Friday, April 30, 2010

Elder Mill Drive Thru

Tuesday.  Departure day.  But still time to squeeze in another ride.  :-)

Where to go, where to go...

We only had a couple hours before heading to the airport.  Where could we go for some good roads and an interesting destination?  Ah...the covered bridge is only about an hour away and I know some good back roads.  Too bad I didn't take any of them.  LOL.

Standard morning grog and coffee pick-me-ups as the prelude to me and Brother on the road, traveling against traffic.  Did I mention that the skies were blue, filled with huge, fluffy, white clouds?  Nice day for riding.

The great thing about not knowing the area and not have ridden these roads a gazillion times is that Brother didn't recognize a single thing along the first 20 miles.  Me, on the other hand, could tell you where every single construction pylon was placed along one of our "Recover and Reinvestment" roads.  I couldn't pinpoint the trees, as those have been clear cut.  The price of progress: fewer trees and poor houses with 10 foot wide front yards since they have lost the right-of-way.

I debated on the route until it was too late to take any but the second to last.  :-)  That just meant riding on a quiet highway until reaching Monroe, then taking some quiet back roads.  I actually hit roads that I hadn't been on before!  Incredible.  I pulled into a minute turn lane to verify location and direction, only to have sirens come running up the road behind us.  What in the world??  We stayed put to keep out of the way when the ambulance came to a sudden halt directly behind us?  I know I didn't call the ambulance.  Then more sirens start coming again.  We get out while we can to give the second ambulance a place to park.  I hope whoever needed those are ok.

Even though we aren't traveling far the Harley's little tank needed some fuel.  And what did Brother spy?  Buttermilk Biscuits!  Are they made fresh here?  How should I know?  Go ask!

Well, they are and he partakes of a bacon/egg biscuit.  Ah..the heart stopping butter.  So good.

A hop, skip and 15 minute jump down some comfy tree-lined country roads gets us to Elder Mill Bridge.

 Wow that is a dirty windshield!!

The flutterbies quickly scattered as we parked the bikes in their sun spot.

Brother got a kick out of being able to ride through the bridge.  I attempted to take a video as we rode back through, but the windshield, lighting changes and camera that is not meant to be a camcorder didn't do such a good job.

Since I had been taking my time in the morning we were a little pressed for time to get home and had to haul butt.  I decided the larger roads and highway would help speed us along.  And I was right until the hail suddenly came flying out of the sky pelting us!  I was protected in my regular gear.  Brothers' cargo pants had ridden up and the hail was stinging his shins.  Then I became concerned about riding on little round balls of ice.  We pulled to the shoulder under the little protection of an overhanging branch.  It was one of those catch-22 times.  If I didn't stop the hail would keep coming and get worse.  Take the time to stop and put weather gear on and the hail would putter out.  

Yep, the rain and hail stopped before we even mounted back up again.  Oh well.  It was still interesting.

Made it home without more incident and reached the airport in time for Brother to run for check in.

113 miles
Rode through an authentic covered bridge!  :-)
Encountered one more weather phenomenon: hail

Including the laps around the neighborhood acquainting himself with the bike Brother rode exactly 500 miles in three days.  We effectively increased his cumulative riding distance by half!  WooHoo!!  He meandered down country roads, shot the twisties and rode through wooden bridges.  He experienced fluffy clouds and blue skies, rain and hail.  Two of which he rarely sees where he comes from.  Then add them all together and consider he ran the twisties in the rain!  There is no way I would have been doing these things with that mileage under my belt.  I'm so proud of him!!  He's my brother.  LOL

Twisties in the Rain

The morning wake up ritual continues: groggy, coffee, "When we going riding??"

Mr. Oilburner and I managed a slightly earlier kickstands up time today.  But Brother was doing exceptionally well given his time zone change.  I think Brother would have been happier to get moving earlier, but Mr. Oilburner and I still have the classic problem of slow feet sometimes.

This day was threatening rain.  We took it with a grain of salt and headed towards the mountains.  Brother wanted twisties!!  He insisted that he could handle it.  Mr. Oilburner and I would look at each other with that knowing look.  He might think he knows twisties...but he hasn't seen anything with our roads out here.  Fine.  Brother wants twisties, we were gonna give him twisties.

We headed towards Suches and planned to take Hwy 180 over to Helen.  One of the twistier roads in the area.  We were hoping to have lunch at Two Wheels Only (TWO).  That would give Brother a break between Hwy 60 from Dahlonega, before hitting 180.

Hwy 60 north of Dahlonega is a fun little road that has to be shared by motorcycles, bicycles and sports cars during the summer.  We had it to ourselves on a rainy Monday!  Allowing us to go whatever speed we were interested in.  Brother was confident enough to go the speed he was most comfortable with.  So saying, he was obeying the speed limit instead of attempting to keep up with Mr. Oilburner.  Like yesterday, he looked extremely comfortable.

We stopped at the top of the pass to show Brother the Appalachian Trail.  Tis the season and many hikers were milling about.  It was so eventful that we didn't even dismount the bikes.  Just a quick discussion and we headed on our way.  TWO was only a couple miles down the road.  As my luck would have it, TWO was closed.  We stopped to take a few pictures and gawk at some of the demolition scenarios they had on display.

We weren't terribly hungry and didn't have any issues with continuing on our route.  Our luck held and the rain started just as we turned onto Hwy 180.  Hey, I never said it was good luck.  Figuring that it wasn't going to let up we let Brother suit up in the Frog Togs.  Mr. Oilburner and I were wearing our waterproof gear already.  I enjoyed watching Brother taste real twisties with winter gravel still sitting in some curves and the rain coming down pretty hard.  And since Mr. Oilburner and I are connected I was able to give updates on Brothers learning progression.  I couldn't fault his caution on those hairpin turns.  180 is a stupendously fun and curvy road if you know it.  Encountering it for the first time in the rain is daunting and he did well.

 Hwy 76 was a different story.  The rain was still obscuring visibility and coming down hard enough to sheet across the road.  Brother's speed slowed down to 20 mph.  Which isn't completely unreasonable considering that is the posted/recommended speed limit around some of those turns.  I chuckled down through the wireless.  It took Mr. Oilburner asking me if he was leaning into the corners for me to notice that Brother was starting to manhandle the bike a little more and that bike was barely leaning around any of those curves.  :-)

I was anticipating the hairpin turn marking the last of the tight curves to see how Brother would handle it.  I wasn't anticipating how I would handle the sheer embankment encroaching the edge of the pavement.  It was a little disconcerting executing my perfect lean, trying not to wobble as I realize I am looking directly down the washout.  Hiccup...  Wish I could have gotten a picture of that, but I wasn't about to take my hands off the wheel.

Yeah!  Our luck held out a little longer and the rain stopped just as we came out of the mountains.  Of course...  We stopped at the first place we spotted for lunch and shrugged out of the gear.  My jacket weighed about 10 pounds more then it did when I first put it on.  And my shorts were wet and sticky all the way up to my derriere.  Damn waterproof gear ain't so waterproof.

Helen, GA is also known as Alpine Helen and revels in all things Germanic.  It is a little on the tasteless/tacky side and a huge tourist trap, to me.  But visiting in the off-season provides plenty of parking spaces, easy access to eateries and actually walking space on the sidewalks.  So we laughed about our luck and antics over delicious bratwurst and sauerkraut.  We tripped through a few stores looking for souvenirs for Brothers family.  I lucked across a place selling Haribo Raspberries.  Brother bought homemade fudge and divinity and I buy packaged candies.  :-)  We let Brother sightsee, being his first time.  He takes all the pictures, I merely tag along.  Nothing exciting.

By the time we gathered our gear and ourselves the clouds were clearing away, letting the sun shine through. 


My luck...  :-)

180 miles
Brother's first treat of GA twisties...and he even had to do it in the rain
Rain in all the twisties, clear skies coming home on the highway...
Maybe even our first time actually eating German food in Helen, not just funnel cake.  ;-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Madison for n00bs

I couldn't think of a better way to spend a weekend.

My brother determined it was time to come visit his little sister and go riding!!

If you have been keeping up you might remember that I hold my brother responsible for starting me down the road of two-wheeled bliss.  So it was a great honor that he wanted to come out and spend some time on the road with me!  ...and Mr. Oilburner. ;-)

April is a notoriously tricky time to visit Georgia with its fickle weather.  We had been experiencing perfect weather in the 60's (F) with low humidity.  But years past had given us frosts or snow in the middle of April.  We were crossing our fingers the perfect riding weather held.  But reports weren't looking too bright.  There wasn't going to be an option to change flights.  If it rained, we were just going to have to figure it out.  Him coming from one of those perfect climes that rarely sees rain, he didn't have much experience with it.

His arrival late in the afternoon on Saturday left us hoping that we could get home, grab the bikes and ride to meet some friends for dinner.  The black clouds and downpour of rain put the brakes on the riding plans.  But nothing was going to stop the dinner plans.

Day One:

Waking up the next morning Mr. Oilburner and I were taking it slowly.  Brother was groggy but quickly perked up with a coffee infusion.  Every other word out of his mouth was "When we goin' ridin'?"  He came here to ride and was extremely antsy to do it.  First order of business:  introduce brother to bike, bike to brother.

Since we hadn't sold the Harley yet, we made it available for the riding weekend.  But needed to let Brother acquaint himself with the 1200 cc, differing from his 750 at home.  He didn't have any trepidation about the meeting.  And proved quite quickly that he didn't have any concerns.

A couple turns around the block and he was looking very comfortable.  I was hating him already for looking so darn good.  :-)

Our route today was taking us into the sweeping country lanes in middle GA so Brother could get a real feel for the bike and not have to worry about technical riding.  It would also show him the back roads and farmlands of this great state.  Beyond the "When are we riding?" nags were the "I want to experience GA" statements.  We invited our dinner/riding friends from last night.  One managed to show up on his bike, but the other showed up in his convertible four-wheeler to follow us.  Humph.

We enjoyed perfect weather on some great roads!  We took a leisurely pace and stopped once along the way to Madison to make sure everyone [Brother] was doing well.  He was cool as a cucumber and looking quite GQ with the Harley.

We stopped in Madison for lunch and a walk around the square.

What is with all of the blue bikes??  My unique granite gray is hidden at the back.

We mounted the steeds and continued on our tour.  We headed for Washington to see more antebellum homes and the Fitzpatrick Hotel.  We did make one quick pit stop in Greensboro again to show off the gaol.

Washington was quiet and uneventful, being Sunday afternoon.  The Fitzpatrick was empty and the clerk was more then pleasant having to show the hotel and rooms three different times as everyone in our group couldn't get it together.  She then recommended a couple of lanes for viewing some wonderful antebellum homes, and possibly catching site of what she considered a haunted inn.  The houses were varied and spectacular, but we only stopped for one photo of Brother with the bike and a lovely home.

The weather remained perfect.  The companionship was great.  The riding was peaceful.  Still hating my brother for looking so damn solid on that bike!  :-)

206 miles
Great weather, food, riding and friends

Monday, April 19, 2010

Time for a Change

Not too shabby.  I was hoping to get 10K miles on these tires.  Due to underinflating them in the beginning I only eeked 8K on the front.  But I succeeded in sneaking 13K out of the rear.  I believe I could have gotten another thousand from the rear but Mr. Oilburner pulled out the ruler and sternly told me it was time.  Yes, I could probably get another couple hundred.  But my brother was coming next weekend to go riding and it wouldn't be good to spoil all that riding with a flat tire.

I had purchased the tire the weekend before.  Dunlop was having a superb sale if front and rear were purchased.  So I have a spare front laying around the garage.  I've got the space.  But I didn't have the time to take the bike to the shop and sit.  Nor the energy to get the trailer out and go through the process of tying it down.  So it was time to just take the wheel off and haul it and the new tire to the shop.  Luckily the shop is near work, making it so easy to drop off in the morning and just pick up on the way home.

I've begun the process of learning to perform maintenance on my bike.  I've touched and felt and torqued and screwed and adjusted...on someone else's bike.  But haven't yet taken the plunge on my own.  But I didn't think a rear wheel would be too bad.  See, I had already replaced the front one.  And that time I did replace the actual tire myself and balance it at home.  I thought I had written it up, but can't seem to find anything.  So just in case I have I'm not writing anything.  In case I haven't here is a picture or three:

I pulled out the Repair CD that seems to go into just enough detail without really answering some other questions you might have.  But I studied the little line drawings and decided I could handle this.

I rounded up the tools, popped the bike on the center stand and started wrenching.  Man I Love Swing Arms!  I would love the exhaust to either be smaller or placed a little more out of the way so the floating rim can be seen on the road.  But all I had to do was remove one screw and loosen a bolt and just rotate the exhaust can out of the way.  This gave me perfect access to the 5 bolts for the rim.  Cake and Pie man.  Cake and Pie.  (Now if I can just remember which King book I picked that little quote from...Easy as Cake. Piece of Pie.)

The rim was in and out of the shop the next day, reinstalled that evening and taken out for a little ride to verify assembly was correct.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Serious Work Part II

You all know how sore and tired we were waking up at 5 AM on Sunday.  We hoped for a 6 o'clock departure time to get us to Athens by 7 AM.  Yes, we were going to miss a free breakfast, but I couldn't have waited 2 hours for that anyways.  As usual, it seems to take far longer to get the house in order for leaving then expected, so we were hopping on the bikes at 6:15 and preparing to "go the speed limit" down the highway and get to our destination safely.

The good news was that the morning did dawn 4 degrees warmer then yesterday and it was an hour earlier.  The bad news was that the temperature was only for in-town.  That urban heat island effect.  As soon as we escaped the "city" the temps hovered around 35F with a pocket or two of 32F and 33F with fog.  BUT...we left in the dark and headed East.  Affording us a beautiful sunrise to urge us along.  I don't currently have the best camera or mounting system figured out for the bike yet, so this is what you get.  And at our "speed limit" ride, my actual view wasn't much better...  We arrived just in time to join in the group shot of the marshals riding the first leg today and our briefing.

We maintained the same basic group of riders as yesterday, making life easy as we were familiar with each other and the bikes.  And we just divvied the route up like yesterday: the group that took the first leg yesterday took the first leg today.  Which actually proved to be exciting!  The bicyclists would be led out of town by motorcycle police stopping traffic.  We rode between the police and the bicyclists!!  I was able to speed through downtown Athens, follow a couple motorcycle cops, run red-lights willy-nilly and almost get run over by some very fast cyclists!!  All very exciting, but I felt bad for the cyclists.  I am afraid that at one point I might have gotten in their way a little with the confusion of leaving.  Another marshal from the second group was accidentally entangled in the departure and caused a little slow-down.

Ultimately everything was straightened out.  We left the cops and cyclists behind.  Half of our group stayed back and the other half raced towards the first break point to create an even coverage of the course as the cyclists started to come through.  I was chosen to ride to the first break point and turn back around. 

The duty was much different today.  Yesterday was the last half of a long ride.  Today was the first half after a good night's rest.  Yesterday the cyclists were strung out a ways.  Today they were running in a couple good sized packs.  I think it can be guessed that our job on the first leg was very short-lived as the cyclists sped through without needing much assistance.  Something that I did really enjoy was encountering cyclists that I recognized from yesterday and sharing a friendly wave.

Another one of my doofus moments occurred along this time too.  We had been instructed to maintain order and safety.  We were told to enforce single file riding and no headphones for cyclists.  So when I approached a rise and was confronted by a huge pack of cyclists taking up their lane I staunchly pointed my finger at them to stay right.  Only to finish cresting the rise and see the police cruiser blocking traffic at the stop light for the lead pack.  Oops...  I hope the riders can look kindly on me and forgive the attitude.  I sure felt stupid.  Live and learn.  :-)

I never made it back to the beginning of the route.  I had reached the outskirts of Athens thinking that I hadn't seen anyone for quite awhile.  And I was only a couple miles from the start line...  But I hadn't seen a support vehicle following the last rider...  I took matters into my own hands and turned around.  I soon ran into one of my leaders and she confirmed that the last cyclists had gone through.  She sent me back to the break point to await instructions. 

I took a worthy break with other marshals and enjoyed chatting.  Then I delivered some bananas to some cyclists and headed out towards the second break point to begin patroling the last section.  But these cyclists were ready for today!  Many had already made it through the second break point and lunch wasn't far up the road.  It was such a lovely section too, farmland and small twisties.

My rescuing services had not been needed yet today and I was beginning to wonder how quickly today's work would end.  I headed down the 4 miles to the lunch stop.  Churches were starting to empty, more cars on the road and more people not understanding why I am in their way and riding this motorcycle so SLOW.  So I was happy to turn off the main road towards the school for lunch.  But was stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the dog bounding across the road.  It is not a good thing to have loose dogs near bicyclists.  Another responsibility is to attempt to round up loose dogs if they might bother the cyclists.  I could now see two loose dogs and one definitely did not like my motorcycle.  He came charging at me where I had stopped in the road.  I revved the engine and managed to back him up a little.  But that just gave him room to skirt the bike and try to approach me from the left, rear quarter.  The German Shephard behind this vicious mutt wasn't barking, but I wasn't taking any chances.  I slowly let the clutch out, completely out of proportion with the amount of throttle I was giving and began to smell the wonderful aroma of burning clutch.  Blech!

I pulled off the road onto a little skirt of asphalt near a cemetery.  I dismounted, but remained completely clothed (helmet, gloves and all) figuring better protection if that mutt decided to try and bite.  I inquired of the guy working in the cemetery if he knew who owned the dogs.  Negative.  Luckily a support vehicle was close behind and helped me to try and figure out what to do with the dogs.  I approached a nearby house hidden behind some trees, but there wasn't any answer.  The people in the support vehicle had managed to scare the dogs off enough that they had entered the tree line behind the house and we waited for them to re-appear. 

We decided that I would stay here and keep an eye out if the dogs tried to creep back through the trees to the road, when they finally appeared behind the house.  Armed with treats and soothing tones and a 10 year old boy we coaxed the dogs into the fenced property next to the house.  Geez.  We sure hope the dogs lived there.  :-)  I can just imagine the owners coming home and trying to figure out where these two dogs came from.  Not really my concern though as I really, really didn't like the little one...

With the lunch stop about 300 meters up the road that concluded my day.  No one else had seen the dogs prior and hopefully no one had any problems with them afterwards.  I felt completely rewarded for performing my job to the best of my abilities.  Our group slowly converged on the spot and we stayed and chatted for a good long while about our day. 

Now the question:  are we going to do this all over again at the Callaway Gardens MS Ride in Septemeber? 


Monday, April 12, 2010

Serious Work Part I

Back when I first started riding, and venturing out longer and longer distances, I used to put down my 100 mile trips as exercise.  People would give me this funny look and say that riding a motorcycle isn't exercise.  I shot back that the vigilant attention and proper riding form were a good form of exercise.  Mentally, the concentration on what is happening around you and how you are riding within your environment is exercising many areas of the brain at one time that don't always function together in regular use.  And the proper riding form requires strong abdominal muscles for sitting up straight, arm muscles for holding the arms up and out with the elbows bent and thigh muscles for gripping the tank for better execution of turns and general control.  And if it wasn't exercise how come I was sore the next day??

Wow.  Those days are long ago, but not a distant memory.  No, I do not generally consider my 100 mile rides exercise anymore. :-)  It may be that I have regressed in my riding habits.  Or I have improved my muscular base.  Whichever it is, I generally am not sore after a regular days riding of 250-350 miles.  This weekend was the complete exception to any expectations I may have had.  Going to bed Saturday night I could still feel the vibration in my lower arms and legs from being on the bike all day.  Waking up Sunday morning at 5 AM to do it all again proved that sometimes those days aren't gone.  I was sore!  (Mr. Oilburner was too, so don't think I was the only wuss here.)

I only rode 183 miles on Saturday.  But I had to work the hardest I have ever worked since getting rid of the Suzuki to get those 183 miles. And it was worth every sore stinking muscle I could ever imagine!!

Mr. Oilburner and I volunteered to ride as Motorcycle Marshals for the Multiple Sclerosis Bicycle Event from Atlanta-Athens-Atlanta.  There are some tough people out there that used pedal power to cycle that distance in two days.  We merely patrolled the route to make it safe for those cyclists.

The marshaling planners did a great job in dividing the routes and groups, and we would be helping on the leg from lunch to Athens on Saturday and Athens to lunch on Sunday.  This isn't bad, just means we had to travel a little distance to arrive at our start points.


We were up early and on the bikes by 8 to reach the designated lunch spot to meet our fellow marshals and learn our responsibilities.  The 35 degree morning was not entirely welcome as we know the high today should be reaching about 67.  This means layers to start the journey and stripping before we begin the actual work.  Thank goodness for saddle bags...

As with any motorcycle gathering, we eye each other a little and ogle over their bikes a lot.  ;-)  The ice begins to melt and the finger pointing and farkle questions begin.  It is always interesting to see how other people farkle and trick out their bikes to determine if it just might work for me.  :-)

We learn our duties and are divided into groups and sections of road. There are 2 break points between lunch and Athens.  The first group patrols the road between lunch and the first break point.  The second group will patrol between the break points.  Then as the cyclists clear out the first section of road we all converge on the last section.  Mr. Oilburner and I are assigned to the first section and our group of 8 sets to work.  Our little section has a strange joggle through downtown Monroe, so we need to keep eyes out for bicyclists on the sidewalks as well as vehicles backing out of parking spots.  As far as I am aware there weren't any problems in this area.  After the first pass we are slightly reassigned and our little group has been split into two: patrol to Monroe and patrol from Monroe.  Easy-peasy.  My road between Monroe and the break point doesn't even have any turns!!

My first opportunity to help cyclists came after starting my second pass of the route.  A group of 3 cyclists had stopped after the first turn to scrutinize the route maps.  It seems the event planners were preparing for tomorrow and putting the direction signs up, confusing the route a little.  We had been instructed that when stopping for cyclists we needed to pull over to the other side of the road.  Nothing worse then a tired cyclist plowing into a stopped motorcycle...  But given the width of this section of road I didn't have much opportunity and immediately broke the rules.  (What else is new for me...)  Luckily the questions and answers were quick and easy and we were all on our way.

Upon learning of my new patrol area at the break point I head back along the route and have the excitement of encountering my first rider in real trouble!!  I dutifully stop the motorcycle on the opposite side of the road from him.  Really easy since I am on that side to begin with.  I then rush over to see how I can help!!  Turns out some metallic object sliced through his tire, making repair difficult.  It would be best just to call a support van to take him to the break point where a mechanic can replace the tire.  I rush back to my motorcycle to call the support vehicle!  Wow!  I'm helping!!  How cool is this?!?!  Support says that a van is on its way and asks me to stay with the cyclist.  Can Do!!  But no sooner were the words out of my mouth then the support vehicle arrives.  So much for waiting... :-)  The cycle and cyclist are loaded and the van speeds off.  I hop on my bike happy to continue my worthy patrol!  I am helping!!

Just to fill you in, my little 6 mile stretch of road has a speed limit of 30 through town and 45 outside of it.  It has been recommended to us that 35 mph with flashers on is a good speed to patrol, keep an eye out for cyclists or anything that might hinder dogs.  So I am happily motoring back and forth, and back and forth...and back and forth.  We are wearing high-visibility vests but our Marshal banners are on the front of our bikes.  So sometimes the cage drivers become a little agitated encountering us on the motorcycles when they don't understand what we are doing.  I generally tried to move as far right in the lane, like white line right, as I could and wave them on when safe.  Once the drivers understood our significance for the cyclists on the road and that we weren't trying to hold them up they were generally OK with us.  But it did make me a little uneasy sometimes when bicycles weren't around.  The last thing I want is some cage driver mad at me.  In the future I think we will print up some banners for the rear of the bikes.  Something meaningful like: Caution: Cyclists Ahead.  Something that will keep the cage drivers alert.

So with all of this I wasn't terribly surprised when a motorcyclist encountered a problem with a vehicle.  After helping my first troubled cyclists, I am heading back towards the break point and see that my leader is pulled onto the side of the road (opposite) and surrounded by 3 cars and quite a few people.  As there isn't a bicycle involved and everyone appears calm and vertical I continue my patrol knowing the cyclists need my help more then my leader.  I found out later that my leader had been rear-ended on his trike (he was riding a three-wheeled motorcycle).  Unfortunately that intersection was just a bad one.  Just before he was hit I had passed through and some inattentive dimwit must have mistaken my flashers for a right turn signal.  She turned left just in front of me.  Luckily I was already traveling so slow.  But I still had to slow down further to keep from hitting her.  My leader was OK, just damaged the fender of his bike a little.  It just confirmed my suspicions and kept me alert.

Back to my job...  The cyclists are fewer and farther between.  Just as I am nearing the crest of a hill a cyclist pulls into a driveway.  Perfect timing for me as I can just turn left right behind him.  He is off the bike and sucking the remaining drops out of his hydration bottle.  He asks me how far to the break point and what does the terrain look like.  We happen to be standing right next to the "Break Point 2 Miles" sign and I tell him there are two pretty good hills between us.  Nope.  He's done.  Call the support van to take him to the break point.  He can get a little rest before continuing the final 20 miles.  I hand him some spare water bottles I am carrying for just this occasion, call the support van and again amazed at their immediate arrival.  I shouldn't be too amazed as it is their job to troll the route, just like us.  So one is always relatively close by.  The cycle and cyclist are soon on their way and I am on mine.

The rest of the day is completely uneventful as far as my help is concerned.  Most of the cyclists are out of my area and we are told to move to the next break point and then start patrolling to the end point.  Let me tell you, that second section was the one to be on!!  Country roads with no cities!  But more hills for the cyclists.  ;-)  The only hiccup on this section of route comes from overlapping cycle routes.  It appears another cycling group is out today and the route signs are disturbingly similar.  So one of the marshals from the other group is stationed here to warn the cyclists.  It seems that before this was discovered some of our cyclists had taken the wrong route and had to be chased down and turned around.  :-)

By the time we make it to the last break point most of the cyclists have passed us by.  Our little group takes a short break and heads on down the road.  Expecting some interesting patrol here, as it is the last leg and I am thinking many people will be walking or dropping out.  But I actually only see one cyclist the entire distance.  Then sit in stop-an-go traffic in Athens, watching my motorcycle overheat.  This was a bad weekend for congestion with Spring Break, parents visiting (Athen's is a college town) and skirmish games for the Bulldogs.  But all is well and there isn't any trouble.  Most of the cyclists have already come through or been picked up.

We meet with our little group for a while, waiting for everyone to show up.  Some people will be staying in town.  Some, like us, are going home for the evening.  A couple aren't returning tomorrow, but most everyone else is.  So we mount our steads and high-tail it home to the pups and a warm bath!  In all it was a terribly fun day!! be continued.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Eating Knats

Frick.  Not two days after I rant about not riding to work for all these safety and armor wearing reasons...I ride to work today.  And threw my "all the gear all the time" morals out the window.  Today was a beautiful day.

Donning the armored pants and jacket can be cumbersome and warming.  I am usually sweating profusely by the time I make it to the bike.  Riding without the armor would be easier, but definitely not as safe.  I've never ridden without the jacket, and only ridden once without the pants.  That one time made me feel exposed and utterly naked.  I just don't know how 95% of the riding population feels fine in jeans, tennis shoes and short-sleeve shirts!

I woke up thinking I needed to ride.  I needed to pick up a couple cans of dog food around the corner from work.  And I needed to pick up some dog pills up in Gainesville.  What better way to leave work a little early, save some fuel and take the bike to get the wind in my to speak.  :-)

As noted, I forwent the armored pants to wear my regular jeans.  And I felt terribly nekked.

The first stop pre-work for dog food was a breeze.  It was the "leaving work early" that raised an issue.  Even though I managed to leave about 3 the traffic damage was done.  I firmly believe that all other routes were clear but mine.  I kid you not that I hit traffic as soon as I turned onto the main road to take me to the highway.  I had 9 miles of this crap!!  There is a small possibility that some of this traffic was caused by mis-timed lights that hadn't switched schedules for evening rush hour yet.  And as soon as I cleared the worst of the offending lights traffic let up.  For about 1 mile.  This next patch of cruddy traffic was due to construction.  Construction that I know has been going on for at least 5 years.  This state is messed up, and in so many instances they are doing it to themselves.

I made a hasty u-turn to take a slightly longer, and hopefully less populated route.  The decision was good until I was almost creamed by a stupid idiot deciding to make an illegal u-turn in the middle of a busy road...100 feet AFTER an intersection.  She effectively backed up all traffic behind her and nosed her way into my directions traffic.  Fortunately, or un-, I never saw her.  I was  moving into the right turn lane and passing to the right of traffic at the light.  This dimwit was turning in front of a big pickup that I was next to.  I do believe the pickup saved me because if I couldn't see the car, that stupid driver certainly couldn't see me.  The pickup laid into his horn, stopping the dimwit.  Otherwise I probably would have been directly in her path...or absolutely unable to avoid hitting her.

OK.  All that is behind me.  Another mile to the highway and everything will be golden.  Right...

Hit the on-ramp and can see that traffic is also stopped on the highway.  No turning back.  Just make the best of it.  Traffic is at least moving, albeit slowly.  I make it through this mess and then follow the goofy GPS instructions that take me off the direct route/highway for a couple miles, just to bring me right back to it.  But at least it was a nice little country path.

Mr. Oilburner and I discussed meeting up for dinner but I was tuckered out from traffic.  And I finally realized some people's complaints about the stock seat of the R1200R bike.  In the past I have never had a problem with rear-end pain or discomfort on long-haul rides.  But wearing just jeans brought out the worst in the seat.  Or maybe in my butt.  But the effect was still the same.  My tush HURT after just 40 minutes.  I was relieved to get off of that seat.  I don't know what the equation of bum, seat and jeans played, but the heat and chaffing was annoying and painful.  Yet another reason to wear ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME!!!!

89.4 miles
Wonderful weather
Too much traffic too early in the afternoon
Sore, monkey butt from riding in just jeans