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Maiden Tour


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Well, the bride and I took our first motorcycle trip ever (this was actually in the end of December/early January - I'm just getting around to writing about it). We live in Baltimore and decided to use my cousin's wedding in Austin, TX as an excuse for a long trip. We planned to ride all the way, but ended up trailering the bike to northern Alabama, in part to mollify stunned and horrified relatives (who would have thought Joe would get a motorcycle!). We got to Huntsville, ate dinner with my buddy and his wife, got everything ready, and set off at ~10:30 p.m., attempting to beat a thunderstorm that was predicted to hit northern Louisiana (our first destination) the next night.


The night was chilly, so we had on our fancy new heated gear, as well as our new mini-disc player cranked through the stereo. As we passed an 18-wheeler, the stereo suddenly cut out. Gradually, things got noticably chillier, and I noticed my Gerbing thermostat thingy light was off. "Oh my God, I thought these bikes were supposed to be reliable!" I thought. I pulled over at a truck stop, we put on rain gear to lessen the wind chill, and we continued on. As we pulled into Birmingham, I thought the bride was using our signal that she wanted me to pull over, as I felt her tapping me on the back. I exited and pulled into the parking lot of a dark, closed gas station, and turned around. She had no idea what I was doing, then realized it was her helmet that hit my back when she nodded off. Unfortunately, she and I have quite different diurnal patterns - she is a morning person, and I'm a night person. I decided to find a motel.


The next morning, I pulled out the trusty, though, in this case, rather useless, owner's manual, in order to figure out the fuse situation. We had, indeed blown the fuse to the accessory outlets (though the RADIO's not supposed to be connected there?). I pulled out the fog lamp fuse and inserted it where the accessory outlet fuse goes, and the radio started working. Off we went.


It was a sunny and warm(ish), beautiful day, and things were all right again. That is, until we approached Mississippi, when incredible gusts of wind started hitting us from the south, requiring a substantial lean to the left in order to keep going straight. Holly is much less jittery than I and tends to yelp with exultation when sudden dangers appear. However, by the time we crossed the Mississippi River and pulled over at a rest stop, she was downright scared. I pointed the bike into the wind at the stop, in order to prevent the bike from being blown over, and people looked at us incredulously as we mounted up and rode off.


We realized this was the storm front, though it seemed that we were going around (north of) the dark clouds, only getting a bit of drizzle from time to time. We saw beautiful rainbows. As we stopped in Monroe, Louisiana, it was getting dark. We were headed to a small town, Natchitoches, where my parents live, and I knew there was a non-Interstate short-cut. I pulled out the GPS and found that we had about 100 miles to go. Unfortunately, I had not yet figured out how to turn on the backlighting, so I decided to go the one way I knew, through Shreveport.


We had some more drizzle on the way, and eventually the winds picked up again, STRONG, on the outskirts of Shreveport. We pulled into a gas station to refuel, and the bride went inside for a snack. I again pointed the bike into the wind. As I fiddled with the tank bag, the wind picked up (supposedly 50-70 mph winds), and pounding rain came flying almost horizontally. I hid behind a gas pump, cold and shivering, wondering what the @%#l I was doing in this particular mess. Though the pumps were covered all the way to the station, I got drenched dashing in there, and there was an attendant at the door with a mop, frantically trying to keep the torrents outside. The bride was cool as a cucumber, eating dinner calmly. She took my dripping gloves and dried them under the hand dryer in the bathroom. I eventually calmed down, ate dinner, and did the same thing with my pants (that is, dried them, didn't eat them). The folks at the gas station/restaurant put up with us politely. Other customers asked where we were headed, realizing we were on a motorcycle in this mess. One lady said there had just been a tornado watch at our destination! We thought seriously about getting a motel room, but I kept imagining finding the RT on its side, fairing mangled, the next morning.


Eventually, the wind lessened, and the rain became less intense. We grabbed and donned the rain gear, gassed up, and meandered out into the storm. We crossed the Red River, amidst the bright neon of the floating casinos, made it to I49, and headed south.


Though the wind was still gusting, the ride was beautiful. The rain glistened off the windshield, but, somehow, we were dry and at peace. Every 30 seconds or so the horizon would brighten with fantastic lightning, and the bride would chirp happily and give me a squeeze. I was also taken by the beauty, though I kept thinking it probably wasn't good to be out on the wide, flat highway at such a time. I kept trying to remember what I had read about lightning on a bike - still can't. As we approached Natchitoches, I pulled off on an early exit in an attempt to get nearer some cover (partially successful) on backroads and old state highway. We dodged fallen tree branches and puddles and eventually pulled into Natchitoches, where the downtown Christmas lights shone beautifully. As we approached my parents house, Holly expressed her disappointment that the ride was over. My parents eventually answered their door, looked at our dripping yet ruddy and beaming countenances dumbfounded, and let us inside. We drank tea by the fireplace, and all was well.


The rest of the trip was less exciting, though it had its high points. Flying along the Texas U.S. and state highways was amazing - much higher speed limits than in Maryland for such roads. With the stereo cranked on a beautiful song, I was strongly reminded of a scene from Wild at Heart, in which Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern are crossing Texas at night in a convertible. The hilly, curvy roads around Lake Travis were incredible, and the weather was gorgeous. We had a great time with family and friends, and we met some nice bikers.


In all, we rode about 2400 miles, more than doubling the milage on the odometer. It was a good trip.

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Great story. Thanks. Congrats on your maiden voyage.

Did the heated gear start up again after you replaced the fuse?

When it gets that windy turn off the engine and hoist a double-reefed mainsail.

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Congrats on your maiden voyage.color=purple>


Thanks! We started planning the next one as soon as we got in the car heading for Baltimore - maybe to Charleston, SC via the Blue Ridge Parkway, somehow. I can see how people rack up miles quickly on these bikes.


Did the heated gear start up again after you replaced the fuse?color=purple>


Yes, but down south I didn't need it (Holly turned hers on once - didn't blow the fuse, even with the stereo on).


When it gets that windy turn off the engine and hoist a double-reefed mainsail.color=purple>



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