COVID19 Ride

I can’t take it anymore! I need to get out!

I sold the Harley a few weeks ago, and now we are down to two bikes. The Spyder for my bride and the BMW GS for me. We cleaned up the area in the garage to give the GS a bit more space instead of having everything cramped. It looks good, now it is time to get out and ride!

COVID “rules” are that riding is not on the banned list and people must maintain “social distancing.” This means that groups of 10 or less, and everyone must maintain 6 foot distance for everyone else. I ride alone, so not a problem for me.

I have some errands that I need to run, why not do them on the bike? My task list includes heading to Publix for an ATM visit, get a gift card at Publix, drop off a gift to a friend, pick up some items I won in an on-line auction, and stop by the Harley shop to drop off the gift card.

The only task that has a specific time is meeting Charlie for the items I won in the auction, a Gerber knife, emergency stove, emergency blanket, and a back-pack hammock, all of which includes a bag to carry everything. We agreed to meet at 10:00am.

First stop is Publix and the ATM. I usually take off the helmet when I go into stores, as well as taking off my gloves. People don’t give me a second glance when I wear the helmet and gloves into Publix today. I get the gift card and head to the register. There is only one other register open, and it has a long line of full shopping carts. I am the second in line at the express checkout. The lady at the front is paying her bill. Not many items but about $75 total, which she is paying in $1’s! They count and don’t agree on the total. So they count again. They agree, but want to count one more time. The guy in front of me pays his bill with a card, so he is out quickly. I had the cashier the gift card and a $100 bill. I get the receipt and gone before the guy behind me can put his items on the register.

I stop at the ATM to get some cash. Wearing the gloves to touch buttons, but not using the fingertips. The touch-screen doesn’t like the gloves, so I take one off and touch with my knuckle. Such a convoluted process to operate the ATM. But this is what we have become.

I finish up and head back to the bike. I pull out my hand sanitizer, give myself a little squirt, and off I go.

I pull into the lot in Killen and see Charlie waiting, it isn’t quite 10am. We chat and I pay for the stuff. I look everything over and I am happy with my purchase. We talk a bit more about how the COVID19 is impacting everything. A few minutes later, another guy pulls up to pick up some other items from Charlie. I mount up and head out.

I forgot to get an envelope with the gift, so I decide to stop by the house. On the way back home, I run into the pharmacy to pick up some meds that are waiting. Seems that the doctor had sent the prescription to the other store in town, but they can make a quick adjustment and I am done there in less than 10 minutes. While waiting, I notice that there had only been one other customer inside the store with me, and they were paying to leave as I came in. There was a long line at the drive-up window.

I drop off the meds at the house, pick up an envelope, and head out to continue my errands. I stop by Homeside to drop off a little something for Casey. I just hand her the envelope and keep going. Next stop is the Harley shop for a similar drop-off.

As I pull into the Harley shop, I am hesitant about going in. I have been a customer of theirs since before we moved to the area. I bought the 2017 Ultra there in 2016 just as the new models were coming out. They knew I had sold the Harley a few weeks ago, and I have been keeping the BMW close-hold since I had been trying to get info on the Harley adventure bike for the last two years. I gave up on them and got the BMW-GS last May. I eventually went in.

Wes met me at the door. He mentioned that he heard I sold the Harley and asked what I was riding. I was hesitant, but he said he already knew I had the BMW for a while. I told him that there may be another Harley in my future, but right now I need to get back on two wheels before spending another chunk on a Harley.

I saw Audrey and went to talk with her. I left the gift card with her for Rachael. This was to say thanks to Rachael for helping me to sell the Harley. She referred me to a guy looking for one and he bought it right away. Wes came in to tell me that he went to go look at the BMW. He said he was in love. He wants to get one too! I laughed and commented on that might get him barred from the Harley place, but we agreed that wind therapy is the main goal, however it is applied.

All my errands are done, now it is my time! I check the phone for messages. I have two. First is my bride asking me to stop to pick up filters for the refrigerator on my way home. The second was from Casey. She was about to cry. She had not looked at the envelope when I gave it to her and was shocked at what we did. We left a note for her and she was emotional. I told her that we loved her and if she or Mary ever needed ANYTHING, they were to call us.

I pulled out of the Harley place, unsure where I wanted to go. I started east on US72. As I got to the bottom of the hill, I made the right turn onto Woodmont Rd., heading up toward Colbert Heights. Nice little winding road, not a lot of traffic. As I got to US43, I veered right and headed toward Russellville. Speed limit is 65mph here, so I took advantage of the higher speeds.

I ride through downtown Russellville, then toward Red Bay, before making the turn onto AL247. This is a LONG straight road. I start to open it up, but realized that if I go too fast, I will be home sooner, thus shortening my riding. I roll off the throttle and enjoy the 55mph. As truck came speeding up behind me, so I waved him around. He just kept getting closer and closer until I almost stopped and pulled over before he would pass. After a short delay for some construction, I was back up to speed. I saw the sign for the Coon Dog Cemetery and made the turn to head there. That road is narrow, twisty, and bumpy. I come up on the cemetery quickly, but manage to slow enough to make the turn safely.

I walk around the cemetery for a while, reading the markers. Some look to have been hand chiseled, while others are very elaborate marble with laser graphics cut into them. The first dog buried there was Troop, in 1937. Most are local, but I have heard of people coming from Michigan to bury their coon-hound. I didn’t see any markers from dogs outside the south, but there was a huge tree that had fallen and was laying over many of the markers.

I started heading back home. I continued on Coon Dog Cemetery Road, passing the firing range. I was expecting it to be packed since so many people are off work, but the parking lot was empty. I think that the people that would visit here are probably working, electricians, tradesmen, and even farmers. These people are the backbone who are keeping our nation running. The road soon become dotted with homes and the road conditions improve. I end up back on US72 and start heading home.

I make the stop by the appliance store for the filters and pull into the garage. It was a great day to ride.

As a recap, I noticed that my riding style is changing, I hope for the better. Though the bike will go fast, and I mean REAL fast, I am note wanting to push it. Why should I? Though I have always tried to be aware of my surroundings, I am trying to be more diligent about that now.

My rides this summer are going to be more geared to back roads. My destinations will be the various Tour of Honor sites, both the memorials and the bonus locations. Most are in areas that don’t require interstate or city riding. I will focus on eating at diners and dives, the little mom and pop places along my path. Though I have usually stayed in mid to upper level hotels when I travel, this year may bring camping into the mix, as well as maybe some mom and pop hotels in small towns. Of course, I will always have “my little friend” nearby.

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