On your mark, get set, get set…

I have created some confusion about my cross-country trip. I am not a stranger to confusion, in fact, usually all it takes is something shiny at the corner of my eye and I’m already there.

This post is an effort to clear up what I have muddied.

Yes I have begun my cross country ride. (see start your engines and a tale of two rides)

No, I haven’t really started the solo ride from my house to the west coast. Since I live north of Atlanta and only about 250 miles from the Atlantic coast I did a quick trip down to Tybee Island and back.

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Hey, it wouldn’t be a legitimate coast to coast trip without actually seeing the ocean. I’m even taking some Atlantic ocean water with me on the ride to deliver to the pacific.

I will leave my home and begin my trek west on July 21. The first day is going to be going over territory that I’ve hit before, so mileage is going to be prioritized over sightseeing. I hope to arrive somewhere close to Memphis by the first night.

Route Leg 2

It’s a ride of about 350 miles. I have one landmark I’d like to see on the way and I’ll tell you more about that later.

So – to my friend Rufus – it’s not too late to join me, and you have a clean bike!

To my friend Mark – let’s ride again!

To my friend Don – put down the pencil and hammer and get a bike!

To my cousin Fred – Leave the trailer at home and ride with me.

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A Tale of Two Rides (at least two)

The cross-country ride began Sunday morning with a soft hazy sunrise peeking up over the Tybee Island surf. I took this empty bottle that I found in my hand and filled it with Atlantic Ocean water.

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I plan to empty it into the Pacific when I arrive in August. Just doing my bit for Thermohaline circulation and biodiversity for the planet.

The breeze was enough to dissipate the humidity and make riding in full gear bearable.

No traffic. Just a ride past the light house, then Fort Pulaski, into Savannah, and up toward Statesboro. Easy sleepy back roads, rising and falling gently through tall pines. Stopping for gas was the only brief pause in my engine, then back on the bike to ride up to Waynesboro, bird dog capital of the world, for a Sunday brunch.

The Lakeview Restaurant lived up to it’s name. I sat by the window and watched birds flying over the lake, and flying up to the windowsill to see what I was eating.IMG_4491

Of course I chose the Bird Dog breakfast; eggs, grits, sausage, and a biscuit with jelly. There were only a few locals inside. Sitting at tables by the front door chatting with each other. I was at the back enjoying the view. The waitress was too busy to really converse, but she was quick with coffee and made sure the eggs were to my liking.

After paying the check, I noticed my phone’s battery was at less than half. Perfect time to test my new charging adapter. I expected it to allow me to listen to GPS instructions in my helmet without worrying about my phone running out of juice. I had to juggle a bit of luggage around to make a safe place to run the wire into a pocket to hold my phone safely. Then I mounted up to continue the roll through the highways of central Georgia. The soft voiced google girl politely guided my turns.

Ahhhh, heading away from the coastal climate seems to bring the humidity down a bit. Clouds building darkening towers on the horizon never really threaten my path. The overcast sky was a comfort as I crossed and re-crossed railroad tracks, passed a spotted fawn dining on leaves, and dodged a snake warming on the highway. Occasionally passing some amazing antebellum homes that featured wrap-around porches that were shaded by old trees slowly swaying in the light breeze.  It was a treat for my sense of history. The light on my instrument panel signaled that it was time to find a gas station. A tiny corner station appeared and I pulled in and called my wife as I filled the tank and wiped bugs off the windshield.

Yes, the trip was going well.

Yes, it was a safe Sunday ride.

Yes, it was good to finally start this trip.

Yes, I will see you and the girls when you get home in a couple of …

SHADES OF GENERAL WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN! WHERE’S MY COMPUTER!???!!!!! 

Some carpetbagger took my machine! I will burn and pillage until I find that… Wait, did I actually secure it after I moved the luggage around? I wouldn’t … Nah, I couldn’t have …

Those locals in Waynesboro seemed nice. Maybe too nice. They were setting me up. Bird dog capital? Hah! Apple dog capital. Some dog fetched my computer while I was eating a biscuit. That’s what happened!

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The ride changed. It was hot. Traffic slowed, and clogged up the highways. I hated humanity.

Wait, could I have forgotten to slide my computer back into the bag …?  How could that have possibly happened?  I would have noticed.

Close to home, I was more than ready to end the 300 mile ride. I didn’t need the stupid google girl voice grating, and harping at me for the last 40 miles! I live here! I know how to get to my own home! Shut up already.

Hot. Sweaty. Tired. And computerless. Because some crazy person took my bag.

Empty house. Throw my boots. Check my email. Who is that one from? Some lady says … her husband…found…my…computer in the road. She wants me to call and arrange pick up.

I didn’t tie it down to the bike.

I dropped it in the road.

I’m the idiot.

But IT’S ALIVE! I love humanity. There are good people in Waynesboro, bird dog capital of the world!

I don’t know how the computer survived with all data intact, but it did. I have transferred my files to a slower, but unscarred computer and can continue on. Hopefully, lesson learned.

Thank you Tybee Island. IMG_4480Thank you kind lady and her husband. Thank you Bird dogs. Thank you Lakeview Restaurant and I’m sorry for the disparaging thoughts about your clientele. IMG_4494Thank you google girl for getting me home. Thank you God for suspending the laws of physics and allowing my computer to survive a Frisbee slide across a road without being run over. And thank you for a great ride today.

Rules for Riding

You don’t ride for long without discovering that there are certain styles that either fit you, or not. Every group takes some adjustments before finding their own idea of what makes a great day of riding. Not every group will arrive at a mutual understanding that keeps them rolling peacefully. That’s okay. We’re all out there for our own reasons. I’ve had friends I couldn’t wait to travel with, and some that well, let’s just say that I was really busy and couldn’t go.

It’s taken some time, but I think if I had to put down some rules that I look for in riding partners it would look like this:

  1. No whining. <–Period
  2. No dining at a chain restaurant. Road trips are for discovery. You can’t discover the same McThing you have around the corner from your house.
  3. If it rains we get wet. This is why we have rain gear. This is also the source for great stories after the trip. Keep it safe. Keep it rolling.
  4. Keep your bike clean. After the rain, wipe it down, get rid of the evidence, and keep the story. You don’t have to always look like you rode through the storm. You know it. It’s enough.
  5. Adult beverages only after the kickstands are down. Which goes with the next rule …
  6. Don’t be stupid. Yes, have fun. Do not kick a bear, spray paint a bridge, race the police, or lose control of yourself. There’s a fine line between adventure and stupidity. I’ve been on both sides of it. I’m at the age now where if you want to cross over that line, you’re going alone.
  7. It’s impossible to be lost when you are touring. Tour – from the Latin v. to think the next turn just might be the right one. I tour. You tour. We … hey, wasn’t Chet right behind us?
  8. Travel with passion. Relish the sights of birds flying at the same speed. Breath in the smell of the cool lilies growing under the shade of the bridge you cross. Smile at the sound of the engine when you spur it up the winding mountains. Taste the salt in the coastal air long before you see a single wave lap the shore. If it doesn’t help fill your soul, then why ride?
  9. Laugh often. This is painted on a sign a friend made for my home. It hangs in the kitchen.  There is no argument.
  10. Tired? Hungry? Thirsty? We don’t whine. We stop when we are able.

IMG_2443.JPGOkay, those are my rules. And as I look at them, the temptation is to add corollaries, exceptions, and generally become some kind of anal retentive lawyer about it all. That would ruin it, so I think I’ll just leave it there.

How do you like to travel? If you find yourself agreeing with most of the rules above, well, I’m planning this trip across the country …

“Tentative”

Tentative RouteHere’s a post of my tentative route. Tentative. I love that word. Way back in another lifetime when I used to teach, I’d hand out a syllabus on the first day of class. It always said at the top TENTATIVE SCHEDULE. That one word gave me permission to, well … do whatever I wanted in spite of what was on the paper. This is my Plan “A” when I start. I may make it through the entire alphabet of plans before I actually put my kickstand down as I watch the sun set over the Pacific.

As much as I like to plan, I think I like the fact that it allows me to improvise even more. I’m sure I’ll steer clear of the interstates far more than this route implies.  Those red flags are generally things that interest me.  (Like the one in Spirit Lake, Iowa – the birthplace of new Indian Motorcycles)

I’ll be leaving from Georgia near the end of July and taking about 10-14 days to get up to the Oregon coast.

My plan right now is to ship my bike home on a truck, and ship me home on a plane…with a soft seat.

The reason I wanted you to know my TENTATIVE route was to ask if you had any suggestions or comments about it. I haven’t been down this road before. You may live alongside it. I’d like to know what is out there that will make this ride-of-a-lifetime, …well, …my ride of a lifetime.

Do you know about a long-lost roadside tourist trap? (I’ve always been a sucker for these)

Do you know some historical site that isn’t more than a day of travel off the TENTATIVE line?

Are you a local that would like to ride with me for a while? I could probably use the company.

Where is the perfect smoked brisket/salmon/elk/dead animal on a plate?

I can’t wait to find out what’s around the next turn.