Thursday, June 19, 2008

I forgot to mention..

.. that on the ride down on Sunday, I got some first hand experience with bugs. Not the ones that hit you face shield. I've had bumble bees do that at highway speeds before. Which is in and of itself disconcerting, having your head rocked back by something smaller than a quarter. This time I had a bug hit my neck while traveling 55 on a state highway. I thought to myself, "well, that stung a little." A few seconds later I felt another sting like I'd hit something, but this time under my shoulder armor. So I rearranged my jacket, and felt another. Imagine this, you're driving down a four lane divided highway at 55 mph and you see a biker trying to move his jacket enough to allow a yellow jacket out of it. Not a pretty site. We finally got to a stop light where I could lift my shirt and jacket and allow the bug to fall onto my pants.

Score: Yellow Jacket - 5, Philip - 1

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Last weekend my wife and I decided to ride our bikes to our friends' wedding in Tennessee. Rather than take the interstate system, which she had never ridden on, we decided to go for the scenic and leisurely route. So most of our roads were two lane, sometimes three or four and never had a speed limit higher than 55. Total distance was 200 miles each way. If you ever have the time to plan a trip not using interstates, do it. Either on a bike or in the car it's by far the prettiest way to go.

On the way up, we watched rain clouds gather to either side of us and we stopped at one point to put on our rain gear for the remainder of the ride. I think that had we not stopped we would have actually been rained on rather than riding over the freshly watered roads. As it was, we road between the storms. This trip was a good reminder that while the bike does still have most of it's traction with wet roads, you still need to be much smoother and more cautious under adverse conditions. For instance, I felt my back tire begin to slip during the exit of one turn. I slowed down even further for the next one and was fine after that.

On the way back home on Sunday, we left early to give ourselves plenty of time to get home, as my wife had to be back for work in the afternoon. It's a good thing we decided to take the extra time. First we had to jump start her bike to get going in the morning. Then we decided to take an easier road back down to Atlanta, but it swung wider out of the way than the roads up had and had a lower speed limit since it went through more small towns along the way. We discovered that every time we stopped and turned off the bikes, we had to get her bike jumped. So after eating in Chattanooga I had to run across the street to AutoZone to borrow their jumper kit, and after getting gas in Dalton I had to run over to the Wendy's next door to find someone with cables. Many thanks to both AutoZone and the Wendy's manager for their help. (Really, who's ever heard of a gas station that doesn't have jumper cable?)

By the time we were in Dalton, we realized that US-41 was going to take up way too long to get home in time for her to get to work and we were about a block away from I-75. So we decided to hop on the interstate system for the last 100 miles home. We discovered her one-cylinder Buell Blast can easily keep up with highway traffic, and even pass when required.

Finally, we also discovered her bike gets far better gas mileage than mine in a touring situation. I got about 70-75 mpg the duration of the trip. She was managing about 90 mpg. All in all, even with taking two vehicles, we came out ahead in the gas game for the trip.