Day 2
October 11th, 2005
Knights Inn Motel
Cave City,  Kentucky

It felt odd to ride all day yesterday and still be near home at the start of day 2.  Usually, the first day of a long tour is one of my longest, as I clear familiar lands to start the real riding.  But this tour is different, at no time would I be farther than a long slab ride from home.

I wasn't sure of the time zone, so I flipped open my new Motorola Razor, knowing the the local provider would have the time posted.  "Just what I thought, EASTERN time ugh."  I turned on the TV for a weather radar scan, thick low clouds, but no rain in the area.  I had to switch it off when the most annoying announcer of all time was hosting the Bowling Green morning show.  He kept stumbling all over in a shrill voice that sounded nails on a blackboard.

By 7:30am I was loaded and idling out of the parking lot.  Early morning was no kinder to Cave City then late evening.  It still looked lonely.  An empty tourist attraction with a western theme on a nearby hill, had paper blowing across the parking lot.  Nothing is sadder looking than a tourist city in the off season.

Low clouds hung over the area, at times they looked only a few hundred feet off the ground.

A con store is next door to the motel so went in to top the tank off. 

"So where ya goin today?", a young man with pony tailed hair, pumping gas into a old white pick up shouted from pump number 3.  I hollered as best I could through the Arai, "Parkersburg." 

"Must be nice."

After gassing up I took SR 80 back into a busy Glasgow.  I stayed on the business route and went right through the courthouse square.  The road taking me past the furniture and hardware stores, and the occasional law office.  "Hmmmmmm court must be in session with all THESE cars parked out front."  I went halfway around before 80 splintered off, taking me away from the mayhem.  

School traffic slowed things down, but I remained patient and just took things as they came.  I was in no hurry.  
On the east side of town I saw a Honda Shop and went to it.  I was almost out of Plexus and needed to replenish.  Two young men were sitting outside on a wood table smoking.  I asked,  "y'all open yet?"  "Nope 10 more minutes."   With time to kill I went across the street to a con store for a Diet Dew and a PB and J sandwich.  

By the time I was finished eating it was 5 after 8, so rode back across the street to the Honda Shop.  To my dismay they had NO Plexus.  "Well, that was 20 minutes wasted."

I left Glasgow on SR 90 east and began a good ride through the countryside.  The road twisted like Kudzu going up a tree.  The curves were good but nothing special.  

Among the black cherry trees and  catalpa, a billboard pictured beams radiating from a cross with the words "Think About It."  I did and found I didn't like the sign.  But then, its such mixtures that give the Kentucky flavor of born again Christians, bourbon whiskey, bluegrass farms, tobacco stalks, and coal mines.   I stopped for a picture and found my batteries were kaput.  "I know I charged them before leaving."  I did, only to find out they are standard batteries, all the charging in the world not going to do them any good.  "I guess I ain't meant to take pics this tour, I'll stop at the next store I see that I KNOW will stock AAs."  I was peeved, because I missed several good photo ops.
I passed by neat farms with big front porches.  I like homes with porches, where folks can sit and watch the world go by.  But now days the patio is the favored gathering spot, I like to see what's going on, and you can't do that on a patio.
​Kentucky farms come in all sizes.  Some with small
acreage, others seemed to go on forever, like this one.

The RT was happy at 65 mph, but even at that pace I was often passing cars and trucks.  When riding the RT, I miss the sheer roll on power of the ST 1300.  The Honda zooms around slow traffic effortlessly.

Highway 90 makes a short drop into Burkeville, and the first thing I noticed coming into town was a Rite Aide, situated in a easy to get to spot on my right.  I pulled in and picked up 2 Duracell AAs and placed my Sony Cybershot back in business.

I stayed on SR 90 and continued on through the Kentucky countryside.  There are many boat repair and sales shops along the route.  The Cumberland River is close by, a huge recreation diversion for the area.  The farther east and north I traveled the less flamboyant the farms.  As the miles ticked off the big plantations were replaced by small farms with old houses, guarded by run down fences.  Fancy yards with expensive landscaping were replaced by old trucks and washed out driveways. 
​I passed this fall display on SR 90
Traffic seemed to be hit or miss.  At times I had the road to myself, others I was sandwiched in a line of vehicles.  The gray skies put a damper on my enthusiasm but I was riding and that was all that mattered. 
Near Monticello, 90 makes a long, turning downhill run into thick foliage.  I could see 2 cruiser bikes ahead of me as they slipped out of sight around the first bend.   I've seen this before, a long downhill twisty run, followed by a flat run out over a bridge, then another long twisty run uphill.   Swiftly I closed the gap on the cruisers, and waited patiently for the road to straighten at the bottom.  The cruisers leaned as best they could, but their limited ground clearance kept their speed down.

The riders apparently thought they were too fast for the curve,  and went to the brakes at the last instant.  I was behind them, and wanted to tell them they were ok, just pick a line and lean, they were going to scrape, but so what.  Everyone came through ok, and I passed them without incident on the straight.

A billboard for the local Suzuki shop said to make a right turn at the first light as you enter Monticello.  "Well, maybe they have Plexus."  I pulled in the parking lot and was not very confident, because  lots of ATVs were out front.  My hunch was correct, none to be found on the shelves.

SR 90 swung north to Somerset.  I was now just outside the Appalachian foothills, and soon I was knee deep in green hills and valleys.
​  "soon I was knee deep in green hills and valleys."
The Yamaha Shop in Somerset is right on the highway and when the south bound traffic cleared I made a left turn to the parking lot.  This shop looked promising for Plexus.  Lots of street bikes on display.  "Can I help ya?"  "Plexus?"  "Yeah, right there." as he pointed to a shelf.  

I stuffed the cleaner in the right saddlebag and got back on the road.  The clouds seemed to breaking a little and I was glad.  I had been missing the sun.  

Traffic was noticeably heavier because London is a big place, and located near I-75, one of the main north-south arteries into Florida.  As
soon as I entered the city limits I was bombarded with fast food joints, con stores, and shopping centers.
The Shilo Steakhouse seemed like a good place so pulled the RT in.  I came inside with helmet in hand, and was seated at a tall table.  A good position because I could see the RT out the front window, and the door. 

My server at the Shilo was a young single mother named Lacey.  A friendly and talkative person, with a genuine curiosity about the world outside these hills.  After bringing my chicken and baked potato she returned several times to chat.

"I dunno Lacey, Phoenix is along way from here, and a lot different."

"You've been there?"

"several times"

"My boyfriend is a contractor, and he says lots of work there."

"Well that's true, but the place is a DESERT.  Lots of rocks, sand, and heat, but you ain't gotta put up with the cold, and you can be on the coast in 1 days ride if ya book"

"well I wanna see the desert, and the Pacific Ocean, just something different if ya know what I mean"

"sometimes you can ride the country or the world and still wind up back where you came from, and when it happens that way, you can sleep at night because YOU know what else is out there."  Those were my parting shots for Lacey.  A young lady that just wants to see places.  

I was in the parking lot gearing up when a 30ish lady in a red pick up pulled in the spot next to me.  As she was getting out of the truck she said-

"nice bike"

"do you ride?"
"nooooooo but I have a BMW car at home."

I left London on the Daniel Boone Parkway.  A nice ride through the liked name National Forest.  The road bed traversed opened gorges and past limestone hills.  I was able to use the RT's cruise control several times.  I went through Hazard County and thought about the Dukes.  I guess this area served as the inspiration for the old TV show.  I was looking around for Daisy.  She use to kill me in those shorts.
 The riding was good on Kentucky SR 15
I was leaning a nice right hander on SR 15 when a tree trimming truck suddenly appeared on the other side.  He was cutting limbs off power lines, and had no cones or flags out to give any advance warning.  I shuddered to think what might have happened had I been riding hard.  

By now I was falling into the surrealism of the ride itself.  I love riding through quiet country on a 2 lane road.  I connected SR 15 to SR 30, and a few miles later I was on U.S. 460.  It was getting late, and I needed to get to Parkersburg as quick as possible.  I'm due to meet several good friends there for the ride south to Cruso.  Our plan was ad hoc but they are usually the best kind.  I'm not sure how many will show up at the Motel 6, but that doesn't matter.  I knew PeterM and Uncle Phil along with Andy Purmals were going to be there, outside of that, nothing was really carved in stone.
​SR 30 in Kentucky.  The road bended and twisted through
the hills.  And like the picture, driveways dotted the perimeter
making it unwise to come through leaning hard, Ma and Pa Kettle
might take a notion to pull out at anytime.

U.S. 460 took me to U.S. 23 and I motored north in what was now broken sunlight.  It wasn't much, but at least it was something.  The highway is 4 lane divided and a easy ride to I-64.  It reminded me of U.S. 74 in the Smokies.
I hooked up with I-64 by late afternoon, and took aim on the final 100 miles.  It was further to Parkersburg than I thought.  The evening commute was building near Huntington and as a luck would have it a construction zone tied me up for 30 minutes.  I've learned this trick over the miles.  Position yourself in the lane that has to merge, it usually moves faster, sometimes much faster, ride it all the way to the end, and then get back over.  You don't need much room on a bike, and 18 wheelers usually have big gaps to the vehicle in front.  People as a whole are conservative.  They move over long before they need to, out of fear of not being able to get back if they ride all the way to barricade.  That moved saved me at least 30 minutes on this zone.

Finished with Huntington I took a break at a BP con store.  I bought a Mountain Dew and took my atlas out to plot the strategy to my final destination.  Instead of taking I-64 to Charleston, and going to I-77, I had the big idea to cut the corner and go SR 30, picking up 77 north of the city.  Looked good on paper.

Thick clouds came back and evening dusk was closing in.

In West Virginia no road is simple.  The state is so hilly, flat is something you only see on the pool tables in the many taverns in these hills.  Darkness had caught up with me by the time I took the SR 34 exit.

Immediately I had flashbacks back to that mountain road in Oregon.  The surface was almost as bad, and a misty rain was now falling.  The intense lighting of the RT glistened off the wet and twisty road.  I crawled along the slippery surface, dancing around potholes and frost heaves.  Deer were a real threat in these thick woods, and I continually scanned the shoulders for red eyes.  I'm still trying to figure the RT out.  In 2nd gear it seemed to rev too high, and in 3rd the bike wanted to shudder if I let the rpms drop.  The Honda doesn't care, it will pull from any gear below 4th.

Lighted farmhouse appeared on the crests of hills.  Many only a few feet from the road surface.  I could literally high five the occupants when I came by.  With homes so close to the tarmac I was worried a farm dog would dodge out and take me out. The road kept going and going and the dark night looked like it wanted to eat me, I needed the safety of I-77, and the comfortable feeling of the last 50 miles.  

I pulled to the side at a church near Liberty to check the atlas.  Mist had covered the RT's screen, and droplets dripped off the Arai as I opened the saddlebag. "Something ain't right, I should be at 77 by NOW."  But the map confirmed I was on course, just had to give it more time, but at 20 mph things move slow, even 15 miles.

"Look, if I can ride 60 miles on a isolated road at 10,000 feet in Oregon, I can do this." Those feelings reaffirmed how good I was, and soon I broke out of the darkness of SR 34 for I-77.  Coming down out of the hills the drizzle rain abated.  It was a good feeling when I saw the red, white, and blue I-77 sign.

I bolted down the ramps and moved in the flow.  The RT happy to be back at highway speed after crawling in the hills for the last hour.  My big idea to cut the corner and take the tangent around the city backfired.  Like we say on the ST bbs, I played my cards wrong, but at least I didn't fold.

Cruising to Parkersburg at 75 mph I was anxious to reunite with my friends.  I was looking forward to seeing everyone.

The last 20 miles I had 2 rabbits, and took us the distance at 85.

At last the exit for the Motel 6 came into view and I worked down the service streets to the entrance.  I took a pass through the parking lot to see who was there.  "That's Uncle Phil, and Andy's bikes, that one I don't know."  Funny how Long Riders identify jokers by his bike.  I pulled to the lobby entrance about 8pm, after a 445 mile day.

"Your friends went to eat, and left you these directions," the clerk said-

I was chatting with the clerk when PeterM called. 

"Where ya at?" 

"The motel." 

"Ok Charlie is on his way to pick you up, the cafe is only a short ride away."

In a few minutes Charlie was on the scene and I followed him with my still loaded bike, through the streets of Parkersburg to the Roadhouse Grill, where I met the entourage for tomorrows ride south.

The players were Charlie K, a local, he knew the roads and would lead us south.  Peter Menard-Pennsylvania, Peter's brother, Jim a transplanted Districtlite now living near Marlington, Andy Purmals- Ontario, Mike Gregory- New Jersey, "Uncle" Phil- Nashville.  Also in attendance was Craig "Doc" Severson, a active member of the ST BBS and a bulwark of everything ST 1100.  Other commitments would prevent him from riding with us, but he drove down to eat supper with us.

An attractive waitress named Summer was our server.  How she drew us is unknown but it was to our good fortune.  As we say in the sport touring world, her frame had a couple of "mods."

"Oh they told me ALL about you'

"They did? Good things or bad?"

"Lets just say I'm suppose to watch out, they said you were a smooth talker"

"well baby, lemme say what ever you heard ain't true, I ain't the joker ya gotta watch out for.  Everyone knows I'm a big flirt, its the quiet ones you gotta watch out for."  As I padded Andy on the shoulder.

Supper was a pretty good grilled chicken and baked potato.  I was chided for eating so much chicken, and it would only grow worse as the trip progressed.  In between Summer gazing, we spoke about the next days ride to Mount Airy, North Carolina, to explore Mayberry. 

"Look here, I dunno what's there, but a lot of folks (from the ST list) are waitin on us to find out."
Uncle Phil said, " We needed an excuse for a ride anyway."

Summer came back to speak with us before we left.  "I went to check y'all's bikes out." 

Someone asked her, "which one did you like best?" 

"I ain't sayin.  My ex is motorcycle mechanic in town, so I know a little."  Summer told us she wanted to go to school to be a RN.  When I asked what field she said she wasn't sure.  We wished her luck and of course left her a nice tip.

Back at the motel we put our bikes to sleep.  I broke out my new can of Plexus and cleaned up the RT.  I was the only joker that didn't cover his bike at night and they made me feel guilty about it. 

Doc was going to crash with Uncle Phil, I wished him luck and offered a couple pair of shoes to use as rocket launchers but he said he would be ok.  He was out early in the morning for Ohio.  He had a 9am conference call.

I watched a little tv and hit the lights near 12am.

Next- south on SR 16! What a ride!