As we get ready to close out 2015 and begin 2016, I need no one to remind me that our riding season was truncated back in mid-October. So, having only had one chance to ride our new-to-us Road King CVO since our incident, you can bet your boots we’re anxious to get back on horse with gusto in 2016. So, here now is a look back at the highlights from 2015 and what we have in mind for 2016.
2015 In Review
2015 got off to a very slow start as cold, snowy and wet conditions kept us off the motorcycle until we were able to sneak in a very short ride on February 7th. We were 32 days out from Bike Week in Daytona and our destination was The Red Eyed Mule for a lunch date on a day when we finally saw temps in the 50’s with sunny skies. By mid-Feb we were back into the low teens at night and would see the 30’s and 40’s during the day. I was still making my daily commutes on the BMW R1100S, but Blue was parked waiting for warmer weather.
On March 12th we headed down to Daytona Beach for the last four days of Bike Week. It was our usual, somewhat short 4-day trip where most of Thursday and all of Sunday were spent riding to and from Daytona. But, that always seems to be about the right amount of time for us. There’s only so much ‘sun and fun’ we can enjoy in any one place before we start to feel the need to change locales.
The rest of March and April were months where we once again had rain and/or cold weather on the weekends so we added zero miles to Blue and were anxiously awaiting the arrival of April 30th and our trip down to Panama City Beach for Thunder Beach. The 2015 Spring Edition turned out to be the best PCB trip we’d had in some time. The weather although cold when we rode down, turned out to be nice for all four days in PCB, noting it had rained on the previous 4 trips.
I should note that from mid-May until late early September the BMW was sidelined after it fell out of a front wheel chock in the garage that destroyed the right saddle bag lid, windscreen and headlight. The damaged lid was replaced by mid-July as was the windscreen. Replacing the headlight turned out to be something of a dramatic mini-series and far more trouble than it should have been. It was on BMW’s third attempt at putting the $700 headlight in my hand that they finally got it right. I rode the Wide Glide to work for most of those three months and got pretty comfortable using it as my commuter: good thing I held onto it, eh??
The highlight of our year came in late June / early July when we rode Blue down to Key West during a week-long holiday break. We broke the journey up into four legs: Atlanta to Orlando, Orlando to Key West, Key West to St. Augustine and then St. Augustine to Atlanta. All told we rode about 2,150 miles over the 10 day trip and it was amazing! We’re ready to do it all again!!
Unlike previous years, we really didn’t to too many day trips up to the North Georgia Mountains and I believe most of it had to do with the weather. It was really a wet year and it seemed like we’d get beautiful weather during the week, with rain on the weekends. So, we didn’t spend a lot of time on Blue again until Labor Day weekend in September when we headed up to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with our partners in crime, David & Deb, for our third visit in as many years. We dodged the rain but got caught a few times and never made it to my target destination: Wheels Through Time Museum. So, next year we’ll probably head to Asheville, North Carolina and tie in a visit to the WTT museum.
As I said, we didn’t get in any other day trips during 2015, but we were pretty good about getting out at least once a weekend if only to make the trip over to Loco Willy’s on Sunday for hot wings or to ride a backroads loop out through Cartersville, Georgia. Intermixed with our motorcycle riding was a little bicycle riding, noting that we have a passion for both and do our best to make sure neither activity suffers because of the other. We had a nearly perfect weekend on Sept 19 and 20 when we were able to find the time for some road, off-road tandem and motorcycle rides.
We were pretty jazzed about having all but one weekend in October booked up with ‘rallies’ noting that the first weekend we planned to be in Richmond, Virginia for the Southern Tandem Rally, home the next and then down to Daytona Beach on October 15 – 18 and then to Panama City Beach on October 23 – 27 for the fall motorcycle rallies. Sadly, while our Daytona weekend got off to a great start with all kinds of good times on Thursday and Friday, the entire weekend and the rest of our year were transformed when a car decided to drive into us around 6:40pm on Friday night. The abridged version can be found on our “Although we never made it to dinner” blog entry.
The collision in Daytona pretty much ended our relationship with Blue who was ultimately totaled, dispatched to the salvage yard and auctioned off to the highest bidder. In parallel, we spent the better part of October and November getting Miss Debbie healthy and finding a replacement for Blue down in Florida. The insurance claim process was a bit bumpy with some fits and starts and we’ll probably be working those claims for several more months. But, in addition to getting Debbie healthy we were able to find an identical Sapphire Blue 2013 CVO Road King to replace Blue and ‘tweaked’ the new-to-us bike to replicate all of the refinements and personalizations that made Blue Blue.
After getting the final touches on Blue II — a new Fullsac exhaust system, a pro-tune on the dyno, and the saddle reworked — Debbie joined me for her first ride on the motorcycle since the October 16th accident on December 14th. It was a huge moment for us, as neither of us could be certain that getting back on the motorcycle would be a source of joy or anxiety for Debbie. I think it was a little of both at first, but by the time we finished our ride it was all good.
2016 and a Look Ahead
In terms of the trips we’d like to make and places we hope to visit in 2016, there are the usual destinations and our Sunday rides to Loco Willy’s and beyond and perhaps a few new ones that we’d like to check-off:
January – If weather will allow, a visit to Dahlonega would be nice. We’re way overdue and it would be a good way to make sure Blue II is truly sorted out and ready for the longer rides we’ll be making in March and May.
February – At least a lunch date in Blue Ridge at Harvest on Main is in our future, weather willing.
March – Daytona Beach for the 75th Annual Bike Week, returning to the scene of the crime as it were. Yes, despite our run-in with a local — noting there are a lot more just like her behind the wheel in Florida — we are still excited about getting a full four-days, perhaps even five down on the beach. We’ll need to make our lodging arrangements soon as I suspect it will be hard to find rooms given the size of the crowds that hit Sturgis for its 75th anniversary.
April – We’ll most likely be headed to Huntsville for a tandem cycling weekend, but perhaps we’ll be able to combine that with a motorcycle tour! It’s something we first thought about when we headed over to the Southern Tandem Rally at Culman, Alabama in 2013 and it’s why we bought a certain accessory for Blue. So, if the weather looks promising, we may do the double: a motorcycle trip to a tandem rally!
May – It’s Panama City Beach for our 9th Thunder Beach rally. Can’t wait, as we really enjoy our walks on the beach, the ride out to Indian Gap Raw Bar, the Outpost for Bikers and our visits to Sharky’s for Baha Taco’s. Oh yeah, and of course awesome times with our friends. We’ll have another tandem bicycle rally that will consume another weekend in May and that will also means the weekends leading up to it will demand some additional time on the bicycles instead of Blue.
June – As much as I’d like to point the bikes North towards Nashville, I’m reminded that it’s still a major destination for bachelorette parties and that’s a non-starter. So, we may need to rethink that weekend and perhaps we’ll just do a quick trip up to Maryville, Tennessee, via the Cherohala Skyway and Dragon’s Tail to visit friends for the weekend.
July – I’m leaning heavily towards a do-over of last year’s trip down to Key West but may tie in some visits with friends near Fort Myers and Tallahassee for the return trip. We had such a good time last July.
August – Some local day trips to the mountains would be nice and, again, perhaps another motorcycle / tandem combo trip to Dahlonega.
September – Wheels Through Time Museum and Asheville, North Carolina would be the plan unless we decided to do that in June or August. The long weekend works out well from a work standpoint, but I don’t like the holiday crowds or pumped-up hotel rates.
October – Biketoberfest in Daytona and Thunder Beach in Panama City Beach top the list, along with the Southern Tandem Rally in Cookeville, Tennessee.
November & December – Still to be determined, but clearly weather dependent.
Anyway, that’s the framework we’ll be working from. We’re already less than 75 days away from Daytona Beach in March: can’t wait!