2020 Tour of Honor – Georgia/Tennessee Solo Ride

July 14

Left home 8:30 after voting in local elections.

I gassed up the bike and hit the road. Rather un-eventful since this the first hour and a half was on familiar roads. I did make an effort to keep my speed closer to the speed limit and pay attention to the scenery.

Once making the turn onto Hobbs Island Road after I crossed the Tennessee River south of Huntsville, the road was one less travelled. I followed the GPS’s guidance, willing to trust it. I had set some roads which I wanted to use to avoid others that I didn’t want to travel. The GPS led me on some unique and unfamiliar roads.

The ride to Mentone, AL was a route I have travelled in the past, but I was coming home from Mentone. I have only taken that route once, so it was not very familiar. If it wasn’t so far, it would be a great ride for the CMA or Harley group.

Crossing in to Georgia after the delay due to construction in Mentone, the GPS took me off the main roads. Very enjoyable.

My first Tour of Honor stop was at the Veteran’s Home in Summerville-Trion, Georgia for the doughboy statue. I got a few pictures to submit, then got a few with the camera of a higher quality. I returned the call from ARRL while stopped here to discuss the testing session from the weekend. All is good and my suspicions about re-instated licenses were correct. One person had an FRN, so I had submitted his on-line and his new call sign already has the upgraded permissions.

If I were hiding a geocache, there was a perfect spot nearby. I checked to see if there were any in the area, but not within walking distance from the doughboy. Onward I went.

Next stop was in Chickamauga, GA at the Veteran’s Park. I rode the bike across the park and stopped under the Huey. A family was taking some pictures of the Huey and I asked if the little girl would be willing to help me. She held my rally flag while I got the picture of the bike, rally flag, and the Huey. I gave her a poker chip and to her family I gave a business card with my information and the website.

I decided that I am not going to try to starve myself to lose weight. I need to eat at regular intervals, just not as much as I have. Though I didn’t want to stop at a chain restaurant, that was all I saw except for a few local Mexican places (not what I need to eat while riding!). I stopped at O’Charleys and had a burger and fries. The burger was huge, almost the size of what I would cook at home. I relaxed and let the blood flow in my butt again then hit the road.

Over 200 miles and I gassed up, only using a bit over 4 gallons. The low fuel warning came on as I pulled up to the pump. Expecting it to be $10, but afraid it might be more, I pre-paid $12 “just in case.” It took $10.25. As I was pumping the gas, I noticed that it had the chip reader which I feel is a little safer than sliding the card into the reader. I usually have been paying cash, but I may use the chip reader when I am in a hurry and when I start doing Iron Butt rides again.

When I had stopped for lunch, I checked over the route to Blue Ridge, Georgia from where I had stopped. A simple ride up US76 looked to be the plan. The GPS had other ideas, and I am glad I followed the GPS.

Though it was set to avoid interstates, it did give me a 15 mile stretch to “enjoy,” and that was mostly construction. Once back on the back roads, the GPS sent me on roads that paralleled the US and main state roads. It was AWESOME! Other than the stretch where I was behind an asphalt truck, at 20mph in a 55 speed zone, at 95 degrees, it was a great ride. A few locals that liked to stop and wait for traffic to clear for a couple of miles before going through a 4-way stop, but that was fun to watch, as I wasn’t the first car behind the offending idiot.

Once in Blue Ridge, Georgia, I got the pictures I needed for the Tour of Honor and looked around a bit. There were a few other people around, so I tried to stay out of their way, and them out of my pictures. I will have to review the pictures from the camera when I get home.

I decided that the planned stop for the night was still over 2 hours away. It was already 5:00pm. I am going to start trying to make my nightly stops about 5:00pm to help me relax a bit in the evening. I might even take a bit more care in making sure to pack a travel bottle of scotch or bourbon on my trips. I picked the Comfort Inn in Blue Ridge which was only a couple of miles from the Blue Ridge memorials. I made the quick ride there and got checked in.

I have to mention Sabrina, the clerk at check-in. The service and cheerfulness were so refreshing. We chatted and I did tell her that I had not been treated that politely at my first visit to many hotels. I will have to comment on her when the hotel sends me the survey.

Relaxed in the room tonight, TV on for a bit, but turned it off to watch my videos. I did send Jeff a message about the Ride to Meet in Maggie Valley. I am not going to make the stop there, but there have been several people who are in that area who have expressed interest in a Ride to Meet in September. I will need to start working on that when I get home tomorrow and on Thursday. I want to have a better itinerary by this weekend and hopefully even have a block of rooms arranged for people.

July 15

Pretty good night sleep last night. I woke up a little before 6am. Showered and packed. Checked the phone and weather tells me it is 64 degrees. I only have a light armor undershirt which I have been wearing over a t-shirt. Sleeves have small holes to help keep me cool during hot weather, not designed to keep me warm at 64 degrees. I check the map and see that there is a Walmart nearby.

I check weather along my route and see that once I get off the top of the mountain, temps are going to rise. I opt to forego the Walmart stop and hit the road. It has already gotten up to 67 as I start rolling. As I hit the main road, it is now 70 degrees.

I had altered the route for today. I will skip Murphy, NC and Sweetwater, TN visits. I am also going to postpone a ride on the Tail of the Dragon. I need to make sure I am home by mid afternoon.

Only a few turns to get from Blue Ridge to Collegedale, most being once in Collegedale to get to the memorial. I use the shortcut that I used last year, riding from the back of the office complex along the maintenance trail and field to park in front of the memorials. I get the required pictures, then take a walk around. It sems that this has expanded from last year. No real access for motorcycles, mostly only a walking trail. I leave a poker chip at the Medic Memorial.

I have the GPS set to avoid interstates, so I spend some time on the roads along the interstate which have businesses and stoplights. At one stoplight, I look up and see The City Diner. We ate there last year and loved it. I make the turn and circle the hotel attached to the diner. I custom order an omelet, Gyro meat, Feta cheese, and black Greek olives. It was fantastic!

After breakfast, I cross the Tennessee River and enjoy country roads to Soddy-Daisy. I pull into the lot for the park. I get a couple of pictures better than I took in previous years. I realize that I needed to start documenting the rides better this year on the website, at least I can use the notes from here.

I leave Soddy-Daisy and follow the directions of the GPS. I make the turn off the main road and take off on a narrow country road. I go about a mile and make a turn onto an even more narrow road. The only thing I see on three sides of me is the side of a mountain. I make a curve and see that the road is heading up. There is a gate, which is open, that indicates that the gate may be closed at times based on the Sherriff’s Office. The GPS shows the route, and it looks odd. The road keeps climbing, then I see the first curve, or should I say U-turn. It is a very tight curve and a very drastic rise in elevation. The next 8 miles I ride at about 10 to 15 mph. The sign which forbade trucks over a certain length and did not allow vehicles with trailers makes a lot of sense now. I finally make the turn onto a main US highway. The next few miles into Dunlap is an easy ride, compared to the first few miles leaving Soddy-Daisy. I make the turn into the small parking lot for the park in Dunlap. I get the required pictures, submit them with a note about the park, then send MaryJo a note that my next stop will be home after I gas up.

The rest of the ride is on familiar roads. I ride through Gruetli-Laager, I had planned to stop here for lunch at Brown’s Dairy Bar. I am still full from breakfast,  don’t think I can even enjoy a milkshake. A few twisties past Gruetli-Laager, then TN50 becomes US64, which is divided 4-lane and higher speeds.

As I make the turn toward Minor Hill, I know I am about an hour from home. I send a text to MaryJo and hit the throttle. The closer I get to home, the more tempted I am to call MaryJo and see if she wants to meet at St Florian Pharmacy for a late lunch, but I know what she has planned for supper.

Ride Recap

  • Tour of Honor Sites: 2
  • Huey’s : 5
  • Doughboys: 1
  • Amount of Wind Therapy: 581 Miles