Ready for the Road
Today, like all “final” days before the start of a Great Adventure ride, was mostly spent waiting impatiently for tomorrow’s sunrise, the throaty roar of the v-twin as it powers up, and the spring-powered snap of “kickstand up” that sounds like what a green flag looks like to a Nascar driver. I’ve been ready for weeks and Mark was on the road yesterday from Florida via South Carolina, so he was also ready.
He had a mostly uneventful four-hour ride from the flatlands of eastern South Carolina to the misty mountains of western North Carolina today, coasting down our driveway about 1 p.m. this afternoon. The flatlands didn’t heat up until after he was out of them, but by the time he started his climb into the Smoky Mountains the 10 degree drop in temperature was welcomed. Tomorrow we’ll start in the cool mountains, but by the time we finish in middle Tennessee we expect temperatures registering in the mid-90s.
While he enjoyed his morning ride I was smoking ribs on the grill–one final try at perfect baby backs. (Close but no cigar.) Marilyn did her part to make sure the 2016 Great Alaska Adventure got off to an appropriately tasty start by baking a beautiful cherry pie–a 10 on a 10-point pie scale. Add a little Jack Daniel’s in a chilled glass with two cubes and the result was a culinary delight.
In the past, friends and neighbors in Maggie Valley have gathered to send me off with best wishes and today’s happy hour at the neighborhood pavilion was another example of the caring people at Raven Ridge. Mark and I appreciated their interest in our crazy adventure and their best wishes for an adventuresome but SAFE ride. Tomorrow morning we’ll make a parade lap around the neighborhood and many of them will drag themselves out of bed early to be on their porches urging us onward and northward.
I made some final adjustments to my bike this afternoon, adding some badly needed air to the adjustable air shocks (they’re supposed to have 30-40 lbs and mine had 5 lbs) to better carry the 50-60 pounds of gear stashed in saddlebags, the tour pack and the rear seat pack. I plan to add a new rear tire and replace all the fluids in a few days during our Wichita stop, but neither the rubber nor the oil needed to be serviced before we left. I’m trying to squeeze as much value out of replaceable parts as I safely can.
After 10 years of doing long-distance motorcycle trips, some things begin to be routine. I know how to plan. I know what to pack. I know how to pack. The tightly-packed packs are scattered on the floor and the furniture, waiting to be loaded in the morning in about five minutes. But still, the night before the Alaska redux journey begins, a tingle of anticipation, an itch of impatience, a hint of expectancy fills the final hours.
Yes, once again it bears repeating: I’m ready to get “on the road again.”