Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Half is Every Bit As Good As a Whole

So, the SS2000 to Jacksonville turned into a SS1000...but it was every bit as rewarding.  Possibly more so for how things played out in the end.

This was to have been a SS2000 that ultimately took me to Jacksonville for the IBA Pizza Party.  As planned, the first leg, or first 1,000 miles, was a round trip ride out to Ft. Stockton and back home.  The second leg of 1,000 miles was a one-way trip to Jacksonville, picking up 10 Waffle House photos for the Grand Tour along the way. 

My starting point was the Waffle House in Stafford TX.  I left my house sometime around 4:15 AM and rode west on Beltway 8 to US 59 south and then exited on W. Aiport, the Waffle House yellow sign a bright beacon in the night.  I pulled in next to the store and, as I was getting off the bike, two police officers walked over to check out my bike.  Their squad cars were parked in front of this Waffle House and they were just leaving when they spotted me.  We chatted for a long while about bikes; turns out one of them had a Triumph Speed Triple, but recently sold it.  I was trying to get my start photo of bike, flag and Waffle House but it was so dark, I couldn't get it all to show up properly in the photo.  That's when one of the officers pulled out a Smart Phone and proceeded to get a great photo.  I handed her one of my personal calling cards with my email on it, and in seconds she had that photo winging its way through the ethernet to my email box.

With that done, I went inside the Waffle House to order some cinnamon toast and then paid with a debit card to get a good receipt before using the restroom and getting outside and on the bike to start the ride.  The clock is now ticking.

An absolutely perfect day and a totally uneventful ride out to west Texas.  Gas in Seguin, gas in Junction.  And then it was time to test the FZ6's range as I rode the 200 miles from Junction to Ft. Stockton - my turnaround point.  It was going to be close, but FZ didn't let me down.  Her count-up reserve odometer started when I was about 30 miles east of Ft. Stockton so I slowed down to 65 mph to conserve fuel.  I felt that I'd be okay, but no sense pushing it.  At the pump in Ft. Stockton the bike took 4.1 gallons of gas.  She holds more than 5 gallons.  I was fine!

On the return leg, I decided to stop in Sonora for gas, and then again in San Antonio at my usual Valero station in Converse.  But when I got to the entrance ramp to the Anderson Loop, traffic was backed up onto I-10 and not moving.  My XM traffic showed two slow spots on the Anderson Loop, and this visual confirmed the problem.  I continued straight on I-10 and even though traffic was very heavy near the 410 interchange, it was at least moving, if slowly. 

I had Hildebrand Street in my sights for my gas stop and it was easy off and easy back on.  However, traffic was backed up pretty badly at the I-35 interchange, so I continued on I-10 which might be a mile or two longer.  Once east of San Antonio, the road was fairly wide open and I made good time.  I knew I could not make it all the way to Pearland without stopping, so stopped for gas in Brookshire.  Since my stop in Sonora, I was feeling stiffness and pain in my knees, no doubt their way of protesting being folded up for so long on a sport bike after having run a half marathon only a week before.  When I pulled up to the pump in Brookshire, I nearly dropped the bike, my left knee was so stiff and unwilling. 

As I continued that last leg to the Bucee's gas station near home, I thought about the next day's 1000 mile ride to Jacksonville.  Could I do it with this stiffness?  Did I even want to do it?  So I weighed my choices.  Go ahead and do it?  I didn't think I wanted to, given the ache in my knees.  Change bikes for the more relaxed ergonomics of the BMW?  I could do this, but it would mean not getting a SS2000 out of it, since change in equipment was not allowed mid-ride.  I could get a second SS1000, but why?  Or I could just unpack the bike, get an ending witness signature from my next door neighbor and drive to Jacksonville in the SUV.  This alternative was sounding better and better, as I neared my last gas stop and the house.  In the end, this was my decision. 

I called my neighbor as soon as I pulled into my garage and, while I waited for her to walk over, I got a Lean Cuisine started in the microwave and began pulling everything off the bike and stuffing it into a duffle bag. 

1017 miles
15 hrs, 15 minutes.


It was easy falling asleep in my own bed, knowing I would be driving in the comfort of my SUV and not riding on two wheels to Jacksonville.  I can get that Waffle House SS1000 another time.

890 miles to Jacksonville.

The hotel parking lot in Jacksonville was already filled with motorcycles when I arrived Wednesday night.  I hooked up with friend Ray and we walked next door to Steak n' Shake for a late dinner for me and a snack for him.  Even though we both had to get up early the next morning to see the Mountain 1000 riders off, we sat up way too late!  He surprised me with a chilled bottle of cava wine and we sat up chatting and sipping until the wee hours!

Up at 5:00 AM, I went in search of the riders and to wish one of the riders, friend and fellow co-worker Steve a safe a fun ride. 

Then I joined a small group for breakfast.  A fellow who was supposed to be riding the Cape Fear Rally with me in April now finds himself out of commission after a track day accident, so he came over to the hotel to have lunch with me and Ray.  We didn't talk much about his situation or his condition, but I could tell by his "guarded" body positioning that he was still in some pain and he had not yet gotten his orthopedic surgeon referral for an official verdict. 

After lunch I changed into running clothes and got a 3 mile run in then headed to my room to get showered and to visit with MTF and IBA friends before dinner.  A group of three riders, all MTF members, did complete the Waffle House SS2000.  We needed to celebrate their accomplishment.  One of the riders wanted to find a "seafood joint" and we got an excellent recommendation from the fellow I had lunch with:  Trent's Seafood, near the entrance to the NAS on the other side of the river, not too far away.  Everyone piled into my SUV and we headed over there for some incredibly good seafood!  3 dozen oysters, lobsters, king crab legs, 2-for-1 draft beers.  Awesome way to celebrate the IBA ride completions!

Now it was time to start looking for the first riders to return from the Mountain 1000 and in particular, I wanted to be there to greet Steve when he arrived.  I was watching his SPOT and his progress as he finished up the last couple hundred miles and neared the finish at the hotel.  Next thing I knew, his SPOT was showing him near the hotel.  But where was he?  A phone call and I learned he was next door at the Steak 'n Shake, had been for 15-20 minutes or so, and Ray and I walked over there to congratulate him and welcome him back.

Friday morning, I met Steve for breakfast and then headed out together for a run.  I set the McDonalds on Old Augustine Rd as our destination, about 1.75 miles away.  Steve hung with me, running the entire way. 

We had to hurry to get cleaned up and on the road to Ray's Flagler Beach ride-to-eat (RTE).  Friend Bronce Smith arrived last night from Missouri and he rode with me in the SUV down to Flagler Beach where Ray had a great turnout of riders at Martin's for lunch. 

This evening is the IBA "Pizza Party," now more of a banquet, with great food, a great and funny speech by Bob Higdon, and some words from Mike Kneebone.   It was a pleasant, if loud, evening, but I was glad to retreat to the quiet of my room, finish off the last of the cava with Ray, and then say goodnight and get a good night's sleep before heading for Mandeville LA for a few days enroute to home.

Next blog entry:  Serendipity

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