Better late than never right? My ride reports tend to be days behind…oh well.
NAFO stands for “North American FJR Owners Rally” and is an event held every two years and sponsored, on a rotating basis, by the various regional FJR owner groups. It generally takes place at a venue designed to handle a large number of people, and bikes, and offers a few days of camaraderie, excellent riding, and great food. NAFO 2010 took place September 23-26 at the Marriott in downtown Knoxville, TN.
Originally, my wife, Kate, and I were going to go 2up to NAFO; however, since my wife was in China for the month, it ended up being a solo trip. With money being a consideration, I was planning to share a room in a cheaper hotel with “Mvette” (Mike), a fellow member from FJRForum.com. With no camping required, my kit was smaller; here’s what I was packing on board:
- Tool Kit (various tools, plugs, sticky string, flashlight, etc., always with bike and in addition to OEM kit)
- Slime Pump under seat (always with bike, plugs into Battery Tender plug stowed in right fairing)
- Aerostich Medium cover, lightweight. With the PCA rack installed, it’s a tight fit, but still works fine.
- Aerostich alarmed cable lock – Secures bike and cover.
- Canyon Dancer strap – Useful should the bike require a tow.
- 2 adjustable, stretchy flat straps (for tie downs on rack) – These ended up being useless; bought Rok Straps later.
- Rain jacket – Mainly for walking around…my Aerostich was freshly washed and waterproofed (and did the job)
- 2 pairs of gloves, one pair winter weight Tourmasters, one pair Aerostich 3 season Vegans
- Baggy of foam ear plugs – Never leave home without these.
- Cortech large tank bag (held bag of quarters, toiletries, camera, snacks, tire pressure gauges, etc)
- Pair of jeans
- Few pairs of socks, underwear
- 2 under armour-type shirts, Aerostich padded riding shorts
- 1 pair of sweat shorts, 3 t-shirts
- Camelbak 70oz backpack…we were breaking temperature records, so hydration was important.
- Garmin Quest GPS…an oldie, but goodie on a stem mounted RAM platform.
- Alaskan Leather Buttpad (for stock seat)
All tools and equipment went into one saddlebag while clothing items went into the other one. There was no need to strap anything onto the PCA rack.
Sept. 23, 2010
I left Rocky Mount on Thursday, the 23rd, at 8am and hit US64 West, blew through Raleigh, and continued on I-40. I didn’t really want to slab it, but I just wanted to get there, lol.
Taking a bio and snack break along I-40 in Mocksville, NC.
After a long and relatively boring ride in the low country, I finally reached the mountains and worked my way closer to the NC/TN border. Entering the canyon stretch of I-40, that had been closed due to a rockslide for quite a long time, everything appeared to going just fine with only some minor delays due to having only one lane available through the canyon. I took a break at the last NC rest area before the border.
At the last rest stop on westbound I-40 before entering TN.
At the rest stop, I took on some water and watched a towing crew secure a trailer that had apparently been rolled in the canyons by some unfortunate truck driver. Having been a truck driver for 12 years myself, I was familiar with the ways such things could happen though I never ended up on my side (came close with an empty trailer and 80mph winds in Ontario, CA though)! While sitting there, a fleet of 4 FJR’s whizzed by and I waved…not sure who they were at the time, but they were NAFO bound. I probably could have caught up with them, but I was out of my suit and getting drunk on water (it was hot), lol. After a few more minutes of lollygagging, I finally headed out and made the final push to Knoxville.
At around 4:30pm or so, I pulled into the Knoxville Marriott, very hot and very sweaty…my outdated Quest GPS did not know about Knoxville’s updated downtown highways, which led to some merry adventures around downtown in 95 degree heat. Out front, there was a massive fleet of FJRs building up and starting to clog up the entrance…a great sign! I hung out for awhile, cooling down and meeting with a few of my friends that I met during the FJR Campout in May…Bob (Intech), Jaye (Violine), Powerman, and others. About an hour later, I decided to suit up and head for the cheap motel myself and Mvette (Mike) were staying at…I hadn’t heard from him yet, so he was probably still working his way up to Knoxville with Patriot…another Mike!
The America’s Best Value Motel in Knoxville. Small, but CHEAP! The owner was adamant that our bikes would be fine here. At least we had guard pigeons!
I checked in, paid my half of the room and went to clean up a bit. The room was VERY small, but clean, with two beds jutting out just enough to make entering a challenge, lol. It ended up being a pleasant little place with some interesting full-time residents (only a small part of the motel is actually available as a motel, the rest are long-term apartments).
While I was getting cleaned up and organized, my roommate for the duration rolled in…Mike (aka Mvette in the FJR Forums). Like me, he also has a 2007 FJR, but with a top box and no stripe kit. Mike turned out to be a great guy and good rider…as if I had a doubt about a fellow FJR pilot, lol.
We both finished cleaning up and organizing ourselves and then decided to head back to the Marriott to see what was happening as the sun sank out of sight.
When we pulled up to the Marriott, the place was absolutely clogged with FJR’s and the hotel staff kept coming out to urge us to park in the parking garage. We obliged and headed for the garage floor reserved for NAFO…what a sight! FJR’s lined the walls front to back; wish I could show you a photo, but the best one is owned by someone else and can be seen in the FJRForums.com NAFO section. Anyway, Mike and I parked and headed into the hotel…I needed to find somebody to stash my Roadcrafter suit with. Turns out the front desk was happy to take my sweat drenched suit off my hands and hold it while myself and Mike sauntered off in search of the FJR rider pack.
Out in front of the Marriott, we found 30+ hungry FJR riders figuring out what to eat and how to get there; guys staying at the Marriott were running around in flip flops and shorts…not quite ready for a ride. On the first night, there was no “rally meal” since it was just a “get there” day. While the restaurant at the Marriott looked appealing, the prices didn’t and, unfortunately, there were no alternatives close by; everything lay to the south, in downtown. It was decided that we’d hoof it to downtown and locate the Downtown Grill & Brewery as one of the group remarked that they’d eaten there before and thought it was good.
As the crow flies, the walk wasn’t far, but since we weren’t crows and weren’t flying, it turned into about a mile of walking…some of us in riding boots. A small group, headed up by Bob (aka Intech), opted for a cab ride figuring it would be faster…they weren’t. We eventually found the brewery and squeezed our way inside; the place was jam packed! About 15 minutes later, Bob’s group finally arrived. Turns out that their cab driver had no clue where the brewery was nor was he terribly familiar with Knoxville’s downtown streets, lol. Go figure. Anyway, we all sat around drinking beers while waiting for the magic buzzer to summon us to the hostess podium for guidance to our seating (large groups=large wait in case you were wondering). I should point out that the main sucky point about this brewery was that I couldn’t drink!! Fact of the matter was that I still had to ride back to our little hotel after all of the shenanigans ended for the night and I’m anal about such things. Oh well. We eventually got some seating, some of us on the second floor and some of us on the first floor, and enjoyed some pretty awesome food.
After a very nice meal, we waddled back to the Marriott, again on foot, and sat around telling fish stories for a couple of hours. Eventually, Mike and I decided it was time to head back to our hotel as we had an early kickstands up call with yet another Mike, aka Patriot, for what turned out to be a great day-long ride. We made our way back to America’s Best Value, our cheap hotel, covered the bikes, and chatted a bit with a colorful old guy that lived at the hotel. He had some stories to tell, but also he further eased our concerns over the bikes (prostitutes and drug dealers wandered around on the other side of the street) by saying that he and the other residents are always watching their hotel residence…they’d gotten rid of the bad elements that used to hang out there. Great! We eventually said our goodnights and headed for our room, completely exhausted from a full day of travel and full night of partying. We made short work of sleep preparations and hit our respective beds and dozed off almost immediately thanks to the low-grade “Sharkzilla” movie on SyFy. The next day was going to be busy…
Standby for Part 2, Day 2 soon!