Victory motorcycle retreival trip

As I plotted out the route to Ardmore, TN, to pick up my 2005 Victory Touring Cruiser the obvious route was taking I-65 all the way down. However, there was one place I wanted to avoid...Louisville. I think that is where all the rude and bad drivers go to live. At least in this part of the world. I didn't want to be dragging a trailer through that mess.

I decided to go down via US231 then pick up the Kentucky parkway system to Bowling Green, then head down I-65. I like to take different routes so on the way back I would veer off on I-24 at Nashville to Evansville and drive the newly opened I-69. I'd not driven on it before. The next question was when to leave. Do I get up before the sun? I decided to get up after I had some decent sleep.

August 31, 2013

I slept surprisingly well that night so when Donna left for work at 7:30 I got ready, hitched the trailer to the Jeep, checked my list, and headed out at 8:35. I must admit there was a little apprehension associated with a trip like this. The round trip would be ~630 miles and that would make for a long day of driving. On the trip to get my Goldwing my truck had broken down twice. Would the Jeep, with its history of crapiness, do any better? To protect the cash I was carrying I brought along some firepower...all legal.

I told the GPS to follow the route down I had loaded into it the night before. It said there were no routes. What? The waypoints I had loaded were there but no routes. I went back inside and got my Rand-McNally map book just in case. I told the GPS to plot a course the owner's house and it did. It happened to be the exact route I had decided to take. Several miles down the road I realized I forgot my camera. Oh well...if something interesting pops up I can use my phone. You'll notice there are no pictures.

The diesel Jeep Liberty makes a pretty good towing vehicle. The short Jeep makes backing and turning very easy. On the negative side it is easily pushed around by wind and wind generated by close traffic. Driving down US50 then US231 I found another annoyance that, unfortunately, was my fault. When I was having transmission problems I had bought a Transmission Eco Tune replacement transmission control module (TCM) from Green Diesel Engineering to see if the TCM was causing my problems. The replacement TCM lowers the shift points of the overdrives. In normal driving it is a nice feature. When pulling a trailer, not so much. It would shift into overdrive at 44mph and kill the motor's power. The Green Diesel TCM needs a tow/haul button to return to factory shift points when towing. The little diesel would still pull but it took a lot longer to get up to speed. I ended up turning off the overdrive on long grades.

When I reached I-64 I was surprised to find that US231 was 4-lane all the way to the Ohio River. When you're wanting to cover ground 4-lane is nice. At Owenboro, KY, the road transistioned to the William H. Natcher Parkway. Kentucky has a nice system of parkways that crisscross their state. They are usually in good condition and low on traffic. Today there wasn't a lot of traffic to mess with. The speed limit was 70mph so I set the cruise at about 69mph. I'd rather be passed when pulling a trailer. On long grades the Jeep would slow down to the low 60's then as it crested the top it would maintain speed again. It was almost a little game to keep me occupied.

Donna had to work this weekend so she couldn't go with me. I've grown accustomed to her as a travel buddy. My only buddy for this trip was the GPS. It would give the occasional direction and the 'miles to next turn' and 'miles to destination' displays broke up some of the monotony. I promised Donna if I started getting droopy I'd pull over and stretch.

Bowling Green, KY. 11:55, mileage 64,801 - Time for the first stretch and fuel break after 3+ hours on the road. Looks like I got 15.18mpg pulling the trailer on this leg. I bought some pop and gizzards. I ate a few gizzards but I guess I wasn't that hungry.

Once back on the road I linked up with I-65 and the lack of traffic I'd enjoyed on the parkway was gone. I-65 was three lanes of heavy traffic. It didn't take long to reach the outskirts of Nashville and worsening traffic. The traffic flow never came to a stop but there were a few slow moments. During the hustle and bustle of Nashville I looked down and noticed something disturbing. My temperature gauge was heading towards the red.

By now the temperature was in the low 90's and I guess the combination of outside temperature, air conditioning, and lugging the trailer at 70mph had exceeded the Jeep's cooling capacity. I turned off the air conditioning and the temperature went back to normal. Whew. It didn't take long before I started getting hot so I turned the A/C back on but at a lower setting. The temperature stayed good. I noticed as I went up a hill the temperature would rise about halfway to hot then once I crested it would go back down.

It's ~80 miles from Nashville to Ardmore and I spent the entire time monitoring the temperature gauge. I seem to have reached a balancing point with the A/C. But how would it do when I loaded another 750 lbs in the trailer? Ardmore is at Exit's only a mile from Alabama. The GPS led me right to the owner, Barry's, house at 14:34. The bike was setting outside. It looked even prettier in person. He briefed me on the bike. We went inside to conduct the business. It was hot outside. That done I turned the trailer around and loaded up the bike. I made sure it was strapped down good and I said my goodbyes to Barry. I spent about 25 minutes there.

As I made my way back to the interstate I was concerned about the heating problem. I decided to abandon my planned route. US31 crossed I-65 at Exit 1 so I decided to take it north and see how that goes. The 2-lane roads seem to be flatter albeit longer. Oh was only 15:00 so I had plenty of time. Not only did it work better for the Jeep's temperature it was also a much more scenic and enjoyable ride. The roads were in great condition and driving 55mph made the Jeep happier.

I knew US31 eventually led back to Nashville and I didn't want to go there again on this trip. I decided I would stop in Columbia, maybe find a Burger King, and plan a route to get me to Evansville. As I neared Columbia so did a big storm. The temperature went from 93* to 70* in a matter of minutes. It didn't seem like the rain was horrible but streets were waterlogged and I noticed a traffic signal was out. I found a Burger King and pulled in. It looked funny. It's power was out also. No food, but I was able to use the bathroom. Luckily I had my (waterproof) ambulance jacket so I didn't get soaked. I checked the bike and tightened the straps.

I perused the mapbook and decided on a route. Highways 7, 46, and 48 would get me to Clarksville, TN, where I could catch I-24 and get back on my original route home. I was concerned about those highways being rural and rocking the bike to death but they were all good roads. Two and four lanes. Great quality. Scenic. Several miles after leaving Columbia the skies cleared and the temperature went back to the 90's. Besides keeping an eye on the temperature gauge I was also monitoring the fuel gauge. There weren't a lot of gas stations along the rural highway and fewer that sold diesel. I hadn't brought extra money so I needed to find one that took credit cards.

Dickson, TN. 17:03, mileage 65,029 - I found a modern looking station with diesel so I filled up the Jeep. There were a couple squirrelly looking guys standing at the side of the station and I think they thought I was a cop because of my blue lights. They kept giving me 'that glance'. There was another guy fueling an old car and he looked like one of the guys from Duck Dynasty. I found a Burger King so I fed myself, too. Checked the bike again. It was doing fine. My mileage has increased to 17.0 mpg.

When I reached Clarksville I was enamored by a large railroad bridge and an even bigger trestle leading up to it. I had seen a train in Owensboro but that is the only one so far. I thought I was going to get taken out twice here...once by a girl in a Domino's car and the other when a girl in a junker white van cut into my lane just a foot or so in front of me. Both were jacking with cellphones. Like Brian Clifton would say..."silly bitches". Once through Clarksville it was onto I-24 briefly before turning north on the Pennyrile Parkway. By now the land was flatter and the temperature down into the 80's and the Jeep's cooling problems seemed to disappear. Just to be safe I set the cruise at 65mph.

At Madisonville I stopped at a Cracker Barrel to use the bathroom. I bought Donna a souvenior. When Monty and I picked up his bike in Tennessee we stopped here on the way back. As I neared Indiana it felt good to be close to home. It was starting to get dark. As I rounded Evansville I looked off into the distance and saw the lights of a train. Eventually I crossed under I-64 and headed north on I-69. This has been a controversal road in Indiana since its inception with the treehuggers pissing and moaning every step of the way.

The first thing I noticed about I-69 is that my GPS with the newest 2014.2 maps doesn't have I-69 in it. What? It's been finished for a year at least. The GPS beeped a few times, told me I wasn't on a road, and quit following a route. As far as it was concerned I was offroading. The second thing I noticed was the occasional lightning off in the distance. The further north I went the more lightning I saw. As the highway veered east near Elnora the lightning looked like a constant artillery barrage. The wind was picking up, too. I could feel it pushing the trailer around. I hope I get home before it rains.

I-69 currently ends at US231 so I got on IN-58, stopping at the nearby gas station. I checked the bike again. The air felt cool and damp. A bolt of lightning hit close by and the lights in the convenience store went out briefly. It's time to get home. I got back on the road and got behind some dork going 40 mph. I'd driven over 600 miles and I'm almost home and now I get behind a slowpoke. Happily he turned toward Bloomington. I had just got to Owensburg when the rain hit. It was raining hard. It looked like someone was pouring water on the Jeep.

It was still pouring when I got home so I backed the trailer into the garage to unload the bike. Even then it still got wet. It felt good to be home. My low fuel light was on. My mileage for the last leg was 15.6 mpg so apparently interstate speeds is not good for mileage. I might have to nickname the bike 'Devil'. It came home followed by storms and lightning and the total mileage for the trip was 666 miles. Ha!

Update - Since the trip I found out the Green Diesel tune I have changes the temperature gauge from an 'idiot gauge' to a real linear gauge, and what I thought was the Jeep getting hot was the gauge actually performing like a real gauge. I also found out if the Jeep really does get too hot it will shut down the air conditioning as a first cooling step then it will start defueling the Jeep to avoid damaging the motor.

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