20 October 2010

Ride Report: The Super Ambitious Ride

17 October 2010:  From Waffle House to Sushi
After the last trip and the failure of the Ambitious Route, Cruzman and I decided we'd try to re-ride part of that route to get the taste of that failure out of our heads.  I also wanted to get Baby's bad performance out of my memory and the misery of that ride home.  I know you're wondering what I've been up to and why I haven't posted since then so here's why:  Route Planning and theWolf.  

I had to know what went wrong with the last planned route, why it was so different from the computer where I planned it to the gps where I wanted to follow it.  It turns out I didn't use enough vias/waypoints to force it to go on the roads I chose.  There was no iteration out of the five route calculation modes that iGO8 offers that was anything close to what I expected.  I'd made a fatal error by assuming it would transfer accurately.  I didn't plan to make it again.

Knowing that Garmin products produce the best routes for the US, I downloaded a copy of Garmin Mobile XT to try on the pda.  It took a week or so, but I got it to work.  In the meantime, I reworked the Ambitious route from the last time and sent it to Cruzman to review and he sent out invitations for riders to join us.  The first re-worked route was called insane, but Cruzman said it was too much highway so I worked on it some more.

In the end, a route was approved and we got kyfa25 now FZ1_Vader and TopWop1 to agree to our ambitious day.  The planned routed called for 12 hours from Waffle House to Sushi. Just to be sure, I loaded mymobiler onto the computer so I could do a "flyover" of the route to be sure we didn't get stuck on any loops using the computer display rather than relying on the pda.

In the meantime to get the bike ready, I removed the K&N filter and re-installed my dirty OEM while waiting (still) for the replacement to come, stripped and repainted the rad covers, painted the Aux Lights mounts and gps mount plate,and  trimmed the innards out of the OEM rad guard for more air flow under the jwhelan65 rad guard.  Baby needs to be pretty!

It looks so much better now!  I also rounded the Aux Mounts to match the lights.
It took a few days to get all that done, between resting from the last trip and an annoying pain that started with a toothache and went into my jaw, theWolf was acting up.  I guess I'm not much of a Tamer after all, but a lot of sleep calmed him down enough to let me go on this ride but maybe it wasn't enough for me to prepare myself for the ride.

I laid my clothes out without even considering adding the liner to my jacket.  I knew I wasn't going to bother with the pant liner because I had a warm underpants for them.  As I grabbed my stuff to head downstairs at 6:30 am, I looked at my winter gloves and left them sitting on the dresser not wanting the bulk.  I've ordered a new controller for my heated gloves (that hasn't come yet either) so I didn't want to be bothered with those either.  I felt my A* Alloy gloves would suffice until the sun rose then I would be comfortable for the rest of the day.

My face cover was with my soft tail bag upstairs because the lowered seat is uncomfortable for long rides.  When I let the dawg out, I didn't think I'd need it.  I already mounted the cameras and gassed up the night before.  I made a little video of the ride to get gas for the 24 Hours of ST.N:

I was ready to be on the road, and anxiously backed out into the pre-dawn morning.  Before I even made it to the first intersection, I was beginning to re-think leaving the face warming thingie but I didn't want to be late for my 7:00 a.m. meet with TopWop1 at CVS.  By the time I got to our meet point, I was ducking behind the touring shield to keep the cold wind from biting at my neck!

We only took long enough to exchange greetings before getting back on the road so we could meet Cruzman and FZ1_Vader at Waffle House in Buford.  I didn't even take the chance to ogle his new to him Gen 1 FJR, that I'm calling the Silver Bullet.

I must say now that my first proposal was a more get up there fast so we can have more daylight on the good roads.  So here is the reworked route, the Super Ambitious Route:
The Super Ambitious Route (Cruzman Approved!)
Yep, that's about 540 miles in an estimated 13 hours!  Which was why I was leaving at 0'dark thirty to meet TopWop.  We got to Waffle House around 7:20 a.m. and no sooner than we'd parked, Cruzman and FZ1_Vader rode by seeking a u-turn at the light.

By then, my throttle hand was cold and I was looking forward to the famous Waffle House coffee until I walked through the doors to the Waffle House aroma and had to have some of their famous hash browns, scattered, smothered in onions, and chunked with ham.

Starting Mileage @ WH.
Fortified with WH coffee and Hash Browns, I was ready to tackle the next leg of our ride:  getting to Clayton.    It was a little after 8 when he got on the highway with temps hovering in the high 40s.  I assumed a slouched riding position, keeping my exposed neck out of the wind and my left hand dangling next to the motor for it's heat as often as I could and set a pace of about 10mph over the speed limit.  I hadn't realized until that morning how the Alloy gloves kept my hands so cool until I felt the cold air on the back of my hands and flowing through the finger vents.

Every now and then, I steal a glance at the thermometer to see if the temps had reached the 50s yet, but they lingered between 44 and 49 until we crossed a river about 20 miles from Clayton when they plummeted to the mid and upper 30s.  No use in beating myself up for a stupid mistake, I just soldiered on.  Trying not to speed too much because the faster I went the colder it got!

I felt bad for poor FZ1_Vader because I knew he was suffering as much as I was.  He had a wind breaker on over his Mesh Jacket and gloves that may have been slightly better than mine.  Each glimpse in the rear view mirror revealed us both hunkered down trying to get out of the wind while Cruzman with his heated gloves and TopWop1 with his heated grips rode in comfort.

That BP station was never more a welcomed sight than it was then, except maybe during the Twisty Butt when I had a similar cold experience with the same jacket.  After gassing up, TopWop1 conspicuously didn't confirming his earlier statement that he'd probably bail about midway, we lingered a little to warm up some.  In the bathroom, I was struck with the idea to put paper towels in the back of my gloves like the cyclists do when they use newspaper in their jackets during the descent at the Tour de France.

With the real twisty roads starting, we wanted to be warm and sharp for what lay ahead:  Warwoman RD to Hwy 28 to Hwy 64 to Hwy 215.  The paper towel trick worked and I began to warm up on Warwoman RD.  It seems every time I ride Warwoman, it gets straighter and straighter.  This time proved no exception.  But knowing Hwy 28 lay at the end made it worth it.  By the time we reached Highlands, the temps were climbing into the 50s and we were putting the cold behind us.

One of my favorite views is on 64, just after you pass the Savannah River Basin sign to the right.  I slowed down and peeked over to see fall colors.  I don't know why, maybe because there aren't any near the house, but I hadn't expected that.  It was a preview of the colors we were about to see.  So far, the GPS route was working to perfection.  Not once had Cruzman called over the two-way to say I'd missed a turn.  Of course, I knew this part by heart so it wasn't possible.

We missed most of the Sunday Morning Church goers and their traffic in Highlands and Cashiers and made our turn onto Hwy 215 where I discovered freshly paved road!  The road surface before was rough with pot holes in part, but no more.  Now it was fresh black top, newly painted lines, and gravel alongside the road bed that occasionally crept into the new road making the motorcyclist a bit more cautious than one might have been if the gravel wasn't there.

We were making good time until I saw the wall of color just before a right hand curve.  I was compelled to call over the two-way, "Wow!"  Then when I saw the pullout, the front tire just went there.  We needed to stop and soak in that beauty!

Taken by Cruzman
Taken by Cruzman:  TopWop1, theWolfTamer, and FZ1_Vader
Not cold for the first time all morning!
After a brief stop, we were back on the road.  We were a little over a mile from the BRP, where we discovered more beauty and lots of traffic!  Any thoughts I had that we'd be on Hwy 80 by 1 where we could have lunch were long gone.  It was just after 12 and with all that traffic who knows what time we'd get to 80!

TopWop1 saved us from more agony just near Weaverville when he said he needed gas.  I heard his call not long after we past Brevard where I was tempted to get off anyway.  We took the next exit and climbed a nice twisty road before descending on the same road to some other highway that I don't know the name of until we finally found gas.  Too far from BRP to go back!  Instead we decided to continue toward 23 and get lunch while I re-worked the route to take out the BRPs we wouldn't make and get us to 19w the fastest way I could.  I was determined to ride both 19w and 209 no matter what!

After a quick bite at BK, we bid TopWop1 adieu and headed for 19w via the Great Smoky Expressway and Exit 8 or 4, I can't remember which but it was US 19, I think.  We had to ride through a construction zone with a blasting area until we got to 19w.  Again I discovered a pristine road, but this time the dazzle of fall colors wasn't distracting as we sped along the road that followed a creek or stream on our right and either houses or white sandstone cliffs on the left.  There was a little bit of traffic early on that was easily dispatched with judicious passing that revealed clear road ahead.  US19w was as much fun in the early fall as it had been on my first introduction in the early spring.  Surprisingly, or not because I did the flyover, we crossed into Tennessee.  I couldn't remember entering or leaving Tennessee during the Spring!

As we neared the intersection with Flag Pond RD (Hwy 352), my gps decided to act up for the first time that day!  I can't really blame it on the device as it was user error.  A brief stop to toggle the autocorrect feature and a little confusion as to whether to go left or right, we settled on right--which would have been left from 19w--heading towards Hot Springs, TN and Hwy 209 through the Pisgah National Forest.  It was around 4 p.m. and the sun was making a fast escape from the sky while Cruzman's rear tire was beginning to trouble him more.

Hwy 209 is a spectacular road that winds through another national forest then farmlands.  There are a few "surprise" corners that keep you on your toes and little to no opportunity to pass so you have to rely on the kindness of cagers.  Cruzman said not to try to pass and it really wasn't necessary as the surprise corners were unpredictable and trying to pass was more dangerous than I wanted to be bothered with.  I'm certain it was because his rear tire was troubling his mind as I noticed he'd been lagging behind on 19w while FZ1_Vader was hanging in there pretty good.  I guess the tips he got from TopWop when we stopped on 215 hit home.

After we left the forest as we were entering the farmlands, we were behind a little Chevy that was hammering it on the straights so much that it would pull away from me then I'd catch it in the curves.  We repeated this for many miles before I decided to hammer it on the straights myself and put that little Chevy in the distance.

Like me, Cruzman disregarded signs that an equipment change was in order.  In his case, it was the changing profile of his rear tire that had plenty of tread for the ride.  I guess we all learned lessons on this ride.  As we neared Interstate 40, FZ1_Vader was thinking of home so we all decided to scrap the rest of the Super Ambitious route and make a hasty retreat for home.  I guess we'll save Maggie Valley and Bryson City for the next trip to the Smokys!

The actual route looked like this:

If you look closely, you can see it resembles my first proposal, the Insane Route.  The slog home on 441/985 grew increasingly colder but nothing like the morning.  We made it back to where we started around 9, where Cruzman and I said goodbye to FZ1_Vader and ate dinner at IHOP after getting gas.  I barely made it home before 11 to find TheMomma chipper and the dawg anxious for my return.

It was a long day filled with beautiful scenery and awesome company.  I hadn't realized how much I missed riding with TopWop1 with his steady presence at the back of our Yamaha Train.  Hopefully it won't be so long between our next ride and maybe I'll get to see his Red Rocket VFR once again.

516 miles, 10:13:38h of driving time, 15.507g of gas purchased, and an avg riding speed of 49 mph.  I averaged about 43mpg, much better than the September trip!

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

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