The Tennessee Run (2011)

Discussion in 'Travel' started by Geaux4it, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. Geaux4it
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    Geaux4it Intensity Factor 4-Fold

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    I have a 03' HD Road King I have ridden all over this country. Below is an article I wrote for a Motorcycle Magazine that captured on of my adventures.

    Please excuse the formatting issue as the site here kind of shuffled things around from the pdf version

    -Geaux
    =================================


    The Tennessee Run

    By

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    Motorcycle riding to me has always been about just me and the machine. Both of us are carrying on our duties at hand. Mine are random, laughable thoughts while the machine cadence drones its song. But this time sled is more than just a machine. It is the culmination of years, dreams and tears shed as a young boy then those of a young man. Those years as a boy watching the neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. Litchfield, ride their pair of HD Electra Glides too far away worlds, otherwise known as Kentucky. Then laying in the hooch on Diego Garcia in the late 70’s, early 80’s, dreaming of a 1980 Harley Davidson Wide Glide.

    Forward to the year 2002 and I have a loving wife and family as I have assumed the role expected of a responsible man. With that said my selfish dreams were finally coming true. I bought my pride and joy 100th Anniversary Model 2003 Harley Davidson Road King Classic. It’s been 4 years since this man and machine teamed up for a cross country and there is promise over the horizon.

    My plan - depart Southern California 6 July for Nashville Tennessee to visit family for a week. In past runs to the south I would wander the country like a ship without a rudder. No plans, no limits. However, in this case the first part of the ride was all business on the I-40 getting on in Barstow Ca. It was the return to California that my brother and I devised a non-direct route to scratch the vagabond nature of the way I travel.

    This is a good time to mention that I traditionally ride alone. My daily routine requires I interact with people on multiple fronts. My escape on two wheels is personal. Seldom do I invite others into my sanctity other than my little bro. I’m not unsocial, just protective of why ‘I ride’.

    Its 0330 Wednesday morning as I prepare to depart Oxnard Ca. As I mentioned my route will be I-40 all the way to Nashville which means I need to pass through Needles Ca. For those who might not know, Needles Ca is one of the hottest points in the country, if not the complete free world.

    Of course it’s overcast as usual. The perennial June Gloom has been camped out over Southern California which brought with it a light mist. I knew from careful study which can only come to a hack weather guesser such as me that extreme heat was due to canvas the deserts of the Southwest. While some would welcome the news like the coming of the plague, I embraced with ease the eventual determined outcome of the sun, resulting in sweat, grit, and burns of freedom that were to be laid upon my body and soul.
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    The ride to Barstow did not feel particularly special. It very well could have been just another Sunday ride. But when I saw the exit for I-40/Needles it hit me. I merged and rolled on the power. My 88” of thunder was awakening. My mind, like my sled, soared. My destination for the night was Flagstaff Arizona. As the sun rose on the desert the sky was splashed with colors of pink, purple and blue. Summer monsoon rains had peppered the parched land the previous night. As a result, and to my surprise, Needles was only 86 degrees when I stopped for fuel around 0800. A quick gas and go and it was time to start the climb up to Flagstaff and the cooler air of the high desert.
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    Had a long day ahead and it was another early cold start leaving Flagstaff for Amarillo Texas, as it was 49 degrees. Ever notice how fresh everything smells early in the morning? Especially, if there were storms in the area previous night? It was not long before I crossed into New Mexico. The early morning sun bouncing off those red bluffs was awesome. Sure is tough to stay focused on the road while you’re sneaking peeks and grinning ear to ear. The various Indian Trade Shops added to the senses.

    I was hitting quite a few picnic stops and rest areas going into Amarillo. The things are like campgrounds for god sake. I was sitting in the shade drinking pints of water just watching the masses on their journey down I-40. One spot in particular, I was kicking it and a bagger goes blazing by. Dude takes a look over and waves. As I leave and start to ramp through my 5 speed I see him on the shoulder just standing there. I pull over as I never pass up a biker on the side of the road. All was good as he was just a good old Texan who wanted to talk about the road and stuff. He was waiting for his partner who was held back somewhere. We talked a bit and off I went. Arrived early evening in Amarillo and made a stop at the local HD dealer. While it was hot indeed, I was surprised to hear Amarillo had broken an all time record high of 104 for the day. Ouch……
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    Leaving Texas behind as I approached the Oklahoma border, I noticed that Route 66 ran parallel to the freeway so I exited to take in some of the small towns on its path. Some of the towns looked suspended in time just as they were when the freeway diverted the traveler around its existence. After a leisure cruise it was time to trade time for distance so it was back to the I-40.

    Didn’t I say this initial run was to be all business? I could not resist my urge to take a small detour through the Ozarks of Arkansas since I was laying over for a night in Van Buren.

    The day started at the local Cracker Barrel in Clarksville for breakfast before exiting the super slab on Hwy 23 N for Eureka Springs. The slow ride through the hills felt good and was a good break from the heat of the previous days. Apparently, plenty other bikers had the same idea as Eureka Springs was covered up in bikes on that Saturday morning. After spending some time at Pig Trail Harley Davidson it was time to connect to SR 7 down to Russellville for the night.

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    After a nice visit with family I was anxious to get back on the road. My brother decided to ride his BMW with me as far as Colorado. Our plan was to ride Independence Pass to Glenwood Springs then part ways. Things changed but more on that later. We departed northern Tennessee for Crossville TN. Bro has some really nice ride routes on back roads through the Cumberland Plateau. We enjoyed the day, albeit a wet one, and looked forward to the next day’s ride on the Cherakola Skyway then ‘Tail of The Dragon’.
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    The dragon did not disappoint nor did Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson in Maryville TN. After getting a shirt or two we went out back to ‘The Shed’ to knock the dust off and enjoy some good barbeque. After a short break we hit the road and passed through the Smoky Mountain National Park.
    The enjoyable ride led uinto Cherokee North Carolina where we took the loop back up to I-40 for the rest of the run into Asheville N.C.

    The following day we back tracked through Knoxville joining up with I-75 North to Lexington Ky. Then the I-70 took us through the corn fields of Indiana and then into Illinois as the day came to a close in Mt. Vernon. I should mention at this point the Midwest was experiencing the heat wave of the decade as daily temperatures were reaching 103 degrees. As I was unpacking at the hotel a bike rolls up pulling a trailer. There was more bling on this bike than you could shake a stick at. It has GPS, radar detector, Sirius Radio, blue tooth; there were more switches and knobs on this bike than the Space Shuttle. The bike belonged to the ‘Motorcycle Minister’ who was on his way to Wyoming.

    The heat wave was covering the Midwest like a blanket. We made an early go for Hays Kansas knowing we wanted to start early and end early. It was a hot day but my sled ran like a beast never missing a beat. That evening in the hotel we watched the Weather Channel with great interest as our next day was to take us to Colorado Springs Co. Storms were covering our planned route in coming days through the Independence Pass and were expected to remain for a 3 day duration. As a matter of fact, that was the same time Denver was pelted with a bad hail storm that made the news. A combination of heat, storms and the uncertainty ahead, my brother elected to start his return trip to Tennessee instead of continuing on for Colorado. We parted that morning and I started my ride for Colorado Springs. I exited the freeway in Oakley Kansas and road the less traveled Hwy 40 West passing farms, corn and abundant silos. Little unincorporated towns dot the landscape not marked by water towers, but by the silo’s themselves.
    Hours pass as I travel the two lane through northwest Kansas before reaching the Colorado state line. I stopped at the historic landmark outside Cheyenne Wells to read about the stage coach trail that ran through the area. It was a grueling trail for immigrants traveling through the west on their journey to Denver in hopes of finding riches of gold. One needs to pay attention to their gas situation as fuel is far and between in this area.

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    Leaving out of Cheyenne Wells I made a stop to view some cattle that were grazing nearby. As I was taking in the sights a truck used to haul hay rolls up and pulls to a stop. Out comes one of the most genuine individuals I met on my whole trip. He was a farmer I guess in his late 60’s and was built like a brick. He asked where I was going and said most folks going to Colorado Springs do not take my route. Especially when I told him I planned on riding Hwy 94. At that point he got very animated and proceeded to tell me ‘there ain’t nothing out there, nothing!’ He kept repeating himself while making hand gestures like a baseball umpire would call a runner safe at the plate. Told me to make sure I fueled up in Kit Carson Co. to which I did. The old timer was right, once turning onto Hwy 94 a sign read; no services next 77 miles. There was ‘nothing’ out there but snakes and prairie dogs. I passed 3 cars heading in the opposite direction on the 1 ½ hour drive. Oh yea, it was hotter than hades.

    The weather the night before over the Rockies persisted as I awoke to scattered storms to the northwest of Colorado Springs directly covering my route. Independence Pass would have to wait for another trip. Weather to the south/southwest was clear so I loaded up and headed out on I-25 South for Pueblo Co. Another magical sunrise was dawning as I passed through Walsenburg Co. on Hwy 160 West for Durango. What a beautiful ride as I climbed through Wolf Pass (Elevation 10,850’) winding down into Pagosa Springs. A quick stop at Durango Harley Davidson found me on the short cruise down to Farmington New Mexico for the night

    The next morning I started to have a sinking feeling. My trip was down to a just two more, short day rides. I had to fight off the thoughts of 3 weeks of email and phone messages just waiting to ambush me upon my return to the salt mine. As I powered along Hwy 160 West through Arizona I had no idea the most spectacular scenery of the entire trip awaited me. The early morning sun in the Monument Valley was biblical. The colors of the desert were incredible. The sun rays were peeking through the clouds just like all those advertisements trying to lure you to Arizona.

    The morning passing through the Monument Valley was behind me now as I settled down to the business of getting through Flagstaff headed west for my last night on the road in Kingman Arizona.

    As with my trip outbound, I awakened early to pass through Needles before the morning furnace kicked in. I just did not want the trip to end so I exited I-40 in Victorville. I rode the Pear Blossom Hwy to Lancaster making several stops on the side of the road just to take in the moment and realize how far I have been, not where I’m going.

    I was thinking, all good things come to an end I suppose as I exited onto Hwy 126 for Oxnard. My mind was awash with the roads I traveled and the images burnt in my mind. Like the colors of the New Mexico and Arizona deserts and the hills of Arkansas. To the challenging Hwy 129, Tail of the Dragon and the heat of the Kansas prairies.

    After just over 5,700 miles my Harley is sitting in the garage patiently awaiting me to point her nose into the wind once more.

    Where will we go?

    I will let you know as soon as I find that rudder.
     

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  2. Geaux4it
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    Geaux4it Intensity Factor 4-Fold

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