Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fair Weather Riding

Spring has sprung.  More bikes are showing up on the roads.  Roads to work as well as ones leading to pleasure.  And anyone who is anyone at my company rode their bikes to work today.

This is beginning to prompt the questions from others at work.  "I haven't seen your bike lately.  Aren't you riding it to work?"  No.  I am not riding my bike to work.

I love riding.  But I am an "all the gear all the time" type of girl.  I'm only too capable of imagining disaster scenarios that result in my bike being mangled and me sliding along the road.  So suiting up is just a natural and required part of my riding.  It just doesn't mesh well with getting into my work "uniform", then zipping myself into my riding pants.  I'm usually sweating up a storm, enough to fog up my helmet, by the time I get in my gear, move the bike out of the garage, close the garage, organize all my work paraphernalia, trudge everything out the bike and start moving.  When there isn't traffic it takes me longer to suit up then it does to ride to work.  And when there is traffic, well, I'm just sitting in traffic.  So I just don't take enjoyment from riding to work.

I take my enjoyment from my RIDES.  When I ride, I want to ride.  I don't begrudge my friends riding to work.  But I would much rather put a thousand miles on my bike seeing the countryside and not 20 miles a day at a time.  See, some of my friends only put the miles on their bike because they ride to work, not because they actually go out and ride.  But that could also be because it's a Harley.  We all know they can't handle the high mileage.  LOL.

Just kidding...  But where were all these bikes throughout the winter?  So I will take my riding a hundred miles at a time.  Not 10.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In Sickness. But Better in Health.

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but there is definitely something in the air or water around here.  I haven't been sick in ages, but was laid low efficiently a couple weeks ago.  Then Mr. Oilburner, who is never sick, was taken down.  And we weren't even bugged with the same thing.  But I wonder if that is also the way of this piece of nastiness.  So many people are sick, but not many people have the same symptons.

What this all comes down to...some beautiful riding weather slipped us by.  The start of my illness coincided with a Saturday.  Of course!  So I prompted Mr. Oilburner to continue on with the plans we had made to ride to dinner with some friends.  I wasn't terribly happy being left to my own devices, but didn't mind the rest or respite from the "I want to ride" nagging.  And I definitely wasn't happy about him finally arriving home about 4 hours later then I expected.  Where was MY dinner after all??  :-)

Sometimes we surmise that karma had something to do with him becoming sick.

No matter.  I slept for almost 48 hours solid on Monday and Tuesday.  And took Wednesday off for good measure.  While he determined that Thursday and Friday was his time to hit the sheets.  When the second Saturday rolled around I was feeling much better and pestering him with the "I want to ride" nags.  Payback's a bitch.

I still don't mind riding alone.  But there is a riding group that I have been keeping tabs on, wanting to ride with.  And this was the perfect opportunity.  I had the hardest time making the actual decision.  And they were OK with me just showing up at the meeting spot.  This was going to be one gor-ge-ous day...with the rain returning tomorrow.  What else is new.

The agenda?  Take the backroads down to Macon to walk around the annual Cherry Blossom Festival!!  NNniiiccceeee!

I was barely on-time at the meeting spot.  Which means to say I was later then some, but earlier then the ride leader.  ;-)  So we waited for the stragglers and I had the chance to meet the ladies I would be riding with.  Did I mention this is an all girl riding club?  Woohoo!!

I volunteered to ride tail.  I can say it is for altruistic reasons like "I tend to sightsee and don't want to hold you up" or "I probably won't ride as fast as you and don't want to hold you up".  But more often then not it is for purely selfish reasons like "I've never ridden with you before and am not sure how you ride and don't want you riding up my tailpipe".  I can usually get away with my first excuses simply because I try to be prepared.  I have a GPS.  And I tend to enter the proposed route into it before the actual ride.  Which is well and good, except rides rarely follow the suggested path.  But that doesn't bother me nearly as much as it used to.  Now, if I become separated from the group, either call one of their cell phones, prepare to just meet up at the end point or go on my own merry way.

So, riding tail wasn't a problem for me.  Except I don't quite stop traffic for the group to ride through at intersections.  That is an acquired skill.  Which some people have honed quite well, I will add.  So I was bumped from my coveted rear position to allow our herder whipping position.  But...I do trust her riding implicitly and didn't have a problem with her behind me.

My biggest concerns at the start of the ride entailed riding through downtown Atlanta, on roads that I have never, ever, ever been on before, and taking them about 10 mph over the speed limit.  I don't mind riding fast.  Just not on roads that I have never been down before.  I managed to keep up.  :-)

We were a little behind and needed to meet a couple more riders south of town.  So those backroads quickly turned into interstates as we rushed to Griffin, GA.  We were to meet these additional riders at a Rite Aid.  And Murphy was having some fun today by throwing us two Rite Aids.  And we were at separate ones.  So our fearless leader zoomed off to corral the new riders while we soaked up some wonderful sun.

We did manage to hit the backroads for the remainder of the trip.  And really enjoyed the scenery of dry farmland Georgia.  But this did put us into Macon about 3 hours later then originally planned.  Then, through some rather poor communication, we wound up with some great parking spots...across town from the festival...  I will maintain that 1 mile is across town in this instance when you are strutting along in leather, mid-calf, inflexible riding boots on what is turning into a very hot day.

It didn't help matters that we had started downhill from the bikes when I managed to slap myself at the realization I had forgotten to lock my top box containing my gloves, GPS, small camera, helmet communicator and sundry other items.  Nope. Didn't lock it at all.  Managed to snake the little combo MasterLock through the appropriate locking hole.  But didn't manage to spin and seat it!  Damn me!  The trek back uphill did nothing to alleviate the heat, my thirst and my burning need to pee!

I will make the hot story short that we walked and walked and walked to the festival.  I managed to relieve myself at one of those lovely comfort stations they set up at festivals for just such things.  And always manage to run out of toilet paper...before you remember to look.  But not that you really want to look anyways because these places are disgusting!  But I was empty.  Now to fix the dry mouth problem.

One of the women in our little group, who can be singled out to be responsible for the walking fiasco, said she had had enough and wanted to go back towards the bikes and just sit in a nice cafe and eat lunch.   So we made it to the festival, but didn't really make it to the festival at all.  And I wasn't complaining.  I wanted some water and didn't have a burning desire to walk around the festival anymore.  So we placed one foot in front of the other and navigated our way back towards the bikes.

Once we finally decided on a suitable place to eat the loads lightened.  And some even removed their boots to cool off the aching feet!  Lunch was wonderful.  Due more to the fun and laughter, but the food wasn't bad either.  There is something to be said for being around a group of independent biker-women that don't need the testosterone around.

So we cooled off, met up with some of the other riders we had been separated from and prepared to head home.  I did espy some little birds making their nests in the hollow bricks behind some broken building facade. 

And this interesting propeller plaque in the sidewalk.  Dated February 18, 1928.  It took some time and prompting, but I did manage to discover the significance.

That little prop embedded in the sidewalk is the only reminder of a terrible airplane crash that occurred Feb 18, 1928.

It would have been a fabulous time in history that Macon was hosting the first Southeastern Air Derby!  Famous pilots were coming in from all over the country.  There would be daredevil stunts, wing walking, parachuting and "dead stick" landings. 

This unlucky plane went up for some last minute promotions of the Derby to release aerial bombs (fireworks) to gain attention. exploded a little too close to the plane and took off one wing.  A couple spirals and a nose dive later and the pilots were killed instantly and fatally wounding an onlooker.  Then, so many people rushed to the scene that women fainted, children were trampled and the sidewalk was overloaded with weight. 

The sidewalks of the time were built over cellars to house coal.  With all of the weight the sidewalk collapsed injuring dozens more. 

Apparently the only reminder is this little other explanation or information. 

A search for Macon air derby crash will yield some interesting reads.

234 miles
1 absolutely beautiful, blue sky day
12 bikes along for the ride
14 wonderful women
10 1/2 hours away from home

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tag. You're It.

This 9 to 5 thing is for the birds.  I particularly like my 3 days on 2 days off work schedule.  But lately I have been working 5 days.  And it's been taking its toll.  So I managed to take the day off.  But what was I going to do?  I debated between hiking and photography or riding.  Since riding wasn't on the menu on Saturday or Sunday I was fairly easily persuaded into taking the riding option.  It was an absolutely perfect day and either choice would have been worthwhile.

Since the choice was riding, where to go??

Mr. Oilburner and I have been following an adventure riding forum that participates in a tagging game.  It has been going on for a couple years, so the point is that someone has posted a picture of their bike in front of a landmark of some sort.  Other people try to identify it and make it their ride to take a picture of the place with their bike.  Once they post it to the group it is their responsibility to then post another picture as the next tag location.

With the cold weather and icy roads the current tag has been sitting out there, unclaimed, for a couple weeks.  Mr. Oilburner and I had considered capturing it the last two weekends, but decided on warmer climes or housework.  So why not go for it?

I programed the location into the GPS and let it lead me where ever it wanted.  Boy was it a strange route...  I wound up on surface streets most of the way.  The first half meant tons of lunch time traffic.  The remaining half was lovely, albeit leafless, country road where I had never been.

The distance was only 107 miles round trip.  I snagged the tag (hehe) then headed around for lunch.

Reinhardt Collete, Waleska, GA

I was all set to ride to the location that I wanted to tag.  The distance was only 100 miles.  But it would have been ALL interstate riding, and right through downtown ATL.  Over 50 miles would have been through heavy, urban traffic.  Not worth it.  Mr. Oilburner said we could go out after he came home.

We did hop on the bikes when he arrived.  But the sun went down only 45 minutes later. And the temperatures dropped rapidly.  We were only half way to our destination, riding down the interstate, in the dark when I decided to put the kibosh on the adventure.  I wasn't having fun running the freeway in the dark and cold.  We hopped off the freeway and just wound our way home on side streets.  Much more fun and warmer...  Besides, how you can take a picture of a tag in the dark??

So I just posted a quick tag from our ride to McRae and the Statue of Liberyty

The rains are coming back in the rest of the week.  We'll see how long it takes someone to pick it up...  ;-)

107 miles for Reinhardt College tag
96 miles to admit futility in post tag
weather was perfect!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Statue of Liberty in Georgia

The point may be to get out and ride.  But most of the time we like to have a destination; a place to stop, take off the helmets and see or eat something.  Oftentimes we make it the destination and eating is secondary.  Which is usually how we end up at some disgusting fast food chain.  Sometimes we do stumble across the quaint local eating joint that serves some delicious food.  And trust me, we do prefer that.  But small town Georgia tends to be closed on Sunday's.  Somewhat limiting the choices.

I remember growing up in a small-ish community that did value its Sundays off.  And somehow we managed to get by.  So it is no skin off our noses when we hit some community on a Sunday and the sidewalks have been rolled up.  We think it is a treat to see and enjoy that some places still believe in the slower pace of life.  Which is exactly what we encountered on Sunday.

We generally enjoy looking for new and interesting places to ride towards.  We don't go in for riding the same route, or to the same destinations over and over again.  That is not the point for us.  And we have become very creative at finding new places to visit.  I picked up a book on Weird Georgia that outlines some strange facts and locations of the state.  Some still exist to visit, but some don't.  Another source of information is  Which is similar to Weird Georgia, but for the entire US.  Of course it isn't definitive, but it is a great place to start.  Yet another source for us is an adventure riding forum that we belong to that plays "tag" games.  The idea is to ride to an interesting location, take a picture of your bike with the site, post it and then let other people figure out where it is and go "tag" it.  It isn't a free-for-all though.  In order to post your tag you have to first "capture" someone else's tag.  So it is a race to capture it and post your spot.  Now they have highlighted some very interesting locations throughout the state that we reference sometimes.

Last year we discovered there is a Stature of Liberty right here in our very own state.  It is in a little town called McRae, south of Macon.  The most direct route is Interstate and still 3+ hours away from way.  We have put off visiting this since that would make one very long day for us...and who wants to ride Interstates??

But the second weekend that was [almost] good enough to ride had us entertaining McRae once again.  We threw caution to the wind, planned a route that did not include Interstates and determined that a 7 1/2+ hour round trip ride was doable finally.  Sunday looked to be the better day in the forecasts.  It was supposed to be warmer and less windy going into the weekend.  But the day dawned quite chilly and unexpectedly windy.  We found this out taking the pups for a walk and a treat before suiting up.  But walking back into the nice, warm house had us seriously rethinking our plans.  We hemmed, hawed, talked, looked up weather and managed to shrug through another hour without reaching a decision.  Approaching a now-or-never [this weekend] point the deciding question was "will we regret it tomorrow that we didn't go"?  Since the answer was yes we suited up.

Of course, that now meant that we were an hour behind our optimum schedule.  Leaving at 11AM meant that we didn't expect to arrive back home until at least 7:30PM.  On a Sunday.  Having to go to work tomorrow.  After spending 361 miles in the saddle.  OK.  Still a GO.

I had been on most of the planned route at different times over the past couple months.  Mr. Oilburner had only been on it down to Eatonton.  Beyond that was all new to him.  I didn't mind the route because I was really itching to get back on Hwy 441 south of I-20.  This is one of those new "forgotten" highways.  Someone, at some time, had lobbied to have a two-lane state route upgraded to a four-lane divided highway.  But most of Hwy 441 stretches between relatively small areas.  So who is it a cut-off for?  I don't know and don't care.  The highway is mostly quiet and has few stoplights.  There isn't much built up along it, meaning miles and miles of farmland or trees.  Unfortunately it also bypasses even the small towns sometimes.  (OK.  After a little more research US Hwy 441 is A LOT  longer than I expected it to be, running between Miami, Florida and Lake City, Tennessee.  It does run through some pretty large cities down in Florida.  But the most populous place it touches in Georgia is Athens.  Yes...Athens, Ga.  Just like there is a Rome, GA too.)  Still, it is a wonderfully empty, scenic highway that is great to ride.

Despite the calls for warmer weather the day started out cold and stayed cold.  To jump start our time a little we did venture onto I-20 to make up a little.  It's only about 40 miles and not big in the grand scheme of things.  Sidebar: it frustrates me when people think that motorcycle riders are always speeding and doing crazy things.  They might notice the few on regular city streets that are zipping through traffic quickly.  And lane-splitting is legal in some states.  But in general people FAIL to notice motorcycles on the highway because they are rapidly blowing past any motorcycles in their air-tight, climate controlled cocoon.  When I am on the interstates I am generally riding 5-8 mph over the speed limit...if that.  And people in cars and SUV's are consistently rocketing past at 15-20 mph over the limit.  And they make US out to be the bad people...  Sidebar closed.  Thank You.

Anyways...when it was time to jump off the freeway we stopped for gas and to warm the hands up.  Luckily there was also a little diner attached to the station.  Lunch!  We had been hoping to have something in McRae.  But realized another 1 1/2 would be too long.  No matter, the BLT's were great and I  had a fresh apple pie sliced up to transport home.

The roads were great.  As expected.  We managed to mount my smaller camera on my windshield bracket.  So I do have some "from the road" shots.  They aren't great, but better than nothing at all.

Pecan Groves

 Sharing the road with some "not quite" street legal machines.  But out here I don't think it matters too much.

School Bus parking lot...permanent parking lot.

Miles and miles and miles of trees and smoke.
Bot this has become long-winded.  To get to the point, we arrived in McRae and espied the Statue immediately.  It was rather hard to miss perched on its pedestal on a little postage stamp size piece of real estate.

Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell

She is a little scary looking.  I've read that her face was carved from a local tree stump from a swamp with a chainsaw.  The hand holding the torch is a lineman's glove and her arms are made of Styrofoam.

 The Liberty Bell was the old town fire bell.  But I really wouldn't go so far as to call that weld line a crack...

We took our pictures and figured we best be on our way.  We needed a little pick-me-up and navigated to the McDonald's a block away.  In a town where absolutely no current business is open, and most shops we passed were vacant, the McDonald's was certainly hopping.

The economy and no one wanting to live a rural life has all the small town businesses closing up.

OK.  Head home!  Again, for times sake we just reversed the route and hurried home.  It never did reach the temps we had hoped for.  And we were getting chilly and only saw more of it coming with the sun going down.  The last thing to make us giggle were the "Georgia High Tech Corridor" signs planted every 10 miles on Hwy 441 south of I-16.  The most advanced business we saw included the rural airfield and the raceway with the hand-painted sign.  It is interesting to think about the possibilities though.  :-)

High Tech.

361 miles
8 hrs 52 minutes, including stops
A very cold 60 degrees (the temp gauge on my bike is more accurate than Mr. Oilburner's bike.  HA!)
Glad that I can say I have seen Georgia's Statue of Liberty, but don't think I will be making the trip again any time soon.