Harleys and rainstorms
Contrary to popular belief, I’m not on a permanent holiday. Just saying. This holiday however, was much needed, having only had a week off since November. Should try harder. I had done the usual, leaving packing until the last minute. In my own defence though, I’m getting pretty good at it. Maybe.
After much soul searching and discussing ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time), I decided I was only going to take my Draggin’ jeans. Kevlar lined and only as safe as the place I landed. That’s all well and good. Fantastic if you are being dragged on your arse, but not good if you land on something important, like a hip. I decided that I couldn’t cope with a fetty swanny in my textiles. Too much information. Sorry. It’s not going to rain though. Surely? So, the night before we were leaving, Ed asked if I’d packed waterproofs. No. I hadn’t. Apparently, in my knackered brain, it wasn’t going to rain. It’s Florida. It doesn’t rain in Florida in June. Feeling suitably chastised, I packed the Berghaus waterproofs, desperate to have that moment that I was able to say, “I told you so.” Not fecking likely, as it transpires!
We flew with Thomas Cook. Well, James Martin has got hold of their in-flight food and I have to say it was fabulous. A really tasty curry. The flight passed really quickly, even with a shit selection of films.
We’re off to Florida this time. Well, we’re flying into Orlando and collecting rental bikes. No M.I.C.K.E.Y….. M.O.U.S.E. for us though. No Indian for me this time. Gutted. After years of avoiding them like the plague, I’m going to be riding a Harley. Really, I am.
Now, we had a challenging time getting the bikes we wanted. Although they were clearly advertised as available, and we spoke to a real person when booking, rather than relying on internet booking, Eaglerider still managed to make the whole process a pain in the butt. I nearly ended up with a Sportster. I didn’t want that in the slightest. The riding position is pants.
It seems that there’s exclusivity now for Eaglerider, it’s a Harley or a Harley. No choice. As it happened, they got a Dyna Low Rider sent up from Tampa. That in itself wasn’t guaranteed to happen. I was crossing my fingers that I’d get what I booked. We didn’t know for sure until we got to the store. In the steaming heat. I was glad I didn’t have to throw toys out the pram. I got the bike I wanted. (Whatever has changed at Eaglerider has not been for the good of their customers. Since coming home, I got an email to fill out a survey and there was a space for further comments. So, I commented).
Ed attached Smoggy’s sat nav beautifully to his bike, Eaglerider has stopped providing a sat nav. WTF? Really, that was easy money. A job so neat and tidy that Andy Brown (our can-fix-everything-go-to-man) would have been chuffed to bits with his handy work. Bags strapped on to the back seat, we were nearly ready to go. Just to be sure I was ok, I did a wee bit of slow-mo around the car park. (Kev would have been proud of me!) In fairness, Ed suggested it, however, I would have done so anyway as it’s a big heavy bike, and I was glad as my wee size 4s were struggling to change gear….. so, after eventually persuading them to remove Ed’s screen, (it was as if we were asking them to put on square wheels) it was a further test for them to move my shifter. “Don’t know if we have a spanner to do that…” FFS, there’s a service department behind you. Jump to it, the sweat’s trickling down my face, neck, and about to become a gushing torrent of melt down, a mill lade was springing to mind. As it happens, Ed helped; in actual fact, Ed did the work. Go Ed. The Eaglerider guy didn’t have a clue. That’s a worry. Even I knew all that had to be done to move the gear level down and THAT’S saying something!
On the road at last, and I settled into the lump of 103 cubic inches of Harley. Ed had planned a route the night before, so we were off. Heading towards Sandestin on the Gulf coast, to stay at Embarc, our property bond / time-share thingy.
We took the direct route to the coast road to get some miles under our belt. It also gave me a chance to get used to RC. Pronounced Arsey. Its number plate is 1937RC.
So, we were trundling along and it was really muggy. Now we know that the weather they are getting here in June, is what they normally get in July. Making fair progress, we were paying attention to the looming big black clouds ahead of us. Not only that, there was a curtain of rain. A big grey slab of it.
We pulled over and popped on our over-trousers in the nick of time. Then, we got completely pebble-dashed with some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever ridden in. Thunder bolts of lightning, (very, very frightening) and by feck did it sting, even through my Klim jacket. It was like riding through a very powerful car wash.Being pebble-dashed by large needles.
Just as well the cars in front had their hazards on. I could barely see the cars in front, the rain was pounding down that much I could hardly see 5m in front of me. Normal, sane people would have pulled in, however, we’re not normal I guess. We live in Tyndrum. We’re used to impromptu monsoon weather; well, without the heat. Then it was my worst (Harley) nightmare as RC started to cough and splutter. Oh no….. I had to drop down 3 gears to get power and had to keep the throttle open to clear the air filter. Well, we’re guessing it was the air filter. A very slow round of applause for the total knob at Harley design who decided that an open filter would look really cool.
Every time we got a soaking, RC coughed and spluttered. Team work kicked in. Any time it rained, I would go in front, just in case I wasn’t able to resuscitate the bike. It was only day one! As it happens, I didn’t have to call a recovery truck, however, it was a close run thing. In general, we didn’t get too much rain, however, I have seen as much thunder and lightning in two weeks as I have in my entire life! I didn’t sign up for rain! The only good thing about the rain was the vents in my Roof helmet. The rain was so heavy, it was shooting through the front vent which, conveniently, went straight into my mouth. Nice. Rehydrating as I rode.
Clear of the rain, at last we got a bit of a ‘blow-dry’ which was quite frankly it was like riding through a hairdryer. We were heading towards the gulf coast. It was getting on in the day and it was quite nice with the ocean on our left, mangroves on our right. RC was low on fuel though. When it goes into reserve, it shows 30 miles to go. Then it plummets like a stone and when it gets to 10 miles left, it might as well say “you’re in the shit now!” ‘Very low’ wasn’t quite adequate!
In the nick of time, I got fuel. The next challenge was accommodation. That wasn’t quite so easy and there wasn’t a fall back on bookingdotcom. We found somewhere, and by all accounts it was the last room in the town. It was dark by the time we unloaded our bikes and got out to find supper. There was only one restaurant open after 9pm. Thankfully it was a good one.
We had a rather delicious dinner with a stunning bottle of wine. The waitress was a bit nuts and did a magic job of selling dessert. Now, remember we were in America….. she described this dessert so well we had to have it. With a silky-smooth M&S (American) sexy food voice. It tasted as good as it looked. Gooey chocolate covered with an obscene caramel sauce that was well worth it. It was, after all, calorie free. We’d worked hard, I’m sure we deserved it. We didn’t take much rocking. Zzzz.
On the bikes at 10.30am and off them at 9. Phew. It was a good first day and I have to say I had no bother riding RC. Now on to Sandestin for a chill.