St. Louis to Louisville, Knoxville, the Tail, BRP, Nags Head, DC, and back! - Wrist Twisters
 
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post #1 of 20 Old 07-19-2012, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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St. Louis to Louisville, Knoxville, the Tail, BRP, Nags Head, DC, and back!

Left after work today for my big east coast trip and made it to Louisville. The trip was fine for the most part. Started out really hot, but remained sunny through mid Indiana. Stopped for gas a little way across the Indiana border at a podunk town, got some water and a turkey sub, then went to pump gas. Got into a conversation with the owner, and apparently the gas company forgot to come fill his tanks, so all he had was 89. "I'll give you a Coke if you fill up with 89. Sorry for the inconvenience" he said. Felt bad for him because there were a bunch of people that stopped, tried 93 or 87, then took off. Anyway, got back on the road, and the sky was getting pretty dark and scary. Then the lightening started, and about 45 minutes out of Louisville, the roads turned wet, then started sprinkling. I missed an overpass to put my rain suit on, and then the heavens opened up. Got pretty drenched for about 15 minutes, then it cleared up for my last thirty minutes.

Tomorrow, head to Knoxville to meet my buddy from Philly. On his way down there, he got a flat so now he's gotta get that fixed in the AM before meeting me, so plans are going to be delayed a bit. We'll eat at Dead End BBQ, then hit the Tail of the Dragon, and over to Cherokee, NC for the night. It's supposed to rain pretty much for three days straight, so not exactly the dream MC trip I was hoping for, but will still be fun.

Here's the bike all loaded up...
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post #2 of 20 Old 07-20-2012, 05:39 AM
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post #3 of 20 Old 07-20-2012, 06:00 AM
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Have a great trip. I'm in the outer banks now and heading back towards the DC area on Saturday (in a cage). Might see you on the road. Ride safe.

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post #4 of 20 Old 07-20-2012, 07:43 AM
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Have fun on your trip! Hope the bags are waterproof or you have some kind of cover for it. It also helps to store your stuff in garbage bags in case of leaks.

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post #5 of 20 Old 07-20-2012, 11:42 AM
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Have fun and ride safe man!

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post #6 of 20 Old 07-21-2012, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Wow. Not sure how to put it better, but maybe better to fill in the last two days. Friday, I rode from Louisville down I-75 to Knoxville. Just into TN, took a detour down 297 and 63 due to the highway being down to one lane and backed up traffic. The plan was to meet my friend Rick from Philly in Knoxville. Great plan, except he got a flat tire and had to spend several hours getting his bike towed and a new tube. So we met at Dead End BBQ in Knoxy and had some decent food. Not sure I'd call it BBQ as I know it...no smoke taste to speak of, but the beef brisket was melt in your mouth, and they had a blue cheese Cole slaw that was awesome. Anyway, we hopped on US 129 and headed south towards the tail.

The past week, I've been stressing because the weather reports were horrendous for the whole area I was going to be riding, but so far, it has been pretty much amazing. We get to the tail of the dragon, and it was just gorgeous. No one out there, perfect temperature, blue sky. That was my first time on the bike on the tail, and it was an awesome experience, although NC 28 was just as good, I thought. Finished Friday's ride in Cherokee, and made it in time to see Dark Knight Rises. Let me tell you what...after hours and hours on a bike, there is not much better than a couple mile walk to the theater, then nice cold air and super comfy chair for a couple hours.

Today woke up to an amazing morning and hit milepost 0 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was almost perfect the whole way. We got off at Route 80 to get gas, and stumbled across 8 miles of heaven. It was every bit as awesome as the tail. Anyone know of it? Got gas and a bite, then started back up 80 when the skies opened and drenched us before we had time to get our rain gear on. Finally got it on, and had to ride that crazy road in pouring rain. Significantly less fun than dry pavement. After we got back on the BRP, it rained for ten minutes or so, then we were able to dry out. There was one more decent shower later in the day, but other than that, the weathermen were full of it...it was almost perfect. Hardly any traffic on the BRP, and amazing scenery. All said and done, we did 11 hours of seat time (with stops) and 350 miles of some of the best roads I have ridden. We made it to Roanoke, as planned, and now it is time to crash and recover before tomorrow.

Tomorrow we finish the last 120 miles of the BRP, with a quick detour to the Natural Bridge, and finish up in Charlottesville for lunch before splitting up and going our separate ways. Rick goes back to Philly, and I head through Richmond and Norfolk to Nags Head, NC for a week with my family. Can't wait to play in the ocean with my niece and nephew, and relax. Then, next Saturday, I'll go to DC to visit my cousin and Aunt and Uncle for lunch, then back on the road to get as far west as I can in whatever part of the day is left, stay somewhere, then back to STL on Sunday. Been amazing so far, I love this area and this road.

And yes, i have every single thing in trash bags or ziplock bags. The weather man scared me good!

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post #7 of 20 Old 07-21-2012, 08:13 PM
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Sounds like a great ride! Pics?...

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post #8 of 20 Old 07-21-2012, 09:30 PM
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I'm jealous man, enjoy the outer banks. You'll be riding right through my neck of the woods. Sounds like an awesome trip so far

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post #9 of 20 Old 07-22-2012, 04:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmb View Post
Sounds like a great ride! Pics?...
Will get some pics up later. Been using my "real" camera, and don't have a laptop with me to pull the pics off the SD card.

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post #10 of 20 Old 07-22-2012, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Pull up a seat for today's story of whacky weather, perfect parkways, amazing nature, near disaster, and great people.

Woke up at seven, and ate breakfast, then hit the BRP from Roanoke to finish the last 120 or so miles. From Roanoke,it is about fifty miles to get to the exit for the natural bridge, then maybe fifteen or twenty miles to the bridge. From Roanoke, we climbed into the mountains, which were blanketed in a thick cloud, so that majority of the morning was spent with very limited visibility, but some awesome scenery regardless. Even though there were many vistas that we missed, a lot of that part of the road is in the woods, and it looked really cool to have a thick fog sitting in the woods. At the end of the climb, we broke above the cloud layer and into sunshine for a brief few minutes before heading back downhill and into the fog. Hardly any traffic to speak of.

We detoured to the natural bridge, which was a very awesome sight to behold. I have seen pictures, but they do no justice to the scale of this thing. It was nice to get off the bike for a little and stretch the legs. After we had our fill of that, back on the BRP for the last seventy miles. These last miles were fantastic. Amazing scenery, perfect blue skies, couldn't complain. Finally reached the end, and started heading towards Charlottesville for lunch before going our separate ways.

Several miles on 250, we stop and fuel up, and continued toward Charlottesville. Rick pipes up on the headset that something looks funny with my tire. He describes it as shiny. Uh oh. There's only one reason I know of to fit that description. He pulls behind me at a light, and tells me we gotta get off the road now. Pull over and see the following horrowshow

uploadfromtaptalk1343019987913.jpg
uploadfromtaptalk1343020010821.jpg

So, I have no idea how these tires got looking like that. I checked before I left STL, of course, and they were showing a slight flat spot, but still plenty of tread in the center, compared to other tires I have had. The last time I had visually inspected them was in Cherokee, 500 miles prior, and same thing, slightly flat, plenty of tread. I did not inspect in Roanoke. But nothing that I have seen before would put that kind of damage on a tire in just 500 miles The only things I can think of are a combination of several little things...a lot of luggage weight on the tail, way too soft to use as a touring tire, last fifty or so miles of the BRP was nasty pavement, the really rough kind where it is almost gravel embedded into asphalt instead of nice smooth blacktop. So now I have learned a valuable lesson. On long trips, tires are getting checked at every fill up. And I'm going to invest in some touring tires for trips.

So, call all the motorcycle shops in Charlottesville and none are open of course, being Sunday. So I find one that looks promising, and happens to have a hotel near, and decide to stay the night and pound their door down as soon as they open on Monday. Rick and I have lunch, then he heads out to go back home. I limp to the hotel, and decide to drive to the shop to make sure I know where it is. Long story shorter, a guy is out back unloading some stuff, so I show him the damage, and he tells me I may be in luck, because the boss is coming in, and may be willing to swap it. I wait for about a half hour,then he shows up, and says he can help, and has a tire of the right size! I take my wheel off, he mounts it, and then tries to only charge me the price of the tire itself! I of course insisted that he charge me something above that, but it took me twisting his arm to make it happen. Anyway, was out the door and back on the road by six. I thank my lucky stars for saving my ass before Rick split off, and for the nice people who took time out of their day off to help me out. It could have been really really bad.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, but finally made it to Nags Head by about ten thirty. In bed ready to pass out... what a trip this has been!

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
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post #11 of 20 Old 07-23-2012, 05:56 AM
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The roads around that area eat tires. It's something they use in the asphalt. Had it happen to me and a friend's bike a couple of times down that way.

"Towards the end of the vid, it looks like she may have had a bafflectomy." - MarylandMike
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post #12 of 20 Old 07-23-2012, 07:46 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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The roads around that area eat tires. It's something they use in the asphalt. Had it happen to me and a friend's bike a couple of times down that way.
That sucks, but glad I know for next time. Still want some proper touring tires on there.

Here's a couple pics from the shop while I was waiting. They had a Yamaha Midnight Warrior in stock for $9999... one of the bikes I was eyeballing one of the times I considered trading in the niner. I thought, hey, if they don't have a tire, maybe I'll just buy a whole new bike

uploadfromtaptalk1343051084056.jpg
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My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
- Stephen Hawking
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post #13 of 20 Old 07-29-2012, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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Just got back from my trip. What a great time. I'm pretty tired tonight, so I'll post the report for the last two days up tomorrow, and probably some pics and maybe a video in a couple days now that I can pull stuff off my SD cards. All tonight has in store is pizza and a couple beers, and an early bedtime. Per my odo, a total of about 2600 miles with five days of downtime between last weekend and this weekend. I love my 919! I really hate the idea of going back to work tomorrow. Even though I did about ten hours today, when I got to my exit, I had an almost overwhelming urge to just keep going west and see where I ended up. Sigh. Stupid job.

Sitting on my couch, I am getting phantom wind gusts to my face and arms...pretty weird...like being on a boat for a while and then the land feels like it's moving.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
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post #14 of 20 Old 08-02-2012, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Finally got around to putting some pics and video together from the trip.

Where Rick and I met for BBQ in Knoxville before the tail:


Picture of my bike at the same sign as the first time I went:


The Blue Ridge Mountains:


Rick and I on top of the world...or at least the East Coast:


Niner in the mountains:


More mountains. I know, it's exhausting:


Me. Rock wall:


Me, under the natural bridge in VA:


Upskirt of the bridge:


Mountains in Virginia:


And finally, a little video I threw together with some clips from when Rick and I were riding together on the Tail and the BRP:
Chris and Rick's Big Adventure on Vimeo

Was going to write up more about the last two legs home, but they weren't all that exciting. So just a quick synopsis. Went from NC up to DC to have lunch with my in-laws. The only notable things about this leg was crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a 23 mile long bridge with two 1 mile tunnels to allow big boats into the Chesapeake Bay. Traffic got bad going across at Annapolis, and 495 traffic was scary, but overall this leg was full of nice country scenery and perfect weather. After dinner, my only goal was to get as far west as I was comfortable. I had two choices to get home...either take 70 through Pennsylvania and Ohio, or take the longer route through West Virginia and Kentucky. I chose WV and KY because I've done the PA/OH drive a million times and it's pretty boring outside of eastern PA. I made it to a hotel that night that overlooked the whole valley in the WV mountains, and about 15 minutes after I pulled over, a wicked storm ripped through. Great view from my balcony.

The final leg was WV through Charleston, Huntington and into Kentucky. Then across KY, IN, IL, and finally St Louis. Pretty much perfect weather all day except for fog in the mountains, and made great time.

Here's the whole route:


Already trying to figure out my next long ride.

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post #15 of 20 Old 08-02-2012, 04:37 PM
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Sounds like it was a good time, great pics, thanks for sharing!

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post #16 of 20 Old 08-02-2012, 06:59 PM
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Looks like a nice trip, great pics and video!

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post #17 of 20 Old 08-03-2012, 07:51 AM
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Sweet trip. Were you using a GPS? You have almost the same set-up as me right down to the wind-screen. Yours is an 06'?

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post #18 of 20 Old 08-03-2012, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Sweet trip. Were you using a GPS? You have almost the same set-up as me right down to the wind-screen. Yours is an 06'?
No, I didn't use a GPS. I don't have a dedicated GPS device, so I was planning on using my phone. I had a whole sweet setup planned to use it as GPS as well as track my current location on a web site so that my family could see where I was. I installed a power adapter and a phone holder for the handlebars, but I had several issues, so I just fell back on printed directions in the clear sleeve on my tank bag.
  • Could barely see the screen...polarized sunglasses no worky
  • With the screen on all the time, the charger couldn't keep up with battery loss. Not sure why this is. The USB adapter is the same one I use in my car, and it works fine there.
  • With the phone on, charging, and in the sun, got errors on the phone that the battery was too hot to charge
  • The USB adapter kept wiggling its way out of the power adapter and stopped charging

So I got about the first 120 miles of the trip with my location being updated on the map, and then find out that even when you're all grown up, your parents start worrying when the dot on the map stops moving and they haven't gotten a call explaining why

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post #19 of 20 Old 08-03-2012, 10:05 AM
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Very cool trip- I am North of Baltimore and I have been itching to ride to St Louis to visit a friend. I may just steal 99% of your route!

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post #20 of 20 Old 08-03-2012, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Very cool trip- I am North of Baltimore and I have been itching to ride to St Louis to visit a friend. I may just steal 99% of your route!
Nice, it will be a blast if you can. If you plan on doing BRP at all, save some extra time if you can. It is very doable in 2 days, but I wish I had spent a little more time. Had to pass a lot of vistas without stopping to stay on schedule. If you're just coming via interstates, I would recommend the WV/KY route over PA/OH. Less traffic, better views, no tolls. Does your friend ride?

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