Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

people

Bait And Switch?

Forgive me everyone, but I’ve got to tell it like it is and at the same time make a confession.  Each month I receive several opportunities to take a brief vacation from the day to day grind. This short diversion arrives in the form of bound and stapled glossy paper, complete with photos delivered come rain, snow or gloom of night by the United States Postal Service.  Yes, each month I am filled with the anticipation of the arrival of a pile of freshly printed motorcycle magazines. Like a kid waiting for his/her once a year present from a distant family member, the anticipation builds with each passing week until the next edition of the magazine arrives.

First days, then weeks, pass and suddenly it happens.  With a rattling stop of a blue and white beat up right side drive delivery truck and the squeak of the mailbox door, the excitement is repeated.  Upon the opening of the mailbox door, smooth glossy paper and sexy bright colors assault my senses and stimulate my mind.  It’s like a paper version of the anticipation of an overnight date with that supermodel you’ve been dreaming about for years.

You quickly glance at the cover and there she is. That new bike you’ve been lusting after, wrapped in silky paint and sporting voluptuous curves. It’s a feast for your eyes and food for your motorcycle soul. That cover photo freshly seared into the frontal lobe of your brain, you can’t wait to open the magazine and get to know her even better.

But then it happens. You open to the page where your dream girl is supposed to be waiting. There’s another picture, not quite as large and glossy as the cover, but still sufficient to send another rush of adrenaline surging through you. You gaze upon her and she seems hotter and more exciting than ever.

Your eyes move from the glossy photo to the accompanying text.  It can’t be, no it can’t be!  Beside the glossy photo and smaller randomly placed and tilted snapshots are a couple of captions and two little paragraphs of text.  To make things even worse, most of the text comes straight out of the manufacturers brochure!

Where’s the review? Where are the opinions, the comparisons and the road test? Where is the evaluation and the conclusion on how good or bad she is? There’s nothing; nothing at all for your brain. This can’t be!  So close and yet so far, they’ve pulled a fast one on me. They’ve pulled a bait and switch and I’ve fallen for it hook line and sinker. Again!

Motorcycle magazine publishers, I’ve long been an admirer. You’ve been like family to me, at times bringing me closer and tighter into the fold. But I can’t deal with the continuing heartache.  Propelled to a zenith by a big glossy cover photo of excitement and suddenly, unceremoniously dropped from the heavens into the pits of hell by the lack of data and the failure to opine.  I can’t put up with this forever.

Please, please don’t torture me any more. Your loyal readers and I are getting restless.  We understand that publishing is a business, and that you have to sell magazines. But you do your readers and yourselves a huge disservice when you print little more than a photo and a byline just to sell a couple more copies.

Leave the ill-gotten sales to the other guys and you’ll gain the respect and loyalty of a bonded community. Take the easy way out, and you’ll alienate us from your pages. Sorry to come across so hard, but when you care about something, we’re driven to tell you like it is and let you know that there’s a problem to be fixed. So step it up folks, there’s a line of faithful readers lining up by the door… and it’s not the entrance.

So what do you think?


Ride2ADV Twins Wander Europe, Where to Now? Chapter 22

When morning came, we were in no rush to get out of bed.  We both knew that our little adventure would end today.  All we had to do was to ride back to Barcelona and drop off the bikes.  Much of the riding would be on larger and more traveled roads, particularly as we got closer to Barcelona.  Neither of us rushed to get ready for the day, it was like without saying anything to each other, we were both trying to avoid the inevitable.  Our wandering adventure would soon be over.

“It’s almost over Kim.  I can’t believe we’ve used up two weeks already.  It doesn’t feel like we’ve been traveling two weeks, but I know we have.  Soon we’ll be back to the grind, doing our workday things and dreaming of another adventure.  I can’t wait until the next one.”, I said sullenly.

Kim, as always was more upbeat than me.  “We’ll be on another adventure soon,  don’t worry. We’ve ridden all over the world so far and there’s nothing stopping us from doing another adventure.  Don’t feel bad, we’ll be riding somewhere else in the world in no time.”

I paused and thought for a while.

“Thank you Princess, you always make me feel wonderful.  You are so positive about everything, you always encourage me to look at the bright side. I love you so much.”

I don’t know what was getting into me, but it seemed each day on this trip, I loved Kim more and more. I thought I couldn’t love her any more, but each day on this trip, the depths of my love for her became deeper and more vast.  I didn’t know how she did it, but she made me feel more in love with each day that passed.  I had to ask myself, “How lucky could a man get?  To be able to ride all over the world with someone who shared your love for out of the way places and have that travel be accomplished on a motorcycle.

I had to break myself out of my thoughts and get us onto the road.  We had a light casual breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant and made arrangements to have our bikes freed from the hotel’s garage.  Fifteen minutes later, we met the hotel receptionist in front of the garage and she opened the doors for us.  It didn’t take us long to load up the bikes and we were quickly underway for the last time on this adventure.

The ride back to Barcelona was very quiet over the communicators.  Neither of us said much of anything to each other.  I think we were both lost in our thoughts about where we’d been and what we’d seen.

As we rode, I was truly re-living our wandering adventure of Europe.  Even with an open visor, I barely heard the wind noise as it rushed through my helmet.  We’d been to new places and met new people.  The bikes had faithfully carried us wherever we’d asked them to never skipping a beat.  They hadn’t only been our transportation, they’d been our partners on this journey.  They’d introduced us to new places and even new people as the locals often came to us to chat about the bikes.

The miles melted away as we rode and before we knew it, we were approaching Barcelona.  But we wouldn’t arrive without one last adventure.  Less than an hour outside Barcelona, the winds began to rise.  They were not insignificant and they were not steady.  Heavy gusts pelted us from various directions, causing the bikes to shimmy and weave.  The problem for Kim was worse for Kim since she only had a little over her 100 body holding her bike in place.  Even with my 200 pounds on the bike, it was moving considerably.

It was actually better to have our speed up to make maximum use of the gyroscopic effect of the wheels to stabilize the bikes.  On a different trip, we’d ridden though the Chile and Argentina and faced the Patagonian winds on our way to Ushuaia.  Those winds were far more intense, but they were constant and on barely traveled gravel roads.  Here we were in four lanes of traffic with wind battering us from all directions.

But we soldiered on and soon found ourselves on the outskirts of Barcelona.  Now the traffic was heavy and we trundled along in the right two lanes.  As a sort of last challenge, we rode across a long high bridge.  Totally out in the open, we got the maximum impact of the winds.

The winds blew from all points of the compass.  In fact it blew so strongly that my head was involuntarily shaken left to right by the swirling wind.  This was getting a bit intense.  We knew that we did not have much farther to go and pointed ourselves towards the center of the city.  The closer we got, the weaker the winds became.  Finally, we were able to relax and enjoy the end of the ride.

We exited the highway, and quickly found the hotel.  We pulled up onto the sidewalk and parked the bikes.  I slowly got off the bike and pulled off my helmet.  I walked over to Kim.  As soon as she had her helmet off, I gave her a gigantic hug.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  What a wonderful ride.” was all I could muster.  “Thank you for coming along with me.  It’s been a wonderful ride.”  Kim just smiled at me and I could see that she was getting a little emotional.  Truth be told so was I.  We hugged again and started to unload the bikes.

As I unloaded my bike, I looked at Mr. Cotton.  He was still there, none the worse for wear.  He wore the same smile and accumulation of stubbly beard.  His left hand still had its homemade hook fastened with tie wraps.  He’d lost his first hook somewhere in Patagonia (but that’s another story) and he had gotten a new one while we slept.  He stared back at me as if to say, “That’s it?  We’re done already?”

We’d carried all we needed for the two week wandering of Europe, and now it was time to bring it back home.  Arms filled, we walked into the hotel with our gear and checked in for the last time.

After freshening up, we decided to grab a quick dinner in the hotel, pack our gear into our luggage and turn in early.  We had to return the bikes early the following morning so we could catch our flight back home.

When morning came, we put on our helmets and rode the short distance to where we had rented the bikes.  As I got off, I looked at Mr. Cotton.  He was still there, none the worse for wear.  He stared back at me as if to say, “That’s it?  We’re done already?”

I looked back at him, grabbed my little wire cutters and freed him from his place on my handlebars.  “Yes, we’re done for now Mr. Cotton, but we’re going to have many more adventures until you retire.  So you should rest up because this was an easy trip.  I know you yearn to be back on the gravel roads of the world and I’ll make sure that you have more adventures in more remote places next time.  I wouldn’t want you to jump ship like you did at that other cold place.”

I stuffed Mr. Cotton in my pocket and went inside to complete the final paperwork on the bikes.  Our hosts were very accommodating and had us underway in no time.  As we walked back to the hotel, our wandering adventure was truly over.  But as I told Mr. Cotton, there were many more places to go and ride.

All we had to do was to figure out; where to next?


Why We Ride

We recently had a wonderful experience that we would like to share with you.  As you can tell, we have always been a big proponents of the community that is the motorcycling family.  For over 30 years, motorcycling has always held a cavernous place in our hearts.  To  us, it has been a means to explore, share, learn and enjoy.  As we’ve ridden, we met new people and made long term friends.

We’ve discovered that motorcycling is more than a “lifestyle”, “brotherhood”,  “fraternity”, “sorority”, or “club”.  To us, motorcycling is all about family.  There are no individual boundaries, barriers or divisions.  Just a large and open family that invites all into its waiting arms with no expectations or requirements other than enjoying travel on two wheels.

While there may be differences between family members as in all families, those differences are transcended by the larger community that is the motorcycling family.  We all have a common bond and we believe that the world is a little better because of it.

While the motorcycle family is quite encompassing as a whole, its role as a builder of family relationships is clear.  Families that ride together stay together.  They develop a bond made stronger by the sharing of the ride.  Kids hanging out at malls, or staring into electronic devices for hours on end is replaced by sun, wind, exercise and most importantly of all, communication between family members.  The very task of riding in itself brings us all together.

“How did the ride go?”  “What’s the track like?”  “Did you work on the bike this weekend?”  “Do you want to go for a ride?”  All these things bring us together and cause us to talk and share.  They constitute a bond that is nearly unbreakable and the more people participate, the stronger the bond.

So what caused me to write about the motorcycle family?   Frankly it was a film that all motorcyclists should see.  It’s called “Why We Ride” and it captures the essence of the motorcycle family.  Even if you or someone you know is not a rider, you should see this film.  You may just end up joining a new family.

Check out their trailer below.  It’s just part of the story.

Why We Ride is an independent film and as such, screenings have been limited.  They try to show the film where they can gain maximum impact; check their website for showings.  It’s well worth a trip to see this film.

Finally, we would be extremely remiss not to mention our friends Charles Sandoz and Jim Smith of Seacoast Sport Cycle in Derry, NH  who sponsored the showing, generously permitting about 150 of our motorcycle family to see this film.  Ride2ADV does not accept advertising, but we felt it very important that Charles and Jim get the credit for all they’ve done for our family.

Go see the film.  Take your family and some non-riding friends.  You may find that your family grows even larger, and that’s a good thing.


Does Your Choice Of Motorcycle Helmet Say Something About You?

Over the years, things in my life have changed; a lot.  I’d like to think that as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned quite a bit, hopefully become somewhat wiser, experienced life’s ups and downs and generally lived the life that I wanted, to the fullest.  However, what is important to me now may not have been so important to me years ago and vice versa.

This came to me a little while ago as I passed through a small space where we keep the bikes and much of our motorcycle gear.  A part of the garage that we lovingly call “The Shrine”.  While there, I was hit with a revelation (pun intended) of sorts that over the years, perhaps my motorcycle helmets said something about me.  For some reason that resides deep in my subconscious, I’ve kept almost all of my motorcycle helmets as well as many of Kim’s.  Seeing them all sitting there lined up on the shelf, they spoke to me.  You’ve changed, you’ve abandoned us!

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They may be right.  What was the single most important thing to me when I was younger was high speed performance.  My fear of death or injury was practically nil.  I can recall pavement escapades that today seem like insanity.  Nowadays, high speed performance is not nearly as important to me.  I now know when I fall off, it takes longer to heal and it really hurts!  My focus is more on the ride itself and what happens during it, than going from point A to B as quickly as possible.  Pavement riding, once the sole realm of my motorcycle riding is now secondary, and riding the gravel or woods is what really burns in me.

So as I stared at the helmets on the shelf, they spoke to me without speaking.  Sleek, solid black Simpson Bandits in different versions cloaked with dark visors reminiscent of Darth Vader glared back at me.   Several Arai RX series helmets adorned with factory racer replica colors practically screamed high RPM.  The ones with the deep scratches from falling off during the years that I was competing in road racing told a story of excitement and falls.  Then there were the helmets painted to my specs based upon my somewhat bizarre sense of humor; including one with an attached 18″ black braid of hair which contrasted with my bald head. Finally there were the visor-less dirt bike helmets and helmets designed specifically for adventure riding.

As I stared at them, I think they had a story to tell.  They told me that my life had changed and my priorities were different.  Perhaps they also reflected the importance I’ve assigned to taking things as they come instead of trying to catch a glimpse of life fueled with adrenalin at warp speed.

So do our helmets say something about us, or was that shrine driven revelation merely a dream?

Oh, yeah; one other thing.  My current helmet is a fluorescent “Don’t Run Me Over” yellow.  What does that say?

Ride2Adventure – Shrink the planet one ride at a time.


“Aren’t you afraid to die?”

I couldn’t have captured the essence of motorcycling any better.  The end of the video just reaches to my soul.

“Aren’t you afraid to die?”.


Traversing The TAT (Trans-America Trail) Chapter 10

Riding the TAT we’d been in rural areas for quite some time.  But the deeper we ventured into Mississippi, we began to notice that we’d entered another level of rural and got the feeling that we had really passed into an era where time may have stopped for a while.

On the gravel, we found remnants of old farms and homesteads.  It was a little mesmerizing riding through this part of the country.  You could really get the feeling of old-time farming and people scratching a living from farmland carved from the thickly wooded earth.  Each farmer cutting down trees by hand and pulling the stumps with horses or oxen.

By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.

Then suddenly, the farms disappeared.  Fields gave way to forests once again.  Forests partially relented and gave way to water.  We were in the true wetlands of Mississippi.  When I was a kid, we called these places swamps.  We weren’t in a swamp, we were in the true definitions of wetlands.  The swamps of my childhood were a smelly, litter infested, mud and still water mess.  These were different.

Green and brown never mixed in such symmetry.   The brown water was tinged with green and rolled lazily past the shores.  Trees sprouted from the depths of the water on roots that gave the trees a “standing on tip-toes” look.  The roots arched from the water forming a triangular base from which the tree trunk sprouted.  Although they provided a platform out of the water for the tree trunk, the moss-covered roots reached away from the base and dove into the water.  A clear sign that the tree needed water to survive.  These rounded tubular roots were a natural straw, feeding the ever-growing trees life-giving nutrients and fluids.    It was a great example of the circle that is life, be it human or otherwise.

We stopped to take a few pictures of this natural wonder and in the 30 minutes that we were taking pictures, not a single soul passed by.  We were enjoying our frozen moments, but we had to get moving in order to make it to the Arkansas border for the day.

Before we knew it, we had transitioned into back onto hard surfaced roads and farms once again began made began dotting the landscape.  Most were fairly large and crossing from one to the next took some time.  We had passed several and as we rounded a corner and headed down a straight stretch of road, we came across a somewhat immovable object.  There was a very large animal standing in the middle of the road.

Tracy had already ridden by the large animal but the rest of us were stuck behind.  Kim saw it before I did and said into her communicator, “Oh look, there’s a cow in the road.”   I paid more attention than I had been and sure enough, there was a very large animal standing in the middle of the road.  I muttered into my comm back to Kim, “Um Kim, that’s not a cow, it’s a bull.”  “Oh” was the somewhat unimpressed response.  But the bull wasn’t going anywhere fast and he was in a somewhat testy mood.  He stood his ground and stared directly at us.

Somewhat surreal, in a fenced field beside the road, a group of cows and calves stood at rapt attention watching and waiting to see what might happen.  While the cows watched from the side of the road, the bull watched us and we watched the bull.  We yelled at him and revved our engines, but still he remained unmoved.  Now we were stuck.  What could we do to get this bull’s attention and make him move?  After a lot of shouting and revving of engines, I decided that we had to do something different.  What could we do?  There was only one thing left to do.  I reached over to my handlebar and gave my NH approved street legal horn a blast.  Said horn was of the rubber bulb type normally associated with little children’s bicycles.

After about the 6th “honk”, the bull slowly walked to the side of the road and stared into the brush.  MaryLee took off in a flash and was past.  Kim and I revved our engines, I engaged the clutch and…  stalled my bike.  Great!  I immediately pushed the starter button and… silence.  My battery was now dead, it had given up but we hadn’t.  I kick started the bike furiously and it caught on the fifth or sixth kick and we were off.

With the bull facing to the right we rushed to the left side of the road and we were quickly past.  Not happy with trespass, the bull immediately turned left and started chasing us!  He followed for about 50 yards and then stopped.  But in the end, I guess he felt had to show his bull chivalry and put on a show for the cows who had been watching.

With the bull dispatched, the next item on the agenda was to try to find a replacement battery for my KTM.  I thought to myself, “Oh great, we’re out in the wilds of Mississippi.  Where are we going to find a motorcycle shop and better still, one that is familiar with KTMs.   As we trundled on, I resigned myself to kick starting my little KTM each time we stopped.

We hadn’t been back on the road for more than an hour when Kim called through the communicator, “Look on your left!”  I didn’t see anything and motored on.  She said “Turn around, there’s a KTM shop on the left!”  Amazed, I said, “What?  Did you say that there was a KTM shop?”  “Yes!” somewhat loudly she responded, “turn around we’re going to pull in.”

I made a very rapid U-turn and sure enough, it was a combination farm store and motorcycle shop, complete with KTMs!  I couldn’t believe our luck.  I walked to the back of the store to the parts counter and asked them if they had a battery for a KTM 250XCF-w.  Sure as heck, they did.  They also had oil, filters and other miscellaneous parts that would come in handy.  While I waited for the other parts I wanted, little did I know that Tracy had taken the battery, had it installed and I was ready to go.  Wow, he had done that in the stifling heat and had never said a word about it.  I was so grateful, I didn’t know what to say other than thank you.  True friends are amazing.  With a new battery in place, the bike fired right up and we were back on the road and hightailing it to our rest stop for the evening, a moored riverboat that was also a casino.  The best part, only about $40 a night.

As we motored on towards the casino, we decided that the heat was too much and we needed to stop get into some air conditioning and quench our thirsts.  We found a small roadside market and went inside.  There we met some of the nicest people.  One gentleman came over and sat down at our table and asked us where we were from.  We told him a little about our trip and he told us about himself, his family and his farm.  I was a great little chat, and I think he wanted to invite us over to his house for dinner, but just couldn’t get that part out.

It was just as well, as we’d walked into the market, there on the counter were two large gallon jars filled with picked pigs lips and pickled pigs feet.  Help yourself.  We just couldn’t bring ourselves to try that delicacy.  But others had enjoyed it because both jars were only partially filled.

Having had a nice chat and cooled of in the air conditioning, we walked outside once again into the thick and muggy air.  Kim was just finishing off her Coke when she decided that her “cool vest” had dried out.  These vests are made to cool by being immersed in water and then as you move through the air, the water evaporates and cools you.  “No worries”, I said, and quickly readied my hydration system to cool Kim off.  One of the nice things about my hydration system is that it keeps the water fairly cold, especially when it had been filled to the brim with ice cubes that morning.

Before she could say anything, I had the hydration system going and ice cold water was shooting out at her.  At first I don’t think she knew what to do.  Be angry or be happy that she was being sprayed with ice cold water.  Luckily for me, she liked it more than the initial shock and ultimately asked me to spray her all over.  But I must tell you, when the water first hit her, her expression was priceless.  Surprise, dread and relief all at the same. I was a wonderful sight and one that Tracy caught on film.  It is one of my keepsakes from the trip that she and I now both enjoy.

A couple of hours later, we were pulling into the parking lot with our dusty and dirty little machines.  We parked in front and went inside to the front desk outside of the casino.  After about 15 minutes, we had our rooms and headed to the bikes to get our gear.  We asked the doorman where we should put our bikes and he said, “Leave them right there, We’ll keep an eye on them for you.”  Wow, we’d never been treated like that and after gathering our gear to go to our rooms, we left the filthy bikes next to the sparkling clean limousines.    What a great scene!

Even better was our walk to our rooms.  To get there, we had to walk through the casino.  With people sitting at tables and at slots, we “moseyed” our way though.  Some people were dressed to the nines and we had our own attire.  Dusty riding pants and pressure suits were our wardrobe and they created a bit of a surreal picture.  I just had to stop to take a picture of Kim.  It came out wonderfully with Kim’s bright smile and dusty gear providing an amazing contrast to the well dressed people, flashing lights and ringing bells.

We’d had a long day, and it was time to turn in for a good nights rest.  For tomorrow, we would make our way into Arkansas and start another hot humid day on the TAT.


Traversing The TAT (Trans-America Trail) Chapter 9

With Tracy’s pannier repaired we were once again underway on the TAT.  The day had been filled with enchantment and excitement and we wondered what other treats the TAT could drum up on this day.  It wasn’t long before we would get a taste of some of the twists and turns of the TAT.  Literally.

We found ourselves on a gravel road somewhere in Tennessee.   The joy of travel sort of overwhelmed us and we just decided to go the way we thought we should be going instead of taking the time to properly assess where we were.  What else could happen on this day’s journey?  As the TAT wandered and snaked its way westward, we found that it still had a few tricks.

As we made our way, I guess we zigged when we should have zagged.  Suddenly we seemed to be making a lot of turns when the route sheet said we should have been going straight.  We had become wanderers instead of travelers and that was ok with us.  Winding roads changed from gravel to asphalt and back to gravel.  Soon we were pretty much lost but we were having fun.

We guessed where we were and turned left onto a gravel road.  Shortly thereafter, we came upon a wooden bridge without guardrails of any kind and we decided it was worth a try.  Boards laterally placed on beams comprised the base with with three rows of boards running along its length for each tire track.  It was an easy crossing of a lazy stream and it sort of represented the kind of day we were now having.  Easy going.  We thought, what the heck let’s go and see where it led.

The road snaked through a short section of forest and then into an open field.  Soon we found ourselves at a farm house with a gate at the end of the road.  Wow, we had not been on a road, but we had been riding someone’s long driveway!  A woman came out of the house and made it clear that we were on her property and she’d like us to leave.

By the way, if you don’t know, click on any one of the pictures in the gallery below and it will open that picture into a full size picture and then you can click your way through the remainder of the pictures in either direction in full size.

We said we were sorry for trespassing on her property and soon she calmed down.  We told her we were riding the TAT and told her a little about it.  She said that we weren’t the only ones to ride down her driveway without permission and asked us to tell all those TAT riders that they should keep off her property.  Well I guess we weren’t that far off course then.  All those TAT riders on her property?   We must not be that far off course then.  We finalized our apologies and rode back the way from which we had come.

Soon we were back on the trail and going in the right direction.  The roads were good to excellent and we were once again having a lot of fun, wicking it up a bit through some pretty rural areas.  Tracy and Mary Lee had the need for speed more than Kim and I did and soon we had nothing but their dimming dust trail to follow.

But Kim and I were not worried, we knew they would stop and wait for us at some intersection ahead.  We were enjoying ourselves and took our time dawdling along.  The road was covered with a thin layer of pea gravel on top of some very hard dirt.  Not super challenging, but enough to make the bike move around underneath you a bit.  Kim was doing great and she was merrily chugging her way along and I was just as happy to follow in her wake and take in the sights.

About ten minutes after we lost sight of them, we once again found Tracy and Mary Lee.  Tracy’s bike was facing the wrong way, parked in a shallow ditch at the side of the road.  Mary Lee’s bike was on the correct side of the road but sat in the middle of her travel lane.  The two of them stood standing at the side of the road and they looked like they were in conference.  They stood shoulder to shoulder, looking across the road hands gesturing as if explaining some exciting event.

Kim pulled over and stopped beside them both.  I on the other hand went past them and pulled off to the side of the road and walked back towards them.  Now I could see that Kim was in discussion with Tracy and MaryLee.  All were animatedly chatting at a level that did not allow me to hear what was being said.  When I arrived at the group, they told me that MaryLee had just crashed but was OK.  That’s strange, I thought to myself.  Mary Lee’s bike is parked on the road and Tracy’s bike is in the ditch, but MaryLee crashed?  Hmm….

They proceeded to tell us the whole story.  It was a minor crash and Mary Lee’s bike had escaped mostly unscathed.  The bike and MaryLee had only picked up a few scratches in the incident.  The only remnants of her fall were some shallow gouges in the pea gravel.

I was amazed at Mary Lee’s enthusiasm.  She had just crashed and was relating the incident more like a war story than something that had just happened.  One thing we learned about MaryLee, she did not do anything half way.  She either went for it all out, or didn’t do it.

It turned out that she too had her own little secret (to me anyway).  MaryLee is the first Woman’s Downhill Bicycle World Champion and she knows how to ride bikes (obviously)!  She was also an Olympic Nordic skier and has retained her competitive spirit and drive throughout her life.  Every time Tracy wicked it up a bit, MaryLee was right on his tail, on all sorts of terrain.  Her spirit is indeed impressive, but she was fairly new to motorcycling and at the speeds she sometimes traveled at, I feared for her safety during parts of the ride.

But Mary Lee was unfazed from her little get off and she was raring to go. All that was left of her crash was a small spattering of pea gravel and some marks in the road.  She was ready to go and so were we.  So once again, we hopped aboard our little machines and headed toward new trails.

The TAT was once again going to deliver special sights, sounds and smells.  The trail squirmed and twisted its way southward leading us towards Mississippi.  With the southerly turn, the temperature started to soar even higher.  It was well over 100 degrees F, and the humidity was unbearable.  It became apparent that we would soon need to stop to hydrate and rest.

Passing through a small town, we arrived at the Olive Hill Store.  Inside it was cool so we purchased some drinks and decided to stay a while.  The proprietors for the day were a pair of 16-17 year olds talking about things that kids their age discuss, while apparently running the store.  Soon a friend of theirs came in and the two girls talked about their friends while their male acquaintance passed judgment on the girls friends.  It seems that small towns are the same the world over, people just being people.

After our brief respite, we returned to the bikes for some more heat, humidity and amazing sights.  Riding along, it soon became apparent we were getting to places where not many people go and time slows down.  It seemed we were going back in time and we were willing time travelers to this very special part of the TAT.