Several months ago my Alaskan brother, Sam, called to say that he and two friends were going to Sturgis again this year. He wasn't set on Sturgis but one of the friends was set on going. He invited my Florida brother and I to meet them out there for the ride. Florida Brother lives in Florida (there's a hunk of logic for you) and I live in Tennessee. It's a long way to Sturgis and it didn't look like either of us could make it. Alaska Brother's Road King was at my house in Tennessee so he would fly in and ride it out to Madrid, NM to meet up with the other friends. So he decided he would fly in a couple of days early and we could meet in the middle (Alabama in this case) and do a day of riding together. So this trip was born. My two brothers are Harley guys and I generally keep one around as well but I also enjoy riding just about anything that comes by. Currently that includes an XT350, a TW200 and a Ural Troyka. I sold my Harley Fat Bob a few days before the trip and bought a 2008 Concours 1400 as I've wanted to try one for some time now. So this trip would give me the chance. Alaska Brother's Road King went through a frame up restoration by my son, Luke. Having never rebuilt a bike before I think he did an excellent job. He started with a 2001 RK Police that had been left out in Jacksonville, Florida and every piece of chrome was rusted and it needed some TLC. The motor and transmission and all the basic items were in very good shape however and it only had about 18,000 miles on it. The Road King was built as a tribute to my brother's daughter who died in 1992 and his youngest son who died last year. So there is an importance to the bike that goes beyond its material value. Here's a couple of shots of the bike before the final paint touchups and saddleback inserts were added. So back to the ride report. Alaska Brother had been in New Olm, MN for a few days and flew from there to Nashville where I picked him up on Wednesday evening. First we went by the Cathy Bistro in Murfreesboro and had dinner with Mrs. Liberia and Liberia Son and daughter-in-law. We left there and went by my office where the bikes are kept. He had shipped down clothes and other essentials so that he would not have to bring a large bag on the plane. After getting everything packed and on the bikes we headed for home (by car) and a night's sleep. DAY 1 of 3 Thursday morning couldn't get here fast enough as I woke up around 4am and found that Alaska Brother has been waking up every hour since about midnight. So we drank a cup of coffe, got our few remaining articles and headed for the office. Liberia son met us at the office about 6:30am as he had a small tank bag that he wanted his uncle to have for the trip. Harley's require a special tank bag that has a tunnel in it for the dash. But his one was small and would fit behind the speedometer which seemed to work well. As you can see, I have a nerdy looking gadget on the front of my helmet called a GoPro HDHero2 camera. It gets great reviews and is said to take very good video and still pictures as well (11 mp). I'll try it out and make some comments about it later. I almost always wear a full face, flip up helmet but the predicted very hot weather (upper 90's each day) caused me to compromise and go for cool over safe. It worked out this time. Our plan is to take all backroads and avoid Interstates completely. It's not hard to do from where I'm at but adds about 1.5 hours to the estimated travel time. I had a map of the planned trip but had to redo it for this ride report as I constantly missed key roads and ended up going all over the place at times. You'll see this especially around the Tullahoma/Lynchburg portion which is right in my back yard. Oh well.... I have the good fortune of living about a mile off of TN 269 which is a really nice road that goes through Bell Buckle (home of the Moon Pie and RC Cola festival) as well as Wartrace and Normandy before spitting you out in Tullahoma. I wanted to stop by the George Dickel Distrillary which is in Normandy because I had never visited it even though it's only about 30 miles from my house. I'm not a drinker but enjoy seeing how things are made. As it turns out we just rode by but didn't take the time for the free tour. Good thing too as many times as we (I) made wrong turns. Here's a picture of Alaska Brother and me in front of the George Dickel sign. The first navigational error occurred in Tullahoma. How do you get lost in the town of Tullahoma? Mostly because I didn't return to TN 269 after leaving Normandy but took the back roads into Tullahoma which took me to the main highway past the turn off I was expecting. I saw TN 130 and thought that would get me to Lynchburg. It did but several miles further than the correct road would have done. So we rode all the way around Tim's Ford Resevoir when the planned route was directly from Tullahoma into Lynchburg. One good thing about the mistake however was finding this little spot that was along the side of TN 130 with a nice pull off parking spot to boot. So after several miles more than necessary we arrived at Lynchburg. On weekends you'll see bikes of all makes (although mostly Harley's and Honda's) parked around the square. I'm not sure what brings motorcyclists here by the hundreds each weekend (surely not because it's the home of Jack Daniels) but it is some really nice riding country. Here's the obligatory shot in front of the Moore County courthouse. We decided to get a bite of breakfast at the local restuarant. I had biscuits and gravy and Sam had country ham, eggs and buscuits. It was pretty good. After that we left for a backroad down to the Alabama State line. I immediately missed the little country road that I intended to take and ended up taking Hwy 50 into the edge of Fayetteville. Hwy 50 isn't a bad road for motorcycling but at Fayetteville we picked up US 64 which, again, isn't a bad road but it's a 4 lane that's been kept as straight as possible. The planned route would have brought us due south from Lynchburg along some twisty backroads including Goose Branch Road and Wet Prong Road. That sounds more interesting that Hwy 50 or 64. Anyway, we turned south off of Us 64 at the town of Huntland, TN. I made a trip up from northeast Alabama on this road (TN 97 and AL 65) a year or two ago and it's really a nice road for bikes. We stopped for a few minutes to buy some water and rest at a little place called the Hollytree Grocery. It was past time for a rest break. It eventually dumps you out on US 72 which isn't a bad ride until you get just north of Guntersville, AL. At that point you have to get onto US 431 and it gets pretty crowded and you're in a good bit of traffic through Albertville and all the way down to Oxford Alabama. I hope not to have to ride this section of 431 again on a motorcycle. I'm sure if I knew the roads around here I could have found a better way but, staying lost as much as I did, Georgia would likely have been in my future. Finally we made it to Oxford and, rather than take Hwy 78 as originally planned, opted to jump on I-20 for the short ride down to US 431 where we would quickly turn off on AL 281 and then onto AL 49 for the twisty final ride up to Cheaha Resort State Park where we would be staying the night in one of their lodge rooms. Finally we arrive at the park and find that Florida Brother has been there for about 30 minutes. We are pleased to find out that it's very nice and, being a week day, has very few people around. This is the lodge area (4 rooms) where we stayed. There were others around as well. Here's a closer view of the room. Standard 1980's type hotel rooms. Clean and suitable for what we were doing. I believe the weekday, summer rate was $76 plus tax. Weekends are about $10 higher. Plus we paid an $11 for a third person. I'm not sure how 1 additional towel and bathclothe can cost that much but we didn't complain. The pool was really a nice one but none of us thought to bring bathing suits. As hot as it had been during the day it would have certainly felt good. The view was spectacular. And the bikes seemed to enjoy their parking spot too. We showered and headed the 75 feet to the front of the restuarant. The food was good (the brothers had burgers and I had the chicken fried steak), the nachos appetizer worth ordering but we didn't have room for the frog legs this time. Perhpas best of all was the view. Florida Brother's trip up. I grew up in Florida and my mother and brother live in a beautiful part of what's know as the Nature Coast. They live in a little retirement and fishing village called Suwannee, Florida. It's where the Suwannee River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Fred left about 30 minutes before daylight as he just couldn't stand it any longer. The highway leading from Suwannee to Old Town, where you get on US 19, is 24 miles long and there's nothing on it but a few houses. It ends in Suwannee and riding it on a motorcycle while it's dark is a little risky as there are deer, wild hogs and other critters that seem to like staying on the highway rather than in the ajoining woods. His first stop was at the bank (32 miles away in Cross City, FL) where he pulled out his travel money. I grew up in Florida. I love Florida. You can ride your motorcycle almost year around in Florida. Florida sucks as far as motorcycle riding goes. Straight, flat roads with scrub oaks and pines for the most part. North Florida and the Panhandle are a little better as there are small hills that at least break up the view. If you look close at the horizon in the picture above you'll see what passes for a mountain in this part of the state. But at least FDOT plants some flowering trees (Crepe Myrtles) in the median to break things up. GoPro HD Hero2 thoughts: I am excited with the potential of the GoPro camera but have only used it sparingly having only purchased it a couple of days before the trip. I did a fair amount of research before buying the camera and almost all reviews put it first. Always one to want a feature something doesn't have, I do wish it had the built in gps that the Contour sports camera has. The video portion offers 3 different settings but I've only used the default at this point. There is quite a fisheye effect due to the wide angle lense. I need to try the other settings which reduce the width of field. Perhaps this will eliminate part of the problem. You don't notice it when in wide open spaces but when tall items are nearby you notice a bending effect. The snapshot feature is really rich. In addition to single photos, you can do a 10 shot per second burst, set the camera to take photos every .5/1/5/10/30/60 seconds as well as the normal timed single photo. I set the camera to take a photo every 60 seconds and rode that way for over an hour at a time. I guess it depends where you are at as to how effective this method is. I ended up with most of the photos being bland. But playing with the photo timing might make this much more meaningful. GoPro has a WIFI attachment for the Hero2 and I probably would not have bought the camera without it. It's pretty slick in that you can completely control all of the camera's setting from the remote and its screen shows the same information as the camera's screen. This lets you attach the remote to your handlebars, wrist or, like I did, to your clutch fluid resevoir. That made it convenient to both turn on the camera and to start the actual photo/video portion. Here's three photos that are representative of the good and not so good. The above picture, in addition to showing one of the great roads that we rode, shows that the softer and solid tree lines along the side has little of the bending that other, more rigid structures do. Going through a downtown street with rigid, solid structures shows the bending that occurs at the edges of the photo. Plus the shadow in the bottom right corner show how cool you look with a camera on your helmet. This much more open area without structures near the road shows almost no bending at all. So I'll post Day 2 tomorrow (I hope). This report is proving to be more time consuming for some reason. On Day 2 we went to the Barber Motorsports Museum in Leeds, AL just outside of Birmingham and it was fantastic. It's hard to explain just how impressive this place is. There will be a lot of photos and that's with me culling the vast majority of the pictures.