Thursday, May 8, 2008

Not so Saddle Sore with the Russell Day Long

3:30 AM and my phone's alarm clock is going off. My how time flies when you are sleeping. I got to sleep last night just after 9pm. The plan is to check the weather radar and decide whether I'm heading north through Joplin or south down to I-40.... Radar indicates storms up around Joplin, I guess I'm heading south. Hopefully traffic won't be bad on I-40 going into Memphis.

That's how my morning started. With a little uncertainty regarding the time it would take along with a little disappointment for not getting to go through Missouri on this trip. But taking the lower route also meant I'd have a little extra time to pack up and maybe even grab breakfast.

By 5:15 I had things packed and checked out the bike. It was time to head out, I just needed to pickup a start receipt from the Quiktrip around the corner. 5:25am and I'm logging the receipt and telling the GPS to get me to Memphis via Little Rock. As I'm leaving Tulsa I make a mistake and end up exiting onto a service road but I jump right back on and take the next exit onto 412 heading east.

At 6:25 I'm pulling up to the Cherokee Turnpike toll plaza, this time I'm much drier and in high spirits. Just an hour into the day's ride and I've covered 66 miles. I made a little small talk with the attendant while I record my mileage and then it's back on the throttle and down the road. This time of the morning is so beautiful as the sun is rising.

When I got over to Springdale, Arkansas I thought I had stumbled onto a law enforcement convention. They were on every corner, parked on exit ramps, in the mediums, and rolling down the road. I certainly didn't want to get any souvenirs from them so I took it easy until I got a ways down the road. The rest of the trip down 540 was nice and pleasant, with beautiful green covered mountains and hills to wind through.

The first gas stop was in Plumerville, Arkansas at 9:06am with 260 miles on the trip meter. I was getting good mileage so I could have kept going but this just looked like an easy place to get off and back on without issue. While I was there I talked to a fellow rider told me I had rain toward Memphis. Rats!!! No more rain please. Oh well, I get my receipt, dash in for a facilities break and back on the bike. The stop was just a little over 5 minutes. By now I was getting pretty good at quick stops.

The closer I got to Memphis, the darker the sky got. But then about 11am the sky seemed to clear and I had sun once again. The temperatures were in the low 70's so riding was pleasant. As I got close the state line, there was a Bar-B-Q guy hawking his 'Q on the CB. His confidence in his Q seemed pretty genuine and I thought about turning around and coming back after I reached my end point in Memphis.

Since I was ahead of schedule I decided to make it a 2100 mile trip in 48 hours so I rode on through Memphis until the odometer showed the magical numbers of 32,830. That was it, 2100 miles done! I pulled into a Shell station and got my final receipt for the ride. 11:52am on the receipt and 32,834 on the odometer. I had done it.

Since I didn't have anywhere special to be, I just sort of stood around for a little while. I took off my liner, called Reagan and just reveled in my accomplishment. Then I realized I hadn't stopped for breakfast. I was going to go back through Memphis and see the Bar-B-Q man in Arkansas on channel 16.

One block away from the Shell station and my plans changed drastically. My nose told me there was good Q in the immediate area. So I stopped in at a place called Jim and Nick's. It was a little too fancy for my tastes and I thought a little over priced but I was hungry. I had their brisket and pulled pork. The pork was dry and the brisket was cut strange. Instead of slicing the brisket vertically, they sliced it horizontally. I asked my waiter about the cut of the brisket and he said he had never seen it cut like that before. Dandy! They must have had a new guy in back.

After lunch I was heading toward the hotel for the convention, not really sure who I was going to get to be my end witnesses. I figured I had friends at the convention or I might find a police or fire station by going through town. It was just then that I saw the attraction sign for Harley Davidson rentals. That was perfect, I'd go by and get some folks at the local dealership to sign my form. I thought it added a little bit of a cool factor to the whole thing since I had come to Memphis for the Harley Davidson Riders Edge conference.

The folks at Bumpus Harley Davidson were friendly and helpful. I got the Riders Edge program manager and a sales guy to sign the form. I stuck around for a little bit and shot the breeze with the sales guy and almost went over and sat on a Ulysses but thought better of it. I mean I had just gotten my Russell seat for the BMW, I definitely didn't need a new bike.

Thoughts about the ride:
Some of my friends joke about my obsession with farkles on the bike. But the farkles helped to make the ride fun. The XM Radio provided me with music, the GPS helped me to watch the weather and stay on time, and the CB helped me to meet a few truckers along the way. I might have even given one of them a reason to wear his helmet.

But the best farkle of all has to be the Russell Day Long seat. It's the best money I've spent on the bike, even better than the Adventure tank conversion. It's easy to stop for fuel in five minutes but you can't get a new rear end in 5 minutes. Of course, I was really risking my comfort on the seat as I had only ridden with it for 100 miles the day before leaving, but even in that short time I knew I had something good. RDL recommends 500 to 1000 miles to properly break in the seat. I'm pretty sure the seat was broken in by the time I reached El Paso on the first day.

Well the next few days I'll be a convention attendee but then I'm heading east for some beautiful twisties in North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.
Go go gadget Beemer!!!

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