Friday, October 17, 2008

Ah, the Ride to Lexington...

I rent a cabin about 15 miles south of Grayson, Kentucky on Grayson Lake. You can't much see the lake from our cabin because when the USA built the lake in the 1960's they also secured the land directly bordering it. This is nice when boating around the lake and being able to see natural surroundings versus homes and docks.

There isn't much....shall we say, commercialized world in eastern Kentucky so to 'go out' one must travel a bit. My good friend, John "Givi" Gevedon, needed to pick up his 07' Ultra Classic from the shop in Lexington (hmmm....a Harley Davidson in the shop....I jest: he was simply having his 20,000 mile service done) so that was all the prompting I needed to jump on the highway.

John lives a few counties south of me in Beattyville, Ky. and our pal, Ray, drove John's truck so John could drive his 2-wheeled Cadillac Classic back. My BMW R1150RT has been called a Cadillac by many a fellow rider compared to their Harley's but by sheer comfort qualifying alone I think his Ultra Classic is more deserving of the Caddy call.

John and I have made the Lexington run several times and really enjoy each other's riding style (he also has a BMW RT) and conversations. These things culminate nicely for us at Malone's and more specifically Harry's outdoor bar of Malone's Restaurant on the east side of Lexington. Malone's offers three different menus to choose from, a good beer selection (Bud Lite is fer Suckas'!), attentive staff, smoking (if one must...and I tend to, heehee), and a good looking bunch of folks to look at or make fun of. Really, being outside, yet roofed, seems to be one of our favorite components.

I am usually a 1-up rider (solo) but this evening my other half, Danette, thought she would explore our happy big city stomping grounds. She has ridden with me several times but this 110, one-way, mile trip would be her longest. My only reservation about going 2-up this night was how chilly it may get. I really only have one (Nolan, modular) helmet (which I usually only wear for warmth or in rain (I know: bad boy) )which when she rides she wears. But I packed my trusty Hein Gericke riding jacket in one of my side cases and my good ole Wilson Leather jacket in the other for the ride home. 'Course I had gloves, balaclava and heated hand grips, too.

The weather riding there was atypical for October 15th. We had a few clouds and a lot of sun. It was close to being too warm but, actually, it was just right. We left our cabin about 3 p.m. and spent the next hour and half listening to AC/DC, Beck, Cake, the wind and big trucks. The sky was beautiful and the traffic on I 64 west was sparse (for an interstate). I was concerned about Danette's comfort about half way there and asked her if she was ready for a break. She assured me she was just fine so in 6th gear we stayed.

We pulled into the Harley dealership parking lot and not 5 minutes later John pulled up with cool Ray layed back in the passenger seat poised for...well, anything I guess. He needed to get some specs for his 54 year old eyes and so he and Danette went to the eye shop to procure them. John and I went down to the service department, got his bill doubled for being smart-asses (didn't really double his bill - but we were smart-asses), and then took the 40 second ride to Malone's.

We were the 2nd and 3rd patrons at the bar. John and I have not known each other more than maybe 7 er 8 months but we are the kind of friends that don't require decades of experience to know, like, trust, or 'get' each other. We just do. I have 3 real brothers and I am very lucky to have a few friends that feel like brothers, too. John is one of them. We talk on the phone several times a week but we only get in person maybe once a month. So it was nice to have some time to talk before the bar filled or the other two got back. Not that we fixed the national debt or cured cancer or anything, but we did get to blast our ideas around without anyone else commenting on how full of crap we were lol.

By the time we were 4 again it was time for some grub and the bar was just about packed. We ate, laughed, talked, laughed, drank, laughed and just had a great time. Ray took out a small round can at one point and put some brown substance between his thumb and index finger and snorted it up; then, encouraged me to do the same. STOP, it was some God-awful, berry flavored snuff! We are all too 'seasoned' shall I say for anything else more nefarious. I made a bet with him that he couldn't get anyone else in the bar to try it.....hmmm, not sure who won that bet. But that stuff was HIDEOUS! But funny.

John has a small tendency to follow my lead. Bear in mind he is 8 years my senior. For instance: I bought a boat at summer's start, he had to buy a boat; I have 2 BMW shirts, he has 6,000 Harley shirts; I wear/ride with a Kangol cap, so he had to get a Harley cap. Damn kids. So as he was flaunting his new cap at the bar it landed on Danette's head. It looked much better on her except for that gaudy Harley Davidson logo emblazoned on it! What is the deal with Harley folks' insecurities that EVERY piece of attire they own MUST have Harley Davidson sewn in somewhere??!! Note: the reason he had to get a new hat was because when he was scooting me around Grayson Lake in his new boat he proceeded to stand up at about 30 m.p.h. and the wind and lake promptly gobbled up his precious H/D baseball hat. Bwaaahaaaaahaaaa....oh, lol; almost as funny as Morgan floppin' off his motorcycle last month.

So it's time to ride home and just to show what a mean guy John is, he picked up our extensive tab at the bar. Four people, food, and drinks and his credit card absorbed it all - wouldn't even let me tip. Bastard! (Of course, I again jest. It was more icing on an already sweet night.) Ray was busy talking to strangers - one of his more famous pastimes - so I gave him a firm hand and a pat on the shoulder and we three headed for the bikes.

We geared up, put Danette on the Ultra with John until we split paths 15 er 20 miles down the road (wanted her to get a bit spoiled w/ his backrest, Caddyness bike), and were off. John and I usually take off with good speed when we leave Malone's but he was on good behavior cause he had a passenger (and cause he was on his slower bike! not really.).

The night ride home was not near as cold as I had feared. More than that, the big mooned sky was exquisite! It seemed a challenge to watch the road with a sky that beautiful. Deep blue/black night with lightly scattered hints of clouds accentuated by the glow of the moon...jeesh, was Van Gogh or Dali painting that night? Reality dictated that, indeed, I needed to pay real attention to the road because of what I call "the critter factor". Mostly deer but about any four legger can do you wrong when you're doing 80 down the highway at night on a bike. We saw a dozen deer er so off of I 64 and Danette said she saw countless other red eyes in her periphery.

It was on our last 10 miles from Grayson to the cabin that we saw a two good-sized does on the road. I started just a week er so ago honking randomly at night on some of the smaller 2-lanes in hopes of scaring off critters. I don't know if it really helps but the does definitely seemed to scamper off quicker as we came upon them.

Funny...when I ride I find myself looking up a lot and thanking God. I smile. I thank God for allowing me to experience the magic of riding, great skies, family, friends, and separation of me from the animal kingdom. In fact, I thank God for everything.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brown County, Indiana ride.

Ahh, the ride...what makes the ride so magical? Is it the wind? Is it the freedom? Is there an answer?

There are so many things that make rides magical and yet with this kind of magic there aren't many secrets. There are components right there in front of you and as long as you are paying attention (and on a bike you'd better be!) all secrets are revealed.

On my most recent trip I started in Elliott County, Kentucky (my S.O., Danette, and I have been working in Kentucky for about a year now) and my first stop was to Lexington Motor Sports for a new front tire - an Avon Storm. I had Michelins put on last fall and as I am an avid rider of winding roads a new front is what I needed. Since parennial tire purchasing seems to be the need I am going to 'field test' a few different brands (no complaints with the Michelins except for the big white - REALLY white, naked, outta shape, cartoon guy and his dog lurking about.)

So Craig at Lexington Motor Sports treated me well and, quite frankly, rubberred my BMW R1150RT cheaper than any BMW dealer I contacted would. The one little snaffu occurred when I was going out to let the fellow take my bike into the garage. Apparently someone thought that lowering their garage door to height of about 5'9" was a good idea. I being 6' tall and obviously not paying attention at this moment (technically I wasn't riding at the time...) proceeded to ram my, protected w/ less hair now, forehead into the door removing a small layer of skin but adding a nice headache for the remainder of the days ride. How the service guy didn't laugh his head off I will never know!

Anyhoo, my intent was to trek to Iron Pony Motor Sports in Columbus, Ohio and do a little 'kid-in-a-candy-store' action in hopes to acquire a tankbag and who knows what else (have you seen this place?!). With a throbbing head and too much Cincinnati traffic I ended the days ride somewhere around Dayton, Ohio. I found an adequate hotel, a nice dinner, and a great band that played Couldn't stand the weather, Soul shine, and a killer (my request) 15 - 20 minute Whipping Post among other tunes. It was either the rum or the tequila that quelled my scraped up head.

The next morning meant finding my brother, Morgan, in Brown County, Indiana for some riding and a night of camping. I was packed w/ tent, sleeping bag, clothes, and a camp coffee pot for morning Starbucks - there's only so much roughing it one can take! And, yes, this meant no Iron Pony shopping spree.

I made the trip to the middle of southern Indiana and the beautiful County of Brown w/ only one goof: apparently 74 west does NOT intersect w/ 46 west in Indiana, even though it sure looks that way on the map. So I was a smidge later than expected but, hey, who is more forgiving than family.....don't answer that. All was well; Morgan was at the Last Resort Campground waiting and we promptly unloaded, set up the tent, and jumped on our bikes. Morgan has a beautiful 2004 Suzuki Volusia 800 cruiser that he's comfortably tweaked just right with a few modifications.

We headed into Nashville, the quaint little touristy town in Brown County and sniffed around for lunch. Our noses did NOT let us down. We waited a well worth it 30 minutes to have a divine lunch: rolls w/ applebutter, coleslaw, fried chicken and taters-n-gravy. Sounds pretty average, eh? FOGETTABOUTIT!!! The rolls are what Danette would call grecian rolls that are fried not baked and came promptly to the table warm and with applebutter from the gods of culunary excellence. Morgan and I would have been happy to have the complimentary appetizers as a meal! Then came coleslaw...yeah, I know, coleslaw. It was on a bread plate and kinda flattened out on the plate (I know not why). My thesaurus escapes me to expain the bliss of this seemingly lame food was simply THE best coleslaw ever and I can't even think of time in my 42 years that I have EVER raved about some stupid coleslaw! Then came the fried chicken - good Lord my mouth is watering. Morgan said that if we went into their kitchen we would probably find a crew of septa and octagenarians (grandmas) in there making this stuff from scratch - it was all just THAT good! This all from The Nashville House in the heart of this town.

We decided to drive through the Brown County State Park, although napping was discussed. The park is utterly beautiful and has plenty of windy, well-paved roads and wonderful views. I did; however, miss perhaps the best view of the day. One should perhaps know that Morgan is, by far, the more pragmatic, wise, and safety-minded brother of the two of us. This mid-afternoon I was leading us around the park and came upon an ascending left to right switchback or hairpin turn. The caution sign was marked w/ 15 m.p.h. but 5 m.p.h. may have helped. As I approached the turn a truck was coming down readying to make its left as I was making my right in the bend of the turn quite cautiously cause the roads aren't real wide anyway. I went up the hill a couple blockes disatnce or so and did not see my big brother in my mirrors. I stopped in the middle of the road and turned around: no Morgan. It was hardly any elapsed time but enough for me to u-turn cause somethin' weren't right!

I got to the bend of said turn and Morgan was kind of being pushed by two pedestrians from the truck. I was simply curious, "what haahappened?" I said. We got to the top of the hill and we parked our steeds. His story: he was approaching the bend and saw the truck and reacted by slowing down and before he realized was, then, too slow. He went to put his right foot down and was so close to the edge of the road that his foot was reaching for empty space as there was a 6" drop off from the pavement. He knew he was going down so he decided to really flop off of the bike and roll as to not let the bike fall on him. The truck fellas saw all and kindly helped out.

Morgan was just fine and his bike of four years got its first few character-building scratches. Really: no harm done, unless, of course, you count Morgan's ego! We ended up laughing so hard we nearly peed our pants. I would've paid 100 bucks to have been behind him to see his newly patented 'stop, flop, and roll' maneuver. He was quite happy I had the lead that particular day. He did notice me vibrating later on my bike as it took a while for my chuckles to subside.

We rode more and ended up in Seymour (John Mellencamp's hometown) for an ok dinner, calls to our women, and a cool ride back to the Last Resort for a fire and a bottle of wine (red, of course). The next morning we had perculated java and oatmeal that I fortified with almonds, raisins, cimmminniimum, and a touch of organic sugar. We used the sites shower house (cleaner than most hotels!!) and were clean and refreshed.

We rode to Bloomington where our big Sister went to college and rode around that awesome city. It really is just a marvelous town - clean, cultured, and people out everywhere walking around (I know-'duh' it's a college town). We had gyros and spanikopita from The Trojan Horse and then decided to go our seperate ways: he north; me south.

He had a 2 er 3 hour ride while I had a 4 er 5 hour clip. My friend John (my Kentucky riding buddy) was going to meet me at Malone's in Lexington for dinner and a drink but decided to try to garage his boat instead. This worked out well as I got home to my honey for some of her great cooking, my recliner, and some Sunday Night Football.

I logged 827 miles on my weekend jaunt. I got a new tire, heard great music, got to hang with one of my three brothers, ate great food, smelled southern Indiana farm country, and leaned into countless turns on the two-wheeled machine of my dreams. These are the secrets to the magic of my weekend!

Thanks for reading,