I had just picked up a new textile riding jacket at Competition Accessories in Rock Hill. If you haven’t already, check out their warehouse store located hear Home Depot on US 21. Walk past the check out desk to the “clearance”. I found a new 3/4 length jacket with both zip out warm and zip out waterproof liners for $75.
I was itching for a ride to try out the new jacket so I thought why not ride to mothers. No, this is not some new Tattoo parlor in Charlotte, NC, but with weather forecast 45 and rainy for the next 5 days I decided this was a great time to ride to visit my mom in Fort Myers Florida.
My 2007 BMW R1200RT loaded for FL trip. The tank bag holds a memory foam pillow, great for those quick way-side naps. During long hours I’ll learn forward and rest an arm on the tank bag.
The rear bag includes a removable lumbar support which I can remove if I mount the bag behind the passenger rest. With stock BMW seat, a little back rest helps miles go by little bit easier. This is my “overnight” back with change of clothes, warm riding gear, CDs, and bathroom supplies.
Bike all backed and repacked, trying to figure out what I’ll need, what to leave behind. I start out about 1 hour before sunrise, getting in a few hours ride, watching sun come up before I stop for breakfast. First day is my best, longest riding day, 500-600 miles per, by day 2 I’m stopping every 100 miles, lucky to get in 400.
My plan was to Ride hwy 49 to Augusta, GA, then work my way west until I hit Gulf coast of Florida, but strong line of thunderstorms pushed my east along the Atlantic coast.
Below are a few “lessons along the way”.
Lesson Learned: Near end of the day, turn off your cruise control. If you notice your speed keeps dropping, time to stop for the night.
Lesson Learned: Find place to sleep as the sun sets, get good night sleep, then go again early morning just before sunrise.
Lesson Learned: IF you have to ride at night, better to follow than to lead. Follow a car about 5-10 seconds behind using their lights to look ahead for obsticiles, curve of the road, or wild life. Better for a “cage” to hit dear then your bike.
I made it to Ocala, FL, little after sunset and checked into Days Inn. TV had 1 channel with a wall mounted remote. I never did find out what the button on the right controlled.
Next day it was off to BMW Tampa. Didn’t really need a reason, but guess that’s why we ride in the first place. I checked out the HID blubs for both Low and Hi beams. Parts Guy says I’ll get about 10% more light, along with hotter white. A little expensive, but worth investigating. I head over to the Service Desk for lesson on installing bulbs. I’m told simple operation, just reach up, remove the bulb, replace, and reinstall. Sound simple, but somehow became a $50 job and 2 hour wait when I asked if they could do it for me. I left $200 still in my pocket. Contrast this to great customer service I get from MAX BMW last fall on my way to the BMW Rally. MAX not only replaced a burned out low beam for no labor charge, but also topped off my oil again at no cost.
If your riding in the Tampa, FL area, you’ve got to head to south on I-275 to St Petersburg and ride over the Sunshine Skyway bridge. http://bridgehunter.com/fl/pinellas/sunshine-skyway/ This unique bridge has limited support wires running down center and feels like riding over a 2×4 on stilts. On to Fort Myers and vist with mom.
While in Fort Myers I stopped at Sun Sports Cycle on Colonial Blvd to check out the CanAm, Honda, and Yamaha bikes. Nice airconditioned building. Oh, did I mention it was in the 80s!
Lesson Learned: Have enough free room in your bags to peel off and stow your warm riding gear.
After a few days visiting, time to head home. I picked a route across Florida over to Atlantic coast. Ride took my past Lake Okeechobee, US 6th largest lake that you can’t see from the road because it is behind a dike. Riding across Florida this morning I followed 2 school busses, one white, one yellow. Up the road was a collection of tin shacks, outside parents watched as kids played. I watched as yellow school bus drove by while whites bus stopped. Both kids and parents climbed aboard the white bus. It was then I noticed sign “Harvest Bus” painted on side. Next time I buy oranges, I’ll see faces of those boarding the bus.
I decided to visit NASA on my ride home. Really, how could I pass it up, big rockets, lauch pads, explosive fuel, way cool. I hung out with one of the astronauts as we planned a motorcycle ride on Mars for 2014. I’ll be collecting CASH deposits at the next club meeting.
If you get a chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center, check out the Hubble 3D on IMAX, wow, just really freaking WOW. Speaking of WOW, those Florida bug were huge. I had to keep a rag in my jacket pocket to keep my face shield clean.
Lesson Learned: Only keep your face shield rag in you jacket pocket or you’ll be riding back to pick up your MP3 player.
After day at NASA and bug wipping on ride back north. About every 30 minutes I would wiggle in my seat and stand a little just to keep blood flowing. As night came the temp dropped.
Lesson Learned: Don’t try to change into warmer gloves while riding or you’ll end up riding back to pick up a dropped glove.
I stopped for the night at the Comfort Inn in Kingsland, GA. I was upgraded to poolside room. All night long trucks fly by I-95 so close I can see bugs on windscreen. Big yellow ones come out at 7am, bugs that is, messy splats.
With little sleep and almost edible breakfast I headed north toward Brunswick, GA where I intended to pick up US 27\US 25 for ride back to Augusta, then hwy 49 back to Clover. My GPS indicated a twisty road on my right called “Sandy Run”. I made a course change and headed over to see what Sandy had to offer. After 2 miles I discovered SANDY was not someone’s name but the CONDITION of the road. I did see mile after mile of 100 year old moss covered oaks reaching over the road.
Somewhere in the back roads of GA I road past an amusement park bone-yard with 30 or more old carnival rides rusting, long since ridden. Already into the afternoon, I had too many miles to go to allow time to stop, maybe another day. What unexpected treasures we’ll find if we take little time to ride the back roads of America. All we need it gas and a direction to travel.
Speaking of unexpected, if you’re in Claxton, GA, stop in “Mrs. Rigers Restaurant”. For great comfort food try the Sea Food Casserole. For something lighter and more “international”, just north of town on US 25 is the “World Deli”, a must stop on my next ride through town.
After 1,500 miles hardest were last 60 miles back to Lake Wyle. My tired eyes were taking too long to look from instruments to road ahead. Another sign I needed to be home in bed snoring next to my wife and not on the road. To keep alert, I would quickly count cars in front of me, forcing me looking forward down the road.
Lights reflecting off Lake Wylie were a welcome site as my R1200RT road over Buster Boyd bridge now just one traffic light and home.