Rain, wind and more rain! That describes my day until mid afternoon, when I finally rode into better weather just as I crossed into Alabama. Leaving Ocala in the rain, I rode 625 miles today but it was a challenge. At least I did not encounter the hail that reportedly was falling in northern Florida.
I am pushing to get back to South Texas sometime late tomorrow, but that will depend on the weathe and the traffic in Houston. After a long ride today, I just stopped for the night in Denham Springs, LA. Although I am only a few miles northwest of New Orleans, I am not goiing to visit the city during this ride. Maybe sometime later in the year.
Tonight I am staying in a Best Western, which seems to be nice. Most often I stay in a Hampton Inn but tonight the Best Western was $60 less costly, so the decision was easy. Tomorrow I will depart early, by 7:00 AM. If all goes well I will be home by dark tomorrow.
Off to Pensacola at 7:00 AM, I planned to ride 600 miles. After only two hours, I was into steady but moderate rain. By 10:30 AM, the rain was heavy, with wind gusts. Wrecks on the highway and traffic coming almost to a standstill. I kept pulling into small towns and stopping for 30 minutes or so and then getting back on the road.
As I reached Ocala, I saw that the lightning was fierce and the side roads were flooding. I found a hotel and gave up. Only 250 miles but it was time to stop. I am safely in a dry and warm hotel. As is also my luck, within two hours the rain had stopped, the sky had cleared and I was itchng to ride. But no! My clothing, boots and gloves are soaked and I am going to wait until tomorrow and try again. The forecast is for some rain tomorrow, but surely it will not be like today.
Sunday morning was clear and warm. On the bike early, I was off on a pleasant Sunday morning ride to Punta Gordo to visit friends, Patti and Kenny Peek, Jacob's parents. Of course I also spent time with Adam and his finacee, Brandy. Kenny treated all of us to lunch at a great restaurant near the coast and while there, as always, he made a long overdue adjustment to my ST1100. How about that lunch plus motorcycle repairs!
I ended to spending the night in a hotel nearby and on Monday rode on to Naples to see my friends, John and Teresa Gribbin. Lunch at their club and then a grand tour of Old Naples. Dinner later that night in a nice quite restaurant in Naples and an early night to bed. Tuesday was much of the same and we had a wonderful time catching up with each other. Wednesday found us on a bus headed to a ball game (spring training) between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox. A rather slow and long game and the Rays won eight to 6.
We made an early night of it and I was up very early prepaing to depart. By 7:00 AM, the bike and I were on the road headed north, hopefully to Pensacola.
Bike Week is definitely a "Spectacle". But I seem to remember my mother's strong admonition to me and my brother to not make a spectacle of ourselves. I have not always followed that strong advice ------------but I certainly have never let it "hang out" like the bikers are this week in Daytona Beach. The most innovative and beautiful bikes parading throughout the city but most noticable on Main Street. Riders and co-riders dressed in leather, tatoos---some just barely dressed. And the noise, it is overpowering.
Thursday morning I departed Lake Mary in 39 F chill, headed to Jim Walkers Motorcycles in So. Daytona Beach. Dale, one of the mechanics, had located an Avon tire that would fit my bike. By 10:00 A.M. it was mounted and I was off to the International Motorcycle Show at Ocean Center. After fully touring the show, I made my way to Main Street and the 24 hour continous parade of Bikes. One hour later and I was off to a campground north of the city where the BMWMOA members were gathered. More Importantly, the Beemer Airhead Group had a gathering, large tent with a burning fireplace. Finally, I was back with folks that I both understood and appreciated. I spent the rest of Thursday with people who, like me love BMWs and long distance adventure riding.
Friday morning, I was off to attend the Motorcycle Auction in Deland. I ended up spending several hours at the Auction (great parts, tools and vintage bikes). Later in the day I went to a huge "swap meet" at the Flea Market in Daytona Beach.
By the end of the day, I felt overdosed on Bike Week and ended up spending the the day with an old and close friend, MCPO Bill Ray Humphrey., Ret. Billy and I go back some 36 years and it was great to be with this interesting and delightful old submariner. We are both well past our prime, but you would not know it by the stories we tell each other.
Early evening and I am in a nice hotel in Kissimmee. Tomorrow, I am heading south toward Naples with a stop to see other friends near Punta Gorda. And the weather. it is getting a bit warmer. I will be back riding for much of the day, which is my first interest.
Only 533 miles today in temperatures ranging from 39 F to a high of 46 F. The warmest temperature today was when I arrived tonight in Tallahassee to the tropical temperature of 46 degrees. Now I know why so many riders are trailering their bikes to Daytona.
Leaving Jennings, La this morning (in a light cold rain), I enjoyed the bayous, rivers, swamps and the beauty of Louisiana. Shortly after lunch, I arrived in Mississippi and quickly crossed both Mississippi and Alabama with the temperatures dropping steadily. Finally arriving in Florida, I came upon Escambia Bay and suddenly the wind picked up, blowing in gusts of about 40 MPH. Soon I was on the long bridge crossing Escambia Bay and the bike jerked and leaned sharply in the cold wind. Twice the rear end actually slid. I desperately need to replace the now slick rear Bridgestone.
Finally arriving in Tallahassee right at dark, I have a warm and nice room, and at a cost of only $40. The forecast for ;morning is 39 F and cloudy, but at least no rain. I should reach Daytona Beach by early afternoon. I am on a mission.......one new rear tire.