I’ve been trying, like most people, to find many different ways to go out and enjoy both my motorcycle and the great outdoors. One of my major problems is that I have been finding myself trapped in the same 50-100 mile loops. It has been a struggle identifying ways to get myself out and enjoying more miles in more places. Enter my father in-law. He mentions to me this annual riding campaign called the Tour of Honor. The Tour of Honor identifies several locations throughout each state to attract rides to, which includes veteran memorials, first responder memorials, war memorials, and more. I thought that I would give this a try, but first I needed to know if I could handle the miles. Luckily for me, I had a plan to ride the Cherohala Skyway and add a few extra extensions to Clinton so I could break into the 200 mile range.
Up to this point, my average long day maxed out at approximately 125 miles, but primarily bottomed out at 100 miles flat. So I took off and rode through the skyway, rode through Clinton and finished at home around 217 miles. I was quite happy with my miles so I knew that I could handle more.
So my next goal was simple: to ride to 3 Tour of Honor stops between southern Tennessee and northern Georgia and to touch a new state (Alabama). So I packed my rain suit, snacks, tools, Go Pros, and chargers so that I would be ready to ride. I used a tool called MapstoGPX which allowed me to take a Google Maps route and create a .gpx file that could be exported to my Garmin Zumo 220. The website is free to use but warns people that the website may not always generate the best results. I have currently had no issues thus far using this tool.
When I wake up the morning of the departure, I realized that I could add one more stop, giving me 4 Tour of Honor stops. Needless to say, I added this final step, and hopped for the best!
Yamaha Motorsports has been releasing this web series about “the journey” and finding out why people love their Star motorcycles. The one thing that resonated with me is that the journey isn’t about point A and point B, but the experience while trying to get to B. I feel like I had this trip planned out, so enjoy below the adventures of my trip.
My trip set me out heading out to Crossville, TN to reach the 9/11 Memorial. Not only my first stop, more than likely my favorite TOH stop of my entire trip. The greatest benefit of riding to Crossville includes the many state routes one gets to ride on. This section of my trip was a bit chilly, but perfect due to the lack of traffic in the early hours.
Stop #2 involved reaching Bridgeport, Alabama. One of my new year’s goals is to visit at least one new state. Since half of my stops were near Chattanooga, I figured a short trip to Alabama would be easy. The routes were easy, and the views scenic.
Stop #3 would bring me to Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. At the time of my arrival, it was quite a busy place, but rest assured, I was able to get my photos taken. Due to my inability to own locking luggage, I was unsteady of leaving items unlocked on my motorcycle, nor did I want to be taxed with carrying it all around. Thus, this stop was short.
About this time, I was getting extremely hungry. Luckily for me, stop #4 included lunch at the Choo-Choo Bar-B-Que in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I thought the prices were great, the service was quick, and the food was amazing. Now I’m from North Carolina where the bar-b-que is chopped and the tea is sweet, and I was quite pleased with my order. Needless to say, I will be headed back there again soon. One of the restaurant customers stated to me to keep it between the paint, wishing me good fortune on my trip.
My post lunch stop took me to the Veterans Memorial Park. The heat had started to set in by this point in the day, and I was beginning to struggle to keep up. The park had great size and many monuments to view, covering many branches of the Armed Forces.
From this point, I headed near home, my last stop of the day took me to the World War II Memorial in Knoxville, Tennessee. Though the building behind the monument was getting renovated, I managed to sneak my way to the memorial without blocking the sidewalk for long.
So ultimately, to complete my total trip, I had to take gas stops every 50-90 miles to ensure I stayed within my safe range (traveling on faster highways at speeds of 60+ drastically decreases mpg on this small motorcycle). Because of the number of stops, taking time to get off the motorcycle and walk around, and take time to get out of my helmet and jacket; I was ultimately able to feel quite relaxed when I arrived home. I am quite happy with my totals: 337 miles just under 8 hours. I can’t wait to own a larger motorcycle to make these adventures easier.
Excitingly, I should be taking my Ohio version of my Tour of Honor route here soon, and I can’t wait to share those results with you. I’ll be asking the biker gods to give me sunshine and dry roads.
Bonus: Motorcycle Venue
The next day, the wife and I took off to Atlanta, Georgia to explore the wonderful world of Ikea. Since we lived in Charlotte, we loved to shop there and furnish our home with many pieces from here. Upon finishing our adventure there, we took off to checkout the new venue site for Brother Moto. For those of you who don’t know, Brother Moto is a coffeehouse and DIY Garage co-op. By selecting a membership level (there are several to choose from) an individual can perform maintenance on their own motorcycle, utilize tools, lifts, and machines to assist in services, disposal of oil and tires, and even bike storage. This seems to be an amazing idea for those who are needing the space to work on their motorcycle and may not have in based upon their living arrangements. Great place, and I can’t wait to visit here again as well.
The Patch Collection
After getting home from Atlanta, I took out all of my patches, primarily because I just picked up a new one, I wanted to remember all the patches I’ve gotten thus far.
Here are the stories that belong with my patches thus far:
- The Harley Davidson patches (Cherokee and Smoky Mountain) are from my 450 mile, Sportster 1200Low rental in 2015 when I rode through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time via motorcycle
- the Iron Elite patch was created to honor the heritage of African American Riders
- the two Biker Rags patches were given from a local motorcycle shop: locally and veteran owned
- Tour of Honor patch was received for registering to hit as many locations as possible
- Deals Gap US 129 and “I Rode Mine 16” patches are from my riding of the Tail of the Dragon back in October 2016
- Yamaha with the rising sun patch was bought because my first motorcycle is a 1999 Yamaha Virago 1100
- Brother Moto is for my trip to their shop and hopes for visits, and lastly
- Watch out for Motorcycles was bought from Inked Iron in support of motorcycle awareness
I can’t wait to get a vest so that I have a way to show off all these patches and to have more adventures to highlight.
That’s it for this week. It’s open season on motorcycling, so many of my post will be more motorcycle focused, but worry not as the weather turns from hot to cool, my backpacking will pick back up. Thanks for following this long post and going along on my adventures with me.