Sunday, July 22, 2012

Riding home from the Rally

Since my room at the Econolodge was over $100 a night and Sunday’s temperature was supposed to climb up to 105 I opted to leave after the closing ceremonies of the Rally on Saturday afternoon.

By 7:15pm I was on the bike and headed south out of Sedalia on Hwy 65. I hadn’t really planned a route, I just pressed the “Home” button on the GPSes. They showed 2 different routes estimated to take between 12.5 and 13 hours. I wasn’t sure if I would ride straight through the night or stop along the way and grab a nap.

Around 8:20pm I was cruising down Hwy 65 which had become a 2 lane country road at this point. All of a sudden a doe (female deer) pops up out of the right hand ditch running across the road. I say “pops up” because the roadway was at least 10 feet higher than the surrounding fields. I knew I was too close to the deer and didn’t think it would turn out well. I instinctively applied maximum braking from a speed of around 70mph. Just before I was going to make impact I released the brakes and then felt the front wheel hit the rear legs of the deer. There was a slight twitch of the handlebars but the bike stayed up right. I looked back in my mirror to see the deer tumbling on the side of the road. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, it was still very light outside as I had my sun glasses on and I had just escaped a collision with a deer. Oddly enough, my heart wasn’t racing and I wasn’t really scared. It felt more like disbelief of what had just happened. Reading this paragraph probably takes longer than the time it took for the whole event to unfold.

As I continued down Hwy 65 I reflected on what had just transpired, reduced my speed and hugged the center line as much as I could. I was grateful when Hwy 65 finally opened up to a wide 4 lane road with a wide median and wide clearings on the side to make spotting deer easier. As the sun set I reach I-44 in Joplin and headed toward Tulsa. 

In Big Cabin, OK. I opted to follow the Zumo 550’s route which showed the shorter time. It wanted me to take Hwy 69 south. As I headed south I briefly questioned my decision as the road was more of a secondary road compared to I-44. Thankfully it was 2 lanes in each direction with a very wide median so I flipped on the high beam and secondary auxiliary lights and made a little day light of my own.

As the evening went on the toll of being out in the sun all day along with the heat was starting to wear on me. I knew there was a Motel 6 in  Muskogee and another one 50 miles further in McAlester. As I neared Muskogee I realized I was done for the evening. So I called Reagan to let her know I was stopping and then checked into the Motel 6.

Since the Butt Lite is less than 3 weeks away, all of my stops are in Rally mode and this was no exception. I was going to allow myself 5 hours for rest. Optimizing that time was critical. From the time I pulled off the road, I checked in, showered, washed my clothes and got in bed in less than 30 minutes. When I woke up everything was ready to go and I was on the bike leaving the parking lot at 4:53. Total stop time, 5 hours12 minutes.

As I rolled out of Muskogee, it was dark and not much was open. I knew I still had at least  50 miles before I would need fuel. The GPS showed I’d be home just before noon. I decided I’d stop at the first McDonalds I came to after 6:30.

I stopped for gas at 6:18 at the Choctaw Travel Plaza, then continued south. I had gone 389 miles on that tank of gas with 392 miles to go. I wasn’t sure if I could make it home without another fuel stop.

It was 7am before I finally got to a McDonalds. While I was making the stop I decided to adjust my air pressure because it was a little low in both tires and figured this would be a great time to see how efficient I could be. Well things conspired against me inside when I tried to order as I had to wait in line for 2 old guys to finish flirting with the young girl behind the register. I ate the sandwich on my way out the door and got on the bike as quickly as I could. The stop took 18 minutes for tire pressure adjustment, bathroom break and food. Hmmm, I’ll have to work on that.

After I got back on Hwy 69 I was greeted by more deer along the side of the road. Fortunately I saw them in plenty of time and they weren’t interested in trying to cross the road. I guess they had seen the game, “Frogger”.

Crossing the Red River meant crossing back into Texas. And soon I was in Dallas where I picked up I-45 toward Houston. Somewhere around mile marker 136 I reached a milestone in my motorcycling career. I had successfully ridden 100,000 miles on the BMW brand. I actually missed seeing my odometer read 111,744 because I was paying attention to traffic and road conditions. But when I looked down and saw 111,746 I smiled and called Reagan to let her know when I’d be home.

I stopped in Willis to add a few gallons of fuel and then rode on home. I pulled into my driveway just after 12pm. The ride home was 789 miles and I completed it in just under 17 hours including my rest stop in Muskogee.

The weather was dry for the ride home and a little warm as well. Most things on the bike worked well except my Zumo 665. I had to call SiriusXM 3 times on this trip to get them to send a new activation signal so I could pick up traffic and weather updates. I’ll call Garmin support this week to determine if I have a bad receiver. I was happy to see my new McCruise Electronic Cruise system from Australia had arrived.

Now begins my final 2 week prep to get the bike ready for the Butt Lite. I need to fix a small leak in my aux fuel tank, install the cruise control, change tires, put my Valentine 1 in it’s new weather resistant case, chase down a couple of lose electrical connections, change the oil and inspect the bike top to bottom.

No comments: