Steve's (Sidehack's) Trip

(July 15th through 23rd, 2003)

(Steve W's story in his own words)


OBJECTIVE: To my brother’s in Ohio then to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Races in Lexington, Ohio for a camping weekend.

DAY ONE, 15 JULY:

The bike was ready...had been for a week. Packed the night before. My wife looked at me standing in the garage at 6AM and read me like a book. She asked “are you dreading the trip?” and I had to be honest (you’ve got to be honest when you’re not any good at lying). “Yes, a little” was all I could say. Anyway, I broke one of the motorcycle commandments that morning. “Don’t ride unless you’re mentally prepared.” (I’m sure some wonder about me and mental anyway). After an hour on the road I was ready (talk about being behind the power curve). “I’M GOING TO DO THIS!!” Up through Dothan, Eufaula to Columbus, Georgia, 185 North to 27. Rome, Georgia and a oops, yes...I’m a Sandie, wrong road, 41 North instead of 411. Checked the map, I can get there from here! Eventually got to Madisonville, Tenn. Stayed in the motel Joe Joe advised ,Motor Inns of America ,$35.00 a night. 509 miles, 10 hours the first day. Why did I push so hard? The “Dragon” had been calling for the last 200 miles. The Hardies next door to the motel, sucks.. That is all I’m going to say about that.

DAY TWO:

6AM up, packed and on the way to the Cherohalla Skyway. Oh yea, that’s 5AM our time. 30 minute ride to the entrance of the park. Nice and cool out feels great, the day before the heat was ungodly. Entering the Cherohalla I realized why they have so many accidents, the scenery is beautiful, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road. Big sweeping curves, the road is in just great shape.
After about 5 miles I realized I couldn’t see...fog. As always, it wasn’t bad at first, but soon it was to the point of slowing to a crawl. No traffic on the mountain and I can’t see 10 yards in front of me. Felt like a twilight zone episode. Next thing I know I’m out of it and hauling butt again. Then I realized I was above it and would have to go through it on the way down. But what a good ride up and down round and round. The Valkyrie loved it. Third and fourth gear right on the strong part of the torque curve. Back in the fog this time it was so bad I just stopped, getting vertigo, couldn’t fix my eyes on anything. Took about a 7 minute break, back on the road, bet I didn’t ride ½ a mile and was in the clear. 33 miles of great road.
Next time I won’t start so early. On to the “Dragon”. Stopped at the resort on the south end of the dragon and talked to a few folks. One couple was on a Gold Wing trike traveling the country with there wiener dog! I don’t think my cat would go for it. The Dragon: 318 curves in 11 miles, it sounds scarier than it is. The road is in perfect condition, the curves had a slight bank to them and if you’re not being pushed and can ride your own speed it is a blast! If you ride a cruiser you’re going to drag pegs, cause the road encourages you to slide up to the front of the seat and power through the corners. It’s better than...you know...one of George’s all you can eat buffets.
Ok, it was time to leave this garden of Eden, had to get to Ohio, the Buckeye state, the land of (put your hand over your heart) “Woody Hayes”!!! Fastest way was I-75, I went from heaven to motorcyclist hell. They must have launched every semi in Knoxville. They flat beat the crap out of me for the first hour. One thing I did learn is the value of a set of ear plugs. Finally made it to the bypass of Cincinnati, around onto a nice rural Ohio road, 127. Problem I had was being on the bike for over 10 hours and my wrist was locked to seventy five. Got to my brother’s (Greg) in one piece, the Honda never missed a beat. 492 miles, 12 hours.

DAY THREE:

Rode the local area getting the last minute items for the camping trip. Just a note about my brother. First he’s the last of my immediate family, I’m 17 years older (yes Chris, he’s 34). We never grew up together, I joined the AF at 19, when he was 2. He had to listen to mom and dad say why can’t you be more like your brother his whole childhood, and we’re the best of friends. Doesn’t make sense. That night I cooked one of my specialities, teriyaki rib eyes. Two reasons for the meal, one I feel a person should pay their own way. If Greg’s wife was going to put up with me, the least I could do was buy and cook supper. Second reason, I knew we would be eating crap for the next 2 ½ days camping.

DAY FOUR:

On the road to mid Ohio, Greg did a great job packing his Concours, 8-man tent, cooler, 2 air mattresses, sleeping bag, 2 folding chairs and clothes. My load was small, tools and repair kits, sleeping bag, clothes, pillow and a blankie. Never leave home without your pillow and blankie. First stop Bob Evans for breakfast, remember about eating crap...well Bob tried to kill me. After eating and on the road 20 minutes I thought my lower GI track was going to explode. Every bump in the road brought tears to my eyes. Emergency stop at a gas station. All I can say is I wouldn’t want to be the next guy to use the facilities and no more Bob Evans.
On to the raceway, Greg was leading. He knew the route well. Caught up with 4 people on crotch rockets going to the races, waved as they made a wrong turn, saw them about 3 hours later at the track...hmmm, potential Sandies! The track, mid Ohio is out in rural Ohio 2 miles from Lexington. Two and a half mile road course. They also set up an MX track in a farmers field, racing on grass the way moto X was first done by the Europeans. It was one o’clock when we found a nice flat spot for the tent, about in the same spot we did the AMA super bike races last year, boy was that a zoo.

Hoping the people at this event are a little more civil. Weird thing about this spot was that it had a plastic fence running around three sides. The area was right in the middle of the rest of the camp ground and the size of a football field. A few other people camping in it, no signs saying reserved, so what the hell, we pitched the tent, set up camp. The whole time you could hear the racers on the road track practicing, sounded like a bunch of pissed off bee’s, I was getting pumped..

Off to check out the track and venders. These guys practicing were flat hauling the mail and doing it on old bikes that in some peoples minds belong in a museum. On to the venders/swap meet. One and a half hours of looking at bikes in every condition and, well, you name a year and a model and it was there. Like I said 1 ½ hours and we didn’t make a dent in the swap meet. Found out later they had 900 venders and we looked at everyone over the course of the weekend. Supper that night was pizza. Got it from the Domino’s golf cart driving guy. About 20 yards away was a camp site with 5 moto Guzzi’s one with a Velorex sidecar. Had a good talk with them. The Guzzi was an automatic called a convert. The cool thing about this whole thing was if you saw a bike at a camp site you wanted to learn about or just say I owned one of those, you walked in, asked who’s and what year and you just made a new friend.

9:30PM I called my wife on the cell phone and said “Listen to this”, holding the phone in the air. She said she couldn’t hear anything. Exactly!!! Probably 2,000 people camping and it was so quiet you could a cricket fart. What a difference from the superbike races of last year.

DAY 5:

Whole day of racing and looking for old bikes I’d owned even found a 1967, 175 Bridgestone, the third bike I owned. 1970 Bultaco matador, bike #4, and my last dirt bike, 1972 DKW in which the guy brought to race in the Moto-X 125 class. By that night the campground was full, at least 3,000 folks. Found out from the neighbor who showed up that day with an Ariel, a 500 BSA and a Triumph, which he rolled out of the back of his motor home, that we were camped out in the moto-x paddock (garage area, in this case you brought your own garage) Oh well, no one asked us to leave so we didn’t.

That night we partied with the Guzzi folks for awhile. They had live entertainment, a guitar player and banjo picker. It was good until they started playing that cry in your beer stuff. So, Greg and I check out some of the other camps. Got invited into a camp with 9 mopeds, no kidding, great folks. We joined them and watched On Any Sunday part 2. After the movie, back to the Guzzi Camp. 10:30 everyone down and out except two, one guy was trying to build a fire big enough to be seen by sky lab. Then the two most important guys in the camp showed up, introduced themselves, shook hands all around. When asked what they did, they were the guys in charge of emptying the port-a-johns. I love meeting celebrities.

DAY 6:

Ahhh the smell of 2 stroke exhaust in the morning. Motocross day 7AM and the last minute tinkering the wing dinging is music. Brings back great memories. I want to camp in the paddock next year. Bratwurst and sauerkraut for breakfast beat the heck out of Bob Evans, no after affects anyway. Walked around the road track watching the races. If the track outside of Birmingham, Barber Motor sports Park, is as good as Mid Ohio, I’ll have to go. Party over, time to head back to Greg’s.

DAY 7:

Woke up to rain, went back to sleep

DAY 8:

Tuesday, overcast. Hit the road, 127 South to Cincinnati bypass. This time no interstate. Got off on 50 to Indiana to 421 South to Frankfort Ky. Early on 421 I rounded a blind corner and found a doe standing in my lane. This was 10:30AM, don’t they ever sleep! 60 miles of twisties to 127 South. This road turned into an endurance run. I rode 127 South all the way to Chattanooga, TN. The only flat place was around Danville, Ky. 445 miles and it flat wore me out...11 hours.

DAY 9:

Wednesday, 27 South to 185, then 431, 231, 90, 285, and home. Rained on and off until I got to 185, then it got so hot I had to shed the rain gear, wished it would rain some more. Finally got to 90 last gas stop. Not quite, make it to Mossy Head and my butt needed a break. Walked around in circles for awhile and back at it. Pulled up in the driveway and my son-in-law is setting in the garage watching speed channel. All he has to say is “your bike is a mess and there’s no beer in the fridge”. 438 miles 9 hours, total miles 2,286.

One of the things I came up with that really helped was I wrote the road numbers on the inside edge of the right mirror with an erasable marker. Next day wiped off and wrote the new days numbers. Would I do this again? You bet your bippie...and I am. But Greg and I have a little different plan for the vintage races, just wait and see.

Sidehack (Steve W)


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Last revised: July 31, 2003
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