Sunday, May 20, 2018

Riding the Cherohala Low Way!

Wow.  Yesterday was something else; 440 miles total, combined rides.  And ALL for a cheap little "multi-tool" with the Indian Motorcycle logo on it!

I had been pushing since Wednesday to do a "long" ride on Saturday.  Rain all week was pop up showers, which had prevented me from ANY work rides.  I keep having a hankering to ride out to Rock Island State Park, which is out in the general area of all the other little state parks we've been to.  But then Indian Motorcycle of Marietta had to post their little poster on facebook that not only were they doing the IMC "multi-tool", but they were also doing a key chain.  Soooo, we HAD to head down that way to get both!!

City of Knoxville at midnight

The morning dawned WET.  Lovely clouds, wet roads, and dry people!  We took our 3rd Muskateer with us; he's undecided whether or not he really enjoys the longer rides.  I think he comes along for the food!  We hit trusty 'ol 411 S down to the Ocoee area, where we then hit Hwy 68.  We just took it easy, as the roads were wet enough to be kicking up water and wetting the bottom of our pants.  We went through Suches, which we coined "The Cherohala Low Way".  Dang, that would be a FUN ride on a dry road.  Twists, curves, and twisty little easier switchbacks going DOWNHILL.  Plus, on Hwy 68, we've come UP that way twice, but never down.  Totally different experience going DOWN. 

Barely missing a downpour

I was still shaking off my shakiness.  I have been reassured that my tire is just fine; that back one will be replaced within about another 1000 miles (which, at the rate we're going, will be about a month).  For some weird reason, I'm just in my head.  I don't know why.  I tried to analyze it as I'm riding, and I think I'm downshifting/upshifting in the wrong place in curves, and when I accelerate after the shift, it messes up my trajectory.  I've just gotten in a BAD habit of shifting period IN a curve, and you're supposed to be all set BEFORE the curve.  So, with that self diagnosis in place, I made a conscious effort to fix it, and I THINK it got better.  Once we got down the mountain, there weren't too many more curvy, curvy roads.

Love having our buddy with us

We stopped off at a hiking spot in Suches to stretch, use the potty, and take a pic, and we had NO idea how lucky we actually were!  We'd hit enough rain to that point to have to close our face shields, but it wasn't enough to soak through anything; no soaked thighs.  Like I said, lower legs up to knees were wet, but that was mainly because the road was so wet there were standing puddles.  As we pulled out and began the roller coaster, curvy descent, you could tell a SOAKER had just come through, WOW!

We were uneventful down in to Dahlonega, GA.  It has been forever and a DAY since I've been there.  It is so interesting driving through areas on a motorcycle that you were used to driving through 7+ years ago in a cage.  We hit GA 400 up north to head into Alpharetta, and we just HAPPENED to see our lunch destination on our left; The Varsity.  We had no idea Dawsonville had gotten a Varsity; we were planning to hit the one in Kennesaw.  Whipped a U turn at a light, and enjoyed a delicious lunch of chili dogs and onion rings from a famous Atlanta iconic destination.

Areas not been in in a LONG time!

"What'll you have, what'll you have??"

From there, it was to Indian Motorcycle of Alpharetta, where I ended up schooling one of the employees, lol.  We loved their logo, which is why we even bothered to stop there in the first place (aside from we'd just never been there!).  As we checked out with our "dealer" T-shirts (with the cool logo on the back), the employee said he had no idea why their logo incorporated a train.  Um, hello!  The Polaris take on the Indian Chieftan fairing is BASED off the front end of a locomotive!  So I informed him of that little fact;)  On to Marietta!

Seriously?  Why the train?

We took back roads from Alpharetta to Marietta that I hadn't been on in SO long.  Certain areas were unrecognizable, it's crazy!  We dodged more rain, and finally the skies seemed to really clear up.  By the time we arrived, it was 3:00; 7 hours on the road.  We needed to get in a small hurry b/c the teenager had a party back home at 7 he wanted to attend.  We went in and they still have their race inspired Chieftan; oh, how I LOVE that bike!  When I win the lottery, I will get one, then have Jared Mees autograph it!!  The guys at Indian of Marietta really are awesome.  Super nice, very knowledgeable, and up front with all of their customizable options. 

Lottery bike!

We hit the Interstate up to Emerson; I-75.  Blech!  Crazy Atl drivers ... AND a Braves game.  Driving 80-90 mph on the interstate doesn't bother me at all, but all the stupid cars and idiot drivers make me hold my breath.  My windshield has made ALL the difference in the world, and my bike feels nice and steady at speed with no more head buffeting at all.  We filled up for gas for about the 400th time, then took backroads all the way to Calhoun.  In Calhoun, we hit a NEW road we'd just found in the car, Hwy 225.  It was fun; that area is just beautiful and peaceful.  Not too curvy, but not much traffic either.  That ended back on 411 just below the GA/TN border, and we took 411 home (dropping the teenager off an hour and a half late for his party).  My butt was SORE, lol.  And my glove was rubbing a spot on my clutch hand; and my hands were sweaty b/c these gloves don't breathe.  So I rode with naked hands for a few miles :)  And it got warm enough that I stripped ALL the way down to a Dri-Fit tank top, and my mesh jacket.  Felt pretty good!  Started with the tank top, T shirt, long sleeved technical pullover, and mesh jacket with liner.  Thank goodness David has saddlebags, lol!

First time seeing one of these in person; WEIRD!

Rest stop!

You THINK this story is over now, don't you?  Haha, NOPE!  We hopped in the car, went to the grocery store, stopped to get dinner, then sat at home for about 45 mins.  We then suited back up at 10:30 to get back on the bikes to go pick up the kid ... AND HE WANTED TO GO HOME.  Dropped him off, then David and I thundered off alone ... in the dark ... to who knows WHERE.  We took back roads over to Chapman Hwy, then into downtown Knoxville.  More traffic than I would have expected.  We rode over a bridge and looked to our left to see another bridge that was lit up so pretty; so we tossed in a U turn ... on a HILL ... to go back and get some pics.  By that time, we were so sore and exhausted, we made our way back home.  We rolled into the garage around 12:30. 

Just a pair of crazy kids!

Our longest mileage ride so far.  I don't think we've rolled over 400 in one day at all yet, even on our 2 overnighters.  Iron Butts, we do NOT have!  I can't wait for my Mustang seat to break in; it's really not that comfortable yet.  I still need handlebars and floorboards for my baby before those long rides can be done with no Ibuprofen, lol.  Happy to say ZERO issues.  No sliding stops, no close calls, no drama.  That's what I call a "SUCCESS".  Until next weekend!  Y'all have a great week.

Beautiful!  Never seen this park before!

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Last year, I coined a hashtag; #drivingthebaby.  I had JUST gotten my first ride on my FIL's bike and I was hooked; my MIL needed David to ride her bike up to our house due to them wanting to come up and ride the mountains, but she was going to have to drive up, blah blah.  So David had her bike, and he, Kody, and the FIL all rode bikes out to eat ... and I had to drive Colton.  Lol, I felt kind of sorry for myself :D  My sweet MIL has unfortunately had a fall roller skating and broke her clutch arm; so no riding for the summer :(  But it did mean that today she was able to transport the little man so that the boys and I could get in a little wind therapy this mother's day weekend!

Firstly, last weekend was International Ride Day.  Thunderstorms were in the forecast for TN, so I did not ride at ALL.  Turns out, the rain pretty much held off all day, so I was a little bummed, but I'd already planned a Sunday ride so I wasn't too upset.  Sunday, David led me down south to Chattanooga where I met up with 2 facebook friend motorcycle chicks!  I LOVE all the motorcycle groups I'm a member of, because how else would I have met these awesome ladies?  One of them shares my exact name, and the other shares my bike, so what's not to love??  David went off on his own while me and the 2 ladies took a girl ride back up towards my way to eat lunch at this sweet little country restaurant.  It was a great ride!  I stayed in my preferred "drag" location, and it is always fun riding with another Scout.  We will definitely ride again, it was a great ride and great company :)

My excitement for the week was on my #curvesbeforecoffee ride on Tuesday morning!  I took my usual 129 towards the Dragon, then turn to Foothills Parkway, then down 321 into Seymour to work.  Thus far, I've encountered large birds, turkey (I think turkey is ALSO classified as a large bird), and deer.  Tuesday, I encountered my first BEAR!  Talk about make your heart stop!  I was beginning a long uphill, and saw it to my left, on the side of the road.  My head was saying, "Um, that looks like a bear", but my I told myself I was seeing things.  Then, I got closer, and saw that yes, it was a LARGE BEAR!  I got a shot of adrenaline that made my feet go numb; I let off the throttle and downshifted, unsure if the instincts of the bear would cause to to come towards me, or what.  Fortunately, as  I got closer, it turned and ran into the woods.  So very cool!

This weekend, we had no plans to ride.  My inlaws came up, and David talked them into going with us to my mother's day breakfast in Pigeon Forge, then to the Indian dealership to see the Wall of Death show.  By talking them into tagging along, he talked them into transporting the baby!  It was a great day, had such a blast.  Everyone loved the show, so glad we went!

I'm not sure what's going on with me, but I'm experiencing some weird riding feels.  I almost wonder if my tires are causing me to experience some strange wobbles, because my confidence is a little shaky ever since I stopped in the middle of that corner.  I mean, I'm riding fine, but I feel like all of a sudden I'm having trouble setting up my left hand curves to be nice and smooth, it's really WEIRD.  But my back tire, even though it still has good tread, has developed almost like a ridge on the sides of the tire, like a sharp edge.  It's really strange, hard to describe.  I wonder if that's making me feel this ever so slight instability that's affecting my brain.  Also, I feel like the bike's having a hard time finding the lower gears sometimes; almost like the my clutch cable needs to be adjusted.  May be time for a shop service!

I FINALLY rode David's bike!  Even though it's "smaller" than the Scout, in reality it's bigger!  It's wider, heavier, and bulkier all the way around which is what combines to intimidate me, NOT power.  He pulled it out yesterday, so I ran in and put on my boots with my yoga pants, then hopped on and ran around the neighborhood.  I did fine!  Felt shaky through the U turns in the cul de sacs, but that's because I'm an overthinker and don't just go full throttle in a new activity!  Didn't put my feet down until I pulled back in front of the house :D  Just training for when David gets his Chieftan and he lets me ride it!!

Anyway!  Not planning to ride tomorrow as it has gone from too chilly to ride without 5 layers to HOT.  Colton goes next week for his "Grandparents' week", so hopefully we can plan something longer; maybe to Rock Island State Park!  I just have to "inception" that idea into David's head over the next week ;)  Hoping to ride my 2 days to work this week, hope all y'all enjoy!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

So much more than just curves before coffee!

Oh my gosh, I have so many pictures from this weekend, I'll provide you the Flickr link!  But still, there's going to be SO MANY PICS!

So, our weekend started yesterday after work.  David met me at the office, and we left from there!  Yesterday's ride seemed to fly by; I knew it would be today that would be the bulk riding (and our source of exhaustion!).  We had a nice and uneventful ride into Waynesville, NC.  We had to visit the Indian dealer out there, of course.  We took a fun back road into Pigeon Forge/bypassed Gatlinburg, then took the National Park out to Maggie Valley and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit.  It was smooth and beautiful; not closed this time.  No elk.  In fact, the only live creatures we laid our eyes on was a few birds and squirrels.  I don't mind at all!  Makes my ride way less risky :D

Hendersonville is beautiful.  We found our adorable accommodations, unpacked, then found the amazing steak house David had already picked out.  It was SO GOOD!  Binions steak house in Hendersonville, NC.  GO EAT THERE.  We took a pass through downtown Main St, then fell into bed.

We woke up before the alarm this morning, and hit our first named road; the Sidewinder.  Loved it!  A nice mix of sweeping curves and tight curves; it took us up into Black Mountain for breakfast.  We both got this unbelievable biscuit/gravy/fried chicken/bacon/cheese concoction.  DANG!  Couldn't finish that, or the giant cinnamon roll we shared.

Left from breakfast and hit the 2nd named road; the Diamondback.  We had our sticker for this road; just hadn't put it on because we hadn't ridden it yet.  This road was a mix of the Devil's Triangle, the Copperhead, and the Dragon.  I tried SO hard to keep up with David; he just rides faster than my comfort level through the curves.  Hopefully this year is my year to work on that.  I constantly checked my tenseness, loosening my hands on the grips and rolling my head.  The first 3/4 of the road was perfect; coming down I was getting a little tired from pushing so hard, and I slid the rear tire a little on a particularly tight turn.  Just enough to shoot the adrenaline through me.   This little road has WICKED off camber curves at the end of it; in fact, I think this one should have been named the Sidewinder, as it was a weird kind of curvy.

Finished up there and mad our way to the third and final new road; the Devil's Whip.  I made a boo boo on this road, a pretty big mistake.  It was towards the end, and it was on a right hand switchback.  I thank God up above that it was just David and I, no other cars around.  There were some at the beginnings, so this little mishap was timed well.  Oh, AND David was behind me, not in front.  So as I started up the switchback, I just didn't set up well.  I looked up and to the right to make that curve, and I really needed to drop all the way into 1st but I was going too fast, so when I downshifted, it didn't go.  The engine revved as I gave it throttle, and with the curve climbing, I lost momentum FAST.  I grabbed my brakes and just STOPPED in the middle of the curve.  I am so, so, so grateful I wasn't further over to the right, or had my bars turned when I stopped.  David pulled up beside me, said don't panic, you're ok.  Just start out like you're stopped on a hill.  I got the gear down in first, then re-started.  I'm so thankful that it was just a hiccup; I know I'm not ready for a Chieftan quite yet because that mistake most certainly would have caused me to drop it.  Khaleesi and I stayed shiny side UP, and we completed the Devil's curve.  It couldn't whip me today!

All three new roads completed by noon.  The entire AREA we were riding was new to us, it is quite awesome and beautiful.  Areas reminded me of Tahoe, some other areas it was like Oregon; loved it so much.  Lunch time took us to Hot Springs, NC, a familiar face.  We ate again at the Irish Pub from St. Patty's day, then took the Rattler backwards in it's entirety for the first time.  I led again, and I just took the curves at my own pace without worrying about David being behind me. I did alert him when I was downshifting because he said the challenging thing about riding a road like the Rattler behind me is the inconsistency in my speed; the degree of slowing and setting up for a curve sometimes took him off guard, as he just rolls into the curves with whatever speed he's carrying.

We hit I-40 for a few miles.  I had a wall to my left, and a wall of semis to my right ... 30 mph wind gusts, 75 miles an hour down a tight, twisty, windy 2 lane road = a few tense and jaw clenching moments!  I was happy to get off by the river, where we stopped on the bridge and took a few pics.  Um ... as we made a few turns per the GPS, we both began to wonder.  And yes, the pavement DID end and we ended up yet again on a dirt road.  With uphill right hand switchbacks!  Its saving grace is that most of the gravel was washed away, leaving mostly just DIRT, but it was pretty rutted out.  I began to pray for the dirt to end, and shortly thereafter, it did.  It ended into a Tail of the Dragon, no joke.  Just a LONGER one.  Tight, twisty kiss your butt curves with zero guardrails and lots of debris on the shoulder.  I was exhausted mentally.  Unfortunately, I was burned out and actually ASKED for a straighter road!  This is completely unheard of for me, I'm a total sucker for those twisties!  But State Route 32 at the tail end of a 500 mile trip was just a little too much for me.  I'll do it again in a heartbeat, just at the BEGINNING of a ride.

Why, yes, that is an uphill right hand switchback looming ahead!

We stopped one more time for gas and a stretch then hit 411 home, avoiding downtown Gatlinburg.  So, so, so much fun!  So grateful for the chance to spend some one on one time with my awesome hubby, and had a wonderful experience riding some new, uncharted territory.  Plans to ride with some ladies this coming weekend, and looking forward to warmer weather for MORE epic rides with my hunny!  I give God all the glory for keeping both of us shiny side up this weekend, and lots of prayers for this upcoming week :D

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Demo truck take 4!

So, this past weekend actually marks the fourth time we've taken advantage of the demo truck.  The true second time was last year at Bristol; not even sure I blogged that one.  It was disappointing!  We had been out and about all day in the truck up in that area, and part of the goal had been to demo.  I was TRYING to amp myself up at that time to try that dang Chief Darkhorse, but we didn't like the way they had things set up.  First of all, you had to tell the person up front how many rides you planned to do, and which bikes you intended to try on each go round.  Then, the ride leader didn't look out for ANYONE, and I don't even know if there WAS a drag rider because David and I got separated on the first ride from the group ... WITH PEOPLE BEHIND US, and no drag rider came up to show us the route "home".  Um, small problem, because we don't spend much time up in the Bristol area, and we've NEVER ridden any of the bike routes.  Thank GOODNESS I have a human GPS hubby b/c he was able to use his powers of deduction to lead us safely back to the group (at the dealership).  I think we were all a little grumpy, b/c Betty had had a specific bike she wanted to ride first, but "someone else" was on it, and Big David sat on a Chief Darkhorse and got a terrible feeling off it, so they didn't even end up riding.  Colton was in a Mood b/c he'd been in the car seat all day, so even though I was dying to go a 2nd time ... we didn't.  Yeah, so that's why you never heard THAT story, lol!

Anyway!  Yesterday!  It was freaking FABULOUS.  GREAT.  AWESOME.  Same crew from last week, in Chattanooga.  We got up there about an hour and half early again, just like we did last year.  The biggest difference between last year and this year is that the weather was sooooo much better, so that means more people.  There were plenty of men milling about, sitting on bikes, and the Elite already had a helmet sitting on it.  David and I mixed and mingled, met up with some old friends we met last year on the Mystery Dinner ride, and met some new ones.  I was, yet again, the ONLY woman driver.  I claimed for my first ride a Scout 60.  Why, you ask?  Because it was set up as fully "reduced reach".  One of my final customizations I want to do with Khaleesi is bars that allow me to sit up straight instead of leaning so far forward.  It's split half and half as to those that like the reduced reach ones, and those that like the mini apes.  It was so different sitting on it; my hands were up just below my shoulders, and I was perfectly sitting up perpendicular to the bike.  What was NOT comfortable, was the rest of the reduced reach components; foot controls and seat.  I felt like I had NO rear brake; it was in such a different and weird spot from mine, that made me nervous.  Once again, I felt like my knees were in my boobs, but at least this bike was set up with pegs instead of floorboards, so I could put my heels down.

The route was a nice, long 20 minutes, exact track as last year with all right hand turns, and a short zip up the interstate.  I LOVED those rr bars.  I can't WAIT to get those!  Made the turns different, it was really fun.  Next ride, after standing back and waiting for the new riders to claim their rides, I claimed the Springfield Darkhorse from last week.  It's freaking AMAZING how just doing something once makes it so much easier the next time.  I felt like the Springfield and I were old friends :)  The only "sketchy" moment was making the tight left hand turn to get lined up to roll out of the driveway.  IMOK has a wicked sloped and tight driveway, so I was HYPER conscious to stay balanced, keep my eyes up, and not snatch a handful of front break.  Once the flagger held the lane for us and we rolled out, it was ON!  Very awesome and pleasant ride.  The Knoxville route requires more out of you in terms of traffic lights and such.  I had noticed in the video of me riding the Chieftan last week that I dropped my feel off the floorboards WAY early approaching a stop, so I tried to keep my feet up longer this time.  No issues with shifting or error codes this time!

There was ONE small scary incident.  One other height challenged rider was trying out a Chieftan.  She did AWESOME driving it, but parking she was at the end of the line and thus was at the more sloped part of the line.  As she was putting her foot down, over the bike went.  In an effort to stay upright, she revved the throttle up, and the bike kept on going!  The truck driver snatched her out of the way, and the bike spun around in a circle on the ground, actually knocking into one of the other riders still sitting on the bike, SCARY!  The truck driver was able to dive in and hit the kill switch, so finally the drama was over.  DANG.  Thankfully, the rider was 100% fine, and the guys were so dang awesome about it.  They said no big deal, what's important is the rider was ok, and the bike was fine, not to worry.  I'll be honest, that's what I was TERRIFIED I'd do.  Fortunately, it wasn't me this time!  Hopefully, that will never be me :D

On to ride #3!  I again waited ... and that gorgeous, blingy, glittery, fabulous Elite was just sitting there ... sparkling.  David nudged me.  "DO IT", he said.  Did I mention the Elite is outfitted with the 116 Big Bore upgrade, making the bike over 2000 cc's??  After making sure and triple checking that the bike's seat was not set up any different than stock (it wasn't) I stuck my helmet on the handlebars.  CLAIMED.  Again, as we rolled out, making that left hand turn, all I was doing was letting the clutch out with NO throttle, and that baby was dragging me around the turn.  I kept her balanced between my tiptoes and again stayed off my front brake; just pulling the clutch all the way in kept her just waiting patiently ... before I knew it, we were rolling out!  HOLY MOLEY, that baby is amazing.  Soooo loud, and my feet were vibrating on the floorboards.  Tons of power ... but for me, the vibration and the noise was too much.  I'd be perfectly content with the normal 111 beast with maybe the Stage 2 upgrade.  The Elite had a heel/toe shifter, and I got over my hesitancy and tried it.  It wasn't hard to use at all!  I switched between using my heel and using my toe to upshift and I decided it would probably be nice to have one of those once I get my big bike :D  David and I happened to be at the back of the pack, and I pulled up at the end ... at the sloped part of the driveway.  I dropped both feet down early on purpose and stopped with the front wheel angled slightly uphill and not quite perfectly in line so I didn't have a repeat of the previous ride's parking fiasco.  The ride sweep came over and helped me put the kickstand down, and I reluctantly gave her up.

That was it; we did the poker run between the 3 dealerships there, rode up to McAllister's deli for a delicious lunch, then over to the mall in Farragut to finish up the teenager's birthday shopping.  After creatively strapping down the "birthday booty" to David's sissy bar, we enjoyed a long and windy trip home.  We "accidentally" went down a road the wrong direction and it was SO FUN!  It had these great hills that we accelerated up and over, and you could really feel the g's pressing down.  It also had some really fun twisties.  When we realized we had to turn around, enjoyed hitting the twists again, then accelerated even FASTER over the hills, so fun!  I love, love, love my new windshield, it works beautifully.  Can't wait until I get my bars, then I'll be happy for awhile.  Bars, floorboards and Khaleesi will be complete for the most part.  The new pipes will be at the end of the list.  On Friday after work, David I enjoyed a ride similar to what we've done before out in the Sevier County backroads, but the ones we picked this time was literally like a roller coaster!  I felt like we were riding the "Dahlonega mine train" for those that have been to Six Flags over GA.  So much fun!  Just a short little 75 miles or so, but how lucky are we to get off early enough on Fridays to take advantage of those little meet up rides?  Blessed beyond belief.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I have SOOO much to say, I must break it into 2 posts! Part 1 ... Devil's Triangle

First of all, I can't believe I forgot a crucial part of my last story!  Where we rode into Waynesville and played on the Rattler.  I HAVE to fill y'all in on that because it was CRAZY!  So we were racing home, trying to beat the rain.  We made it through Townsend and were about 2, 3 miles from home.  The roads were soaked.  I'm usually SUPER cautious and approach traffic lights like I'm pulling a loaded horse trailer; that means as I approach green lights, I back off the throttle, downshift if I'm up in 5th, and just see what happens.  Once I'm past that point of commitment, I go on, regardless if the light changes.  Well.  We were hauling butt and did NOT slow down as we approached the FINAL traffic light before the turn to our neighborhood ... and Murphy's Law, it changed.  I was WAY too far from it to run it, but was going WAY too fast to effectively stop, especially in the rain.  OMG.  As I stepped on both brakes, I told David in the radio, "I'm sliding, I'm sliding, I'm sliding".  My tires were fully locked down, and I was fishtailing all over that road like a snake slithering to food.  I didn't panic; I kept my eyes up, kept my hand and foot on the brake, and finally just slammed my feet down to try and stop the momentum.  FINALLY, I stopped, almost 1/4 out in the intersection.  Fortunately, there were NOT many cars around, so why that stupid thing changed, I have no idea.  S.C.A.R.Y.  Will DEFINITELY be going with ABS brakes next time, don't know what I could have done differently (other than slowing like usual before the light).

Anyways!  BEFORE last week's demo ride, David and I took an impromptu trip to Oliver Springs on Easter Sunday.  I did NOT enjoy my ride at the Devil's Triangle last time we did it.  Quite frankly, it scared me.  I felt uncomfortable, like I couldn't get in a rhythm, and like it was kicking my tail.  So, I thought maybe that had been a case of not enough technical experience to fully conquer all the twists and turns and the undulations of the mountain triangle, so we were just looking for the perfect opportunity to try again.  It's close enough to us that we get a GOOD ride to it and around it, without taking hours and hours.  I've often said, "I wish it was a better ride so we could do it more often".  Well, this time was MUCH better.
CRAZY fog blanked off Foothills this past Tuesday AM

Except for one small detail ... I got the super bright idea to tackle it without my windshield.  I try not to complain about it too much, but I have hated my OEM shield since I rode Khaleesi off the lot.  The ONLY thing it does is keep the wind off my chest.  So, for the first time since I've owned her, I rode shield-less.  Um, BIG mistake!  Speeds above 35 mph got up under my helmet (I was wearing the Marvel one for the good shield it has) and lifted it so high off my head I felt like I was getting clothes lined.  Dang, that was a TERRIBLE experience for me!  I did it because with my Mustang seat, my head was now so far above my OEM shield that the wind was being sent directly into my face/head and the buffeting was nearly unbearable.  Well, no shield is definitely worse, FYI :D

No windshield is NOT how I roll!

SO; we decided to run the Triangle opposite of what consensus says the "good" direction is.  Instead of counter-clockwise, we ran it clockwise.  The ONLY problem with that is it puts the most technical aspect of the ride at the very beginning, and also in the more difficult direction.  When you have 10 mph switchback turns, it's easier to come at them from the left because you have a wider turning radius.  And SOME people think down is easier, but I personally think up is easier, but I digress.  I was actually really enjoying the VIEW with no shield; as we began winding our way up the mountain, the slower speeds wasn't too bad.  David warned me about the switchbacks coming up, and I shook off the butterflies.  First one, I held my outside line close to the yellow line, looked hard up and around the curve, feathered my clutch to keep the RPMS up, and before I knew it, all 4 of the S's were over.  3 right, one left.  I NAILED every single one of them, it was AWESOME.  Didn't cross into oncoming traffic once. 

Little pep talk before tackling the Devil's Triangle on Easter Sunday

The rest of the ride was fun; a usual ride for us of some faster straightaways with slower curvy sections, and winding up, over, and down the mountain.  I had David put Carrie Underwood's "Champion" song set during the switchbacks.  I have literally gotten emotional TWICE now, lol ... it's just such an awesome feeling when you conquer a fear and do something WELL that maybe didn't go so well for you last time.  Here is the video of the first 22ish miles.  The Triangle is 44 miles, we tried to break the videos perfectly in half.

Devil's triangle

Literally once we got home from that ride, David had me order a new windshield ... WHAT?!  Woo hoo!  So I ordered my Freedom Shield and waited with bated breath!!  I tried the first real long ride with it today (just came on Wed) and it is freaking AWESOME!  It has a curve at the top that directs the wind up and over.  My Indian helmet I love/hate even stayed UP with no rubber band today, crazy!  I have NO wind in my face, and the usual higher speed buffeting is so much better! HIGHLY recommend this shield; when we get our Chieftan (lol) we'll get a Freedom Shield for that too.  Details from today's ride to follow soon!

Yep, THIS happened!

Oh, and I SLAYED my 10,000 mile goal!  Hit it Tuesday on the way home from work.  My bike isn't a year old until tomorrow :)

Taller and wider; got it too tall for now to compensate for when I get my longer handle bars.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The very best feeling, EVER!

My ride or die

The alarm filtered dimly through my sleep crusted eyes.  My brain screamed, "NO", and I felt myself drift away again.  9 minutes later, the alarm again drilled through my consciousness and I finally rolled up out of bed.

Unlike at the Suzuki Demo truck, I rode the HECK out of the Indians!

After doing the usual morning routine things, I dressed in yoga pants, jeans, and my favorite long sleeved Indian Motorcycle T.  I looked out the window at the gray, drizzly day and wondered if we were totally wasting our time by making the hour and a half drive down to Chattanooga.  I got the coffee going as I gathered up all the things necessary not to freeze riding motorcycles, and David and I loaded up the backseat of the car.

True story; I almost dropped this Springfield!

The rain continued as we stopped into a small town breakfast joint and consumed yummy omelettes.  My heart was already beginning to race as we got closer to our ultimate destination; Crockett Powersports and host of the Indian Motorcycle Demo truck.  It was almost one year ago that my very FIRST time EVER riding on the open road was the demo truck at Knoxville.  I had test driven a Scout in the parking lot of a church, trying out the skills I learned in my MSF course, but I had yet to put tires to asphalt in traffic.  It turned out to be one of the best things I ever did, making 5 passes through the track and gaining confidence each time as I rode the Scout 60, the Scout, then back to the 60 for 3 more rides.  2 weeks after that, I got my Scout 60 and have never looked back!  Here's a link to that blog from a year ago ;)  Last year's demo truck!

Just sitting on this bike gives me heart palpitations

Today, I had a new goal.  That goal was to take out a Thunderstroke 111 bike; one of the Big Boys.  I planned to start with the new Scout Bobber to "warm up", then take the Chief Darkhorse.  The Chief DH has no saddlebags or windsield, and is regarded as the next logical step up from a Scout.  Really, Indian has no "transition" bike.  The Chief, Springfield, Chieftan, and Roadmaster all run the 111 engine, and they all weigh in the neighborhood of 850 lbs vs the Scout's lean 550 lbs.  The engine is about twice the size of the Scout, at 111 cu inches vs 60 cu inches.  So Ms. Stuck in her own Head was already freaking out about reaching for something, and envisioning falling over in a corner, or dropping the bike at the first stop sign.  I've sat on and picked up every one of the big bikes (with the exception of the Roadmaster; I will never have one of those) on the showroom floor and to be honest, I can't IMAGINE actually driving one.  The long, stiff pull of the clutch ... the fact that I'm up on tip toes ... the fact that I've never ridden a motorcycle with floorboards ... all the electronic "stuff" and the fairing of the Chieftan ... yeah, I wasn't going down that road in reality, just in my head.

Ride #1; Scout Bobber

My pulse picked up as we turned into the driveway and my eyes took in the long line of beautiful Indian Motorcycles.  They make a magnificent sight, and get my blood pumping like nothing else.  We'd barely parked before I was jumping out of the car and making a beeline to the motorcycles.  I immediately picked out the gorgeous, glittery Chieftan Elite with the 116 Big Bore kit.  I was so excited, I grabbed David's arm and blabbered on about him riding the 116 AND the Elite, and how excited I am for him.  He just pulled me close to him and laughed at my enthusiasm.  No one was outside, which was no surprise because it was cold, windy, and dry at least!  I of course zeroed in on my beloved Scouts.  I threw my leg over one with the stock "runaround" seat, which I'd never seen in person.  It felt awesome!  If I failed to ride a Chief, I'd try that one.  There were 2 Bobbers; one with pegs and one with actual FLOORBOARDS!  I was excited, because I'm thinking about ordering floorboards for Khaleesi.  I chose that one as my first ride, and we went in to register.  I looked around for an Open Road Girls windsister that I knew was going to be there, and I think I found her right away.  She shares my name, Jennifer Leigh, so I felt a bond with her right off the bat!  She was hanging with the owners, and was there helping out.  She proclaimed she's too new to demo, and we talked for a few minutes.  Super nice woman, hopefully we can ride together some day.

SUCH a beautiful sight!

The ride was about to go out, so I ran to the car, added 3 layers on top, my helmet, and gloves, then claimed the Bobber with floorboards.  It was just a handful of us, David got to claim the Elite first time out.  We talked back and forth on the radios, and he was ecstatic already before he'd even shifted into 2nd gear.  He rode past me, and I awkwardly picked up my feet.  The boards dug into my shins, and I felt like I was folded in half, with my knees up to my boobs.  David was raving and glowing, while I was trying my darndest not to bi&$# and moan the entire time.  The ride was slower, on a back road with a not so good quality surface, but some good curves.  The hard seat dug into my rear, and the shifter/brake lever felt foreign as I fought the different position of the foot controls, and wanted so desperately to sit UP, but forward handlebars and short arms do not allow one to do that! Each time we stopped, it was a struggle to position my feet again because the boards wanted to catch on my boot and fold up.  The ride was short, less than 15 minutes, and all too soon we were lined back up in the parking lot.  David was sold, ready to get his 116 Chieftan in blue right then and there.  I climbed off the Bobber, said I'd never go THAT particular route again, then before I could overthink it sat on the Chief Darkhorse.  I picked it up fairly easily, and swallowed hard as my heart raced.  One of the demo truck guys walked over and asked if he could make a suggestion.  I said of course, and he recommended the Springfield Darkhorse.  He explained how the rake on the Chief and the SF are different (which of course I already knew; my concern was NOT the handling of the bike, it was the WEIGHT coupled with my inability to flat foot).  I agreed to try the SF first instead of the Chief, then went up to the head of the line and straddled the beast.  I felt the same wash of love and adrenaline flow over me as I picked her up; my mouth was totally dry as I struggled to swallow.  The bike FEELS amazing and comfortable, I was just CONSUMED with the "What IF???"  He started her up for me, then I asked David to come get the kickstand for me.  No matter how hard I tried to reach, I couldn't grab it; it was too far away.  David raised my kickstand, backed away, and I was well and truly on my own, on the Thunderstroke 111, riding an 850 lb bagger ... what the WHAT??  As I twisted the throttle, I was instantly struck with how smooth and easy the whole process was; the clutch pull felt PERFECT, almost better than Khaleesi, and the throttle sweet spot was so big, it would have been impossible to choke it.  We slowly pulled out, and before I could panic, I was moving.  H-O-L-Y C-R-A-P.  I was consumed with this feeling like I'd never felt; something like panicked euphoria.  As we pulled onto the road, I squeezed the clutch and upshifted ... or rather, ATTEMPTED to upshift.  I couldn't get the dang shift lever to move!  I don't have a giant foot, but it's not like a size 5 either.  I looked down at my readout to see what gear I was in, and there was a horizontal line.  Really?  I told David, I'm not even sure I was IN a gear!  But the bike was moving, and not in N, so I was in something.  As we pulled to a stop at a light, I fought the shifter down into 1st, and right then the check engine light came on.  OF COURSE.  It was at that moment, my 'survival' instinct clicked in, and all of a sudden I started riding.  I remembered reading on the Indian Motorcycle facebook page, that the 111's are such "torque monsters" that 1st should only be treated as a "granny gear", and to kick it up into 2nd pretty much as soon as the wheels start turning.  As we began pulling away once the light changed, I again upshifted and this time no issues.  The light stayed on, but everything was working smoothly.  David laughed at me the whole time as I whooped and hollered the entire ride.

And then THIS happened!!  Springfield Darkhorse

I had absolutely ZERO issues from there on out.  I had a BLAST throwing that SF through the curves; she felt like a beefier/cushier Scout.  Each time we stopped, I was hyper vigilant to put BOTH feet down, but I had no issues to speak of.  The rest, as they say, is history!  We stopped back in line, and the demo guy said, "You're taking the Chieftan next, right?"  Lol.   No.  They cleared the code on the SF, and I agreed to take THAT out again.  David got back on the Elite again for ride #3, and I patted the SF on the tank and we got to experience 5th gear this time.

David's future motorcycle; Chieftan Limited in Jimmie Johnson blue!  Just needs the 116 on it!

We pulled in, and the demo guy once again asked, "Chieftan?"  I said, "YES"!!!!  Once again those butterflies abounded as I settled behind the wheel of David's Jimmie Johnson cobalt blue Chieftan (just minus the 116!).  I picked her up, and with the exception of feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the info on the screen and speedometers/tachometers in front of me, she felt very similar to the SF.  This time the demo guy got my kickstand for me, he looked me in the eye and said, "Ready?  You got this".  With the excitement bubbling up inside me, I pulled directly behind the leader b/c David wanted to be behind me this time ... NO, I WANT MY SECURITY BLANKET lol.  But the leader this time was one that hadn't led yet and he was going pretty dang slow.  We all got on the road and I felt nearly overwhelmed.  I was doing something I thought maybe I'd NEVER do.  Definitely not something I'd do weeks of my one year riding anniversary, and 2 weeks shy of owning my own.  He took us on a wonky, longer ride than we'd done so far, and we got on the highway again; this time, I kicked her up into 6th gear, and she just FLOATED under me.  Aside from the first 2 minutes on the SF, I didn't have one single issue shifting.  David and I were talking, and I threw up my arm in a victory "dance", loving the fact that I was in 6th gear for the first time!

The stunningly beautiful Elite

As we pulled back into the driveway, I almost wanted to cry.  I literally wanted to keep driving those bikes all the way home to Maryville.  If all goes well this year, maybe 2018 will be the year David gets his.  For me, it will be a 10 year venture (an Indian Chieftan is as much as a decent car).  I'm hoping by that time, the big bikes haven't changed too much; I know Harley has had the Street Glide/Road Glide for soooo long.  He plans to either sell Mufasa or trade him in towards his Chieftan.  I will be keeping Khaleesi for Colton some day; she will NOT be leaving my family.  Best part to this story?  The demo truck is at IMOK next weekend!  I get to do it all over again!  AND the demo truck goes to Bristol later in the year, so that's a for sure 2 more opportunities to ride the beasts.  I can't stress enough how blessed I feel.  David and I have been married a long time, and "extra curricular" activities have strained our marriage at times; mainly the ones involving horses.  Now that we have discovered this shared passion of motorcycles, the times of arguments are less and less.  Couples that ride together, stay together!