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Usa 2010

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by Nev.., Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Been a while since I stopped past netrider forum so thought I'd post my last decent ride report.. was almost 6 months ago but better late than never


    Brother in Law got a job posting to New York last year. *My wife, Jo suggested we visit him this year. *I found a bike rental company in Brooklyn, NY which did one way rentals to Los Angeles at reasonable rates, on BMW bikes. *After about 12 months planning and anticipation.. we were off.. Flying into San Francisco on Sept 11th.

    First order of business was to compress all of the sights of San Francisco into 48 hrs

    Golden Gate Bridge (flag flying at half mast because it was Sept 11th)


    Steep Hills

    Pier 39

    Alcatraz Island
  2. Then to spend a week in New York. *What a place! *Not as "big" as I suspected.. but plenty going on 24 hours a day..

    A city with a police force larger than the combined Australian Defence Forces.

    Grand Central Station

    The biggest mo-fo electronics store you've ever seen in your life..

    Empire State Building


    The wall of beer at the local convenience store.

    Views from the roof of the building we're staying in
  3. USS Intrepid museum

    Cobblestone streets in the old quarters

    About all there is to be seen at the WTC construction site..

    mmmm kebabs..

    movable street bollards in the financial district

    Jersey City over the Hudson River
  4. South Manhattan

    Some old statue

    Someone making sure we didn't get too close to that statue

    Brooklyn Bridge

    Philly cheese steak sandwich for lunch :)

    We had our first meeting with Chris, the owners of Jupiters Motorcycle rentals. *He took us for a cruise around the lesser known sights of Brooklyn in his cool wheels..

    A vicious storm through New York. *We heard later that two tornados had formed in this storm and touched down a few km away in Brooklyn.
  5. A cricket game in Central Park


    We got some culture...

    A weapon handmade by Mr Colt.

    some inspiration for the Beatles *(hard to read the sign but this part of the park is named Strawberry Fields as a tribute to John Lennon)

    Armour worn by King Henry VIII

    A balancing act on the Hudson

    A parade
  6. An apt warning

    Set up a street market, and people will come..

    ..but that doesn't mean they'll be happy

    and with all of that crap out of the way.... we got to the good stuff *an R1200GS, an F650GS, a Rand McNally Atlas, a GPS, a pocket full of monopoly money, *and 3 weeks to get to LA.
  7. Brooklyn NY to Lancaster PA

    A distinct lack of photos today. We collected the bikes, packed all our gear in the panniers, and with much anticipation, excitement, and fear of the left hand turn, we took off. 50 Metres later we encountered our first left hand turn. 100 metres after that, our second. Both of these successfully negotiated, Having the Tomtom intalled was a real bonus. Aside from a minor wrong turn at a freeway junction it got us out of Brooklyn in to New Jersey, around Newark Airport, onto a pleasant looking parkway and out to a distant relative's house in a leafy street. Noone home there so we then took a few backroads instead of the freeways. The backroads were mainly 35MPH zones with lots of traffic and towns and intersections along the way. After lunch I decided to get back on the interstate and soon enough we were in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the night. Did I mention it was hot? It was hot. Low 30s for most of the day.
  8. Lancaster PA to Washington DC


    Lancaster county has a very large Amish community. *Lots of barns in the fields, not much farm machinery.


    The locals get around in horsedrawn buggies which maintian a fair clip down the road.

    The roads have buggy sized sealed shoulders

    but watch out for the evidence of horses.

    The names obviously aren't as funny in Pennsylvania Dutch

    They grow lots of corn

    They don't like electrickery
  9. A quaint town on a side road.

    In this town saw a signpost directing to another town 20 miles down the road, the birthplace of Robert E Fulton, author of One Man Caravan. *It was a bit far out of our way for a detour.

    Found some nice backroads meandering through the Pennsylvania farmland

    Visited Gettysberg, the site of a battle, a cemetary, and a famous speech

    A memorial built at the spot where Lincoln spoke
  10. Heading through some minor Maryland roads on our way to Washington

    Visited some friends of my sister,

    Had a meal on a floating restaurant on the Potomac River on a balmy evening

    And then went for a walk and saw some sights
  11. Washington DC

    Some of you might remember the old tram on Hoddle Street Melbourne which was part of this chain..

    We spent the day walking around Washington seeing the sights. *Ticked off the big ones.. White house..

    Lincoln Memorial

    Washington Monument

    Spent much time in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum which has the first, the best, the fastest of everything which flies, even touched some moon rock.

    The Apollo 11 command module,

    The Spirit of St Louis

    The Wright Brothers 1903 flyer, the first

    I took lots of photos, many of dubious quality.

    We took in some of the Natural History Museum, which has an excellent dinosaur collection,
  12. Washington DC to Waynesboro, Virginia

    First stop was the petrol station. *Where the owner of this bike was keeping a very low profile.

    The great thing about petrol stations in the USA is that almost without exception, every petrol station has pay at the pump to avoid driveoffs. (If you don't have a card you need to prepay every transaction inside the petrol station which means two trips inside). *With pay at the pump, you don't have to take you helmet and gear off every time you stop for fuel. The downside of course is if you have an Australian address on your credit card account. *None of the pumps asked for a pin. *Some pumps asked for your zip code for authorising the transaction. *Some accepted a 4 digit zip code, some accepted a 4 digit postcode with a leading 0, and some just plain refused to play the game, particularly at Shell.

    First stop was another air and space museum near the Dalles airport. *This museum over one hundred of machines of various types, including

    All images here.

    Then it was off to the Skyline Road, a prelude to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Came across a couple of ADVers on a matching pair of Africa Twins

    This road was a bit tiring, due to the traffic and the 35MPH speed limit for it's entire length. *It finished at Waynesboro, where we stopped for the night.
  13. Waynesboro, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina

    This must have been a great ride, because for some reason I hardly took any pictures at all. * We started the morning following TomTom's directions heading south and taking a gravel spur up to the Blue Ridge parkway.


    The parkway follows a ridge on the Appalacian range. *Unfortuately there was a lot of haze, so while the views were spectacular to the eye, to the camera, they are quite hazy


    I guess this is the spot Meatloaf sang about..


    Small town petrol station, small town attitudes :)

    We followed the Blue Ridge parkway for about 300km as it ran along the ridge. *It's an uninterupted road from end to end, meaning there are entrances and exits from other roads onto it, and bridges over interstates, but the road is continuous and travel is unimpeded pretty much for it's entire length. *After 300km we needed fuel and lunch so headed off the parkway into a town. *Fuelled up and then followed a county road down to the next interstate. *The Parkway was 45mph for its entire length, so the going was relaxed. *After lunch decided to interstate it for about 300km to Asheville for the night. *The Parkway runs through Asheville, so although our hotel was only metres from the interstate, the surroundings were still very much bush.
  14. Asheville, North Carolina to Athens, Tennessee

    The plan today was simple. *It was going to be a riders dream day. *First
    the Blue Ridge Parkway, then a lap of Deals Gap, the tail of the dragon,
    318 curves in 11 miles, and then capped off by a ride around a lake, and
    the Cherahola Parkway into Tennessee... what could go wrong?

    First stop was the petrol station next to the motel, to buy some batteries, and stock up on cold drinks. *As we took off Jo let me know that my rear was flat, tyre that is. *I thought the bike felt a bit sluggish but had put it down to a cool morning. *75c worth of compressed air later and I had identified the culprit. *A bit of wire the size of a paper staple. Probably a bit of steel belt from a truck tyre. *The interstates are littered with remains of blown tyres. *So much for our early start. *Had wanted to get away by 8am for a full day's riding. *A surprising amount of air rushed out of the tiny hole, so I pushed the wire back into the hole and used our technology to find a bike shop. *Got there a few mins before opening but it turned out to be a bike spares shop, not a dealership with a workshop. *One of the staff arrived and she gave a local repairer a call. He was open (it was Saturday morning) and he could repair a tyre. Instructions given and shortly we're down at his shop in a factory complex. Nice bloke. *Hagan Cycles. *He repaired the tyre and had the bike mobile again in very short time. *Total charge $35+tax. *He even gave us each a tshirt promoting his business. *I think we actually made a profit.

    IT was 10am by the time we left so decided to take some faster roads and skip the first part of the Blue Ridge parkway heading south. *Soon enough we were into the good stuff.

    Even the expressway was fun

    Shortly before arriving at Deals Gap

    A few km further on from this lake I knew we were ominously close to Deals Gap. *The road had been winding, but gently, and then there was a sharp steep downhill righthander... and in the middle of the corner, there were a number of black rubber lines heading straight off the road into a steel cliff rock face. *When I say a number, I mean a large number. *There was evidence of dozens, at least dozens, of bikes having sailed straight through the corner without even an hint of turning, rear wheels locked up. I knew this was the sign that we were getting close.


    The photos don't do this place justice. *IT was saturday lunchtime and it was wall to wall bikes. *On the 11 mile stretch of the Gap there must have been hundreds and hundreds of bikes. *A few sportsbikes but mostly cruisers and tourers. *In fact so many that rather than ride the entire 11 miles of the Tail of the Dragon, we turned around about half way. *There were so many bikes on the road little actual enjoyment of the curves could be had. It wasn't the experience I had hoped for.. but it was an experience none the less.
    A point worth mentioning. *The quality of riders riding this road was exceptional. *Despite the large proportion of riders on big, heavy, machines, which were specifically not designed for such a road, their road manners, (and by that i mean their ability to stay on their own side of the double yellow lines) were exceptional. *I have encountered groups of Harleys and metric tourers on the hills around Melbourne and they're invariably cutting corners, running wide, braking in all the wrong places... at Deals Gap I saw none of that. *Slow they might be, but they didn't approach corners "knowing" that there was nothing coming the other way..


    the famous Deals Gap tree of shame
  15. It was impossible to really appreciate the size of the motorcycling population in the USA, especially around this part of the USA. *There were bikes everywhere. *Lots out on weekdays, and just incomprehensible numbers of bikes on the road on weekend. *And there wasn't much diversity. *They were all Honda Goldwings and Harley baggers. *It was not uncommon to see them in groups of 6-12. *I saw more goldwings in a single minute on one section of interstate in North Carolina than I have seen in my entire life in Australia. *There were almost no Sports bikes. *Almost no ADV bikes. Just Goldwings and Harley tourers. *I'm guessing the jap bike riders had better places to be spending their time, and the same for dualsports bikes. Aside from the odd R1200GS and Vstrom there wasn't much variety.

    Stopped by a "motorcycle resort" for a looksee. *This was a motel at which every motel room had a garage big enough for a couple of bikes to be securely parked.


    Cherahola Skyway

  16. Athens, Tennessee to Corinth, Mississippi

    Another low volume photo day. *Due to the weather rather than spectacular roads. *We woke up to a wet morning. *The rain had passed but the sky was gloomy and the roads wet.


    We took the interstate south to Chattanooga, crossed into Georgia, stopped at a petrol station where we chatted to another rider who pulled up with his FJR1300 on a trailer behind his 4WD.

    "What the heck are you doing riding in this weather?"

    He and his wife were on their way home from a big FJR1300 rally. *100 of the bikes turned up. *Only 2 on trailers, his and one other. *A remarkably low proportion he thought. *TomTom took us on a merry dance around the backroads of NW Georgia and NE Alabama, while the weather turned and for about 10 minutes I discovered the shortcomings of the helmet I had bought in New York. *Woeful wet weather performance. *We crossed Alabama, not on interstates, but they were 4 lane divided highways for much of the way none the less, and freeway through Huntsville.

    By the time we reached Decatur the sun was out and the heated grips were off. *Stopped here for a cold drink and a break and chatted to a local, who once he found out where we were from, entralled us with his own story of a holiday and chance meeting with someone who owned a horse which had won the "Melbourne Derby".

    Northern Alabama was flat and green and they grew a lot of cotton



    Alabama came and Alabama went and Corinth Mississippi was where we spent our night.

    What never ceased to amaze us as we crossed the country, was how different the states were from one another. *Each state was quite unique, either in terms of terrain, or land usage, or the flora. *Although many of the borders between the states are merely rivers or an arbitrary degree of longitude, there were often striking differences between the two.
  17. Corinth, Mississippi to Batesville, Arkansas

    Next morning saw us take some quiet backroads into Tennessee again.

    In this area, and for the next few thousand km there were more churches than you could dare to count. *Every town had at least 2 baptist churches, often right across the road from each other, and there were often more churches between the churches. *No pics of churches, but the thought of a free lunch got me feeling religious..

    We ended up on a freeway into Memphis. *Since Washington it was the first 'big city' we had seen.
    The freeways here were signposted with both max and minimum speed limits.. We got off the freeway to make a short detour...
    [img width=336 height=600]http://www.thisstupidurl.com/2010/USA2010/15%20Corinth%20to%20Batesville/slides/IMG_2779.jpg[/img]

    Then stopped up the street at a petrol station to buy a cold drink and fuel up. I tried to diagnose a problem with the GPS. *It had stopped charging from the battery. I never did manage to diagnose the problem, and for the remainder of the trip had to run it on low power settings and charge it overnight.

    Saw some interesting architecture

    Crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas.

    On this side of the river the trees disappeared and it was flat and barren farming land.

    Found a wonderful little road which wound it's way north.

    and then a minor mishap. *Kenworth 1, BMW 0. *Jo was fine aside from a few bruises.

    After Jo dusted herself off, a tow truck was ordered and the State Trooper had taken all the details he required for his accident report Jo and her luggage were loaded into the back of the Trooper's Dodge Charger and he led the way back into Batesville and dropped her at a hotel. *I followed.
  18. That evening and next morning were consumed deciding on plan B. *After
    discussing various options, we got on the 1200 and started a tour of the
    local bike shops. *Batesville had about 4 bike shops, but none of them had
    much in the way of secondhand bikes, and the best option at the shop that
    did was a 900cc kawasaki cruiser. *That shop manager pointed us to Sunrise
    Honda at Searcy, about 75km away. *To say this shop was huge would be an
    understatement. *It was the biggest motorcycle shop I have seen in my life.
    IT was like every motorcycle dealer in Melbourne on the one site. *There
    were over 200 bikes in the secondhand bike showroom, all second hand apart
    from about 20 brand new Goldwings, and goldwing trikes. *Behind that
    showroom was an even bigger storage area with another couple of hundred
    mainly new bikes awaiting predelivery service. *behind that, a warehouse
    100 metres long which the salesman assured us at the start of the riding
    season would be stacked 5 high with new bikes in crates. *ANd then there
    were two other new bike showrooms... one for honda and another for the
    other japanese marques.. and then there were the ATVs. dozens of them in
    crates, and being assembled and predelivered in another shed.

    As soon as we walked into the secondhand bike showroom I spotted the bike.
    A Suzuki GS500F. *Good for short legs, competant tourer, bulletproof
    engines. *This one was 5 years old with only 2400 miles on the clock.
    After some trips to ATM to acquire a sufficient percentage of the cost in
    cash to please the dealer, a swipe of the credit card, some insurance and a
    fair bit of waiting time, we were heading back to Batesville.
  19. Batesville, Arkansas to Vinita, Oklahoma

    The luggage redistributed among the two bikes, with the contents of Jo's
    panniers and topbox going... onto my bike. *The R1200Gs didnt even notice
    the extra load.
    while Jo carried the rest

    >From Batesville we headed to the hills. *It was a perfect morning for
    riding (apparently it was even more perfect if you had heated grips for the
    first hour or so ;) )

    We crossed briefly into Missouri, where the good roads continued.
  20. After lunch we were back in Arkansas and at the next fuel stop came across
    this shop at the petrol station.. but the shop was closed and as I looked
    someone walked over to me and advised me the owner had come off his bike
    the day before and broken his hip.


    Found some quiet backroads before we cross into Oklahoma