WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderSouth 10 - Winnfield, Louisiana
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 19:24:39 -0800

    A lotta miles, a whole lotta roads, and notalotta comments. It was a traveling day.
    Keeping an eye on the weather projections, I am trying to get beyond the humidor bowl where thunder showers are likely to erupt on Monday. By now I've seen enough of Mississippi and Louisiana, but I just can't bring myself to slab the Interstate when backroads beckon. There will be all too much I-balling later in the west, so I plot a crazy path.
    On this chilly morning deep in the 'Bama woods, four bloodhounds are out sunning themselves on the road. As I round the curve toward them, they jump up and start howling like the fox is on the run, each facing a different direction. It is warming to the spirit to hear the chorus only a pack of hounds can make. I suspect not a lot of motorcycles come this way. Most of the dogs I see along the roads shy away as though this fewer-wheeled road thingy is an angry, fast critter they don't know.
    Traffic is light Sunday morning as I zip along at a my normal "10 over", even when there are no speed limit signs. Twice I come upon slow cars on straight stretches that are marked double yellow. These sections might not be long enough for a car to pass another at normal speed, but given the acceleration of a motorcycle, they are easy and safe passes, so I do. Each time I felt a bit guilty about it, which got me thinking about why traffic laws have to be so restrictive. Of course it would be impossible for different rules to apply to different vehicles or different drivers. (By 'different vehicles' I mean more capable. There already are separate rules for the less capable, i.e. trucks.) The whole issue comes down to one of responsibility. If we were allowed to take responsibility for such actions should we cause a problem, it would be possible to rate drivers/riders according to their and their machine's ability. But so few people actually do take responsibility. For anything. I resolved to ride safely even if my actions didn't match the signage - and after that the 'guilt' went away.

    Every so often there is a thread on the motorcycle list about "why use or need a GPS?". Today gave me a good answer. At one point MS18 makes a pointed jag about 10 miles north then comes back south. My paper map did not show an alternate, but as I rode along I saw the continuance of MS512. I took it. While riding down this 'invisible' road, the GPS showed me my direction and my relative position to the jag. I would be able to tell right away if this road veered, and I could predict a rough rejoining location. I might not have been willing to invest 20 miles out of my way without this real time reassurance. Is it *necessary* ? No, but then if you really want to adventure, neither are paper maps necessary.

    Sometimes you look at something you see everyday and think you see a better solution ... then you have to wonder if it has been done this way forever, did someone already try your idea and discount it. If so, why? Log trucks all have their logs piled the same way. The base of the tree, the larger diameter, is toward the front. So they 'fill' the truck at the front and taper off at the rear. It occurred to me that if they were alternated front and back, each truck could carry nearly twice as many logs. Ok, so why not?

    Sooner or later all serious riders have to teach themselves one very important skill: how to sneeze inside a helmet. Well, not how to sneeze, but how to sneeze without a) painting the shield opaque, b) blowing out the earplugs, or c) ummm ... "losing fluid integrity" of bodily containment. We each meet this challenge our own way, and I usually have no problem slamming all the hatches shut just before the detonation. Except when it happens dead smack in the apex window of a tight curve. This sneeze caught me precisely at the point where I was calculating the lean limit and applying acceleration for the exit trajectory. I couldn't close both eyes, and if I didn't, well then choose a) b) or c). Note to self for next time: yelling YAAAACHOOOOO as loud as you can is not a good idea inside closed helmet. Even with ear plugs.

    Mississippi definitely gets the "Best Of" award this trip for the all important 3R's. Roads, Riding, Refreshments. The road condition even on the smallest state highways is excellent, and the terrain varies nicely across the state with not too much close forest to remove scenic views. The refreshment prize goes to another place Frank recommended. Barbecue Alert! Seems like LDRiders in particular like BBQ. Well add this to the list. Louise's Open Pit in Crystal Springs at MS27 and I59 is it. Frank recommended the pork steak, but I judge a Q by the beef brisket. Anyone can smoke ribs, but the quality of the meat they use for brisket tells me how careful they are. Gotta say, it is very rare that I enjoy beef bbq without needing sauce, but this was so good, tender, fatless, and flavorful it was better without. Yum.

447 miles
Greenville AL10 AL17 CR24 CR9 MS18 MS512 CR16 MS18 MS540 US49 MS13 MS43 MS28 MS27 Duke Rd. Fisher Ferry Rd. Halls Ferry Rd. I20 LA17 LA4 US165 LA126 LA499 LA34 Winnfield
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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