The Entire Trip Route
I didn't post the last couple nights so this one will be from departure from Barbers to Valdosta in one day and from Valdosta home the final day.
We left Barbers about noon. Although I did not get out to ride around the area, we did take the "Mini Tail of the Dragon" on the way out of town. This is AL 25, or Dunavant Road, and leads southeast to US 231. It is a nice mountian ride through lush forests with nice twisties, and a hairpin that can catch you if you are not prepared. I polished the tip of my kickstand making the hard left around that turn. I have dragged a peg from time to time, but this was the first time any hard parts hit the road. I guess all the weight of my luggage made the difference. I escaped the hairpin unscathed, regardless, and we continued on our way to US 231.
It had grown cool and cloudy before we left Barbers, and now the rain set in. We had rain most of the day, but it was off and on, mostly light. The wind, however, was whipping. Numerous times I thought Old Faithful was cutting out, and I had to lower my head and listen to the motor from below the windscreen. Each time the engine was purring like it always does. What I thought was a clogged fuel line or carb turned out to be strong wind gusts, that hit in bursts and held me back, lowering my speed by 5 or more mph in an instant.
After US 231 we continued on US 280 out of the state of Alabama and into Georgia. 280 carried us to US 82 into Albany. From Albany we headed south on US 19 until we got to Thomasville and US 84. I got separated here from the group, making a turn I thought was to take me to Valdosta, but I turned too early. Discovering my mistake, I turned around and ended up catching back up with my friends in Quitman. At a gas station we said our goodbyes. They turned south towards Pinetta on GA 333, while I remained on 84 into Valdosta. A quick hop up I-75 got me to Exit 18, where I turned off and headed west for the last couple miles to my high school friend's place off GA 133, arriving about 9 pm.
My Georgia friends and I had a pleasant rest of the evening, chatting while I devoured a beautiful filet mignon that Julie had grilled for me. I had now gone without a shower or washing my hair for five days. When I realized how late it was, I figured I could go one more, especially considering that the forecast for tomorrow would make a mess of me anyway. The wind had beaten me so bad on this day that I abandoned posting the blog for the night. I was so exhausted I lay down on a mattress for the first time in almost a week and was instantly asleep.
Day Two and Return Home
I woke about 8 am after a comfortable night's sleep and spent about an hour chatting and drinking coffee with Julie and another friend, Lisa, and getting ready to head out for the last time. The forecast was grim, but I was determined to get back home today--Andrea has had enough single parent child care for a while--so off I went again pointing south, in full rain gear.
There was a huge tropical low swirling around north Florida, and on Monday I had the pleasure of riding through the heart of it. The wind was howling and soon my boots were filled with water from the unrelenting torrential rain. I headed south out of Valdosta on I-75 a little ways until I could catch US 129 south. I took 129 to Branford, where I took a break from the wet and the wind and had a cup of coffee and a hot Cuban sandwich in a nice little shop downtown named "Coffee Clutch."
A bit warmer and with renewed energy, I headed back out into the wild weather following US 27 south. I made the poor choice of following 27 all the way to Haines City, just north of Lake Wales, forgetting how many traffic lights and how much traffic would be stacked up in Ocala and down to Leesburg. I lost a lot of time in that stretch, probably only averaging 30 miles per hour.
After Leesburg, speeds and the traffic opened up, and I had a fairly pleasant ride as the clouds started to disperse and from time to time I could see the sun peaking through. The winds slowly abated. I turned left off 27 to jog over to US 17, which rolls right into Lake Wales, 20 miles or so further along.
I arrived in our driveway about 5:30 pm, and the kids ran out to see what I had brought them (T-shirts from Barbers). I was worn out, and of course, family time came first, so the blog had to wait one more day, until now.
Here are some of the stats from this road trip, now that I have had a day to figure everything up:
Longest Ride--680 miles, close to 18 hours
I had used Startron (Starbrite brand of additive for ethanol fuels) and was amazed at the improvement of fuel consumption. I usually average about 54 miles per gallong but with the Startron added (less than a cap per tankful of gas) and I was getting well into the 60s.
Average mpg was 65.
Low of 52 mpg in the mountains between Franklin and Maggie Valley, while running at close to 70 mph.
High of around 70 mpg.
Total Fuel Cost--$87 (5 cents a mile)
Bike Trouble--one blown fuse
By being frugal, camping, and eating smart the total for all expenses for the six day ride were $392, and that includes $62 for souvenirs.
Now, to beat the inevitable post-ride funk...
"Ride Your Own Ride."