Last week my buddy Andy had a tumble on his new Valkyrie, and a broken collar bone to show for it. he being unable to ride, his new ride being in the shop, a trip to Rome was in order.
I planned out a nice route to Rome, Georgia, following the western border between Georgia and Alabama. The plan was to meet Sam for breakfast at 0730, at the Waffle House in Phenix City. So far so good. In the parking lot preparing to leave, Sam decides to adjust the idle on his motorcycle. My back is turned, but I hear that unmistakable, loud, cringe inducing crunch, of the Gold Wing falling over. Not just over on it’s engine guards, but over beyond that, crushing the mirror and spilling oil like a shipwrecked tanker. Sam thought it was in neutral when he hit the start button, while standing on the wrong side of the bike. It didn’t just fall over, it threw itself down! I had an instant reaction of “HOLY SH__!” as I spun on my heels and took in the scene.
After righting the fallen ‘Wing, we brushed it off and headed out. Once on the road, I wondered why I didn’t get a photo? I think that the look his Gold Wing wheels up was just so freaky that I rushed to help before I thought about it.
My planned route was all two lane roads, county roads that are less traveled. Anytime I come upon a sign “No Thru Trucks” I know the road goes through to somewhere and it’s probably a shortcut truckers would take if they were allowed. A lot of these are like that. About 12 miles up the first stretch, we come to a “road closed” sign. Looking ahead into the valley I can see the top of a crane. No doubt bridge work. There was no warning previously, no detour signs.
There was a small road turning right by the “road closed” sign that said “No Thru Trucks”. Good enough. But first, I have to see if the bridge might be passable… if so, it could save time.
I slip around the sign, and carefully wind my way around the heavy equipment. Turns out the bridge would only be passable if I could keep the bike on a 10 inch beam, and jump a 40 foot section. Not today. Before we left, we spotted a ‘lions den’, so this is now an official adventure ride. Back to the “No Thru Trucks” route we go. This road goes about one mile east of the bridge, then a stop sign as it t-bones into another road. Turn left, head north around the bridge. A mile up the road a farmer on a 1970′s tractor, watched us intently as we passed slowly by. It was as if he was amazed a motorcycle would come that way. Then I saw the sign, “Pavement Ends”. Damn. No biker likes gravel roads, but I wasn’t about to turn back 12 or 13 miles. I press on. My ’83 Wing is handling it very well though, and there are no deep ruts, no washes, no deep gravel. Just dusty. After about 8 miles of gravel we came out on a state road, turned left, and had successfully made our own detour around the bridge. As I said – this was an adventure ride.
Then it started raining. The rain was with us for 140 of the 160 miles to Rome. Light at first, steadily increasing. I learned that short windshields on a ‘Wing suck. I vow to buy an oversized windshield. I wonder as we ride, is there a way to install a windshield wiper?
As we get farther north, fog accompanies the rain, and farther along, wind gusts literally blow me left and right.
We finally make it, only 45 minutes or so late despite the detour and the rain. Andy has hot coffee ready… mmm. As soon as I dry out, it’s time to pick up the Valkyrie and ride it 20 miles back to his house – in the rain. Even in the rain though, it was a pleasure to drive.
The ride home later that night was dry, smooth, fast, and uneventful. Except for the drug deal I saw going down in the Church’s Chicken parking lot. Second one I’ve seen this week. It just makes me sad. I’m a fortunate person to have avoided that scene – but thats another story. Suffice it to say – thank God for friends and motorcycles!
Miles for the day – 347