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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Days 6 & 7 | Trip Officially Back ON!!!

Mom's view as I headed out to explore the world...
Date:  Dec 18th, 2013
Overview:  Atlanta >> Santa Rosa Island
Mileage:  412
Mileage since leaving Denver:  2,163
Total mileage on bike:  5,164

So, I was able to accomplish what I needed to in Atlanta.  It was strange, I spent a little over a month there and while in retrospect it seemed to go by quickly, at the same time it felt like an eternity (possibly due to everything that happened while I was in town).  Tim's passing was very emotional and hard, but it definitely taught me some things.  

First, you should definitely grab life by the balls...  truly live!  You never know when your health and body may betray you.  Second, family and friends are ultimately the most important thing you can acquire and nurture.  Tim had hundreds of people come visit during the final days, and it was a testament to his character and the good-hearted man that he was.  I thought often about who would show up for me if I was in a similar situation, and unfortunately I don't think the number would be near as high.  Not that a man should be judged by how many people show up at his funeral, but it just made me realize that I need to strive to be a better person to people, and work hard on cultivating and improving the relationships that I have.  

Rolled up to Santa Rosa Island at sunset...  Perfect
My plan to get to the Mexico border is as follows.  First, I wanted to dive south to warm up.  It was 34.9 degrees when I left Atlanta at 8am.  My buddy Greg offered to put me up for a couple of nights in Pensacola, which was an offer I couldn't refuse.  Greg lives in a high rise resort/spa complex, so I feel like I'm on vacation while here.  It is incredibly nice with a stellar view of the ocean and my own guest room w/ shower.  THANKS GREG!!!  From here I'll head to New Orleans tomorrow and plan to either use Couchsurfing or stay in a hostel.  Following a night in New Orleans, I've been invited to stay with a fellow ADV Rider ( named Joe in Houston.  We've never met in person and he has offered his place with open arms and has even set up a send off of sorts w/ several of his riding buddies.  I look forward to picking his brain since he has done some similar travel and share a few beers w/ him and his crew.  It is amazing how tight this community can be, and can come together with stories and laughter simply by a shared passion for motorbikes.  After staying w/ Joe for a night in Houston, I'll make my way to the Brownsville/Matamoros border crossing and will pass through early the following morning.  

They have all kinds of bikes at BMW Pensacola
The ride itself yesterday was fairly uneventful.  I meandered two lane for pretty much the entire route.  I was able to listen to great music and ponder life.  Although a long ride, the 400 miles ticked off relatively quickly and before I knew it I had arrived.  I'm drawn to the ocean, and at first chance I parked the bike (almost got stuck in deep sand - but that's another story) and walked over to splash some Atlantic water through my hair and on my face.  It was cold and refreshing.  As I looked up, the sun was setting and at that moment I had a real sense that I've actually set off on my grand adventure.  It was an amazing moment that I'll cherish forever.  For some reason the trip hasn't really had a chance to sink in.  However, at that moment it all started to come together and I realized that I'm really making this happen.  I'm guessing when I cross into Mexico it will also sink in real fast. 

Dave getting me all fixed up @ BMW Moto Pensacola
I had a bit of vibration from the front end of the bike at low speeds during the ride.  I changed the oil and spooned on new rubber prior to departure (Heidenau K60's) and was concerned that maybe I bent the buttery soft garbage stock rims with one of my tire irons or something.  I peered over the front end and side of the bike while riding and it seemed to me that the rim was straight, but that the tire itself was a bit wonky.  This morning I randomly rode over and showed up at BMW Motorcycles Pensacola to see if maybe they could check to see if the wheel was out of round.  I pulled up and was greeted outside of the service center by David.  We chatted for a bit and he agreed to help me out.  He was intrigued by my upcoming trip, and wanted to help any way he could.  He pulled off the front wheel, and after ensuring that the bearings were good and the spokes were all tight, put it on the balancer.  Turns out the wheel wasn't 100% true, but decent enough.  My suspicions were confirmed though and the carcass of the Heidenau itself is a bit 'off'.  Dave balanced the tire/wheel with a bit of weight, which helped out on the ride back.  He also noticed that we needed to retorque the steering head...  something I wouldn't have even thought to check, and for that I'm very grateful as well.  I had some great conversations with Richard and Tod as well in the shop.  Everyone there is incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and true motorcycle enthusiasts.  In fact, Jim was the first person to notice the Isle of Man stickers on my bike.  

Long story short, if you are in the area and need a fantastic shop for bikes, parts, accessories, and/or service, head over.  These guys are great!!!

That's it for now...  I look forward to more riding to/through Mississippi and Louisiana tomorrow, as well as an evening listening to some live jazz and sampling the cuisine and best that New Orleans has to offer.  

See everyone soon, 

~ D
Tod, Mr. Happy, Jason, Richard, and Dave from BMW Pensacola

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