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Yermo's 2016 Trans-Am Trail Trip

'Wednesday August 10th, 2016 10:00'
This adventure is over.
Day 9 - Unrelenting Gravel
Thursday August 18th 2016

I managed to just beat the rain and duck into a dive motel in a little town somewhere in Georgia just down the road from a place called Chatsworth. I'm sitting on a pillow because the plush chair is just too painful. 

I woke this morning at around 08:30 after having stayed up too late writing once again. Over the last couple of years, sleep has been a huge difficulty for me but this trip is wearing me down so much that it's not the problem it usually is. Things are getting a bit easier. A system for how things are done and where everything should go is slowing starting to make itself known. Before I embarked on the day's ride, I tried to secure my errant tail light a bit better. The gorilla tape just wasn't cutting it with all the jackhammering that's been going on while riding these forest service roads. Audrey had pulled my chain a bit about the number of zip ties I keep in the garage (and presumably the number I packed, which is not insignificant.) I mentioned possibly carrying too many zipties to Megan when we were discussing packing lists to which she said, "There's no such thing as too many zip ties.". 

I suspect even Rube Goldberg would approve:


Last night I encountered two riders who were following the same route. One was from Calgary and other from somewhere in California. They looked really beat. The one told me that he had fallen at the fourth Witt Road water crossing. It's where a lot of riders fall. They ended up staying at the same motel but when I got up in the morning they were already gone. Rushing. 

I found myself thinking, as I had pondered while I was home, each moment on this trip is one likely not to repeat. But despite this, I'll pass the occasional vista and let it go. I've passed up meeting up with people I've wanted to see again. I've ignored chances at conversations. 

I opt instead to ride the trails thinking of the next destination, the parts falling off my bike, the concerns at home that occupy my heart, mind, and soul, allowing myself, erroneously, to think about schedules, destinations, and worries about the future. 

This is not the way to ride a motorcycle and I know this. It's also no way to live life. We have these moments. They are all we have. What am I rushing for? The rain that pounds the mountains on the horizon? It's sunny here. It's cool. The forest is beautiful and all I can think of is being someplace else. I snap bad photos quickly for reasons not entirely clear. They represent no memory, just a snapshot not even of a moment considered but as an interruption in another moment being interrupted by ... 


I forced myself to stop. I got off the bike and merely listened to my surroundings letting the seconds and minutes tick by alone in this quiet forest. 

A solitary wildflower caught my eye. I carefully took a photo to take with me to send to someone it reminded me ot once I could get back where there was cell service.


I'm not sure how I let myself forget this again. Some enjoy thinking in terms of goals, destinations, and the social context, whether real or perceived, of having accomplished something that many other have not. I'm not sure any of it is actually all that meaningful. If I go all the way to Oregon, assuming the near terminal case of "Old White Man's Saggy Ass Syndrome" doesn't kill me first, will it mean anything? 

I realized as I looked at the flower,  I'm not here to "make it". I am here just to be here. I am here in search of "reset". The trail is just a means. Circumstances hang over me that could end this trip on a moment's notice. One text message and I head back "home". What will I think of my time here if this is all there is?  

The most painful thing that has ever happened to me resulted, in large part, because I wasn't present and I simply didn't see the wild flower.  

If I go just one more day or if I reach Colorado or go all the way across, it all makes no difference save for a few people who will be disappointed, but I suspect that they will understand. 

The forest roads here have been of the kind I had hoped to ride. In Maryland, near DC, we spend our best efforts trying to find small stretches of gravel or country road to ride our dualsports on. Yet here I am inundated by all the incredible roads and scenery. It's what I've wanted to explore times a thousand. It's too much of a good thing. The mind craves change. It craves a progression, a story. There is no story yet in these woods. There are just endless switchbacks, hills, bumps, rocks, cliffs, small rivers and other details amidst endless trees.


Photo (12246))
The Trail


The first part of the day involved forest roads much like the ones that I have seen for the last couple of days. Then I came across a "Log Trucks" sign and the scenery changed. The road became much wider and resembled a construction zone. Then I came upon devastation.


After so many miles of glorious forest, this was shocking. Obviously, humanity needs trees but it seems to me that we could be much better parasites on this forest organism. A good parasite doesn't kill its host. A better parasite evolves a symbiotic relationship with its host. 

We do neither.

At one point, in a blind switchback the surface suddenly sadistically turned to deep-ish gravel.

Photo (12256))


This lasted for miles upon miles. At first it was just in blind corners and switchback, and then it covered the road with mounds of the stuff in the center and on the sides. This amounted to tiring riding. 

There had been threat of rain all day and once again, just as the rain started, I managed to find a motel across from a modest restaurant. 

I think I will pause and take some time tomorrow to mount the airhawk, an air bladder cover for the seat which should hopefully make it a bit less painful. It involves removing the seat which isn't a problem except the mounting bolts tend not to line up. 

We'll see what tomorrow brings. I'm more beat than I realized so am going to sign off now.

Day 9 - Unrelenting Gravel


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