This video will introduce you to the "characters" that rode in the Mancation 2013 and the bikes that hauled us.
Our first day started off great. We were a little behind schedule after getting the SENA communications wired up in everybody's helmets and packing the bikes down. It rained the night before so the road was a bit damp, but the sun was out, spirits were high, and we were ready to roll! Here's our route.
I was in the lead using my iPhone running Navigon GPS software. Our route has been programmed in and we needed this app to work so we could ride our plan. I bring this up because about 30 minutes into our 3 day Mancation my iPhone charger failed. This was the third time it has broken and I have soldered it back up. Apparently, the vibration of the bike is not good for the little charger board. Running GPS on an iPhone that only has battery power is a short lived affair. Luckily, I had packed a Mophie external battery pack and Jeff had a charger wired up in his saddlebags. We managed to keep it running all weekend, but it was very close to dead all the time.
Our first stop was Lake Lure. Jimmy and David needed to adjust their bungee cords that was holding their luggage and we all stretched our legs. At this point it is starting to get cooler and the air has a bit of a fog to it. We swapped out to some warmer gloves and headed on after a couple of pictures.
When we got ready to leave, my GPS and Jeff's GPS were in a disagreement. We ended up deciding to head up the parkway instead of following HWY 80. We stopped for lunch and gas in Spruce Pine and got back on the road. We rode for a little while longer and our GPS started telling us to make a U turn. We didn't understand why, so we pulled over to check it out. We were riding from a sunny area into a very heavy fog and everything was getting a little damp as water was condensing, but it wasn't raining. We pulled over at this stone bridge to try and get a little bit of shelter while we checked our GPS. This stone bridge looked very familiar. Then we realized that we were back at the Eastern Continental Divide! We have just burned an hour out of our day riding in a loop and the bad part is we were heading back into bad conditions when we didn't even need to. Frustrated, we adjusted our GPS waypoints and headed back down HWY 80 to get us back on the right route. Our shiny clean bikes were now throughly soiled from riding through all the wet roads. There was a nice heavy coat of road dirt all over everything, but we are still pumped about our long awaited Mancation.
We kept winding through the mountains on our way to Marion, Virginia. Since I was leading, I was trying to call out any road hazards that I may come across to give the guys behind me a heads up. You know, stuff like gravel, dirt, and roadkill. I came around a tight right hand corner turn and there was a possum right in the middle of the road. I just missed it, so I called it out and Jimmy and David dodged it. Jeff, on the other hand, did not dodge it! He rides a VStar with floorboards and when he really gets into the curves he will often drag his floorboards on the road. In this particular curve he was dragging his floorboard and he proceeded to drag it right through that possum!
We all had a good laugh about that and kept rolling to our next rest point. We were somewhere on Roan Mountian when we stopped to take a break. There were barely any cars on the road and the views were great!
After our break we saddled back up and headed to our next gas stop. Our plan was to stop in Shady Valley, Tennesee for gas and then ride "The Snake" before heading to our hotel. When we reached Shady Valley neither of the gas stations were open and Jeff was getting pretty low. Not to mention it was getting late in the day after visiting the Eastern Continental Divide twice. We still had a good bit of mileage to cover and riding after dark in the mountains is not the best idea.
The funny thing is we all stopped at the pumps of the Shady Valley Country Store and tried to get gas with about 5 or 6 guys watching and trying to tell us they were closed. We all had our communicators on so we couldn't hear them talking to us, but we were all wondering why the pumps weren't turning on. That went on for about 5 minutes before Jeff tried to walk in the store to see what was going on.
Since there was no gas to be had, we kept riding towards our destination. A few miles up the road we found the world's shortest tunnel! We rode past it and I decided I wanted to get some pictures, so everybody just waited on me.
We finally found some gas so we filled up and hit the road until we reached Marion, VA. We got there just as it was getting dark. Maybe 8:30 or 9:00. We got checked into the America's Best Value Inn, unloaded the bikes and then saddled back up to go to dinner.
We ate in the historic district of Marion at Macado's. The service and food was great! We asked them if we could have a table for 6 so we would have somewhere to put our helmets. They really hooked us up. We got a round table in the upstairs section with plenty of room. We split a couple of pitchers of some local brew called Vienna Lager by Devil's Backbone Brewery. After a few beers and a long day of riding we were pretty beat so we headed back to the hotel. Just before bed there was a peach moonshine nightcap with a well matched cigar! It's a Mancation tradition.
What I Learned:
- Traveling in a pack of four is a little more involved than a pack of two.
- GPS is a great tool, but it is always a good idea to have a good paper map as a backup.
Proverbs 27:17 NIV "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
This trip was the first long trip Jimmy and David have ever done. They recently got into motorcycling and Jeff and I were glad they decided to join us on Mancation 2013. I know I have learned a lot off of more experienced riders over the years and I think Jimmy and David learned a lot on the Mancation. We all picked up some new riding ideas, packing ideas, and touring ideas. It is important to learn from your friends and mentors, but it is equally important to make sure you are learning good information. We should all look for opportunities to be both the teacher and the student.
Check out Mancation 2012 Day 1