Last updated 1/30/11
Even though the house has six bedrooms, I had to sleep on the couch last night. I slept good, and it was great to see everyone. The sunrise shining through the huge wall of windows facing the beach was beautiful. I got up early before anyone else, got the couch put back normal, ate a quick breakfast, and went for a walk on the beach. New Year's Day, 2011, and the weather was the best it had been the whole trip. I was out by 7:30, and it was probably in the mid 60's, some sun, and no wind. I walked east, towards what would be 'town' around here, an assemblage of restaurants and bars where the road from the mainland comes in. It was a wonderful way to start the new year.
The view from the back porch.
The view from the beach.
I had debated staying around to watch football and leave the next day. But I was missing my wife, this was the first new years we had spent apart since 1989. And I wanted to have Sunday at home to lounge around and get ready for resumption of the grind Monday morning. So I started getting everything together and got ready to leave by noon. This time I had help with starting the bike, and a set of jumper cables. We went ahead and hooked them up first so as not to unnecessarily drain the battery. The bike started fairly quickly. With everything already loaded, I hopped on made my way down the dirt road and headed for the bridge back to mainland Florida.
My route for the day. It won't be a short one, 328 miles, the GPS says 6 1/2 hours. Leaving at noon, with stops for gas and food, it'll be well after 8pm before I get home. As long as the bike runs good, it'll be a hoot. Hell, even if it doesn't.
I run on US98 along the beach, the last stretch of coastline I'll see on this trip. But before I make the turn north and up around the bend, I stop in Carrabelle, an eclectic little fishing village nestled where the New River ends it's journey and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. I buy my wife a present, and stop to take this picture, see the Christmas decorations in the background?
The bike is running good, and I make good time rounding the bend towards Perry where I'll hit US19 and start heading south. I ride into a strong headwind for about 70 miles all the way down US19 until I stop for lunch in Chiefland. I pose the bike in the parking lot for one more Christmas decoration shot before leaving.
The cruise across US27 towards Ocala was relaxing. The wind had died down and was more of a crosswind now, and was blocked by the trees for the most part. I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from here on, but as I got into Ocala, I noticed the bike wouldn't idle anymore. My route would take me right through the middle of town, where I hit a few red lights. But fortunately traffic was light and I was able to keep the engine going by forcing a 2-3k idle. It was dark by now and I knew that after one more gas stop I'd have smooth sailing, through lightly populated countryside for the remainder of the 120 miles home. Since the bike was running good on the throttle, I decided not to stop unless things changed for the worse. I got on the gas and pushed through to the house.
I ended up getting home about 8:30 pm. Barbie heard me blasting up the road and had the garage door opened for me when I turned into the driveway. She snapped this picture right after I'd parked and got my helmet off.
What a ride! A little over 1500 miles in five days. I had a great time, even though things didn't work out like I'd planned. But you know, they never do. I'd lugged my camping gear the whole way, the only time I took it off the bike was to keep it dry in the hotel room each night. I'd been unable to take the ferry off Dauphin Island because the bike was giving me problems. But I rode along some beautiful stretches of beach that I'd never seen before, enjoyed a memorable New Year's Eve with some relatives I don't see near enough, and was thrilled to have been able to squeeze a trip in before the end of 2010, broken wrist and all. And it had been my only trip for 2010, and my first trip in 2011, all in one.
Now to answer the question I posed in the title to this escapade, "Crazy or Stupid: Fly & Ride on a $1k ebay Bike". I would have to say it certainly wasn't crazy, at least not any more so than any other motorcycle trip on an unknown bike would be. And if I'd have broken down, I expect it would have been more of an inconvenience than anything else, and with the set of tools I had, I could have fixed most anything if I didn't want for parts. But I'd have to say, in retrospect, maybe it was a little stupid. Rather than buying a bargain bike on ebay, I could have either bought something better, or I could have shipped one of my bikes out to Texas and rode it home. You see, they way I look at it, the opportunities for these trips are just too scarce at this point in my life, and the experience too precious, to risk having it upset by a cheap bike. Now that I have the XV home I'll go through it and get it ready for a trip like this. It will be nice bike when I'm done with it. But for my next fly & ride I'll spend a little more money, and hopefully get a bike that won't make me miss the ferry.