Couple Thousand Miles, Couple Days, and 3 Little Bears

I am not one of those obsessive ‘iron butt’ guys.  You know, the 10 day, 10,000 mile type.  But you could say that I am a moderately rigid butt guy, but iron, NO, not me.  To be a proficient ‘iron butt’ guy you’ve got to be kind of a loner, a masochist, a compulsive overachiever and a bit of a risk taker all wrapped up in a tightly wound package.  I don’t know if I am all those things but if I am its nothing a good therapist couldn’t fix someday when I’ve got time.  I’ve been known to knock out a few thousand miles at a clip but generally because I have to.  I do these trips out of necessity coupled with personal challenge.   My little summer Lodge is just about 1,000 miles north east from my Milton Georgia home which makes for a short flight or a long ride.  Consequently I’ve racked up over twenty of these 1,000 mile (x’s 2) torture trips to and fro over the years.   Up and back, a couple thousand miles, sometimes with the company of riding pals, sometimes solo, always rough on the ass.  I recently did the trip there and back in three days.  All in a long weekend.  Sixteen hours in the saddle, one way, I arrived there a bit sore.  Nothing a few Advils and a neat scotch can’t cure.  A day to relax and take in the sights and sounds of mountain life.  No human interaction.  Check my woodpile, clean the gutters, sample the single malt cache, and inventory all the baby animals born in local woodlands this spring.

This last was a solo jaunt, but I do enjoy a group iron butt run once in a while.  So long as all in the group are on the same page.  The solo trip is different, more tranquil.  It has peace and no guesswork on the other guy’s fuel, or thirst, or bladder, or hunger, or pain tolerance, or yak-yak-yak.  No hand signals or disjointed pace.  The solo riding rhythm is smoother.  My travel plan is ‘consistency’.  Leave on time, set odometer, track mile pace, sweet spot of 78 or 79 (never much above 80), keep hydrated, stop every 100 miles religiously, gas up every other stop.  It’s just that simple.  No alcohol before or during, top notch road gear and of course a road worthy bike all help.  Coffee, Red Bull, soda even juices and the like, all recipes for disaster and are considered by me crash and burn novice mistakes.  Water is key.  On this trip I left the house at 3:00 a.m. on Thursday and by the time I felt the slightest fatigue of the road 300 miles later the sun rose.  Rebirth, I was in North Carolina on Interstate I-95 and I was renewed on the road as I’d just awoken from a restful sleep.  Timing trip departure like that tricks the brain into an early ‘second wind’.  The first 300 miles are almost free!

It was not until after arrival, a big steak and a good night sleep that I realized that I had not spoken to another human in a couple of days.  I’d not had so much as a ‘hello’ from another person since before leaving and now it’s Friday.  I had charged gas at pumps, ate food packed myself at empty welcome centers and my destination of the “Little Bear Lodge” tucked at the base of a mountain is without much civilization.  It’s funny how a full face helmet insulates one from the world.  Maybe I should wear one around the office.  Might get a lot more work done.  Excepting the 8 baby bunnies that scampered about my front lawn, there was not much movement or noise in the surrounding woods.   The babbling stream across the road provided a constant trickling reminder that life still exists beyond my rocking chair.

It seems to me that roaring 1,000 miles up an interstate betwixed trucks and cars over bridges and past cities would temper your need for civilization.  But we are pack animals.  We crave those like us.  We congregate for a reason.  In bars and in clubs, in malls and in parks, in riding groups and ultimately in homes with our families.  It is the rare person who truly seeks no company.  I am not he.  Gone a couple days I palpably missed my family.  Kid’s hugs once inside the kitchen door.  The scent of my wife’s hair.  Simple stuff.  Even the wag of my little weenie dog’s tail.  Things we sometimes take for granted.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my trip, family pining notwithstanding.  Only a couple of days.  Absence does make the heart grow fonder.  Birds tweeted and I tried to ID bluebirds from chik-a-dees.  Owls are easy but finches from larks, guesswork.  Ducatis from Harley’s, inline 4’s from twins, some sounds are easier for me to discern.  The Lodge has no cell service and no television, a design decision.  The little town nearby has a few bars but I was there to inventory my own scotch stock.  My brown spirits secured, my woodpile straightened, gutters cleaned  and chimney swept I prepped to return home.  1,000 miles yet to go.  A long Sunday, but at least I didn’t have to sit through mass!  Sorry Father Frank.  In the end I had a great time, albeit not quite alone.  I did have company at the Lodge in my last few hours before departure.  I heard faint splashing in my creek and went to investigate.  I was delighted to see a 500 pound black bear mamma and her 3 cubs born over the harsh mountain winter frolicking in the water like a family on vacation.  Not great conversation but excellent entertainment.  The picture with my little camera came out surprisingly well.  I hope they enjoyed the apples I left on the lawn as much as I enjoyed their company.  I wonder if I had driven the car or flown, would I have even heard the bear family?  Probably not.  Glad I rode.  A “RIDE” and not a “FLIGHT” nor a “DRIVE” sometimes makes all the difference.

Well, signing off for now.  Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and when life lets you, ride full throttle.  Written by Steve Murrin, The Original Biker Lawyer.

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