Saturday, February 9, 2008

February 9, 2008

Got up this morning and decided to ride to Murfreesboro to try the hot dogs at Walter's Grill. I had seen another WRAL Tarheel Traveler feature on hot dogs there and wanted to try them out. Also wanted to visit Medoc Mountain State Park and do a hike there.

Got on the bike and headed east on Hwy 42. Rode to I-95 and turned north to Hwy 97. Got on Hwy 97 and basically stayed on it all the way to Murfreesboro. Along the way, I went through Scotland Neck, a town I had never visited, and was pleasantly surprised at the street layout there. Between the northbound and southbound lanes was a parking area, with the parking spaces perpendicular to the traffic. NEAT! The town had a friendly feel to it as well.

Got to Murfreesboro and found Walters Grill using the GPS. Took a couple pics and went inside to eat. Ordered 2 dogs all the way and sweet tea. The hot dogs were great--probably in the top 10 I've eaten. Talked with the waitress and mentioned the TV feature. She told the owner I was visiting because of the TV feature, so he came over to chat.

When he learned where I started, he seemed amazed I had ridden that far (107 miles) so quickly (about 2 hours). I really didn't ride fast; just kept moving.

When I finished the dogs, he asked if I was planning to visit their museums. I replied that I might, but didn't know where they were. He proceeded to tell me about them and encouraged me to visit them before leaving town.

I rode to the first one, the Jeffcoate Museum at the end of Liberty Street. Went inside and learned that a proper visit would take about 2.5 hours (more time than I wanted to spend). The operator gave me a couple of brochures about a barbecue festival held in May and encouraged me to come back then, eat barbecue, and take in the museum. I hope to do that.

The other museum holds an airplane that is supposed to be the oldest plane in existence (or so I'm told) and a Gatling gun. I'd like to see that as well, but it was not open yet.

So, I headed north on a county road to go into Virginia (just so I could say I rode to Virginia) and then turned west-south west towards Medoc Mountain.

Got to Medoc Mountain State Park, took a couple pics, and rode to the visitor center to park. Changed into tennis shoes and went for a 45 minute hike on several of the trails. Walked almost to the summit (now I wish I had gone to the summit) and back along a pretty creek to the bike.

Changed back into boots, put on the Roadcrafter, and started back towards home.

The ride home was uneventful.

Weather was terrific. Temperature when I left home was about 45 degrees; when I arrived home about 65 degrees. Wonderful weather for February!!

The odometer showed 266 miles when I parked the RT. A great day for a good ride for a good hot dog. I'll go back to Murfreesboro again.

February 2, 2008

Just a short note to record a ride to check out a hot dog joint in Tarboro, NC. I had seen a TV blurb (Tarheel Traveler on WRAL TV) featuring Bud's Grill. From the broadcast, it sounded like the hot dogs and hamburgers served there were memorable.

So, I got on the RT and headed Northeast on Hwy 42. The ride was pretty uneventful except it was the first ride using my new Gerbing heated jacket liner. The liner arrived a couple days earlier, but I had not had a chance to try it out.

The power installation was much too easy. The Centec fuse block makes electrical connections so easy; just remove the cover (2 screws), strip the wire ends, loosen two small screws, stick the wire ends in, and tighten the small screws, and put the cover back on. A 5 minute job!

Temperature was about 38 degrees when I got on the bike. Turned on the liner and felt no heat for several minutes. I got a dual controller with the liner, so I thought I may have turned on the wrong switch. So, I turned off that one and turned on the other, all the way. In about a mile, I was beginning to sweat!! Too much heat, so I turned it way down when I stopped to get gas.

Along the way, it felt very toasty; not hot nor cold. Just right! I think I'm going to really like the liner.

Got to Buds Grill and went inside to try out their food. Sat at the counter and ordered a hot dog and hamburger all the way. Both were served quickly. The hot dog was average--not special. But the hamburger was great! Very good hamburger. Sweet tea had a slightly spoiled taste.

Got back on the bike and rode back home, uneventfully. Rode 126 miles for the day.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Did a ride today, partly to evaluate different layering on a cold day. It was damp and cloudy, right at 40 degrees when I left home. Wore the Roadcrafter over a black Lands End jacket (nylon and fleece, medium/heavy weight) over a sweater over silk long undershirt. Jeans over long johns. Winter socks. Heavy winter Held gloves.

Rode about an hour. Started with chilly hands and toes. They only got worse as I rode. Had the grips on low at first and then changed to high. Learned that starting cold, they would not improve.

Had lunch with a friend and warmed up hands and toes over lunch.

Rode back with grips on high. Hands and feet stayed warm, but temps were a little warmer at about42-44 degrees. Also learned that resting balls of feet on pegs keep feet warmer.

Upper body stayed warm both ways, but felt bulky with the jacket and sweater. Need to try a lighter jacket next time!

Total ride was 125 miles and took just over 2 hours total.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Greensboro Run

Well, the riding is going a bit slow this year. Last week contained perfect riding weather, but I somehow got a head and chest cold, making me feel awful for several days. I couldn't be sick while it was COLD; it had to be while the riding conditions were perfect. Oh well.....

I have a friend whose brother does a lot of distance riding. Jack had told me about some of Gene's adventures, and I had wanted to meet and talk with him for some time. I learned recently that Gene and some friends rode to Alaska last year. Since Gary and I are planning a ride there this summer, it made sense to visit with Gene to learn from his experiences. So, I set it up to meet with he and his friends on Saturday, Jan 12 in Greensboro, along with Gary.

Gene and his buddies meet at the same place every Saturday morning at 9:00am, sometimes just for breakfast and tales; sometimes followed by a ride.

In order to get there by 9:00, I had to leave home by 7:15am--the ride was 100 miles, according to my GPS. And I needed gas before getting there.

Getting on the RT, I noted that the temperature was a cold 42 degrees. Not frigid, but not warm. I wore the bumblebee with two fleece jackets, cold weather socks with liner, and long johns under blue jeans. I didn't want to get cold! The layering worked very well, and the only part of me that got cold was my feet. Not bad!

The ride to Greensboro was uneventful. Traffic was light on I-40, and I got to the restaurant about 10 minutes early.

As others arrived, we introduced ourselves and went inside for breakfast and stories.

After we finished eating, the pictures and storytelling began. The group that went last summer included 4 riders and lasted 29 days. Their route turned out to be almost exactly the same route Gary and I are planning, including a stop at Glacier National Park on the way up to Alaska, a ferry ride from Alaska to Washington, and a ride down the Pacific coastline to San Francisco. So, hearing their stories was helpful.

Their trip was pretty amazing in that they encountered no bad weather at all. Coldest temperatures were in the low 40s; almost no rain, and almost no mechanical problems (one flat). They alternated camping and moteling, sleeping 4 to a room, with 2 in beds and 2 on camping pads, alternating who got a bed at each motel stop. Not a bad arrangement, and they averaged spending only $17 per night per person in motels.

They gave us some suggestions on good roads and places to eat along the way.

After breakfast and stories (from 9:15 to almost 11:30), Gary and I left for the local BMW shop. I wanted to look at Gerbing heated liners and socks.

We got there and spent a while looking at the Gerbing things and other stuff.

After a while, I was getting hungry for something from Stamey's Barbecue, one of my favorite restaurants in the world. So, I talked Gary into joining me for lunch. It was good!

After lunch, Gary had to head home, and I wanted to ride back roads to home. So, I took Hwy 220 to Asheboro and on to the Pisgah Covered Bridge, one of my favorite stops in the area.

Found a new route to the bridge from Asheboro, a back-roads way to go off Hwy 49. Much more fun, although I was in no hurry and rode slowly. Actually the GPS found the route!

Got to the bridge and met a couple from High Point riding Harleys--a Road King for him and a Sportster 883 for her. Nice people. He has ridden all his life, and she had recently started riding. We shared stories of mutual places we've ridden. From her, it sounded like she was a tentative rider; afraid to push it much. I encouraged her to keep riding, assuring her that the riding would improve skills and make it more enjoyable.

After a while, it was time to get started home, so I left and meandered in a generally easterly direction on back roads. Good riding on new to me roads. After about 45 minutes, I came up on Hwy 42, one of my favorite roads that just happens to end up 2 blocks from home!

So, I jumped on Hwy 42, headed east towards Clayton. Low traffic most of the way made the ride very enjoyable. Got to Fuquay-Varina and decided to make a bathroom stop and to put on more clothes (almost dark and cooling into the high 40s). When I opened the top case to get a jacked, I discovered that I only had one with me. Thinking back, I remembered taking off the missing jacket inside the BMW shop to try on the jacket liners. Damn! Oh well, I'll call the shop next week and ask them to hold it until my next trip through the area.

The jacket I put on did the trick; I warmed up and had an easy ride the rest of the way home. Had cold feet again; gotta get some heated socks!

Pulling up to the house, I noted that the GPS showed 251 miles since leaving home. A good and easy day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

January 1 2008

Well, this is the first installment of my ride log for 2008. Decided to keep a log of significant rides on my 2005 BMW R 1200 RT. Having bought the bike on July 30, 2007 with 13,500 miles, I've now ridden it enough to know that it's THE touring bike for me. With cruise control, adjustable suspension (on the fly), electric tilting windshield, lowered riders pegs, and now a Russell Day Long saddle, I can ride a long way in good comfort.

With the other items from the Vstrom (Streetpilot 2610, Autocom, Sirius radio, and Motolights), I have most of the amenities of driving a car (no A/C nor heat except heated grips). I plan to take it to Alaska this summer.

This blog is to document rides and experiences on the RT.

First ride of 2008 started on New Years Day. Temperatures started out in the low 50s, pretty comfortable, and sunny. Good riding conditions.

Started out on Hwy 70 east, looking for a mom and pops restaurant serving the traditional New Years fare of Hog Jowl, collard greens, and black eyed peas. Had not had any in a lot of years, so I was on a hunt for them this year.

Rode east to Smithfield, deciding as I got in town to try an old major road--Hwy 301, headed south. My thinking was that the old road would have some old restaurants that had been in business for a long time and might be keeping the old southern tradition.

Nothing meeting my needs in Smithfield. Traffic was low/moderate, but pleasant.

As I entered Four Oaks, I remembered an old restaurant along the way that might just have what I had a hankering for. The Four Oaks Restaurant was obviously an old dinery that had possibilities.

So, I pulled into the parking lot, got off the bike, and removed my hi-viz Roadcrafter and went inside.

The atmosphere was what I expected--old, but relatively comfortable. Naugahyde-covered booths along the front windows and front areas, with the kitchen in the back. Several young women waitresses serving customers.

Ordered tea while I looked over the menu. Damn, no collards or hog jowl!! Disappointed, I ordered country style steak, mashed potatoes, and black eyed peas with corn sticks. Good sounding food, but not the New Year feast I was hoping for.

Nonetheless, the food was very good, with real mashed potatoes. And very reasonable; the meal cost $7.42, inlcluding tip. Not bad!

Went outside, put on the Roadcrafter, and got on the RT. The bike was in the shade, so when i got on it, the crafter was cold. Not pleasant at all.

Continued south on 301, deciding to ride 301 south into South Carolina, just to do it. Never ridden 301 further south than Lumberton, so today would be my chance to see where it would go.

Pleasant riding; very little traffic, and straightaways where I needed them. Went through Wade and ito Fayetteville. Old I-95 and 301 run together on Eastern Boulevard through town. Still no significant traffic.

Hwy 301 south of Fayetteville meanders on both sides of I 95, never far from the interstate. Went through St. Paul, then into Lumberton.

Lumberton was a challenge. Went into town on 301, and then disappeared!! I rode along for a while, working west towards I-95, thinking that it would still run parallel to the interstate. Stopped for directions, and learned that it picked up again just west of the interstate.

Found it again and headed south towards Rowland. It was apparent from the road surface that this stretch of 301 was not used much for several miles. The road was pretty straight, going through fields with green winter wheat as well as wooded stretches. A few houses along the way.

South of Rowland, it was apparent that I was near the big tourist area known as South of the Border, straddling the NC/SC state line. There were more cars at the Border than I thought there would be. I guess it being January 1, more people were out than I expected.

By now, the gas light was blinking on the RT. Knowing gas was usually cheaper in SC, I decided to ride to Dillon for gas. Found gas, and noted that I was getting cool, so I pulled into a McDonalds for a Cappacanio and an apple pie. The warm liquid and pie warmed me; felt good going down!

Before getting back on the RT, I decided to put on the Joe Rocket dri-liner and some winter gloves. Good decision!! Felt much better with warm stuff in my tummy and warmer clothes.

It was about 3:30pm, and I was 127 miles from home, so I decided to do a few miles on I-95. Jumped on it and rode to Hwy 211 in Lumberton. Got off the slab and rode to Hwy 41, headed north. Rode about 5 miles and turned left on Tar Heel Rd, a road that takes me to Tar Heel and River Road just north of Hwy 87.

Cross Hwy 87, then cross an old metal bridge over the Cape Fear River then to the stop sign at River Road.

A left turn onto River Road and one of my favorite roads in the area. It runs parallel to the Cape Fear River, with lots of bends and straight stretches. While I rode sanely on this ride, I remembered a ride a while back on the Vstrom when I was cruising at about 75mph and was passed by 2 cars and a pickup truck, leaving me like I was parked. I decided to chase them to see just how fast they were going. I reached over 100 several times catching them slowly. Followed them several miles at 90-100mph. With the curves, it was a fun ride.

Probably not a safe ride due to lots of woods close to the road, potentially housing deer or other animals. Not many houses or crossroads to worry about, so other than the wildlife, its a good road to ride.

Followed River Road to Hwy 53, then turned west to I-95.

By now it was beginning to get dark and the temperature was dropping. So, I headed north to I-40. Rode west on I-40 to Hwy 210, then northeast on back roads to home in Clayton. Got home about 5:30, after dark. It was 47 degrees, and I was cold.

Mileage for the day was 246. A very good ride for the first day of the year!