Note: The GPS was on the bike, but was only set to navigate me to the hotels. Otherwise I only looked at it to confirm changes in highway's. I did bring a paper map along for grander overviews and high level directional planning. I really enjoyed not being driven by that GPS. :)
My last set of tires were "known." I knew how they felt. I knew what to expect in response. I knew their pressure really only fluctuated with barometric changes. I knew I could rely on them. These new tires and I still have to work on that trust relationship. They had only been installed for 12 hours prior to departure and already needed two pounds of air. Air pressure thoughts whirled around in my subconscious and swirled to the top when the bike started feeling a little squirrelly. I tend to read a lot about a vast array of experiences other people have on bikes so that I may learn a little from them. I have keenly read about flat tire experiences. Think about it. We are entrusting our lives to two donuts of rubber with contact patch on the ground about the size of our palms. While I would like to never experience a flat tire on the motorcycle first hand, I would like to know what the bike feels like when it does occur. Or at least what symptoms to watch out for.
A low front tire is going to feel different than a low rear tire. The front tire is the steering tire and will feel heavy or difficult to steer when the pressure is low. The rear is the driving tire and will give more of a fishtailing feel to the bike. Please recognize, this is info for leaks, fast or slow, but definite deflating over time. These are not necessarily indicative of feel or response for a blowout.
Reading and theory are all well and good, but I don't have a dirt-bike riding background where flats or running at lower pressures is more normal. Without that background I don't "understand" what a fishtailing rear wheel actually feels like. I pay attention when the bike begins to handle contrary to expectations, feeling a little "skippy" in the rear end. Hey, it is a small thing to pull over and check tire pressure. It will quickly confirm suspicions, allay fears and give you a short break/stretch. I pull into the next gas station, sidling up to the air pump just in case.
This gas station is the prominent item at the t-shaped intersection of this quaint cross road with the name of Melson on my map. I know that I will not be obsessing over the 6-inch drop of pavement to gravel transition a foot away. I know I find the location of this lake and RV "Resort" directly behind the gas station a little strange. I know that my tire pressure is spot on, without any problemns. (Yes, I took into consideration that the tires were warm and would be a little above "correct" pressure.) OK. Trust quotient a little higher. What I was feeling is either a characteristic of the tire (probably not) or a combination of the upcoming wind and aerodynamics of the ginormous top box (more likely).
I take a little time to let the hair out of the helmet and give Mr. Oilburner a call before Mr. Tell-tale (SPOT) gives my away. It's about 3pm and he is concerned about where I will stop for the evening. I figure another hour and a half on the road. He pushes for 30 minutes. He wants me to have a chance to relax and see some sights without getting worried about stopping for the evening. I give in and we select a Holiday Inn Express about 30 minutes away in Cedartown. Amenities include a pool and hot tub. Oh yeah!
I've had a couple experiences of Cedartown before and always thought the town was clean and lovely. My dealings have always been on the other side of the proverbial tracks apparently. Approaching from the west this time gave me an entirely new view of this "clean" little town. I received a few unwelcome glances and hoped for green lights. My misgivings did not improve as I rode down a decrepit historical Main Street onto the newer version of fast food, used car lots and automotive garages. And my hotel was only 0.6 miles away. Oh well. Roll with the punches. The ambiance goes uphill at the end of "main" street literally and figuratively. Uphill marks the move towards residential, and the hotel is right in that transition.
If you ever have the chance to stay in the Holiday Inn Express in Cedartown, DO IT! Beverly, the night shift supervisor is phenomenal! She was nice, bubbly, talkative and helpful. I am not a frequent customer of the chain but Mr. Oilburner stays there frequently on his business trips. So that qualified me for a free beer that I spied sitting in a bucket of ice behind the counter. Then she pulled out the goodie basket and gave me my choice of chips (Cheetos), then shoved an 8 oz water and Oreo's in a bag for me. I made it upstairs to my room with my cache of goodies and returned to start unloading the bike.
I asked Beverly about a "safe" parking spot since all of the front spots were taken. She directed me to park in the "drive thru" section of the entrance where two cars were currently parked. By the time I had returned downstairs (I love bag liners!!) one of the cars had been moved (it was her son's). This is service that I can get used to!
After everything was squared away I crashed in my room in front of the air conditioner. Despite the cool start it had turned into a hot day in the mid-80's (30C). I partook of my munchies but had failed to procure a bottle opener for the beer. I soon donned my bathing suit and hopped into the liquid nitrogen that passed for the pool. The pool was small, but large enough to swim short laps to warm up. Good workout for the free cookies the hotel was baking up.
After swimming I lounged around to drip dry and read my book. Every so often someone would happen by the broken hot tub an we would have an interesting conversation of the broomstick handle that was wedged in the bottom of it. Fun speculations as the reasoning behind it. Another "guest" (I believe he lived there) recommended a restaurant that he worked at just down the street, so I took a stroll down the hill.
Zorba's - Greek name and motif specializing in Americana and Italian cuisine.
The place was packed and the food was good. I opted for the broiled salmon that my waitress recommended.
Just after ordering, another hotel guest that I had been chatting with at the pool happened up to me. It seems that she had been told the restaurant was 2.5 miles away (4 km) instead of half a block. She related her driving exploits then invited me to join her and her husband at their table. OK. I'm not here to eat alone if I don't have to. :)
Judy and Bill are great people on their way home to Florida. They had been visiting their son and his family up north. Bill was a previous rider and was thinking of picking it back up. Judy has ridden pillion of old, but has plans to take her beginning class as soon as an injury heals. We swapped stories and shared pictures over a good meal. Judy even revealed her dream bike: the anniversary edition of the Harley Davidson Cross Bones. :)
|Image from Web 2011 HD Cross Bones|
Needless to say, they delivered me back to the hotel safe and sound. Judy and I hung around the lobby talking bikes and eventually said our good nights. Morning came quickly with thoughts of breakfast downstairs. Bill and I shared a table and discussed bikes some more while Judy looked at maps for the easiest and quickest route home that bypassed Atlanta and neared a Starbucks. I think Starbucks won: I learned later they actually did go towards Atlanta.
But back to me. Room empty, bike packed, me suited, helmeted and gloved up. When I finally remember to check tire pressure. OY!! Important lesson here: check tire pressure BEFORE you are in all of your gear! The rear tire was 2 lbs low again. Anal retentive me decides it has to be remedied and I have to tear one of the saddlebags apart to reach my little compressor. Lesson number two: don't use your compressor for the first time ONB the trip . It fought, I cursed, it didn't inflate, I did, it blurbbled away, I sweated. I finally threw my hands in disgust, considered kicking the compressor across the parking lot and calmly repacked all my belongings. Obstinate compressor included.
I'm finally loaded back up and oozing sweat through all four layers of clothing on this lovely 44F (6.7C) morning. Let's get moving and some of the airflow through my mesh jacket to cool me right off!
In spite of everything it is wonderful to be on the bike and moving. Following the signs for Hwy 100 has be on some pretty strange roads. They are small, narrow, scenic, deteriorating and I only need to watch out for dogs and potholes. I have a hang up about dogs. I've already been charged by 4 of them (not on this trip) and I always expect them around the next corner, no matter where I am.
My goal today is Bainbridge. I really wish I had made it a little farther down the road yesterday, but I really enjoyed stopping when I did. So no complaints. My goal may be Bainbridge, but my only objective today was the Kolomoki Indian Mounds State Park. I had to get there first and that meant a compromise. I was going to continue on Hwy 100 until I reach interstate, then jump on that for a ways to make some time.
On my way I ran across Ephesus. What a cool name! This place in no way resembles the Ancient Greek city of the same name. But is is a treat to see in rural farm community Georgia. I think I have my "E" city. The husband of the City Secretary comes out to see what strange things I am doing. He was friendly, but very difficult to understand. We exchanged a few stories of unemployment and the economy, then I was on my way.
Along my travels I had notions of what places "should look like" based upon the city name. As I am sure you know, we are rarely correct when we do that. Tallapoosa just sounded odd and I had low expectations. Turns out it has some fabulous Victorian style houses that could rival old historic cities in Georgia known for their Victorian representation. La Grange always stirs images of farms, large machinery, big red barns and crops blowing in breezes. In my reality, my La Grange is a DUMP!! In all fairness there are probably good parts of town, but I didn't encounter any.
It was in La Grange that I had the chance to meet Earl. He pulled up to the pump next to me and the gas station and proceeded to talk bikes. He inquired where I was coming from, where I was going to, how long I've been riding, how far was my longest ride, all of the sizing me up kind of questions. Though all asked nicely. Turns out in his younger and crazier days he did something extremely stupid on a bike that resulted in some broken fingers, ribs, foot, leg and back, the upper region. Doctors never expected him to walk again. And while it took him a couple of years of therapy he proved them wrong. Happily. Now he talks with riders when he can to find out where their head is at in their riding and share his sobering experiences. I passed the test and was blessed on my way. And gave me the ultimate compliment of being a "real rider" and not just someone puttering around town.
Almost to the interstate and I spy this old grocery store that I fly by. I have to make a u-y to catch my "W".
The interstate is fast but boring and begins to lull me to sleep. Since I know there isn't any food beyond Columbus I accept the offer of a Denny's right off the freeway and think of a nice crispy BLT. Wish come true.
...to be continued. I apologize for my delay but work is kicking my rear-end right now. Just not enough hours in the day. :) Hope you are out riding and enjoying spring!