So, Travis flew in today and we started our trip in earnest. This morning our hotel room looked like a tornado had hit but eventually we got the bikes loaded. I made a pile of items to discard, because the weight is just too much. In fact, at one point later in the day I went to check the air in my front tire. The weight in the back of the back made it virtually effortless to spin the front wheel as it was sorta popping a wheelie just while it was resting on the kick stand! EEK.
Once the bikes we loaded, we threw our legs over the saddle and rode down to the atlantic ocean. My bike felt completely different. At slow speeds it reminded my of paddling a kayak that is half full of water. Just lilting and listing from side to side. I also was wearing my Leatt neck breach for the first time. It was a little claustrophobic having a bike that felt drunk instead of nimble, and a neck I couldn't move as easily from side to side. I decided to leave the neck brace off until we reach dirt. Oh the irony if I wrecked and hurt my neck if my brace was sitting atop my luggage instead of my head. But I needed to feel somewhat normal as I set out.
We walked down to touch the Atlantic as a symbolic gesture before turning our steeds west. I said "I'm really glad we're doing this, let's be safe and have fun" I found myself choking up a little bit out of gratitude and excitement.
Not 2 miles from the shore we had already gotten East and West mixed up. We had stopped to get gas and I asked the man at the gas station which way was west on 105 and he said the direction we just came from. Idiot. How can locals not even know that? Well I then asked a 30 something black guy which way and he agreed with the store clerk. I went to fiddling with glove or something and the black guy yelled something at somebody and it turns out he was upset with one of his employees. I weathered woman in Hot pink shorts and a white mesh shirt and WAY too much makeup. Wow. I just got directions from a pimp.
This is going to be quite an adventure.
We spent the next several hours heading inland in spurts of rain on three lane roads where you find home depot, olive garden and Walgreens , over and over and over. The rain made me a bit wary but we got through it. In retrospect it was the perfect way to see how our heavily laden bikes handled in rain with new tires. Then speeding up to 50 only to stop at dozens of red lights. Even though I was riding gingerly, i felt pretty confident about my safety having just gotten all new Aerostich riding gear. You can kind of just laugh at the rain. It has no chance of getting to you.
Eventually, the rain let up and we met some mild topography and many pleasant miles of tall pines that were aromatic from the light rains. The temperature was sometimes warm, but once we got moving our suits we fine, just unzip a bit to vent.
We drove through Florence, then Columbus S.C. about 160 miles from our start my bike started sputtering. Wow! out of Gas on a 4 gallon tank. My oversized tank made me think I would only rarely be concerned with fuel, but because of all the food, water, gear, cameras, etc my mileage was probably 35 mpg or something horrible.
We decide to press on and headed up 26 towards a national forest hoping to save a bit of money on a camping spot. Well this was about 35 to 45 minutes away and it was getting dark. Then we saw a sign for Dreher Island Park. I called but got answering machine. Then I just looked up campsite… perfect spots right on a lake. We showed up and I was literally a happy camper. The lake reminded me of lakes from growing up in Wisconsin, Pine trees the smell of fish mixed with lake water, somebody grilling hot dogs nearby. Our campsite was right on the water and I was so happy. We had quite a bit of heavy, high speed urban traffic and made it through just fine. Probably our only traffic of this kind that we will experience the whole trip. Really, statistically, the most dangerous part of our trip as far as fatal risks of vehicle to vehicle crashes. And we covered enough miles that tomorrow should be just 2 hours at the most before we're in the Appalatian mountains. Yee Haw. We were all in good spirits as we set up our tents. The breeze of the water kept the bugs away. The temperature was in mid 60s. We had a beautiful spot and my two friends who don't know each other except from me were getting along swimimngly. They cut jokes and both seemed to enjoy the company. We ate generous portions of Beef Stroganoff, Chilli Mac and Pad thai from our dehydrated pouches and sat aournd telling funny stories. A perfect start to this trip. I was expecting to get really anxious today with the trip officially getting underway and having SO MANY miles to go. But really, it was a perfect as a day could be.