Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lots of Miles in July...2683!

Man did I put on some miles on Big Red in July. By riding with my buddy Pablo in the western mountains of TN and NC and the trip to Ohio with Slick I put on 2683 miles in just one month. That is the most I have ever put on in 1 month. Since I have been riding Big Red I have put on over 14,000 miles.

Go get out and ride and remember, ride hard or stay at home.

Until next time and enjoy the ride!


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our Honda Homecoming Trip

Well Slick and I just got about from the Honda Homecoming in Marysville Ohio. Man, was it a long but nice trip. Here is how the trip went.

Wednesday (Day 1)

We started off the trip heading from the house around 0830. Our plan was to try and beat the rain that was heading our way. We didn’t make it. The rain hit very quickly right from the start. Granted it wasn’t a down pour but just enough to make us slow down. We were not too concerned with how fast we got there. We just wanted to arrive safely. As we tootled up highway 52 toward Mt Airy, we noticed that the chance to enjoy the scenery was out of the question. The clouds were low and really reduced our visibility. We figured that if we were lucky we would get a chance to see the mountains of West Virginia. That didn’t happen. Did I mention it rained a lot?

Anyway, as we made our way into Virginia, we decided that if it was going to rain most of the day, why not eat. So we stopped at a local truck stop and had a pretty good breakfast. The coffee was great and we needed it. The rain was really coming down so we tried to wait it out. After about 45 minutes it was time to hit the road even though the rain was not letting up.

Soon we were in West Virginia and the clouds were slowly starting to break up. It rained on us off and on for most of the day. As we hit WV, we hit the toll gates. Those were a real joy. There were 3 of them. The biggest thing about the toll gates was the road conditions. As we prepared to pay we noticed that there was always oil in the lanes. Combined that with the rain, it was pretty slick. Each time I put my foot down to stop the bike, I could feel the oil on the bottom of my shoes. I was told by Andrew that I needed to watch for the oil and he wasn’t lying. Thanks Andrew for the tip. Actually, I was pretty proud of myself. I had 6 opportunities to drop the bike and I didn’t do it.
After entering Ohio we started looking for our hotel in Chillicothe. It was time to bed down for the night and get some rest before we completed the last couple of hours to Marysville.

Thursday (Day 2)

Once we finally got to Columbus Ohio, we took the I-270 loop west to highway 33. From WV to the loop the scenery was great. It was like riding in the back country roads (my favorite roads). As we got through the loop, we found our way toward Marysville, Ohio and to our hotel. We were finally there. After close to 500 miles, we were finally there.

Thursday was the day we were really looking forward to. It was the day we planned to hit Honda plant in Marysville Ohio and tour the plant. Both Slick and I were looking forward to seeing how our favorite bike is built. Hey, we were looking at the birth place of Big Red. I was also looking forward to the vendors even though I didn’t really need anything. There were also a lot of great bikes there that people were showing off. Heck there were even some Harley bikers there (you have to give them credit; they know where to go to see the best bikes, right?).

We noticed a lot of bikes but not as many as you would expect. I figured since it was a Thursday and first day of the event, it was going to be a low turnout. Once we got to the plant we meet up with a few members of our chapter. Slick and I checked in and took a tour of the plant.

The plant tour was great. We got to see how the Goldwing’s and VTX’s are built from start to finish. At that particular plant they build a minimum of 80 Goldwing’s a day and 120 VTX’s (1300cc and 1800cc) a day. Everything is so computerized and engineered. You could tell there was a lot of pride that goes into building the bikes. We were also amazed that the number of women that worked at the plant. We were told that each line worker is paid $23.00 per hour and the benefits were great. I got the impression that the workers liked their work. I wanted to take some pictures but cell phones with cameras and recording devices were not allowed.

After the tour we headed out to the parking lot and noticed that more biker had arrived. The food vendors were in full swing, the demo booths were set up and they even had other Honda bikes available that people could test ride. I thought that was pretty cool.

Below are a few pictures at the Honda plant:

After the visit to the Honda plant we decided to head to one of the vendors locations. There were vendors set up in two locations. One was in Bellefontaine and Marysville. We decided to hit Bellefontaine first.

At the Bellefontaine location we noticed the placed was pretty crowded. The bikers were coming in left and right. As we entered the vendor location we noticed our old buddies from ‘Old Bikers’ Clothing Company. Slick and I were talking about them as we entered the entrance. Slick asked me if I thought that the Old Bikers guys would show up there. I said I doubted it because it was a little too far to drive. I was wrong. The first vendors we saw was them and we had to stop and say hi. We really like the guys from ‘Old Biker’. Hey we must; we have bought about $400.00 worth of stuff from them in the last year. They have been really good to us too. They are always giving us a great deal and we do all we can to let others know about them.

Below are a few pictures of the vendor area and some bikes at the vendors:

As we toured the vendor area we looked at a lot of cool stuff. Most of the stuff I like, I already had. Soon we stopped for a funnel cake (good stuff) and then decided to go into one of the buildings at the site that had a display of old vintage motorcycles. So we snapped a few pictures of them.

Once we covered the vendors at Bellefontaine we decided to head back to Marysville and check out the vendors there. We were looking for helmet covers. No one at Bellefontaine had any of those. But guess what the first thing we noticed in Marysville was? You got it helmet covers. So of course we had to grab those. We also grabbed a couple of shirts too. There were fewer vendors in Marysville but it was nice none the less.

fter the vendor tour we decide to walk up town a sit in a park area and watch all the motorcycles come through town. That was fun and very relaxing. After about an hour of that, it was time to head back to the hotel, grab some dinner and plan our Friday events for the day.

Below are a couple of photos I took at the Marysville vendor location:

Friday (Day 3)

Since we did everything related to the Honda Homecoming on Thursday we decided to take a trip out of Marysville and do some country riding. So, on Friday we left Bellefontaine and continued west out into the country. We decided to go to a lake called at Indian Lake State Park. I have to say I was a little disappointed. I saw no Indians, but the lake was nice. Actually it was huge.

Below is a picture of Slick at Indian Lake State Park:

Slick and I decided to take a break from riding since we had been riding about 600 miles. We decided to stop at the lake and walk the paved walking trail around the lake. We got a little exercise for about 45 minutes and it was a good break for us. One thing we do remember about the walking trail is the dog crap. It was like walking through a mine field. We had never seen so much dog crap before and the bathroom at that state park was the worst I have ever seen.

Once back on the bike, we headed west and then toward Kenton Ohio. The plan was to circle the state park and then head to Kenton and then back south on highway 31 toward Marysville. Now that was a nice trip! We got the chance to enjoy the country roads and acre after acre rolling hills and farm land. There was very little traffic and we got the chance to drive some very small old towns. That road trip to and lake, Kenton and back to Marysville was one of the high lights of our trip. Slick and I really enjoyed that. After the country drive it was back to the Marysville.

Once at the hotel, I cleaned up Big Red, Slick and I went out to dinner and then planned our trip back home. We were kind of dreading the trip back. It was going to be a long one since we were going to do it in one day.

Saturday (Day 4)

It was Saturday and it was time to head back home. We decided to get an early start so we headed out around 0810. Not that heading out did us much good because about 30 minutes into our ride back we got off track. As we got on I-270 (my favorite loop) we headed east and I was looking for the exit to 23 South. Will for some reason we headed toward the city of Columbus (north). After about 30 minutes Slick and I realized that nothing looked familiar so we did what all good tourist do; we asked for directions. Now here is the funny part, when we stopped into a local donut shop for directions no one in the place could help us out. I asked one lady if we were on 23 south; she had no clue. So she asked 2 of her friends; still no clue. Luckily for us a guy (the sex that women claim can’t follow directions) came up and asked us if we needed any help. He helped us get back on track. I have to give Slick credit, she helped us get out of town and back on track. I did notice one thing about Slick and I. I am pretty good on getting us to the correct main roads and Slick is great at getting us through towns. Basically, we needed each other. We seem to always work as a good team. I guess that is why our marriage has survived for over 25 years.

Soon we were heading down the real 23 south and then on to 35 south toward WV. The trip from WV to NC was great. We had great weather and got to see the mountains that we failed to see on the way to Ohio. The only hassle was it looked like it was going to rain a few times; so we put on our Frogg Toggs 2 times. One thing I can say about the Frogg Toggs is they are great for help keeping your dry and they are pretty toasty in the summer time.

Finally we were home after 10 hours. We were 2 tired bikers. All in all we rode over 1200 miles in rain good and not so good weather. The trip was a nice and memorable one. We got to see Ohio and take our longest trip together. We got to see the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and ride through Ohio, tour the Honda plant, see our old friends from ‘Old Biker’, and see some great old towns. The trip was nice and we look forward to our next adventure, but for now, we are looking forward to relaxing and taking our 25th wedding anniversary cruise in 3 weeks.

Until next and enjoy the ride!


Monday, July 23, 2007

Heading to Marysville Ohio

Well, Slick and I leave for Marysville Ohio for the Honda Homecoming in 2 days. We are both excited about the trip and the weather looks like it will be great. I put Big Red in the shop to have some new tires put on the bike and get a oil change and lube job. I am looking forward to testing the new tires. From what others have told me, the new tires will make a big difference in how the bike handles. I will be picking up the bike tomorrow afternoon. I have to bring it back home and clean it before our trip. When I took it in I had the chance to really mess it up by riding in the rain. That is okay. I will make it look nice before we leave on Wednesday.

The trip to Marysville should be a great one. From those that have been to the Honda Homecoming and have taken the same route we are going to take, it should be a nice trip. Slick and I have never been on a trip that long together so it should be interesting. The whole trip should be around 1000 miles I know she is really excited about the trip and so am I. We are really looking forward the the tour of the plant where the Goldwings are made in Marysville. We will get a chance to see a bike made from start to finish. That will be cool. I will post a entry about our trip on the blog when I get back.

Until next time and enjoy the ride!


Pablo Completes the Tail of the Dragon

I know I have mentioned my buddy Pablo in several of my blog entries. He rode with me on the ‘Wing and Harley Tour’ through the western mountains of NC and TN. Here are a few pictures of him. He is pretty excited in these photos because he just completed the ‘Tail of the Dragon’. Notice he did the trail and got the t-shirt. Now I have to go do it.

Until next time and enjoy the ride!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Honda Homecoming

Next week Slick and I plan to head out Wednesday morning for Marysville Ohio for the Honda Homecoming. It should be fun. The Honda Homing is kind of like a open house for Honda bikers and who ever else would like to see where the best bikes built are built. We plan to meet up with our chapter members which will be meeting us sometime Thursday. All of us plan to take a tour of the Honda plant to see how a Goldwing is built from start to finish. I am looking forward to that. The trip will be close to a 900+ round trip. The plan is to leave Wednesday morning and then start back Saturday and ride the whole 450 miles back home. We figured we can rest on Sunday. Of course I will take pictures and post them.

Until next time and enjoy the ride!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wing and Harley 2007 Mountain Range Tour

Well the Wing and Harley tour is over for 2007. With that, I promised to post some notes from my trip with my old buddy Paul (aka Pablo). So here it goes:

Day #1

I left home Wednesday the 11th of July to hit the road and ride to the western mountains to meet my old buddy Pablo who is from the flat lands of Texas. My original plan was to head out from home around mid morning. Well, that didn’t happen due to the weather man saying there was a good chance I was going to get dumped on before I ever left home. So, I packed up Big Red and left home around 0830. As I was cruising down the road, I was thinking, ‘I might just make it without getting wet’. I was wrong. As I left Greensboro on I-40 I barely made it to Winston Salem before the drizzle hit. So I ended up pulling off the side of the road and put on my trusty Frogg Toggs. I like my Frogg Toggs because they do keep a man dry, but when it is humid outside, they tend to get a little toasty.

Anyway, I suited up and headed west. I did promise my mom I would stop by and see her in Lenoir NC before I headed up the mountain on highway 321 toward Boone NC. I arrived at her home and she did what all good mothers do. She feed me. Nothing is better than good old mom’s good cooking, right?

After my visit with mom, I jumped on Big Red and started to head out for Boone. Of course, the clouds were looking worse. At first I wasn’t sure if I could make it to Boone without getting soaked. I started to leave the Frogg Toggs off. I decided not to. Luckily for me I put the suit on because no more than 2 miles up the road from my mom’s home the rain started and it rained all the way up to Boone. The road up 321 wasn’t that great to start with. There was a lot of construction going on and my mom warned me of that. With the combination of road construction, mud, gravel and rain, it was not that great of a ride to Boone. Luckily for me, it was a short one.

At around 1430 I rolled into the Holiday Inn parking lot and there was my good old AF buddy Pablo with his really nice Harley. Thankfully, I could say hi to him because he turned that loud monster off. Pablo and I talked a little about our bikes and covered them up before the rain hit hard, grabbed a bite to eat at a Ruby Tuesday’s, talked about our route for the next day and basically just chilled out for the rest of the night. Thursday was really the beginning of the trip and the part we were looking forward too; the mountains.

Day #2

Thursday morning was finally there. It was time to hit the road. The morning started off with some patchy clouds and the streets were dry. There were a lot of motorcycle riders at the hotel too. Some were doing the same thing we were planning; hitting the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Finally, it was time to get started. So we grabbed some grub from the hotel and Pablo drink his normal 4 cups of coffee (man, that dude can drink some coffee). After breakfast, we started packing our bikes for the day. It took me about 2 minutes to take the cover off Big Red and throw my bags in the bikes saddle bags. It took Pablo a little longer. One piece of advice for anyone traveling with a Harley rider, add about 15 minutes for your planned departure time. Harley riders take a bit longer to pack up and move out.

After Pablo finally got packed up and all his gear strapped down we headed south on to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was great with mostly sunny skies and the temps were in the upper 70’s to mid 80’s. We could have not asked for a better day for hitting the mountains. We headed up the mountain and stopped on many overlooks. Of course we took a lot of pictures. I believe Pablo was really enjoying the mountains since he was from Texas and there are not too many mountains there. In NC we call Texas mountains hills and bumps.

Our goal for the day was to start in Boone NC and go all the way south to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Well, we did that. But, of course, we made several stops along the route. Some of the stops included stops at Grand Father Mountain, Mt. Mitchell (the highest peak in NC), and many overlooks throughout the Pisgah National Forest. While at Grand Father Mountain, we talked to a couple that were from Ohio that also stayed at the same hotel Pablo and I stayed out. Actually Pablo talked to them earlier. They were a nice couple and were experiencing the empty nest time of their lives. So of course, they were enjoying life riding the parks on their bike too.

Below are a few pictures I thought you might enjoy:

One quick note for anyone visiting Grand Father Mountain, expect to pay $14.00 to get into the park. I noticed that a lot of bikers go to the park but many of them were shocked to find it cost so much to get in.

As for Mt. Mitchell, be aware that there is some construction going on at the very top of the mountain. The park is in the process of building a new observation deck and the very top of the mountain is closed. You can still get some great pictures from the parking lot. Also be aware to check the weather conditions before you visit the mountain. It is pretty cloudy up there on many days. We got lucky and the view was great. If you decide to visit Mt. Mitchell, stop by the restaurant at the top of the mountain. The food was great and the view was very nice. It was well worth the stop and besides, we were starving.

The day was filled with great riding conditions. So much that we actually ended up riding the whole route on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Boone to the end of the parkway in Cherokee. Once we got to the end of the parkway we made a decision to find a place to stay in Cherokee. We located a very nice motel in Cherokee for the night for only $70.00. Pablo paid for the first night of lodging and I told him I would take care of the Friday night stay. We unpacked our bikes, covered them up and planned the next day of riding. However, it was not going to be as nice as the first day.

Some of things I had noticed about the trip on the first day was there were a lot more curvy roads than I expected. The curves were fun and was a great day to ride with the curves, but I wasn’t expecting that many. Another thing that got me was the lack of wild life on the trip. I expected to see some wild life. Even a deer or two would have been nice.

Day #3

Friday morning came and it was time to plan the day’s events. Pablo and my original plan was to head west toward Deal Gap and take on the Tail of the Dragon. We scratched that idea due to the rain. Luckily we did not go to Deals Gap to the dragon. I learned later that 3 people died that day on the dragon. One single rider lost control and ran off a cliff and landed 80 below the roadway. Another couple riding a trike lost control and ran head into a SUV carrying a boat. They hit the boat so hard it detached it from the SUV. Both accidents were due to speed and over-braking.

It did start to drizzle most of the morning. So we decided to head west toward the Great Smoky Mountains and tour some of that area. Even though the weather wasn’t that great we did have a good time riding through the smoky mountains. We just had to take it a little slow.

Below are a few pictures I thought you might enjoy:

As we traveled through the Great Smokey Mountains on highway 441, we ran ride into Gatlinburg TN. Pablo was a little shocked by the sudden change in scenery. One minute we were touring through mountains and forest of the Pisgah National Forest. The next minute we hit civilization, tourist, rain and bumper-to-bumper traffic. Oh joy!

The traffic was really bad in Gatlinburg. We travel through bumper-to-bumper traffic for a good 10 miles. Once we got through Gatlinburg we had to deal with Pigeon Forge and then Sevierville. Pablo and I decided that since we were not going to take on the dragon we would continue on north until we hit I-40. Once we hit the interstate we decided to head east and then find a place to discuss our next route and get off the interstate. Besides, interstates are boring. We found a safe exit to take to discuss our next move and so Pablo could down another pot of coffee. After Pablo’s caffeine fix, we decided to head toward Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. I figured Pablo would like Chimney Rock and the lake.

As we rode east on I-40 we decided to take highway 276 east. That road wasn’t too bad until we had to take highway 9 east. There we decided to grab some lunch off of exit 104. If you ever think about doing that; don’t. It was a terrible place to get off and try to get access to food. There is food there (Shoney’s), but it is buried behind a Shell station and a large Wal-Mart off of an access road. It was not an ideal place to stop. Oh yeah, it was still raining.

After lunch and escaping the jacked up traffic situation, we continued on highway 9 until we hit highway 64. From that point on, it was pretty smooth riding to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. I have always liked highway 64. It has some really nice roads to ride. Even though it was raining for most of the day, the riding and scenery was great. As we got closer to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure the sun come out and life was good.

Once we arrived at Lake Lure, we drove past Chimney Rock so Pablo could see it. He was pretty excited about visiting it. We drove through Lake Lure and decided find a place for the night. We choose the Lake Lure Hotel and Spa. It was a really nice place to stay. If you ever get a chance to visit that hotel do it. It is a great place to take your spouse. We saw a lot of families there too. I called Slick and told her about the hotel and that we would have to come back in the fall for a weekend. Pablo called his wife and told her about it too. The hotel was built is 1927 and is loaded with history. The service and food was great there too. I really enjoyed cheese grits. I had never had those before. I need to get that recipe.

Below are a few pictures I thought you might enjoy:

Day #4

Saturday was Pablo and my last day of riding together. So we decided we would top off the trip and visit Chimney Rock. I knew Pablo would like that. After a great breakfast and watching Pablo drink about half dozen cups of coffee we headed to Chimney Rock. Once we got to the entrance we parked our bikes on the side road and I had the bright idea of wanting to walk to the top of the entrance to the park. For some reason I decided we should probably take the bikes instead. I am glad we did. Even though I had been there several years ago I had forgotten how far it was to the top of the entrance to the park. You have to go one mile to get to the ticket booth to pay your $14.00 and then 2 more miles up some very sharp curves to get to the entrance way. Oh yeah, it is a bit steep too.

Once we finally got to the park entrance we parked our bikes and decided to climb the stairs to the top. We had a choice of taking the elevator, but we though, hey we are still young enough to walk the stairs. Well, we did, and realized that we are not 30 any more. The bright side is we made it to the top and man what a nice view we had. We could see for many miles and the skies were almost perfect for taking photos.

Pablo said he plans to take the wife to Chimney Rock, Lake Lure and the mountains next year. I could tell he really enjoyed the parkway and mountain. Heck, I have been here for half of my life and I never get tired of the mountains; especially, when I can ride Big Red through them.

Below are a few pictures I thought you might enjoy:

After the death march to the top of Chimney Rock it was time to head down the stairs. It was much nicer going down the stairs than going up. Once down, we mounted our bikes and headed down to exit the park. Pablo and I departed Chimney Rock. He was heading back to Texas and I continued on east on highway 64 and then I-40 toward home. Once home I unpacked Big Red and cleaned up Big Red.

All-in-all it was a really nice trip. I really felt relaxed and free on the trip. I had the opportunity to see an old friend, tour the mountains of NC and TN, and talk about the old days and our families. Next year we plan for another ride to some where. For now, we have no idea where. Wherever we decide to go, it will be fun.

Last but not least. Here is the photo of the trip. Enjoy!

Until next time and enjoy the ride!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Great Sunday Morning Mini-Trip

Today Slick and I took a little trip up north today. Actually it was about a 3.5 hour ride. It was a beautiful day to ride. It was a little toasty but not enough not to ride. We headed out about 8:30 am from home and headed to highway 52 toward Winston Salem. We actually enjoy riding early on Sunday mornings because of the lack of traffic and it is a little cooler this time of year. We headed toward Mt. Pilot and Mt. Airy. We had a great view of Mt. Pilot this morning. The skies were clear and bright. Just right for the view of one weird looking mountain.

Once we got a little south of Mt. Airy it was time to hit 89 east toward Madison. Both of us had not been there before and I did expect a nice country road on that part of the trip. Man, did we get that. We were really in the sticks and really enjoyed it. One thing that did surprise both of us was the amount of curves on 89. We did have some interesting events on 89. We saw a pretty good size deer that threatened to jump out in front of me. The deer did ran back in the woods which was a good thing for us and the deer. Another thing was a small dog decided the get the crap scared out of him. He was about 50 yards in front of us on our side of road. I figured the stupid dog would move since he was looking right at us coming toward him. I guess the little fellar was blind because he decide to run in the opposite direction in front of me doing about 50 mph. He came within a foot of my front tire. I had decided that if he ran in front of me, he was going to get hit. I have heard of too many riders having wrecks trying to avoiding dogs. I was not going to be one of them. Besides, when I took the motorcycle course, they had us run over a 2x4 board. I guess the board represented a dog because I haven't seen too many boards in the road. Anyway, Spot almost got hit. Lucky for him, I was quick enough to use my superior quick stop skills (just kidding) and avoid tagging his little butt.

After we left 89 we hit 704. That road was just like 89 but less curves. (Did I mention Slick is not too crazy about curves? They scare her, but deep down, I think she really likes them). We headed east on 704 to Madison. Once we got to Madison we jumped on highway 220 south and headed back home.

The trip was a nice short trip for a Sunday morning. We had great country roads, open fields, great views and even some wild life to hit if we needed too. We do plan to do that trip again. It was a nice trip for about a 4 hour ride.

Until next time and enjoy the ride!


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Great Weekend Ride

Today Slick and I headed out for a nice ride in the country. It was a great day to ride. The temps were in the low to mid 80's and low humidity. It was great. We road for about 220 miles and were gone for about 4 hours. As part of the trip I took Slick to the old Liberty road which is a really nice road to practice some tight turns. She hadn't been on that road before. So when she told me she wasn't ready to go home, I decided to take her for a ride on the curvy roads. She seemed like the road even though she didn't said word during the turns. I know she was nervous but she did great.

We also stopped for gas and we had a few people come over and took a look at Big Red. A couple fo guys came over and said they it was a nice bike and as usual, they asked if the bike was new. They could not believe the bike was 3 years old. Slick even heard a couple talking about the bike as they walked into the store. The lady said she liked the color of the bike. The guy stated the back of the bike looked like a car. Slick and I thought that was kind of funny.

After our trip, we headed back home and I cleaned up Big Red. It was nice to take the bike out and enjoy the day with Slick. I really enjoyed it because it has been about 3 weeks since I got a chance to ride. Thankfully, I will be home for a few weeks and can enjoy the trips again. I am really looking forward to the trip in the middle of July when I head off to the Smokie Mountains and who knows where else I will be go on the 5 day trip.

Until next time and enjoy the ride!