Day 1 Sultry, the start of the ride can only be described as sultry. A word to which I was first introduced in the movie “Throw Momma From A Train”. Oppressive heat and humidity, and this being the end of summer. September 2nd, and the southeast USA is sultry. Hurricane Dorian threatening, the weather apps predict slightly lower temperatures and sun, sun, sun for the areas I wish to ride. I am dubious as I pack the bike in the sultry, oppressive, humid and stifling heat of north Georgia. Sweating like a heroin addict whose last fix is only a faded memory, I mount the 500 at the crack of noon, and point the front tire to the Smokey Mountain 500. Within a few minutes, the air is flowing, and the heat dissipates, but only just. Slab some miles to Eton, GA; gas up on the way. Soon I am off the tarmac, and the familiar forest roads, usually a hard-packed washout, have shown their personality when subjected to weeks without constant rain. It is all golf-ball sized rocks and slippery slidery until I reach the mandatory view point of NW Georgia off road. Feeling a little gripped, I stop and chat a bit with a kindred rider, Justin, from my adopted hometown. This is his 3rd and last day of the SM500, I am on my first. I feel off. My lover and I are not connected. The love feels forced. She and I have bombed these roads before, but she is not responding to my subtle glances, my stolen kisses, my nibbles upon her ear. While chatting with Justin (not the aforementioned lover), I notice her chain looks tight, then I note my failure to properly tighten the rear axle bolt when adjusting her chain tension the night before. “Idiot,” I say to myself in my best Napoleon Dynamite. I amend my shortcomings, drop some PSIs from the front and rear tires, and give my apologies in chocolate and a soothing love chat. The stars of my lover and I are aligned. Our love blossoms again, then it’s straight Hoolaganism into Ellijay, where I eat a marginal lunch at a pretentious tavern. Sultry. Again this word as I see my lover parked in an alley. The day is sultry, she is sultry. Back to the route, which is straight, mind-numbing slab for some miles. I run at the speed limit, allowing the Labor Day Parade of minivans to pass me on straights. I am not here for your suburban escape. I am only biding my time until the dirt begins again. Sweet bliss, some twisty tarmac, then Old Bucktown road. This is what makes my motor hum. Climbing to the summit, it’s all eyes in front, switchy, bony, poppy-wheelie to the summit. I stop for a moment to converse with a Wee-Strom and Yamaha 250. Then it’s back to ludicrous speeds. Soon after passing the Ranger Training Center I encounter the stereotypical Southerner in a blind corner. Fast-moving rusty pickup truck, woman at the wheel, shirtless man hanging out the passenger window with a can of beer in his hand. I shit you not, as they may say; shaking my head I am able to avoid the head on collision with extras from “In The Heat Of The Night”. After gassing up in Suches, and passing some pirate ships in the twisty-turnies, I peel off the route into Cooper Creek area and find a quiet, remote plot of trees to call home for the evening. I use the local fauna to hang my clothes and de-stink my boots. My stomach still full from the late lunch in Ellijay, I forego dinner, set camp sans rainfly! I have camped plenty in the Southeast over the years, and I believe this is the first time I felt confident about not putting up a rainfly. I drift off to sleep to the sounds of frustrated insects who lack the neural synapses to ascertain a way into my hammock.