Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

A long overdue trip

A trip that was over a decade in the making


I don't refer to very many people as "brother". It cheapens the word. My brother is my brother... we have the same parents, the same upbringing, we grew up in the same household with the same rules and we have shared memories. These guys that go around calling every friend, buddy, pal or co-worker "brother" just water down the meaning of the word. There are, however, a few (very few)  exceptions. After all, with the criteria that I previously mentioned, there is at least one other person that could, and has, earned that title. 

A long overdue trip

You might remember him from a Bike of the Month piece I did in January 2021. Lee had the 2014 Indian Chief and was living in Spain at the time. Well, the backstory is that Lee and I met over 35 years ago and, despite our drastically different upbringings, we immediately became friends and that friendship has endured to this day. Lee enlisted in the military right out of  high school and I went to work, at various jobs, for the next 9 years, until I found my career path. Over the next 20+ years, we remained close friends. I married my high school sweetheart and Lee met, and married, his wife a few years after joining the Navy. We grew up, raised our kids and, of course, bought a lot of motorcycles. With Lee and his family living the nomadic Navy lifestyle and me and my family planting our roots firmly on the Gulf Coast, we only had a few opportunities over the decades to ride together. For years, we compared stories about our individual rides; mine stateside and his overseas. I'd send him photos of my motorcycles and trips, and he'd send me photos of his. Each time, we'd talk about the days when we'd take some epic road trip together. The closest we came through the years was in 2010. Lee and his family came to visit us for a week and, while they were here, Lee rented a Street Glide from a local H-D shop. Our kids rode go-carts and dirtbikes and went fishing in our pond, our wives went shopping, drank wine and caught up on all of the years since our last visit and Lee and I went for a motorcycle trip up to Barber Motorsports in Birmingham, AL. While he still had the Street Glide, we had our parents babysit the kids, and the four of us took our bikes to Destin, FL for the weekend. The most memorable part of that trip, was the vicious storm front that rolled in while we were on the road, bringing thunderstorms, lightning, high winds and even tornados across the area. Needless to say, we had a good time, but the trip over to Florida was more than a little stressful for all of us! That was the last big road trip we took... until this year.

Lunch plans

It all started with lunch plans. Almost a year ago, Lee and his wife moved back stateside, finding their place on the East Coast in Florida. As they were getting settled in in the Sunshine State, I was working non-stop at my job. Each time we planned a trip to meet up for lunch, the weather would turn against us, or I was called in to work. The weekend before Father's Day, we were talking on the phone and decided to make plans to meet halfway, have lunch, catch up on old times and head back to our respective homes. From Lee's place in Florida, to my place in Mississippi, is close to an 8 hour ride, so we decided to meet halfway in eastern Alabama. Somehow, during the course of the conversation, the plans morphed from a lunch visit in southeast Alabama, to a road trip to the mountains. The timing couldn't have been better. My kids had to work, my wife was busy with a project at home and the following week at my job was going to be extra busy with a big event coming in. 

The Ride

The plan was to leave on Saturday morning from our respective homes and meet in Dothan, AL. From there, we'd ride north to Suches, GA, where we'd make our base camp at Two Wheels of Suches Campground (aka, TWoS). The next day, on Sunday, we'd ride up to Tellico Plains, TN, take the Cherohala Skyway over to Robbinsville, NC, then run up to Deal's Gap and ride the Tail of the Dragon. After that, we'd take the Foothills Parkway over to Pigeon Forge, TN, stop in Gatlinburg, TN for lunch, then ride Newfound Gap Road (aka, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Scenic Byway), down to Cherokee, NC. We'd head west to NC28, aka, "The Moonshiner 28" and ride back to Deal's Gap, before heading back down to our base camp in Suches that evening. The next day, we'd pack up the bikes and head back to our respective homes. The ride went, mostly, as planned. I missed my turn on the way to Dothan and went about a half hour off-course, making me about an hour late to meet Lee in Dothan, but once I got there, we grabbed a bite to eat, looked around in Harley-Davidson of Dothan for a few, then saddled up and headed north. We ran into a bit of rain right at first, but the skies cleared up quickly and the rest of our trip up was trouble free. We stopped in Dahlonega, GA for dinner at a cool little Irish Pub called Shenanigans. We ate a good meal, drank a couple of cold drinks, listened to the live music, then headed out to the campground. We got to TWoS just after dark and got settled in. We were pretty sacked from riding all day, so we turned in and got some sleep. The next morning, we stopped in at the TWoS lodge and got some coffee, some breakfast and some more coffee, then headed out to start our day. The road leaving TWoS toward Tellico turned out to be a hidden gem. Wolfpen Gap Road takes you north from the campground and it is chock full of curves, elevation changes and has very little traffic. I wonder if anyone outside of the locals really even knows it's there, because if they do, they keep it a closely guarded secret. The ride to Tellico was easy, so we made an obligatory stop at Cherohala Harley-Davidson, an outpost of Smoky Mountain H-D. Shortly after, we headed out and took the Skyway over to Robbinsville. We gassed up in Robbinsville, and, since this was Lee's first time on the Dragon, I turned on my GoPro to shoot it for him. I had him take the lead, so I could get some good footage of him putting his new Road Glide Limited through the paces. We stopped for a few at Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, picked up a couple of souvenirs and then headed out. After a successful run up the Dragon's Tail, we turned onto Foothills Parkway. 

We got stuck behind a group of guys that were riding like they'd never been on motorcycles before (with one of the bikes running so rich that it was starting to give me a headache), but after a few miles, we stopped at an overlook for a break and let them get a little further ahead of us. Once we got back on the road, we were fortunate enough to pass them up while they were stopped at an overlook, just up the road. Once we got past them, we were able to open up the bikes a little and have a little fun in the easy sweeping curves of the Parkway. We followed Lee's GPS to avoid the summer traffic congestion of Pigeon Forge, but ran into it in Gatlinburg. We didn't have to put up with too much of it though, because we took a side road and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at Tom and Earl's Back Alley Grill. After we ate, we made our way to Newfound Gap Road and rode south through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Despite the heavy traffic of sedans, pickups and minivans chock full of goggle-eyed tourists, we enjoyed the cool air and the sweeping curves of the road. We made it to Cherokee, NC as the sun was starting to get low in the sky, but made it to the Moonshiner 28 with enough light to easily see the curves ahead of us. Once we made it back to Deal's Gap, we couldn't help but notice it was a ghost town- the hundred or so bikers that were there several hours earlier, were all but gone and the store was closed for the day. We headed south toward Robbinsville, then made our way back to our base camp at TWoS. 

We made it back just before dark and settled in. Lee had brought a couple of flasks of bourbon with him, so we sat out on the porch and were enjoying the sounds of the Appalachian night and talking, when we couldn't help but laugh at a couple of hipsters that were trying to get their tents set up across the way. The guys left for a while, then came stumbling back carrying a case of, what we thought, was beer, but turned out to be hard seltzer. The two had obviously been drinking in their absence because they were having a helluva time getting their fire started, so Lee struck up a conversation with them and they offered us a drink. We talked motorcycles for a bit and once they got their fire going, they settled in to their conversation and we decided to turn in for the night. 

The next morning, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake the day before. I did not drink nearly enough water throughout the day and had gotten pretty dehydrated. Not drinking enough water, then drinking bourbon that night, made for an awful hangover on Monday morning. To make matters worse, the weather had turned on us during the night and we woke up to the rain coming down. The forecast said we were going to be riding through, and in, storms all the way back to our respective homes. I went around the side of the cabin and expelled some of the poison that I drank, then we donned our rain gear and headed out. The lodge at TWoS was closed and locked, so we headed out to find some coffee and breakfast. The roads were wet and the rain was coming down and, for some odd reason (probably just to punish me) my Sena was chirping every few minutes in my ear with a high-pitched chirp that felt like a gutter nail being driven through my brain. We made it down to Dahlonega, GA and got some breakfast at a little place called The Corner Kitchen. The guys were nice enough to let me use their restroom and as I was nursing my coffee, Lee got us a couple of bottles of water and added re-hydration packs to them. Fortunately, the stuff started working and I started feeling better by the time we got going again. After we got on the highway, headed South, Lee broke off to go visit his dad, and I continued on. I was headed to Alabama to see my wife, who was visiting her mom in southwest Alabama. As I got closer to Atlanta, I started seeing weather alerts on the highway signs, warning that damaging thunderstorms were raking across central and south Georgia. I stopped for gas in Atlanta and checked the weather forecast and, sure enough, the conditions were outright dangerous for a motorcyclist. I decided to head west to try and skirt around the storms and, oddly enough, I made it all the way to Birmingham, AL without running into anything more than a few short sprinkles of rain. 

I stopped at Buc-ee's in Leeds, AL and shed my rain gear, then grabbed a brisket sandwich before deciding to take the back roads down to Mobile to avoid the rain. By taking that route, I was able to successfully avoid the rain, but it did add a few extra hours to my trip. I ended up making it to my mother-in-law's house, just before 8 pm Monday night. I stayed the night in Alabama and took my wife and her mom to lunch the next day. We had a nice day together, then I headed back home later in the afternoon, managing to avoid the storms all the way back. By the time I pulled back in to my garage on Tuesday evening, my Road King had almost 1,600 more miles on it, than it did when I left on Saturday morning. 

Video highlights

This trip was an important one because, not only, was it the first time in over a decade that me and my "brother-from-another-mother" had ridden together, it was also Lee's first time riding in the Appalachian mountains. While there are thousands of miles of great motorcycling roads in the U.S. of A., The Tail of the Dragon is known, around the world for it's 318 curves in 11 miles and riders from across the globe come to the United States just to ride it. So, to commemorate the occasion, I put together a little video highlights of the trip, to accompany the story you just read. 

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed making it. If nothing else, I hope it can be an inspiration for you to live your best life, take time for your friends, ride safely so you can get back to your family and, as always, make good choices.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

2023 Law Enforcement Ride- Gulf Coast

 2023 Law Enforcement Ride

Recently, I was asked if I could help with planning a group ride from the local Harley-Davidson dealership, along a scenic route and back to the dealership for a cookout and some good ole fashioned motorcycling camaraderie. The ride was billed as a "Law Enforcement Ride" and it would have a law enforcement escort from start to finish. As a passionate motorcycle enthusiast, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to help out.

The ride

The ride started at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Harley-Davidson Dealership at 10:30 am on Saturday, July 1st. After a quick safety briefing, the group of over 20 riders and several classic cars headed out, escorted by the Gulfport Police Department's and Harrison County Sheriff's Department's Motor Units. With the Motormen stopping traffic and leading the way, the riders pulled out of the dealership on their journey along the scenic South Mississippi route. Once underway, the riders never had to stop, making for a fun, safe and easy ride. The route took us from the dealership, north into some beautiful backroads in the country, then back southbound to the gorgeous white sand beaches on US90. 

We headed over toward the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Jones Park, where we took a break under one of the pavilions, with snacks and drinks graciously provided by MS Gulf Coast H-D. After our short break from the South Mississippi sun, we headed back over to US90, and pointed our headlights eastbound. We made an easy ride along the coastal highway with the a nice coastal breeze keeping us cool in the summer sun, then we headed north on I-110 up to the sleepy town of D'Iberville. We took the exit and headed along some nice backroads, all the way back to the dealership, where the good folks there had the grill going, an inflatable water slide set up and live music playing. We all hung out at the shop for a couple of hours, enjoying the free food and drinks, making a couple (or more) purchases of swag and getting to know some of our local boys in blue that kept us safe on our ride. It was a genuinely good time for all.

Video of the ride

While I'm not usually a fan of group rides, I really enjoyed this one. My wife, Mrs. MotoWriter, was on the bike with me, filming and taking photos for the dealership's awesome marketing manager, Alyssa and, of course, I had my GoPro mounted to the engine guard of the MotoWriter Road King. The ride was fun, easy and full of good people and followed up with good food, camaraderie and a few new friends made. I couldn't help but have a little fun with the video I made, adding some classic theme songs to the soundtrack. It's not a long video, so take a few minutes to check it out by clicking here. If you like it, let me know by giving it a thumbs up.

Until next time, Ride safe and make good choices, MotoReaders!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

New stuff is on the way...

New content is coming soon!

Hello loyal MotoReaders! I hope you've all been doing great and riding your motorcycles as often as your busy schedules will allow! I know it's been way too long since I posted, so I wanted to chime in and tell you that I have a bunch of new stuff that will be coming soon! 

I've been extremely busy at my "payin' job" and have barely had any time for myself, but in the limited amount of time that I have been able to carve out for myself, I've done my best to make every minute of it count. 

What's coming up?

Well, let's see... just to name a few:
  • a long-overdue trip to the mountains with my brother from another mother (with video); 
  • a local ride to support our heroes in blue (with video); 
  • an educational trip to the Harley-Davidson birthplace (with photos); 
  • first rides (Pan America and the new Nightster Special);
  • learning to teach new riders;
  • and, I might even have one or two "life advice" pieces for you to ponder. 
Not to mention, for those of you who keep up with my youtube channel and have been waiting for my "Janus review video", it's in the works and I hope to be able to publish it soon.

Thanks for sticking around

For all of you who have stayed with me and continued to check in- I want to offer a since THANK YOU! When I logged in today, I looked at my blog stats over the past few months since I've been on this little hiatus and I was genuinely touched by what I saw since my last post:

Over 7,000 site visits from MotoReaders in more than 19 countries!

When I first started this blog, I just wanted a way to get some of my creative thoughts, ideas and occasional opinions out of my head and into the world, in a way that I could offer them to anyone that might want, or need, to read them. I wanted to give anyone that stumbled across my little corner of the interweb an opportunity to read something fun, positive and maybe even a little inspiring in a world so full of angst, anger, fear and negativity. 

While just over 50,000 site visits since I went live in April 2020 might not seem like much to some people, for your, very humble, MotoWriter, it's incredible. That's a helluva lot more than I ever expected and I'm honored that you took, and still take, the time out of your busy lives to read my words. 

So, with all sincerity- Thank you.

Ride safe, make good choices and check back soon for some new stories!