29 September 2001

SE Ohio Moto/Camping

I welcomed morning because the sun brought warmth and let me sleep a couple more hours comfortable. I finally joined the world around 9:30, really late for camping. After a bit of deliberation the seven campers rolled out to the Park Lodge for a late breakfast.

When returned people had started showing up. After a shopping trip into town for late night munchies (and booze, we thought) most of the people we were expected had rolled into the camp ground. A brief inspection of the booty revealed that the suspiciously cheap bottle of Ron Caribbean Rum was not what it appeared to be. I went to the only visible liquor store in town (a drive thru, nonetheless) and asked for a fifth of Bacardi Light. I got a strange look and "I don't think we have that...". "Rum?" I asked. The attendant disappeared and return with Mr. Caribbean which turns out to be diluted rum, only 20% alcohol. Unacceptable. Well, this would have to be dealt with later as it was nearly time to tackle some twisties.

The kernel that got this whole trip started were a couple guys talking about highway 555 in SE Ohio. Riding this road was the main plan for the day. We rode out highway 78 known as the "Rim of the World" and it was a wonderful road to ride. We passed more than a few tweaked Mazdas (some Miata Club was meeting in the same area) on our way to the 555. The 555 was a narrower, windier, and less travelled road than 78, perfect for our purposes. Our group kept speed to between 45 and 55 mph, most cars would probably be doing 35. We weren't pushing too hard, but the road presented some challenges for us. Aside from the many blind hills and curves (good and bad all at the same time) we could find sprays of gravel from the driveways and back roads that intersected the 555.

For those of you that don't ride, gravel really isn't too pleasant of a thing to go over on a street motorcycle. Gravel roads can be dealt with, you just have to take it easy and plan further ahead. But patches of gravel on a paved road just suck. If you ride over a rock or two while taking a corner that may separate enough of your tire from the road that the whole thing will break loose and slide or hop. Your best on this road it to try to hang out in one of the two tire tracks as more gravel has been clear away by cars there than anywhere else. I had a lot of fun on the road--I love riding in a group-- but a couple people had some problems. Several people broke their back tires loose which is enough to raise your pulse. My friend JP got into a bit of a tank-slapper but pulled gassed out of it, and one guy had a shorts-changer as he skidded across the road and up through someone's lawn. I didn't see it, but apparent he did a good job of keep the bike straight and upright. After replacing the pink flamingos he was good to go.

The road calmed down after our first stop. It was still pleasant to ride but no longer as much of a challenge. We made it down to the Ohio River and then made up a route for the trip back that luckily was pretty nice. After our third stop we were probably 15 miles from camp and I decided it was time to deal with the Ron Caribbean issue. I asked a gas station worked where I could buy real liquor. The closest state run liquor store was 2 towns away. A small loop out of the way and entirely worth it. My new friend Bill G. Jr. saw great value in my decision to split away from the group and joined me. In Nelsonville we found the Pit Stop with a great selection of booze and wine. I grabbed a liter of Bacardi Light for Bekah and me and a pint of Dewars for Jon. Bill G. picked up some drinky treats for himself and his father.

The large group of us headed back to the Lodge as it seemed to be the only restaurant open within 15 miles. Our mere presence seemed to annoy our server but he did well enough. One of the highlights of the trip was riding back to the campsite. It was a bright night with a nearly full moon in the east and the air was clear and crisp. I was 4 or 5 bikes from the front and I could watch the evenly-spaced bikes ahead of me dip, climb, and lean across the road, casting a white spray from their headlights. Perfect.

Back at the campsite Tim's wife had brought wood for a fire in her truck and the group corralled picnic tables around the fire pit. After our nightly visit from the park ranger doing his duty (he was really nice but wanted to make sure we knew which rules we were breaking and tried to assure that we didn't get too loud, despite the deserted nature of the place) we kicked back and got to know each other. I spent most of the night drinking my rum&coke&rums and getting to know Tim (referred to as "Flash" due to an electrified parachuting incident--he's a professional skydiver) and his wife Kathy.

It was a good night and I slept well, in fact, I hardly remember even going to bed, but I woke up in my sleeping bag so I did well.

1C - Bill G Sr.'s BMW Adventure bike that he rode for 7 weeks through Alaska and the Yukon. How jealous am I? I'm updating my retirement plans now. 2C through 3C - Stop 1 after the most challenging part of the ride. 3B - a bus converted to haul a race car. 3C - I am the burglar alarm. 3D & 4A - Stop 3. 4B - Unofficial Stop 4, booze! 4C - the offender Ron Caribbean.
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