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Old 09-16-2010, 07:55 AM   #4
jdrocks OP
Gravel Runner
Joined: Jul 2007
Oddometer: 4,516
Day 1: ate year="2010" day="21" month="8">Saturday 8/21/10ate>, Home to Winchester, VA, 199 miles

I finally jumped on my horse late in the day and started a short ride west by northwest to Winchester. I wanted to leave earlier and the bike was packed and ready to go, but I needed to complete a few things at the office and around the house. Damn, no nice rested start for this trip either. I do like to run up to the kids house and then go on from there because it gives me some miles to get a feel for the loaded bike and make sure itís running the way it should. It was, no problems.

The sun was real low and bright in the western sky and I was riding right into it. I had a dull ache between my shoulders, and my eyes were on fire, nearly shut. I donít usually wear sunglasses, but I had a new Arai XD3 and the visor was helping some. The dew point was 82d and the air was so hot and thick it was like riding through a thin soup. Light traffic, and many state guys running radar on this stretch so I had to watch the speed. When I reach the first intersection, some people point my direction. It has to be the fuel cans, unusual equipment east of the Mississippi. I give up on reaching I95 before it comes to a standstill at rush hour and stopped for a soft drink. It was only 98d, and I had the liner in my jacket. I needed something real cold, and right now.

I pull the bike into a convenience mart and do my somewhat awkward dismount. Sorry, but Iím about 150 years old and not as limber as I used to be. Leaning up against the concrete block wall is a guy even older than me, like maybe you might have to carbon date him to find out when he was born. I was in fine shape by comparison, and that thought perked me right up.

Everything he was wearing was faded. Faded hat, work shirt, khaki pants, and even his boots were now just a dusty sand color. Faded, that is except for his boney face, weathered dark as tree bark and about the same texture. Rail thin and standing there with his cane, it struck me that it might be less painful for him to stand than it was to sit. I nodded to him by way of introduction, but got no reaction in return. Helmut off, then jacket, I left everything on the bike and went in to get my drink. The old guy wasnít talkative, but I didnít think he would let anyone wander off with my gear.

When I came back out, the guy was still standing there. I think it was his spot, and if I came back a month from now, he would be standing right there. He was enjoying the cigarette hanging in the corner of his mouth and was one of those smokers who both inhale and exhale with the thing just parked there. He didnít look like he was watchiní, but donít kid yourself, those old eyes see everything.

Halfway through my drink, two Harleys pull in and park right next to me. The bikes were angled away from me and could have been the Jap version of those bikes, I donít follow that market too closely. Thirtyish couples, half helmets, short sleeves, cargo shorts, and sneakers. Harleys or not, they thought they were riding Harleys. One bike had a diecut on the fender that said ďHead MotherfuckerĒ. Gee, that goes real well with those new white tennies. The girls were jumbo size, but still shopped for size 4. Any of those buttons let loose and innocent bystanders would be killed by shrapnel. They looked at me, then the bike, but never said a word.

Time to go, this ainít my crowd. Jacket back on, and Iím about to put the helmet on when I glance at the old man. Heís looking right at me, we make eye contact, he looks over at the Harley crew, and then directly back to meÖwith a wink, and an almost imperceptible smile. I really have to laugh. The old guy looks to be a day past dead and chooses not to talk, but it doesnít mean heís blind to certain dynamics or realities. With a smile and another nod to my ancient friend, Iím gone.

Back riding, and Iím heading into I95 mayhem. I know Iíll find it there, but these things are a matter of degree. In other words, Iím hoping for at least a slow roll and not a dead stop. Riding up to the ramp, I see a guy in a small white POS car pull off a five lane u-turn in the middle of traffic. Nobody pounding on the horn, this must be an acceptable move these days. Sorta like a new trick at the X-Games. I donít get out much, so I wouldnít have a clue on how to score it.

I draw the slow roll card, but Iím not on there long before I exit and shoot off to the northwest. Sunset, and the misty air is cooler. Iím almost comfortable moving along with all the gear vents open. Switch on the Piaa fogs just to drive the cagers nuts, and maybe help them see me in fading light. I pass about 100 deer in the last fifty miles and am glad to pull into an open garage at my destination. I get a warm welcome, as well as a new bandana from my daughter for this trip.

Iíll wear it for luck, and as everybody knows, thereís no such thing as too much luck on these trips.

I wanted to be a good ways north tomorrow, so I called it quits early. I did check the weather radar, and man, it looks wet where Iím headed. Weíll see.

(Iím always slow on getting the camera going on these trips. More photos coming, I promise)

To be continuedÖ
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