Day 1
October 10th, 2005
Prattville, Alabama

Less than a month after my return from Prince Edward Island, I was strapping my gear down on the RT for the fall ride.  I had planned on making a quick run into Pennsylvania and New York, before moving on to the Blue Ridge, but some serious rain was parked over the region so I begged off.  I wanted to be on the road Friday, but with no place to go, I held fast till Monday.

Instead I was going to Kentucky Bluegrass.  Because I've not spent much time there, I was looking forward to something different.  I figured I'd ease in the area by late afternoon, and take a slow ride to Parkersburg to meet friends on Tuesday evening.

Debbie was almost ready for work, when she saw me zipping the Roadcrafter.  "So how many of those boys are gonna be in the Blue Ridge?"  "I dunno baby, but I'd guess about 20, heck gonna be a half dozen show up in Parkersburg just for the ride down to Cruso."  "Well, have a good time, but don't forget next month we're goin to the beach."

I gassed up at the corner con store and was on I-65 North a little after 7am.  It was warm and sunny.  I decided to take the RT on this tour for several reasons.  First, the front tire on the ST was toast, second several guys asked me to, and third, it is just so much fun to ride on tight twisty roads.  It has a distinct advantage on the Honda in that department.
By the time I reached the Verbena exit, I had the cruise set, windscreen up, suspension on comfort, and was leaned back on the Moto Fizz bag.  Life was good.

A few miles north of Clanton I saw a trooper pull over a south bound red pick up truck.  I was content to ride 80 mph.  "That should be fast enough to get me where I'm going."

Traffic was kind of sparse on this Columbus Day, but the only folks with the day off  were state workers, for most others it was just another day.

The RT slipped past slower traffic and took me in and out as I worked my way around cars that moved to the fast lane to drive 60.  Unlike the UK, it is common practice here to pass on the "low side."  You have to, because so many drag ass in the fast lane.  In the UK NOBODY does that.  "It ought to be a felony to drive slow in the fast lane," as I came to the right of a loaded down mini van full of office workers chatting away about office politics, oblivious to the line of cars behind them.

A single engine airplane flew in low over the interstate on final approach to the local airport next to the highway.  I thought if the joker got in trouble he could always sit down on I-65.

When I arrived in Shelby County the bright sun and blue sky were gone, replaced by a thick, low, gray cloud cover, joined by a cool fog, so cool in fact I turned on the heated grips.  Radar indicated no rain all the way to Kentucky, but north into Ohio and across the Northeast, folks were building arks, so I couldn't complain much.

Coming down the hills into the city the fog lifted, and visibility returned to normal. 

I looked at coming through Birmingham with trepidation, but by the time I reached Hoover at 8:30am most of the commute was over.  I came through with no problems and out the north side without touching the brakes.  It was nice.
I've been this way many times and it was going to be a routine slab ride to Kentucky.  There are no back roads for me to ride here.  I needed to get into southern Kentucky to have a nice ride tomorrow.  This time of year daylight is on short supply, and a Long Rider has much less time to make his destination.

In Cullman (exit 310) I took a peanut butter and jelly break at a Chevron station, having put down 150 miles.  I recall how good the hand warmer felt in the rest room, and how I wanted to open my coat and let the warm air flow over me.  I thought about calling Uncle Phil for lunch when I came through Nashville, but thought the better of it.  I'd get hooked up with him and spend longer than I should chatting, and late getting back on the road.  Besides, he was working, and I didn't know his schedule.  I knew I'd see him tomorrow night anyway.

Back on the road through the Tennessee Valley and into Tennessee.  The riding was ok, and I enjoyed being alone with my thoughts.  

Lunch time found me in a Shoney's at the Franklin exit.  I had the grilled chicken and rice.  I called PeterM to find Uncle Phil's cell number.  I lost my phone with ALL my numbers a few days ago, and still had some missing.  He told me he was heading south in the morning, and the area was still being pelted by rain.  "I'll be in Parkersburg no matter what, not raining that hard."  "Just don't bring any with ya."

The signs through Nashville made sense and were easy to follow.  I came through downtown following the I-65 north signs.  There are several direction changes, with links and connections, but if you pay attention you're ok. 

Riding in the far left lane near the 8th Street exit, the vehicle in front of me suddenly cut back across 3 lanes to make his exit.  He pulled it off; he was lucky.  Antics like that are the reason people get killed, and the reason I stay far left as possible when passing through large cities.

With Nashville in the mirrors I sped to Kentucky, knocking down the 30 miles to the state line quickly.  This new version of the boxer twin is very smooth at cruising speeds, and combined with the ultra quiet cockpit, one can almost forget that he is a on a motorcycle traveling 80 mph.

Soon after crossing into Kentucky I left I-65 for SR 100 to begin a nice ride through bluegrass country and surrounding hills.  At last I was on a back road.  The road bobbed and weaved over the hills and I brought the screen down to feel the warm wind, although the road had curves I left the suspension on normal.  I was in no mood to lean hard, and the pavement was bumpy.

Old farms stood in the tobacco fields on SR 100, and I saw farmers cutting hay near Chapel Hill.  Along a county road, near a old whitewashed springhouse made useless by a water district pipeline, I stopped for a break.  Downstream from the spring sycamores dropped leaves that swirled around in the water like the tea cup ride at Disney World.  I pulled a small Kit Kat bar (a bought bag of bite sized at Wal Mart the night before) from the Moto Fizz, and washed it down with a bottle of fancy water I also stashed on the bike.  I ate slowly letting the gurgle of the water and a trill sounding blackbird do all the talking.

Had I gone looking for a particular place rather than any place, I'd never have found this spring under the sycamores.  Since leaving home, I felt for the first time at rest.  I believe any traveler that misses the journey misses the true feelings of Long Riding.  When I was on I-65 I had no urge to stop to look around, or to sit with my legs dangling from a rock over a stream, thinking about life and riding, like I was currently doing. 

I reached inside the Roadcrafter for my camera, for the first time today I had a urge to take a picture.  It was then I discovered the camera had NO memory stick loaded.  "DAMN, I know I had the stick last night."  Yes I did, but I failed to put it in the camera.  I pack by checklist and memory stick is definitely listed, I put my hand on it, checked it off the list, but never put it in the camera.  "Oh well few photo ops today anyway.  First Wal Mart I see, I buy one."

I stood up, brushed my butt off, and saddled back up.  The clouds still hung low and thick.  The RT came to life and I got back on the road.  I followed SR 100 to 585 and then went to U.S. 31E.  What the E stood for, I really didn't know, because the highway runs north-south.

A few miles later, I spotted Zack's General Store, it looked local so I stopped to see what was going on.  I brought the RT to an empty spot by the front door, and went inside.  The interior looked unorganized.  A deli of some kind is in the front and the cash register is near the middle of the store for some reason.  A man was buying a block of plug chewing tobacco when I walked past.  I felt green just thinking about it. 

A middle aged man, with thick eyebrows greeted me.  He wore a white shirt that hung on him like a curtain.  His face was weathered and tan, and he spoke in a Kentucky accent that is southern, but with a distinct sound.  Less drawl and inflictions then a deep south accent, but easy to pick up nonetheless.  Always the curious one, I asked about
moonshiners and the man replied-

"well ya got moonshiners and bootleggers."

"so what's the difference," I asked.

"many counties in Kentucky are dry (meaning NO liquor is sold) a moonshiner has his own distillery and makes his own stuff for sale, a bootlegger brings in whiskey and then sells it."

"That would be stuff like Jack Daniels?"


Learn something new everyday.

It was late afternoon and mares and foals were coming in to drink at small quarry pits cut into limestone outcroppings.  The RT leaned in and out of the easy curves, and I steered a course over the swells of land.  Past creosoted tobacco barns with silver tin roofs, past white farmhouses, down along black lines of plank fences that met at right angles and linked the countryside into crossword puzzle patterns.  It was good riding. 

When I arrived in Glasgow I took a guess where the nearest Wal Mart was and got pretty close.  I found a 126k memory stick and was back in business, but wasn't sure what to do next.  The afternoon was slipping away, so I decided to find a motel and call it a day.

Reasoning the best options were going to be near I-65 I rode on to Cave City, a touristy place that makes its living off Mammoth Cave.  It is typical of most cites that spring up next to such a place catering to tourists.  The city is full of motels, goofy golf, and fast food franchises.  It was off season and the town looked at me with despair, as I rode around looking for a motel.  I settled on the Knight's Inn 34 dollar a night room.
On this dark and overcast day, Cave City reminded me of a western ghost town, after all the gold has been mined.  Tourist season was over and all the motels were begging for customers, their huge parking lots dotted only with employee cars.   Cave City is a interstate exit, which translates into franchises and chains.  You don't see such things in the small towns out west on back roads.  They don't sell many of their 300 billion hamburgers to people like "Big Daddy" of Independence, Kansas (a man I met in a local diner last summer on the west coast tour).  The back roads are full of local cafes and diners that must rely on continuing quality to draw customers, rather than national advertising.  I miss the back roads of the west when I'm riding in the east.

After checking in the near empty Knights Inn, I threw my stuff on the bed and relaxed after finishing a 366 mile day.  
I wanted to run, but I'm nursing a bad wheel on the right side.  My right calf is a little sore just walking, and I knew there was no need to try running.  I'll take the week off to heal, and use the tour to keep me occupied mentally.  In days past I'd keep going, and turn a 1 week injury into 3 months.  With no running, I went back outside and cleaned the RT of bugs with Plexus.

Supper was a short walk to a Pizza Hut about a half mile away.  No other options were available, the one local place was too far to walk to, and I didn't feel like getting the RT back out.  I had breadsticks and a personal pan pepperoni.  I was the only guy in the place and had control of the clicker.  I went to the baseball game and then the news.  I put notes in the Axim and made a few phone calls.   Because of the memory stick fiasco, I had no pictures to edit waiting for supper.  Tomorrow is another day though.

It was a nice walk back to the room, I stopped in a con store for a small popcorn and drink for later.  Back at the room I watched a pre recorded tv show on my DVD player. 

I pulled the atlas out to look over the next day's ride to Parkersburg.  I jotted the notes down for the map pocket, satisfied I picked some good back roads.

When finished I hit the room tv for a weather report.  More low clouds, but no rain.  Could be worse.  I hit the lights and sheets about 12am and slept well.