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Diary 3

5 July

Out of DC.
I have a detailed route from DC to South Dakota supplied by the 'Routemeister'. This route is specifically designed to combat the problem of getting between these two points without suffering the '20 miles without a corner' that many roads in the mid west suffer from. I am immensely grateful to the 'Routemeister' for supplying this route. He took the time and effort to pore over maps, to ransack his memories of the many roads he has ridden and combine these into 14 pages of maps and text. All this was done as a favour. Biker to biker

So I'm ignoring it and heading off in a different direction.

But I do have a good reason for this and I will be picking up the route later.
I find myself within a days ride of Ohio, and I have tickets for the AMA Superbike race in Ohio in 17 days so I need to find something to do between then & now. It has been suggested that I burn rubber & head for California for the MotoGP next weekend - but that's way too much effort for little reward (I've been to a number of GPs in various countries).

The 'Routemeister' arranged for Carl, one of his friends, to guide me out of DC.
We met up at 8 ish and got on the slab to get the hell out of the DC traffic.
After some good roads & good chat we parted near the Skyline Drive (Thanks Carl).

There was more wildlife on Skyline than I expected.
After only a few miles I had to stop. Well I didn't have to, but when a deer is running down the road towards you it seems only polite. The black-rat snakes should have their own crossing markers as there were more of them crossing the road than people.
Nearing the end of the Parkway I came round a corner to see a black bear standing in the middle of the road watching me. I stopped and sat on the bike about 20 feet away watching him. In the few seconds before he headed into the woods to do whatever bears do in the woods, I realised that the road wasn't wide enough to U turn and that if he came for me then leather might not protect me too well.

6 July

Onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I posted a question to a couple of e-groups last night "Where should I go for 2 weeks".
I got lots of good advice about Deals Gap and the 'Cherry Cola' skyway but someone pointed out 'If you don't like humidity then being in the path of the back end of a tropical storm will kill you' so I stopped heading south.
Well - I headed south 50 odd miles before heading west over the mountains into West Virginia and turning north.

I'm going to head for the north east for a week or so and see if I can escape the worst of the heat.

7 July

Saw the news of the bombs in London at breakfast.

Raced the rain northwards.
Ran some good WV roads.
A bit distracted all day.

8 July

Gave up racing the rain & turned west into Ohio.
Carl gave me a couple of maps a few days ago and one of them had some Ohio roads highlighted.
My favourite so far has to be the 78 from US 77 J 25 to US 33.
And I got to see the bucket from Big Musky - My first hit on Roadside America

Almost had the bike on it's side today.
I was sitting in a restaurant looking out the window and thinking "I know I parked on a slope but the bike is leaning way further that I like". When I went outside the side stand was 2 maybe 3 inches into the asphalt. Lifting it out was hard work.

I'm kinda in a rut here.
I don't have an objective.
I'm marking time.
And I'm not very good at that.
On previous trips the 'unplanned' days have been spent sitting round saying 'What shall we do'.
I'm drinking too much beer and not camping.

9 July

Ohio - where everywhere starts with the letter "C" apparently (Thanks Betty Lise).
Arrived in Columbus midmorning and met up with Bil & Pam.
Bil had e-mailed me & said "If you're passing through Columbus then I'll buy you a beer. With an incentive like that I was there like a rat up a drainpipe. I contacted Bil to get some idea where a good place to stay would be & he said "At my place".
Yet again a complete stranger invites me into their home. I did kinda wonder if I was taking advantage of folks and using my 'Serious Traveller' status as a way of blagging free accommodation but Bil assures me that I am genuinely welcome.

Guilt trip out of the way & onto serious business - bikes.
Got a guided tour of the AMA museum then onto Iron Pony - the biggest bike accessory shop I've ever seen.
Much as I hate spending money I bought a mesh jacket & gloves.

Hit Barleys Smokehouse for the evening and if I thought I'd been drinking too much before ...
I was forced to drink large quantities of beer. I was held down and a funnel was put in my mouth.
(OK - that's a bit of an exaggeration - but if I had been I would have ended up drinking about the same quantity)
I vaguely recall seeing a clock displaying 4am.

10 July

Hung over, sitting in the dark watching the MotoGP from Leguna Seca.
This was a 'down day'. A day off the bike, not that I could have got off the sofa if I'd tried.
No beer for Mac tonight!

11 July

On the road by 8 and heading for Bradford, Pennsylvania to check out the Zippo factory.
A little chilly in the mesh jacket until the temperature got above 24C (75F) and once it got above 32C (90F) even the mesh didn't help much. The jacket fits well but the right glove is a little tight on one of my knuckles - lets hope it stretches.

12 July

Got to see the Zippo visitor centre. If you've been to my house you'll know that I have a couple of hundred Zippos so seeing the visitors centre really meant something to me. If only it had been open and I'd been able to go inside ...
The signs on the locked gate said "National Zippo Day 14th 15th July" (Don't ask me - this is obviously a Zippo day - lasts longer and is wind proof or something)
In preparation of celebrating the brand they close the bloody visitors centre.

So I headed east.
Picked up rt 6 and gave it some beans.
Previously I was getting some 200 miles per tank but running at 90 all day it dropped to 160 ish.
I hate to think what my back tyre looks like now - but a service & new tyres will be required next week.

Diary 5