Awoke and packed. I’m getting better at the packing thing but so far have lost the only pair of cycling shorts that doesn’t gangle my man gangles and my specs and sunglasses which are probably being worn by an interesting camp man in a Jersey beach. Meandering through the Alabama mountains in the morning presents low level clouds and mountains. Titty bars too!
The Blue Plate breakfast joint was recommended to me by the lovely American-Indian man that runs the convenience store/gas station/pizza joint that his parents bought a while back. It’s fascinating that someone with a Biotech Masters and a keen interest in the world can give it up to sell vape batteries to meth heads.
Breakfast at the blue plate was interesting in that I learned that:
Ryan saw Ginko and went out to take in the details probably thinking “my 1200 Suzuki Bandit looks way better without all this crap all over it! Nice bloke.
The breakfast recommendation couldn’t have been better because I put the address into the Zumo and it took a few minutes to get to 1 Tranquillity Base, the NASA Rocket and Space Centre.
I did my now customary cruise by to check out the most Rockstar Parking spot and asked a guy in a golf cart by the Blackbird where would be best. He told me where the security was and I bumped Ginko up onto some grass, in front of the CEO’s car. I was sure someone would appear and a lovely security guy burst out. He rode a Fireblade but desperately wanted an Africa Twin. He said his legs were too short but I’m sure he could have got away with the low seat setting, there’s also a low seat option. From the interaction I was awarded a board members spot. Nice.
The space place left me a bit sad. The American government have really given up. Space Camp, the movie was filmed there in the 80’s and at the time I wanted so badly to go. The camp is closed and the exhibits are tired. It seems that the Smithsonian is really pandering to the large groups of kids that propel themselves through the gates, past the exhibitions of incredible old technology to the rides in the back. There also seems to be a slightly dark influence of the military. I suppose they have to fill the army somehow.
I asked the girl who sold me a sticker for my helmet where I could buy the Camera that Anne had researched and recommended and toward the big box stores I headed. It was hot. Really really hot and despite a valiant effort by the chap in Target and searching by dude in Best Buy the only thing we could find was a TS25 not the LUMIX TS5 I was after.
I fuelled up, bought a gallon of water and a cup of ice from a very frosty Indian lady topped half over myself and put the rest in my backpack.
Muscle Shoals was next and boy was it hot. See the Netflix film. I met the studio manager and bought a sticker from the girl in the blissfully air conditioned office.
Next freak out was the realisation that I was an hour behind meeting The TAT Saint to pick up tyres and oil. It was the difference in time zone that did it, so Ginko was wrong and the phone was right. I got to Lakeside Motors to meet the gang and see their amazing store. Even if you are in the state I would recommend visiting because they have some truly amazing old bikes in there.
Off to dinner we then went, with the legendary Sam Correro and back to take the wheels off Ginko and camp for the night in The Saint’s garden. We really needed the wheels to be balanced so decided to leave it ’till Wednesday to mount and balance them at the Lakeview Motors. This gave The Saint, Sam and I the opportunity to go out and eat Catfish, which I have to say tastes nothing like the disgusting mud flavoured slime that we would catch in the farm dams of my Zimbabwean childhood. It was really good.
After a breakfast of The Saint’s excellent biscuits and sausage in the truck on the way to Lakeview we spoke to the head wrench and I realised I had forgotten the heavy duty tube that I wanted to put in the back wheel. I was having slight problems fitting the things massive girth in my pannier pockets and thought it better actually in the wheel preventing punctures. The lovely owner of Lakeview lent me a sporty little 230cc on which I flipflop and shorts’d back to The Saint’s man cave and back, stopping for the most entertaining refuel at the gas station on the way.
By the way… If you are ever in the area you must make an effort to pop into Lakeview Motors In Corinth, Duane had the most incredible bike collection in a special area that is a fair proportion of the already massive floor space. Everyone there is incredibly friendly and they have some old bikes that you would give body parts for, like possibly my most lusted after Honda, the RVF 750.
After lunch Sam very kindly dropped me off at The Saint’s where I mounted the Shinko 804/5 knobbly equipped wheels (the rear is a massive pain in the hole to get on) then changed the oil. We figured it’s better to do it now so it lasts to the end of the #TransAmericaTrail.
Now. The TOTAL BASTARD that did the first service on my bike can rot in hell. It took me a long… Long…long time to do the oil change because:
a) SOMEONE didn’t put lube on the filter gasket
b) SOMEONE also used some kind of heavy duty tool to tighten the oil filter
Despite The Saint’s fully equipped workshop with filter removers and filter mashers and straps and all sorts of relevant tools I had to revert to Zimbabwe bush mechanics and DRIVE A F**KING SCREWDRIVER THROUGH MY BRAND NEW BIKE. Okay I’m being a bit dramatic, but when it’s 40°C and near 100% humidity and you have been shirtlessly struggling for ages it’s pretty rude to have to resort to that. I know it’s only a disposable part, but still. If I hadn’t had practice doing this on shitty old cars in the past I could have hit the thread and screwed the engine. I had to put my full weight on the pierced part to get the thing off. Grrrrr.
I also had to change the DCT clutch filter, which is yellow when it’s new. The Saint put my mind at rest a bit about the newfangled gearbox because, unbeknownst to me, Honda have been using it in their ATVs for a while now. If you can tow tractors with a 1000cc DCT equipped ATV then I think I should be okay!
Once that was done I scooted over to Sam’s place and the gent of gents made a delicious dinner (watch out ladies) and got me drunk on a deliciously sweet Rose. We did map things, played with phones and computers, I had an incredibly refreshing shower and talked to Anne over FaceTime, which brought me great joy. I miss her immensely and wish she was here to experience all these lovely genuine and incredibly hospitable people.
Sam Correro, the godfather and creator of the #TransAmericaTrail spends his life doing a great many things on and around the trail to ensure it is a great adventure. The man works tirelessly on routes and information which I now realise, after meeting him, that he’s a humble bloke who deserves all the support he can get. He is doing America proud in the best way and should be recognised as such.
He would probably deny what I just said, but get behind the man and you will see for yourself. In fact you may have the chance to do so if his home move goes through… Watch this space
So I loaded up my roll chart, got advice from the man himself and am about to head off to start the real trail. Excited and very nervous. Wish me luck!