Our bikes were soaked when we came out on day 7, but it was clearing up. No amount of toweling off would keep our butts dry on the short ride over to Muratec’s US plant. Yes, Muratec has a huge plant outside of Charlotte!
We rode up and dozens of people were waiting outside in the cold cheering for us. What a sight!
We socialized for a while, taking pictures with (and for) our hosts sitting on our bikes, chatting about our ride and having some breakfast.
After breakfast, we went inside to see a part of Muratec most of us never knew existed. The printer group is a small part of a massive company who is “all about automation.” You have to hear GQ and the other Muratec people say it with their southern accents. Ahhhh—toe-mation. It sounds cooler than when I say it.
It was amazing. Big machines. Some close to a million dollars by the time they are done customizing and building them. There was one waiting to ship to a major Japanese auto manufacturer. These machines can take up to 8 months to deliver once they’re sold, built, customized, torn down and delivered to the customer. They make parts, tools, etc. and we saw one in action.
In another area, we got a demo of a cutting machine where they made us some souvenirs right there, on the spot.
We also saw some garment machines. Muratec is HUGE in the garment manufacturing industry.
Back to automation; we saw another robotic warehouse system where shelves could be stacked a couple of stories high, very close together and a delivery system would automatically pull and replace bins. Pretty amazing.
You probably never heard of Muratec outside of our little world of print, but right now, nearly all of you are wearing at least one garment that was probably made on a Muratec machine. You have parts that came off their machines in your cars. We even have parts from their machines in our Harleys!
That visit was quite an eye opener. An amazing side to Muratec I wasn’t aware of.
Back on the bikes, and a little over 300 miles to Richmond!
The Pack made good time before pulling off for lunch. Lunch? We never stop for lunch! Once again, Gordito saw a weather cell from his ride and we stopped to let it pass. It was nice to stretch our legs. We were about halfway to Richmond. While eating, we got a text from Lone Star, letting us know he had made it to Texas!
As we were getting on our bikes, we saw a local sheriff sitting near us and we went over to say hi. His hand initially on his hip as we approached (can you blame him?), he warmed right up to us. We gave him our Jillian bear, which he will give to a child who needs it at some point. He gave us stickers for our helmets! Win, win baby!
And off we went, blasting up the highway towards DC. An ominous cell was closing in from the west and we rode hard to beat it (lots of red and orange in this one). The bike kept popping off severe weather warnings and we caught the edge of it before finally getting ahead of the front. We missed another biggie. Slaw definitely shouldn’t have gone sleeveless as Gordito later reminded him. It got chilly for a while when that front caught up to us!
Sunny skies ahead, we were in Richmond almost at our hotel when we saw a massive thunderstorm dead in our path. We raced to get there as an ominous massive lightening strike boomed in front of us, streaking 4 or 5 arms down in a pretty awesome strike. As we exited, huge drops (HUGE) began to fall and while we did get wet as we rode under the hotel’s cover, we were off our bikes before it truly opened up. Thunderous claps and lightening were going off right over us. We were very lucky.
Once again, we pretty much missed it. I keep saying someone’s watching over us. And then, as quickly as it started, it was over. And there was a rainbow right in front of our bikes. Just an awesome moment.
As we sat having a drink, a hotel person came up to us, “excuse me Mr. Stramaglio, we have a fax for you.” What year is it??? Did Jim D’Emidio send this?? A fax. Is it me, or is that funny?
Paco hasn’t had Italian food since we left AZ and if he didn’t get some soon, I’m not sure what would happen, but it would be bad. We went to the place near the hotel (our third time there in 3 years) and the waitress remembered us. It’s funny how everyone seems to remember us; the pizza guy in Atlanta, the Italian place last night, the Harley shop girls in TN outside of Memphis – I guess we’re a memorable crew!
After way too many cocktails, the Pack was in bed early. 320 miles racing storms takes it out of you!
Off to Cobb and SOS tomorrow, then we land in DC about 90 miles up the road, reaching our destination!
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