Blue & Grey Campaign Day 2: Just an Easy Ride. Yeah, right.
Day 2 of the Blue & Grey Campaign was scheduled to be an easy riding day. I know, because I scheduled it. Only 380 miles on mixed roads, some two lane, some four lane, some interstate. Some low country, some farm country. No sites to visit along the way. Easy, right?
But the schedule didn’t call for rain. And the schedule didn’t call for three bike problems. And the schedule didn’t call for splitting up the group so that the Tail Gunner beat the Road Captain to the destination. But that’s what adventures are made of.
Rain wasn’t falling when we left Myrtle Beach, but we knew precipitation was looming in our riding future, so we suited up and headed out, discovering very quickly that the route in my GPS was not the route I told the group at our morning meeting we would be following. But no matter. I had explained there was only one speedometer in the group that mattered and that was mine and there was only one GPS in the group that mattered and that was also mine. Where my GPS says we go, we go. Turned out I had reprogrammed my GPS six months ago when I was planning the Blue & Grey Campaign routes to make today’s ride a little shorter by bypassing Wilmington and coastal Carolina and, I thought, a little easier.
But the actual route today was a good one and took us on some nice roads through some beautiful farm country.
Although it rained only sporadically, during the first three hours of the ride, we stayed on wet, sometimes puddly roads the entire time. On the other hand, the grey, silent, misty clouds fended off the sun and our rain suits felt good as our steeds splashed down the road in coolish mid-60s temperatures.
Jimmy Gardner discovered yesterday a continuing problem with an electrical drain on his battery resulting in difficult or non-responsive starting. So he decided to attack the problem by removing a thrice-repaired battery tender connection that seemed most likely to be the culprit. As luck (or brilliant planning?) would have it, lunch had been scheduled at a diner next to the Harley-Davidson dealer in Rocky Mount, NC, and he took the opportunity to borrow a couple of tools, remove the seat, unhook the battery, and remove the offending cable. That problem solved, he joined the rest of us for lunch at the Highway Diner.
The Highway Diner was a real diner. Which meant it had the all-important menu item any diner worth its name should have. Pie. I think I’m a bad influence. Four other members of the group succumbed to the lure of real diner pie and joined me in my desert debauch. Several of them fell into the “a la mode” trap and added giant scoops of ice cream. But it was a nice addition to a late lunch.
So, back to the bikes and ready for the road. Except Lee’s 2011 Road Glide wouldn’t start. Weak and dying battery. Original equipment. Time for a new one. Fortunately we were still parked next door to the Harley dealer. So seven of us proceeded to replace the battery. What would have taken one mechanic ten minutes to do, took the seven of us 30 minutes. Can you imagine: If the entire chapter had been available to help we’d probably still be there changing the battery.
But, finally, we got back on the road and headed north to Fredericksburg. Except the rain, which we thought had ended, reared it’s soggy head again and we made an early gas stop south of Petersburg to suit up again under the protection of a protective gas station awning. Of course, by the time we finished suiting up the rain had just about quit and all we ended up with was about 10 miles of wet road. But the roads dried out, and we had smooth sailing to the motel. Or so we thought.
Just after we passed Richmond on I-295 and re-entered the heavily trafficked I-95 toward Washington, Jimmy’s Deluxe backfired and shut down as we rolled northward in the third lane of a eight-lane superhighway. He managed, somehow, to coast to the edge of the asphalt slab as cars and 18-wheelers whizzed by. Tail Gunner Mark also managed to slow down enough to join him on the side of the road. The rest of us, knowing from a garbled CB transmission that one of the bikes was “in trouble” slowly and cautiously tried to move across three lanes of traffic without a Tail Gunner to block oncoming traffic and secure an open lane, but it took about four more miles and two exits on the Interstate until we were finally in a position to safely exit and park the bikes. In the meantime, Jimmy was able to re-start his defiant Deluxe and roared down the highway to try to catch up with us as Mark charged hard to try to catch him before he crossed into Maryland and coasted to a stop in somewhere in Pennsylvania. I picked up a CB message from Mark as he screamed past our off-road location but was unable to communicate in the 30 seconds or so our CBs were in range of each other. I texted him and told him we’d meet them at the hotel.
The rest of us returned to the Interstate and headed toward Fredericksburg 40 miles away, scanning the roadsides for motorcycle parts that would indicate Jimmy’s pugnacious putt had finally bit the dust. Luckily we found no parts but we did find Mark and Jimmy at the hotel wondering what took us so long.
Just another typical day on the road.
Tomorrow we stay in Fredericksburg to visit Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville battlefields. I wonder if we should rent a cab? Nah, that would take the fun out of the great Blue & Grey campaign.