On somewhat short notice, I got to attend the 2009 FJR Eastern Owners meet. (EOM).
Originally planned for Thursday->Monday in Johnson City, TN. I was only able to attend Fri->Sun.
The weather for this event looked to be somewhat miserable but knowing the great group of folks that attend it was worth going to regardless of how crappy the weather was.
I left Friday morning alone and planned to ride a fairly twisty route down there after hitting the highway to Lexington.
It was in Lexington that the sky opened up and all hell broke loose. I usually don’t mind riding in the rain, but 4+ hours in the rain is pretty miserable.
I’m sure the mountain parkway is nice and beautiful, but I didn’t get to see any of it. Only water spray from the cars/trucks in front of me.
I didn’t get _that_ wet though. My Frog Togs [TM] kept me dry. My boots let me down, as did my Aerostitch Triple Digits, they didn’t leak as much as water ran down my arm into the Gauntlet, where they held water like a plastic bag with a gold fish in it.
I stopped around Hazzard Ky to dry off a bit and swap out gloves. No sign that the weather was going to let up so I soldiered on. From there down Route 23 was probably the worst rain I have ever been in and I’ve been in some frog stranglers before. Water running across the road a few inches deep in places. There was a brief window of sunlight and I pulled into a Wendy’s to again change gloves. As I literally dumped water out of my glove covers, a guy was getting out of his truck. He laughed and said. “Well, good thing you’re headed North, cause south of here it’s horrible”… Uhm… I’m heading south, that’s not good.
The rains caught up with me before I could do much else so I saddled up and soldiered on.
The rain didn’t stop until just about 30 miles from my destination. I was able to stop, grab a quick burger and ditch the rain gear.
I arrived around 5:30 pm. Joe rode down on Thursday and had just returned from a short ride and apparently caught some of the same rain.
We BS’d with a bunch of other riders and waited for dinner to start.
As always EOM is a first class production. Again, thanks to JWilly and the others that put this together. We ate a delicious meal and commenced to doing what we do 2nd best. Drink Beer/Bourbon and smoke cigars. There was a comedy club in the hotel, and it was cheap ($5 if you could show your room key), which might explain the talent they had, or lack there of. Still some laughs were had.
We made plans for Saturday’s ride. Meet in the lobby at 8am, look at the weather and go where the rain wasn’t. Sounded like a good plan.
At approx 8:45am, myself, Joe, JWilly, TriggerT, Duane (form Premier Cycle Accessories), and Sully headed north.
A quick fuel stop…
It was quite foggy when we set out.
And we were off. Two lights after the gas station TriggerT was checking his rear view mirror to see if we would all make a light that had just turned yellow. At the same time, JWilly decided we all wouldn’t make it so he stopped. Trigger looked up at the last second, swerved and almost missed JWilly. Their bags hit. It wasn’t a good start to the day and I was beginning to second guess my choice of riding partners. I have ridden with Sully (who’s fast, yet responsible) and Duane, also a very good rider. I know JWilly can be fast, and of course I’ve ridden with Joe before. Trigger was the unknown and it wasn’t looking good.
We ran out to the ‘The Snake’, for an early run. There was going to be a Harley fest there and we needed to beat those yahoo’s. Worked out perfectly. We got there before the Harleys and the local law enforcement who was setting up their revenue enhancement opportunities at the Snake.
We had breakfast at racers restaurant in Shady Valley. Wasn’t fast by any stretch but was good.
The rest of the day was pretty awesome. We really lucked out weather wise.
Everyone rode responsibly…
We finally stopped for lunch in Burnsville. Great little bistro.
Then attempted to beat the rain across 80 and part of the Blue Ridge. That didn’t turn out so good.
The rains came, we dawned our gear and headed back to the barn. But not before JWilly took us off 80 via a 12 mile down the mountain gravel road.
Sully was not pleased.
In the end a great day of riding.
Saturday evening brought the banquet. Which included a few announcements, an expression of gratitude by Extreme Marine and his wife for the help the received from the community after their crash last year. It was pretty significant. Both were injured pretty badly, but both were wearing proper gear and both were in attendance this year.
Dinner was superb for a banquet style dinner.
As usual, EOM has a great collection of door prizes donated by vendors. One vendor Clear Water Lights, donated a set of riding lights for a special charity auction to raise funds for Tyler. She’s an FJR rider that was in a really bad accident and was run over by a truck. She’s recuperating, but it will be a long road for her.
Other patrons donated their door prizes to the charity raffle as well which really helped out. All in all over $2000 was raised for the Tyler fund.
The Charity raffle was to be held at 10:30pm that evening and you didn’t have to be present to win. Which was good cause we were busy drinking. After the raffle, Mike told me that all winners were present except for the lights. I pulled out my tickets and read off my numbers. He said, “By golly I think you won”. I handed him my ticket as Joe had given me a nice $25 cigar that I was only 1/2 way through and wasn’t going to waste it. A few minutes later he came back with my new lights.
Which was sweet!
I needed to ride back Sunday, and Joe decided to do the same. We looked at the radar and there was a ‘whole’ in the rain that we though we’d exploit.
We dodged the rain all the way through TN/VA and KY up to I75. No sooner had we gotten on I-75 the high way was at a stand still. Turns out there was 4 car accident about 7 miles up the road. No where to turn around, not way to cross over to the south bound side. We sat in traffic for almost 2 hours. About 30 minutes in the rains caught up with us. It wasn’t totally horrible, but it wasn’t much fun either.
We finally got to the accident, and exited the highway, ran up 25 north where through the Detour. We skipped our first opportunity to get back on I75 and rode up to 36 just south of Dry Ridge. After a quick stop we were geared up to just run home. Then Joe’s bike wouldn’t start. 2 plus hours of stop and go traffic with his PIAA’s on had depleted his battery. Luckily, he was able to bump start it.
No sooner had we gotten on I75 and all we could see were break lights again. Another significant accident with a truck on it’s side. Luckily we were less than a 1/2 mile from it and it wasn’t blocking all 3 lanes. We escaped and headed north.
Just as we got to Florence it really started raining, and it rained until we got home. It took us almost 4 1/2 hours to go 90 miles. Not fun.
Good times were had and winning new lights definitely made it worth while.
Really looking forward to next year.