Two years ago, three of my motorcycle buddies and I rode to Statesboro, Georgia, to visit friends and honor a fallen officer from their sheriff’s office. We started early and met for breakfast. Most of the time, we meet to eat!
The day was clear, and just the right temperature to ride. During breakfast, we discussed the route and plans for the day. It all started off very well. We headed down route 35 to Charlestown, West Virginia, for our first stop of the evening in North Carolina.
Heading down the toll roads in Beckley, West Virginia, was interesting. One of our guys had a Pay Pass. He zipped right through. I did not have a pass, and I believe two others also did not. The weather was a little hotter at this point, so when you stopped the bike to dig out your $2 for the toll, the heat from the road and bike were just a little warm. Also, you are trying to hold up the bike, dig out the money, put your bike back in gear, and get the heck out of everyone’s way while trying to keep from getting run over. Lesson for the day, buy the Pay Pass.
The weather started to look a little darker when we got to Virginia. It was about lunch time, so we stopped at the Tamarack rest areas for fuel for the bikes and ourselves. Someone said that there was a Cracker Barrel at the top of the hill. It started to sprinkle rain about then, so we headed off to the Barrel. While inside eating, it was raining cats and dogs.
Another traveler told us that southbound 77 was closed due to a large accident. My friend and I sat down and ordered our lunch. While eating, we listened to stories and discussed other routes around the accident. A plan was hatched, and off we went. It must of been a beautiful route through the mountains, but the closer we got to Roanoke, Virginia, the rain was just …. well awful. Plus the fog.
I was listing to the local stations on my radio. The rain and wind were part of a hurricane that slammed the south, west of Georgia, Florida, and part of Mississippi. Roanoke was flooded. They were canceling all kinds of events. On we went. We felt our way through the mountains and made it back to the freeway just south of the bottle neck.
The sun came back out, and it was warm with a light breeze. I dried out before we hit out first stop. I was so glad that we were stopping for the night. We all checked in to the hotel. The first question was when does the bar open. Followed by, what kind of food you got. I know I was tried.
No one seemed interested in heading out to eat. All the bar had was appetizers. We all ordered enough different things, put it in the middle of the table, and shared.
We stayed there for a bit, then off to bed. We stayed at Statesville, North Carolina, right off the freeway near the Harley Davidson dealership. Yes, we had to go check out the dealership. After breakfast of course! Then, on south we headed. Traffic had not been very bad, until we got to Charlotte, North Carolina. It seemed like cars were coming at you from all over. That was the only time on the trip I almost got ran over.
Away we go heading to Statesboro, Georgia. The man leading the ride loved going on the scenic route. I have to say, so do I. I believe we went through about every town from Charlotte to Statesboro. There were some very wonderful buildings and parks, but also areas we went through I was glad I had a gun. Riding through towns is not fun on a heavy bike. Stopping and starting. Shifting up and down. Plus, it was hot.
Finally, we got out in a rural area and got moving. After we stopped for fuel, it was almost lunch time. The guy leading forgot to tell the rest of us his plan. You see, when you get to the south, there are these wonderful little barbecue places scattered along the route. We were on a four-lane highway running about 60 miles per hour. I was third in line. Just behind me to the left was an older lady in a car in the fast line. She must have felt safe ridding along with a group of dirty bikers. She was there for miles. Then, no warning break lights come on. Bikes starting moving to the fast lane, then did a u-turn. The little old lady slammed on her breaks. Her eyes were as big as saucers. I was very sure she may have lost her religion that day.
She waived me over so I could catch up to the front two bikes. The follow guy was right behind me. The group leader pulled into this parking lot. We all parked and looked at him as to say, “What are you doing”? (Well, we said other words.) He pointed at the building and said “barbeque.” All was forgiven. Off to eat. I cannot really say what all I ate that day, but boy it was in food heaven. If I lived in the south, I would be much bigger than I am. Hate to think that. After lunch, we waddled out to our bikes. Off we rode after telling our leader to give us just a little longer warning next time.
Several hours later, we made our destination. We did not have to want for anything. Our host set up a ride service to run us back and forth. Cookouts, food and music. We had a good time. The honor ride went off very smooth. It was a clear, warm day in Georgia. Then we all went to eat again. That night, they had a dance and dinner.
What a good bunch of people. We headed back home way to soon. Off we went. Made a few detours. Went around the same town two times. Lost maybe. Then headed north.
We rode long and hard. We were headed for the Dragon in Tennessee. We stayed that night in Maysville, Tennessee. It was a wonderful day. Sunny, not too hot. Up and down through mountains and along wonderful rivers. I was beat. We were trying to get to our hotel, then ride the Dragon on the way home the next day. The way we came in, the only way to the hotel was over the Dragon. It worked out for the best. We rode the Dragon later in the day. Traffic was lighter. The next day it rained. Freaking monsoon all the way to Cincinnati. The temperature dropped from 58 degrees to 48 degrees, and it poured. Off we headed to home.
One of our guys had to be back to work the next day. He did not have a rain suit. Let me say that the rain found ways of getting into your rainsuit. Cold, wet and miserable. One member of our group almost got run over. It was raining so hard that the driver could not see him. We pressed on and stopped just south of Cincinnati for lunch, to warm up, and try to dry a little.
After we got into Ohio, the rain stopped and we froze all the way home. Our group goes to Georgia almost every year. Yes, it rains every time. Hope you enjoy my adventures.
Loren Pool is a retired Delaware County deputy sheriff.