|11-25-2009, 01:48 PM||#121|
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Close to Cumming (GA that is)
The Long (and Boring) Ride Home.
Limon, CO - Cumming, GA (1312 miles)
Having decided, as a result of yesterday's events, to curtail the balance of this adventure while the possibility of limping home on an essentially intact Precious was still reasonably likely, today's mindset predominantly contemplated a successful yet uneventful trip completion more than anything else. Just over 1300 miles separated the current location from home base in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, which would be covered via the extensive and terminally uninspiring collection of interstate routes between the two. Familiar no doubt to the overriding majority of would be east coast adventurers attempting to juggle the limitations of a dismal domestic vacation allowance with the allure of an overland odyssey out west, principal offender amongst this selection of multi lane tedium is an inevitably windswept section of I-70 that offers around 400 miles of unrelenting boredom, which is unfortunately necessary in order to put the plains of Kansas firmly in the rear view mirrors. With no particular plan for the trip's conclusion other than that, a vague notion of knocking out around 1000 of those miles by day's end, before an easy final day of limited mileage settled itself loosely into my aspirational subconscious.
As I've made plainly obviously by this stage, the act of cajoling my reluctant conveyance into life on a consistent basis had reached the point just shy of a regular religious blessing accompanying each eternally hopeful stab of its' enigmatic starter button. However, my plan to limit the recruitment of local shaman to an absolute minimum merely involved nothing more than stopping the thing as seldomly as possible. Which is where, once again, the capacious benefits of the auxiliary Fuel cell bacame apparent. With well over 400 miles of sphincter blistering fuel capacity available at every fuel stop, the prospect of seeking divine intervention on no more than a handful of subsequent re-firing occasions became a mouth watering possibility, provided the resilience of my backside could oblige of course. It's worth mentioning too, that since the post refueling ignition propensity of my baby approximately resembled that of damp firewood sitting in a vacuum, I intended to employ an insurance strategy involving the selection of facilities equipped with an appropriately severe downhill exit grade, which would hopefully serve as motivational kindling should the need arise.
Anyhow, with that convoluted litany of gloom laden baggage entrenched firmly in the troubled depths of my subconscious, attempting to remain within the mildly comforting confines of the familiar, once again I arose under cover of darkness and departed swiftly on a conveyance which for once was thankfully fully co-operative. With the sun eventually providing the first faint glimmers of daybreak as the early miles of the day's journey were completed, I snapped what ultimately would become the final photographs of this entire crusade. Once those were dispatched to the camera's memory, with nothing more than the undemanding nature of the immediate interstate dominated terrain to contend with, my thoughts turned to journey's end and returning once more to life's familiar pattern which - predictably - left me with a mixture of relief and happiness in getting back to my wife and family coupled with a deep sense of melancholy over my return to a monotonous daily grind, following over 10000 miles of soul nourishing adventure.
Perched aimlessly atop my machine, mile after agonizing mile of blustery repetitiveness presented itself courtesy of cross Kansas I-70, which at times tested the absolute powers of my abilities to enjoy two wheeled travel under any circumstances. However on this occasion, at least my mount posessed sufficient motivational reserves to ramp up forward velocity significantly beyond a wind restricted 70mph, which had been the excruciating circumstances under which I'd last made this crossing, sampling the delights of a fully laden WFO KLR. Eventually though, with the worst of the tedium dispatched to history, the day's first refueling opportunity presented itself around Topeka, KS - at well over 400 miles from the morning's departure point. Using a fuel cell for the first time, this was the longest mileage stretch I'd personally ever completed without stopping for anything whatsoever and, all things considered, it didn't feel that bad. There was a certain 'itchiness' around the area where my personage made contact with machine's seat, but generally I was feeling pretty good (although as a perennial purchaser of budget clothing, I was currently grateful that the decision to shell out a seemingly extortionate $25/pair on a few copies of Ex-Officio's finest wicking underwear had been reluctantly taken).
I wasn't nearly as carefree by the next stop, though. A second dose of uninterrupted 400 mile plus cruising had seen the route cross the Kansas state line into Missouri, join I-64 heading into Illinois where, taking I-57, it turned south towards the Tennessee border, before finally curtailing further progress around Marion Illinois at the heartening insistence of the flashing reserve light. After the masochistic levels of daily ground coverage which had been the signature feature for most of this trip, it was quite startling how an additional hundred miles or so between fill-ups conspired to put the resultant level of rectal discomfort into an entirely different dimension. Having a whole new appreciation for the term Monkey Butt as my mechanical partner and I rolled gratefully into the welcoming embrace of the chosen forecourt, it became immediately apparent that maintaining any level of personal dignity upon dismounting the machine would be an exercise in extreme self control as, going through the motions of refueling, I tried desperately to resist an overriding urge to scratch frantically at the throbbing/burning/itching sensation insistently emanating from the sensitized region of my tenderized butt cheeks. In deference to any perceived public decency requirements and in conflict with an overriding urge to engage in a protracted bout of Olympic level forecourt ass scratching, surprisingly the mechanics of refueling, along with a few associated tasks - such as slugging a couple of Advils washed down with a Red Bull and an energy bar - were completed in an efficiently controlled fashion, and within a relatively short space of time I was, once again, rolling down the highway in the general direction of Georgia.
Here I think, it's worth pointing out how even the briefest of rest breaks can serve to significantly rejuvenate body and soul (or maybe it was the Advil/Red Bull kicking in), because shortly after experiencing the worst form of discomfort imaginable, I was suddenly contemplating knocking out the entire final leg of this odyssey in a 24 hour stint! Without a doubt the potential immediately appealed to my subconscious desire for the melodramatic; it would be the biggest single mileage day I'd ever done, put an exclamation point on the end of the trip and, as an added bonus, score me extra brownie points with Wife-a-saurus by getting home early for once. However even though this plan quickly started to gain momentum and crystallize as the preferred itinerary from that moment on, I decided that I wouldn't call my wife and inform her of my plans, since I didn't want her sat at home stressing over my arrival. And by not doing so, I maintained the option of calling it a day - short of my ultimate goal - if things didn't turn out quite as hoped for.
Further along, the journey continued on through Nashville which, with significant relief was, for once, negotiated without any major delays. Splitting the difference between the remaining mileage from the last refueling effort, I ended up stopping for gas around Manchester, TN with a mere 250 miles showing on the trip odometer. Predictably, I was almost left regretting the prosecution of this not strictly necessary pause in the proceedings as Precious was a little hesitant to continue. But eventually, maybe experiencing the briefest touch of benevolence for the first time during the entire journey, my recalcitrant assemblage of unwilling ironmongery fired reluctantly into life and we headed back out to ultimately make a triumphant return into the familiar surroundings of North West Georgia. However, and I suppose in retrospect not entirely unexpectedly, the adventure wasn't quite over yet. Estimations of moving averages, distance to destination and all the other data spewed out by an ever vigilant GPS, morphed into major recalculate mode as I sped down the reasonably empty confines of the final interstate leg of NW Georgia's I-75. Sometime just after midnight, with a dangerously serious level of fatigue struggling to take a firm grip on my consciousness, to say that I was disheartened to see a bank of blue flashing lights across the interstate up ahead would be the epitome of understatement. And my mood deepened significantly when I discovered that Georgia's finest had the entire southbound interstate at a total standstill, with a line of dormant vehicles backed up in the all too familiar fashion of extreme delay.
As I could see the limited extent of the carnage stretched out over the highway up ahead had potential to be easily maneuvered around, I pleaded my case with the officers to let me through; but even given the distinct possibility of having Precious permanently marooned on the side of the road in a final act of motionless defiance if her ignition was extinguished, they weren't having any of it. However, since I didn't want to chance shutting the engine down, they did concede that I could turn around and ride the wrong way up the adjacent entrance ramp to exit the interstate and detour around the carnage, on the local back roads. Of course, not thinking I'd ever need any Georgia GPS info, I hadn't loaded up any maps for the immediate area and was therefore left to grope haphazardly around the darkened country roads in the hope of rejoining the interstate south of the automotive log jam. I've no idea how long that whole effort actually lasted, but it seemed to take forever. I was almost delirious with self pity and whined pathetically inside my helmet like a three year-old who has failed to get his own way as, with one wrong turn after another, I feebly attempted - in a state of semi-conscious bewilderment - to find my way around the road block. With nothing more than a serious blow to my mental disposition however, I did finally make it back to the interstate, at which point I'm almost certain I'd never been so excited to see ten lanes' worth of uninspiring tedium in my life. From that point, all that remained was a relatively short stretch of interstate until once again leaving the comforting confines of its' predictable nature just south of Calhoun, where an hour or so of excruciating back roads separated me from my house. I rolled into the driveway at somewhere around 3am and 1300+ miles later.
Two Meals - True Terror (An Alaskan Ironbutt Odyssey): Liking Biking
4 Corners of South Africa - via the internet.
Heart of the West on five LC8'S!
Douf screwed with this post 11-30-2009 at 01:14 PM
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