WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Finishers Wander 5 - Jackson, Tennessee
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 2004 18:38:46 -0700

    What an amazing weekend. Wind and rain and cold, and 180 BMW riders converged to celebrate the Year of the Woman BMW Rider, approximately 40 of whom were present. Ironically, the woman who unintentionally was the genesis of the theme was not there. A few months ago Jill, a psychiatrist in Pennsylvania bought a BMW, joined the IBMWR list with some technical questions, and asked if "any other women rode BMWs". The resultant discussion invited her and all other BMW women to Branson. More would have come had it not been truly horrible weather for "spring" in most of the country - and Sunday was Easter. Another truly amazing thing: I have known Voni for 10 years or so and this was the first time I've seen her in a skirt. Heck, this is one of the few times I have *not* seen Don in a skirt ... but then he IS the Kiltmeister. Maybe he just did not want to distract from the theme.
    Saturday morning I was standing in a group chatting when suddenly most of the men quickly exited into the lot and disappeared around the corner. When they came back a first time (female) guest at our gathering asked "What did you all rush to?". One responded we are all serious about riding and when a bike goes by laying down on a trailer, we have to see it. True, we are drawn not like sharks to blood, but as empaths to pain. And those who look do not gawk to tisk at other's misfortune, but seek to learn some lesson from it. How did it happen, what could I do to avoid it. A beautiful blue K1200RS lay in mangled punctured pieces.
    News came in that the rider took the first curve down the hill too fast with cold tires, in the rain. He leaned over and the bike kept going straight, sliding. Bob was ok, with lots of bruises and only a chipped wrist. Bob who? I asked. Oh, that Bob. He didn't get the nickname Bouncing Bob for nothing.
    Good fun (except for Bob), good food, good friends, more good food, and good conversation, then ... good food. I noted a lot of the conversation was about places we've visited and meals enjoyed. BMW riders seem to talk more about how far they went, not how fast they went to get there, and then what they got when there, not what they got away with getting there. Then it was time for ... food. I'd say after 4 pieces of fried chicken, 2 halves of fried catfish, a piled plate of salad, about 15 peeled shrimp, a mess of green beans and bacon, and then 3 whole lobsters, I got my $20 worth. Oh, yes, blackberry cobbler too.
    What I like most about the awards at the Branson Blast is they are loosely defined. A good story is better than a number. The Hard Luck award was about to go to the wife who had to endure Bob Smith, but then as it was being presented a rider walked in the door having just arrived on a bike that suffered a broken shift lever 100 miles away. Cold, tired, wet, and almost too late, he said an RT doesn't like being nursed through slow traffic in 5th gear. Instant award! Best Protected Rider was about to go to the Cycle Gadgets guy who said he rode in a 32,000 pound motor home, but then a young woman simply held up a fully chrome plated helmet! Winner. Paul Glaves ALWAYS wins the Highest Odometer award when he rides his 375,000 mile K75 (yes, you read that right), but not this year. Remember, loosely defined. Someone stood up and said he measured Paul's bike. The odometer was 47 inches from the ground. His own GS was 53 inches so he had the "Highest" Odometer. Winner! There were three contestants from California for Long Distance Gentleman West, but we had to prove we were "gentlemen" by hugging Voni and letting the women rate the hug. Ahem, thanks ladies.

    By Sunday morning the entryway looked like a hotel again instead of a swarming ground for metal locusts. Several of the non-motorcycle guests could be seen giving cautious berth to the GS beaks clustered near the door. I was off to the East aiming for Tennessee before the approaching storm got there. The first of my "not yet this bike" states is North Carolina, and what better way to get to NC than Deals Gap? But not in the rain, if avoidable.
    Thanks again to Jim Hair for helping with arrangements at Branson. He also knows practically every road in Missouri and is The Source for riding info. Except ... I chose one he said he didn't know. Jim, if you're reading this, MO142 parallels US160 in direction, but not in deflection. MO142 has not been "gentled", it is full of first class woop-de-doos that make your stomach hit the roof at even a sedate 65. Add it to your list!
    Floating through the Missouri countryside on Easter morning I noted the churches were doing a good business (pun?). The grass around them was filled with cars angled in all directions, easily mistaken for Honest John's Used Car Lot. It was also easy to tell when services were over. The road was suddenly full of pickups pulling bass boats toward the lakes.
    It does seem every trip of mine has one unexpected dirt road. Hopefully, it is out of the way now. County Road 320 appeared to be paved on the map. To be accurate I should say it appeared to HAVE BEEN paved at one time. But it wasn't now. And I can see why the locals probably even helped the road to retrogress. Some nice houses out there and this would be a prime trucking shortcut. However, it was 5 miles of gravel on a K bike dancing around like a drunken Tiajuana bar girl. Dunlop tires do not like dirt, and neither experience is pretty to see.
    (Would an aside semi-snide comment be considered an Asnide?) I wonder if the people who choose locations for McDonalds ride motorcycles. They have the uncanny ability to place a McD where I need to P. Ok, too much information, sorry. But have you noticed how you never pay attention to a particular item/brand/name then it is "everywhere". Learning to ignore stimuli is actually a skill to be cultivated on a motorcycle. There is so much to process in situational awareness that distractions have to be weeded out without active thought. Riding a motorcycle is the world's best reality video game. The hand/eye/brain coordination is constant, continual, and critical. Oh, and there's another McD ...
    Wow. At the Missouri Tennessee border the elevation of the Mississippi River is only 325 feet above sea level. That is nearly 500 straight line miles to the mouth, and probably twice that in river miles. That is a slooooow flow.
    Think I'll stop here and wait a day for the storms to pass, in the motel right next to Bubba's Bagels.

332 miles
Branson MO76 US160 MO101 MO142 US160 MO158
MO142 CR320(dirt) MO53 MO25 US412 Jackson
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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