Have Bike, Will Travel: Drew Heads North for a New Ride

By Drew T. Newcomer

Back in the spring, I decided to sell my Suzuki SV-650. It was a hoot to ride but I just couldn’t justify keeping it riding it no more than I had over the previous six months. After all, it was two years old with 2100 miles on it. So, I put it on Cycletrader.com and was relieved of it’s ownership about a month later. In an effort to help the economy I had been searching the internet and looking at some used Tigers and a couple of Moto Guzzi Norges. The Tiger is a great motorcycle of course, as is the Norge, but the lack of a large dealer network made me shy away from the Moto Guzzi. So, the internet search continued and I became interested in BMW’s venture into cruiserdom. I started researching and looking at some R1200Cs that were available. Can’t really say what prompted me in this direction (I can be an impulse buyer at times!) but after a small negotiation I found a 2002 R1200C in Indianapolis that I just had to spend some money on. After telling the owner it would be a couple of weeks before I could actually get there (he had no problem as long as I purchased the bike) I made an electronic transfer of the agreed amount and became the proud owner of a motorcycle I had never seen before (other than 13 photos the owner had posted on the web.)

With everything in place, I left on July 15 and flew to Indianapolis. I had to pay $15.00 for my one checked bag which set wrongly with me, but I suppose that is the nature of air travel these days. Maybe that is why I have not been on an airplane in several years. I did manage to get to Indy on time and Ly (pronounced Lee) met me at the airport and took me to dinner. He also picked me up at my hotel the next morning and took me to his warehouse where the R1200C was waiting. The bike was in immaculate shape and it took me a little while to unload my duffle bag, pack the saddlebags, then bungee what was left in the duffle bag to the pillion seat. At about 9:30 a.m., I left Carmel, Indiana and headed north on US 31 till I intersected IN 28 and turned east. I stayed on 28 to Albany, IN then headed northeast on IN 67 to Portland and IN 26. IN 26 became OH 119 at the border and I continued east. Eventually, I made my way to highway 47 and then 229 to Mount Vernon, Ohio.

From Mount Vernon, I jumped on OH 3 northeast to Loudonville, Ohio where I was ready to stop for the evening. The bike had performed very well and I was adjusting to a new riding position and a transmission (5-speed) that was geared for cruising. I also had to find the only pay phone in town to make a call since my AT&T network was useless here. I did get to the public library and managed a few emails.

The next morning, July 17, I was on the road early heading southeast on 39 towards the heart of Amish Country. The largest population of Amish in the US lives in this part of Ohio. The rolling hills provided a very nice backdrop to this enjoyable ride.

In Louisiana temperatures were sweltering, but here I had to stop and put a sweatshirt on to cut the chill. Highway 39 took me to 250 near Dover, OH where I turned further southeast heading to Wheeling, WV. Once in West Virginia, I climbed some mountains and rode through the southwest corner of Pennsylvania on my way to Oakland, MD. I rode I-79 for about 15 miles to Morgantown, the home of WVU. From Morgantown, I found WV 7 which would take me to western MD where I planned to spend the weekend. Now, I don’t know what it is about West Virginia, and as I have stated before, I think WV is pretty close to motorcycle nirvana, but it started raining soon as I got into the mountains.

So, here I am on an unfamiliar motorcycle in mountain twisties, in the rain. After putting on my Frog Togs, I continued (maybe I slowed down just a tad!!) in an easterly direction. At 12:45 I arrived at the Long Branch Saloon and Motel and was glad to get off the bike. It continued to rain for a little while, but the rain was not a problem for me now. The 250 mile ride took nearly seven hours, but I was reminded that once you get into mountains, distance takes on a whole new meaning! I stayed off the bike on Saturday and visited with my friend that had joined me from Pittsburgh. Sunday morning it was time to head home and I began my westward journey on WV 50 till I intersected I-79 near Clarksburg. I-79 took me to I-64 where I entered Kentucky. I was interested in making time so I pretty much deadheaded the way home on major highways. You know though, even riding the interstate is scenic in WV. I made it to Elizabethtown, KY Sunday afternoon and spent the night in one of the nastiest hotel rooms I have stayed in -- I don’t think it was the nastiest, but it was pretty close! I guess the $33.00/night tax included should have clued me in. Anyway, I was tired so slept fairly well and was on the Blue Grass Parkway before sunup. This road got me to Memphis where the old familiar I-55 was waiting. I was through Memphis before noon and arrived home about 5:30 that afternoon. I had done 651 miles – the longest day in the saddle I have ever spent. I was glad to get home a day early though, as I had plenty of things to do upon my return. My first distance ride via a cruiser worked out well. I like the bike and the riding position didn’t bother me at all. Of course, it doesn’t carve the corners like my R1150R but I didn’t feel cheated at any point during the week. Now I have two bikes to ride and shouldn’t have any excuse for not making a trip out-of-town on a regular basis!!

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