5-2-17                                                     Step Back and Ride Forward​​

​​My brother also collects bikes-he owns 5 including a 2014 Kawasaki Concours and a 2003 Kawasaki 1200 ZRX.  ​​He's just a working guy, has to cram everything into weekends and doesn't get to ride as often as he would like.  His ZRX only has 11,000 miles showing.  In steps the retired brother.  The bike is in pristine condition, like all his bikes.  It looks right off the showroom floor.  I called him last night. 

​"Pull the ZRX out, I'll pick it up in the morning and take it for a long ride.  That bike not been out since the last time I rode it."

​"Yeah come get it, needs riding.  I had it out a few weeks ago but just a few miles.  Ride it proper.  Nothing is worse for a bike than not riding it."  On that I agree.  A bike likes to be ridden.  Riding it keeps everything lubed and functioning.

​The weather on this day is perfect.  No heat, no humidity.  By early May you can feel summer, but not on this day.

First order of business is the getting the FRJ out of the garage for the short 5 mile ride to Gus' house.  The
​empty spot to the right of the Yamaha is reserved for the new CB 1100 EX, expected delivery early June.  I pulled in to Gus driveway find the ZRX out and waiting for me.

The ZRX is void of cruise control, electric windshield, fancy electronics etc.  It is no frills.  One of the last UJM (universal Japanese Bike) before the manufacturers went crazy for "Transformer Bikes," that are so ugly
​they make frogs look like big eyed puppies.  They are the current UJM bike.  You can't ride one more than a few miles they are so uncomfortable.  I am in the mood to go retro while waiting for my CB to deliver.  This is not a bike you'd want to ride cross country although you could.  The FJR will do that much better.  In fact there is nothing the ZRX can do better than the modern FJR, it can only be a fun motorcycle.

​I mounted the ZRX and turned the key and it instantly came to life.  One of the first things I noticed after riding my sport touring bikes is how open, narrow, and small the ZRX feels.  With no fairing in front of me, I feel like I am in the wide open.  I sit on top of the 1200 and not down in like the FJR or the other sport touring bikes I own.  It is light, easy to turn and park,  and a pleasure at slow speeds. 

​I rode through Prattville heading west.   The wind washing over me on the unfaired bike.  It felt good.  The seat on the ZRX felt much better than the FJR's.  It has a full upright ride position.   The ZRX reminds me of my 1974 Kawasaki 900 Z1.  The in line 4 has been a mainstay of Kawasaki, and it was born with the Z1.  Many consider the Z1 the first superbike.  In 1974 the CB 750 was king.  My dad owned one.  When it came to upgrade from my CB 350F to something bigger, I wanted that bike to be a CB 750, but after Gus came home with a Z1, I had to accept the Z1 was a much better bike., and bought one.  In the early 70s nobody ever thought the CB 750 could be unseatd.

​Alabama SR 14 to Selma is vintage riding for me, I treat it like a very old friend.  When I was 15 I rode it to Selma wondering what lies beyond the city, and that if I kept riding west, I'd see places like Texas, New Mexico Badlands, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and eventually find Big Sur.   Today I ride SR 14 comfort in the knowledge I've seen all those places and much more.

A ride from Prattville to Selma will take you through the Statesville community, located halfway.  Back in high school days my teammates and classmatess would gather here at this community pool to celebrate the end of school year.  Little has changed here since 1973.  On this day I stopped for a closer look, something I've not done in a very long time.
​I was sad to see construction on SR 14 in the Ivy Creek area.  SR 14 curved and dropped for 3 miles, crossed two old but well kept bridges at Ivy and Beaver Creeks, before rising and continuing on to Selma past a few wetland areas.  I considered it the best part of the ride.

It now appears the state is going to build new bridges, and widen and stratighten my old friend.  Undoubtably it will be safer, but the the roadway will lose much of the character that made it special.

​I made it to Selma where I ate a Wendy's hamburger outside on the provided tables to enjoy the weather.

​After a early lunch I left Selma and took a more northerly tack on SR 219 to Centerville, through the heart of the Talledega National Forest.  Low traffic, good surface, with a excellent tarmac. 

  SR 219 was a great ride past quiet farms and green pastures.

By the time I reached Centerville the Kawasaki was slipping to reserve.  I gassed at a Chevron station.  I wanted to be sure to run a full tank of 93 octane through the, bike and park it with just fresh gas inside.

​With gas tank full, I left Centerville riding a series of county roads only I know.   These roads take me through the heart of Chilton County to Clanton.  The ZRX was a pleasure to ride.  Sleek and tight, I could easily park for a quick picture.  After riding sport touring bikes the bike is very light and well suited for a day ride such as this.  I don't need a cruise control to navigate the back roads of Chilton County.

Old, forgotten farm houses are common on these roads.  Farming is hard work.    It is difficult to find families willing to do it.

​​  Along with the empty houses you'll find vibrant farms like this also in Chilton County.
​​Tornados are a real threat in Alabama.  Here you see a storm shelter on the property. 
 ​​Looks like the 1200 ZRX likes to be out of the garage and free last.  I swear he looks like he's smiling.
​                         I have no idea the year this old truck happens to be.
On the way to Clanton.
​​A short ride later I found this store.
In Jemison I sought a Jack's Hamburger stand for a apple pie.  It was a nice break.

   This sprawling farm located near Jemison.

I rode out of Chilton County on SR 145 to Wilsonville, and connected over to US 280 at Harpersville where I went to Sylacauga.  I eased through to the city to CR 29, the old road to Wegulfka.  Another old friend of mine.  No matter how many times you ride a road, each one is different, and on the Kawasaki it felt like the first time.  This is one of my all time favorite roads, and in the Spring it is warm and green.  It flows past lush valleys and rich farmland, occupied by folks who don't want to be bothered.

​The landscape was full of vibrant greens with yellow blankets of spring flowers over the green grasses.

​         Coosa Valley setting.​​ 
​​CR 29 changes with the seasons, in the Fall this exact spot is ablaze in orange and red.

Everything about today's ride was perfect.  The ZRX is just alot of fun.  It can't lean in the same precise manner of my sport touring bikes, but I don't mind, this is not that kind of ride.  No, today's ride is about the simple things, of riding alone with your thoughts, on a great road, with no schedule to adhere to.  As you can see Alabama is a lush, green place most of the year.

I grew very sleepy and found a old country church.   It was quiet and breezy and I turned my coat into a pillow and propped against a old tree and took 30 minute nap. It was some good sleep.

​Hatchet Creek-end of the ride.  From here, 30 miles to home.  End of a great day and ride.  241 miles for the day.