2:30 AM: Eyes inexplicably snap open. Roll over, pray for last moments of sleep before the alarm goes off.
3:20 AM: Still awake, turn off pre-set alarm for 3:30. Go downstairs to get suited up for the day.
3:30 AM: Drink the first cup of caffeinated coffee I’ve had in two weeks. Sweet, delicious, caffeine…
3:35 AM: Load the tool kit on the bike, install the tank bag, and fill up my camelbak.
3:40 AM: look at outside temperature. Zip up all the vents on my gear; rip the zipper pull assembly completely off my favorite riding pants. Thinking, “This is not a good start to a really long day”.
3:45 AM: Skip checking tire pressure as I’m now running late. Crank up the bike, turn on Denali D4 LED Flamethrowers, head north to the meet point.
4:08 AM: Rosie isn’t fat enough to trigger the stop light at the end of the highway exit ramp; make a right turn followed by an immediate U-turn.
4:10 AM: Arrive at the Flying J truck stop in Vandalia, OH; check tire pressure as I’m now five minutes early.
4:17 AM: Buddy Rick pulls into the gas station. Get “Witness Paperwork” squared away. Talk strategies and get SENA communicators hooked up. Hit the john one last time.
4:38 AM: Top off the tank for the first time stamped receipt, gas pump says “See Cashier for Receipt”. Thinking, “Again… this isn’t a good start to a really long day”.
4:40 AM: Time stamped receipt in hand, head east on I-70 toward Columbus.
5:58 AM: 92 Miles down, filled up at truck stop in Millersport, OH (wherever that is). Had to pee already, vow to lay off the camelbak for a bit.
6:15 AM: Sunrise over Ohio farm country; the fog on the cornfields is gorgeous.
6:32 AM: Shattering my previous opinion of Interstate 70, it doesn’t suck once you get east of Zanesville, OH, it’s almost “pretty”.
6:54 AM: Didn’t lay off camel back, fortunately stopped to fill up at the first “corner” in Cambridge, OH. 148 Miles down; excited to get on I-77, as it definitely does not suck.
7:50 AM: Cross the state line into West, by God, Virginia. I love West Virginia, can’t wait to ride non-interstate roads in the mountaineer state again.
8:31 AM: Another fuel stop, this time in Ripley, WV. 248 miles down, still comfortable and having a good time.
9:18 AM: Entering Charleston, WV; I’m really not a city guy, but Charleston is a beautiful city, the gold dome on the capitol building is impressive.
9:33 AM: Toll booth attendants do not like it when motorcycles pull up double file. Sorry, here’s four dollars, you have yourself a nice day, thanks…
9:43 AM: I-77 is awesome, mountains and twisty pavement, I could do this all day.
10:07 AM: More gas in Beckley, WV; 336 miles down.
11:04 AM: Enter East River Mountain Tunnel. Thinking, “Holy crap… this tunnel goes on forever…”.
11:06 AM: Cross into Virginia, checked off another box, “Ride to a new state”.
11:28 AM: Gas stop, Wytheville, VA; 411 miles down. Eat a Clif bar to avoid getting hangry. Rick shares a bag of beef jerky; really glad I brought this guy, obviously not his first rodeo. The Roads are wet and the clouds look heavy… really wish I wouldn’t have broken that zipper.
11:57 AM: Rosie uses her super power… it’s now raining.
12:17 PM: Fortunately, rain didn’t last long; the low clouds in the Virginia Mountains are actually really beautiful.
12:21 PM: Cross into North Carolina. I-77 starts to get a little “straighter”, ho hum…
1:04 PM: Gas Stop in Statesville, NC. 504 miles, made it to the halfway point. Eat another Clif bar, fill out log sheet, and file receipts; same old spiel. Really getting into a rhythm at this point. Excited to get on I-40 headed west.
1:10 PM: Almost get on eastbound ramp… Rick reminds me we’re headed west. Fortunately someone is looking at the GPS.
2:45 PM: The Smoky Mountains are simply majestic, thinking, “I really need to move…”
2:49 PM: Gas stop in Asheville, 598 miles down. Eat more beef jerky, despite still fighting a piece that has been stuck in my teeth since noon. Look at Radar… probably going to get wet again, hopefully not in the twisty section of I-40 along the Pigeon River.
3:30 PM: Stuck in traffic jam on I-40; which explains why Waze was telling me to take the exit 2 miles ago. Circumvent gridlock with a 6 mile detour on service streets. Waze is awesome.
4:04 PM: Found the rain again… in the twisty section… along the Pigeon River.
4:05 PM: Probably should have closed all those jacket vents 2 miles ago, when it wasn’t raining.
4:07 PM: Cars are terrified by curves combined with rain. Thinking, “Get out of my way! These Shinko 705’s are the bomb!”
4:10 PM: Out of the rain, green flag racing resumes. Set the day’s speed record.
4:14 PM: Thinking, “is that the curvy tunnel that screws with you?”
4:15 PM: Thinking, “look through the curve. LOOK THROUGH THE CURVE!”
4:16 PM: Thinking, “I-40 is unquestionably the twistiest, most scenic highway I’ve ever been on”.
4:18 PM: Cross the state line into Tennessee.
4:33 PM: Pass a string of historical vehicles. Impressed with the quality of restoration on each of them. I should probably stick to motorcycles, I can’t afford that hobby either…
5:00 PM: 718 miles down, gas stop in Knoxville, TN, the last “corner”. Realize receipt doesn’t list the business address. Buy a candy bar and a Gatorade inside, food receipt also has no address. Explain to attendant I need an address on a receipt, he looks at me like I have two heads. Step outside, the other attendant on break is laughing with my buddy Rick; she returns with new gas receipts with hand written address, names, and phone numbers as witnesses for our ride. Calamity averted; faith in southern hospitality restored.
5:59 PM: Soaking up more Smoky Mountain scenic views.
6:00 PM: Monkey butt…
6:13 PM: Names of Appalachian road signs are hilarious (i.e. “Stinking Creek” and “Big Bone Lick”).
6:24 PM: Riding over Jellico Mountain. Mini vans think they’re fast when they’re going downhill.
6:28 PM: Cross into Kentucky, the end of gorgeous scenery nears.
6:49 PM: Gas stop in Corbin, Kentucky, less than 200 miles to go. A little tired, but I see the end in sight; starting to get “pumped”.
7:26 PM: Say goodbye to the mountains as we pass Barea Kentucky.
7:47 PM: Bored. Right on cue…
8:32 PM: Last gas stop in Sadieville, KY; 120 miles to go. Appreciative of so many people wishing us a safe ride at the gas station. Butt hurts, but ready to crush the “home stretch”.
8:54 PM: Watch the sunset over the Bluegrass state. Thinking, “it’s gonna get sporty through Cincinnati after dark on a Saturday night…”
9:27 PM: Florence Y’all!
9:39 PM: Cross into Ohio; 63 miles to go. The Cincy skyline is awesome at night.
10:12 PM: The Ohio State Patrol is absolutely everywhere; we pass more cops in the last 30 miles than we’ve passed in lass 900.
10:25 PM: It’s official, Dayton drivers are the WORST! (Note: Keep right, except to pass)
10:31 PM: Receipt printed and tucked into my wallet. Rosie has done it, 1,033 miles in 17 hours and 52 minutes. “Complete and Iron Butt Ride” checked off the Moto Bucket List, now to go home, get some real food, and finally sleep. Thinking, “Who wants Waffle House?!?”
10:32 PM: Start planning 1,500 mile trip to Key West…