At 9.00am I delivered the bike into the tender loving care of Motorcycles of Charlotte and then called the daughter of a friend who is studying at the Charlotte campus of the Reformed Theological Seminary. Bethany was free so I caught a cab there and on the way observed the houses, apartments, gardens and churches. There is clearly a lot of wealth in the city and the cab driver remarked that there is a lot of white-collar employment in the region.
I recalled that Charlotte is where Bank of America has its headquarters, as does the east coast operations of Wells Fargo. Charlotte is, measured by assets, the second largest financial center in the USA after New York. Wow! Greater metropolitan Charlotte only has a population of about 2.4 million. Perhaps I should have brought my CV.
Beth and I spent a pleasant couple of hours talking, during which we realized that she had been at the same school as my daughter Fiona, who was a year ahead. More to chat about!
After that I cabbed into the city and I alighted in the main street. Apart from being quite awed by the architecture and the sheer scale of some of the buildings, I was struck by how much it felt like Melbourne. No trams, but just the ambience of wide, treed streets, a free city circle bus of some vintage, and the office people out walking. Quite a few bicycles were in evidence and there is also a shirt term rental operation a LA the RACV. Yes, they are also blue!
In the main thoroughfare there are some commemorative plaques, informing the reader of some interesting facts. One was that citizens of Mecklenburg County resolved In 1775 to declare independence from Britain, which of course predates the USA declaration which was the following year. A battle was fought in Charlotte in 1880 in the Revolutionary War, but it was nothing more than a skirmish, really. Another interesting fact is that the Cabinet of the Confederacy met in Charlotte in its last days.
There was a rather congenial chap operating hot dog stand on the footpath so that was the source of my lunch. I was quite impressed that he picked my accent.
It was time to go and fetch my bike and I resolved to use public transport, having blown my taxi budget for the year that morning. So I strolled down past the rather impressive Time Warner Stadium to the Lynx station. This is a new light rail system running north south. It cost me $2.00 to ride all but two stations of its full length of 15.5 kms. Very reasonable. I think they have plans to extend it. I needed to catch the bus to complete my journey and was pleased to find out my $2.00 took care of that as well. As social commentary, I was one of two white people on the bus, the other being the driver.
The bus dropped me over the road from the dealership and I was rather pleased with myself for a) finding the dealership so easily b) having used public transport and c) having paid $2.00 compared to the $60 odd for two taxi fares. The bike was ready, with its new front tyre. The BMW folk were very friendly and helpful and I also received the part from Schuberth USA that they said they would try for. Happy!
At the Shell servo I was filling up when this guy jumps out of his car and says "Take a wrong turn, mate?" A New Zealander!
Some may have noted that there was no blog on my ride from Murfreesboro to Charlotte. This is because I simply laid down rubber. All I can say is 300 miles, five and a half hours, stinking hot and humid and nothing of interest to see.
So leaving Charlotte, a very attractive city, I headed for the hills, known in this part of the world as the Smokies, and after a ride through the afternoon heat found myself a billet at the Best Western in Hendersonville NC. Tomorrow I hope to ride the Tail of the Dragon across into Tennessee. There is a section of eleven miles that has ........ 318 bends!