Wild, wet, windy Western Kentucky
Big Ride 22
Nashville to Louisville
I have been to Nashville a few times and it always surprises me. I’m not a big country music fan, I guess because much of my childhood was like a bad country song, so I didn’t think I would like Nashville, with its strong connection to country music. I thought it would be old and tired and dirty. I figured the only people there were cigarette-smoking, whiskey-drinking rednecks decked out in cowboy boots and cowboy hats. While there is indeed some of that, Nashville is a lot more. Nashville is vibrant and modern.
It’s a college town, home to Vanderbilt University (everyone’s favorite homecoming opponent, and where all the other teams of the SEC wipe their cleats). Vandy was founded by shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. The joke goes like this: “Vanderbilt – even the name sounds expensive.” Being a college town, there are a lot of young people here, and off Broadway, the famous strip of bars and honkytonks, there are lots of more laid back places for those who aren’t interested in bands blaring country at 150 decibels. In the area I stayed, there were lots of cool little places to hang out far removed from all the noise and a lot more like any little college neighborhood in any little college town.
Broadway itself is a spectacle. It is Nashville’s “main-drag” and is full of restaurants, saloons, and bars, most of which don’t just have a live band, but a live band on every floor. Most of the bands that I saw were young kids (Everybody is a young kid to me at my age). I suppose many of them are here trying to get discovered and catch their big break.
But I couldn’t linger in Nashville. So, I got up and was out by 0800. It was a dreary, overcast morning, with a light drizzle. My Bluetooth earpods turn on automatically and the song that started the day was the very sad “Te Extrano” by Luis Miguel. Te extrano means “I miss you” and in the song he is saying how much he misses her in so many times and seasons of his life. The way Luis sings it, he makes one believe him. It got me to thinking about all the
people I have loved in my life who are no longer in my life. Parents, lovers, friends lost in combat, friends from high school gone way too soon, friends lost for no good reason. I clicked it to the next song.
So, my mood matched the overcast weather. Things would get better.
But they didn’t.
I fired up the bike and got an engine light. So I ran the engine for a couple of minutes and checked the oil. On these Indian bikes, the air-cooled 111 engine is really almost bulletproof, so low oil is about the only thing one has to worry about, but that wasn’t the problem. What can be a problem is the electronics. Apparently a sensor was acting up. This happens sometimes when they get dirty, like, from riding for hours in the rain. I decided to risk it and pushed off.
I got on the interstate headed north toward Louisville and noticed that the engine light was still on, and the ABS brake light was too. It is supposed to light up when the bike is started, but then go off after the brakes have been applied once. It was still on. And then I noticed that the needle on my speedometer wasn’t moving. This was definitely an electrical issue. I had my phone, so I reasoned that I could just track my speed on my GPS, set my cruise control, and be okay. Then I discovered that my cruise control wasn’t working either. This was getting worse by the minute. I can ride in the rain, with no instruments, but speed control is a big help on long rides.
I pushed on. There was nothing to be done about it anyway, in that the next Indian shop was just north of Louisville. The interstate was crowded but everyone was moving well and the rain was still only a drizzle. More of it was coming off the road from below than from the low clouds above.
All of that changed at about Bowling Green.
The. Bottom. Dropped. Out.
It RAINED. And it kept raining. And the visibility on the crowded interstate dropped to about 50 or 60 yards. My glasses were no longer doing much good as they were wet inside now as well as outside. The water got inside the neck of my jacket and poured down the middle of my back. It was miserable.
Then a car carrier with about 6 or 8 cars onboard in front of me decided to brake and swerve for some reason and it looked as if he was going to jack-knife. I saw every car on the top of his trailer lurch as he tried to get the rig back under control. I hit my brakes and went into a skid myself…maybe the ABS brakes weren’t working after all…and when my back tire tried to pass my front tire, I squeezed the bike HARD with my knees and tried to steer with the skid and keep upright. The bike straightened up and I was able to steer into the emergency lane rather than into the rear of the now-stopped carrier in front of me. I had been leaving a good 60 yards between he and I, but those 60 yards closed fast when he went from 70 to zero in front of me.
I caught my breath, glanced down, and saw that I was low on gas. No better time to get off than here, now. I got off at the exit where the famous Jim Beam whiskey distillery is. There was one little gas station there on the exit and I pulled in under the overhang and got off the bike. It was raining like a typhoon and I decided to take a break there. I asked if it was okay after I fueled up if I hung out for a few minutes. One of the ladies there said that her husband was a biker and she knew all about getting caught in the rain, so I could stay as long as I wanted. Then she asked me where I was going. I told her “Chicago” and she said that the weather was going to be like this the rest of the day…and maybe tomorrow.
I got some coffee, a big one, and a bag of chips. I stripped off my wet outer gear and sat at a little picnic table under the overhang. I grabbed my phone, and as if the day had not already been miserable enough, I discovered that my “waterproof” phone…had drowned.
That meant that I couldn’t communicate or navigate now. I couldn’t find the Indian shop, and I couldn’t call them for directions on how to find them.
Biking. It will be fun, they said.
I sat there and thought about what to do. I thought about quitting and heading back to Nashville, where I DID know where the Indian shop there was.
But I don’t like quitting.
So, I decided to push on, somehow. I asked the ladies in the store if they were familiar with Clarkesville, just across the river from Louisville in Indiana. It was only about 30 miles away. They let me use their phone to Google the shop and Jaime (“JB”), a very nice young lady there told me exactly how to get there.
Before I made the call, while I was still sitting at the picnic table trying to figure out my options, I said “Lord, I could use a little help here right now.” With the directions in hand, I walked out of the store and miraculously, the rain had stopped.
Prayer changes things.
I jumped on the bike, fired it up, and headed north.
Once I got through Louisville and across the bridge, CC Motorsports was just an exit or two into Indiana and was as easy to find as JB had promised. Even though I didn’t have an appointment, John, the service manager there promised to square me away and have me back on the road that day. So I pulled up a chair in the lobby and waited. Three hours later, Yamacraw was back in fighting trim, and we were ready to ride.
While I had been waiting, I asked JB if she knew where a Verizon store might be. There was one less than a mile away. She told me that I must have come to the right place today. I told her that “someone is looking out for me.”
The people at CC Motorsports were like a family. It was the coolest bunch of people. I can’t thank them enough. God bless y’all!
It wasn’t a Verizon store, though. It was AT&T. But, luckily, there was a policeman in the parking lot and I asked him. One was just around the corner. He said, “Be careful” as I pulled away.
When I got to the store, the young man there couldn’t have been more helpful. I explained to him that I was an old dawg and didn’t want to have to learn any new tricks, so he spent over half an hour with me setting up my new phone to act pretty much just like the old one. He saved all my contacts and pictures and apps and everything. If you are younger, you may not think that this is a big deal, but to me, it was a miracle.
There was an Outback Steakhouse across the street, so I pulled in…for breakfast.
The manager saw me come in and asked if I was on the bike. When I told him that I was, he commented that the rain was supposed to return in a couple of hours. I replied that if it did, it wouldn’t be the first time today that I had been wet.
Bedtime came early.