2004 The Motorcycling Year that Was
Ok, that was a big build up of a title isn't it? I guess I will go back as far as November and December of 2003 with this. November 2003 marked my reemergence into motorcycling. Even though I already had the K100RT, it was in disrepair so it had not been ridden in a while. So it was getting the R-Bike in November of 2003 that marked the return. The bike had 29,xxx miles on it when I got it and now has 42,xxx miles on it. So in that time period I put some 13,000 and some-odd miles on it. I changed the oil, four or five times, sparkplugs a couple of times, learned how to sync the throttle bodies and set the valves, put new tires on both end (and need to change the back one again), and put some handgrip cover on it. Except for some on going oil leakage problems, the bike has performed excellently. In this time period I have ridden in every county/parish in Mississippi and Louisiana. I have also rode in a couple of states I had never ridden in before. I have earned two Ironbutt Association certificates (SS1000 and BB1500) and been working on another one (National Park Master Tourer). I had thought about getting IBA certificates before, but never really expected I would. I had to miss out on a trip into the New England area when the business related trip I was going to went away. I hate that, it would have been a really nice trip. Maybe next year. And speaking of next year... what should 2005 bring motorcycle wise? Hopefully the rest of the National Parks Master Tourer award, and I would like to take a long trip sometime in there too. I have a 3000 mile trip worked out on paper that would take me up to Colorado. That would be nice one. Also a trip like the IBA CC50 (coast to coast in 50 hours) or Border to Border (Mexico to Canada (or vice-versa) in 24 to 36 hours) would be a lot of fun. But, to do some flower sniffing type rides up through the Smokies or Ozarks with no real agenda would be nice too. I guess we will see what happens.
Ride Updates from 2004
Here is a list of Quick Ride Reports from 2004. Most recent rides at the top.
December 11th - The BMW Riders of Mississippi had their Christmas Meeting in Hattiesburg, MS. It was a nice cool day and it was a very nice ride. Even chilly at times. That is the first time I have been away from Vicksburg or Jackson in months. It was good to be out there in the wind. No new states, counties, or National Parks. Total miles for the day, maybe 350. But it was nice to be on the road.
October 2nd - Motorcycle Touring Forum Ride To Eat at Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca, AL. Got up early and rode over to Hattiesburg to get some consumables (crush washers and timing hole plug, etc.) for the bike and then rode through western AL a little. Lots of hurricane damage over in those parts. Lots of love bugs too. Lunch was good (grilled catfish was a tad salty, but plenty tasty). Fellowship was pretty good too. After lunch I needed to get back to walk the dogs so I hopped I-20 home. Total miles for the day, about 525.
Alabama Counties: Choctaw, Clarke, Washington, Wilcox.
September 3 & 4th - A combo run. I got another state in, got stamps from several states for my National Parks Passport and got a BB1500 in. You can read the details on the IBA page. Summary for the trip:
New State: Georgia (8 Total).
Alabama: Chambers, Coosa, Dallas, Hale, Lee, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Russell, Talladega, Tallapoosa.
Georgia: Chattahoochee, Marion, Macon, Muscogee, Schley, Sumter, Stewart, Webster.
Tennessee: Hardin, McNairy.
Passport Cancellations: 8 stamps, 3 new states (17 stamps, 6 states total).
Total miles for September 3, about 1000, September 4, about 665.
August 22nd - To get the National Parks Master Traveler (see the IBA Rides button above for more details) deal off to a good start, I figured I might as well run across and pick up a park or two in Louisiana and Texas. I got up and went for a ride about 6:30am. The ride across LA on the I20 was somewhat boring, but sometimes it is nice to just ride and think. I took smaller roads down through LA and TX and got to the Big Thicket National Preserve about noon. It was a nice ride down through there. It appears that Texas has raised the speed limit to 70 mph on most all their state and county roads. It made for a nice ride. I even managed to take a long bridge across Lake Sam Rayborn. There was just me and the park attendant at Big Thicket. I had ridden over straight just stopping for gas so I used the 15 minute film on the area to decompress a little. After seeing the film and looking at the exhibits I walked back out and discovered it had been raining. I had left my helmet hanging on the bike. It was only a little wet. Went back north to cut across Toledo Bend to go over to Natchitoches, LA. Not five minutes up the road I ran into a big black cloud and it started pouring. I got up under the awning of an abandoned gas station and put my rain suit pants and tank bag cover on. It poured for another 15 minutes and then some light rain for a while longer. Finally I was back out in sunshine. And heat. And humidity. By the time I crossed Toledo Bend I was sweltering in the suit so I stopped and removed it. Ah, the evaporative effect of the my pants drying in the wind made it feel a lot cooler when I got back on the road. I made it to Natchitoches a little after 3pm, gassed up, made a pass through town, and then ran down to Natchez, LA to the Oakland Plantation (though some things seem to refer to it as Oaklawn Plantation, confusing). It was about twenty till four and they close at four so the lady gave me a quick run down on what happens there, stamped my book and wished me well. I walked back out and it looked like it was fixin' to pour down. I ran over to my bike, stowed my stuff, and starting putting on my rain pants. This guy comes over and starts talking to me about how I need to be going because it is going to rain. Duh! So why are you bothering me when I could be riding. I didn't make it out of the parking lot before it started coming down in buckets. By the time I got back in Natchitoches it was just raining hard and I could once again see past the end of my front fender. I got on US84 and managed to get ahead of the storm (without going through the bad part I had ridden in earlier). I zipped across to Winfield and then got on LA34 and took it up to Monroe. I had planned to go across on US84 all the way to Columbia, but there were more clouds that direction and I was staying out of it by going to Monroe so I changed my plan on the fly. I was pretty well soaked from the waist up. My summer jacket isn't waterproof and I was afraid of a heat stroke wearing it with a rain suit over it. The evaporative cooling that felt so good earlier in the day was no longer my friend. I never thought I would be cool on a bike in sunshine in August in Louisiana, but I was. There were a couple of little sprinkles on I20 on the rest of the way home, but no biggies.
New State: Texas.
New Counties: Texas - Angelina, Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, and Tyler.
Passport Cancellations: 3 stamps, 2 new states (7 stamps, 3 states total).
Total miles for the day, about 720, but several of those miles seemed a lot longer than usual.
August 21st - The Summer has been pretty slow riding wise. Seems like it rains every weekend or I am stuck working on the yard. I decided I would do the IBA National Park Master Traveler Tour. See the IBA rides tab for more details. To start things off I made a ride down to Natchez, MS to visit a few parks with passport stamps down through there. It was a good day for a ride. Went down US61 then cut across to the Natchez Trace and stopped at Mount Locust for my first passport stamp. From there I went down to Natchez and got stamped for the Natchez Trace Parkway, The William Johnson House, and Melrose. I also crossed the river to visit the Louisiana Visitor Center (to get info for the next days trip) and knocked out another Mississippi River Bridge.
Passport Cancellations: 4 stamps, 1 new state.
June 13th - Another big riding day. Plans were to cover the rest of the LA Parishes in a day. That would mean going across North LA on little tiny back roads, going south through Western LA through towns no bigger than a postage stamp, then going east through the lower LA swamps to circle New Orleans. Sounds like a full days work? Well, it was.
I got up early and rode. Weather was cool and it was a nice morning to be riding. The area of Western LA I went down through was new to me and interesting to pass through. There really was little dramatics until about 3pm. I found myself in New Iberia staring at a major thunderstorm. I had ridden through a couple of small showers before that but they were no big deal. I was actually looking forward to a few of them because they cooled things off so much. But when lightning started flashing and the rain started pelting me to the point where I could hardly see I decided to park the bike under the awning at a gas station and went next door to Burger King for lunch. By the time I was done with a salad the rain was down to a drizzle and the lightning had stopped. I walked back over and there was a guy on a Harley Road King parked beside me waiting out the storm. We talked a little bit. He was from FL and had been on the road a couple of weeks. He had gone up and rode the Blue Ridge Parkway, then made his way over to AR to visit his mother, and was now on his way to Morgan City (about 40 miles away) to spend a few days with his son. I remarked that it sounded like a nice way to spend a couple of weeks. Then it was back on the road to get rained on some more. The weather was nice enough to clear up about the time I got to New Orleans so I didn't have to contend with the traffic and storms at the same time. I crossed the Mississippi River on the US-90 Bridge. By that time it was after 6 pm so I didn't have enough time to cross on the I-310 and again at the Sunshine Bridge at Donaldsonville like I had in the back of my mind to get two more bridges. But I did have time to go up though the swamps between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and knock out the remainder of the LA Parishes. So for the second straight week I have finished up all the counties in a state. Not likely that I will finish any more states anytime soon. The trip home should be anticlimactic from there, huh? Well, by the time I got started up the I-55 on the way home it was getting dark and some more storm clouds were brewing. It was kind of neat watching the lightning jump from cloud to cloud, but no matter which way the road turned, the lightning and the clouds stayed ahead of me. I stopped at Hazlehurst for one last fill up and since I was dried out, put on my rainsuit bottom for the first time of the day (I was already soaked before I had a chance to put it on before). This was my old nylon rainsuit bottom I had bought back in the early 90's that stores in a little pouch in my tank bag, not the rubberized suit my brother gave me a while back that needs something the size of saddlebags to take with me. So, when the rain hit, and it hit hard, it went right through the old rainsuit. I was instantly soaked from the top of my boots to the middle of my thighs. Needless to say I was wishing I had packed my saddle bags that morning. The Gericke Venom jacket did a good job of keeping rain out all day even though it is a mesh jacket. My arms would get a little damp, but I wasn't as wet as I expected. There had been times earlier when I had wished I had pulled the windshield off the bike so I would be cooler, but if I had I would have ended up spending the night somewhere on the road. I just could not have taken those big rain drops without the windshield. Since the lightning was going from cloud to cloud and not striking around me, I slowed down and kept on coming. All the clouds were due north so I figured I would be ok when I turned west on US-27. But just like before, when I turned, the clouds ran over in that direction and just got worse. I made it home a tad wetter, but no worse for wear.
New Counties covered during the day:
Louisiana : Arcadia, Ascension, Assumption, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Cameron, Claiborne, DeSoto, Iberia, Jefferson, La Fourche, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Orleans, Plaquemine, Red River, Sabine, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, Terrabone, Union, Vermillion, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll.
Total miles for the day is 925.
June 5th - A big day for riding. Which is good because between work, weather, a trip to the Florida Keys with the family, and a summer cold I had not ridden to amount to anything in the past six weeks.
Nominally I went out with the idea to finish up the counties in the Northeast part of the state so I would have 100% coverage of the state of Mississippi. I ended up doing all that, crossing the Mississippi River at Memphis, TN and going down to Stuttgart, AR to visit my mother. Packed a lot into that day.
New States covered in the day: Tennessee
New Counties covered during the day:
Arkansas: Crittenden, Monroe, Prairie, St. Francis.
Mississippi: Alcorn, Benton, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Prentiss, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union.
Total miles for the day, right at 800.
April 16, 2004 - This was a regular Friday off and I had plans to ride. Woke up about 6 am and got out on the road. Went across on Highway 22 to Canton, up the interstate to Durant and then I got off the interstate, gassed up, and rode back roads for the next four hours or so. Ended up coming back down to Starkville and talking to some of my old professors at Mississippi State for a couple of hours. Only 9 counties left undiscovered by scooter in Mississippi at this time. So I am almost at 90% coverage for Mississippi now. I put in about 600 miles for the day, maybe 70 of them interstate. Bad part is that I spent the whole day riding instead of just half a day so I had to forego going to Alabama the next day to eat catfish with MC Touring Forum bunch. Instead I spent Saturday putting up paneling and cabinets in the shop.
New counties covered during the day: Holmes, Attala, Webster, Montgomery, Calhoun, Pontotoc, Chickasaw, Monroe, Clay, Lownes, Oktibbeha, Noxubee, Kemper, Neshoba, Winston, and Leake.
April 9, 2004 - They let us off early on Good Friday so I used the time to drive up through the Delta area of Mississippi. I traveled up through areas I had grown up in. This was the first time I had been in Clarksdale since the early 90's. It is different, but I wouldn't say it had grown. This gets all counties South of I-20 and West of I-55. I was about 5 miles short of riding 500 miles for the day. Not a bad afternoon's work. One hard day should finish up Mississippi. But then one hard day would finish up Louisiana too.
New counties covered during the day: Washington, Bolivar, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Coahoma, Quitman, Tunica, Panola, Tate, DeSota, Yalobusha, Grenada, Carroll, Leflore, and Humphreys.
April 2 & 3 2004 - BMWROM's Trail of Tears Rally at Edwards, MS. Since this is a "local" rally for me (held about 25 miles from home), I didn't get to get out and pick up new area. Had a great time, though.
March 26, 2004 - I needed to go back over to Hattiesburg to get a rear tire before the free installation deal ended on March 31st. Plan was to go down through Baton Rouge and follow I-10 through New Orleans and pick up all those lower Parishes down through there. Reality was that I stopped at LSU and saw a bunch of the people I used to work with there and didn't have time to pick up any new Parishes. I did have a really great time talking to old friends and I got a new rear tire too.
March 19, 2004 - I needed to go over to Hattiesburg, MS to get a new front tire. Most people would have taken I-20 east to Jackson and then US-49 south down to Hattiesburg and been there in a couple of hours. I, on the other hand, decided that since I needed to be there at 1:30pm I should leave the house at 6am and go west across the Mississippi River and knock out some Louisiana Parishes I haven't ridden in before (well at least with this bike, several of them I had ridden the old BMW or the even older Honda CB750F in). I ended up putting in some 750 odd miles according to the BMW speedometer (only about 100 of them interstate, mostly state and county roads) and knocked out 17 new Parishes. Oh, and I got a new tire too. While I didn't much enjoy riding in central Louisiana at night when I was wore out on the SS1000 trip, I enjoyed this trip. This trip I was on little bitty county roads that went through places I had never been before. Same with the counties north of Hattiesburg. There are some pretty places through there and I enjoyed most every mile of it. It was a good day. I am at about 50% of the counties ridden in for both Mississippi and Louisiana now.
New counties covered during the day:
Mississippi - Clarke, Jasper, Jones, Marion, Pearl River, Smith, Walthall, Wayne.
Louisiana - Caldwell, Catahoula, East Feliciana, Franklin, LaSalle, Point Coupe, St. Helena, Washington, West Feliciana.