Part VI – Atlanta to Home

Family Loop Tour, Part VI

Well Hotlanta turned out to be hotter than Houston. As the Huston weather has always been high humidity every time I was there, I was not looking forward to riding there, but Atlanta turns out to be hot and humid. Also the mosquito’s don’t know how to sleep during the day and those buggers, were trying to feast on me.

Since I had already lost 6 pounds so far on this trip from not over eating, I did not want to loose more to those critters.

My future son in law Robert, came home from work early everyday I was there and he inspected my bike with a fine tooth comb and asked many questions about my trip. It was a pleasure to talk to him and we all had a great time on my visit.

Robert has a Harley Sportster, and I was hoping that we would be able to ride some of the great near by north Georgia roads, but this did not happen. He has a lot of interest in BMW bikes and when the time is right, I think he will get one. It would be great to have a riding partner to do some of the great roads in near by states.

On my last visit there in October, we went to BMW of Atlanta as I was shopping for a GSA. And boy did they have a huge inventory, even in the color and equipment I wanted. But the owner Bob Wooldridge made it very clear that he will not lower the price for someone who will never be back for service.

As I was in desperate need for a throttle lock, I called BMW of Atlanta and told them I was unable to remove the 12 mm screw that held the bar end weight on to install a throttle lock. As they had one in stock that would fit my bike, they told me to bring it over and they would install it no charge.

So off I went in the heavy Atlanta traffic following Robert and when I walked into their showroom I saw a leftover 2007 GSA and I thought to myself, that this will be a donor bike if they break the bolt while trying to remove it.

Well it took a lot of muscle power to break the bolt loose and it was tough going the whole way out. The red locktite did it’s job. While he was removing the bolt one of the service guys told him to be careful as they are somewhat easy to snap, but Mr. muscle just kept right on going. As the left handguard was somewhat loose, he went to tighten it and the bolt was finger tight. When he removed the bolt it looked like the red loctite was completely dry when the bolt was installed.

So now I had a throttle lock and boy was I ever happy. My daughter and Robert showed up as they were on their way back from picking up his truck and Bob Wooldridge came over and I was impressed that he remembered me and he asked if my wife was with us as she was there on my other visit. We chatted for a short time and off I went.

Well from what I can see BMW of Atlanta does not give great deals as they were only discounting the 2007 R1200 GSA by $1500 and Hermy’s beat that price last November. But in all fairness, they sure do know how to install throttle locks.

Earlier in the week I was aware that I would have to ride on Friday the 13th if I wanted to get home by Saturday. Thank god I forgot about that. As I was getting ready to depart for home early Friday morning, my daughter and Robert took some pictures while I got my bike out of their garage. As the side stand was down and the bike was running and in neutral, I went to do my usual dismount and while I was swinging my right leg over the top case my left foot hit the gear shift an put the bike in 1st gear. The bike stalled and fortunately I had both feet on the ground and kept the bike upright. But I did not realize that the side stand retracted and when I went to lean the bike on to the side stand, it gently went down to the driveway. The only damage was a few scratches on the crash bar and I was amazed that I did not turn red from embarrassment. I was OK about the incident and thanked Robert for helping me lift the bike up.

As this all happened so fast, Robert who is quite strong, started to lift the bike before I could get the front wheel turned to make lifting easier. But too late, the bike was upright.

Well now I have my mandatory bike drop out of the way and it had to happen on Friday the 13 th.

As I was riding thru North Carolina approaching Virginia, the skies to in front and to the east were getting very dark. I passed a sign that read “Urgent Message when lights are flashing. Tune to am station xxx”. I got very concerned about the sign as the traffic was heavy with lots of trucks riding in both lanes ahead.

In a few miles one of the create a message signs warned of very poor visibility from mile marker xx to mile marker xx. As I was approaching this poor visibility area I could see lightning far off to my right. It looked like I was going to get by a mid afternoon thunder storm. As the exits were very frequent in this area I continued to ride. When I crossed into VA, my plan was to pick up the Blue Ridge Pky, but as the lightning looked to be coming from that area, I stayed on I77. I had to travel westward to pick up I81north, but I would have been too uncomfortable headed to the BRP in these weather conditions.

As soon as I crossed into Virginia, there was a drastic change in scenery. The road turn to some incredible mountains. Thankfully I77 was three lanes in the higher elevations. I saw over 3300 feet elevation on the gps. It sure was an eerie sight when the sky got very dark again and there were some incredible cross winds to add to mix.

As this was to be my last night of lodging, I decided to splurge and stay in a high class place. No Motel 6 tonight and you can turn off the light as I will not be there. So I looked up lodging on the gps and I picked a Hampton Inn in Staunton, VA. It turns out there was some kind of bike gathering nearby and they were expecting loads of bikes and they had a bike wash set up in the back of the hotel complete with all necessary rags. As I wanted my bike to have that “used” look when I arrived home, I passed on the bike wash.

With my AARP discount the room came to $116.74. A far cry from the $30,96 it cost for my Motel 6 room in Mt Vernon, Illinois. Was it worth it, absolutely not. No refrigerator or microwave and the hot breakfast consist of heated frozen waffles and some sort of strange meat in a strange looking sauce. Well they did have fruit out all day and although I did not get my $60 worth, I did manage to get a few dollars worth.

I only saw about three other bikes in the parking lot and I did see a few bike trailers with VA tags. Trailering your VA bike to a rally in VA. Boy these are some hard core riders here.

After an early morning start without my hot breakfast, I had about a 320 mile ride to home. My plan was to take I81 to the PA Tpk and in no time the Saturday traffic started to get heavy. I noticed that as soon as the sun gets high enough not to cause sun glare that the temperature rises quickly. It was around 70 degrees when I left the hotel and in about an hour and a half it was 85 degrees.

One of my pet peeves on this journey was the drivers who hang out in the left lane. In Kansas I was especially aware that it was almost always Mr. and Mrs. Old Fart. These assholes would not budge from the left lane. And in the last two days on the road I saw a large number of drivers with cell phones stuck to their ears refusing to move over. As I have a pretty loud air horn on my bike, it did not make any difference. These bastards were not gonna move over.

Then there were the truckers who pull out to pass another 18 wheeler and take over 3 or 4 miles to complete their pass. And what amazes me it that many times they start their pass on an uphill section of the highway.

I’m sorry to say that I made plenty of passes in the right lane, especially around 18 wheelers. I always made sure there was a clear shoulder ahead in case the truck decided to pull back into the right lane. I don’t advocate passing in the right, but never the less I did it many times.

On I81 shortly before I reached the PA Tpk, there was a rig in the left lane for over 5 miles. As there was over two truck lengths between him and the rig in the right lane, I moved into the right lane to make my pass. As I approached the rig in front of me, he pulled suddenly into the left lane and right before my eyes was a shit load of hay bales in the right lane. I easily pulled in front of the rig in time to miss the hay bales, but I realized that it could have been a big mess if I did not have room to get into the left lane. I was not able to see if the right shoulder was clear.

Once I reached the PA Tpk the traffic was very light and it was smooth sailing for the rest of the ride home. It was good to be home and get my sore butt off the bike.

Summary:

While I don’t have any regrets about making this trip, I would not do it again. It was much harder that I thought to ride alone. And riding the interstates to rack up miles, can be hard at times, especially when the weather makes it hard to enjoy the ride. Even though I felt like giving up when I was in Memphis, TX, I’m certainly glad that I continued on.

There were a few days when it felt like “work” to get on the road. I don’t ever recall experiencing this when my wife and I traveled many years ago.

But there is a major difference between “touring” and “traveling” and needless to say “touring” is much more enjoyable for me.

It was great to see all my children and the highlight of the trip was seeing my son in Denver who went through some very tough times. He went out of his way to do all he could for me and it was good that he was able to do this. A week or so before my trip he was barely able to stay awake for any length of time and I was concerned about how the visit would go.

I cringe when I hear about all the chemo and other medications he took and I feel so blessed about my good health.

I had some problems with my lower back a few months before the trip and for the first time I in my life I went for some acupuncture treatments that seemed to work. This person also used some micro current device and I will say that I did not experience any problems with my back on this trip. Whether the acupuncture worked or not is hard to say, I only know the end results.

  • My total mileage for the trip was 4885
  • My average speed was 65.9 mph and it took 74.14 hours to cover this distance.
  • I had about 10 1/2 days of travel time of the 20 1/2 days of the trip.
  • My bike odometer showed 4841 miles
  • I used 111 gallons of fuel for 43.7 mpg
  • I added about 8 oz of oil to the bike.
  • I lost 8 pounds (must be the vibration).

This bike never skipped a beat. Considering the high temperatures I rode in and the long hours at over 70 mph, I am impressed with how little oil I had to add to the bike as it only had 601 miles on it when I pulled out of my driveway for the trip. My last bike (99 R1100RT) would easily have used over 3 quarts of oil for a trip like this.

This bike is definitely a keeper.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Wayne Woodruff for all his hard work, efforts and expertise in creating this web page for me. He certainly made it easy to supply him with whatever he needed to do the job.

The Mac-Pac community is certainly blessed to have Wayne who handles all the web page chores.

And I also want to thank the Mac-Pac community of hard core riders for their support and sincere concerns for myself and my son Matt. And please know that part of the inspiration for my adventure came from being part of this great list.

Sincerely,

Mark Barr
New Britain, PA
07 R1200 GS Adventure