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Gulf Coast, MS to TN and back in 36 hours

by Chris S.

DAY 1:
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...

-------------------------
DAY 2:
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 my

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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From Chris:
"I ride a Honda Rebel 250 (Lil' Boy Blue) and live in Mississippi. Have been riding this summer and have ridden Blue to Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee."


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