Ridin' Around with John Boettcher

Virginia National (briefly)

I left work on a Thursday afternoon in August to head to the National rally in Virginia on the rat T-3. I just beat the Chicago rush hour traffic and ended up heading east on U.S. Highway 30, half way across Indiana to U.S. Highway 35 south. It was pleasant but brisk for August. I got on Route 19, and then to Route 18, and then turned onto U.S. Highway 27 south. There was some slow traffic here and there but not bad. I grabbed U.S. Highway 35 in Richmond and then on into Ohio. Traffic was heavy in Dayton, Ohio, but I kept on track to Chillicothe where I booked a room. I was there by 9:30 P.M. which meant I could still get a decent meal. There was a Tumbleweeds near by so I stopped there. Kim, my waitress, served me a nice rare steak along with a few drinks. I went back and crashed hoping to get an early start. 

It was raining Friday morning as I packed up and got ready to hit the road. I stayed on U.S. Highway 35 on into West Virginia where I took Route 2 to County Road 87. The rain was light and it was fairly warm, so it was still an enjoyable ride. I got on U.S. Highway 33 in Evans, and I ran on it east to Route 36 outside of Spencer. 
The scenery was great and virtually no traffic on these back roads. I didn't push it too hard because of the wet roads, just kind of relaxed and took in a little nature. I picked up Route 4 in Maysel for a few miles and then Route 16 in Clay. In Belva I headed east on Route 39. 

Once past Summersville the Yew Mountains started and the roads just got better and better. The rain had let up and the temps had rose into the 80s. I crossed into Virginia, and the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds. I pulled into Buena Vista, Virginia early in the afternoon and signed in at the rally. In the vendor area I ran into Rick Mahnke (Cheesehead) and Gordon Kline of MG Cycle who said I could set up camp next to them in the upper campground. I found their campsite, unloaded my bike, and put up my tent. I went back down to the rally for a bit and rode around town for a while. I got back to the rally and finally met Mike Skaggs and his Scuzzy Guzzi from the MGCL Internet list. Glenn Bewley was there with a beautiful sidecar rig and Ken Hand of course with a huge Texas greeting. Greg Field showed me the Wingnut Award that one day would be mine. 

After dinner we headed back to camp. Gordon pulled his van up and was blasting assorted obscure oldies from the 40s, 50s, and 60s over the stereo while the rest of us tried to guess the song and artist. Cheesehead did quite well, but I'm sure he's heard a lot of it back at the shop. 

I ran into Dan Prunske who was also camping at the site. There were some large amounts of uh.... beverages consumed, and I finally gave up around 2:00 A.M. I woke up once at 4: A.M. and still heard people partying! 

I got up Saturday with the sun and walked up to the showers and overheard two near-by campers which pretty much summed up the wild evening: 

Camper one, "How'd you sleep?"

Camper two, "Pretty good, actually."

Camper one, "Earplugs?"

Camper two, "Oh yeah!"

I knew I would get the riding itch and wouldn't be able to handle another whole rally day, so I packed up and loaded the bike and then headed down the hill to say a few good byes. I was back on the road by 9:30 A.M. although a tad hung-over.

I took a bit of freeway but got off on U.S. Highway 60 for a while over to Charleston and then back onto I-64 into Kentucky. I was on Route 9 and about 20 miles from Covington when the bike died. The battery was almost dead. The charging system gave up. I have a Honda headlight, switch that doesn't have an off position so I disconnected the headlight and the bike push started and I was back on the road.

I was just rolling in to Covington with a K-Mart in sight and the bike started to sputter. It kept running, and I made it into the parking lot where it ran no more. I bought two new garden tractor batteries and installed one. I push started the bike so I wouldn't stress the battery and headed on my way with the spare battery strapped on top of the rear fender. I got on I-74 and pushed it hard with no headlight to get as many miles in before nightfall. I got on I-65 in Indianapolis and made it to Lafayette before I had to hook the headlight back up. The battery lasted only 50 miles further, about 250 miles in all. I swapped the batteries out and was going through Crown Point at around 9 P.M. This was my last chance for a Wal Mart so I decided to get one more battery just in case.

It was a good thing that I did because as I went through Chicago there was bumper to bumper traffic that took a lot of time to get through. I made it near the O'Hare airport when battery number two died, so, I put the last one in and that one got me home, 800 miles, the hard way!

I pulled it apart on Sunday and found that my alternator rotor had failed, again. It was only two years old. Oh well, it only took $75 in batteries to get home. Still cheaper than hauling it. 

Copyright 1999-2012, John Boettcher, all rights reserved
Contact John at:  ratguzzi@hotmail.com