Day 1
September 29, 2010
Prattville, Ala.

It had been a year since my last really long ride so I was looking forward to getting out in the wind.  A few weeks before my planned West Coast Tour, my son announced he was leaving his job in the private sector and entering the seminary.  So instead of riding cross country I was driving to New Orleans and settling him in his new surroundings.  I could not leave Debbie alone for 3 weeks knowing our son was gone with no idea when we might see him again.  At the time she was struggling with that thought.

But all that was behind me now, it was time to ride.

Whenever I ride due north I jump start it with a ride to my sister's in Gadsden.  She fusses by saying I only come see her when I'm on the way to somewhere else.  Gadsden is a pleasant 130 mile ride from Prattville.  I've done it 10,000 times dating back to 1973, but I still enjoy doing it.
Because today was a short ride, I wanted to eat lunch with Debbie and leave out at 3pm.  I packed and loaded the Honda the day before so all I had to do on this morning was recheck a few things.  One of those things was the weather, which showed a large rain mass in the DC area, but predictions said it would move out before my arrival.

I took one last look at my rear tire.  It had 8k plus of wear, but I know the Metzllers well, I routinely get over 10k, and was pretty sure I was good.  I understood I would not be able to lean as well in the hills, with the cupped and somewhat tread bare rubber.  Besides, this is a East Coast ride, Honda dealers are everywhere if I have to make a change.

I met Debbie at a burger place and went over a few things.  She's flying out the next day (Thur) for DC and I'll be arriving on Friday afternoon.  I promised my nephew I'd come to see him play ball, and was delivering on that this tour.  My plan was the family thing for a few days, then continue my ride.

By 3pm I was good to go, and rolled out under partly cloudy, warm skies.  I filled up at a nearby Chevron station and reset the computer, GPS, and trip meter stuff.  On the way out of the parking lot I was held up by a pick up truck pulling a long trailer.  He was stopped at the corner light, and blocked my path.

I left Prattville on U.S. 31 North and then took I-65 in the same direction.  Traffic was heavy for a Wednesday afternoon.  The 1300 bristled with excitement as we settled in on 80 mph for the 30 mile run to SR 145.  I had the interstate option all the way to my sister's but that would be no fun, instead I wanted to ride the backroads I've come to know so well the last 40 years.

I had on summer gloves, with the Aerostich vented out in the summer like temps, but weather guessers were putting out a cool front was on the way south.

At the "peach tower exit" I left I-65 and promptly passed 2 log trucks.  The only traffic of any significance I encountered the 25 miles to Wilsonville.
This old state highway has not changed much the last 40 years, other than a few more farm houses have sprouted up along the way. It is a rural, farmland ride. My guess most of the land has been locked up in a family for many years and they are not inclined to sell.

In Wilsonville, I switched over to SR 25, went past the steam plant, and huge flea market square to Harpersville.  Over the years the state has improved the bridges and widened the roadway of 25, making it a safer, if not less interesting highway.

Because I wasn't in a hurry I stopped at the Jack's Hamburgers at the corner of 25 and U.S. 280 for a peach pie and drink.  I was sitting in the dining room, and at a big round table in the center they had a shift manager meeting going down.  No kidding, they conducted store business right in the dining room, never seen anything like it, 8 people were gathered up.  I found out all the store's personal problems, inventory dilemmas, employee discounts policy (some jokers were abusing it) etc.  I was the only guy in the dining room, so I guess they didn't care.  One lady had a very annoying voice and it carried everywhere, and dominated.

The TV was on Fox News, but the lady made it hard to hear anything.  I called my sister.  "I'll be there about 6"

"ok, you gonna eat supper on the way in or do I need to cook?"

"you need to cook"

'Why ya wanna do that to me?"

"Because you need to see if the stove still works in y'alls house"

"Very funny, I cook all the time"

"yeah right, and I want something good, no processed stuff"

"ok, ok"

I stood up, gathered my stuff, and looked over at the staff meeting going on and said, "I admit I dunno much about the hamburger business, but havin a staff meeting in the dining room is kinda unprofessional if ya ask me.  I just learned more about Jack's then I should ever know, but hey, don't mind me, I'm just some long rider on a ride."

They just looked at me silently.

Back on the road it was more good riding.  I went by the now closed Richey's BBQ just north of Jack's.  It has been closed a few months now after being in operation over 40 years.  I never knew their business was that off.  I guess the recession is getting a lot of folks.

Just north of Vincent, 25 turns off and into arguably the best motorcycle road in Alabama, which isn't saying all that much.  If you put it in Western North Carolina it wouldn't even rate 2 stars.

The highway turns into U.S. 231 as I head for Pell City.  I was feeling kind of guilty.  The country is a mired in a long, deep recession, and many folks are hurting, and I'm out riding the country and having a good time.  "Owell nothing I can do about it, but do my part to stimulate the  economy."

In Pell City I have two options, U.S. 411 into Asheville, or a couple of local roads to SR 21 to Lincoln.  I went with the former because it is more scenic, and a few turns.  A lot of years have passed since I first followed these roads to my sister's house.  One thing for sure, when you reach your 50s the years go by very quickly.  It is hard to believe next year I'll celebrate my tenth year of long riding and this web site.  This December will mark a decade since I brought home the 2001 ST 1100 and opened this life chapter.

I get a clarity on the open road I get nowhere else.  It is like I don't breathe well closed up and confined, and like a guy with a drug intolerance, only long rides give me fulfillment.  Short rides only tease me, but still better then not going.

The few hills into Asheville were easy, and the 1300 hummed along effortlessly on the long uphill.  The courthouse there is nearing completion of its recent renovation, I've been watching it the last couple years.

By late afternoon I was zooming through the picturesque valley 411 cuts through, across the Coosa River, and into Rainbow City.  That portion has always been a pleasant ride through farmland and past grazing cattle.

Few things change in the valley.  I stopped to check out the dilapidated church left empty about 12 years ago.  I'd like to know why, but can't find anyone to ask. 





















U.S. 411 between Asheville and Rainbow City has been
around a long time, as evidenced by this abandoned 
church building.

Commuter traffic was building along Rainbow Drive into Gadsden, but only took a few minutes to clear congestion and find my sister's turn off.  Once upon time Gadsden was significantly bigger then Prattville, now the reverse is true.

My sister has lived in the same house over 30 years, just as I have.  My family tends to find a nice place and stays put.  My line of reasoning a paid up mortgage is better then a upgrade.

I pulled in her long driveway and set the stand after a 129 mile day.  Not many miles, but the quality was there.

I said hello to my sister, placed my things in the guest room, and made myself at home.  I sat at the kitchen table while my sister prepared supper.

"So where ya off to this time?"

"New England if the weather will cooperate, then back south to meet my friends in the Blue Ridge"

"That's right, I forgot you do that every year."

My brother in law was late coming in from the hospital (MD) so we had a spaghetti supper in front of the flat screen.  They have a new SUV/mini van hybrid and my sister took me out for a ride when it was over.  A really nice ride, I especially liked the back up camera, that displayed the image in the rearview mirror when you placed the vehicle in reverse.  I think it is a Pacifica?

I stayed with Fox News till 12 then said good night and went upstairs, put a few notes in, and got ready for the long ride tomorrow through the hills to Virginia.

Next- good riding in the hills of NC/Tenn
 
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