What is this TOR-CON system all about?
Well, I woke this morning to the weather channel explaining how the Midwest was going to get clobbered with severe weather and tornados. Tor-con values were at 7 in Nebraska, and down to a 4 in Missouri and Kansas. This really wouldn’t be much of a problem for me today, as I would be primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky. However, the forecast showed severe weather concerns for western Kentucky (i.e. Paducah where I intended to land for the night) and then more of the same through Missouri and Kansas during the days that follow, which again was centered over my planned path home. Humph!
My intended route was supposed to take me through middle Missouri and Kansas through Friday morning… Now I was concerned that I may not be able to effectively move across these regions, or at least well enough, to make my plan of getting home to Fort Collins Colorado by Friday afternoon a reality.
So – I decided I would take my best shot with the looming darkness in Blue Ridge Georgia and try the roads through Tennessee and Kentucky. Then, I’d probably skirt to the south, toward Memphis, once I hit Bowling Green Kentucky.
So after another wonderfully flavorful motel free breakfast… I packed it up and was off.
The ride out of Georgia and into Tennessee was under looming skies, but these quickly cleared up. The road was absolutely incredible. Just what I was hoping and waiting for. Miles of winding country roads, mountain roads, beautiful vistas, lakes, streams, etc. Wow! What a beautiful ride.
It took the better portion of the morning to finally get far enough north into Tennessee to start considering my path westward and then into Kentucky. But when I got to the vantage point of Crossville, TN, I saw the dreaded “it” hovering dark and foreboding over the border. Crap!! That f-ing “it”!
Given all of the weather news that was showing impending severe storms for my route, and given that I really didn’t want to spend a day traipsing along the Tennessee / Kentucky border in the human condom… I decided I would simply aim toward the southern escape route; that being through Nashville, Memphis and into Arkansas. I’ve taken this escape route before, and it has managed to keep me away from the severe storms, and usually puts me into hot southern sun and riding bliss.
So, off I went… intent on finding heat. Intent on working on my tan.
The road through Nashville and into Memphis was long, and it had its usual summer time construction delays and such, but it turned into a really beautiful day, filled with sun, sunscreen, and a beautiful highway trimmed with pines, and much in the way of awesome scenery.
By the end of the day I found myself in Forest City Arkansas, deeply tanned if not a bit burned, and tired, yet exhilarated by the day’s ride.
The change of plan has now allowed me the opportunity to poke through the Ozark Mountains, which I will do tomorrow. This is the side perk of the escape route. I love riding the Ozarks. This will be my third pass, yet on another unique route.
Anyway – it’s been a great day! And while Nebraska and the upper Midwest clings on for fear of being blown away, I will sleep easy and dream of tomorrow’s road. Good luck Nebraska! Iowa too!
The longest day –
Today started out as planned, and with a beautiful summer sky. After another stunning motel breakfast, and a quick study of the weather, I followed through with the notion that I would transverse north and then west across the state, only to return south to the interstate 40 corridor.
The idea was to get as much out of the Ozark Mountains as possible, without drifting into Kansas and the rotten weather making a stand up there. Seemed like a great idea! The net would be a 210 mile route through the mountains, over a 4 ½ hour period, in place of a 134 mile, 2 hour trek down the interstate.
It was a great ride and the Ozarks never fail to please, but by this time in the two week journey, I began to question just why I thought I needed to do this. This feeling was especially prevalent toward the end of the mountain loop. The bottom line is that I really enjoyed it, but I’m obviously ready to get back to home.
So, once I rejoined the interstate 40 west crowd, I felt obligated to press toward Oklahoma City, OK before night fall. The Akransas and Oklahoma day was incredibly hot, humid, and seemingly endless. This day has certainly changed my skin tone by a few notches. Who needs a tanning bed when you have a motorcycle in summer!
I finally made it to El Reno OK before giving up. 540 miles in total today. Looks like one more solid day to Lamar Colorado, and then a half day to get back into the Fort (Fort Collins that is).
Stay tuned. The weather is scheduled to capture me before I get done with this thing… one more time.