Day 131, my last full day of traveling on this wonderful road trip. The next day, day 132, will take me home, but the journey’s not over yet. There were still 450 miles in between me and my final stop. I decided to break this up into two days to leave a little extra time for taking it all in and I had one more BIG stop to make that I didn’t want to rush through.
Amazingly my mind let me sleep in to about 9:20am at Motel 6 in Spartansburg South Carolina that morning. When I mention my mind as a separate entity, it means that sometimes I feel like I have no control over it. The best example for this is, every night when I go to sleep, I just can’t seem to find the off button for my thinker. My body will be dog tired, but my brain says “Now is the time to take on all of life’s issues”, while my body would like to stick a sock in it. Usually, almost without fail, my mind has me up and alert when the first rooster sounds off, so it was a welcome change when I woke to see that I had over a full eight hours of sleep. The plan for the day was to make it to southern Virginia, by way of some back roads. Igor has been on me about getting off of the interstates on these final days. I took his advice and planned a slighty longer route that would avoid I-85 north for most of the days ride. I packed my things and took off. The first 24 miles had to be interstate miles then the side roads would come in. Oddly enough, as I was pulling off of the interstate there was a sign for Iron City MX. I thought “Heck, I’m starting to like these side roads already”. I pulled up to the empty track to scope it out for future riding potential. Being so close to home, me and the guys could drive down here to ride or race if the track looked good enough. Iron Cities facilities looked clean and well mantained. The track itself hasn’t seen any riding in a while. This was apparent due to the lack of any tire tracks and eroded soil. I’ll have to check it out on-line later to see if they are still up and running. Finding a random track in the morning was a great start to the day.
Next I was off in search of North Carolina’s border via South Carolina’s back roads. All was going well as I was passing little farms with old slanting barns, sunshine gleaming off of dewy grass, and a blue sky overhead. My tankbag held the directions that I wrote down just before leaving. Twenty miles into the side roads is where that all changed. Mapquest mentioned nothing about route 5 and route 161 splitting. I copied the directions down verbatum. This left me in a bind. Follow route five and see if I can come across 77 from there or take 161. I didn’t have a clue, so I relied on an old Indian trick for figuring this stuff out. It goes like this “Eeny meeny miney mo, catcha tiger by his toe……”. Route 5 won that. I decided to head down rt. 5 for 10 miles and if I didn’t find Cherry rd (the next road I was looking for) then I’d turn back and take 161. Well, I had to turn back and while traveling down 161 I came across 77. That’s ultimately where I was going anyway. Cherry road was never found. I thought “Should have just stayed on the interstate.”
Back on the road and feeling good again. I was only a handful of miles from the NC border and Albemarle. I felt confident with the remaining directions. I crossed into North Carolina a little after 1pm and continued on, toward the center of the state. That is where my BIG stop of the day was, in the little town of Albemarle. I planned to visit my Crossroads Yamaha family again. On day 11, I stopped by there looking for a single tire iron and came away with 6 or 7 new friends. At that time they hooked me up with some stickers, a blue hoodie and a free bike wash. We’ve kept in touch ever since. They are wonderful people and I’ve been proud to wear their colors across our country. This time I just wanted to stop in and say thanks for everything they have helped me out with. These guys also teamed up with Chapparal Motorsports in San Bernardino CA to get me a rear tire on the Goose. They didn’t owe me a single thing and I didn’t expect a single thing from them, but I should have known better…. While driving there, my stomach had a bit of butterflies. I was excited and I just couldn’t hide it 🙂 I pulled up to the shop not knowing if they could see me inside. They could though. Jason got on the intercom and told everyone to come upfront. When I walked in, I was greeted warmly and Carmen gave me a big ol’ hug. I snapped a bad picture (camera was on the wrong setting) and we began to catch up on things. Soon we walked outside to check out the Goose. Jason noticed my rear brake line rubbing the rear rim. He then said “Pull it around back”. This was like a deja vu moment. When the Goose goes round back, the Goose gets a once over. I just wanted to visit with them and tell them thanks, but they weren’t having it. Jeff and Jason began their assault on my bike. Jeff went to cleaning the chain and Jason snuck in an oil change on me. After that they pushed it outside and whipped out the scrubbing brushes. We joked that there was so much road grime on the Goose that I’m going to owe them a new set of brushes. I told them that they’ll be in the mail. Here and there Jed would get a free second from the parts counter and he would come in the back to talk MX with me. He is the in-house motocross racer there at Crossroads and is almost identical in his approach to the sport as I was when I was his age (21). He has been training since I left there in October. Carmen came back while the guys were washing the bike and said she had to leave to take care of something. Again I got a big hug, but it happened so quick that I lost the opportunity to get a big group picture with my new camera. Jeff and Jason finished what they were doing and helped me out with some directions to 29 north, by way of back roads. I promised the guys that I’d be back in a couple of months, and this time I’d bring my mx bikes down to ride with Jed. The guys were quite a bit busier with the regular duties of the shop, so I told them all a sincere thank you and took off north for the Virginia border. It was great to see them again.
The directions I had in my tankbag now were spot on, but my interpretation of them wasn’t. Everything was fine until I came across 85 north. By that time it was dark. My directions said to take 85 north on exit 79A. Well, I got to exit 78A and noticed that it was I-85 north, so I took it. What I couldn’t tell from my handwritten directions was that if I’d went one more mile on 220 then I would have seen exit 79A, which was “ROUTE” 85 and 29 north. I ended up driving on Interstate 85 north for about 13 miles, looking for 29 north. Soon I realized that something was wrong, so I stopped at a McDonalds to check out the directions again on-line. I found my mistake and headed back, 13 miles, to 220 and then to rt. 85/29 N. Lost twice in one day. That was a trip first. From there it was a straight 50 miles to Danville Virginia. I put my head down and rode in the cold, nighttime wind. I arrived at the Virginia line just after 8pm, and found a place called the Travel Inn for only $31.95 a night. Not bad for the last overnight stop on my journey.