spur of the moment Skyline to Deal's Gap

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by numist, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. numist

    numist fool

    Joined:
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    Foreground: while the trip is going on, you can see what's up by checking my spot and/or fuelly

    Background: A friend of mine moved to Maryland from California and didn't want to take his bike, so he made it my problem. It's a good bike, but I live in St Louis, so I made a trip to California for a camping trip and annual labour day party and decided to ride it back home. Then I decided "why not make it a coast to coast ride?". So the plan is to ride to St Louis by next Monday (I have an appointment to make), do some maintenance/switch bikes, and then go to Deal's Gap and back. And then probably do more maintenance.

    So that's the plan. After over over 600 shakedown miles in the 4 previous days (including the titularly required jaunt to Alice's and another trip to Cambria and back along 25S/1N), a rather short day 1 ended at my in-laws in Modesto

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    This is my     friend Caitlin at the start of the day playing "magazine bike model" at her place

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    Gratuitous fully-loaded shot

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    Had breakfast at La Victoria's by SJSU to say goodbye to my dad

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    At the top of Mount Hamilton is the Lick observatory cluster, which contains at least a dozen telescope domes housing the second largest refractive telescope in the world, a very fine spectrometer, at least one fully-automated scanning telescope, and some supporting buildings.

    This is the desk at the base of the old refractive telescope. The original was operated by hand cranks, but sometime in the 19xxs motors were added (and this control desk) to position the tube. Mostly, I want a desk that looks like this at home. And that chair.

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    At the 120" reflective spectrometer, I ran into this little guy and experienced some serious thumper envy. Didn't see a rider anywhere though.

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    The telescopes at the top of the mountain vary in age by over a century. I liked the contrast of this view. The dome that the security camera is pointing at looks like something out of a science fiction movie, one of the new fully-automated telescopes.

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    The end of the fun part, and the end of pictures for day one. There were more bikes than cars on the east side of the mountain, and I didn't see anyone going my direction the whole day. Nice and lonely.

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    I'm supposed to have internet tomorrow night, but I have no idea how it's going to go after that. I think tonight I'm going to spend the extra few dollars for tethering for my phone, but the sleeping plan is mostly to find a spot to pitch a tent at the end of every day, with the occasional night in a motel when it's time to shower and do laundry in the sink.

    Tomorrow is another day of minimal highway riding (destination: Dayton, NV). Looking forward to it.
    #1
  2. numist

    numist fool

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    Oops, forgot to post one more picture. From the cluster of domes (I counted at least 4) around the 120" reflector, the largest dome in this shot is the old 36" refractor telescope.

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    From the geography you can imagine how the roads were :deal
    #2
  3. numist

    numist fool

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    Ok now for day two:

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    Took off from the in-laws at around 9:30 and got one or two obligatory goodbye pictures, this one with my sister-in-law.

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    My chosen route was highway 4 across the mountains, a route which my father-in-law advised was very twisty and one lane in many places—perfect.

    What he didn't tell me was that none of the pavement on the whole highway is older than a few years. It was gorgeous.

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    Yesterday's scenery was pretty stereotypical of California, with golden hills just waiting to catch on fire. Today's views could have fallen out of a Calvin & Hobbes anthology.

    Near the start of the ride I caught up to a Harley who was obviously a local, getting as much lean out of his bike as he could. Unfortunately he made to pass an urban assault vehicle over a double yellow and almost ran into an oncoming highway patrol cruiser. That'll teach him.

    Around Alpine Lake I pulled off and took a trail to the coast where some fisherfolk were trying their luck.

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    While there, I made another friend.

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    As promised, the road did go down to one lane, but all the traffic on it was mindful of the possibility of an oncoming vehicle. Always a good thing.

    Out of the pass, 4 joins 89 and follows a river for a while.

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    Shortly after, I passed the county seat of Alpine, and laughed out loud at this sign.

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    I can just imagine this guy's business card: "John M Crawford. I'll get you one way or another."

    After that, the whole world opened up. I'm not used to being able to see things so far away—like rain falling on the right side of the road while the left was totally dry.

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    There was also the occasional lightning, which was a bit unnerving. Rain gear equipped, I got poured on a little bit, and then got to some clear skies where the desert dried me off.

    My plan was to stay with a buddy outside Dayton, NV. Mark and I see each other about once a year when we both volunteer to carry referees and media people around a triathlon bike course on our motos. Mark's a great guy and I was stoked to see him.

    However, I'd never been to his place. Turns out this is his driveway. Before you say it, the pictures not tilted—the world is. He lives on a hill.

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    Our vehicles all parked together.

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    Unfortunately, Mark's not home. He's supposed to be on his way back from sfbay with some ladyfriends, but calling him didn't get a response, so I took a little tour of the property. Found this little guy roosting on the tire of a 2002.

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    There's another building out back, which at first I thought (hoped?) was an outhouse. Turns out it's just full of tools. Oh well.

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    Around Mark's there's a whole network of non-road mostly-gravel trails ostensibly so residents can get around without road-legal/plated vehicles. I almost wiped out in some sand but got to a pizzeria in the neighbouring muni without a problem and had dinner.

    I'm back at Mark's now, and he's not here yet. Good thing I brought a tent.
    #3
  4. Carlo Muro

    Carlo Muro Herr Schadenfreude

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    Nice photos. May I ask what set-up you're using? These have some kind of "quality" to them that I can't put my finger on but me likey! :clap
    #4
  5. numist

    numist fool

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    I use a 35mm body (Canon 5D) with a 50mm ƒ/1.8 lens. I have some other lenses I cart around, but I rarely use and should probably sell most of them to buy more farkles (during the ride today I was wishing pretty hard for a GoPro to take time-lapse of the trip). The lizard might have been shot with the 70-200 (at 200mm and 5 feet away :rofl), I forget which version made the cut. I grew up developing my own 35mm film from an AE-1 and only had a 50mm ƒ/2.8 lens for it so I'm pretty comfortable with this setup.

    If you're looking for something to take with you when you're riding, I wouldn't strongly recommend what I use. All together the camera gear takes up half of one sidecase, and isn't easy to shoot without taking off your helmet. Maybe a flip-up would be easier. Besides, you can get good shots with a point and shoot, the key is being there.

    This post brought to you by Mark, who called me at 9:30 to tell me where the spare keys are. Good thing, it was getting pretty damn windy out there.

    All set up on a couch now, beer in hand. :1drink
    #5
  6. numist

    numist fool

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    Day three: I've never ridden so much in a straight line.

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    Mark got home around 10:30 and I got up and joined him for a snifter of whiskey and some chatting. As expected I paid for it by waking up "late" so I didn't hit the road until around 10:30. That said, we did manage to finally bleed the rear brakes and they feel pretty good now.

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    Now that I'm not afraid of eating it while braking on gravel, we head back inside where Teresa (sorry T I never actually got the spelling of your name) had prepared sausage patties and waffles. Yum!

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    The scenery was pretty much the same as I'd already seen in Nevada, so the next time I brought the camera out was at Cold Springs, where I stopped for lunch. I'm told the place burnt to the ground in 2007, and they just reopened last year. The gas pumps are all that remain of the old place.

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    The rest of the day was a lot of this.

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    Turn on highway x, go 100 miles. Turn on highway y, go another 100 miles. The views were vast and impressive, but they still got a bit monotonous. Luckily, there was the occasional roadside distraction, like Rachel, NV.

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    Where the Little A'le'inn sits, a business of unknown purpose, but whose parking lot contains a mock old tow truck with a flying saucer on the hook. I couldn't resist the photo op.

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    In the last miles while I still had some sun, I saw the biggest rainbow.

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    For reference, the field of view of that image is the same as my eyes —if you weren't looking at the middle of the rainbow, you couldn't see the whole thing.

    I found some twisties, but it was dark and in the last 12 miles of my ride. I kept it boring in favour of not hitting a deer, which is good since one tried to commit suicide by motorcycle while I was on the last two miles before the campground.

    Looks like we have a full moon tonight, sorry for the jaunty angle, but my camera wouldn't sit flat on the ground by itself. Goodnight.

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    #6
  7. zadok

    zadok Long timer

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    An interesting ride. Well done.:clap::norton
    #7
  8. GB007

    GB007 Been here awhile

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    Southern California, USA
    Love that picture of the rainbow!
    #8
  9. numist

    numist fool

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    Today was the first leg into Utah, I quit early and made camp because I need to write a résumé for something that just popped up. Yes, in my tent. My life is weird.

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    The Kershaw-Ryan State Park was pretty nice. Good facilities and nestled in a little valley. This morning I was up at 6 with the sun.

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    Once in Utah, I managed to find some sweepers and decent roads by detouring down UT-18 and going through Zion National Park. It's a really pretty place, and the roads are all punch-you-in-the-face red.

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    The views are great too.

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    Once again I wished I had a GoPro or something set to time-lapse, there's a 1.1 mile unfinished tunnel that the road goes through, as well as a few other tunnels/arches that felt unique to the area. But no place to stop for photos.

    Utah has its fair share of unique geological features, though. Here's a random tower of geology I found.

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    Some of the views would just make you say "damn" out loud in your helmet, even though there's no one in sight.

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    Not a lot of pictures today, I was a little bit out of sorts. And my ass hurts.

    But it's not all bad. Here's the view from my tent tonight.

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    Until next time…
    #9
  10. numist

    numist fool

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    I'll never make fun of my wife's grip warmers again.

    You didn't see last night, but I actually parked inside a pavilion since then I could reach an outlet from within my tent. This turned out to be a good idea because the skies opened up that night and continued into the morning, which made packing up nice and dry.

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    I was considering staying another day, since hey it's cold and rainy why not. When I asked the internet what it thought about that idea, well…

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    Decision made, let's put some miles on.

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    As usual, Utah wowed with its views.

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    But it become obvious that I should have pressed on instead of calling it in early yesterday, because the best roads were ahead, soaking wet. Justin at sport-touring.net was right, if you're in southern Utah you need to ride UT-12 and UT-24. Preferably when it's dry.

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    Did I mention I (apparently) don't have proper rain gear? The gore-tex gloves were soaked through in no time, and my hands hurt after about 30 miles. My rain liners worked fine, but at the edges wound up letting a bunch of water in. So after 60 miles elapsed I happened into a town and spent an hour warming up and having lunch.

    The rain still wasn't letting up, so I gassed and took off, brain falling into "eff it, let's ride". After another two hours of rain and cold, I crested a pass and was greeted with BLUE SKY!

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    No more rain for the last 60 miles, and the last 30 miles were even pretty dry, so I finally got some good lean angles in.

    If you're doing the math at home, that's two hours plus 60 miles of riding since I got gas. Sure enough, the fuel light came on 20 miles away from town, and I pulled into the nearest gas station right after the warning lamp went solid. Basked in the sun for a while, and spotted this sign of the times.

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    I'm motelling it tonight, letting my gear dry off. Turns out my ripstop bag-o-clothes isn't actually waterproof. Oops. Next time, I'm bringing a 1-piece rain oversuit and grip warmers.

    Tomorrow: Colorado!
    #10
  11. numist

    numist fool

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    Sorry about the lack of pictures today. I used to live in Colorado, so I didn't ever get the unstoppable urge to pull over and take some pictures. More than that, the entire scenic portion of today's trip was either 1) raining 2) freezing raining or 3) blizzard. Seriously. Luckily, I stopped in Durango on my way out this morning and picked up some rain overgear and some warmer gloves. It was nice to see the evergreens in the rockies again.

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    The plan was to go to La Junta, but CO-10 is closed. More than that, after dinner in Walsenburg…

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    There was no belt exposure this morning when I did my walkaround (and the left side wasn't worn down that much either, come to think of it), so this was a bit of a surprise. I called around and found a shop in Colorado Springs that has a 160/60 17 in stock, so took it slow to Pueblo and I'll do the last hour tomorrow morning and arrive around when they open. The tire doesn't seem to have worn down much between Walsenburg and Pueblo, and is holding a constant 35 psi, so it should be fine. Hopefully the shop has something that's dual-compound because Kansas starts tomorrow.

    Pueblo isn't really out of the way, since the recommended detour for CO-10 is I-25 to US-50. Detouring for a new tire adds an hour of riding and probably an hour of downtime in the shop. I have three days budgeted to get to St Louis. Taking US-50 the whole way is 870 miles, which is totally doable, even with this break.
    #11
  12. numist

    numist fool

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    Lots of progress made today.

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    First stop today was Rocky Mountain Cycle Plaza for some badly-needed shoes. I called around a bunch before I turned in yesterday and made sure they had at least a rear in stock.

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    I have a too-big front on now (160/70 instead of 160/60) so the speedo and odometer are off, but I was mostly using the GPS for instrumentation anyway. The side effect of this is that Fuelly thinks my mileage has totally tanked. It has—Kansas has been mostly high-speed straight lines, which are terrible for my mileage—but not *that* bad.

    While waiting for mounting/balancing, a man approached me and irrefutably identified himself as a maxxer. Hello, lovecraft!

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    New tires always feel like an epiphany. The few corners I had today felt like magic. But before long Kansas happened.

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    Look at that horizon!

    I saw a lot of that, and a lot of corn. And I still haven't seen the sun yet.

    I was charmed by the small towns on my way, and the folks I interacted with either ignored me, or were very friendly. Unfortunately I had to rely on instruments more than usual for finding gas because when flying VFR, I kept getting false positives.

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    I get itchy for gas after I've put on 100 miles or so, and I pulled into two or three defunct gas stations hoping for a fill.

    Around Oakley, KS my route suddenly called for a 100 mile detour north on US-83, and—thanks to a normal lack of thorough planning—I discovered why: US-40 links with I-70, and I was avoiding interstates. Screw it, I'd rather be home sooner, I haven't seen my wife in a while. I continue on to I-70.

    Now, if you haven't been to Kansas, there are your standard billboards lining the superslab, but there's also at least as many "Jesus is my homeboy" signs, or at least signs to that effect. And about as many anti-abortion signs. I didn't take any pictures since I don't like being harassed by fundies.

    Other than that and the depressing gas station corpses, Kansas was pretty.

    Tomorrow: Missouri.
    #12
  13. numist

    numist fool

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    I was within hailing distance of St Louis yesterday, so I shot straight home. I have plenty of time to explore Missouri apart from this trip, and I missed me a Milami.

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    It rained the entire time, but it was pretty obvious when I hit Missouri—no more defunct gas stations and towns every 40 miles or less. I guess this place isn't so bad after all.

    I didn't get the camera out until I got home, too busy trying to not get killed on the superslab and staying warm. Here's the end of this leg of the trip, the N stabled with our other bikes.

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    Milami heard me downshift in the alley and greeted me before I'd opened the garage (it's actually our neighbour's garage, but he lets us keep our bikes in there as long as we don't mind his stuff). She allowed me a picture before she helped me out of my gear. I think she missed me. :crash

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    I'll probably be home a few days/a week (Milami wants to keep me here until next Monday), and then it's off to North Carolina. We'll pick things back up then, thanks for joining me. :freaky
    #13
  14. gallowaystx

    gallowaystx Been here awhile

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    [+]

    [this is good]
    #14
    MotorToad likes this.
  15. Haroon

    Haroon RIDE for PASSION

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    Nice trip.
    Enjoyed the lovely pics and lively narrative.
    Thanks for sharing.
    #15
  16. numist

    numist fool

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    Thanks for the replies, folks. The ride report continues!

    I was getting pretty tired of being rained on. A week in St Louis allowed the weather to blow over, and me to spend some time with the missus, which for the most part meant taking care of her while she was sick. Good timing.

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    She's all better now and today was a gorgeous day to be on the road!

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    During the week I did a bunch of work on the bikes, and now not only does my normal bike have bags, but it also has a centerstand. That'll make those field lubings more convenient!

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    Down in southern Missouri, there's a lot of what I can only assume is tornado damage from months/years past. Even the lightpost outside was off-kilter.

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    After crossing the Mississippi river I was about 30 miles from my campsite, so I found a trail and rode down to the riverbank. Two unplanned water crossings, but I got what I came for.

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    Which reminds me, I need to get some ADV stickers on these bags! :D

    Even after dinner I still had a bunch of daylight left, but tomorrow is a short ride to Nashville, so there's no rush to put on miles tonight. Instead, I broke out the camping stove and had a cuppa.

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    The flora in Reelfoot State Park is pretty crazy. I'd never seen anything like this before.

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    And the sunset was awfully pretty.

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    Done for the night, on my way back to my tent I was accosted by this little guy.

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    It's nice to be back on the road, and even nicer to be on a bike with proper suspension and brakes. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of days.
    #16
  17. Katoom119

    Katoom119 Mmmm....Orange Kool-aid

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    Looks like a good trip. I'm eager to see if the leaves are starting to change on the Cherohala yet.
    #17
  18. nashopolis

    nashopolis Been here awhile

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    thanks for the trip report

    lots of well crafted shots of interesting things - what kind of camera are you using?

    I'm interested what the skyline is looking like as I might be taking my trip on it in a few weeks
    #18
  19. numist

    numist fool

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    I'm shooting with a 5D + 50mm ƒ/1.8. Just your basic full frame with a normal lens. At some point I'll get a picture of it and put it up.

    I just recently realized the folly of my naming the trip Skyline to Deal's Gap—at the time I didn't know that BRP ended at Skyline Road. I meant Skyline as in CA-35. I'll be hitting both regardless, so we'll see how it is. So far I'm starting to see leaves on the ground, if I could see colour I bet the trees are starting to get gorgeous.

    On to today's ride report!



    Last night's campground was pretty cozy. Even had a sportbike sighting. It disappeared right after I shot this, sorry it's so blurry.

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    Bags back on, looking for adventure in Tennessee. I was only heading to Nashville so I took a few detours on the way.

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    I'm sparing you folks pictures of cornfields, but if you haven't been here, agriculture is everywhere. This place was growing lumber!

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    While Missouri had tornado damage, West Tennessee has economic damage. In many areas, every 7th house was for sale by owner. Even more sobering were the commercial vacancies.

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    Now that I'm in The South, I'll avoid talking about how many churches there are beyond mentioning that there are more churches than gas stations (my own version of salvation), and in some areas it seemed like they outnumbered houses.

    The roads were great, especially 69A. The last dozen miles or so of 46 were coated evenly—almost invisibly—with gravel, leading to a few moments of "why's my front tire twitching?" and "why is my back end going wide?" No disasters, though. Most of the roads looked like this.

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    The whole day was nice and sweepy, and the parts that didn't look like that^ were the same thing, but with a backdrop of people's houses on one-acre yards.

    I still got to Nashville at 3:30, which was good because half an hour later I got a call from that job prospect I mentioned in Utah. Sounds like I might be taking a short detour back to California during this trip. This is starting to sound like some kind of fictional chronicle but it's real, baby.

    Nashville maxxout tonight, see you folks tomorrow.
    #19
  20. numist

    numist fool

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    Last night I was shown around East Nashville by my buddy tubenerd (also known as "internet daddy") and it's a pretty happening town. I take it all back, this place is awesome.

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    As of last night I have an interview on Friday in California, so I stepped things up today so I can get a good day of riding in tomorrow before my flight.

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    Oh wait, that's the wrong map. Here's the part I was awake for.

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    So I gave in and hit the slab this morning, but as I got closer and closer to the Gap, life started getting better. Not sure how to explain it, it started when I actually saw other bikes on the road—that's a good start. A store dedicated to dual sport riding? Getting warmer. And then?

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    Now we're talking.

    The views weren't bad, either.

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    Said hello to one of the roadside photographers and got meta.

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    I did roughly three laps of the place, and got good and sore. On my way to BRP I caught a glimpse of the dam.

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    Next stop, Blue Ridge for a little unwinding. I think I used more tire on BRP than in the Gap because it only has one radius of corner—it just repeats a few thousand times. Nice and predictable, no surprises. Just how I like to spend the last two hours of my day.

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    Lots of turnouts and all of them afforded some pretty stunning views.

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    The sun was starting to dip, marking the end of a full day of riding, as I pulled into Dezmo's place. Here's his hawklette.

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    And here he is, testing the load rating on my rack.

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    That's it for today! Tomorrow will be a bunch of local riding, punctuated with a trip to the airport. See you then.
    #20