Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Butt Lite 6–Ride to the Rally Start

With some persuasion from another rookie in the Butt Lite I decided to start the whole tech inspection process on Wednesday (Tomorrow) which meant I needed to ride to Georgia on Tuesday (today). I didn’t really have a set time to leave the house, but I did want to get to Blairsville, Ga. in time for dinner with my fellow rookie Rex.

Remember that laptop I bought yesterday? Well I was up until almost midnight working on the basic configuration. And I was back at it again this morning a little after 4am. I wanted to get all of the Windows updates finished before I left “just in case” something went wrong.  Well when I clicked the button to begin installing the updates it proceeded to load 84 updates. Ooops! That would take some time. Meanwhile I worked on getting my Garmin maps unlocked for MapSource. I like to use BaseCamp for my route planning but I still like MapSource for storing the tracks of where I’ve been. I couldn’t seem to get my original mapsource map unlocked so I deleted it from the hard drive and just copied over newer maps from my desktop. Problem solved!

As 6am rolled around the Windows updates were done and I had finished packing the bike. I was going over last minute things like making sure I had my passport, drivers license, credit cards and stashing my emergency money when I realized I could not find my spare set of keys. I started to panic. After searching all the shelves outside plus all of our riding gear for 30 minutes, I decided to wake up Reagan. She was a trooper and immediately sprung into action. As 7am came around I accepted the fact that I must have lost the spare keys so I kissed Reagan good bye and headed to the gas station.

I rolled out of the Exxon a few minutes after 7 and headed into Houston to catch I-10 east out of town. Fortunately I was able to ride the HOV lane going into town and traffic was going the other way when I turned east on I-10. So far, my morning was not going at all like I had planned but I kept accepting the challenges.

Oh, one of those “challenges” that I discovered as I  was riding down the freeway. My spiffy new mccruise cruise control system had quit working. I thought “crap I spent $1,000 on this thing and it breaks on the day I’m riding to the rally that I bought it for.” I just kept going because I knew if I turned around and went home to fix the problem I probably wouldn’t leave again.

The ride through Texas and Louisiana was uneventful. About half way between Houston and Beaumont I found my spare keys, they were in my left pants pockets. Those were the only riding gear I didn’t search earlier. I also managed to get the cruise control to engage sporadically. Once it engaged I was OK until I turned it off or touched my brakes. After 327 miles, I stopped for my first fuel stop of the day. I was already hungry so I grabbed some beef jerky out of the top case.

When I got to Mobile, Alabama I headed north on I-65 to Montgomery and then north on I-85 to Atlanta. Along the way I stopped for gas a second time and I stopped again a little later to get some juice and a payday candy bar. I could tell I was getting a headache from not eating enough. It was at this food stop that I tried something to fix the cruise issue. I decided the problem was related to my LED lights on my saddle bags so I disconnected them. When I pulled out of the parking lot, the instrument cluster indicated I had a bulb problem in my rear brake light. I ignored it, thinking the cruise computer was probably interfering with the canbus system. I tried to set the cruise once I got up to freeway speeds again and it just wouldn’t work. Nothing I tried allowed me to set the cruise so I pulled over at a rest stop.

This was a turning point for my day. Before I hooked up my extra LED brake/turn lights I decided to check the bike’s brake light. Hmmmm, it didn’t work. Now remember, just yesterday I had the bike inspected. What’s the odds that the bulb went out on the way home? I plugged the extra LED lights back in so I at least had some brake lights and headed down the road. My cruise began to work intermittently again, just so long as I didn’t touch the brakes. Now I knew what I needed to do, fix the rear brake light.

As I was already several hours late for dinner I decided to keep going and find the right bulb tomorrow. It’s an 1157 by the way so it should be easy to find.

Once I got to Atlanta, the GPSes led me around on I-285 north to I-75 north. Then  I got onto I-575 north which ended into Highway 515 and Ga-5. My average speed dropped significantly as I started riding into little towns along the way. The sun was setting and I was getting into hills/mountains. I was in “deer territory” at the absolute worst time of the day. I moved over to the left as much as I could and kept a close eye on the shoulders for any deer. Sure enough I saw a few but these deer seemed trained to stay away from the road and for that I was happy. When the sun completely set, I started using my high beam and secondary auxiliary lights to make my own day light. I was happy to see the deer had gone.

I arrived at the Best Western in Blairsville at 9:15. It took a little time to check in as the front desk clerk didn’t move to fast. After a few phone calls to people, I got the bike unloaded and I changed into street clothes. Then a fine meal across the street at the Huddle House. All in all, 930 miles in 13 hours, 15 minutes.

Tomorrow I’ll ride over to Wal-Mart get the brake light bulb. Once installed I’ll head over to the Lodge @ CopperHead where the Rally folks are and I’ll start the process. I’m not sure what all awaits me, I know there’s a check-in where I need to provide them with some paperwork. I know there’s a tech inspection. And I understand there’s an odometer check process of some sort. I have Wednesday and Thursday to successfully complete these steps if something goes wrong along the way. If everything works out tomorrow then I can be a spectator on Thursday and take it easy until the evening when we have the starters banquet and receive our rally packets. That’s when the fun really begins.

BTW: I’m really glad I have the new laptop, even if it did contribute to my rocky start this morning.

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