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This weekend was my fourth annual late fall motorcycle trip from Raleigh, NC to Nags Head, NC at the Outer Banks on the coast of North Carolina. Nags Head is just a couple miles from the site in Kill Devil Hills were the Wright brothers made mankind’s first heaver-than-air powered flight on December 17th, 1903. If you visit during the colder months, you’ll understand about the winds the brothers found helpful in their quest. Legend has it that the name of the place originated many years ago when the locals would find ship wreck cargo washed up on the shore. The rum in some of those lost barrels was supposedly strong enough to “kill the devil.”

My riding buddy, Dave was scheduled to swing by my place at 8:30 a.m. on his Kawasaki KLR to meet me. Around 8:10, I heard a motorcycle, but said to my self that it was not a KLR. Looked out my window and thought, “Is that an FZ-6? No, it’s a new red ’05 V-Strom 650!” Well, I was completely surprised. It was fresh with dealer tags and he had only put 50 miles on it so far. This trip would put it over the 500 mile, most strict, break-in period.

A few days before leaving I worked up a route using my mapping program on the computer and then loaded it up onto my Garmin GPS V. Almost everything went very well with the a couple exceptions. One was being directed down a dirt road that could have been someone’s driveway. Another involved instructions reading, “Turn left onto Big Daddy’s Road NE.” Wrong! At those points I zoomed the screen out, located another part of the route, and worked our way over in that direction.

The total trip down on Saturday was a little over 250 miles, but I routed us over a lot of back roads, so the trip lasted for more than six hours. Much of the trip was along the Historic Albemarle Tour. Founded in 1975, it is one of the oldest Heritage Trails in North Carolina. It passes through Native American sites, lands settled in the colonial era, farms representative of plantation society, and battle ground sites of the War of Northern Aggression. We would ride for fifteen minute stretches at a time without seeing another vehicle. It was kind of strange; vast expanses of marsh, deep rows of cotton crop remains, abandoned farmhouses consumed by shrubbery, steely overcast sky and surprising winds.

It was a cold day. After we had ridden for about an hour, we stopped at a Burger King for Cresandwitch and coffee; no problems. But, when we stopped a couple hours later at Hardee’s for a messy chili cheeseburger, I was literally shivering. Now, keep in mind that I was in a leather jacket, full quilted liner, full face helmet with vents closed, electric vest and gloves. I think my legs were exposed in my jeans (Draggin’ Jeans with Kevlar) for just too many hours. I had packed ski pants and should have put them on, but I didn’t feel like the hassle or the added bulk. Dave had no electrics and I do not know how he did it. At one point, he wanted to pull over to warm his hands. I noticed a south facing brick wall and told him to put his hands thereon to soak up some heat from the thermal mass. It worked. (His KLR has headed grips but he has not fitted a set to the new V-Strom.)

We got to the Day’s Inn after 3:00 p.m. Old but nicely kept. They had hot apple cider mulling in the lobby. We took some in Styrofoam cups, up to the room and added a drop of Cutty Sark…for medicinal purposes. Ocean view room, the heat on high, dead tired from the ride; life is good. After a while we walked across and down South Virginia Dare Trail a block to the Port O’ Call restaurant, a favorite. I ordered Blackbeard’s Plate; crabmeat, half a lobster tail, shrimp broiled, garlic mashed potatoes and sweet peapods. I had no desert, but a large cup of kick butt espresso. Mmm. I knew it could not keep me up after the day’s adventure.
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