Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pain in the Ass

The Dragon - Day 3

I tried to sleep in as much as possible on Sunday because I knew I was going to need my rest for the ride home but I still got up around 9:30. We all took our time eating breakfast, drinking coffee and packing our stuff. Fix and Ryan had left early because they had a long long ride back to Michigan. Sometime during the ride on Saturday the screw holding the back of my gas tank on had fallen off (gonna have to use some loctite on that next time). Plastic gave me some zip ties to use to hold it in position. Zip ties are the modern duct tape. We said goodbye to DJElliot, Shane and POCPhil as they headed back to Cleveland. The rest of us headed over to the other part of the camp to say goodbye to the rest of the guys.

We hung out and chatted over there for awhile and then CCRider and I decided it was finally time to head out. We roared back across the dragon, headed for home.

We stopped in Robbinsville to call and let our bosses know we were still alive and on our way home and then headed out again. This time we stayed on Hwy 28 and headed south. The section of Hwy 28 south of 74 was actually quite fun and at some points rivaled The Dragon with respect to the curves. On one sharp right hand turn I was leaned over so far that the toe of my boot dragged on the ground. That woke me up. We ended up stopping at an abandoned gas station to give our butts and arms a rest. While we were standing there, we notice some storm clouds rolling in and heard some distant thunder. We quickly headed down the road towards Franklin NC to try and get ahead of the storm. Nope! We ended up riding right into a heavy downpour. To make matters worse, as we pulled into town, we got stuck behind a giant dually that was spraying water everywhere. As the rain got harder, he slowed down until he was going about 10 miles an hour. After sitting at a light which seemed to be about 10 minutes long, we rolled into a gas station soaking wet.

We hung out there for about an hour waiting for the rain to pass and ate lunch. Yum! Gas station hot dogs! We geared up and headed out onto a very wet Hwy 64. Once we got back into the mountains, the scenery was beautiful. It was hard to resist the urge to look over the guard rails down at the amazing waterfalls. But if we did, we would probably end up down there. We stopped at this awesome place where you could drive behind a waterfall.

As we were leaving the waterfall, CCRider's bike started acting up. It seemed to be running on one cylinder. He goosed it a couple times and with a puff of black smoke the other cylinder started firing again. I think the altitude was starting to get to his bike. We continued on and eventually ended up in Highlands, NC. We didn't intend to stop but as we were sitting at a red light, CCRider's bike started misfiring again. We pulled over for a minute and he got it going again. As he pulled away, suddenly my bike wouldn't start again. A minute or two of jumping on the kickstart and she finally fired up. Off we went.

We stopped for gas one more time in Sapphire, NC. Again my bike would not start. This was getting annoying. I tried for several minutes and couldn't even kickstart it. CCRider ended up giving me a push start and she finally fired up. I took off before she had a chance to stall and we headed for our last stop. The road finally opened up and we were able to put some miles down.

As I was riding it dawned on me what the problem was. When I rebuilt my bike, I had put a new halogen headlight in with a 55W bulb. The stock bulb is something like 35W. So I theorized that the charging system could not keep up with the power consumption of this new bulb and the battery was getting drained. I figured if I rode with my headlight off for awhile, the battery would have a chance to charge. Unfortunately, it is NC law that motorcycles run with their headlights on. So now I had to keep an eye out for cops and turn my light back on every time I saw one.

We finally pulled into a gas station in Hendersonville to take another break and say our goodbyes. Thank you CCRider for making the journey with me and making the trip much much more enjoyable.

On Hwy 25 we went our separate ways and I cruised on back home to Greenville. When I got into Greenville I stopped at an auto parts store to get a new, smaller headlight bulb, but of course they didn't have any. The guys at the store came out to look at my bike and were shocked that I had just made such a long trip on such an uncomfortable looking motorcycle. At that point my butt, arms and hands agreed with them. I finally rolled back up to my parent's house extremely exhausted but very happy. 650 miles of beautiful mountain roads. When can I do this again?

My route home:

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