It’s June—high season for a motorcycle magazine. Just a short five months ago, my wife, Sarah, and I welcomed Oliver, our first child, into this world. Like most new parents, I think, we questioned the hospital for letting us take this fragile little human home just a few days after birth. Well, he made it, and so did we. Of course Sarah is the main factor in our success. She’s the one who gets up at night and constantly cares for Oliver with scarcely any breaks—and virtually no breaks with me away on this trip. When the chance for a Shamrock Tour® in Augusta arose many months ago, I was the first to raise a hand. As an avid golfer, getting to ride and play was a no-brainer. But as I barrel south for the less-than-four-hour ride to Georgia, I can’t help but feel a little selfish. This will be Sarah’s first time alone with Oliver for a whole week while I cruise, shoot, and tee off on my solo trip to golf’s mecca.
Between Two States
Even en route to my playground, my son is always on my mind. Will he grow up riding dirt bikes? Will he tear up our yard and the neighbors’ yards with knobbies? If he starts riding young, will he be a more skilled rider? Given that Oliver actually wants to be outdoors instead of playing video games, the answer is likely a resounding yes to all of the above.
I’ve already dropped off my extra luggage at The Partridge Inn, a stately hotel on top of a hill, before venturing out of Augusta for a short afternoon ride. My favorite part about riding, aside from leaning into curves, is the solitude inside my helmet. There’s no phone ringing or buzzing and nobody around to listen to except the voices in my head. But as previously I’d find myself thinking about what I’d do with a million dollars or what it would be like to practice subsistence living in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains, now my son’s future and our family gives new direction to my thoughts.
The Suzuki Boulevard C90T is the perfect motorcycle for this tour. Laid-back and relaxed, I let it propel me effortlessly down the road. The terrain is suitable for unperturbed cruising and letting the mind drift. With the maze of named and numbered state roads, I only have to glance at my GPS screen occasionally—even if I miss a turn, an alternative is usually not far away. So I cruise SR 230 among tall pines. It’s actually a bit hillier here than I expected. There are some mailboxes next to the road, but since leaving Augusta I’ve yet to see a soul. The first time I stop is for a turtle crossing the street. Trying to get a photo of my little reptilian friend, I sit patiently on the long, straight lane, but his “do not disturb” sign hangs on the door knob. After 15 quiet minutes I pack it up and continue.
This short intro loop takes me northwest of my home base to Savannah Lakes. There has not been a lot of rainfall, as evidenced by the low shoreline. Two bridges transport me over the dammed Savannah River back into Georgia. Some folks are out on the water, and it seems crowded. Funny, I think to myself, as I’m still the only vehicle on the road.
Motorcycle & Gear
After enduring the last few miles into Augusta next to every chain imaginable along 104, I eventually hang a left onto Walton Way after passing a beautiful church. Old estates and even older churches dot this upscale road all the way back to The Partridge Inn.
To the Coast!
What kind of sports will Oliver participate in, I wonder? Will he lean toward group or individual activities? Will he enjoy the mental discipline of golf? No matter the sport, will he realize early enough that success takes hard work and focus?
No appealing restaurants are really within walking distance, but the hotel has a bar and restaurant on site. The short rib on horseradish whipped potatoes is the perfect feast to end the day, especially when combined with the company of the colorful patrons from all over the East Coast. These strangers are quick to warm up and share laughs and stories late into the evening. I even hear a tale or two about the history of the hotel, with ghosts and bats included.