Fun day ride

The last week has been rather hectic. I have been able to spend some time with the new bike putting lights and an accessory control. But that doesn’t cure that itch to ride.

About the lights and the control system. I ordered a Denali light, horn, and the control system that interfaces with the main control of the bike. The control system will support two pairs of front lights, a LOUD horn, and a brake light. The control system allows fine tuning the light density, whether the brake light flashes or will come on when decelerating, and what happens with the lights when you hit the horn.

I learned a lot about the bike while installing these parts. Learned that the factory does not sell manuals or parts catalogs for the bike to customers. Thankfully, YouTube has a lot of videos. I get everything installed without much hassle over the course of a few days. Now I need to take a test ride.

As I head out of the drive, I realize that the I hadn’t tightened the front light enough. They were tilting with the least bit of speed so I make the block and pull back into the drive. I get a long carpenter’s level and align the lights. Ready to ride, take two.

I head over to see my cousin’s husband at another bike shop. He works in the parts department and I want to check on a tank bag. We chat, he shows me a few options that they can get for my bike, and I pick one. Should take about a week, pay when the bag and stuff get in.

There is the possibility that I will be Road Captain for the HOG Chapter ride this weekend, so I will take a quick ride to make sure I know where we are going. But I want to put a few more miles on the bike than that quick ride, so I’ll take the long way there. I know most of the way, I just want to check the stopping point.

I head south on US43 and plan to eventually head over to the Trace near Red Bay. As the speed limit goes from 45mph t0 55pm, then to 65mph, traffic starts to thin out. I come up on a car in the left lane “cruising” at 45mph. No reason for them to be in the left lane. No places to turn for a few miles, no reason that they can’t move to the right lane. I hit my passing lights and they strobe three times. Nothing. I hit the passing lights twice quickly and the lights strobe more. The car slows and pulls off the left side of the road to let me pass! I look in my mirror and they are moving, but still in the left lane. At least I know the lights got their attention.

I miss my turn where US43 splits and end up in Phil Campbell. I turn at the high school to head toward Hackleburg and Red Bay. Peaceful roads that are new to me. A few curves, but a great chance to open the bike up. This bike handles great!

I pass through Vina and head into Red Bay. I miss my turn in Red Bay and end up heading farther south as I cross into Mississippi. I end up in Tremont. I make a right onto MS178, then head north on MS25. I make it to Belmont just before 1:00pm. I decide to stop for lunch

I find this cute little place Belmont Dixie Queen. Small parking lot, but lunch rush is over and only one car in the lot. I park the bike and head inside. For a guy like me that doesn’t eat sandwiches, the menu seemed rather limited. I order chicken tenders with slaw. Staff is FANTASTIC! Owner comes over and we talk about bikes for a bit. I answer a business call, then enjoy my lunch. I might be wrong with my impression, but this seems like a fairly new place that is still trying to find its niche. Reviews on Google give it high marks.

I continue north on MS25 and make the turn onto the Natchez Trace. I set the cruise about 50mph (the speed limit on most of the Trace) and just enjoy the scenery. Other claim that this is a boring stretch, but I always fine something to see. I am heading to a place just north of Collinwood, TN where we will have a picnic on Saturday. I have a minor side trip after seeing a truck broken down on the side of the road. I stop at a gas station on TN13 to ask if they will call a wrecker for the guys in the truck (no cell coverage in that area). The attendant tells me it isn’t his problem and to ask someone else. What? A customer comes in and I ask if he whos who I an call for a wrecker. I tell him the situation and he says he is heading back home that way so he will check on the guys.

I get back on the Trace and make the quick ride to are Saturday picnic spot. I start to head south and stop at the first turn off on the Trace. Looks like a dirt road ahead on this side road. I have bike that is built for off-road and “adventure” riding. I switch the riding mode to “Enduro” and take off.

Sweetwater Rd is 5 miles of a mix of hard dirt, loose gravel, and ruts. This is my first experience on this type of road on purpose. I did a road like this once on the Harley and was terrified the entire road. This time, I am excited for the new experience. I top a hill and keep my hand and foot close to the brakes. “Enduro” mode alters the ABS on the bike so allow for a little brake lock. I still keep the speed under control. At the bottom of the hill I see water. Instinct tells me panic and turn around. After closer examination, this is just a creek that routinely crosses this road. This is the first place I have seen that is paved, a concrete section where the water crosses the road. I stand on the pegs and prepare for water splashing. I pass some farmland, a couple of deserted wooden homes, an old barn, and even a mobile home covered in the southern curse called Kudzu. Eventually, I find a paved road. I ride this old farm road and end up in Waynesboro.

I make the left turn onto US64 and head west toward Savannah (my home town). I think about visiting a friend, but she might be busy at work and not appreciate the interruption at work. I make the left turn onto Airport Rd and make my way to TN69. I pass by Neill Cemetery Road which is a usual stop, but wanting to get home, I forego the stop this trip.

TN69/AL20 is a road that is familiar to me, maybe too familiar. I have spent so many trips on this road between Savannah and Florence I can anticipate every bend in the road, the nuances, where the roads are off camber in the curves, where the road curves over the hill, even where the “tar snakes” hide in plain sight. And I know this road so well that I can almost tell when someone will slow in front of me. I know where the sheriff and the troopers hide (which isn’t very often anyway).

My bride has been watching my route on my SPOT. she sees when I turn onto Cox Creek, then when I cross Helton Dr. She times it perfectly. As I pull into the drive, she is opening the garage door.

Not a bad day. About 250 miles, 7 hours on the road, and my first experience off pavement! Good ride. I have to do that again soon.

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