Monday, May 21, 2012

My weekend

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t post over the weekend (the autographed photo of the day was a robo-post timed to publish on Saturday morning) because I was in a Wifi/Sprint Data Service black hole in southeastern Kentucky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was my first time at the European Riders Rally, sponsored for the past 14 years by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Nashville (Tenn.) at Burkesville, Ky.

Besides being in a techno vacuum, Burkesville is in a dry county, which necessitates rides 14 miles south to a beer-selling convenience store just across the state line in Tennessee.

Burkesville is a little shy of 400 road miles from here. I left at 8:15 a.m. Friday and arrived about 3 p.m., startled to discover I was still in the Central Time Zone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe ended up with about 35 members of the Indianapolis BMW Club present which earned us the top club attendance award for the third consecutive years. Peggy Rose Garrison won the Long Distance Female Rider award.

I had Friday night dinner and Saturday morning breakfast at a café on Veterans Street that had great food at ridiculously low prices.

My grilled tenderloin sandwich with a mountain of home fries Friday evening was $5.50. Breakfast was 2 eggs over easy, a big sausage patty and two pieces of toast for only $3.25.

Since our rally fee ($40 in advance, $45 at the gate) included Saturday lunch and dinner, I ended up spending $16 and change on food for the entire trip. It OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAalso included a rally pin and a very nice long-sleeved t-shirt emblazoned with the rally logo. The only glitch was the misspelling of Burkesville on the rally pin. They got it right on the shirt.

(It’s not the first rally pin screw-up I’ve seen. The BMW MOA rally pin from 2006 put the rally in “Burilngton” Vermont.)

We were sitting around shooting the breeze before lunch Saturday when I asked if anyone had any thoughts about my ABS warning light flashing when I start my bike in the morning, then staying off if I re-start the engine a few miles later.

The consensus was that it was an early warning sign of a dying battery not having enough power to boot up the ABS circuitry until it had been charged from riding.

I called the service department of Bloodworth BMW Motorcycles in Nashville and Dave Bloodworth agreed that was the most likely cause. If I could get to their service department by 3 p.m., they could install a new battery for me, he said.

So I threw on my gear and hit the road. My Garmin Zumo GPS estimated my time of arrival at 2:44 p.m. as I rolled out of the rally grounds. But Garmin had no way of knowing about a funeral procession and miles and miles of yard sales around Lafayette, Tenn. And just as I closed in on the dealership, it started to rain.

I arrived at 3:10 p.m. and asked if I was totally screwed. I was not and they were happy to take my $247 for the battery, labor and (showing my gratitude – a shop t-shirt) before they closed at 4 p.m.

The ride back was equally hellish with some rain and a couple of miles-long construction backups. I arrived back at Burkesville about 7:10 p.m., exhausted and severely dehydrated – more dehydrated than I knew.

The Nashville Club ladies were cleaning up from the steak dinner, but found me a plastic knife and fork and set me up with a big steak and a serving of peach cobbler.

I’d stopped at the state line beer store and bought a six-pack of Busch beer, so I had libations for the evening. I drank three beers and then donated the rest, crawling off to bed about 9:30 p.m.

Nature failed to call me during the night and I awoke, drank three cups of coffee and packed without feeling the need to whiz. I also had a serious muscle cramp in my left thigh as I packed my Thermarest air mattress and my nearly 40-year-old North Face down sleeping bag crouched in my tent. I forced the restroom issue just to be safe before I hit the road. That is serious dehydration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was vexed to notice that my ABS warning light issue was still present when I fired the engine Sunday morning. I gassed at a convenience store on the downtown Burkesville square and headed out of town about 7:30 a.m., pausing a few miles south of town to photograph a barn with quilting graphic over the open door. I did a restart of the engine about 20 miles later and the ABS light went out and stayed out.

Wary of I-40 construction, I took state and U.S. highways down to Nashville and the interstate, logging 42 mpg on the first tank of gas. I stopped at a McDonald’s in Lafayette, Tenn. for a parfait-and-coffee breakfast and to do a quick blog entry. But my netbook had crashed, telling me it couldn’t find the config.sys file. (When I got home and consulted my computer mentor Tim Balough, we concluded the best fix was to wipe the SSD and reinstall Windows XP.)

I was home by 3 p.m., took a shower, had a bite to eat and hung my dew-soaked tent up to dry in the garage.

I had taken a Walmart folding chair that I bought at the 2010 Falling Leaf Rally, having finally learned that it’s damned uncomfortable not having a chair at a rally and not wanting to invest in the oh-so-stylish $139 Kermit Chair. I can buy a $19.99 Walmart chair at each of the next seven rallies and still be ahead of the game.

My Walmart chair, however, made it hard to see in my mirrors when lashed on top of my waterproof bag holding tent, sleeping bag and air mattress.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I left it standing forlornly next to the fire pit along with a couple of blue chairs which I’m sure were eventually packed and schlepped home. It’s my gift to Burkesville in gratitude for their hospitality.

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