Lessons From the Road

Diana and I just got back from Road Trip #6 for the year. The first trip was a 4 day trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway in the spring by ourselves averaging 350 miles a day. That was followed by a chapter overnighter to Cheriton, VA to commemorate Karen Fortner. We took another chapter overnighter to Williamsport, MD and used CB communication for the first time. That was followed by a trip to Gettysburg, PA with just the two of us using the CB radio again. Diana and I took another trip to Cheriton, VA for Cheriton Day without the CB’s. Most recently we returned to the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit Fox Creek Leather traveling further south and averaging over 300 miles per day. We used the CB radios again. We crossed through 6 states in 4 days including Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Spring Break to Blue Ridge Parkway: we learned we can plan and travel epic sized adventures on our own and that 350 miles is about our physical limit. This many miles per day for several days in a row is more like work than vacation. But if you want to see what the world has to offer in a limited amount of vacation time then you have to put some serious miles on the road.

Karen Fortner Memorial Ride: we learned to be patient. Under the threat of foul weather we didn’t rush. Somehow we didn’t get wet. Those who rushed did.

Williamsport HOG Poker Run: we learned that using CB radio communication from lead bike to sweep bike is extremely valuable in group riding. At one point our group got split in half at a traffic light just before the on ramp to the Interstate. I told Diana to keep going with her group and that I would take the second group and meet her at the next rest stop. No need for her to pull her bikes over on the shoulder of an on ramp.

Gettysburg Bike Week: we learned we can travel through a rain front if we know the weather on the other side is sunny.

Cheriton Day: we learned we can survive a tsunami. We left for a four hour trip after I got out of work on a Friday evening. There was zero chance of rain reported as we headed down the Delmarva peninsula. As we got within an hour of our destination which was the very tip of the peninsula it started to rain. We didn’t bring any raingear. As we travelled down Route 13 and got closer to the location where our friend Karen Fortner was killed in a motorcycle accident the skies just opened up and poured water on us like I have never experienced. This was not rain, this was torrential downpour. We could deal with getting soaked but we could not see. We were on the shoulder of a dark highway in a rural area. All we could do was ride down the shoulder with our flashers on at 10 miles per hour and hope no tractor trailers ran us over. We finally got close enough to the Cheriton Fire Department to get off the highway and head for a safe haven. We dried off and as soon as we decided to stay at the Fire House the storm vanished. We got back on the road and got to our destination at midnight. This was a scary ride and I was literally shaking. I’m so impressed with Diana’s ability to ride through these conditions. 

Fox Creek Leather: we learned we can ride down the side of a mountain on an unpaved road with hairpin switchbacks, no guard rails, no lights, no signs of civilization in a dense forest at night in North Carolina. As we have discovered for the second time you can map out a route using computer software but there is no guarantee the roads will be paved. Sometimes you find yourself on a dirt road when you map out routes to places you have never been. This time we ran out of road at the same time we ran out of daylight. We were coming down a dangerous mountain and there was no way we were going back the way we came. You have to know how to handle your motorcycle on a variety of terrain. The CB’s were invaluable in that we could talk each other though this and check on each other. I could warn Diana about the deer that was staring at me from ten feet away as well as the four cars we encountered. Diana could keep me abreast of our progress in miles as we traveled 5 miles down the mountain at 10 miles per hour. We also learned that although we can travel 300+ days that it is more work than fun and we should cut our trips back if we want to enjoy ourselves. Once again we impressed each other in our ability to cope with the unexpected and dangerous.

I hope there are a few more overnighters in our future before winter arrives.