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Thread: Back on Two Wheels

  1. #1
    Have bike, will travel lancew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Central VA

    Back on Two Wheels


    Man, nothing feels like packing up and getting ready for a road trip.

    This oneÔÇÖs really different, though. IÔÇÖm stuffing gear IÔÇÖve never worn into a helmet-bag and backpack. IÔÇÖm getting ready for next weekendÔÇÖs flight to a Michigan town IÔÇÖve never visited to pick up a bike IÔÇÖve never seen in person, then ride it home on roads IÔÇÖve never ridden.

    By the way- thanks to the member who went and checked the bike out for me- you know who you are. That was beyond the call of duty- IÔÇÖm not disappointed- everything is exactly as you and Grand Rapids BMW said it would be.

    My gear is not yet broken-in. The pearl-black Arai is exactly the same as the five-month-old scratched, dented lid it replaces, but the pads havenÔÇÖt even started molding to my head and face yet. The only blemishes are road-scrapes on the tinted shield I brought over from the old one. IÔÇÖd transfer the pads, too, but IÔÇÖm wary of anything helmet-related that has been through a wreck. They might be more comfy, but thereÔÇÖs probably some leftover Panic Karma in those things from the ÔÇ£oh-no-secondÔÇØ when I realized I was going down.

    IÔÇÖm looking forward to a new start.

    The new Cortech jacket is stiff, bright and new-smelling when I pull it off the garage peg. I note the contrast with the old one behind it that I havenÔÇÖt gotten around to tossing yet. The old one is faded and wrinkled, and smells of the dust and exhaust of six years and fifty thousand miles. It is also worn down to near-transparency on the right shoulder and chest, and there are holes in the right elbow where the asphalt ground it away. I pause and try them both on. The new one is solid and reassuring, but itÔÇÖs not ÔÇ£mineÔÇØ yet. The old one is comfortable, and familiar, but itÔÇÖs all used up. Shame, too- I had just treated the thing with Nik-Wax, and hadnÔÇÖt even ridden in the rain yet. I still donÔÇÖt toss it.

    I stuff my new leather pants into my backpack. They fit, but theyÔÇÖve never been really worn either. I didnÔÇÖt have any problem tossing the Levis they replaced into the trash- IÔÇÖm still putting fresh band-aids and Neosporin on my knee every morning.

    I stuff my pack and helmet bag with silkies, undies, summer gloves, winter gloves, rain pants, extra shield, turtleneck, camelback, cargo net, Helen straps, flashlight, batteries, wool socks, atlas, airport-friendly toiletries, notebook, camera, Gold Bond, phone charger, and my Anonymous book. No room for the new jacketÔÇÖs liner. No big deal, if itÔÇÖs cold IÔÇÖll pop into Walmart for another layer.

    I think twice, and pull the atlas back out. I need to double check my route- IÔÇÖm planning on taking two days for an 800 mile ride, might as well find good backroads and get off the slab since IÔÇÖll be taking it easy. Maybe IÔÇÖll take three days.

    I look at the map. Ah-ha, the Falling Leaf rally is next weekend, too, and its only five hundred miles out of my way. My job may be moving to St. Louis soon, it would be a good idea to check out the area, right? I make a note to check the time-off calendar at work- maybe I should get used to the new wheels with a visit to my first real rally, meet the locals? Hmmm


    CanÔÇÖt get the 15th off. No Falling Leaf. Realistically, I havenÔÇÖt been on a long day-ride in a long time anyhow, and my ribs and muscles are still a little bit sore from the accident. Best to stick with heading straight home in two days, and leave myself Sunday in case things go poorly.

    I re-check the forecast for Grand Rapids and find out there actually IS room in my bag for the jacket liner.


    Have been caught multiple times at work studying ÔÇ£Ohio Motorcycle RoadsÔÇØ, ÔÇ£West Virginia Motorcycle Roads,ÔÇØ and of course the MOA Forum. Re-check Find room in bag for another layer. Decide to take three days.


    Up at 4:00am. Out of the house by 4:30. In the air by 6:30, and Mike from BMW Grand Rapids picks me up at the airport at 10:15. Thirty minute drive to the shop, I take a quick test ride. ÔÇ£DonÔÇÖt worry, IÔÇÖm not going far- you guys have my long underwear in the backpack by your desk.ÔÇØ I come back, tell Mike I wonÔÇÖt need a ride back to the airport, and sign the papers. By 12:15 IÔÇÖm on the road.

    The bike itself is not pristine, but itÔÇÖs in good shape for a bike with 26,000 miles on it, certainly cleaner than my old bike- even before the last 100 feet. Tires, brakes, and finish are better than advertised, and by reputation I tend to trust these guys. IÔÇÖve ridden 1150GSÔÇÖs before, but not in a while. I know I like them- IÔÇÖm buying this one to see how I like living with one long-term.

    Good thing I brought the bungee net- the Z-technik shield buffets my head, and the original shield take up the entire Givi case and I end up netting my helmet bag to the passenger seat. Saves me the trouble of deciding what to leave behind. No worries.

    Its 41 degrees when I leave the shop. The scenery around Grand Rapids is as advertised- flat, straight, and cold. The good news is that the speed limit is 70, and I quickly learn that traffic feels free to move at 80, 85, or 90mph. This thing doesnt have the zoom of my old K1200RS, but these speeds are no problem at all. I had wondered how it would feel to be on a bike again after the accident- would I have flashbacks, or find out I had turned chicken? As it happened, it was no problem Im just going for a ride.

    I slab it all the way to Toledo, then pull onto Ohio Rte 2 along Lake Erie in hopes of seeing my first Great Lake. Went all the way to Sandusky, hardly saw the water at all, nuts to me. I wheeled into a Comfort Inn with an attached sports bar and was quoted $119.00 for the night. Twenty minutes later I checked into a Motel 6 for $49.99, with a Subway grinder in one saddlebag and a 6-pack of Samuel Adams in the other. ItÔÇÖs more my style anyhow- even with unlimited funds IÔÇÖd probably choose the Motel 6. I make some quick phone calls to wife, parents, friends, and fellow Sox fans, then I settle in to watch the game and study the map for tomorrow.

    I got a room with a view.

    And yes, it's home sweet home.

    I could maybe blast home tomorrow if I get up early. 600-ish miles, but I havenÔÇÖt done a big (or even medium-sized) day in a while. Plus IÔÇÖm on a new bike. Plus I have reserved the weekend, and can take backroads. It might be a while before IÔÇÖm up this way again. See ya Sunday, baby.


    I wake up late. I shower and scoop everything into the bags, check out and thumb the starter. I buh-buh-buh my way down to MawÔÇÖs Restaurant on 250 just south of the OH Turnpike for a monster breakfast, then hit the road. ItÔÇÖs 41 degrees again.

    Yesterday was odd. Today feels more normal. I make my way to Rte 6 along the lake, just taking my time. I follow my own rule about never speeding near the water (no scientific evidence for it, I admit) and see enough police cars to keep the rule on the books. Travel is slow, but itÔÇÖs a nice area. All beach towns are different, but they all have a similar feel. These towns have the campy easygoing waterside feeling, but they are marked by tons of public parks and several beaches.

    ItÔÇÖs a very nice area. By the time I hit Rocky River, IÔÇÖve had enough of the 35 mph deal- itÔÇÖs already 9:30 am and IÔÇÖve hardly gone 75 miles. At a gas stop, I notice the oil is only halfway up the sight glass so I check the Anon book and the map, and head down Riverside Drive to the Airport then take a left to Sills, the Cleveland BMW shop, to pick up a roadie quart (I never burn a drop from there home, but I donÔÇÖt regret having it in the side case).

    On the way I ride along with a guy on a K75  when we reach the shop he introduces himself, saying Im an ADVRider too. Im not, and it sort of confuses me. Then I remember the ADV sticker that was on the bags when I bought the bike aha. Im just glad he didnt give me the salute, I wouldnt have known what Id done wrong. Wonder whether I should take the sticker off or join ADVRider? He and I chat for a while, and another rider joins the conversation. It makes me wish Id run down to Falling Leaf.

    I stay too long at SillÔÇÖs, then hump it down I-77 to Canton. IÔÇÖm running behind, so I skip the NFL hall of fame and jump on Rte 800 South. ItÔÇÖs described as 109 miles of hills and scenery that get more technical as you go along. Sounds like a perfect way to get used to the big GS. In Dover I pass a couple of bars and keep going even though there are bikes in the lot. I love beer as much as anybody, but I never touch it (even one) until IÔÇÖm done riding for the day. I end up being the only person in a little deli, having a sandwich and salad (what happened to the days when Cheeseburger was a food group?). ItÔÇÖs still cold, and IÔÇÖm juggling layers and camelback while I eat- IÔÇÖm obviously a spectacle. They are relieved to see me go just as a ÔÇ£normalÔÇØ family comes in.

    Route 800 is exactly as promised. After it splits from 250 in Dennison the sun comes out. I find more frequent elevation changes and the start of some sweepers. After I cross I-70 the switchbacks and really good roads start. The fall foliage is just getting serious, and IÔÇÖm starting to figure out the overdrive tranny. The twin has a much different power delivery than the old K, but IÔÇÖm getting used to it enough that IÔÇÖm starting to get in the groove again. IÔÇÖm focusing on being smooth rather than going fast, and itÔÇÖs all finally coming together. By the last 20 miles before Fly, OH, IÔÇÖm in some really tight, technical stuff and IÔÇÖm really enjoying the ride. I take a right onto route 7 and stop at a rest area for pics and a quick nature-break.

    Route 7 follows the Ohio River from Fly down to I-77. ItÔÇÖs a gentle relaxing ride with great views of the river, and the sunny day has hit a perfect temperature. IÔÇÖm still running late, so when I hit I-77 I take it down to Charleston, WV. IÔÇÖm glad I did; I-77 is one of the best stretches of interstate IÔÇÖve ever ridden. I get behind some fast-moving traffic and cruise at 80-90 mph down 85 miles of long, perfect sweepers and throttle-on rushes up and down hills. The scenery, corners, and elevation changes are great- IÔÇÖd like to pass the hat and see if maybe we could rent it for an afternoon and run-it-as-you-like. No LEOÔÇÖs, no SUVÔÇÖs, just a bunch of grinning idiots on a nice long motorcycle ride. IÔÇÖm actually sorry when I hit Charleston.

    I cross the Kanawha and stop for a six-pack, then point my big google-eyed headlights to the Motel 6. The room has recently been converted to non-smoking and apparently all theyve done is stick up the sign and take the ashtrays out. Im not complaining, Ive paid more for worse bunks. The people in the next room stop me- Hey, is that your bike? We saw you pass us a while ago. We used to ride everywhere we went Later, another guy stops me in the parking lot- he and his son ride together, but hes amazed that I went all the way to Michigan to buy my bike. I dont let on that Im taking three days to ride home.

    Tonite itÔÇÖs DominoÔÇÖs, and after a couple Sammies I start the internal debate over whether to Join ADVRider or take the sticker off.

    ÔÇ£Which costs more, joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
    ÔÇ£Which is more likely to mess up my bags- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
    ÔÇ£Which is more likely to irritate my wife- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
    ÔÇ£Which takes longer- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ
    ÔÇ£Which involves more harsh solvents- joining ADVRider or taking an ADV sticker off my bags?ÔÇØ

    ItÔÇÖs a relief when I finally fall asleep.
    #92115 - '01 R1150GS

    Why don't they make a Nerf Martini Glass?

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel lancew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Central VA

    I wake up and it’s kind of cold again. Forty-two degrees. Warm, compared to what I’m used to, I guess. I rumble to the gas station next door, fill the tank, and buy a 20-oz coffee that I pour into my Camelbak. I run into an ST1300 rider who covered more miles yesterday than I have in the last two. Good for him. I understand the joy in it- I’ve had some big days too- for me this weekend’s about taking it easy and relaxing all the way home.

    I head east on rte 60, and run into a McDonald’s deal I can’t pass up- two bacon-egg-cheese biscuits for two bucks. Automatic U-turn, and for $4 I’m stuffed and have a reheated and refilled Camelbak. Let me know if you ever find a better definition of “happy.”

    I keep heading East. At the town of Gauley Bridge, I keep moving because (as usual) I’m running late. I motor along, enjoying the crisp air and brisk morning. When I hit Route 19 and the signs to the New River bridge, I toss the schedule and head South to the visitor’s center.

    Ho…Lee… COW. Even before you see the New River Gorge, you get the impression of the sheer vastness and age of it. I park in the visitor’s center and walk down the 200-odd foot staircase to the viewing platform. The Bridge itself is over 850 feet above the river below, and is the highest in the Western hemisphere. The New River is often (and perhaps erroneously) called one of the oldest rivers in the world. I’ve rafted down the New, years ago, and was immensely impressed. Seeing it from up here (especially since I have this “thing” with heights) is even more impressive.

    I snap a few shots, then see the old bridge 600 feet below me at the bottom of the gorge.

    “Hmm,” I think. “I need to go Down There.”

    The ride down is actually kind of tough- the hairpins all have scuff marks from where cars and trucks before me have high-centered. I’m still not used to the new bike, and get a funny feeling as I launch it off one side of a corner to the other. Fortunately, the feeling doesn’t last long. As I ride, I am aware of the history of the place- the paved goat-trail I’m following has obviously been there since long before people actually PAVED the roads they used. It’s an ancient road, but it’s cut into a mountainside that was already ancient before man even learned to use tools. It’s humbling.

    When I finally hit the bottom of the gorge, the railroad crossing lights are flashing. It’s nice to shut the bike off and take a minute for photos and relaxation while waiting for the train to come by. I get some great shots of the bridge, looking up, and look forward to getting some shots of the train with the bridge in the background.

    I wait.

    I keep waiting.

    I finally walk down to the crossing (hey, I’m new here, eh?) and check out the situation. The folks there tell me they can’t wait to see the train- they’ve been waiting at the crossing for half an hour, with the arms down and lights flashing, and still haven’t seen a train.

    Um, hey- if it’s all the same to you… I’d like to go ahead and take my chances… ok? I go around.

    As far as I know, they’re still waiting there.

    I hit the parking lot on the far side, get a couple shots of the bridge from “way-down-there”, and on a whim I grab a few rocks from the riverbed. The rocks are smooth and ancient- they’ve been sitting there being worn and polished for centuries, and they feel good in my hands.

    I make my way back to the bike and have a great ride back up to rte 19. I buzz north, then east on 60, then east again on I-64. I’m making good time again, and heading back to the scene of the crime.

    I hit I-81 and turn North. I’ve been riding and driving I-81 for fifteen years, and it just seems to be more crowded and less fun as each year goes by. I hit the Raphine exit, and head East on route 56.

    It doesn’t take long to get to the mountains. Just as I start to get into the uphill twisties, I am puzzled by the number of people in cars giving me the “slow down” signals. I’m not even going very fast, what’s the deal? As I go on, I even get riders waving me slower, and I even get a guy on a Ducati warning me down.

    Then, of course, I come around a corner just a couple miles short of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and find multiple bikes and a couple ambulances sitting beside the road. I hope the guy is ok.

    Sooner than I expect, I reach the Parkway. I pull a u-turn and go back for a picture…

    I KNOW this sign wasn’t here five weeks ago…

    It turns out the scene of my accident was before Montebello, not after. Details, details, whatever. I stop for a few snaps of the gravel (I finally prove myself right, that it was invisible) that got me, and the gouges my K-bike left in the road while it was writing me a check for my GS.

    The gravel's still there, but even a photo is no proof- you have to wreck a motorcycle to be sure...

    And here's the proof...

    The final hundred miles home is just a normal ride- I’m back on familiar ground, and it’s a bright sunny perfect day for a ride. I idle down the driveway, and Jane greets me at the horse gate- she’s relieved to find that I was right and the big twin DOES look better in person than in the pictures. I just managed to turn a two-day 800 mile ride into a 3-day 1100 mile trip, and now I get to have a beer… what could be better?

    Cheers, and may all your rides be good ones.
    #92115 - '01 R1150GS

    Why don't they make a Nerf Martini Glass?

  3. #3
    Wow! Nice report. yeah the view from the bottom of the New River looking up is pretty cool, i recon everyone who's gone that road to the bottom has shot that same pic, I know I did!

    Rt. 56? no kidding, I was just up that way yesterday (Sat. 10/20) I love 56, what a great road! Check out my last ride report Tripping the Blue Ridge. Next time I go up there I'll have to look for the marks of your passage,

    Getting back in saddle is allways great after a time away, no matter the reason for the "lay off", I know the felling, having had it happen to me twice in the past years. Luckily for me it wasn't due to an accident, but the felling is still the same.

    Welcome back and perhaps I'll see Ya on the road.


  4. #4
    On the Road
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Broken Arrow Oklahoma
    Nice Report..... Good luck with the bike...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Thanks for sharing your experience of getting a new bike and getting back on after an accident. I enjoyed reading about your journey home.

  6. #6
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Nacogdoches Texas
    Fun Ride Report.
    So did you Join ADV or remove the sticker?
    I bought a set of Jessie bags and they were covered with stickers from far off exotic places the panniers had bin. Every time I thought of someone else seeing them I felt like a was telling a lie. Or was some kind of ADV poser, I removed them and now am trying to find the time to earn them all back.
    Thanks for sharing

  7. #7
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    State of Confusion
    Welcome back to the fun and thanks for taking us along.

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  8. #8
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    Great writing. You really did carry us all along.

    What fun!! So many reasons to come back. . .

    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million BMW sMiles

  9. #9
    Rally Rat empeg9000's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Upstate NY

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by lancew View Post
    I rumble to the gas station next door, fill the tank, and buy a 20-oz coffee that I pour into my Camelbak.
    Dude! Coffee in your camel back? I've never even heard of that although I have often wanted to have some coffee while riding. I usually just stop on the side of the road and make some.

    Sounds like a great adventure!

  10. #10
    Nice new ride!

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