The credo of the Floribama Riders is good wholesome clean fun, at a spirited pace. We are a non-profit organization organized in July 1995 to provide an outlet for sport-tourer enthusiasts. If you ride with your arms outstretched, if your body aches after several hours in the saddle, if you like to lean into your turns, or if you like to meet bugs up close and personal, this club is for you. We are now an established club with over 230 members, organized into four chapters:
- Birmingham, AL (Vulcan Chapter)
- Georgia (Matatoro Chapter)
- Pensacola, FL (Coastal Chapter)
- Tallahassee, FL (Fat Arse Chapter)
Funny conversation with a credit card representative in the Fraud Early Warning department.
Rep: "Thank you for notifying us of your travels, sir. That explains the discrepancies. Are you enjoying your trip?"
Me: "Hell yeah, I'm enjoying my trip. I'm riding dirt bikes all over Idaho and spending like crazy with my credit card!"
The last two days have produced some perfect rides. I have hooked up with some pretty regular riding partners in Mark, Scott and Stan, and we have arrived at the consensus that we can deviate from the standard, very aggressive route without feeling any sense of regret. Stan's son, Ryan, laid out the routes to provide a variety of off-road terrain and a good workout each day. The rides seem average around 200 miles on dirt roads, which is quite a distance when you do it day after day for eight days.
Day 10: Anaconda, MT to Salmon, ID (180 miles)
Day 7: Challis, ID to Elk City, ID (318 miles)
I woke up early with Greg and headed out to my DR650 that had caused so much trouble the night before. The combination of the self-threading oil plug and the blue RTV silocone seemed to be holding. The motor still leaked oil, but the level seemed to be holding. I went over the bike with my ratchet, tightening every bolt I could reach. I especially tried tightening the banjo bolt on an oil return line in the hopes of stemming the ecological disaster that emmanated from the motor, but that did not work. Oil still seeped out of the motor, attracting dust until the result looked like mud.
Mark, Stan, Scott and I had agreed to ride together the night before. Mark showed concern about the mileage, and he wanted to leave at 8 or even 7 AM. I liked the concept of 8, but Stan wanted to leave at 9. We compromised on 8:30, and Mark shook each of our hands, looked in our eyes and said, "I'll see you tomorrow, ready to roll at 8:30."
The first night, I roomed with Dan, and the three elder statesmen of the group slept in the next room. Evidently, B.D. snores heavily, but Dan put in a solid effort as well. With all the sleep I got in the car, I stayed up for a few hours to wrap up an issue for work. We left Cape Girardeau around 8:30 and drove a long, 700 mile day through Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.
Day 3: Nebraska, wrong turn into Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho (700 miles)
Great weekend.... perhaps the most intense racing I have ever experienced. We sat through Ike as it rolled through and dumped several inches of rain with sustained winds of 70 mph. Not gusts, but flat out wind of 70. And they RACED in that. Holy cow. David Crandall and I had seats against the mesh fencing at the top of our section, completely exposed to the elements. Wet, wind whipped, and completely soaked, we enjoyed every minute of the action.
So, how does one go about riding 2200 miles of dirt roads, trails, and gravel with the idea to put as much mileage under your butt as you can without any asphalt on a motorcycle?
Last summer, one of the FloribamaRiders club members posted a link to a website called the Adventure Rider site. On this site, I was introduced to a couple of middle-aged guys named “Gaspipe” and “Big Dog”. I was hooked out of the box simply from the nicknames of these two characters. Their write-up of their experiences on the TAT (Trans-America Trail) mesmerized me. I think I started reading the treatise about 8 pm and wound up finally tearing myself away from my computer at the crack of 2 am. Wow. A Ride across America. On dirt. With the idea of seeing America with bugs in your teeth and in a mode that 99% of our population will never get a chance to experience.
My (not so) funny story........
It's Sunday night and I leave on Wednesday. I have been busy getting my bike prepped for the MotoGP trip where I'm moto-camping. The bike is a BMW K1200RS which is cumbersome (at best) to work on. After going two weeks without riding it, my garage looks like a BMW parts bin. I finally get everything sorted out and I'm ready to do a shake down ride. It's about 8:00 pm and I've got it loaded down with my camping gear and some extra weight in the Givi trunk to simulate clothing and shoes. The main reason for the ride is to adjust the headlights which just got new high output lamps and PIAA foglights that are also new. Also new tires will be scrubbed in. I know its dark not the best time for this but its better than leaving for the trip on new rubber. Also I've mounted a radar detector with helmet speakers.
Enough of the background.
I left Birmingham for Goodland, Kansas on June 11 with a plan to ride my motorcycle 1005 miles of dirt roads through western Kansas and Nebraska, through Colorado and back to Goodland. Technically is just a Saddle Sore – but more affectionately called a Dusty Butt. Only a handful of people have completed this ride. This area of the planet is a special place where wide open spaces and lots of dirt roads come together. There are very few places where such a ride could take place.
The alarm is blaring into my ear and I jump up out of the bed, land on a hair beret, curse, stumble, and finally find the right combination of buttons and violence to silence the racket. I haven't had much sleep, having paid for the kitchen pass with a long, long night of watching period chick flicks - I now know way more than I ever wanted too about the machinations of females in pursuit of royalty and the associated rewards.
Tired or not I am stoked to be up and finally on the way to the ride I've been looking forward to for several weeks - really since the last time Moby led a ride through the Talledega National Forest with Gadget, Stan and myself in tow. The riding is incredible with little traffic and a great mix of easy gravel roads, harder gravel roads, and some technical rocky hills.
Full speed, full lean the front tire finds a patch of loose gravel and starts to slide - without slowing at all, disaster is averted with a slight change of body position and a quick input to the bars. I yell to the rider - "Slow down and look where you want to go" but she doesn't listen. She just keeps pedaling as fast as she can - tiny legs pumping up and down in a blur while still looking just ahead.
Morgan - the youngest of those that call me Daddy - is fearless, unfazed, and hard headed. She loves to go fast and has always been fascinated by motorcycles and the sketchy looking men that ride them. I found out today that her favorite part of riding is to go through the turns fast and leaned over.
I just bought her a new bike for her eighth birthday - the old one having shrunk in the wash or something and I think she has already used every bit of the tire on her purple Hannah Montana two wheeler.
I started to tell her how she could get air on the sidewalk cutout but Selena scowled with the promise of a chilly holiday weekend if I continued - that discussion will have to wait.
Under cloudy skies and the weather man's threat of gloom and thunderstorms, Selena and I set out for Mt. Cheeha aboard the borrowed Sprint Executive. The idea behind this little trip was to get Selena used to a longer day on the road and to exercise BD's Triumph a bit.
The clouds shaded us throughout most of the trip but the threatened thunder storms never materialized. I had planned on stopping at around 50 miles or so to make sure all was good, but our first stop was actually Ashland which was about 90 miles I think. We stopped for gas and a pee break before getting into the twisties of 49 and 281. By this time the stretch to the bars was taking its toll on me and my upper back was on fire but the twists and turns on the way up to Cheeha let me move around a bit more and the pain subsided some.