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Well I prolly should have been painting my living room, but weather was just too damn nice. Fired up Temptress (on second try, after being in garage for 6 weeks with no tender on the Yuasa). The Southern Cruisers were doing their annual state-wide get together but I felt more like riding on my own schedule and route (plus I overslept and would have missed the SCRC group leaving from here anyway!). Fooled around with the maps last night and planned a route of sorts. [Aside: the state has about a dozen x-country bicycle routes, including one that goes right through here. I don't follow them exactly, but they make a good starting point for a nice wandering ride.]

This was also my first chance to try riding with the new MP3 player Santa brought me. WOW!. I was in no hurry to get tunes for riding, generally preferring the silence or the white noise of engine/road/wind. But with the right tunes, the joy of riding moves to a higher level. If Heaven isn't zipping down curving two-lane blacktop under a cloudless sky, with Clarence Clemons sax solo from Jungleland playing... I'm not sure I want to go. One of my top ten lifetime riding moments is now accelerating through the gears to the accompaniment of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) playing -- the Stevie Ray Vaughn version.

So with a couple of hours of carefully selected songs downloaded (Benetar, Union Station, SRV, even some Zachary REE-chard in honor of Mike!) I headed in a generally easterly direction. I definitely had been suffering from an undiagnosed case of PMS since parking the scoot last month. About 10 miles down the road, I was grinning like a mule eating briers and just couldn't stop. As I waved to the first bike coming the other direction, I remembered again why their is a brotherhood of bikers. I could never fully explain the feeling you get out on two wheels on a day like today, but I bet the other guy understood it. I may never know anything else about him, but having that in common with him made him my brother.

First half hour or so was on familiar roads (allowing me to jam on my songs!) and included some of my favorite twisties (come to Mayberry Madness in June and see for yourself!). Then ventured onto new roads. Saw more and more bikes as the day went on...highs made it to near 70 by day's end and the only clouds in the sky were wispy contrails from jets.

Passed through the town of Stoneville («http://www.town.stoneville.nc.us/» population 995) and decided to snap a pic of it's quaint little downtown. Good old boy in his 60's approached me and asked if I was working for Bin Laden. I *think* he was kidding.

Lunch planned in Eden, North Carolina. Yes I looked for a garden to photograph, but no joy. Settled for fast food and a break from the stock seat (which actually performed fairly well until about 5 hours into the ride).

Wound around some back country roads until I reached my destination -- Hyco Lake (for some reason...just looked like somewhere to go on the map). The restaurant/convenience store parking lot, which normally serves as the bait/tackle/boat launch place for that part of the lake, had a parking lot full of motorcycles. Told you it was a good destination! Seemed to be at least a couple of organized groups out for rides (prolly from the Raleigh area). Walked down to the "marina" (gravel boat launch and 3-slip dock!) and sat on a bench soaking in the scenery. Struck up a conversation with a couple of fishermen who were having no luck (but who reminded me that "a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work"; I told them they should try riding!!).

Day was passing and I reminded myself that despite the weather this was not May or September and that it would be getting dark (and cooler) earlier. I shaved a few miles off the proposed route and took a shortcut back to a US Highway that would pretty much give me a straight and uneventful (and largely uninteresting) ride home. Discovered another good thing about having the MP3 player, as it made the return trip pass a little more quickly. Stopped right before dark to throw on another layer (my Nelson-Rig rain suit top which doubles nicely as a mid-weight windbreaker without taking up the extra space in the saddlebag). Pulled into the driveway 225* miles and 6½ hours after I left. Might be enough to get me through a couple of months of winter, with the help of a heated garage to work on my mods and maintenance. Hurry Spring!

{* In following my detailed directions from Streets & Trips, I was reminded of the odometer discrepancy. I had thought it was fairly small -- about 2% -- but it seemed to be closer to 10% high as I went along. Which I guess matches the known 10% speedo discrepancy}

Pics can be seen at http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/unclegomer/album?.dir=/7950&.src=ph
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