Joined: Jul 2007
As I started the ride this morning, man, it was cold, but I knew I’d be looking at warmer temperatures throughout the day. Now I was facing the opposite side of the curve, and when I shifted into 6th at 75, running west as hard as I dared, the air felt like one of those Gatoraid baths on the sidelines after the big game. I was chilled already, five hours to go, wishing on that fleece left behind…and even more lights pointing down the road. No yard lights, no headlights, no backlit glow on the horizon that would announce the next town, an eerie sensation, and not easily found in the Mid-Atlantic.
When I did finally see a set of tail lights ahead, I was running 80 and came up on an old pickup right quick, the lone occupant was only rolling along at a sedate 40-50mph, a much more sensible speed for the occasion. My thumb stretched over and pressed the switch to kill the LED light relay, but the WP cover on the switch was frozen, the switch wouldn’t disengage, and those LED lights just flashed. Tried again, flash, a third time, flash, and by this time I was on his bumper. I don’t know what he thought was coming at him with diesel locomotive lights flashing, but he swerved off the road, narrowly avoiding the water filled ditch. I zoomed past, and saw his headlights pop back on the road in the mirrors, moving even slower, likely a good UFO story forming.
There were some things I wanted to look at off NC264, couldn’t in the dark, and after a long run west along Pamlico Sound, still no fuel stops open, I made the defining turn north on NC94, the dike road that divides Lake Mattamuskeet, at least I was pointed in the right compass direction. I had hoped to cross the lake in daylight, have to be next time, and after looking at the displays, I figured I had enough fuel to reach Columbia at the top of the road, north of the lake, the intersection with NC64, maybe 40 miles or more. I probably should have used a calculator, and adjusted the average MPG for some illegal speed, I guess y’all can see where this is headed, my freakin’ brain was frozen.
Anyway, that was my excuse when I rolled into Columbia with the fuel light on. There happened to be a quick mart directly to the east, but when I pulled in there, every pump had a ragged “NO GAS” sign taped over the display, heck, there hadn’t been fuel here for months, although the store was still open, 12packs exiting through the front door like a beer avalanche. There were three generations of career ne’er-do-wells hanging there, might have been discussing commodity futures, that is, the commodities important to their market. They had the look, and this was their place of business, except for detours through the county lockup or big house, checking in and out, like those places were some sort of weird time-shares. That fuel light was like a freakin’ railroad spike through my skull, but it wasn’t the place to make inquiries, the projected menace just average, but still beyond my quota.
I rode around for a few blocks, found nothing, checked the GPS numbers again, not good, but set sail for Edenton anyway, over 25 miles away, and guaranteed fuel. This would be the ultimate test of fuel light range, might make it if I stayed with the speed limit, and I made a slow run west on NC64, before turning north on NC32/94 towards the Albemarle Sound bridge.
Looking north on this straight stretch of road, I could see cop cars on both sides of the road with all the blue lights flashing, and my first thought was big accident, but when I got closer, I realized it was a Friday night check point, common practice around the area, including Virginia. It’s not a successful night without issuing a bunch of citations, making a handful of arrests, and it always surprises me at the number of criminals that blunder into these stops, gets your name in the local newspaper every time.
Light traffic, only three cars in my lane when I stopped, so I was in front of the young North Carolina State Trooper pretty quick, you won’t find veterans manning a Friday night stop. This was one big dude, 6’4” with body armor, NFL defensive end size, and he said “Drivers license and registration”, while holding out his hand. His voice had a raspy rumble, like a grader blade pushing #3 stone, and I doubt he got much of an argument when he made a request.
“Officer, my license is in my shirt pocket, I’ll have to pull over to get it out”.
He paused, looked me over, looked the bike over, and said…
“Where you from, Son?”
“Eastern Virginia, Officer, I’m headed home”.
“Well, Son, y’all have a safe trip”, and I was riding again, he never realized he was talking to someone three times his age. With all the years under my belt, I was supposed to be at home on the couch watching Jeopardy, not on a hypothermic moto adventure at a traffic check point in BF east Carolina.
As for that fuel light, they make them things extra bright to grab your attention, and the damn thing sure had mine.
(to be continued…)