Be Careful What You Ask For

I had always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, to have my own two wheels, to boldly go… well, you get the picture. It has been four months since I began this life-changing odyssey. I have gone from power-walking the training bike on that first day on the range to riding around southern Georgia on what I thought were epic rides of 90-120-mile trips. You’ve got to start somewhere…

Almost from the beginning my brother and I had wanted to be able to do a riding vacation. For him it is just another day of riding, but for me, it’s another great step of expanding horizons. Oh sure, I’ve taken local rides to expand and work the basics, but nothing like leaving from work on Thursday to go riding for about ten days with my brother.

Today is Wednesday. And I’ve been remiss on posting rides over the past couple of weeks, so this will probably be a longer than normal post. So, let’s start…

As I’ve said, Gary met me at my work this past Thursday afternoon and headed to Warner Robins for the night (evening). Now, I had recently been rained on so had some idea. When I say “rained on”, I should actually say “baptized” because it was a downpour. We had rain for about thirty minutes of the last hour into Warner Robins. Luckily traffic was light and it wasn’t stop-n-go (which can be a real pain on a bike). Unlike my “baptism”, I was not soaked and what was wet was fairly dry when we stopped at the hotel. All in all, it really was a nice ride.

Friday the plan was to take our time getting to Florence, Alabama while taking in some Tour of Honor sites along the way. Our first stop was at Columbus, Georgia. The last time I was at Ft. Benning was back in 1984 (thank God it wasn’t Orwellian). I remember the main entrance road, but now it has the Ft. Benning Museum and a hotel just before the main gate. Gary took the pictures to prove we were there and receive credit for the visit. While I was taking the shot of two Drill Sergeants coming down the walk, two more Tour riders rolled in – one ahead of Gary and the other behind me. Couldn’t pass that picture opportunity up! Although you can make out the statue in the back ground, we decided it would be better if we had a closer shot. Gary tried to hook the bungee between the side and the plaque. I told him to try it higher, but he got the picture with me trying to hook it higher.

Columbus, GA (GA002)
Tallessee, AL (AL007)

We took back roads across the river into Alabama (don’t remember crossing the river…) on our way to the next site along our journey to the north west corner of the state. Tallessee was the next stop. Getting there was interesting in and of itself. I know secondary and county roads can be of questionable repair, but DAMN! Lesson from the Riding Academy: Always keep you head on a swivel (always be aware of your surroundings). Did I ever tell you about the seat on my bike? I now realize it was the first thing the original (or second) owner replaced and I am thankful for it.

Overall, the trip north was uneventful relatively dry (except the humidity), although there was always a hint of rain the sky. We stopped Tuscaloosa for the Huey and a break off the bikes to stretch the legs and back. I guess that’s the learning point for long rides: Get off the bike at least every two hours and gas stops. Also, it’s a good time to hydrate! Anyway, this was as close as we could get for the picture as the curb side was an active lane (even though the mall was virtually deserted) and people were cutting through regularly as it empties to a light. The low angle is because I was actually laid out on the ground (felt great on the back).

Tuscaloosa, AL (H016)

Saturday was a down day. Only thing we had to do was sit and relax, and plan for the Sunday-Monday run down to Natchez, Mississippi to the end of the Natchez Trace and ride that all the way back to Florence, Alabama. I did know speed affects mileage. The speed limit on the Trace is 50 MPH and even at 54 MPH, I was getting up to 56 MPG. Since I have a 4.8-gallon tank, that means I can go about 180 miles until the low fuel light comes on at 3.8. The most I’ve put in at a single fill-up was 4.2 gallons. Since Gary has a much larger tank, gas stops were based on me. We found that 150 miles was a good distance regardless of Interstate or back roads (20 MPH makes a big difference in gas mileage efficiency).

The intent for Sunday was to get down to Natchez. That didn’t happen. We went as far as Jackson, Mississippi, but the heat and the roads took their toll. Gary, who is used to riding extremes, was even wiped out by the heat. Let’s just say MDOT needs an overhaul in personnel as well as some serious work on roads in that area. WOW!

We visited The Northern Mississippi Veterans Cemetery at Kilmichael, then went south to Belzoni (longest straight stretch of road ripples ever!), and then over to the site in Jackson before we called it a day and stopped at Clinton.

Northern Mississippi Veterans Cemetery at Kilmichae, MS (MS003)
Belzoni, MS (MS001)
Jackson, MS (MS002)

Since we had to wait for the room to be cleaned (at), we had dinner at the recommended Froghead Grill. Since we had never been there before, we asked a patron we overheard saying how great it was what he would recommend. As the title of this post says: be careful what you ask for. I tried the recommended quesadilla with gator sausage. I’m not one for real spicy foods, but this was good. Lots of water to replenish the day’s loss and ice cream to smother the heat of the meal.

Monday morning, we got an early start headed to Natchez and the last site planned for this two-day trip. The highlight of the trip had to be breakfast at the Natchez Coffee Co. Let me tell you, the coffee was fantastic! The service was equally fantastic! Thank you Ericca! Catching the end of the Trace and riding it all the way back to Florence was definitely an experience.

Natchez, MS (MS004)

So, what have I learned so far on this “vacation”? The “perfect” weather does not always happen and riding in the rain is not that bad. Heavy rain on the other hand, I’d rather not, but will if I need to. Next, the speedometer and odometer do not read the same from bike to bike. Mine reads fast and therefor claims more miles than actually ridden; it gained one mile for every 20. The best thing is that the new wireless phone mount from RAM Mount worked great. However, the heat tends to kill electronics and it barely kept ahead of the drain (my charger crapped out and I started riding with only a 10% charge on the phone; the mount brought it up to 18% after a full day of riding).

We had wanted to do another two-day ride (Tuesday/Wednesday), but again, weather was a factor. We were looking at constant rain fronts so we said, “Nope!” I can do a couple of days lounging around. Would I like to be riding? Of course! But, then again, be careful what you as for. Now, Friday we have to ride because I have to be back in Hinesville by Saturday afternoon, so weather or not, we’re riding.

Jeff Allmond

1 July 2020

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