Finally. A breath.
No pun intended there.
Yes, I’ve been doing an awful lot of incredible ‘breathing for mom’. But, honestly, I’ve been doing so much so that I have’t had a second to take a breath for myself. It’s been constant riding, sleeping, riding, sleeping, riding – repeat.
Don’t get me wrong – as stated, and this….this CAN’T be understated, has been INCREDIBLE. I’ve seen more things, ridden more miles (the exact number I’m working on – closing in on 3,000 now with the mini trips and errands in each city) and been at a loss of words more times than I realized one man could in an entire lifetime.
Ironically – it’s been breathtaking.
But this current exact moment I’m taking for myself at Crema – an awesome coffee shop in Nashville at the recommendation of Rob and Libby (the strangers that offered me lodging and hospitality on a whim and didn’t harvest my organs, more on them to come) – is so. incredibly. nice.
For those of you who have never ridden a motorcycle before: when you’re riding – especially on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or any road that takes a lot of concentration, but really just in general – it takes A LOT of consistent energy, both mentally and physically.
To those football fans out there, imagine pre-snap Peyton in his prime. Constant thought, audibles, taps, calls, reads, and all within a few seconds.
Here’s an approximate 15 second brain pattern:
*Where are the cars around me?-what’s this guy’s plan?-where’s my escape route?-POTHOLE,SWERVE-breaklights ahead-break&downshift-oh look at the sky!!-how’s Kenzie?–sleeping,good-upshift&increase speed-POTHOLE,SWERVE-how’s gas?-remember to enjoy it-POTHOLLLEEE!*
One thing that will never cease to amaze me is the power of people.
Everyone has different beliefs. Personally, I believe that everything happens for a reason. I internally debate if we even have overall control of what happens. I believe that I am in control of my daily choices and actions, where I go, and the man I ultimately become.
However, I also believe that there was another person just like me at some point in time in the world’s history. I mean… JUST like me. Same reactions, same ideas, same energy, and – regardless of their time on earth or surroundings – similar life outcome.
In my opinion, while nearly infinite – the human spectrum of emotions and actions is not. Someone has felt, lived, done, and believed the same thing as you at some point in time.
**Good lord, dude, shut-up about all your philosophical bull-shit of which you have absolutely 0-basis (opinions are like assholes – AM I RYTE?!)**
None-the-less, this trip has only confirmed to me that there is something strange going through this trip, and that people are able to achieve so much more than I had realized.
— Rob and Libby —
Asheville, NC. That was my destination from Maryland. Even if it took a night of sleeping along the Blue Ridge Parkway – I was going to Asheville straight from Maryland.
The world rarely agrees with your plans.
I arrived at the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway – at the top of the mountain – and I could barely see my hand in front of my face with all the fog. I literally couldn’t see 20 feet in front of me.
But as I pulled into the visitor’s center to make sure I was on the right path – a lady called out (what’s new, right?!?!) asking for a picture of Kenzie in the side car.
I told her the story. Her and her husband proceeded to bring me Larabar (protein-snack bar) and a bottled cold coffee. I then told them I’m unsure of the Blue Ridge Parkway that evening because:
- I wanted to enjoy it, and I couldn’t see anything
- I might die if I tried
They then offered me, on the spot, the opportunity to sleep at their house.
Which I realized shortly after was just another risk of death. The ol’ sleeping in a stranger’s basement.
I didn’t actually think that was a possibility until after I spent my time at the local brewery – Pro Re Nata – (in VA, surrounded by UVA fans, all people rocking UVA gear, while I’m walking with a Chesapeake Bay Retreiver – the mascot of UMBC).
They lived off the one of the most back-roady, dirt & gravel, farm trail, backroad I’ve ever been on. It was dark by the time I was trying to find it, and I got lost about three times.
I eventually found my way, and they showed me around their home, let me change and settle in, and asked me if I had eaten (which I hadn’t). They proceeded to make me two delicious veggie burgers with caramelized mushrooms and onions, and toast. Then we chatted a bit, and I hit the hay. Kenzie REALLY took to her surroundings …
(Bitch this ain’tcho home!) (It’s cool, I can say that – she’s literally a bitch.)
In the morning they greeted me with freshly brewed coffee, eggs, toast, and more conversation of life.
It’s incredible how quickly strangers can become people never forgotten with nothing more than simple kindness.
To Rob and Libby: thank you. Keep writing. I’ll try make your kindness contagious.
The Blue Ridge Mountains and The Blue Ridge Parkway is almost indescribable. Beauty beyond belief. I rode about 350 of the 469 total miles. I saw the tiniest veal (baby cows) I’ve ever seen, three horses of different colors and patterns hanging their collective heads as if they were different colored Siamese triplets over the fence for strangers to pet and feed them, the coolest bull I’ll probably ever see (like a long haired shaggy dog, but burnt orange in color), the sunset at about 4,000 feet high overlooking the Appalachian mountains, sunlight constantly spotting through he endless vivid, natural greenery as far as the eye could see, lakes, rivers, creeks, and gardens of which I could’ve sworn weren’t real. They we’re too pristine, too perfect.
If you haven’t been, add it to your list.
But, as they say, beauty comes at a price.
When I arrived in Asheville I knew my tires were getting worn down. I had no idea exactly how bad. I decided I didn’t feel safe continuing on them. Which is when I pulled into a bike shop. And turned down. Then sent to another, and tuned down. I was turned down by three damn bike shops before finding one that could help.
I had about 25 miles until my back tire would’ve popped.
They got me back up and running, and helped me adjust the sidecar to help with the lean. But I also lost half a day.
It’s safe to say that after dropping nearly $600 and losing a day, I was PISSED.
Which is when I road to a regional national park about 45 minutes away, and slid down a natural rock waterslide/mini waterfall and let Kenzie swim. It was like a baptism of anger. I arose from the freezing waters of Pisgah National Park refreshed, revived, and relieved of my rage.
(Then the caps won game 6!! COMON’ CAPS WIN GAME 7 TONIGHT!!!!)
I again woke around 6am to try to make up for ANOTHER lost day. Sleeping and riding, sleeping and riding.
— The Slaying of the Dragon —
The Dragon has been slain.
In between Asheville, NC and Nashville, TN there is this 11-mile road at Deals Gap called “The Tail of the Dragon” – 318 sharp twists and turns in 11 miles. You can bet your sweet ass I was riding it.
I feel unstoppable after my Blue Ridge Experience, taking much of the ride and those sharp turns at 35-45 mph. The “inexperienced” rider I started as is quickly shifting gears. One might say downshifting to lose the “in”, and simply becoming an experienced rider.
But when I arrived at The Dragon, it started to rain. I wasn’t gunna NOT ride The Dragon after all of that. 318 sharp turns in 11 miles of rain! Here goes nothin’!
However, before I started the ride. I asked a couple strangers is they could take our picture in front of the two dragon statues.
Which is when moorreee strangers fell in love with Kenzie (NO I’M NOT JEALOUS – OK.), and I took the opportunity to ask if they’d check out the website.
Which is when they asked about my story.
Which is when I shared with them.
Which lead to about five people, right there, opening their wallets to give me $20 cash and shake my hand.
One lady gave me a huge hug, another lady said a prayer for me.
I wanted to cry right there.
The power of people, man. I’m tellin’ ya.
The ride has been equally brilliant as exhausting. But there’s so much more to see. Nashville was filled with lightning on the highway, an frightening walk for Kenzie (too many people, lights and noises), a lovely dinner with a buddy, and sneakin’ the pup into a hotel late night.
Memphis is next.
I’m sorry it took so long for another post, and I’m glad you’re all still here with me. Everyone’s love and support has meant so much to me and my family.
I promise to write another post sooner this time.
As always; thanks, everyone.