Sunday, May 8, 2011

Edenton Ride

This ride took place on Saturday, May 7.

I have found that it's good to have some "destination", a place to get to rather than to just ride.  I guess I get a sense of accomplishment on day rides when I actually get there, although often there's no set agenda for wherever I'm going.  Sometimes there's something at the destination, but often not.

I consulted on Friday night to see what was going on in various town in NC on Saturday.  There were a lot of festivals and events going on, so I had to make a choice as to which one best suited my mood.

I focused on Edenton, a northeastern town on the Albemarle Sound.  I had been there several times previously so I knew my way around and had a sense as to how far away it was.  According to, there was a fun festival happening, and there was food advertised, so its location and the activity advertised interested me.

I got up at about 7am, did my stretches, and decided that I wanted to have breakfast on the road rather than home.  So, by about 7:30 I was on the bike and headed to "Toot N Tell" restaurant on old Hwy 70 in Garner.  I had eaten breakfast there once before and, with it being a "mom and pop" type restaurant, it met my needs.  I left with a full tummy.

Breakfast was good.  I was surprised at the place being so empty, but it was still early and it was Saturday, so that probably should have been expected.  I had an omelette with home fries.  Both were good.  About 8:30 I was back on the bike, headed east back to Clayton and then northeast on Hwy 42.

I like riding Hwy 42, both east towards Wilson, and west towards Asheboro.  When heading west, if I'm not in a hurry, I often take it west all the way to Asheboro.  It's a longer ride than other routes, but it's interesting and there are some places where the ride is very interesting, with swooping curves and some changes in elevation.  But I am digressing, so back to task.

I stayed on Hwy 42 to Conetoe, at the intersection of Hwy 42 and old US 64.  Here, I turned right on 64 and  stayed on it through the small towns and Williamston.  Traffic was sparse, so I could pretty-much ride without worrying about cars and trucks getting in my way.  I spotted some fields of plants with lavender blooms and stopped for a pic.  I think maybe peanuts, but it could be potatoes.  I'm no farmer, so I'm not sure what they were, except very pretty.

In Plymouth, I turned left and rode down to the water, the Roanoke River.  Water Street parallels the river for several blocks, and gives me a sense of what life might be like in a small town along a major river in NC.  The pace of life seems slowed down in places like this, and it gives me a sense of a different time.

On the east side of Plymouth, I turned left on Mackeys Road rather than going back out on Hwy 64.  It was an easy ride, with no traffic.  It turned into NC 308 after a mile or two.  At one place, I was riding down a tunnel of trees, mostly shaded, but with some specks of light filtering through.  I love to find places like this; it makes the ride so much nicer, particularly on a hot day (which was not the case today).  There's a word for these tunnels of trees, but it escapes me now.

NC 308 went for several miles and met with NC 32.  I found that I was riding along and saw a familiar run-down, long-closed restaurant, Simps BBQ.  Then it hit me that I had been riding on old US 64, which apparently has been renamed Mackeys Road.  I had traveled this road many, many times headed to the Outer Banks for various meetings or fishing trips, so finding it was like finding an old friend.  I had actually forgotten this stretch of road, but I'll be sure to ride it again.  My only regret is that I didn't stop to take pics of the tunnel of trees, but I will next time.

A few miles further down the road, NC 32 turned left to cross the Albemarle Sound.  The bridge over the sound is about 3.5 miles long, with most of it fairly close to the water, and one high-rise section to allow boat traffic pass by.  I like riding long bridges, so I slowed down and took in the sights, smells, and ambiance of crossing the big body of water.  It was pretty neat.

On the north side of the sound, NC 32 turned eastward to Edenton.  Once in town, I rode down to the park right on the water and parked the bike in a shady spot under the trees.  It had been a nice ride there.

Only one thing was wrong--there was no sight of a "fun festival"!  Also, no food.  Darn; one of the highlights of rides is the food I find along the way, and there was no food there!

So, I walked around a bit and discovered a lighthouse being set up on the west side of the park.  It was still on dollies.  It was the Roanoke River Lighthouse, which I had never heard of.  It was fenced off with chain link fencing, so you couldn't get close to it.  If you're interested in a history of the lighthouse, it's interesting and can be Googled very easily.  I won't write it here.

I had brought along a new book I'm reading, the Motorcycle Touring Bible by Fred Rau.  So, I decided to read some of the book from one of the rocking chairs on the porch of the Barker House, along the water.  That was very nice, sitting in a rocker on a porch overlooking the water, with a nice breeze blowing.  I could have stayed much longer, but after about an hour, I needed to get lunch.

Using my Droid, I found the Downtown Soda Shop, which sounded interesting.  It was only 3 blocks away, and so I walked there and got a Reuben sandwich with chips.  It was pretty good.

After lunch, it was time to be moving on, so I put on the Bumblebee and got back on the bike.  I thought about going back to the Dismal Swamp Sate Park, but decided that it was further than I wanted to go.  So, I used the GPS to head west by south.

I discovered after a while that the Albemarle Sound goes a long way, with very few crossings.  So, I found that I was actually headed NORTH and slightly east.  Not a big problem, but one that made the trip home much longer than I had planned.  I eventually ended up in Suffolk, VA before I used the GPS to do the routing to get me home.

The ride home was uneventful.  It did take me on a few new roads, which I always enjoy.  I did ride by Merchant's Millpond State Park, so I stopped for a pic of the bike.

I arrived in my driveway at about 6:20pm, after 360 miles and 7 hours of riding.

Oh, I almost forgot, after some additional surgery on the helmet for the speakers, today's ride was much better.  Ears were still sore, but not throbbing as they were before the work on the helmet.  I believe all is well now with the helmet.

Until next ride....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dismal Swamp Ride

This ride was actually done on Saturday, 4/11/2011.  The morning had been somewhat lazy, with my attitude that I'll probably ride somewhere, sometime.  I walked and had breakfast, and decided to get on the bike and ride.  I hadn't had a real ride in a while, it was a beautiful day, and I needed to feel the power.

So, around 11am I got on the bike and decided to ride towards the northeast part of the state.  I hadn't been that way in quite a while, so it seemed to be a good direction to ride.

I had several objectives for the ride:  1)  To get out of the house on a beautiful day; 2) To try out the installation of my old Autocom communication device on this bike; and 3) To see how the speakers were going to feel after being repositioned in the helmet.  I'll try to cover each one in order.

The day was just beautiful.  Warm, full sun, no real wind.  A perfect day for a good ride.  And I had decided after leaving that I'd set the GPS to avoid "big" roads (Interstate and other 4-lane roads) to allow medium roads and to prefer the little roads.  And I asked it to take me to Walter's Grill in Murfreesboro going the shortest way.  A ride like this is always a long ride because the GPS is trying to stay on county roads and off all of the State or US roads.  But it's the most interesting because it's definitely off the beaten path.  But that's my favorite type of traveling, and I was not in a hurry.

I got to Walter's Grill around 12:30pm and parked at the curb in front of the restaurant.  Ordered a hot dog, fries, and tea, all of which were good.  I had discovered Walter's Grill from a Tarheel Traveler segment on WRAL when they were covering good hot dog joints.  And they make a good hot dog!

After finishing and getting back on the bike, I just started riding east, meandering along the way heading east and north on secondary roads, just using the GPS as a compass.  I had no destination, so it didn't matter if I went 20 miles down a dead-end road (which I did once).  I actually had several deadenders in the 5 mile range, but it didn't matter.

As I was meandering along, I remembered that there was a state park I had never visited up on the NC/VA line north of Elizabeth City.  Dismal Swamp State Park.  So, I decided to see what was there, and looked for it on the GPS.  It found two listings, one in VA and one in NC.  I decided to go to the closer one, in VA.

I was beginning to need gas, so I headed north into Suffolk, VA to get gas at a place where the gas was always about 15 cents cheaper than in NC.  The park access was along the way.

So I zipped about 25 miles north to the gas station, and lo and behold, it was HIGHER than in NC!  That was wild, and I was determined to not pay more in VA than in NC.  I had passed a station in Sunbury that was cheaper than most of the others in the area and about 15 cents lower than in VA, so I turned around and went back south to the station in Sunbury.  I decided along the way that I didn't want to see the "VA" park, so I told the GPS to take me to the NC park, some 35 miles further northeast.

Saw several neat murals along the way in the small northeastern towns.  Stopped to take a pic at a couple.  Always neat to see the murals depicting various scenes dear to the area.

Got to the park (which is also a rest stop on Hwy 17 north of Elizabeth City) at about 5pm, an hour before it closed.  With it being so late, and with at least 2.5 hours to home, I just stopped long enough to snap a pic and headed back southwest to Clayton.  Got home at 7:20pm.  Did 385 miles and rode about 7.5 hours.  I was pretty beat!

The "old" Autocom worked just fine.  All of the inputs (except walkie-talkie, which I'll cover in another post sometime) worked just as they should, including the GPS.  The newer Autocom that came with the new bike just didn't work right--I never could get the GPS audio to work, and the walkie-talkie was horrible.  I may have to send it to a repair shop to see what's wrong with it.  But the old one works flawlessly.

The speakers were better, but still not right.  I could ride over 2 hours without throbbing ears (which was better than the one-hour limit before some helmet surgery).  The problem was that the little depressed areas in the styrofoam for the speakers was not deep enough, and the helmet was pressing the speakers too hard on the ears.  Definite progress, but definitely not good enough yet.  More surgery is needed!

So, the ride was a good one.  I'll need to make another trip up there to explore the park--what I saw looked interesting.  But that's another ride on another day.

Until next day ride...