Wednesday, June 24, 2009

AK '09 - Day 4

I seem to be getting into my groove. I awoke before the alarm today and started getting ready to leave. The internet was working a little better so I managed to check email and answer a few questions. I checked the front desk to see what was served for breakfast, it wasn't much more than the first morning and there was a line of hungry people so I opted to eat a Cliff bar and pickup some V8 juice across the street.

By 7am I was on the road heading up I-95 to South Carolina. The first 150 miles of the day was going to be split between I-95 and I-26 but then I'd leave the interstate for the more interesting back roads. I ended up on SC 178 northwest of Greenville heading toward North Carolina. Talk about a fun road. This was one of those sweet little jewels you find from time to time thanks to the routing algorithms of the Garmin software. Too bad they haven't implemented some artificial intelligence to identify the types of road I like such as how Tivo picks out programs I might like according to my viewing habbits. That would be cool.

Well as I rode up 178, the temperature was steadily going down. I felt bad for my fellow trip-mates leaving from Houston today. While I was enjoying temps in the 70's and falling they were likely suffering through 90's and climbing.

So as I'm riding along 178 just happy as can be, the Garmin guides me up and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. BONUS!!! I rode it south for 20 miles and passed the 6,000 foot elevation mark, it was a cozy 69 degrees there. All good things come to an end and the GPS routes me onto Hwy 23. Eventually I get down to Hwy 28N where I exit. From the Blue Ridge Pkwy on, this was a familiar route as I had traveled it in May 2008 when I rode the Dragon last time. But this time I was going to follow Hwy 28 all the way to Deals Gap. Maybe next time I'm out in the area I can ride Hwy 28 in the other direction. It seems that I was going down more than I was going up.

Once I reached Deals Gap, I stopped at the resort to get a sticker for the bike and grab a bite to eat. I was a little hugry and thought a snack would hold me until dinner. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and a drink, all for $3.50. Nice....

While waiting for my snack, a fellow rider asked me about the side cases on the bike. We continued the conversation at a table after we both got our food. The guy's name was Joe and he was from California. After retiring last December he decided to go from California to West Virginia in his camper and trailer. He seemed to have a pretty good setup, drive to a location, unload the bike, do day rides for several days and then move to a new location. That sounds like a pretty sweat set up, it certainly beats my $45 to $50 a night for a motel room.

We had heard the road was closed up ahead due to an 18 wheeler getting stuck in a curve so it was much nicer to set in the A/C and talk about riding than to get stuck up on the road. Finally we started seeing the traffic come down the road so it was decided that we should probably get on the road. We bought some stickers for the bikes, exchanged information and then I geared up. Joe headed across the street to check out the Killboy tent before taking off. I'm looking forward to hearing from Joe to see what he's up to on his travels over to West Virginia.

Well I took off up 129 following 2 supermotard bikes. Well, I followed them until they crossed the double yellow to pass a car. Then they were gone in a flash. The car graciously pulled over a few turns later and allowed me to pass. For several minutes I had the road to myself. It was great! I was starting to get my rhythm and was raising the thrill level. Eventually I caught up with traffic and had to pull over to let things clear out. Getting back on the road is always a challenge because I lose the groove and have to get it back quickly. Well practice makes perfect and eventually I'm dragging pegs in the corners. I held my pace at that point and didn't feel like I needed to push things any more. I was having plenty of fun. At one point when I pulled off to let a cager get on down the road I caught up with those 2 supermotards. OK, so they were coming back the other way. One of them stopped to introduce himself as Kyle and compliment me on the bike. He said he saw the ADV stickers and said he was on his own adventure and writing ride reports. I told him I was heading to Alaska but not writing a ride report because I had the blog. He wanted to catch the other rider so off he went and by then I figured the road had probably cleared a little so I too continued.

The Dragon seemed to end all too soon and just as quickly as it started the road changed to a dull series of longer sweepers and straight aways with little elevation change. But coming to the end also told me I was in the home stretch for the day's ride.

I rolled into Knoxville without much excitement. It's a little larger than I expected and traffic was a little heavier than planned but then again it was 5pm when I got to town. I checked into my room at the Super 8 and then ran down to Radio Shack and Walgreens for some stuff. I needed a soldiering iron to fix helmet speaker (done) and some alcohol wipes so I can apply stickers along the way instead of waiting to get home. Once back at the room I read some email, made some calls, had a few drinks and then walked across the street to a Chinese buffet. I probably could have skipped the buffet, I probably should have.

It's almost midnight here, but I've uploaded pics for the last several days, posted my blog, and booked tomorrow's room. I'm ready for another day of riding. Look out Kentucky, I'm heading north and then over to St. Louis to check out the Arch. Pictures, pictures, pictures....must take more pictures.

No comments: