Monday, April 29, 2013

Ty's Mancation 2013 Recap-Day 4

Nashville to Home

Not much to report on this day.  I hung out with Jean in the morning, keeping an eye on the radar and weather patterns.  At around 2 pm, it looked like I might be able to make it all the way home without getting rained on.  So I bolted. Somehow I did make it home in the dry.  Although at times it looked like I had just missed a thunderstorm as the road would be wet and the air heavy with moisture.

I rode to Decatur, stopped for gas and headed for home.  I pulled up to the house at 6:30pm, glad to be home, but disappointed that things didn't go as planned.

Ty's Mancation 2013 Recap-Day 3

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground to Nashville, TN

I had a wrestless, fitful night of sleep...couldn't get comfortable, the wind was loud and a light rain fell early in the morning.  During one of the periods that I was trying to get back to sleep, I talked myself into giving up and just riding to my sister-in-law's house in Nashville to avoid all the rain and crap weather that had been forecast to dampen my ride for the next two days.  I woke up early Saturday morning, mad at the weather and how it was going to ruin everything.  After a hot shower, I checked the weather and felt slightly better about my chances of completing the day's planned route. It looked that, if I got an early enough start, I might be able to avoid the worst of the weather. I decided that I would go purchase some waterproof gloves in Waynesville about 10 miles away and then pick up my planned route.

So I packed up my soggy tent and headed out of camp at about 9am.  I had asked one of the other campers where the nearest MC shop was and he gave me some rough directions.  On my way into Waynesville, it started raining once again.  I got to an intersection and the cops had it blocked off for a 5k or some event.  Only they didn't post any sort of detour.  So I wandered around Waynesville searching for the main highway.  I finally found the place and snagged a pair of gloves, spending more than I had hoped in both time and money.

Back out on the bike, I told the GPS to start the day's planned route at the nearest waypoint.  Only, for some reason, the GPS was very confused and was not taking me on the roads I wanted to ride.  I stopped and scrolled around on the GPS map and decided that I would ride to Asheville, hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and pick up NC 226 along the parkway.  My route had included heading north on 226 so I knew things would be right after that point.  Still in Waynesville mind you, I gassed up and hit the highway.  A few minutes later I'm in Asheville and heading for the BRP.

5 minutes after getting on the BRP I see the coolest thing.  A brown mass is sitting in the road about 30 yards ahead of me.  At first I don't realize what it is until it gets on all fours and starts strutting across the road.  I couldn't believe that I had just seen a bear in the wild!  How cool is that?!  I wish I had had the GoPro mounted on my helmet for that one.

So things are cold and drizzly at this point.  After about 20-30 minutes on the BRP I get to the Craggy Gardens overlook and visitors center and its here that things go from sucky to crap-tastic.  The next section of the BRP was closed!  What?!  I had no choice but to back track.  There was one turn off between where I was and where I had gotten on the BRP.  I decide to take the exit for Weaverville and see where that lead.

As I got into Weaverville, the rain really starts to come down in earnest.  Its noon and I'm hungry and need to formulate a new game plan.  I stop at a greek restaurant and look over the weather and the GPS maps once more while eating lunch.  At the rate I was progressing, it was going to be about 9pm before I got to my planned destination in WV.  It was raining steadily now.  I was cold.  It was going to rain on me that night and it was forecast to rain on my route back to Asheville the following day.  It was at this point I decided to pack it in.  Give up.  Cancel the show.  I was beaten.  I called my sister in law.  She was more than happy to put me up for the night.  God bless her, because that was the best news I had gotten that day.  I tell the GPS to get me to Nasheville.  It says it will take me four hours.  It was raining.

The first hour had me going on back roads through NC and TN.  The rain was light, the foliage seemed to be loving the moisture and repaid the weather by showing every shade of green possible.  It was beautiful. And then I hit I-40.

The minute I put wheel to interstate pavement, the sky opened up and what had been a light rain became steady and moderate.  I quickly found out that the sleeves on my raincoat were directing water INTO my waterproof gloves.  Feeling that first cold trickle of water seep down into my finger tip, I knew this was not going to be an easy ride.

As the rain continued to pelt my helmet, I noticed that it was getting harder and harder to see any details of the vehicles ahead of me.  I cracked my visor and my vision got better.  That meant my helmet was fogging up on the inside.  My vision became seriously impaired.  At one point I was sandwiched between two tractor-trailers, each throwing up about 500 gallons per minute of road spray, which seemed to be directed right at my helmet.  It was not a fun time.  I pressed on and eventually, the rain eased up.  As it did, the fogging of my visor disappeared and full vision returned.

For the remainder of the trip, the rain would come and go.  My gloves and boots were completely water logged.  I noticed that when it rained, water would seep through the upper 'seal' of my visor, and then collect right at the top of the eye opening.  I could watch it grow bigger and bigger until it hit critical mass, at which point it would drop down onto my breath guard.

I made it to Jean's house at 5:30, mentally drained from such a stressful ride and relieved to have survived unscathed.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ty's Mancation 2013 Day 2 Recap

270 miles

Cedartown, GA to Cruso, NC

What a fantastic day of riding.  I decided to be in no rush to get started this morning since it was 41deg F when I woke up.  So I waited until about 9am to get rolling.

For three years, I've been trying to think of a way to get my GPS, phone and bluetooth helmet communicator to play nice together.  I knew the solution was out there somewhere lurking in the back of my mind.  I could get the GPS to talk to my communicator.  I could get my phone to talk to my communicator.  But I couldn't play music through my phone and pick up the spoken directions from the GPS at the same time.  And then a solution hit me while I was riding in the bitter cold last night. So this morning, my first item of business was to track down the one small item I needed to make my plan work.  10 bucks later I was the owner of a new 8gb microSD card...but what I was really after  was the SD adapter that came with the micro card.  I took the microSD card that I store all my music on out of my phone, slid it into the SD adapter and then into the SD slot in the GPS.  Voila!!!  Music and directions from the GPS and phone calls from the phone.  All sent over the air to my helmet.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Anyway, now that I didn't have to constantly look down at my GPS to make sure I didn't miss a turn, it was time to head for the hills.  I had a great ride through northern GA and stopped for lunch in Dahlonega.  The roads really started to kink up after that and the rest of my day was spent slamming the bike from the right side of the tire over to the left side and back again.  This is what I came out here for and I was smiling in my helmet all afternoon.

So now I'm holed up at Blue Ridge Motorcycle campground.  Lots of folks here.  I think there is some sort of Adventure Rider rally.  Unfortunately, what the Adventure Riders brought with them is iffy weathe (it certainly wasn't my fault!).  The temperature has already dropped quite a bit and the sun is still out.  Its going to be a cold, windy night in my little tent.  I did not come prepared for cold weather. I'm supposed to camp the rest of the trip, but with spotty showers and thunderstorms coming, this might be the only night I rough it.  I'm also thinking I might need to change my plans for where I ride tomorrow to see if I can dodge the nasty weather.  I guess we'll just have to play it by ear.

I did stop and take a few pictures today.  But stupid me forgot the cable I need to download them off of the camera.  So you'll just have to wait until I get home to see the pictures.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ty's Mancation 2013

Day 1 Recap.

Caledonia, MS to Cedartown, GA.

Why is it that every motorcycle trip I go on includes miles of late night riding in frigid temperatures?  44 deg F on a motorcycle with perforated gear is COLD!!! And stupid me left my cold weather gloves at home.

Anyway, my trip has gotten off to a good start.  Clear weather, no major issues and only one minor roadside repair.  While stopped at a light in Gadsden, AL, a guy in the car next to me told me that my tail light was out.  I pulled over at a city park, pulled off all my luggage and stripped the rear of the bike down.  Turns out one of three wires powering the tail light had pulled out of the connector.  I stripped a bit of insulation off to expose more wire, stuck it back in the connector and taped it up with a short piece of tape.  I'll definitely need to get some electrical tape and fix it properly.  I don't have a lot of faith in the repair as it is.

Tomorrow I head to the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground just west of Asheville.  Good roads are in the forecast!  I just hope it warms up a little bit.

Ride on....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Big Recap

Ok,  So it's almost 5 months since our last blog about a trip that was 7 months ago. . .we are serious slackers in the world of blogging!  Just couldn't help it though.  We got caught up in life and took a few pictures here and there, but there just didn't seem to be time to write about it.  It's not that we didn't want to share, we just didn't take the time.

So, I'll do a recap of the last 7 months and then you can fill in the blanks with whatever your imagination desires.  Make it magical! Make it exotic! Our life is occupied with the ordinary day-to-day habits, but we Reeds know how to have fun, too!

Red Bull MotoGP races were the grand finale to our Cali trip

Racers coming down the corkscrew

Best Anniversary Trip, Ever!

While Ty and Angela were partying in Cali, Jean took on the task as Nanny for the week.  The kids had such an awesome time, they didn't want to leave.  The temperature in Nashville was "Hot-Enough-to-Fry-an-Egg", cold treats and pool time was a favorite on the agenda.
Swimming at Jean and Larry's place

Milla eating her icy treat

Jean, the best sister in the world!

Before the summer let out. . .
Izzy learned to ride
The family enjoyed Rickwood Caverns in Alabama

Izzy had her ears pierced
Then school was in for not just one, but two kids!
Gavin started the 3rd grade, Izzy started Kindergarten, Milla has free-reign of all toys and Mommy time!
Izzy has Mrs. Boyer, later Mrs. Anita, for her Kindergarten teacher
Gavin has Mrs. Nancy Sewell for his teacher-- he was ready to get  to school

First day for Izzy to ride "The Big Cheese"

Izzy in the Kindergarten Community Helper Parade
There's usually a bad ending to an awesome summer. . .school.  However, we Reeds like to do it a little differently.  We started school for a week and then we said "Ha Ha, psych you teachers, we are outta here for one last vacation.  You can't stop us!" 

Our first stop was Warrensburg, MO to visit our best friends: Zach, Rikki, Jackson, Shade, Aynslee and Blaze Stewart.  We had such a good time, no one wanted to leave.

We did manage to pull ourselves away early the next morning and head to St. Anthony, Idaho for a Reed family reunion.  The weather was absolutely perfect for the long drive.  We stopped the next night and camped out in Custer State Park.  We arrived in Idaho tired, but so happy to see everyone.

We enjoyed "the People in the Mountain" on the way to Idaho
Campout at Custer State Park
We got the chance to spend a day in Yellowstone National Park.  The place where Grandpa Jack Reed grew up.  It was one of the most exciting and wonderful days of the trip.  We loved listening to stories and imagining a young Grandpa's adventures.  It did get a little warm, but the weather stayed perfect.
Gavin and Old Faithful

A day at Yellowstone was not enough time!

The weather and scenery was absolutely perfect

A most beautiful view

Ty thinking about his Dad as a school boy
We spent the rest of our reunion time playing with family and enjoying the moments.  St. Anthony's is known for its natural sand dunes, so we had to "experience" them.   
The Infamous Sand Dunes (you'll have to ask Gavin about that story)

Though the drive was long (both ways), we did surprisingly well.  It will always be remembered in the Reed home as one of the "best trips ever"!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Here's a short clip I assembled from a few of the roads we sampled in northern California.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cali Trip Day 5--Last day on the bike


Despite sleeping well, we woke up early on Wed. morning and were on the road by 6:45am. Perhaps it was the fact that I wasn't sure exactly how long it would take us to get back to Mountain View that had me worried a bit. The morning temps were hovering around 51 deg so I hit the switch for the heated grips and raised the windscreen all the way up. Our goal for Wed. was to take scenic Hwy 70 out of the mountains and then head south and west back to Mountain View and the rental place. We had to be there no later than 5pm. 
The town of Chester rests on the north shore of Lake Almanor.  The water was like glass as we sailed by.

 Aside from a couple areas where we had to wait on road repairs being made, 70 is another great road. It follows the Feather River through the Plumas National forest and has lots of great corners, very good pavement, and great scenery too. 

Feather River, a train, and mountains.  
More views on Hwy 70

The west end of 70 had brand new tarmac so it was billiard table smooth with a great combo of high speed sweepers to cap it off.

Once we dropped out of the mountains, the temperature immediately started rising, the road straightened out and the traffic increased. We stopped for gas, shed our thermal layers and settled into the long slog back to Ingred's home. We hit Sacramento about lunch time and enjoyed Thai food at a place right off the interstate. Once we hit Sacramento, traffic really picked up and it was pretty much wall to wall cars all the way back to Mountain View. I had not really ever ridden in that much traffic for that length of time and found it to be really stressful. I tried to utilize the HOV lanes as much as possible, kept a pace slightly quicker than the flow of traffic and scanned ahead for signs of trouble. The problem was since we didn't have the use of our GPS, I didn't know how much farther we had, when the next turn was coming up or anything. We had jotted down the directions earlier so Angela would just call out the next interstate or road that I needed to take. The issue with that was the fact that the high temperatures had caused the glue on the double sided tape that holds Angela's communicator to her helmet to soften, allowing her communicator to fall off at random times. So while she was trying to play navigator, she was also trying to hold her communicator on and keep everything where it needed to be. Regardless of the difficulties, she did a marvelous job.

We arrived at the rental place with plenty of time to spare. I was relieved to return Ingred to her owners in the same condition that we had gotten, except with an extra 907 miles on the odometer and a lot less rubber on the tires. So long Ingred, it was a great ride!

Our next hotel was located in downtown San Francisco at the west end of Lombard street. Once we got close to the city, traffic slowed to a crawl and remained that way all the way to our hotel. It took us about 2 hours to get from the bike rental place to our hotel. After getting checked in, we hopped on a bus and went straight to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge itself was really cool. My gripe is with all the wanna be Lance Armstrongs that feel the need to ride across the bridge at full clip. We saw one cyclist wreck when someone unknowingly backed into his path.

Big Brother is watching you!
After many pictures of the bridge and surrounding areas, we headed off to China Town for dinner. Angela picked a great restaurant and we enjoyed authentic chinese food for a change.  It seems like every chinese restaurant in the state of MS serves exactly the same junk, so when none of the dishes on the menu at the Great Eastern restaurant sounded familiar, I knew we were in for a treat. Angela's clay pot dish held several sea food items we couldn't identify, but each one as really tasty. The Peking Duck I ordered was juicy, with a nice, crispy skin. And the steamed rolls were incredibly light with just a hint of sweetness.

After dinner, we strolled through China Town and then decided to work off dinner by walking all the way back to our hotel. This included walking up the crookedest street in the country. That is one steep hill!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cali Trip Day 4--Volcanoes and Steaks


Another epic day of riding in the books. Out of the hotel by nine am, we started off by back tracking just a bit to go back to Humboldt Redwoods State Park for some pictures since we didn't actually stop on our way through yesterday. It was neat to get up close a personal to those old trees. I'm still blown away by the size of them. 
Panorama of a fallen Giant Redwood. 

Angela loved the Redwoods.  
How do I get the pictures to rotate back to vertical?

Walking around this grove of trees felt like being in church.  
After a few pictures we're back in sport touring mode as we turned east at the start of CA Hwy 36, which is supposed to be one of the all time great motorcycle roads in CA. Since I haven't ridden much of California, I can't tell if its one of the greatest, but I can say that it is an amazing stretch of pavement. 36 starts innocently enough with a lazy trip through a small grove of redwoods and then begins a twisting accent into the mountains with a lot of slow, tight first and second gear corners. After gaining some elevation, the road opens up a bit and we enjoyed several assents and decents that were just amazing....great pavement, and never ending series of 3rd and fourth gear corners that kept the bike leaned way over for what seemed to be an eternity.
A scene from the western portion of  Hwy 36

We entered Shasta National Forest high in the mountains. Scenery was breathtaking with fantastic vistas but the road still demanded all of my attention. We came around one corner to find a Doe and her fawn in the road. We hit the brakes and they got on the gas and scaled a near vertical dirt and rock wall to escape Ingred's oncoming headlight. We saw a few more deer within the next couple of miles as well as one kamikazi chipmunk. We stopped for a break at a scenic overlook and finished off the cherries we had purchased at a roadside stand a couple of days before. After this we decended out of Shasta national forest with a great series of corners with one high speed sweeper in particular that had me laughing out load in my was soooo loooong and just kept begging for more speed and lean angle.

Somewhere in Shasta National Forest
See those corners? Now picture riding those for a few hours non-stop...that's CA 36.

At this point, the landscape changed from alpine to dry, arid, land with scrubby trees.
Hwy 36 changed its tone instead of long corners leading up and down mountains, the hwy followed the contours of the land...short hills and quick, sharp corners. It was exactly like a roller coaster. This portion definitely kept me on my toes since there were plenty of blind corners and turns hidden right behind the hill crests. At one point, I'm sure I could have gotten the big RT airborne had we gotten enough speed. Sadly, we got behind some dude in an old RV and missed out on some of the fun.

The fun came to an end just as we entered the town of Red Bluff. By this point it was 85 degrees and we needed to shed a few layers as well as fuel the bike and ourselves. I must admit that Ingred had shown she could dance quite well, way better than her chunky looks and heft would have me believe. There were no more chicken strips on the back tire!

After a lunch of pizza and salad, we continued east on 36 to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We once again climed into the moutnains and enjoyed fantastic scenery. I think we hit elevations around 8000ft. The snow pack was still several feet high in many places in the park.  
Scenic overlook a few miles east of Redbluff on Hwy 36
See that snow capped peak off in the distance?  That's where we were headed.

Angela and Ingred at the entrance to the park
These little flowers were soaking up as much sun as possible

My mom always reminded me that I was snow angel.

Still a lot of snow up there in July
Steam vent.

After taking our time in the park, we continued on to Chester, where we stayed for the night. Since there was a nice little park right behind the hotel and a grocery store across the street, we decided to cook our own dinner that night. We walked across the street to the grocery store and bought food and charcoal, then walked back across the street to the park and cooked up a wonderful dinner of steak, grilled asparagus (stinky pee!!!) and toasted fresh rolls.  We ate them beside a bubbling creek while we watched a city softball game at the nearby field. It was fantastic.

This is the look of happiness after one of the BEST DAYS EVER!

Truly, this has been one of the best days of riding I have ever had.  Hwy 36 lived up to the hype. It was long and varied in terrain, vistas, and elevation as well as the types of curves.  The weather was perfect.  The bike was perfect for the job and I couldn't wish for a better traveling companion in Angela.