There is a promise of rain and thunderstorms over the whole course today, Friday, 23MAR07. A Low has settled over New Mexico and is pumping moisture into Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. It is going to rain, so it’s time to roll.
I’m already awake at 0630, no reason to have the alarm fire, so I shut it off. Before getting up I say my thanks for yet another day in paradise, then gently roll out of the rack in my practiced way of 31 years, successfully leaving my bride undisturbed.
All the gear is on the bike with the exception of my personal items and a fully geared rider. This helps in getting things started this morning. I hit the shower and begin the mental and physical prep up. It’s about this time a feeling about what the day holds in store. Having managed only 4 hours sleep each night the previous week adds to the “fog” in my mind. The realization and reminder hits… today’s a new day, rushing toward us all and it’s either “catch it” or “let it go by”. I choose to catch.
All preparations have been made. Bike check.. good… gear check.. good… documentation … good…Farkle check.. good… Rider check.. good… Head check… we’ll come back to that one…
I head back inside, kiss my wife gently, tell her I love her and I’ll be careful. Back to the bike.. Gear and Farkle check.. good,. Mount up, back up, fire up and roll out. First stop, Georgetown, Texas, HWY 29 and I35 at the Shell station. Headed out of the neighborhood, all is calm.. it’s dark, no stars in sight, only the city lights reflecting off the dome of clouds… great… I get a few rain “drops’… great day for a bike wash…which might include the rider..heheh..
The road is just a tad slick.. like you feel on a foggy morning… but Misty’s up to the task as the K1200LT and PIAA lights bore holes into the morning light. The motor, tranny, tires, everything is feeling good…. More raindrops… and all is good as I roll past the half-conscious drivers entering and exiting the McD’s then ease onto northbound service road avoiding the driverless dump truck looking to make Misty his next bumper farkle. She’s good at watching for these kinds and deftly moves from his target zone. A “see ya” wave to the driverless dump truck by the rider and we’re in control of our “perimiter” as the “zone” starts to set in.
Merge with northbound I-35 traffic and 6 miles later I’m at the first stop, fueling up. Time is 0758… two minutes early!
Right on time, 0800, Alan rides up… I have my video camera out and ask the “Big question”…. “Hey, Alan, you feel like a little ride today?” The answer is a huge smile.. yeah.
After fueling up we do a “start of ride” form for Alan…since he plans to return to Austin completing the Bun Burner 1500. Fuel receipt #1 and I witness his start… 0806 and we are off to Coppell, TX about 160 miles and 3.5 hours away.
1120 hours: we roll into Tony’s driveway… no rain and light traffic until we were in the city. Garmin put us right on the mark. We dismount, pop off gear while waiting for someone to come welcome us… 3-4-5 minutes.. no Tony… hmm That doesn’t seem right so I grab my cell phone, punch up his number and he greets me with a “Haaallloow!” and “You guys still coming?” Hey, we’re parked out behind your home.. come open the door!.. “Ok.. I’ll be there in a couple minutes, I’m on my way back from the doctor.” What? Did you get a release? “No, my chiropractor…” yeah, Tony’s still recovering from his 2 week old bike crash…but still ready to ride.
1130 hours: Tony arrives and asks if we are hungry.. it’s almost lunch.. If you’ve seen me, you know I don’t miss many meals… “Sure!” So we head out to “Joe’s Pizza” which is only a “few minutes away”… yeah, like 15 minutes, although it seemed longer… probably because we were in a cage… At any rate, it is not time wasted. This pizza Tony spoke of lives up to it’s promise of being “New York Style”.. attitude is the garnish. You feel like you just bought a slice on one of the street front stores or vendors in Little Italy.. Good pizza? Yeah.. Darn good. We meet up with another LT rider from the Coppell area who is noticeably disappointed he won’t make the run… of course we promise he will be with us in spirit…
1335 hours: We head back to Tony’s where we arrive in time to meet Mike. Nice guy, says he’s going to ride the SS1k on his H.D. Road Glide.. I sez, “O.K.!” Some typical verbal jousting and bonding goes on for about 10 minutes then we laugh it off… Mike’s gonna be fine. Mike heads home with “pack” bag from Tony…. This is going to take a while… We rest a while, in typical New York “ate my pizza” mode on Tony’s couch, saying our best imitations of “fuggeddaboudit”….when Tony apologizes for the lunch taking so long….
1440 hours: we head outside to Tony’s garage to check out his “new-to-him” bike.. It’s the “gold” 2005 LT. It’s in great shape and Tony’s already been in “Farkle Therapy” with it, so things are shaping up nicely. He mentioned the windscreen in previous posts, so we get nosy and find the upper pivot pins have “pulled” out of the split mount.. a few minutes later the Cee Bailey is off, pins relocated and CB reinstalled. Works great. Tony’s smiling… all is good… “Head Check” good.
1500 hours: Mike rolls up… nice bike… we get out the radios and finally figure out the COMM will work with all but Alan’s bike… So, we agree to keep him “between” or on point through the ride. A quick religious ceremony is performed on Tony’s new bike and we’re ready… Fuel Stop #1 for the SS1K is at 15:18. We head directly to the Coppell P.D. and Officer R. J. Harr witnesses our “Eyewitness Form for Start of Ride”.
1550 hours: KSU… and we are off… Tony leads then myself, Alan and Mike follow through some back streets over to interstate I-35 and we head North. A few dozen minutes into the trip, I notice this car and get “that feeling” so Misty moves to a better fighting position… we make our presence known as she can’t decide whether to steer, bat her eyes at some guy in the passenger seat, talk on the phone, puff her cig or flick ashes at us. She moves to the right lane.. we move to the left… still have “that feeling”… less than a mile later and she makes some moves to “beat” traffic… then comes from the right to left lanes… right on top of Tony (who had been traveling near her speed, a bit ahead of her, and absolutely NOT in her “blind spot”.. (unless that blind spot is 360 degress of X-Y-Z axis….but I digress). Misty moves forward, near her rear bumper then opens up with both guns of the dual horns…just as Tony is doing a great press-lean-swerve maneuver placing himself just over the left side of the white stripe…. Car driver awakens, jerks sharply right, pushes her butt out the window (cig) then looks to the right to find a way out…we don’t follow, but I do give her the look…. Along with my 3 other fellow riders… I key the PTT button… “good thing I aint a Cop… sure wish we had one..” heheh.. We roll on as the caged ones find the nearest exit…bye.
1810 hours: Marietta, OK… Tony says… “Let’s get some Catfish”…ok.. we exit and ride the West side of I-35, heading into the sunset for what seems like 10 minutes until the road ends… We have arrived at McGehees Catfish Restaurant http://www.consumersaversclub.com/fi...e/mcgehee.html
Wow! As a true Cajun and Registered Coon Ass, I say “WhooEEE.. das sum fine catfish dere!!!” Somehow the bill got paid and Tony just smiled.. Thanks, Tony… too bad it’s so far from Round Rock…but then, maybe not.. =) It’s still light outside as we remount and depart this great place..
2011 hours: I roll up to pump #2 at Moore, OK. We traveled a whopping 190 miles in 4 hours, 20 minutes… I guess the weight of the Catfish slowed us down.. Everyone else circles until pumps clear enough to get in position. This, our official first “stop” takes a little over 30 minutes as the local ‘teen scene’ and Friday night boogie is in full “exposure”… Finally getting the bikes refilled, we remount and head back to the interstate… north a bit more to pick up I-240 East at Oklahoma City which merges with I-40 a few miles East. We settle into a groove as traffic lightens…and we roll on…The COMM on my bike is getting very staticy .. don’t know the reason.. just strange …
2325 hours: Pump #9 at Sallisaw, OK… I-40 and Hwy 59.. WOW, the premium here is $2.859.. at least I’ll get the right fuel because there are individual hoses for each grade. Misty take 4.058 gallons…in 160 miles.. ouch… I didn’t think we had the throttles cranked that hard…let’s see.. 160 miles in 2 hours, 45 minutes.. not a blistering pace.. perhaps it was the change of directions…a little more headwind.. This break is relatively quick.. 25 minutes for fuel, “rest” and smoke by one of our riders. Crank it up again, Tony in the lead… we’re licking our wounds from the battle with the pump…Cha-chinnnngggg… Traffic’s really lightning up as we start to roll on I-40… I notice my COMM is not working well.. very crackly sounding … Tony’s in the lead.. I notice he begins to slow… something’s not right.. he takes the next exit.. Hwy 64…pull up to a convenience store.. Tony’s not doing good… He makes a cell call… turns out his Grandmother Bertie passed, Rest in Peace, through the Mercy of God, Dear Bertie.. ….Tony wants to continue the ride..”Head Check”.. our ride now has a mission. I lead as Tony takes #2…. And we roll on.. we stop in about 30 miles and add warmer clothing. It was a good move… getting a bit tired now…concerned a bit about the pace of the trip. We pick up a couple 18 wheel cattle hauler trucks.. empty and clean and running strong… the dance begins as we follow through the hills and curves toward Conway, AR. We lose them as we get caught up in slower 18 wheel traffic… and they are gone… gone. A rest area appears so we dive in… stretch.. shake off the sleep… chat a while.. Mike takes smoke break.. then we are back at it..
0232 hours: Pump #4, Conway, AR., 148 miles, 3.8 gallons…ouch… Getting much cooler now. Kinda fighting sleep. Shut off COMM.. absolutely useless at this point.. It’s run about 12 hours and transmitted a total of about 5 minutes. This is an extended break.. about 40 minutes. We check each other’s mental and “awake” state then mount up.. KSU at 03:14. We roll through Little Rock, AR on I-40 to I-55 S at West Memphis. We stop again at a rest area to stretch and keep awake… and “Head Check”…
0527 hours: Pump #4, West Memphis, 155 miles , 3.7 gallons,. Geez. What’s this? Rear Drive front boot has oil leak.. Oil seems to be coming from above, running down.. or could be blown upward by wind… RATZ…. I check bike on HCS for loose rear wheel or noise.. sounds just like it did when I left home.. Decision…. RIDE IT!! I head in to offload some water… grab a “biscuit” of some kind, come out, Tony’s asleep on sidewalk… I join him..finish my biscuit then catch about 15 winks… later I’m up and we get back on the road… it’s getting light as we cross into Tennessee and roll South toward Missisippi…still a light chill in the air.. Oil leak is seeping into my mind…..
0808 hours: Pump #4, Vaiden, MS, 134 miles, 3.4 gallons… a Stuckeys!! One of the few remaining. I head in to get receipt due to printer foulup… we walk, stretch snack.. the ladies inside make a phone call and a County Sheriff shows up.. we smile our best “good morning, Sir”.. he just heads inside… hmm, okkkaaay… a while later another shows up and just stays in his car… it took a while as Tony tried to arrange breakfast in Jackson, MS. When that didn’t work out, we headed down the road.. as we were leaving both police drove off, just ahead of us… “Have a nice day, boys! Hope your day doesn’t get any rougher.” We head out.. Tony in the lead now.. feeling better.. then he slows.. I take lead.. crest a hill, look back and Tony’s gone… Alan’s still there… Mike’s gone… we slow down to wait… get to next exit and pull off… Tony and Mike pull up behind… Tony stopped for his sunglasses.. “suns up!!!” We “discuss” stopping at exits where it’s safer…. About 10 minutes later… things slow again… Mike called Tony on his COMM… had to offload some water.. so, again, under an overpass… they stopped… this time we didn’t know so we pulled well off the road and waited… just in case the Local’s pulled up on old Mike… hey, what are friends for? We arrived in Jackson, stopping at Cracker Barrel before the “rush”.. it was a bit after 1020. It took over an hour and they weren’t busy… Remind me not to ask what kind of cheese they have next time.
1137 hours: Pump #2, Jackson, MS, 72 miles, 1.9 gallons… we have only 4 hours before 24 ar expired… boys, you better get serious!! We pick up I-20 West here.
1333 hours: Pump 2, West Monroe, LA, 132 miles, 2.9 gallons.. C’mon men… Let’s Roll!! Alan leaves a minute before and heads for Marshall and Hwy 79 to Austin.
1526 hours: Pump #1, Shreveport, LA, 96 miles, 2.2 gallons… We’re done with 15 minutes to spare!!! We find a Fire Station where Tony explains our plight to Chief Gerald Atkins.. He’s sympathetic and a motorcycle lover… and wants to own one “someday”. We have a long visit.. probably 30 then say “Thanks” as Tony and Mike head for the hotel. I say my “goodbye’s” and head back to I-20… it’s a few minutes after 4 and I have 200 miles to go to get to Arlington where my wife’s waiting for me…
1943 hours: Pump #4… Arlington, TX. 204 miles, 4.9 gallons… I’m 3 miles from my son and DIL’s home.. My bride’s waiting there along with a nice long warm shower, Pasta, broiled garlic shrimp and alfredo and garlic bread… a great visit, then off to hotel around 2200 hours.
Life is good… “Head Check” complete… interim “Head Checks” secured…. No rain, only a few damp roads…no injuries… We are so blessed…
This ride and this write up is dedicated to Grandma Bertie… may she rest in peace through the Mercy of God… Amen.
Peace and blessings..
Deacon Channing and his riding friends,