by Chris S.
Left Gulf Coast before the sun rose - 4:30am. Made quick work of the
lower half of Mississippi before the sun, was riding through fog and
spots of really cold air. Half hoped for sun and half hoped to get
further down the road before the sun made his appearance. First stop
just south of Hattiesburg for the first fill up for the day. Finally the
sun rises and I stop at the first Hardees on Hwy 49 afterward in Maggee,
Mississippi. Had a quick breakfast and hit the road again this time
stopping in Menderhall for a quick call to Ralph to let him know where I
was so far.
This took longer because the the phone card wouldn't activate, then when
I came out there were two ladies standing over my bike talking. They
quickly barraged me with questions about how long I'd been riding, what
kind of bike it was, etc... After answering as many of their questions
as I could I then rode over to the pay phone to let Ralph know where I
was and to remind him of Mikayla's b-day party that afternoon. Ralph was
in as gabby a mood as the ladies so a stop that should've taken five
minutes tops lasted about 15-20 minutes eating up my time... ggrrrr
My next stop was just north of Jackson on I55 at a rest stop. Had kink
in my back I couldn't seem to get out. I took the time to finish my Code
Red and eat some crackers. While waiting there a BMW bike rode up and
the couple on it were shocked I was on a 250 on the Interstate and
wasn't even remotely near my final destination for the night. This is
something I come across a lot and it bugs me. Yes - it only has 250ccs.
Yes I ride all over kingdom come on it - alone. I like long distances
and this is the only bike we own. It is still a street legal motorcycle
and nothing in the owners manual discourages long distance or Interstate
riding. In fact the only thing mentioned about long distance riding is
that you should check your fluids and chain before venturing out on a
long ride - which I do - and when possible lube chain during trip if
over 500 miles, which I did on this trip.
Anyway, they were a cute couple and even told me to wave at them if I
had a problem. I laughed and told them in a mile I will be a small speck
behind them. Sure enough - I was. My next stop was a gas and go at the
Winona exit. I also stripped off my rain gear and my outer shirt and
gloves. With the sun up it was definitely getting warmer. Repacked my
stuff and was gone again. My final Mississippi stop was at noon just
south of Memphis - Hernando, MS. Had planned to go ahead and ride
through Memphis first, but there was one dumb car who I needed to give
time to go away, so I stopped before Memphis.
Went to McDonald's for grub. This McDonald's took forever to get the
food but it was hot and fresh. Took a nice long break. Propped my feet
up and let my legs stretch while I ate. Afterward asked the local law
where a payphone was. They were kind and told me to be very careful that
most the locals drive like they have more than a couple of loose
screws... Gave Ralph a quick call to let him know I was about to cross
into Tennessee and I would be taking my sweet time until sundown - not
to expect another call from me until late that night.
After making quick work of Memphis stopped at a tourist info place on
the east side of town round 1pm and found out the best scenic route for
seeing the most of Tennessee in the least amount of time. 70/79|70A/79A.
Stopped at a 'lil gas station - don't ask me where... just long the
way... to gas and go. Then stopped again in Brownsville for a afternoon
snack break about 3pm... Back on the road and stopped for gas in
McLemoresville. Night was starting to fall and the locals suggested I
head back to I40 before it got too late. I took their advice and arrived
in Dickson for dinner at 7pm. Lubed my chain and took a long 2 hour
break, called hubby and tried to figure out the directions to my hotel
in Brentwood. Left at 9pm - thought it was probably about an hour ride,
but with even getting lost I got to the hotel before 10 and was in my
room at 10 pm.
Day 1 - What I discovered.
Tennessee is gorgeous. Tennesseans are friendly and easy going. Did I
mention Tennessee is gorgeous? Hills are definitely an interesting
hazard and downshifting is not a sin...
Woke up at 5:30 am - no alarm and ready to ride. Only I had to wait
for the laundry to open so I could wash my clothes before heading out.
Washed and dried my clothes, checked out, checked my chain and was on
the road by 7:30 am. Was planning on stopping just south Murfreesboro
for gas and to check the oil after engine had warmed up. On I 24 just
before exit 70(Smyrna) had a guy yell out his truck window at me to pull
over. He was very insistent and intent on something on the bike. I
pulled over, engine running - with room to run if necessary. I smelled
smoke - oil smoke. While he was pointing down to my left and hollering
to turn the bike off. I looked down and smoke was billowing up. Killed
the engine, kickstand down and moved off the bike and away quickly.
After quickly assessing that the bike was NOT on fire (been in a car on
fire and have flashes back to that when I see smoke). Moved back over to
figure out what in tarnation was going on. He grabbed what oil he had
and poured it in - it came right back out, on the other side of the bike
where it shouldn't be. Blown gasket - the bike was not rideable. Can't
keep oil, engine overheats and seizes major damage to engine and the
rider most likely thrown off. Lucky me had someone see me smoking and
got me off the rode before it got that far along. The engine wasn't even
sounding any different yet. I am hoping there is no damage beyond the
gasket. Less than a mile to the next exit - the 102 in Smyrna. Coasted
90% of the way only turning the engine on twice and killing it within
seconds of the small push the engine gave to get up two small hills
(more like long bumps than hills) going into the gas station.
Well - there went Chattanooga and definitely not getting home in 36
hours... Now what? Called Ralph and he ran off the get gas money for the
car and a trailer from U-haul. It would be a couple of hours before he
got on the road and 8 hours from that point before he got to me. And I
was stuck in Smyrna, TN - alone, at a gas station... Pulled out the only
"local" number I had on me and called my friend in Dickson, Feathers.
Next thing I knew Jarhead, Feathers 's friend, was trying to get me and
bike picked up from there and taken someplace safer. No luck. He pulled
up camp, rode an hour to come get me himself. We went back to his place,
grabbed his truck and went back for Blue. During this time Ralph had
gotten the U-haul trailer, cash and I had left Jarhead's number for him
on our answering machine which he called. Jarhead gave him his home
phone and directions to his house.
Back at Jarhead's, he insisted I had some lunch and then had me lay down
in the guest room the get some rest since I would be doing the driving
that evening. While I rested, Feathers called to check on me, Ralph had
made Tennessee and double checked directions, Jarhead had gotten the
bike off by himself. Chloe, the cat, had slept with me. I think she was
missing her mama, Jarhead's wife, Kat who was out of town because of a
family loss. Shortly before Ralph arrived he woke me and ordered some
pizza for us all. Ralph pulled up and Alec came running telling me of
his "adventure" to come get Mama and the bike.
The guys got the bike loaded and we all sat down for a nice dinner
before Ralph, Alec and I hit the road to go back home. Trip home was
uneventful. We pulled back on to base at 4:20 am, just shy of 48 hours
since I left.
Day 2 - what I discovered:
Tennesseans are as gorgeous as the land they love. They will bend
over backward to help you and then wonder why you are fussing over their
effort when you thank them. Never leave home without at the number for
least one local friend at your destination.
According to Randal McNally
Total planned miles on bike: 1173
Total miles before breakdown: 605
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