by Garth Lloyd
Seven years ago my daughter and I began a tradition of going on an annual motorcycle trip. We call it bonding time. My wife calls it “The Annual Shirking of Responsibilities Trip”. Nevertheless, our goal this year was to ride the “Tail of the Dragon,” the Cherohalla Skyway, and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. I was impressed by my daughter’s idea of going to N.C., knowing that it was going to involve at least 2 days of over 900 miles each. On a motorcycle that is about 18 hours in the saddle.
Plans were made, the GPS programmed, equipment checked and rechecked, and I even moved into the 20th century by getting a smart phone (how did I live without this thing?).
We departed at 5 am on Sunday, June 11th. Nine hours later we passed the halfway point and Asheville, N.C. was looking promising. Oops, that is until we lost power just south of Paducah, KY. The motorcycle was completely dead, the weather extremely hot and we were stranded on the side of the interstate. Even with traffic flying by at 80 mph, the interstate can be a lonely place.
What to do? I asked Siri. She had nothing. My first thought probably should have been to call roadside assistance, but I really wanted to talk to a local rider to see what they might suggest. I was carrying a Gold Book, which is published by the Goldwing Rider’s Association and lists riders by state and city throughout the United States.
I called a guy named Jim in the closest town. Jim suggested that it might just be the battery and maybe we could charge it. He said he would come out and do that for us. We gave him our coordinates (I needed my daughter’s help for this). Jim came out and not only brought 2 ice cold bottles of water, but was pulling a trailer. He suggested that it would be easier to charge the battery at his house. Jim looked and sounded like Dennis Weaver, drove a white Ram, and rode a Goldwing-what wasn’t to like about this guy?
Jim drove us to his Kentucky tobacco farm. When we got there his wife, Nancy, greeted us and began showing my daughter around the place. Jim and I went to his shop and quickly diagnosed the problem with the bike- bad alternator! It’s not like either one of us had an extra laying around and it was Sunday so no dealers were open. Then Jim and Nancy did the unthinkable- they invited us to spend the night and they would drive us to the Honda dealer, 60 miles in Clarksville, TN the following day. Unbelievable!
We got to tour their farm, they showed us around their new house, we got a great home-cooked meal, showers and that evening we got to watch the Stanley Cup Finals. Now I am not much of a hockey fan, but Jim and Nancy were big Nashville Predator fans so needless to say, I cheered hard for the Predators that night.
The next day we were up early and on the road to the Clarksville dealer. They air shipped an alternator overnight and we were on the road in time to hit the Nashville 5 o’clock rush (something I don’t recommend) and on our way to some fantastic riding for the next 4 days.
Of all the great scenery, winding roads and fantastic people we met, the highlight of our trip was being rescued by two perfect strangers. Modern day Good Samaritans! I want to be like them when I grow up.