Riding the Void 5

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October 12th 2010
Published: October 12th 2010
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Riding the Void 5

First, a ride report without pictures. How could that be you might ask? Well, when you fail to copy the pictures from the camera’s memory card and then turn that card in for scoring not to be returned…..well, you have no pictures. So I’ll just have to paint the pictures for you.

The Void 5 for us kicked off in Valdosta, GA. We planned an early departure so we could be there in time to rest a bit and then socialize. The concept was a quick trip to Birmingham to visit Bogart’s BMW who was having a going out of business sale with loads of discounts, and then straight to Valdosta. We made what was to be a quick stop in Tuscaloosa to fill a prescription (which took 45 minutes), rode to Bogart’s only to find a sign on the door which said the sale had been postponed indefinitely, and then off to Valdosta. So much for an early arrival but we made it in time to share dinner with some other riders and then to bed for a good night’s rest before tackling the rally in the morning.

Bonus listings had arrived Tuesday night so there was plenty of time for planning….the problem was there just wasn’t a really good route. Lots of combo bonuses that required backtracking which we didn’t want to do, bonuses back into Alabama which we really didn’t want to do, bonuses up the eastern seaboard through some high traffic areas, etc, etc, etc. We finally picked a route that was the lesser of the evils (back into Alabama) and decided to ride our plan.

We started at 11:04 AM and headed south to Florida to get a receipt for one of the bonus combinations. Back into GA and off to Albany for a picture of Ray Charles Plaza. The north towards Cordelle for a pictures of a Hurricane Food Store. The theme for the rally was Storms, so many bonus locations were somehow related to floods, hurricanes, tornados, etc. Just a note, after leaving Albany, we would not see another rally rider until we pulled up to the finish line. This is either a really good sign (great route with no loss of time) or really bad (we picked a crappy route nobody else was doing).

A picture of a giant cow in Columbus, GA, Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City, and some tiny sign in Wadley, AL quickly fell and then it was off back into GA. We were ahead of schedule so we chose to head into downtown Atlanta for a bonus at the Vortex Bar. I despise Atlanta traffic and even though rush hour was over (is it ever really over) traffic flow was heavy and fast. The partygoers were out in force in front of the bar and we got some strange looks in all our gear taking pictures of the front of the bar. Off to Windy Hill Park in McDonough GA and picked our way to Augusta for our mandatory rest break. We grabbed 2.5 hours sleep ($30.00 an hour) and headed off across South Carolina.

Quick stop in Newberry, SC for a photo of The Storm Cellar we put on heated gear as the temps were down to around 39. Everything is going smoothly…..ahead of schedule….feeling good…..and then things went quickly downhill. Somewhere in the Sumter National Forest around 4:15 AM or so we had a total electrical failure. I dimmed my lights for an oncoming car when suddenly we found ourselves riding completely in the dark. Luckily high beams still worked so we could at least see where we were going, but GPS, intercom, heated gear, low beams, etc all were gone. Into a vacant parking lot we go to try and sort this out. Tools and stuff were scattered everywhere as Barbara held the flashlight. A blown fuse was the culprit but no replacement (there is now!). So….we had high beams but little else. The choice was made to head towards civilization and on to Lynchburg. The last thing we needed was to be in the middle of nowhere in case everything else decided to quit.

We made it in to Lynchburg with about 20 minutes to spare. After scoring we were pleased to discover a 6th place finish even after giving up the last 3 bonuses. The blown fuse was replaced and everything was back to working order…….except low beams. Checking everything possible led to the conclusion that both bulbs had blown simultaneously and at the same time the fuse blew. Replacing headlight bulbs is not an easy task so I chose to simply limit riding home to daylight and would deal with the problem at home in the shop.

We pulled out of Lynchburg around 7:30 Sunday morning and headed south to Clarksville, VA to visit with an old Army friend. After a nice visit, rather than droning down the interstate, we meandered across VA and into NC finally stopping in Maggie Valley, NC for the night. That close to the mountains meant we had to ride all the crooked roads before heading home.

Now we always wear ATGATT (all the gear all the time) to protect us in case of an accident. Odd things happen and somewhere between Maggie Valley and Robbinsville, TN, leaned over in a very tight curve at a pretty good pace, I got smacked in the right cheek with what felt like a boulder! I had my helmet flipped up at the time and managed to get through the curve and started checking for damage. No blood showed on my gloves so I thought maybe a rock had fallen at exactly the right time going between the windshield and my face. My cheek was throbbing as I felt around and discovered something lodged between my cheek and the helmet. Pulling the offending object out, I discovered an acorn the size of a large marble. Lemme tell you, at 50 mph an acorn to the face isn’t a fun thing. Note to self…..don’t flip up the front of the helmet when squirrels are saving up for the winter!

A nice long weekend jaunt of 2350 miles. Guess we’ll have to wait for spring to try again!


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