers. If you have two lanes going in the same direction, pass in the left, drive in the right. So much of my day was wasted waiting for one eighteen wheeler to pass a convoy of others going 1 MPH faster. AAAAARGGGG....

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    Think no traffic thoughts, think no traffic thoughts...

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    Er...

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    Enh. Close enough.

    I hopped across the Tennessee, lamenting the twisty or two that I found along the way.

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    Said twisties would have put me one or more hours behind as they all went perpendicular to the Intersate and never seemed to meander in the way I needed to go.

    Right after that, around lunch, I took a butt break at the Martin Luther King Jr Park in Memphis. Pretty nice park, if you ignore the odd creepy person and spraypainted stop signs.

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    Again, another mass miles day, of sorts. The latter half was identical to the first half, just a bit hotter. I made it to London, TN just outside of Nashville. I basically took the interstate route between Texakarna and my parent's house, split it in half, and set that as a goal for the day. It worked out well, even if the hotel room is a bit of a split personality. The front half screams "how much is the hooker?" while as you near the bathroom it ramps up to "wow, this looks new it's so clean." Not sure what to make of that.

    Daily Stat Whore Stuff
    Daily Mileage: 519.9 miles
    Total Trip Miles: 3777.6 miles
    Daily Time/Moving: 9h 30m /7h 44m
    Speed Max/Moving Average: 99.7 MPH / 67.1 MPH
    #33
  14. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Greater Hampton Roads, VA

    OMFG Curves
    September 20, 2013 - Day 12

    I see you, Mr. Jeep, wanting to pull out to the road. I'm nearly there, so please just stay...wait...what are you doing? No! Don't turn into the road, damnit! I'm on a sportbike that has humped over a fifteen-hundred miles of interstate and flat road the past three days, finally on curves with no traffic, and you're going to pull out in front of me?! You bastard!

    I love the smell of cheap motel in the morning. Local miscreants are up and stirring, smoking outside their rooms as they struggle to wipe away crusties from their eyes for another long day. A girl peers out of her door, looking around for someone in particular -- or perhaps eyeing everyone. Defeated she ducks back inside. All in all, I actually like the character of some of these cheap motels, so long as they have clean sheets and towels.

    I awoke promptly to my alarm. Wait. No I didn't. I set it but forgot to turn it on, so started out 45 minutes late. Scarfing down some crackers and the last of a bag of beef jerky, I packed the odds'n'ends that I couldn't pack the night before and loaded up the bike. I've found that I can get loaded and packed in less than 15 minutes if I don't have to lug my gear too far.

    Despite running behind, I chatted a bit with an older gent walking by with coffee. The conversation started up with a quick "now that's something you don't see every day" from him, to be followed by, "a young guy getting up early." I'm 30, so I guess I should take that as a blessing, eh? Our conversation fluttered about my bike, and segwayed into how he used to street race 400cc Honda's when he was younger. Pretty interesting conversation, actually. It hit the highlight when I heard words I'd never thought I'd hear: "I broke this leg when I had to lay down my Vespa."

    Double you -- tee -- eff?

    At least it was a 250cc scoot and it was him literally dropping the bike: he just so happened to do so next to a ditch, in which he managed to somehow get the scoot to toss him against a stump, breaking his leg in the process.

    We parted ways, and I set off for another slog.

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    It was much of the same as yesterday, though significantly cooler. I had to pull over at a rest stop and zip up because my teeth were chattering. Some parts of Tennessee were still harboring fog hours after sunrise. The change was quite pleasant.

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    Nearing the Virginia border, I pulled over at a rest stop and plucked out the atlas and GPS. I was making good time thanks to generally ignoring the speed limit and knew I was nearing some potentially twisty roads. Finding one that looked interesting and gave me a good feeling, I plotted out a detour that would still put me in civilization by dinner time, and set off yet again.

    All I have to say: damn I'm good at picking twisties at random.

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    I seem to have a knack for finding Virginia's official Byways without prior knowledge -- that or whomever in Richmond picked out the byways was a motorcyclist at heart.

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    I sped through turns as traffic allowed, trying my best to scrub in the new tire after many, many straightline miles. I still had to pick and choose the corners, though. I never did retweak my suspension beyond rear preload to accommodate the increased cargo, which resulted in a light and flighty front. Plus I had been tailing rain showers for a little while and many corners were still wet.

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    Still, it was a great run through some rural Virginia towns, or at least what remained of them.

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    I must say, despite all that I enjoyed in Texas, I think I'm a temperate mountain boy at heart. There's something about giant deciduous trees and the rocky twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Mountains that I just can't get over. Maybe once I see some mountains out West I'll change my mind, but Texas takes a close second for now.

    After that detour -- in which over half of the photos failed to turn out any more than blurred blobs, damnit -- I was back on the interstate, donning rain gear for rain that never came, and dodging more people trying to merge into me because they didn't check their blind spots when I was passing. Whomever says loud bikes saves lives hasn't met the guy with his window down next to a Ninja 1000 at 7,000 RPM blaring its horn.

    Tomorrow is my last day on the road. I'm split on the feeling, really. On one hand, I want to stay on the road and would have liked to keep exploring West. On the other, I'm glad to get home. Having to rush the West in just a few days then try to switch back into working third shift the day after I made it back would have sucked, so I am confident I made the decision in cutting the trip short. Not to mention it gives me time to tear down the Ninja for a valve check, get the nasty bastard clean, mow the lawn, and who knows how many other chores I've put off. Plus picking up the Guzzi and deciding if I want to keep it or trade it in for something else -- I've been eyeing a R1200RT a lot, recently...

    I also think, for tomorrow, I'm going to beeline it home on the Interstate. The first 2/3 of the ride is the same whether I take the Interstate or not: the last third is either straightline Interstate, or straightline rural roads. The storm front is approaching hot on my heels. If I didn't choose to beeline from Texas to my parent's house, I'd be spending the next 2-3 days riding in rain. So taking the random twisty route home would probably put me unpacking in the rain.

    Daily Stat Whore Stuff
    Daily Mileage: 511.9 miles
    Total Trip Miles: 4289.8 miles
    Daily Time/Moving: 9h 25m /8h 05m
    Speed Max/Moving Average: 94.6 MPH / 63.3 MPH
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