I’ve had the bike I’m riding now, my 1983 Honda GL650, since August of 2010. Her name: My Only One True Love. Ever since my dad rebuilt her for me and I bought a one-way ticket to Illinois and rode her back to Staten Island, I’ve been wanting to get down to Tennessee and explore the epic riding there. A couple weeks ago, my plan came together and I finally got to do all that. I drove over 3000 miles, got wet a lot, had a wreck, ate BBQ at every opportunity, and I would do it all over again for sure. Here are the highlights.
1. I got my shit together and left. That’s no mean feat. I always feel a little barfy the morning I leave on a big ride, and this was going to be the biggest one that I had done so far
2. A small coolant leak developed into a coolant flood and I almost overheated in Knoxville.
3. A love of mine from New Mexico met me in Memphis and then we were two. He was on his custom 1977 Honda CB750.
4. I wrecked in Memphis, in rain, on the way to breakfast. This was my first accident. I’ve been riding for over a decade, so I guess it was finally my time. There was a little damage to the bike, and hardly any damage to me; after sitting down and cooling off a little, I got back up and went for coffee and biscuits and gravy. (Lesson: don’t ride in the rain before coffee. Or try to come to a sudden stop in the rain.)
5. I went to the Parthenon replica in Nashville. With a name like Athena, getting there had been a pretty big deal for me.
6. We landed in Eastern Tennessee to do a few days riding and stayed at Hunt’s Lodge Motorcycle Campground in Tellico Plains, TN. It was an incredible place and a beautiful experience. If you get a chance to go, tell Lori hello for me — she was rad.
7. I rode the tail of the dragon and lots of other captivating roads in the Cherokee National Forest.
8. I headed on my way home, but stopped to experience Pigeon Forge, TN, where I devoured a huge steak and bought a bear to keep me company. I didn’t unfortunately get to check out Dollywood, but I have plans to go back.
9. I became a much more confident motorcyclist all around. I learned that I could survive putting my bike down and dealt with riding in the pouring rain a whole lot.
10. On my way home I stopped to visit some old friends and acquired a minion. He’ll be wanting his own bike in no time.
11. Got back home to NYC and went right out the following weekend for the first annual Miss-Fires camping trip!
My bike may not be the most shiny one at the garage, but I sure do love her and can’t think of a single thing that brings me more joy and peace than packing up and getting out on the road. Joining The Miss-Fires is giving me better, bigger, and even brasher ideas about where I can go and what I can do. Can’t wait for the next big ride!