Just Ride

Just Ride

Friday, August 31, 2012

"No Labor" Day Weekend - Day One

Today, NPR to blairsville.  

As is the case for me, anytime I am about to embark on a trip (even when I as flying on a weekly basis for work), I would barely sleep the night before and most assuredly would wake up far too early.  

 Bike was packed and ready to go by 6:09 AM.  


The goal of the day was about 560 miles, however, due to traffic in Atlanta we clocked in 592 miles (thank goodness for Garmin Zumo 350LM).  I'm not exactly sure what time arrival time was - but I do have some pictures with time stamps around 5:30 PM at the cabin (post-check-in).  We stayed at the Lodge at Copperhead - an excellent biker's "base camp" for riding in the north georgia / tennessee / north carolina mountains.  

Today's ride consisted of mostly highway miles...but I was extremely happy to be riding.  Along the way, I found this excellent display of what people can do when they put their minds to it.  It certainly looks like I was taking a picture of my wife...I wasn't.  Look at the Mercedes in the background with at least 600 lbs of luggage strapped to the top.  The axles were bent in the rear.  Of all things, it was two white guys riding together.  Not trying to be stereotyping...but I kind of didn't expect two middle-aged white guys riding together in an early model Mercedes with their entire life packed on top of the car.  They did wave at me when they were leaving...guess they knew my snapshot wasn't of my wife's rear-end.


Amazing Packing Abilities

Not much else to say regarding the overall highway miles - but a quick rant on Atlanta.  Atlanta sucks (why anyone would want to live there is beyond me.)   The good news, no rain and the rest of the day's miles was very comfortable.  However, I should mention one caveat to the level of comfort experienced while riding...the other day for softball I played catcher.  55 minute squats and both my legs were complete jello!  Made it kinda tough to stop at red lights!!

Upon arrival, check-in and head out to Cabin 56.  Nice spot in the woods with very few other cabins sitting next to us...wouldn't mind coming back and spending a long weekend here!  Of course, we're on a mission with this trip to the mountains, three nights out and three different sleeping accommodations!  No rest for the wicked.


Had dinner at the bar within the lodge...asked the bartender if I could buy a bottle of wine from her and take it back to the cabin; she had to ask the owner.  Came back and sort of forgot that I asked about the wine - after a while I asked her again, she said "oh yeah, sure honey.  I just need to open it for you." All good...bring on the hot tub and the wine.


Party for Two

Parked the bike in the small garage...just deep enough to fit the bike.  Guess it is more like a storage shed.  Parking the bike was a bit of a challenge...first, it is up hill to back the bike into the garage and it has a 2 inch cement lip.  So I rode the bike up the yard and then faced it up hill.  Backed it down with a sharp turn into the garage...might be ok if I was riding a golf cart, definitely bad design for a motorcycle.  

Inside of Cabin 56 was pretty sweet - apparently the people that purchased/built this particular cabin (and subsequently rents it through the lodge) are big Harley fans.  

(the referenced link is not completely up to date - Cabin 56 did have a nice covered back porch)

No Honey, that sound was coming from the Harley.  Not Me.
 Resting the remainder of the night, after breakfast tomorrow, we are on our way to Gatlinburg via Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the dragon.  Please don't f'n rain.

I will have the GoPro on tomorrow...looking stupid as hell.  But doing it anyways. 



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gear - You Slime Ball!


Needed a "tire repair kit" for the bike - went to Wally World to see what I could find.  Found this awesome little kit that has it's own carry case with tire sealant, a compressor, and a tire gauge.  Still need to get some sort of tire plug gear...but I'm extremely pleased with the slime system.  Compressor hooks directly to the bike via the Harley "charging wire" - perfect setup / cheap solution to on the road issues. 

Of course, I also have AAA / AAA Motorcycle - but, in a pinch I've got a cheap onboard solution to a problem you don't want when you are on the road!

(Oh, and doesn't that bike look OH SOOOO GOOD!!!)

Isaac



** TS Isaac **


As I've been preparing for the journey north of Florida, I have continuously watched Isaac for his next move.  Not a very well organized storm as of yet, it will be interesting to see how he takes shape once over our warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Due to Isaac's size, I'm expecting rain here in the Tampa area very soon...already a little breezy.

The wife has been dropping hints over the course of the last two weeks regarding her concerns.  I have played them down to some extent, all the while knowing that Isaac could very well ruin my plans.  I have done everything I can to be prepared for the trip - ensuring the wife is comfortable.  We've got new rain gear and we will be wearing our full faced helmets with bluetooth communications.  Our accommodations along the way are extremely comfortable (probably too comfortable for this kind of trip).  However, I must say, I am trying to make sure my wife's first long motorcycle trip that is purely about riding makes her come back for more.

Given that...ISAAC, MOVE FASTER NORTH.

Happy riding...

** Image courtesy of our tax dollars **
This visible image of Tropical Storm Isaac was captured by NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 9:45 a.m. EDT and shows clouds from Tropical Storm Isaac from Cuba to northern Florida. Credit: NASA GOES Project

Saturday, August 25, 2012

GoPro - Test Run

This is my first take on my GoPro - trying out different locations.  This video has the camera mounted on my helmet.  I also tried mounting on the front of the Harley - I like both for different reasons.

1. Harley Fairing Mount - close to the road, don't see bike or me.  Suspect I will use this when I hit the Tail of the Dragon

2. Helmet Mount - looks goofy as hell...however, great perspective.  Think this view will be great for the Cherohala Skyway.

Anyways, enjoy...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gear - GoPro Hero2 Motorsports Edition

Never been one to take lots of pictures while engaging in an activity.  Better to experience life than to see it through a lens (my opinion).  However, with technology being what it is and a few trips I have upcoming on the motorcycle I decided that I'd make an exception.  Especially because I'm going to visit some roads in the very near future that I probably won't get to ride all that very often.  The ability to record the entire ride on one of these roads is particularly interesting - mostly so I can relive the ride and also for my own personal betterment as a rider.

Adding a rugged digital camera to the bag of tricks was the goal - something that didn't require much interaction to do video and/or pictures.  Waterproof, vibration-proof, mountable - all good things for a motorcycle.  Enter the GoPro Hero2 Motorsports Edition.

http://gopro.com/cameras/hd-hero2-motorsports-edition/

Awesome piece of technology that has many mounting options and creates excellent video / pictures.  In 960p, with my 32 GB SD Card, I can record video for approximately 5 hrs 26 minutes.

I've already mounted it to the top of my full-face helmet and tested a few mounting options on my Harley using the 200 mph suction cup mount...I'm ready for this:

http://www.tailofthedragonmaps.com/maps/pdf/RideMePoster_2011.pdf

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekend Get-Away

As I had previously stated, there is more to the Alaska trip than the logistics/planning/gear.  The physical side of the trip will be a challenge completely unknown to me.  The longest (most miles) ride in a single day was from Tampa to Key West - around 450 miles.

To prep for rides that could easily be 200-600 miles per day for two weeks straight, I have planned weekend get-aways that will build my ride stamina.  The following describes an upcoming trip that portrays a great example of riding to ride...

Day 1 - Mostly highway
 - Destination:  Blairsville, GA.
 - Distance:  560 Miles
 - Lodging:  Lodge at Copperhead - typical starting point for the mountains of GA, TN, and NC.

 - http://www.thelodgeatcopperhead.com/

Day 2 - Curves, mountains, scenery, and a few Harley dealerships
 - Destination:  Gatlinburg, TN
 - Distance:  225 Miles
 - Lodging:  The Lodge at Buckberry Creek - stayed here once before.  Great location in the mountains overlooking Gatlinburg, TN.  Accommodations are amazing...as well as the view of the smokey mountains while you dine on the back porch.

 - Cherohala Skyway (100 million dollar view - literally and figuratively)
 - Tail of the Dragon (US 129 - this road is on many bucket lists)
 - Cherohala Skyway Harley Davidson
 - Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson
 - Hillbilly Harley Davidson
 - http://www.buckberrylodge.com/
 - http://www.cherohala.org/
 - http://www.tailofthedragon.com/
 - http://www.smh-d.com/

Day 3 - Headed home
 - Destination:  Perry, GA
 - Distance:  309 Miles
 - Lodging:  Henderson Village - great mid-point in our travels home to stop and relax.  I can picture Henderson Village some many years ago...plantation.

 - http://www.hendersonvillage.com/

Day 4 - Still headed home
 - Destination:  Home
 - Distance:  337 Miles

Total Planned Mileage:  1431

There will be lots of pictures!

The Route

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Preparation

I look at the smaller trips as a test run of the larger.  Obviously, no trip will quite replicate  a 3,000 mile ride through Canada and Alaska, except the ride itself.  But, we prepare for what we know and attempt to prep for what we don't.

1. Tools - what to bring?  What can logically be resolved on the side of the road?
2. Parts - spark plugs, tire repair, zip ties and duct tape ;). And my trusty aaa card (plus mc coverage)
3. Gps - garmin zumo 350LM
4. Rain gear!

There are other things that make the list...but those are the top needs as of right now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Warming up...

Since purchasing the Harley, I have quickly accumulated around 4,500 miles.  Date of purchase 5/1.

Knowing that the Alaska trip will put a serious strain on my capabilities and stamina, I have identified some smaller trips that will take place between now and then that should help me build stamina and improve my "iron ass" capabilities.

The first real trip since deciding on Alaska for 2013 is a long weekend trip to gatlinburg, tn.  This trip will include the following locations as stops:
1. Blairsville, GA
2. Deals Gap (yeah, tail of the dragon cannot be passed up...dreamt of this road prior to my motorcycle endorsement)
3. Gatlinburg, TN
4. Perry, GA

Most of this trip will be spent on the road due to the short timeframe for execution.  The good part is, the wife and I have already experienced gatlinburg's touristy-side.  No loss...

Each destination has its own joys in store...
1. lodge at copperhead and the surrounding area (great area to ride)
2. Buckberry creek lodge (smokey mountains)
3. Hamilton village (think plantation...)
4. Tail of the dragon (318 curves. 11 miles)



image courtesy of:
http://www.tailofthedragonstore.com

Monday, August 6, 2012

I am a planner by nature....

Sadly, in this case, I am at the mercy of the transport.  Still waiting on details of the trip related to how long and when /where is the pickup.  Yes we start in Spokane, but this is a one way only trip.  The destination is unknown at the moment.  It sucks being me...I get paid to plan and in this case, I am paying for someone else's plan.

Ether way, the goal for me is Spokane to the arctic circle in Alaska.  Specifically, 66 degrees 33 minutes, north.  After that I am good to hand over the bike and fly home.

We'll see...still lots of planning to do...just wish I had the last few elements that would allow me to complete my plan.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Looking ahead

The wife and I have started talking about a 2013 trip to Alaska.  As the plan evolves, I figured it would be kind of fun to document the process and the actual trip.  The key to the trip is the mode of transportation...our Harley Ultra Limited.

Yeah, we live in Florida, however, we don't plan on a ride across the US to get to our destination.  The cheat is to use a transporter and meet the Harley.  In this case, the transporter specializes in motorcycle transport and long motorcycle rides!  The bike will leave early and we will fly to Spokane, WA to begin the adventure.

More to come...