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Old 05-11-2013, 01:04 PM   #107
TucsonStan OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Oddometer: 49 Helix

The Real Cannonball.....Day 2

As a very early riser, I head to the motel's free breakfast right at 6am. I've had so many free breakfasts over the last 30 days that this one doesn't stand out as anything out of the ordinary or worthy of remembering. Afterwards, I head back to the room to load up and hit the road.

The best thing about Sunday morning? It's not raining! I'm on the road by 6:30am.

I spoke too soon. Five miles down the road, the rain starts. The storm is headed east and I'm riding west so I hope I can lessen my ride in the rain. It will continue for the next 5 hours. I ride through a lite rain, south towards Knoxville on I-78, looking for I-40 West.

On I-40, west of Knoxville, the scooter sputters a few times and quits. I pull to the shoulder. As I'd just passed an overpass as it quit, I slowly roll the Helix, backwards, down a slight grade till I'm under the overpass and out of the rain. Now what do I do? I run things through my head. I have two roadside assistance plans. Do I call AAA or do I call Good Sam Club? Do I get it towed forward, where I know of nothing? Or, get towed back to Knoxville? It's Sunday, nothing open. Tomorrow's Monday, most motorcycle shops are closed. On a lark, I turn the key and push the button. It fires up. Hey, what the hell! I guess it's not as serious as I first envisioned. I idle it for a bit. Then I twist the grip and head west again.

As I ride along, I try to run the "quit on the side of the road" scenarios over in my head. What I finally decide is that the Helix doesn't do water well. Now, as I ride west, I try to stay out of the water pools. I hate to ride in the center of the road because that always where the oil is. Now, I don't want to ride where the car and truck tires go because that's usually the lowest part of the road and therefore has the most water. This is turning into a tough ride. I ride on.

Somewhere around Nashville, the rain starts to peter out. Finally, it quits and I ride west towards Memphis.

It was just early evening when I ride into Hazen, Arkansas. First, I pull into a gas station to fill up. An older Lincoln Town Car pulls up behind me and I notice it has antique plates. I wonder how old a car has to be to qualify for antique plates here in Arkansas. I figure that I'll ask the driver when he/she gets out. When he does finally get out, the car shrinks a bit. This guy has to be the tallest person I've ever seen....and he's wearing Army fatigues! I look at him, he looks at me and I say, "I was going to ask you about the plates on the car but now I've got to ask, 'How tall are you?' ".
He says 7'.
"They let people in the army as tall as you?"
"I just barely squeeked in."
"How come you're in the Army and not the NBA?"
"Believe it or not, I'm not very good at basketball and the Army offers more security."
"Makes sense to me."

We chat a bit and go our separate ways. About 100 yards away, across a recently plowed field, is a motel. I'd stopped early today because I needed to change the oil in the Helix. Earlier, I'd bought a quart of oil and a gallon of water. I dump the water out, cut the plastic jug in half to catch the oil. I then fill the crankcase and use the empty quart bottle to hold the old oil. I tried to recycle it at several auto parts stores, with no luck. The next day, Monday, I ride west with the old oil safely stored in the topcase.

Monday morning, after another free breakfast, it's back on I-40. Now, get a clear picture, if you've ever ridden an interstate, you've pretty much ridden them all. All I do today is ride, stop for gas, take a pee break and then repeat, then repeat again, and again.

My father used to say that if you're not the lead dog, the view never changes. Riding the interstate, that adage is pretty much true, the view never changes.

Riding west out of Arkansas, I repeat yesterday's ride sequence....ride, gas, pee, ride, gas, pee. Every now and then, just for a change, I buy a Coke to go with my Clif Bar, then it's back to ride, gas, pee, ride, gas, pee......

Around dark, I start looking for a motel. I had planned to ride to Amarillo but it's getting late so.... Apparently, nobody stays east of Amarillo because I can't find squat. I wind up riding into the rain!

For those of you who've been around since way back when, you might remember that, prior to the start of the race, I'd only ridden in the rain one time. It was way back in Calhoun, Texas one afternoon, 30 days ago! In the last 4 days, it's rained on me every single day.

Shortly after the rain started this time, as I tried to avoid "deep" water, I'd hit a series of small potholes, all filled with water. Sure enough, 100 yards up the road, the Helix sputtered and stalled out. This time I just waited a bit. I didn't even turn the key off. I pushed the button and she fired up but she wasn't enthusiastic about it. After a bit of idling, I was off again.

In Amarillo, it's back to Super 8. After I get registered, the desk clerk guy takes me outside and shows me where I can park the Helix on the sidewalk, where it will be out of the rain.

Three days down. I had been hoping to finish the race by late Tuesday. I now know that that won't happen. If I can make Kingman tomorrow (Tuesday), I'll be in Redondo Beach by sometime Wednesday afternoon late.

Right here, I want to go back and tell you that every evening, after riding hard all day, I'd send a note to Alan. I want to see how he was doing and where he was. After day one, when I'd ridden in the rain into Greeneville, TN., Alan had stopped in Wytheville, VA. According to MapQuest, that put me about 125 ahead.

After day two, I was in Hazen, AR. Alan, apparently, is not a rain rider. After riding from Wytheville, VA. to Knoxville in the pouring rain, he was soaked through. He decided that he'd had enough for that day and got a motel room to dry out his stuff. Again, according to MapQuest, I was now around 500 miles out in front.

Day three found me in Amarillo and Alan in Ft. Smith, AR. I think he'd cut into my lead by about 50 miles. No where near enough to catch up before we reached the coast. Now my fear was that he'd ride all night and catch up. He had a bit of an advangtage if he wanted to ride late into the night as he had a chase vehicle. If he'd put the chase vehicle out front, he wouldn't have to worry about hitting hunks of tire rubber as they'd be able to spot them first. I don't think that happened as we seemed to maintain the same distance between us.

In the next ride report, I ride in snow!
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