“The Sound of Silence”

It’s been a minute since my last blog post.  My most recent trip was up to Tennessee and into the Blue Ridge Mountains with a few gal pals with bikes.  We planned to meet up for a women’s riding event and scout out the area a bit.  This was the first time I’ve ridden in that area without hubster.  I would also be making the six and a half hour trip to meet my pals on my own, so yeah… plenty of time to think and get inside my own head.

For someone who has struggled for years with silence and just being left alone with my own thoughts, this trip was a bit of a challenge.  Sure I have the music streaming through the helmet speakers, but how many times can I go through a playlist without getting a little crazy.  Not to mention, I use my land nav through my Cardo Pack Talk and I didn’t want to drain the battery.  It started out nice enough, a beautiful morning sunrise, the fog rolling off the countryside, cars headed to work making me smile because I wasn’t one of them.  I was excited to meet my pals so anticipation pushed me forward.  The anticipation continued until Atlanta where it was replaced by another emotion, frustration.

Can we go off topic for just a moment and describe traffic in and around Atlanta?  There was once a SNL skit about one of the few times it snowed there and it is still one of my favorite skits to date.  I’m a habitual speeder so when I say people are speeding, know that it’s coming from one who loves to accelerate.  Then there are the roads.  I am from Alabama and people here think our roads are bad.  I can only guess these people haven’t traveled to some of the crater marked locations outside Alabama that I have.  There were a few times that I hit said crater on particular spots of Atlanta’s interstate that made me thank Jesus that I was on an ADV bike.  There’s the heat of the south that one who travels by motorcycle must endure when traffic comes to a stop.  Hubster always likes to serenade me in these moments, “…chestnuts roasting on an open fire…,” and while I was traveling alone, his song popped into my head yet again.  While our anatomy may be different, the feeling of sweat running down your back and the smell of asphalt aren’t how I want to spend my time.  However, Atlanta is a city I must endure in order to get to some of my favorite riding destinations so it must be done.  I decided then I will find a different way back, I will make the time.

One of the plus’s to motorcycle travel is the interaction with strangers, thankfully most of mine have been kind strangers.  You’ll get a creepy weirdo from time to time but ’tis life.  Prior to my trip I had purchased a leg bag to transfer the contents of my regular purse to, which made for more convenience during refueling stops.  I’ve jokingly referred to it as my “kick ass” fanny pack, hubster called it the Lara Croft starter bag, & my coworkers told me it’s a fanny pack that’s cool, lol!  I tell you about the leg bag because it was the source of yet another positive interaction with a stranger.  In particular, a pleasant young Waffle House waitress.  She loved the leg bag so much she had me find it on Amazon for her.  The bag opened up conversation about riding motorcycles and I feel like I left Waffle House with a little more than a belly full of smothered covered hash browns. I think another woman became interested in riding motorcycles and that is always cool.

I finally met up with my gals pals and we made our plans to ride through The Dragon and around the area.  Turned out this was going to be a rainy weekend but these ladies were great.  They were confident enough riders to be able to handle a few rain drops, but they also had enough sense to know when we needed to call it a day and find a place to chill while the storm passes.  We were attending the She Rides Moto event at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson.  This was for sure a very cool dealership, complete with a bar and grill, concert venue, and an area for stunt riders to perform.  The women from the She Rides Moto event were super nice and there was a pretty cool swag bag given out.

My gal pals were on completely different bikes than myself.  Here I was on the Triumph Tiger, one friend on a Ducati Scrambler, and another on a Harley Davidson Dyna with some ape hangers.  Not gonna lie, the apes freaked me out a bit considering we were planning a ride through The Dragon and I’m not an ape hanger gal. My fears however, were completely put to rest when I realized I should’ve let ape hanger lead our group through The Dragon because I was slowing her down!  Mad props to mini apes, you have my respect!  I should’ve realized this chick had been on bikes her whole life and hails from West Virginia, curves are a normal part of her ride.

Scrambler was out riding on a new bike and was reminded of the importance of correct suspension adjustment.  Thankfully, no issues, she knew her bike well enough to know something didn’t feel right in the corners.  We ladies discussed it, made a few phone calls and some adjustments. It felt good to know that us gals knew our bikes well enough to get it figured out.  She knew what to do, although can I just say to the people who design the tools for these tool bags, ERGONOMIC HANDLES WOULD BE NICE!  All was well however, I think she enjoyed her ride a lot more after she made the necessary adjustments.

I had a tiny mishap on this trip, it was actually the same mishap I had on my last solo trip.  I dropped my bike while standing still.  This is always the most embarrassing thing ever.  This time it was in front of the Harley Davidson dealership in front of everyone I had just spoken to about how the Tiger was not too tall for me.  So yeah, pride-0, reality of being a human capable of mistakes-100.  While embarrassing, it’s these little mishaps that keep us humble.  I want to thank all of the ladies that ran up to help, for not razzing me about it and being super cool in the aftermath.  The Tiger sustained no damage aside from a tiny scratch on the underside of the roll cage, character lines!

Our last night a few of us stayed at The Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge. I recommend this place to any motorcyclist traveling that area. Wonderful accommodations, friendly people, the chance to hang with other bikers, and reasonable rates. They had information like maps and rentals, all things convenient for bikers. I could go on and on about the place, but really, check it out. It was a beautiful area and a nice relaxing spot to rest our last night before heading back to the daily grind. One last shout out to another great spot to hang or stay was the Tapoco Lodge. This was another scenic place with good food and friendly people. I really love this area!

It was an amazing weekend but it ended too quickly and it was time to get back home.  What is the title for this blog again?  Oh yeah, “The Sound of Silence.”  So in my avoidance of the good ole ATL, I had to trick Google maps into thinking my destination was somewhere in northeast Bama.  Google maps gave me like 5 different routes, all though Atlanta, so I had to get creative.  This meant I would be in unknown territory and needed my land nav, so no music, yay…

This particular day of solo riding started with me taking in the beautiful scenery of North Carolina, Georgia, & Alabama but then somewhere along the way I got inside my head. My bike has been running perfectly but now every engine noise, every bump, every change of the gears began to freak me out. At one point I’m sure I looked crazy as I pulled over to the side of the road and held my front tire between my knees and pushed the handlebars back and forth. I had convinced myself something felt wobbly but as it turned out, everything was fine. I had went through The Dragon, been rained on, ride around in gravel, dropped my bike, & none of that shook me. However, give me a perfectly beautiful day with no issues or distractions and my brain decides to venture into the dark space. Worry creeps into thought and darkens reality.

I don’t know about any of you, but worry is an emotion that often plagued my mind. Believe it or not, this is another reason motorcycling has been good for me, it challenges those emotions and this particular trip was no different. At some point the reality of the day set in, beautiful skies, a mechanically solid bike, and common sense. I dumped the negativity and enjoyed the rest of my day. I made a small pit stop outside of Montgomery, AL to the area where the movie Big Fish was filmed, a cute little spot for sure.

So anywho, when those “visions” get planted in your brain & they are worrisome or negative in nature, it’s always nice to stop and refocus. You might just be missing out on some wonderful sunshine and beautiful scenery!

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