2019 Tour of Honor – Ride 6 (West TN)

I have been recuperating from my DC Trip, getting a few things done in town and at home, and took a look at a potential new member of the stable. I only have the day for a ride, and need some miles. So, off I went.

First, let’s talk about the new member of the stable. I have a goal to complete the Ultimate Coast to Coast to Coast Insanity. It isn’t for the faint of heart, nor for those that are completely in their right mind. This particular challenge is an Iron Butt challenge. The challenge is to go from Key West, FL to Prudhoe Bay, AK, then return! the challenger has 30 days to complete each leg, a total of 60 days for the entire ride. Not only is it not for the faint of heart, this isn’t something that either a Harley or a Can-Am would handle. So, what to do?

Introduce the BMW R1250GS. I’ll go into the details and the story about what led us to this bike in another story. However, with a new bike, it needs a ride to break it in, right? The break-in miles is 600, then it will be due for its initial service. I decide to get that done as soon as possible so I can start putting serious miles on it (i.e. a SaddleSore 1000 or Bunn Burner 1500).

I have visited three of the Tour of Honor Sites in Tennessee, two on the far east side of the state and one nearby in Boliver. There are three more in the northwest part of the state, and one more in Jasper, near Chattanooga. I decide to tackle the three northwest of me. I also plan a few bonus sites along the way. This should give me about 500 miles and will also give me a chance to check out the new Tour of Honor app on the Android phone. I’ll still take pictures with camera for posting on the web, Facebook, and my records.

I planned to be on the road by 7am, but was enjoying a nice spring nap. I was on the road by 8am. Nothing planned for the evening, so there isn’t a major problem if I don’t get home as early as I had hoped.

This is the first ride on the GS, other than the ride of about 90 miles home from the dealership. I gas up at my regular starting point, CircleK at Darby and Cox Creek. My first stop will be to visit a Doughboy in Jackson, TN’s Hollywood Cemetery. A place I visited last year. Many roads on the way to Jackson are familiar to me.

I take off on Savannah Highway. Nice little twisties that I have driven for many years. I make a side trip to visit the Neill Cemetery in Olivet where my grandparents are buried. Then on to Jackson. As I pass through Adamsville, I make the right turn onto CR224 to CR199 and Finger, TN. Last year on my way back from Jackson, the GPS had a similar route planned, but it was closer to a logging road that the route this year. The GS is a lot lighter than the Harley, and much more nimble. Though I don’t have off road experience, I feel that I could handle a gravel or dirt road better with the GS than with the Harley, so I trek onward. I make the right turn onto US45 and head into Jackson.

Hollywood Cemetery is an older cemetery. Very quaint with roads that don’t get much traffic now days. The cemetery seems to be filling up, and people don’t come to visit generations back. I remember that the GPS location last year was in a different area of the cemetery than the marker I need to find. My memory of how to get to the location is spot on! I get a picture of the bike with Mr Lemmon’s headstone in the background using both the camera and the new Tour of Honor phone app. I submit the picture using the phone and put everything away. I see that the GPS is still telling me I should be on the other side of the cemetery. I make a note that I should tell the scorer(s) about the variance. As I leave my parking spot, I realize that the road has changed to gravel, yet the GS is is taking this change with ease. I don’t want to get too confident, but I am starting to like this bike. Since the GPS is still trying to get me to the other location, I press the “skip next waypoint” button.

I make the turn onto Hollywood Dr, then onto US45 heading north. I get close to Humbolt and the GPS is telling me to turn right, but I know that I should be turning left. I pull off the road and rest the GPS. Seems that when I skipped the next waypoint, it had already skipped the one in the cemetery and I skipped the one that I wanted to visit. Quick reload of route, an hour added to the route since I was off my planned route and had to double back to Ridgely (TN5). I enjoy some roads that give me a chance to see how the bike handles faster speeds. A few chances to pass people to test quick acceleration. Everything is great. I reach Ridgely and follow the route through town. I know that the algorithm in the GPS doesn’t know the actual roads, so many times I get to see the neighborhoods. I reach the memorial and park on the side of the road. Pictures taken and I walk to get a closer view on the memorial. I submit the photo using the app and head out to Union City.

My dad was born in Paris, TN, but he lived a few years in Union City. The cemetery in Union City is the resting place for several generations back of my family, including those from the Civil War. I head toward the courthouse square. It is lunch time and only a few cars are in the area. I park right in front of the memorial for the picture. I like this one which commemorates the flag raising at Iwo Jima. I also get a picture of just the memorial (TN7). There is another memorial nearby and I take a few minutes to look at the other one. Pictures taken and submitted, ready for my next stop, Fort Donelson.

A little family history. In the early 1800’s Aaron Greene Allmond lived in the area of Union City. When the Civil War broke out, he had four sons. Legend has it that two volunteered for Tennessee units before the taking of Fort Donelson, while the other two were “drafted” into Ohio units after the taking of Fort Donelson. History shows that the two units fought in direct contact at Shiloh. This means that the four brothers were fighting each other. Good news is that all four brothers lived through the Civil War and are buried in Union City. I am a decedent of Aaron Greene Allmond, Jr. After the Civil War, he became an iterate preacher, going from town to town preaching. His grandson, Ira Hugo Allmond, who was my grandfather, was a Church of Christ preacher. Two of my uncles were preachers, a couple others were elders, all in the Church of Christ. I was the “black sheep” of the family.

I think about this history as I make my trek to Fort Donelson. I arrive at the Visitor Center to get my passport stamped. I talk with the ranger who tells me that the battle was more than just at the fort, it was actually the entire area. Some of the fighting even branched as far Union City. This helps to explain how the family was actually split. I get my passport stamped and ride over to the park entrance to get my picture at the sign. Since this isn’t one I have to submit as I make my visit, I don’t submit it. Next stop, Clarksville, TN.

My last visit at the Veteran’s Home in Clarksville was educational. Educational for both me and the daughter of a resident. I think I followed the GPS to Clarksville, but there weren’t many options for me to alter the route. I pull into the parking lot up to the Doughboy. There must have been a party recently. The Doughboy has been lei’d! Guess he was the life of the party. Pictures taken and submitted. Next stop, Charlotte, TN (TN2).

Leaving Clarksville, I realize I have hit town as the day shift if leaving the nearby Army base (Fort Campbell). Though there is some traffic, nothing like what I was used to when we lived in Virginia. A few turns and I am enjoying back roads again. I see the sign welcoming me to Charlotte, then make the left turn to head to the county courthouse. This memorial is actually at the Historic Dickson County Courthouse, the new courthouse is across the street. The courthouse square was empty except for a couple of cars in front of the bank on the other side of the square. I take a few pictures, submit, and ready to head to my last stop, a Huey in Dickson.

It is s short ride from Charlotte to Dickson, both sites are only a block off the main road that connects the two towns. I remember that there had been a road adjustment that hadn’t been picked up in the GPS or any of the on-line maps. I ignore the turn instruction from the GPS and go an extra quarter mile to the light. I make the left turn, then another sharp left turn. The entrance to the VFW is a very sharp right turn, heading up a steep hill, with loose gravel in the middle of the turn. A mild panic sets in as I start that turn and I stop. I think that Harley may have gone down if I had been riding it, but the light weight of the GS helps me keep it up. I remember about the “hill assist” feature. I set the brake, clutch in, first gear, deep breath, look up the hill and around the turn, ease out the clutch, and up the hill I go. Too easy, I could get used to this, but don’t want to rely on this. I park next to the Huey and take the pictures. I submit everything in the app and take a break for a minute. Since I have not had the headset on, no phone calls have disturbed my ride. I send a text to my bride to let her know I was only my way home. I will be home later than expected, but I will be there safe.

As I check out the e-mails, I see that some of the submissions through the app didn’t get sent. A couple of the scorers had sent me a note letting me know that I didn’t include the photos. One site did get the photo, but none of the others. I send the scorers an e-mail to confirm that I will resend all the photos required that I took with the camera when I get home to send from the PC.

I fill up as I leave Dickson. New bike is getting much better gas mileage than the Harley. The thought crosses my mind about trading the Harley for a BMW RT or K1600. But I have riding Harleys for a long time, do I really want to make the switch. I leave Dickson, cross I-40, and aim the bike for Columbia. I see the signs for the Natchez Trace ahead and decide to that route home. Setting the cruise at 50mph, I can focus on the road and scenery, not having to constantly be aware of the speed. This bike has a tendency to let me pick up too much speed. Sun is starting its downward trend, leaving long shadows everywhere. A glance to my left and I see my silhouette, just the bike and me. That sure looks pretty. I pass a few deer along the side of the road as well as several groups of turkey. I remember the comment Dave (my salesman) made about the horn he has on his GS and I laugh. I think about the upgraded lights, how they will really help when the time comes to tackle an Iron Butt ride on the GS. At Collinwood, I leave the Natchez Trace and head to Florence. Only a short ride until I am home, supper is waiting.