A couple of weeks ago we asked readers to provide stories, reviews, etc. for publication in Spyderlife.net. Below is one such submission, provided by Guest Contributor Paul Reed. If you would like to submit your story, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will seriously consider it for posting to the magazine. Thanks Paul!
A bucket list trip — the good and bad times
by Paul Reed
I decided last spring to fulfill a bucket list item — take a long trip on a motorcycle. I know many riders do regular long trips without a thought, but that was not possible for me in my younger days. I decided SpyderFest would be my destination in April 2017.
I decided to break the trip into smaller segments. I had friends in Baton Rouge LA, about 800 miles from my home in southwest Florida. I was planning to do around 400 miles per day during the trip, allowing for rest breaks to keep my bad back loosened up. So Baton Rouge would be my decision point to either continue to Missouri, or return home if I felt the trip would be difficult.
I spent about a month wrenching on the Spyder to make some upgrades I desired. LED lights, a Stebel horn, Doc Humphreys’ vibration damper, a new windshield control arm and mirror magnets from Australia, and a F4 Customs windshield put the Spyder in the shape I desired for the trip. I already had an Ultimate tallboy seat with back rest, so a seat upgrade was already done. Before the trip I noticed some discomfort in my left elbow, but being left-handed I figured I had stressed the tendons a bit working on the Spyder. Off I went to Baton Rouge.
The first day got me to the Florida Panhandle and I stopped for the night. The second day I planned to get to my friends’ house by the end of the day. About an hour or so outside of Baton Rouge the sky began to darken; I made the mistake of not putting on my rain gear. About 10 miles from my destination, I was hit with a deluge on I-12 in heavy traffic. I couldn’t stop, and there was no point anyway because I was quickly soaked to the skin. The temperature dropped quickly and I began to experience some hypothermia. I shivered my way to the end of the trip, and learned my lesson about putting on rain gear ahead of the rain. After a couple days I headed north toward SpyderFest.
Being a bit of a weather junkie, I know that spring in the US is tornado season so I checked weather apps regularly, but no one could predict last spring’s weather. The night was spent in Little Rock AR, where the next of many storm fronts came through. The last leg to Springfield was one of the shortest but one of the windiest rides I have even taken. The winds on highway 65 were howling down through the passes as I got into the Missouri hill country. I recall doing a long sweeping turn downhill south of Branson when a wind gust hit me and I was suddenly in the next lane. Luckily there wasn’t much traffic but it happened so quickly I was simply along for the ride at that point.
Those who attended Spyderfest 2017 know about all the rain. Missouri had already received record rains prior to the end of April and rivers were high. Finally got to Springfield in the rain and settled in. I was impressed by all the vendors working on soaking-wet Spyders at the Fairgrounds. They all offered great service and attention to detail.
It rained nearly every day while I was in Springfield. Although I have good rain gear and wore layers, I was cold a lot. My Florida blood isn’t used to 40 degrees in the rain for four days out of five. But I met some great folks and overall had a good time. The day I left it was more rain and the temperature was high 30s with wind chills in the 20s. I put on all the clothing I had and resembled the Michelin man or the Pop-N-Fresh guy. I even put neoprene gloves over my riding gloves to keep them dry. As I rode southeast toward Memphis I saw so much flooding as a result of the record rainfalls. I rode over bridges where the flood water was lapping against the guardrails, making me wonder how much of the bridge support had been undermined by the flooding. I made it to Memphis and reached temperatures in the 70s. No more neoprene gloves!
I had planned to stay in Memphis for a couple of days to enjoy a city where I used to live, but the forecast showed more severe weather heading toward me the next day. So after seeing Audubon Park for a quick tour of one of my favorite spots to chill out, I headed toward Florida. Until I got to Florida most of the trip would be state roads through Mississippi and Alabama, and that slowed me down a bit due to local traffic congestion. I made it to near Tallahassee and decided the rest of the trip could wait until the next day.
The last day was hot with lots of traffic. Other than sitting in traffic in 90-degree weather and a couple of thunderstorms I arrived unscathed, sort of. Remember that left elbow pain from before the trip? Well, it bothered me some during the trip. Within two weeks of getting home my right elbow flared up and swelled considerably and the left elbow got much worse. My doctor said I must play golf with the right hand and tennis with the left, which simply describes which tendons had become inflamed. I ignored it for a while then finally got steroid shots in both arms. It’s helped quite a bit — not sure if it was the cold weather, vibration through the handlebars, or a combination of both. Another lesson learned — don’t ignore chronic health issues when they can be easily treated.
If you haven’t planned and taken any longer trips on your Spyder and you have the physical and financial capability, make the effort to take at least one. I’m glad I did, and my RTL performed flawlessly except for some rainwater in the frunk. Many thanks to Joe and Anne Meyer at Squared Away for helping me troubleshoot that problem while at SpyderFest; I hadn’t closed the battery cover correctly before the trip. The best part of my Spyder experience is meeting people who share the passion or madness of Spyder ownership. Ride safely and enjoy the wind therapy while you can.
If you would be interested in attending SpyderFest or any other of the rapidly growing list of Spyder get-togethers, click the Events link on the left-hand column of this page.