One Year Gone

I just reread what should have been my post of “Six Months In” and realized It has been almost that long since I wrote anything about my cycling journey. I got so wrapped up in riding that I’ve forgotten to write. Depending on who you ask that’s not a bad thing. The last post (as I’m working to post this) was actually a short one in December, so, let’s catch up, shall we?

I had talked about service during that post. I changed the oil shortly after I’d logged 4400 miles (non-OEM rear tire) and felt good. When I took the bike to the Indian dealership at about 8600 miles in, they changed the oil and filter while checking out everything with a clean bill of health. So, with one year gone, I’ve logged in almost 13,000 miles and have never been happier! Yes, I noted the mileage at the end of 2020 (December 31 to be exact) and the end of twelve months of ownership (7 March 2020 to 6 March 2021), and yes, I have a 9 week overlap (January/February).

Also, during this time away, I’ve taken on additional responsibilities dealing with riding in general. Before the Tour of Honor season was even over, a call went out asking for State Sponsors for a few states, Georgia was on the list so I tossed my helmet into the ring as it were to be the State Sponsor for Georgia. That was a quick one! Within two weeks I was added to the Scorer’s Facebook page and emailed guidelines for site selection. The hardest thing was writing up a concise enticing description for each proposed site. Guess I did a good enough job as all seven of the desired sites were taken as is and I was sent the “test” map for Georgia. Pros and cons: I know exactly where each site is, but I obviously cannot compete for a top three place in the state. No biggie and it’s not why I’m doing it anyway. I will go for the Saddle Sore Extreme when the season opens April 1.

In for a penny, in for a pound…

In September I found a local CMA chapter in Jesup and started going there. Met or rode with them three time and was accepted into their membership, completed the 35-question training questionnaire, and got my CMA number in November. Got my CMA colors presented in January as a few people were starting the process to form a CMA chapter in Hinesville. The CMA-H group chose a slate of officers to form the chapter and wouldn’t you know it I am the secretary. Needless to say I have been somewhat busy since I started riding.

I remember thinking how embarrassing it was to have dropped the bike during the training sessions last year and swearing I would not do that again. Well, that didn’t go quite as intended. I’m writing about them now because the humble pie wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. God has taught me that if I don’t have an ego, I’d have none to get bruised. Case in point, we went to Cherokee, NC in September for an alternate Ride-to-Meet when the real Ride-to-Meet for the Tour of honor in Pennsylvania was cancelled due to COVID complications (PA closed the state. Nuff said). Anyway, we got up one morning and getting ready to head out for a day of riding. I backed my bike up and went to cut to the right and proceeded to lay it on over. CRAP! I didn’t go down, only the bike did. Training kicked in and I picked the bike up exactly as I had been shown, but forgot to set the kickstand out. Luckily Gary flipped it down otherwise I would have just dropped the bike onto the left side. Now that would have been injury to insult with a whole heaping of salt ground in for good measure. Ouch!

November saw the official start of the Hinesville CMA forming chapter. The weather was nice that morning and I was so happy to ride there that when I stopped, I put the kickstand down (which cut off the bike) and started talking to another of the forming members. I got off the bike and when on in for breakfast and the meeting. About three hours later (talked about a lot of things we needed to consider as a forming chapter) when I went to get on the bike, I felt around in the pocket for the bike key. Not there! Not good. Luckily, I saw it in the ignition of the bike. Good? No. It had been left on and the bike would not start up. To make matter worse I had parked several spots away from the three other bikes so I figured I’d just roll it over to where they were and see if I could get a jump. Went to put the kickstand down and… You guessed it. The bike went down. This time it followed me as I fell backwards and the running board landed on my left foot. I remember just laying there with bike laying on me thinking what had just happened. Pride. I had none. It had just flown the coop. You can’t tell me God wasn’t at work on this one. Because my foot was hurt (thank God it wasn’t broken), I was placed in the perfect place to be of aid to a stranded soldier at work. Since we both had to be at the same place for the next few days AND I could go through post (military installations are limited access), I was able to not only drop him off at his barracks that afternoon, I was able to be there as a means of transportation the rest of the week. And wouldn’t you know it, by Wednesday my foot was fine and I could have been back on the bike. That would have been nice, but I had a greater responsibility right then (and some great conversation, also. Thank you, Jesus!).

You know things happen in threes, right? One Thursday night in February (a Masonic meeting night for me) I rode the bike to Lodge. It had been rather wet for a few weeks so I was happy to be able to ride without fear of getting rained on or wet in general (road spray). After the meeting, I got on the bike and started to go around the other side of the building and hit the road. Several members will do that – just ride across the grass in their trucks and gone. I went on around the corner of the building, shifted gears, and slid into home plate (at least that’s what it felt like). SAFE! Slick wet sod and sideward momentum from going left around the corner of the building and the rear wheel just slid right out from under me. What do you do when you have no ego or pride to bruise anymore? You laugh! No harm, no foul, only a divot in the grass. Got the bike up and took of a little more carefully that I had started out. Lesson taught; lesson learned. Pride goeth before a fall. No pride; no fall.

Speaking of learning things, the hard way, our CMA meetings in Hinesville are on the first Saturday of each month. We usually plan to ride after the meeting providing the weather cooperates. January’s meeting was going to be raining early afternoon that Saturday so we shifted the ride to Sunday afternoon (don’t want to mess with church). It was a cool afternoon and I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt under my riding shirt. I thought about a jacket, but ignored the voice saying “go get it”. Long story short on this, when the sun goes down, the temperature goes quicker! Remember, riding causes a wind-chill factor based on your speed. If the temperature was 50 in the sun, it went to 40 in ten minutes when the sun went down and felt like 20 or less when riding at about 55-60 mph. Needless to say, the hot shower definitely felt good when I got home. Again, lesson taught; lesson learned. Dress in layers for the expected temperature including a wind-chill factor.

The following weekend, the group of us rode to Southern Biker Gear in Richmond Hill to help me get some chaps. The temperature was a bit colder (low 40’s) riding up. I don’t remember where we were headed that Saturday, but I do remember I felt a LOT better once I had the chaps on. So, with the addition of the chaps, I now have a near all-weather wardrobe which includes a wet weather suit (pants and jacket), a leather jacket with armored panels, a Hi-Viz jacket with removeable armored panels, a Bohn Hi-Viz armored shirt, pull-on calf-height leather work boots with steel toes, and the grey zip-up military style boots I started out with last year when I learned to ride. Of course, the original HJC modular helmet (compliments of Gary) got an upgrade by adding a Sena-20 Blue-tooth audio set. This is really great as it allows me to listen to Sirius XM through the phone, answer calls, and talk via intercom when paired with someone else. To top all this off I have a leather vest with my CMA colors.

CMA Back patch

Jeff Allmond
20 March 2021

Group Ride

Those who have been reading my postings have noticed a theme of firsts. Today was no different. Although this is the first post for December and the first after a long absence of writing (no the “first” for this post), I rode with an open group ride for Domestic Violence. The ride was to bring light to those suffering in silence, hear those who escaped, and remember those who lost their life to an act of domestic violence.

To be honest, I was told about this event last week and only saw it as a reason to ride. Boy was I wrong. It was an eye-opening experience. I, like most, thought domestic violence is strictly physical and a man against a woman. NO! The violence takes many forms from mental to physical. The victim can be anyone – male or female, child or adult. The perpetrator can also be anyone – male or female, child or adult. Violence is violence regardless who conducts or who receives. And the stigma and shame are just as great no matter who is involved. And it affects all walks of life. That said, let’s talk about getting ready for the ride.

The gathering included riders from at least two color-flying clubs that I could see as well as others riding as a group and those riding solo (such as myself). There were even car clubs riding along Registration was by donations only – you gave what you felt – and a notebook in which you could put you name and organization (I put down CMA). Two of the bravest women I know stood up and told their story, that they are a survivor. Of all the “mandatory briefings” I sat through in the military, none of them held a candle to the out-pouring ten minute I witnessed before they announced “kick stands up” (KSU) at noon. That meant more than any briefing ever!

The “Chozen Riders” led the way and provided road-guard support for the ride when we rode out of our police escort. I was not up at the front, but I was close enough that I could see the lead group and how they rode. It was almost like military precision how they rode two by two as a unit. I wrote about taking an online course before the actual riding course and how it opened my eyes to things a car driver does not think about. Watching the hand signals from the lead group and watching how they trickle down through the riding ranks have me now wanting to go back and take some other classes for myself.

I already knew that riding as a group or in a group requires some non-verbal communications because most riders do not have radio means of communicating. Being able to talk with other riders is fun and informative for those such as myself who are learning to ride are open to critiques on their riding. Most information when riding in a group is which way to go and beware of squishies in the road.

Overall, this ride was very enjoyable and the fellowship of riders communing with nature, fresh air, and great weather. All I can say is God is good.

Jeff Allmond

12 December 2020

No Particular Place to Go

Today’s trip was a return to somewhat good weather riding. I have spent the last couple of months watching the weather in hopes of riding into work or being able to just go for a weekend day ride without the possibility of being drenched in the afternoon. I do know that weather forecasting is totally a best guess dart throw at a moving target. I also know that in coastal regions it rains in the afternoons with some regularity. So, I’ve relied on the “forecast” to guide whether or not I would ride. All week two weeks ago “they” said it would rain at the same time I would be leaving work, so I was cautious and did not ride. Wouldn’t you know, IT DID NOT RAIN! So, I figured that since Friday was showing the same thing, I’d ride. Besides, if it did rain, I had my rain gear on hand. The clouds did not look that heavy leaving work and I can handle a sprinkle so there’s that. Things were going well until I rounded the curve at the ranges and ran smack into a solid wall of water. So much for a sprinkle. Didn’t matter about stopping to put the gear on; a few feet or a few miles, wet is wet. I was soaked within a few hundred feet and the rain quit after about five miles. Anyway, back to today…

I was told of a memorial in McRae, Georgia that I wanted to scope out. It was a great ride along county roads. I still had some ominous looking clouds, but nothing like that Friday. It’d clear up and then there’d be other clouds. Luckily the threat of rain did not produce any and I had a rain-free ride today. I’m glad I didn’t have to double back because of a missed turn or have any hard stops. Not only do I not like getting wet while riding, I don’t like skidding when having to brake suddenly. Again, luckily, I did not find myself in one of those situations. In McRae I found a monument to a Marine Medal of Honor recipient.

Monument at McRae, Georgia

Since I didn’t get breakfast before I left this morning, I decided to stop on the next leg towards Baxley for an early lunch. I passed it by then thought about what Gary said about the non-chain mom-n-pop places. Besides, it’s BBQ.I did a U-turn and stopped for a BBQ sandwich and baked(?) beans. The sandwich was definitely a two-hander until you got it whittled down to something more manageable. Sandwich was great, but the beans were… meh. Don’t think I’d do them again. Tasted like they came right out of a Van Camps can. All in all, it was a good meal for eight bucks. The place is basically a storage shed with picnic tables around a tree. Nice place to stop and stretch your legs. As you can see the weather was overcast with areas of blue sky peeking through.

A decent early lunch…
… from a shed in Graham, Georgia
Plenty of room for parking

Overall, I had a great morning ride. Leisurely, with no particular place to go.

Jeff Allmond

21 August 2020

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

Expanding Horizons

Over the past three months I have gone from learning to ride a motorcycle at a Harley Davidson’s of Savannah’s Riding Academy to striking out on my own longest yet ride of 330 miles and across state lines. As my brother has recently stated, I need to work on increasing my endurance for the adventure we have planned for the end of the month. Well, today I came to know why long distance or endurance rides are known as “Iron Butt” or “Saddle Sore” rides. Riding non-stop between fuel stops, your rump will definitely let you know when it’s being roasted.

Today’s ride was a planned ride. My intent was to visit the doughboy (again) at Waycross, travel to Kingsland for the Tour of Honor site there and then zip up the interstate to the ToH site in Ridgeland, SC – about a 140-mile stretch, non-stop – before returning home. Round trip was right at 6 hours. I left home at 7:40 and rolled to a stop in the driveway at 1:40, all planned visits accomplished.

The weather called for 50% rain, but the hourly forecasts didn’t have any actual rainfall until late afternoon so there was plenty of time for the trip. Looking at the forecast from the various destinations as well as the projected radar showed the closest threat of rain was southwest of Kingsland late morning. It wasn’t until I was leaving Kingsland heading north on the interstate before I had my first taste of riding in the rain. It really wasn’t that much nor that hard; it was relatively light and sporadic. The worst of it was the drops hitting the shins quite like running into a bunch of bugs.

I wrote about visiting Waycross before, but that was before being registered and having an official Tour of Honor flag. Unlike before, this time I had installed a wireless holder for the phone. Since my bike is “bare-bones” compared to most other bikes I see on the road, apps the phone become my guide. As long as it is being “charged” (plugged in), the map will continue to be displayed. That makes navigating to the next point of interest easier. It wasn’t that big of a deal going to Waycross because it was literally a straight shot down Hwy 84 to the site on the right. Quick and easy. Getting to Kingsland from Waycross was the real test.

Doughboy statue in Waycross, Georgia
DB025 on the Tour of Honor database

The Tour of Honor app feed the map app so “programming” the next point assumes current location as the starting point. I looked at route and notice the app would have me making a left across a four lane highway to make a hard right under a train bridge. When I looked at the “map” and saw that the road I was going to making the right onto was the same road I could see three blocks away (less than a quarter mile and at a “T”), the decision to go straight and then right rather than do the “dogleg” was a no brainer.

Leaving Waycross was uneventful or at least not unexpected as normal for traffic going in or out of a Walmart. Anyway, traffic all but disappeared within three miles as I passed the last light out of Waycross. The only hiccup was missing a turn and having to backtrack a little. Other than that, the ride to Kingsland, too, was uneventful. However, I did discover that my speedometer was a little off. According to the speed shown in the “GPS”, my speedometer shown about ten percent faster than actual speed. That meant when I though I was doing 75, I was actually doing 64 or so. When I mentioned that to Gary, he said most bike speedometers are notoriously off. Let’s just hope the odometer is accurate.

I applaud the American Legion Post 170 of Kingsland, Georgia for remembering those who kept home front.

The ride from Kingsland to Ridgeland was where I ran into the rain. As I said before, it really wasn’t much, but it was enough to have water bead up on the face shield. Thankfully traffic was just as splotchy and I did not have to deal with spray from the road. However, I fully understand the origins of the terms “Iron Butt” and “Saddle Sore” as applied to non-stop riding. I really have come to love riding, but I was equally happy to get off the damned thing when I got to Ridgeland, SC. Sure, I could have taken Hwy 17 and a little longer to get there, but I also wanted to back home BEFORE any major rain came.

Tour of Honor site in Ridgeland, South Carolina (SC005)

Overall, it was a most enjoyable ride. I saw a few other riders early on and a group as I was returning home. I know there are those who prefer to ride alone and those that ride as a group. As of yet, I am not a member of a club (not for the lack of trying), but I’m still looking. That’ll be another first in my ever-expanding horizons.

ENJOY THE RIDE

Jeff Allmond

6 June 2020

There’s Nothing Like Riding

I made a somewhat snap decision to go to Florence for the Memorial Day weekend. I left Friday afternoon about 4:20 Georgia time and got to my destination about 11:30 Alabama time (12:30 Georgia time). And since I had already asked Vinnie if he wanted to go visit Blue, I had to take him along. The only thing is that I didn’t think of borrowing a trailer to take the bike because the weather forecasts for home and Florence was rain. Needless to say, I felt resigned to no riding this weekend.

Saturday was about helping with HAM testing in the morning (a roaring success) followed by the hunt for a new helmet. We ended up at the Natchez Trace Harley Davidson dealership where I bought a new two-tone HD helmet that actually turns out to be the exact same HJC model I currently had. Go figure! We had also looked into the possibility of renting a bike to ride. No such luck. NTHD got out of that some time ago (way before I took the riding class) and they did not know of anyone who rented bikes closer than Nashville. Uh, not going there.

That evening was about fellowship with Aaron and possible future plans. We also enjoyed adult beverages and saluted dead soldiers (killed a bottle) and talked about out week long ride coming up at the end of June. Oh, the weather was not the dire forecast as we had been led to believe. Saturday morning, we had the hint of a few sprinkles, but really nothing more than the ominous threats. As the sun went down, however, the threats became a reality when the clouds let loose and forced us to retire to the inside comforts of recliners and reminiscing about past histories.

Sunday dawned with clear, beautiful riding weather and again wishing I could have trailered my bike to go riding to enjoy the change in the weather. After cleaning the car from where Vinnie coated the passenger side with slobber and hair, fortune favored me with the possibility of being able to borrow a bike to ride. Come to find out, Audrey, a very generous young lady at the Harley place offered to let me her Harley. After some back and forth contact between she and brother, we (Gary and I) were off to the Harley place to pick up her bike. Although I was going to be riding it, Gary rode it back to the house while I took the opportunity to gas up the car (not good to drive around on fumes). Back at the house and a few minutes to plan a route, we were off!

Riding Audrey’s Harley was definitely an honor. It introduced a few features such as a hydraulic clutch lever, “fly-by-wire” throttle control, and ABS braking. These really made the ride more enjoyable and ratcheted up the “what’s the next bike?” criteria to a whole new level. Audrey’s gorgeous Limited Low is a red and black two-tone with low batwing fairing with a whole slew of other bells and whistles which left me with a sort of quandary for next weekend. I’ll be coming back up for an event on Saturday with hopeful time to go riding again. My plan is to trailer my bike (still don’t think Vinnie would ride tandem even though he knows how to lean) and go riding later that afternoon and possibly Sunday morning before heading back to Georgia. My problem is now that I’ve “tasted” riding a Harley, I might want to start talking “trade” while I’m in Florence. Then again, there’s always Harley Davidson of Savannah…. Damn! Now I really DO have a quandary!

Jeff Allmond

24 May 2020

194 Mile Round Trip

Today’s ride had several firsts of firsts. I planned the ride the capture two Tour of Honor sites and take pictures of two local Veteran Memorial sites that could possibly be used for future Tour of Honor sites. All told, I rode 194 miles today and even did about 60 of them on the Interstate.

The first stop was just 15 miles south of my home. I figured that since I’d passed it on several of my previous rides and it could be used in the future for a Tour of Honor site, I figured I’d go ahead and get a shot of it. Since I’ve seen several pictures of sites just off a curb, I thought I’d take a picture from the highway side. The speed limit at the point is 35 MPH and traffic is normally light on Sundays. I haven’t ridden through here during a weekday, so I can’t speak about what would be normal. I did go to the center turn lane to take the shot (no traffic!).

Memorial site in Ludowici, Georgia

After taking this shot, I headed east for the Tour of Honor site at St. Simon’s Island east of Brunswick, Georgia. I’d ridden part of Hwy 57 during my local 30-minute plus loops to work the skills, but not all the way to Hwy 17. This really was going into uncharted territory. Although I had gone down 17 to Brunswick before, it was a ride-along (Captain, My Ride Captain) and we avoided a lot of the heavier traffic (until we found it all on the “Peached to Beaches Yard Sale” along Hwy 25).

I had driven to St. Simon’s Island before, but forgot that there were three left-turn lanes going to the island. My first “lesson learned” moment for this trip was that I was in the middle lane with cars all around me. It would have been better to be in the left-most of the lanes turning rather than the middle. At least I was not in the right most lane. That one merged left just after the turn and would have been bad news if I were not seen by the pickup in that outside lane. Thoughts from my riding course came back loud and clear: “Ride as if you are invisible.” Even wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and being as big as I am, I fully understand that I am mostly invisible on the bike.

The next trick part of the ride was the wind (more like turbulence) at the top of the bridges. I’ve driven in some heavy cross winds before, but this was really nerve-wracking. All I could think about was being blown off the bridge. Not a good way to go!

Once I got onto the island, the ride was wonderful! The scenery is what I ride for and this was the best yet. Although traffic to the beach was heavy, it flowed well. I did have to pull over to consult the phone (map) because I do not have an energized mount for it. Yet… Anyway, I could see the tip of my target (the lighthouse), but had to circle around to get to it. To easy! I learned that slow-speed skill during the Riding Academy course. Only without the sand! I have been really good about watching for loose gravel and other debris on the road. Trust me, sand is EVERYWHERE!

Tour of Honor Site GA006 at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

A while back there was a story about a car carrying ship that had flipped over on its side. There are several theories on what happened. I tend to lean towards a U-turn in the middle of the channel gone wrong. Here a shot from near the where I took the picture of the lighthouse. The news stories showed the bottom, this is the top, or side now.

Did you have to make that U-turn so fast?!?

Just as I got back on Hwy 17 heading north, the fuel light came on (another first for a planned ride). No problem. I have about a 40-mile reserve and only went into it by about ten. I filled up just before getting on I-95 North. When I had crossed it going south towards Brunswick and seeing it as I paralleled it, traffic seemed to be fairly light. Well, we all know Murphy. Traffic runs in packs. And Murphy is usually in a slow car from Florida in the left lane.

Getting onto the Interstate was as smooth as silk. No bump, no wiggles, no problems. Driving at the speed of the flow of traffic is quite different than riding at the same pace on a bike. Again. Riding Academy rules: “Stay out of your own head!” Basically, just enjoy the ride and let the skills see you through. And for God’s sake, DON’T LOOK DOWN!!

The next bit of difficulty was having to go all the way across Hwy 80 after exiting the Interstate. No traffic coming made it easy, but if there had been traffic, I would have had to stay in the right lane, and make the right and circle around at a gas station or something and then wait to go across at the light. Coming back out from the museum wasn’t much better, either because just past the light is the on-ramp to the north bound lanes. And I needed to go south, which meant having to again cut across all lanes to make a left. Mission successful, but not until after I got the GA005 shot at the Might Eighth Air Force Museum. This site is right of the entrance road or back of the parking lot (depending on your perspective).

Tour of Honor Site GA005 at Pooler, Georgia

After another short stretch on the Interstate, I was back to familiar roads heading home. I did stop briefly at the Harley place to see if a friend were taking the course riding part of the course. No such luck. But I did see a possible solution to getting my coffee on the way into work while riding the bike. My brother had warned me about adding a cup-holder to the bike, but I really do need a way to carry a cup of coffee when I ride to work in the mornings. As I was getting back on the Interstate, I did see exactly what Gary feared: a biker taking a drink from a travel cup while riding in the left lane passing traffic! Not my style. All I want is a way to CARRY the coffee!

I could have stayed on until Hwy 17, but I like riding Hwy 144 through Ft. Stewart. People keep saying it’s one of the deadliest roads, but I you don’t ride or drive like a jerk, it’s fine. I did pull over to shed the jacket because, as I had learned from my Ride Captain, you dress in layer and adjust for the temperature. It was time to cool off and shed a layer!

As I rode back through Hinesville, it stopped at Bryant Commons Park to take a picture or three of the Memorial site there. I had to make a left off of Hwy 84 into the driveway where most drivers have a tendency to think it’s all theirs. Lucky for me I don’t need much room. The main problem with driving into and around Bryant Commons is that the roads are little more than wide golf cart paths and not meant for two-way traffic. I do think there is a traffic pattern in the works though as the park is a work in progress.

Memorial Park at Bryant Commons in Hinesville, Georgia

So, there you have it. 194-mile round trip, in a about four hours. Sure, there are some dull moments during a ride, but the places you’ll go and things you’ll see are worth every single minute and mile!

Jeff Allmond

17 May 2020

When the Fan Gets Hit

What do you do when you can’t ride? Well, that depends upon the situation. Is the weather of a sort that prohibits the act of riding? Nope. The weather Saturday was bright, sunny and just about perfect for riding. So why was I not out riding you ask? One other possibility would be an injury.

One thing I keep thinking about while riding is the statement from the class that motorcycles are “invisible” to other drivers. All I can say is thank God I was not on the bike when I got hit late Friday afternoon. Even while driving a car one should always be vigilant, especially at intersections.

It is amazing what would keep you from riding. When I got hit, the point of impact was at the right front tire. When the tire was hit it caused a domino effect which actually spun the steering wheel out of my left hand and was hard enough to unlatch my watch. All I could think about right then was the other driver was at the stop sign, but I got hit while he was still accelerating. I could move my fingers so it appeared nothing was broken. I was going to need some ice and Tylenol. An adult beverage for the nerves was also in order…

The “ice” was really a package of Birdseye Steamer corn. Didn’t work that well because the hand hurt top, bottom, front, back,… all over. Enter some good old ingenuity. I got a stock pot, filled it about halfway with water and ice. Good Lord that was cold! Immerse for about a minute and out for about fifteen. Repeated that about four times an hour about six hours adding ice as needed (ice maker was working overtime Saturday). Yes, I did see a doctor. I said I guess that means I can’t ride for a couple of days. Imagine my surprise when he said weeks instead of days. Imagine his surprise when I go riding to work tomorrow. How do I know? Because I CAN squeeze the clutch today and my thumb can move the turn signal. I now understand how my brother felt having to be off his bike for several months. Damn! And my span was only three days!

Jeff Allmond

4 May 2020

Building Stamina

I went for another ride today. Just an “out of the blue” ride, but one with a definite destination or route. All totaled it was about 100 miles. And I rode past two of the helicopters I talked about documenting on yesterday’s ride. Still makes me feel great every time I see them.

Fair warning: I will be plugging a couple of Patriotic activities I am quite fond of and will provide a link at the end. So, for now, I’ll describe the ride. Today I took off for an afternoon ride in weather that was just as beautiful as it was yesterday except for the addition of today’s gusts which made for some interesting riding.

I talked once before about the road to Glennville, Georgia. On that occasion I turned south on 301 towards Lodowici and then back east on 84 and home. This time I went north of 301 to Claxton (Fruit Cake Capital, or so they claim…), then east on 280 to Pembroke. From Pembroke I took 119 down and through the back gate of Ft. Stewart and then out the “side” gate on my way back home.

One observation is that people tend to “drive” too close to motorcycles. When you have mirrors that are “OBJECTS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”, I tend to get a little nervous. In the class it was suggested to “tap” the brakes so the “tailgater” “knows” to back off. Fat chance on that one! The best thing, in my opinion, is to ride to the right side of the road when there is a chance for the “person” to pass safely. It also helps to beckon them around by waving for them to go ahead and pass. Once they start to pass, THEN you should slow down to increase their distance to make a safe pass. I did this twice during this ride. Usually one would think a rider is about “speed” and get there quick! Not this one.

Speed is another of today’s observations. Yes, I admit to the so-called nominal ten over. If the posted speed is 35, I will usually drive or ride about 45. 45 becomes 55, and 55 is usually 65. There are some spots where the limit is 65 or 70, but 75 or 80 just doesn’t strike me as very appealing. I still, after all, consider myself to be a novice. I feel my skills are improving every time I ride, but hey, I’m not pushing the speed in no traffic thing. Anyway, I digress….

I don’t know if I’ve stated this before, but the V-Star has a 5-speed gearbox and I’ve figure out what I think is the optimal speed for each gear, and it works the same for down-shifting. First, of course, would stay around 15 MPH. Second at 25, third at 35,…. You see where this is going? The same hold true for down-shifting. Around 50 or 45, I’ll down-shift to fourth, and third at 35. Anything lower depends on whether or not you are going to stop, but you NEVER shift to first unless you are less than 20 (book says 19, but as long as the needle is on the low side of 20, I’m good).

One thing they told us in the riding course was to never try to anticipate a light (turning green from red), but to always be ready for a light to turn red, and always STOP at the STOP sign. And again, I digress….

On this trip I decided to make a left into the Glennville Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery (which would be across traffic leaving also) to see what it would “feel like” if I were to ride there in December for the Wreaths Across America event. Like I said at the beginning, I was going to talk about some of my favorite Patriotic events. This is one of them. It coincides with the Wreath Laying ceremony in Arlington, Virginia held at 12 noon the second Saturday of December (which will be 12 December 2020 for those that want to know). You can find more information at www.wreathacrossamerica.org.

I found myself taking a side road to Ft. Stewart’s NCO Academy (Enter to Learn; Leave to Lead). Nice little diversion, but the road sure could use a bit of TLC. Let’s just say, the shocks got tested. The road intersects 119 at an odd angle which means you have to physically turn your body to look and “clear” traffic. No problem. As I entered back onto 119 heading south, I notice a car well back that has drastically increased its speed. Fine. Let’s get out of they way. The V-Star does have some rather nice acceleration and I easily got to my “preferred” cruising speed of about 65. Here again, this driver was creeping ever closer, so again, I “enabled” them to pass. I really was not in any big hurry to get anywhere and I’m comfortable riding at my own pace.

The next decision was to either go around Ft. Stewart or stop at the back gate, dig out my ID, stuff it all back in the pocket, and continue on my merry way. I chose to endure the hassle of the stop at the gate. No big deal. It gave me the chance to stand up and let my butt get some air. Besides, I wanted to ride by those beautiful helicopters again (here’s another Patriotic plug). As I stated yesterday, there are three helicopters that need to be documented for Tour of Honor (www.tourofhonor.com). Each “season” (year) between April 1 and October 31, the Tour of Honor (ToH) site publishes a list of places that honor veterans and first responders. The goal is to visit at least one site (which changes from year to year). Also included are additional sites one can visit such as “Doughboy” statues, K9 memorials, Huey helicopters (including Cobras), and many other ideas for a ride. Since this is my “rookie” year, and since I am rather fond of the Huey helicopter (worked on them from 1981-1984), I decided to see about getting the three I knew about added to the ToH Huey database so others can enjoy them.

So, as I wrap up this latest installment of “Jeff’s Rides”, I will include some picture I took yesterday of the helicopters. Enjoy.

Jeff Allmond

26 April 2020

UH-1B Gun Ship at the 5-7 CAV Motor Pool
UH-1B Gun Ship and Vietnam Veteran Memorial
AH-1J that used to be part of the Main Gate display of Fort Stewart, Georgia. Their website may still show it as being there.

Riding with a Mission: Always be Aware

Today I rode with a purpose. I am rider #828 on the Tour of Honor website. Since the Governor opened up Georgia (as if it was really “closed” to begin with), I decided to go document some helicopter displays that are on Ft. Stewart by taking pictures of them. I also continued on to a K9 memorial that was listed for Richmond Hill. Along the way I came across my riding instructor laying out the riding course for Ft. Stewart. All I could think about is, “Don’t drop the bike! DON’T drop the BIKE!”

It was a beautiful day for riding. Started out wearing my second favorite jacket: the Hi-Viz weatherproof jacket with ventilation. It was about 68 degrees when I started out so it was very comfortable while riding. Of course, I was wearing all the gear that I had been taught to wear, especially the boots. When I stopped to say hi to Bruce, I inadvertently got off the bike and stood on an ant hill. We talked for a few minutes (there was another rider there with his bike) and I just had to take a look. Bruce complemented me on my choice of motorcycle (the V-Star or as he calls it “the Star”). I explained that it had everything that I needed to include saddlebags. As compared to the other rider’s bike. I do not have “distractions” such as the multiple buttons on the throttle or clutch controls nor an entertainment package. One of these days I may consider the bells and whistles, but not now.

As I walked back to my bike, that’s when I noticed the pissed off ants where I had stood when getting of the bike and that they were all over my foot. Corrective action? Move the bike (roll it away) and clear off the ants before those suckers could get up the boot and possibly start biting the leg. Not a good thing to deal with while riding. Needless to say, this is not one of those things they talked about in the class. Ants removed and crisis averted.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had yet to ride in the rain. Also means I had yet to ride after it had rained and left wet roads. I suppose I could also include standing water on the road or soggy ground. Going to one helicopter display, I found there was a rather large puddle of water I had to negotiate. No problem. Slow down and steer to the smaller end of the water in the road. Easy. Not the slip and slide I was afraid of. Going to look at another helicopter meant I had to traverse some soggy ground. THAT was not as easy.

I’ve been very cognizant of possible slippery conditions – sand, gravel, debris in the road, etc. I have ridden on dirt roads and know how the bike handles even when making slow turns. That was easy. The soggy ground I had to cover coming out from this other helicopter was like trying to ride down a super slippery “Slip-n-Slide”. There is a reason it is referred to as a street bike. The tires offer absolutely NO traction or control when it comes to sideways movements. This is after I mentioned the triple dump during my rider training. All I could think about was that I was about to dump my bike and get very wet in the process. I can only imaging this was what it would be like if I were having to ride through snow. Definitely not something I want to ever do again, but like my posting about the brake lockup, it’s something I will probably come across again. I just hope I will have a better result and not slide around as I did this time. Again, always be aware of your surroundings and be ready for anything. Just because it’s a beautiful day for riding does not necessarily means that every condition will be perfect for riding.

Jeff Allmond

25 April 2020