Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finally, an (almost) incident-free ride

This past weekend, I made my third attempt at a 1000 miles < 24 hours. My first was my first ride with Hoagy's Heroes nine years ago, as a wet-behind-the-ears 22-year-old with a pretty red Triumph under his ass. That ride left a numb spot in my right ass cheek for three days, and a love of long-distance ridin' that still gets me chompin' at the bit to this day.

My second attempt at the 1K in '09 resulted in a blown rear tire that damn near got me killed, but left me with a great story. I thought I'd posted that somewhere on here, but I can't find it at the moment, so I'll have to publish it again sometime. Regardless, I got the bike fixed and managed to get off about 700 miles that day, but I fell short of the 1K.

I've done a handfull of 500 < 12's and one successful and one failed attempt at the 2000 < 48 in the years since my first ride, but I always liked the 1K. It's longer and more satisfyin' than the 500's, but with the same relatively relaxed pace. This past weekend, however, would be my first time ridin' any long distance by myself. The goal was to make it to Hoagy's house in Glen Dale, WV by 6pm for a dinner celebration in honor of Hoagy's Heroes' 10th anniversary.

I drew up the route myself and pored over it on Google Maps for several hours, so I felt very confident that I wouldn't get lost or anythin' silly like that. My route took me from Gettysburg to Chambersburg, PA on US 30W; I-81S from Chambersburg to Knoxville, TN; I-75N from Knoxville to Dayton, OH; I-70E from Dayton to Wheeling, WV, then a few miles south to Hoagy's house. Total distance as per Google was about 1,030 miles.

I was up and ready to go late Friday night, in preparation for my departure from my startin' point a little after midnight. I had prepared well, and was definitely feelin' good as I kissed my lady and headed out the driveway.

By midnight, I was fuelin' up at the Sheetz in Gettysburg, my chosen startin' point. A friend of mine from the local PD arrived a few minutes later to sign my witness forms, and I took off about 12:20am.
From then, it was just gas 'n go for almost the entirety of I-81. I hit a little bit of weather, but nothin' heavy enough to justify stoppin' and puttin' the raingear on. The other good thing about hittin' the interstates at a decent speed is that you seem to ride outta the weather about a quick as you ride into it.

I made my Knoxville gas stop with no problems, and was headed north on I-75 through the hills of Kentucky that things went south.

To preface, I've been havin' a bit of a fuel delivery issue with that bike when the tank gets on the lower side, which sometimes causes a miss. I was about 40 miles from my next scheduled fuel stop when she bucked a couple times. I thought it was my low-fuel miss, so I decided to keep goin' as long as the bike would let me before I hit my reserve tank. After a few miles of this, the bike bucked, and then revved freely as the bike lost all power to the rear wheel. I got the bike off the side of the busy highway, thinkin' that I had blown my clutch. It was somewhat of a relief then to notice a few minutes later that the chain had come off the sprocket.

What I'd thought was a miss over the last few miles was actually the chain loosenin', then skippin' over the sprocket. So, that left me with a bunch of bitched-up sprocket teeth and a chain that was damn near outta adjustment.

I tried to make a few phone calls along the highway, but the noise was overwhelmin'. I finally just loosened everythin' up, put the chain back on, buttoned everytin' back up then babied the bike to the nearest exit and jumped on a quieter side road.

Five phone calls to four local Kawasaki dealers yielded no new sprockets in stock, so fixin' the problem then and there just wasn't in the cards. I finally just said "To Hell with it," buttoned everythin' back up, and got back on the highway, bad sprocket and all. I figured I'd just go until it wouldn't go anymore, then worry about gettin' a chase truck.

At that point, it was warm enough to ditch the gloves and coat, and Kentucky's a helmet-optional state, so I opted to strip down and ride light for a little bit. Ditchin' the gloves meant that I finally got to use the old digital camera that was tethered to my tank bag. It's a dinosaur, but it has a regular shutter button that I can feel with an ungloved hand, so I can rely on touch and not sight to take pictures on the road. I figure if I point the camera in a subject's general direction and hit the button enough times, at least one of the pictures might come out the way I want it, all without havin' to divert my attention from the road.

Now that my sprocket was pretty much shot, I opted for a much easier pace than I'd been settin' earlier, which meant gettin' much better gas mileage as well. Even with spendin' almost an hour stopped while dealin' with the sprocket issue, I was still on schedule to get to Hoagy's house in time for dinner. By this time, I'd ridden into beautiful weather, so I was enjoyin' the slower pace. I couldn't take quite as many pictures as I'd have liked to though, as the highway was reasonably crowded for most of the afternoon.
Somewhere along I-75 in northern
Kentucky. God Bless America.
I made it to my Dayton fuel stop with no trouble, and with my newfound slower speed, I was kickin' ass on fuel mileage, so my Dayton fuel-up wound up bein' the last one. I did the last 200 miles to Hoagy's place without stoppin', except a brief stop at the WV line to put my helmet back on, as per their laws.
Hittin' my thousand-mile mark in eastern Ohio on I-70.

Seventeen and a half hours and 1,032 miles after leavin' my Gettysburg startin' point, I parked my bike behind Hoagy's neighbor's garage with ten minutes to spare until dinner. An awesome dinner, a shower, and a few too many cold beers made my journey all the more sweeter. A great time was indeed had by all, and we all stayed awake way too late spinnin' yarns about great rides we've had over the last ten years.
I don't normally drink that kinda water, but options were limited.
I slept well into Sunday mornin' and woke up feelin' great. I visited with Hoagy and his wife a little bit, then began to get my things together.

I was plannin' on headin' to Pittsburgh to visit my cousins on Sunday, then ride home Monday, but I decided to just head straight home. I figured that if my sprocket finally gave out, I'd have better luck gettin' a chase truck on a Sunday than a Monday.

Many folks from my area depend on the PA Turnpike to get from one side of the state to the other. I feel like I'm gettin' raped every time I pay the exorbitant toll to ride that shitty, borin' road, so by trial and error, I've settled on US 30 as the best means of gettin' back home. It's a few more minutes and few less miles, and it's a helluva lot purtier, plus no damned ol' toll. Sunday was no exception, as the traffic was light and the weather was just right. I took my time and was able to snap a few more pictures along the way.
One of any cool murals along the Lincoln Highway.
Some of the wind towers in the Laurel Highlands along US 30.
There are several sections in the Laurel Highlands where the
road just stretches on forever...
I was about 80 miles from home when the chain started skippin' over the sprocket a little worse. I just kept pluggin' along, doin' my best to get as close to a chase truck as possible. It got worse and worse with every mile, but she still kept movin' so I still kept ridin'.

After a particularly nervous ride up a hill that I damn near didn't make it up, I decided to stop at the summit for a beer at an ol' biker bar. I've passed The Mountain House uncountable times over the years without ever stoppin', but with time on my side, I decided it'd be a good day to do that.
Yes, that's a 911 Turbo S I'm parked next to. Damn sexy.
Purty awesome view for a bar.
I finished my beer and hit the road again, takin' it as easy as possible. Twice, I had to stop and put the chain back on, but she kept goin'. Somehow, I made it the rest of the way home... the sprocket gave completely out about halfway up my driveway.

Two days and 1,282 miles later, another awesome adventure came to an end.

1 comment:

  1. Ho-lee crap. You sure got your money's worth outta that sprocket. I'm glad you never pussied out though. I reckon you may as well keep going until you can't, and it looks like you're of the same opinion.