Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two Wheels,Three Days Off and a Plan

When it rains, it pours. Sometimes things have a way of getting so far out of place that frustration has a way of getting the best of you; it’s at that point when it is sometimes easier to just walk away, clear your head and start over. Well, I was at the point and that it is exactly what I decided to do…

It was Memorial Day weekend and the plant was shut down on Monday for the holiday, leaving me with the opportunity to get away for three days. On that Friday afternoon I made my way to the gym after work and then loaded up the dog headed for Lexington to get away.

After we completed the BBG ride back in March, my chain and sprockets were completely shot and I really haven’t been riding much since then because I hadn’t been able to put together the time/money to get the new parts. Fortunately, Dad was starting to get tired of going riding without me all the time so he went ahead and ordered an RK chain and replacements sprockets. Once the parts arrived, Mom and Dad installed the new set up for me so that I could get away for the weekend. (Best parents ever!)

Once I got home I loaded up the saddle bags with some clothes and a pair of swimming trunks and headed south to Huntersville to meet up with Travis and his girlfriend, Rachel, in Huntersville. Rachel’s friends were having a party out on Lake Norman on Saturday and Travis demanded that I be in attendance. He really had to twist my arm…

The bike loaded up and ready for a long weekend.

On Saturday morning, Travis, Rachel and I left her parents place and headed over to Lake Norman to meet up with all her friends at the Rusty Rutter to go out on the boat. On Memorial Day weekend a lot of people go out to a certain spot on the lake, drop anchor and tie up to each other and form one large floating “sand bar.” After we got situated we made our way out there and joined the crowd. The weather was perfect and the water felt amazing. We broke out the beer and the party started… After a few hours, we headed back to, The Rutter, to pick up some more people, gas up the boat and grab some food. On our way out we continued past “The Sandbar” and made our way to a small beach area that was a little further out. We dropped the anchor, turned up the radio and began our second party of the day. There was wrestling in the water, chug offs between the guys and jokes being made on everyone. Rachel has a great group of friends; it was comforting to know that my group of friends isn’t the only ones that are extremely dysfunctional…

Sometime in the late afternoon we pulled up the anchor and made our way back to the Rutter to dock the boat and call it a day. Once we got back to Rachel’s place for the night, I gave my parents a call and made arrangements to meet up with them the following morning to ride all day Sunday.

"The Sandbar" on Lake Norman

Since this spring, Travis has been borrowing a friends’ GSXR 750 to learn to ride on. Luckily Travis had borrowed it for the weekend, so Sunday morning we work up rather early and headed to his place in Mooresville to get the bike and then met my parents at the Waffle House just off 40 and 77. After breakfast we decided to take Travis to a couple of our favorite areas, so we headed west toward Morganton to pick up 181 north.

Somewhere outside of Morganton we made a quick stop for fuel and something to drink. While we were stopped Travis made it a point to put some sunscreen on the back of his neck as well the back of his hands. (Boy still needs some gear) A few moments later Dad tried to fire his bike up and the battery was dead. Fortunately the gas station parking lot had a slight downward grade to it, so with the assistance of a quick push, Dad was able to bump start it.

Once we found our way to the start of 181 we pulled off the road so that I could explain the road to Travis a bit and give him a couple pointers on what to watch for. On the way out I took point with Mom and Dad following and Travis pulling up the rear, up ahead of me I could see a guy on a sport bike making an effort to get off the bike and get a knee down. He was getting close but his form was bad and his transitions from corner to corner were starting to concern me. A couple corners later a passing lane opened up that allowed me to get around him. I might have passed him on the inside after downshifting into third and never putting a knee out, but that’s not important. ;)

The road surface on 181 was in great shape; however the traffic was a bit heavy that day. Once at the top I pulled over at the little gas station/country store in hopes to grab some lunch. Unfortunately that store had shut down so we just carried on down 181 into the Linville area. At this point we were all getting pretty hungry and the closest town with any food was Boone. When we got the intersection of 181 and 221 I pulled off the road so I could ask Travis how comfortable he was feeling on the bike in the mountains. 221 is a great mountain road that runs right into downtown Blowing Rock. However, the last time I was up that way the road was covered in sand/rock and the road surface was in horrible shape due to the extreme winter the year before. I informed Travis of this roads previous condition, warned him of the extremely sharp corners and explained to him that I would be easing my way down the road in the event it is still in poor shape.

The North Carolina DOT had been busy! All the debris was off the road surface, most all of the holes and bad spots had been repaired and a significant portion of the road had been repaved! I was pleasantly surprised. Travis did extremely well as I slowly increased my pace as I started to gain confidence in the road surface. Every time I glanced in my mirror I could see he was right behind me. By the end of the road Travis and I had checked out from Mom and Dad, so we stopped in Blowing Rock to let them catch up. Once we got together we decided to head over to the outlets to grab a burger at Cheeseburger in Paradise.

After lunch Travis headed on home so he could spend some time with some family that had come into town. Mom, Dad and I made our way up 421 to Mountain City then cut across 67 which led into 88 headed towards Jefferson. I had been up that route once before and from what I remembered it was a nice little country road. It was exactly what I remembered, Mom and Dad loved it and at the intersection of 194 and 88 we pulled off to get a cold drink and check the map.

The FZ and Travis's borrowed GSXR 750

Nothing like riding with friends and family

Trouble on wheels, in many forms

None of us had been up that section of 194 which merged into 58 up in Virginia so we decided to take that. I was planning on meeting up with Josh and Jon in Danville that evening so getting up on 58 worked out great. Just shy of Galax, Mom and Dad pulled off so that they could get home at a decent hour. I continued onto Danville via 58, made a quick stop around Meadows of Dan to grab a sandwich and a glass bottled cheerwine at one of my favorite country stores and then headed on into Danville.

Josh and Jon signed up for a class a few months prior at Virginia International Raceway called Corner Speed. It is a class and track day that allows the rider to qualify for a license to run at other track day events. The class started early Monday morning so Josh booked a hotel room in Danville for the night before so that they could get a good nights rest. Being the supportive friend I am, I decided to tag along with them so that I could take photos and help out in any way I could. When I got to the hotel, Josh had just arrived and Jon wasn’t too far behind me. We all got our stuff moved up into the room and headed out to Buffalo wild Wings for dinner.

The next morning we headed off to the track around 7am and I could tell it was going to be a hot day since it was already in the 80’s… Once at the track josh and Jon suited up quickly and made their way to tech so they could get the bikes inspected for the track. Since it was a basic class the regulations were pretty slim, but they did have to have a few things safety wired and taped up.

The class was broke up so that they would spend an hour or so in the class then they would head out to the track for a few laps then back in the class room. The corner speed class was not the only thing going on that day, there was an open track day going on as well so it made it entertaining for me to sit around and watch all day. When Josh and Jon were out on the track I would get on my bike and ease around the facilities to get to certain parts of the track and take photos.

New BMW ready for some track time

Looking out across another section of VIR

Josh doing work on the roller coaster

Jon is on the bike still, I promise

Team J^2 gearing up for another run on the track

The guys did really well in the class and on the track and you could see as they continued to get time out on the track that they both were improving greatly. At the end of the class they had the class do a “Mock Race” where they lined up on the front stretch, staged and raced for 8 laps I think it was. Josh and Jon volunteered to start on the front row, so the pressure was on! Jon pulled a great start however the guy on the inside of him was on a 1000cc bike and he end up pulling past him. Going in the first corner the guy infront of josh low sided and Josh ended up running off the track to avoid hitting him. Fortunately, Josh kept his bike up right and didn’t lay down so he got back on the track and pushed for the rest of the “race.” Jon ended up getting passed by a couple guys that were on bikes that were modified for the track and had been in a few other track events. Once the race was over, they all went back in the class room to receive their certificates and ask any last minute questions before the instructors left.

Josh coming by the start/finish during the race

"I'm given her all she's got Captain"

Jon got a knee down

Jon got the other knee, too

Josh and Jon were hooked after that class was over, while loading up all they could talk about was when to do another track day. Once we got everything packed up we headed out and went our separate ways.

On my way home from the track riding into the sunset I finally realized that my weekend away was exactly what I needed. All the confusion and frustration was pointless, there was no need in it any more. Some people will never change and will always lie to those around them and even worse, themselves.

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