Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spectacularly Unspectacular!

Thursday, Sept 21, 2006
Houston, TX to Marshall, TX
190 miles

What a spectacularly unspectacular ride!

At 4:03 PM, Kellie yelled down the cubicle row, “Hey Becca! Aren’t you going to be late to your meet up with the biker dude?”

Winking back at her, I admitted to building some cushion into my departure time. Having essentially finished what I needed to get done for my deadline, I grabbed a water bottle from the fridge and geared up.

The ride to the meet point (Tx1413 and US59) was surprisingly traffic free. I rolled smoothly through the early commuters, keeping a slightly worried eye on my flashing “empty” gas guage.

I arrived at the meet point and fueled up, happy to see that it is still safe to go at least 20 miles into my reserve. FJRMike, a rider from TWTexans with a beautiful dark blue Yamaha FJR1300, had only been waiting for 10 minutes. We exchanged pleasantries and discussed the particulars of the ride, a 190 mile dash straight up US59. Mike led north into the east Texas piney woods.

What can I say? There was no traffic to speak of. The woods were pretty, I guess… but when you’re flashing past them on a 4-lane trying to get some miles down… whatever. I was jamming to my XM radio and trying to anticipate Mike’s actions. I’ve always thought that there is something beautiful about two motorcycles flashing signals in unison and making a lane-change as a single unit.

I was unsurprised when we pulled into a gas station / convenience store 120 miles later. Mike had been periodically standing to wiggle his butt at me for the last hour. I admit that I was ready for a bottle of sweet tea and some crackers with peanut butter. We loitered at the gas station while the sun set, making small talk with a passing Harley rider.

As we began to gear back up, Mike reminded me to clean my visor. “That big windscreen on my FJR is really effective at keeping bugs off the helmet.”

I glanced at my encrusted helmet and laughed. “Actually, I haven’t cleaned my visor in weeks. That’s not just from tonight.”

I shared my cleaning fluid and chamois with Mike. A few miles down the road I mentally thanked him for shaming me into cleaning my visor. The bugs….they were like rain!

Up to this point, I had been feeling so fresh and ready to ride that I almost suggested we try to get past Marshall, perhaps to Texarkana. With the arrival of darkness and the threat of forest rats (deer), I was happy that I’d kept my mouth shut. Mike’s headlights led the way up 59, playing hopscotch with a red semi-truck.

We headed down the street to the local Waffle House after checking-in to two rooms in a cheap chain motel in Marshall.

Waffle House business model:
Cheap, simple food. No real effort at maintaining or updating the restaurant interior after completion of initial construction (in the 70s?). It was clean, I guess. The founder’s photographs were on the wall. I think I would have been too ashamed.

Yes, this was my first Waffle House experience. Having been turned off to “breakfast-after-the-morning-hours” by my elementary school cafeteria, I didn’t try the waffles, but I think we’re going there again tomorrow morning.

One moment of levity/stupidity for the day: Mike missed the first driveway for Waffle House. The second driveway included a tour of a hotel parking lot followed by crossing the Grand Canyon (deep, tire-eating drainage culvert) and immediately thereafter climbing Mt Everest (steep hill climb).

I’m so ashamed. You’d think that with almost 7 years of riding experience, I’d be better at this. I totally choked.

I saw the ditch and made the mistake of slowing down. Then I didn’t have enough momentum for the hill. There I was, listening to the brake servos whine, stuck on a steep grade. I couldn’t back up because my legs are too short for the transition from hill climb to ditch, and the BMW didn’t really want to resume climbing the hill (I would have whipped it (my nerves) into shape eventually). Mike came to the rescue and helped me balance while backing up. I gave myself some running room and made it over the ditch and up the hill.

I didn’t take any pictures today….but watch out for beautiful scenery and stories of camaraderie tomorrow when I arrive in Eureka Springs!

2 comments:

Rebecca "Squeaky" Nelson said...

At least your "choke" moment didn't end with the bike laying in the ditch or on top of you! We need to see about getting you some taller boots or a shorter bike. LOL

roadrailer said...

Excellent report so far! I'm anxious to see the rest...