Day 2
September 5th, 2005
Gadsden, Alabama

I was loaded and out the door by 7am, the morning was warm and the air thick in Alabama humidity.  I had the Roadcrafter vented out and summer textile gloves on.

At a Shell con store on Rainbow Drive I did a quick check of tire pressure after gassing up.  Each was down a pound, but I wanted to bring the pressure up about 4-5 above normal as recommended by the manual to compensate for the load I was carrying.  Only problem with all that, the air nozzle didn't fit my rear, it was one of those things with the long nozzle you squeeze.  I needed the kind you just place on the stem and go.  I went down to the next 2 con stores but same story.  I guess one vendor serviced the whole block.  I made a mental note to try again later down the road.

I hit the display to make sure I had the pre load adjusted correctly.  A helmet and bag on the screen lets me know the load is set for 1 rider and luggage.  

After gassing up I reset all the trip bars on the computer.  The BMW goes a couple of steps further than the Honda concerning on board entertainment.  By toggling the display I can see miles per gallon since last reset and average miles per hour.  Not vital information but fun when you're bored.  It also has a ambient temp display that seems to run 4-5 degrees low.  The Honda's is ALWAYS dead on the money.

The city was just waking up by the time I made it to I-59 North.  As far as interstates go, 59 is not too bad.  The route takes you pass the foothills of the Appalachians, and into Chattanooga.  My favorite area of Alabama.
Traffic was sparse and I prepared for the 100 mile run to Chattanooga.  I've put down this ride frequently the last few years.  I like it to Chattanooga, but north of the city I've learned to disdain it.  It seems it takes a long time to get out of Tennessee once on I-75.  The alternative is to make the run through Atlanta, end of discussion as to why I chose this route.

The RT quickly came up to 80 mph and I set the cruise, and raised the screen.  The BMW is the quietest bike I've ever been on.  The bike manages air flow like a Formula 1 car.  The fairing and screen are well designed, and punch a very smooth hole in the wind.  My left thumb found the ESA (electronic suspension adjustment) and brought up the comfort setting for the rear shock.  The lines and bumps on 75 suddenly smoothed out, and I leaned back on the Moto Fizz bag.  

The RT has a more upright position then the 1300.  The cockpit is big, and I feel like I'm sitting in it, as opposed to on it, like on the Honda.  I love the position.  The seat is also more comfortable than the 1300's.  I sat on it all day with little problem.  A lot of thought and design went into the BMW RT.  

The left lane seemed to be smoother, and because traffic was nil, I rode in it most of the way to Georgia.
I met a convoy of power company trucks from Michigan heading south to the coast to assist in restoring power, and I continued to see military vehicles.

Nearing the Georgia State line, 2 young ladies drew abreast of the RT in a white pick up truck with Virginia tags.  They tooted the horn, and waved.  This was my first of many encounters with someone who liked the RT.  I felt like I was back riding in my fire truck.

A Georgia State Trooper was on the prowl just I crossed the line.  Undoubtedly, working the narrow strip of 59 that cuts through the state in this corner.  "Mustn't let guys think they can roar through here with impunity, go out there and write some tickets.'

The Rising Fawn exit has a huge Pilot Truck Stop so I peeled off to top off the tank with cheaper Georgia gas, and to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I always stop here because a Long Rider can find whatever he needs.

Inside I went to the rest room and found a man and son brushing their teeth.  I assumed the were hurricane refugees.

The deep red of the RT's paint job glistened in the bright morning sun.  I was leaning on the Helen 2 Wheel bag eating a PB and J sandwich when a black SUV took the space beside me.  The passenger went inside and the driver's window came down.  A round faced man with a fading hairline, and white t shirt spoke to me-

"Nice bike, where ya going to?"

"Prince Edward Island"

"Hurricane refugee?"

"Nah, my house is ok, I lost some tree branches but that was all, Ivan hit me much worse last year.

  Are Y'all?"

"Yeah, from the coast, we headed out a few days ago and wanted to go some place cool so we went to Gatlinburg and had a good time.  Being without power really sucks."

The man went on to tell me he was a contractor in the Gulfport area.  Because of the booming housing market on the coast I knew he was well off.  When you make a vacation out of a hurricane, you're doing pretty good.  We wished each other luck and he went back to I-59. 

I called Debbie to give the morning briefing.  "Yeah, I'll be in Chattanooga soon, kind of hot here for this time of year though."  "Well call me when ya stop for lunch."

Before I could fully gear up an 1150 RT came to the pumps.  The rider was from Tuscaloosa on his way home from Bristol, Virginia.  " Yeah, good weather all the to Virginia, and traffic was not bad.  Look for that to change late this afternoon, it is Labor Day yanno."
​I shared a few moments with this RT rider in Rising Fawn
For reasons that are unclear, the interstate builders decided Chattanooga should be a hub.  Three of them converge in the narrow confines of Lookout Mountain, and the Tennessee River.  A Long Rider has traffic merging at him from all sides as vehicles funnel through the city.  Uncle Phil once told me he generally avoids this place, having picked up T shirts from Rock City, the Choo, Choo, and the Tennessee Aquarium long ago.
I brought the RT over to the far left, and zapped through the tourists that were inexorably lost in the maze of ramps, construction, and lane shifts.  A hapless car from Florida kept moving north to Chattanooga, instead of south to Atlanta.  The wife was pointing longingly at the proper ramp when they passed it.  It was sad.  They were trapped in the wrong lane, and there was nothing I could for them,.  I half expected to see Rod Serling on the road, "The Brown Family passes the time endlessly trying to return to Florida, lost on the interstate system of Chattanooga.  Forever condemned to wander the concrete ramps to the cows come home."

Out of Choo Choo City I went to I-75 North.  It was now time to take on Knoxville.  I passed the Athens exit where I usually stop for something eat, because I wasn't hungry.  It was too close from the PB and J sandwich break in Rising Fawn.

It had been a football weekend in Knoxville, and remnants of fans were still trying to escape.  I made it unmolested, and checked over to I-81 for the final and longest leg into Virginia.

Temp gauge on the RT displayed 85 degrees, I mentally made the correction and figured the real temp to be about 89.  No matter how you sliced, it was warm.  I had the screen low to move air around me and through the Roadcrafter.  I was not uncomfortable, it has to be pretty hot before I take notice, like 110 degrees.

Like every ride in the past here, it was a long one through the rural areas of Tennessee to the Virginia State Line.  It's not all that many miles, it just seems like it, and I can give no reason as to why.  I spent the time singing songs, and contemplating life in general.

I toggled through the computer stuff and noticed I'd been averaging over 70 mph since leaving Rising Fawn.  
Lunch was at a busy Waffle House at a exit I forgot to note.  The place was jumping and cell phones were firing off like popcorn.  I caved in and had a hamburger steak.  The first dark meat in weeks.  "Man I'm gonna pay for this when I try to run this afternoon."

My food came quick, but the follow up service was kind of lackluster, I still left a 2 dollar tip.

When a Long Rider enters Virginia, you have to reprogram.  After traveling the continent this state is the worst for speed enforcement.  I-81 is almost always saturated with troopers, who use every trick in the book.  Lasers, unmarked cars, and 360 degree radar.  I've never had a rabbit last longer than a few miles.  No quarter is given, and none asked in this game of cat and mouse, in which they have every advantage.  

I'm about as savvy as they come when it comes to riding, and touring.  I KNOW not to speed in Virginia, they hate it enough to ban radar detectors, and have more state police per mile of road then anywhere I'd ever been.  It was no surprise when 2 of the 3 cars, all out of state, that shot pass me at 85, were ticketed within a few miles.  Number 3 only got away because they ran out of patrol cars.  I set the cruise on 69 and stayed patient till I could get to I-77.

By afternoon Labor Day traffic was beginning to build.  The trucks on I-81 bogged the lines down, and the riding was bad.  I was stuck in several slow lines all the way to I-77.

I exited at Rural Retreat and gassed at a Chevron con store that only had supreme in the tanks.  Panic buying had emptied everything else.  The RT uses only the good stuff so it was of no consequence to me.  It was nice having all the pumps to choose from though.  I took the receipt option after remembering the episode in Marion last year.  After gassing up I went over to a nearby Mickey D's for a diet coke and to read the paper.

Reaching I-77 was a milestone, for I knew then I would soon be off the dreaded interstate.  I can't tell y'all how much I hate those things.  The roadway cuts through 2 tunnels and soon I was in West Virginia.  Signs read to take off your sunglasses before entering the dark chasms.  Yeah right, now what am I suppose to do with them?  The interstate even has a few long uphill sweepers and I blew by slow moving trucks, vans, and RVs on the inclines.
At last I made it to SR 20, and exited for Pipestem State Park, a quiet enclave in the woods and hills of this green and hilly state.  The road turned twisty and I hit the switch to send the rear end to the sport position. 

Immediately the RT stiffened up and leaned over liked it should.

In Speedway I stopped for supper items.  A can of chicken and fruit, and a loaf of bread.  I called Debbie and advised her I was near the park, and done for the day, and if she didn't  hear anything else from me, it was because I didn't have a signal.  I also sent Chris a text message.

I wondered how the town got the name Speedway, and then looked to SR 20 at the log trucks going by.  Good choice.

The road into the park was good, but a little too much traffic.  I stopped by the office to pay my fees and found 2 young men staffing the tiny office and store.  "Awesome bike mister."  "Thanks."  I paid my 10 bucks and had the choice of 50 campsites.  A nice grassy spot with shade was easy to find, and I parked the RT after 441 miles.
The entrance to Pipestem State Park
I found it odd the only other campers in the park were a couple on a Gold Wing 1500.  They were returning to their site as I set up camp.  Apparently, they had been out for the day enjoying the velvet roads the state is famous for.  They were from Indiana, and pulling a trailer.  

After setting up camp I strapped my GPS runners watch on, and ran 4 hilly miles.  The climate was noticeably cooler than Alabama.  Just as I predicted, the hamburger steak slowed me and I plodded.  My legs felt really tight on the log up hills.  My route took me out of the park to SR 20 for a couple of miles.
 I ran 4 hilly miles in West Virginia.   The road was also good
for riding.
Glad to have my run over, I went to the camp store and bought 2 diet drinks, one for now, and one for supper.  I cleaned the RT with Plexus and when I finished I cracked a can of chicken for a sandwich, with a muffin for desert.

A lingering campfire from the night before scented the area with that of burning wood.  I took a glance around and traced the small cloud back to a empty camp site near the RVs.  It was kind of cool, and the smell of wood burning lent a sense of fall to the park.

It was getting dark by the time I took a walk to the showers.  The facilities were ok, and the water was hot.  Upon returning to the table I made notes for tomorrow's ride into the Philly area. 

I spent a few minutes with my son and went to bed early.