Thursday, June 16, 2011

Road Trip on the Fizzer

Tuesday morning when I woke up, I was ready to do something that I've never done before:  ride my own bike on a long distance road trip.  When something big is on the horizon, I usually don't sleep well the night before.  I've learned that I can completely ignore the upcoming event and manage to catch some Zzzz.

Here are the bikes as we're loading them up.

Notice that my bike has MY STUFF packed on it.  I don't have any side bags so all my clothes were in a nifty dry sack that Mr. H got at Bass Pro several months back.  The cargo net is a wonderful thing.

We got started about 8:30, a full half hour earlier than Mr. H's planned departure :)

Since it was my first REAL outing, we planned for no interstate highways between George County and Birmingham.  I wasn't ready for I-65!!  We traveled up US 43 until as few miles north of Thomasville, AL.  Then turned right onto what I think is now one of my favorite roads:  Alabama Highway 5.  It's a great road for new riders: not much twisty stuff, nice scenery, trees close enough to the roadway to make shade, not much traffic. . .  just about perfect.

At some point Hwy 5 joins with AL Hwy 25 and then 25 splits off.  We followed 25 all the way up to Leeds, which is east of Birmingham.  Yes, it was out of the way, but it kept me off interstates and introduced me to some twisty roads, too.

From Leeds, we took Hwy 78 to Hwy 280 and that's where we stayed.  There's a Joe's Crab Shack just next door to the hotel and an IHOP across the highway.  We were hot and tired, but we got there safely and that's the main thing.

The next morning, we set off for the Skyway Motorway in the Talladega National Forest.  It runs by the Cheaha State Park.  We stopped at the first overlook and Mr. H took this photo.

We rode to the end and then came back and went into the state park.  Inside the park, you can have access to the highest point in Alabama.  I will never forget it!

Making the left turn into the driveway, I thought I was going wide and stopped.  That was a mistake as the driveway was on a steep uphill grade.  After stalling the motor 4 times in an attempt to get going uphill, on the 5th try, the bike assumed it natural posture (horizontal on its side!)  On its way over, the last inch of the clutch lever snapped off as well as the entire foot peg on that side.  I was not happy with myself for several reasons, but the most maddening of all was that I couldn't stand my bike up without assistance from Mr. H.   He came back down the hill and we got her upright again.  Then he rode up to the lookout tower without a foot peg on the shifter side. 

Let me just say right now that I am married to a most amazing man.  He is my hero, my knight in shining armor, my genius roadside engineer/mechanic.  He didn't fuss at me or laugh at me as some men might do.  He touched the pillion foot peg (the one for the passenger) and calculated that it would probably be transplantable.  There is a small bag of tools under the seat of my bike from which he pulled a pair of pliers and set to work.  (Soon that pair of pliers will be replaced with a better pair, but it got the job done!) 

We sat in the breezy shade at the top of Alabama and I waited for myself to calm down a bit.  I wasn't scared, but I was angry with myself on several counts.  After a bit, we went up in the lookout tower and enjoyed the view.  The picture below is of the repaired Fizzer, waiting to be ridden back down from the top of Alabama!

I am so thankful that I didn't do more damage than I did.  The foot peg is easily replaceable (as the spot fix that Mr. H so ably performed shows) as is the clutch lever.  I think everything can be remedied for less than $50.

Now I need to plug 2 pieces of gear that made the trip much more enjoyable.  One is called a Cramp Buster. It's a piece of plastic that wraps around the throttle and allows you to relax your grip while still keeping the throttle twisted.  It's not really a cruise control device because you don't set it and remove your hand.  You are still completely in control of the throttle, just more with your wrist instead of your fingers.

The next is something called Frogg Toggs.  I own the pink set.  It is very light and packs compactly, but is easy to put on when the rain starts (like it did this morning).  Mr. H has something called the Bull Frogg signature suit  in bright yellow which is a bit more waterproof and is made for biking.  When it stopped raining, we pulled off into a parking lot, rolled and stowed the rain gear, and were back on the road in no time.

And that's just about it for my first road trip!

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