Woke up early, went downstairs to the continental breakfast for coffee. One thing I’ve learned is to take the tray that is usually under the ice bucket to breakfast so you can carry two cups of coffee, OJ, milk, and a bowl of cereal back to the room. Mission accomplished, no spills. I look at weather radar and it’s not good news. Rain is moving in so I finish breakfast, pack up, check out, and hit the road. I manage to get away before the rain gets to Elizabethtown, but the respite was temporary. The gps display hints that wetness may be unavoidable, and a quick rainshower proves the point.
I’m at the exit for Mammoth Cave National Park, so I opt to exit here and see what the rain gods have in mind for today. I stop and fill the tank, and take some time to survey the radar and the general gray skies. I decide to go to Mammoth Cave National Park, since I’m so close and I have a National Parks Pass. That decision turns out to be a wet one. I get back close to Bowling Green and it’s raining hard and more rain is coming. I find an abandoned gas station next to an operating one and I take refuge under the awning. A pleasant surprise is that the awning is transparent to XM signals and I can continue to watch the area of rain moving west to east. I get a cup of coffee and a snack and wait out the rain. While I’m waiting, I make some calls and strangely, people that are sitting at desks working are none too sympathetic to a motorcyclist on vacation even if they are getting wet. Laughter seemed to be the most common response. Undeterred by the laughter, I reiterate the motto “biking is better than working.” Although, biking in the rain isn’t a lot better than working, but it is better. Barely.
The rain eventually clears out, but leaves the roads very wet. I head out, the next major town is Nashville. Most of the ride to Nashville is uneventful, but as I get closer there are some storms moving from the south between Nashville and Knoxville, so I opt for a warm lunch and the time should allow the storms to move across the route. Lunch was good and the storms are now north of my route. Knoxville arrives on the gps right on schedule and I turn south towards Chattanooga. The terrain is becoming more hilly and mountains are visible. This is why I came down here – to ride in the north Georgia mountains. Continuing south, I can see some storms moving towards the northeast near Canton, my destination. I decide to stop and top off the tank, and take my time so that the storms can move through.
It didn’t quite work as planned. I was dry until I was on highway 20 heading for Canton. I got behind a log truck running about 30 mph and that slow speed gave the thunderstorm plenty of time to wet me down. The truck and the rain worked in perfect concert so that when I got to the hotel, my pants were soaked. My jacket, helmet, and gloves kept my upper body dry, but my jeans were soaked.
After a last-minute route change and two days of dodging rain, I was there. The trip was over 800 miles, and was the longest one-way ride I’ve taken. I learned about dodging weather, the importance of a warm and waterproof jacket, the fact that stopping for a while is often a lot safer than pushing on, and that a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park will cause you to get wet (100% of the time, in my experience).
I met up with John at the hotel, mrprez on the GL1800 forums, and we had dinner at Cracker Barrel. We decided to take a ride tomorrow on a route he’s familiar with, so the next adventure awaits.