It's late and I'm once again probably too tired too capture even a fraction of the thoughts I've had today.
Last night kind of sucked. There was just this relentless loud rain interrupted by thunderclaps that conspired to wake me up at random intervals. I looked out the Days Inn door to see my bike just being inundated by rain.
It was still raining at 7AM. By 9 the rain had stopped and hints of sunshine attempted to pierce their way through the clouds.I finally managed to fall asleep then overslept until almost 10AM. I scrambled to get everything out of the room in time for the 11AM checkout. I thought to myself I need to take more photos as I forgot to snap a picture of the nice romanian graduate who worked at the Inn.
I was hurting for coffee so I went off in search of starbucks. No joy. Both Google Maps and Garmin lied to me. So I relented and headed back to I80W towards Chicago. I clicked off something like 50 miles under cloudy but mostly rain free skies until I found a starbucks.
I've always hated interstates. They've always proven to be painful boring rides, but for some reason that I cannot explain I haven't been bothered by these roads. Even I80, with it's seemingly endless expanses of flat superslab has been almost enjoyable. I found myself thinking that rides like this are less about even the physical journey. There's something about being out in the wind, moving, that centers me. Focuses me. Removed from my life I can think more clearly. If only I could keep the calm and openness the road brings out in me during my day to day grind I would be a better man.
(Ohio Turnpike, epic superslab).
As the day progressed I started making good time. The wind eventually picked up marked by threatening clouds and the occasional drizzle, but rarely any serious rain, but the sky turned angry.
At one point I when the drizzle turned into soaking rain I stopped under a bridge and waited no more than a few minutes for it to pass. I had been fortunate. Have I mentioned how much I hate rainsuits?
Once it cleared a bit undaunted I continued on tempting fate. The skies turned darker and then suddenly cleared and I was riding largely in sunshine.
Then the wind kicked up. This wasn't your normal calm wind. This was confused, beat you upside the heat violently in every random direction for hours wind. The kind of wind that rattles your mind senseless preventing you from thinking and just wearing you out. After a few hours of this I had enough and stopped, conveniently, at another starbucks.
There were a number of harley riders, some gang. I found myself pondering how different the experience must be riding in a large group versus riding alone as I am. They were really loud. Loud stereos. Loud pipes. I imagined it as an exercise in hearing loss.
I had thought this trip would feel very lonely. I was somewhat apprehensive about traveling this far on my own, not because I fear being alone but because I spend so much time alone as it is. Strangely, I think maybe because of all the facebook posts and comments I get about what I write here, not to mention texts from a few very close friends, I feel less alone being all these miles away on this open road than I do on a typical day working out of my house. Contrary to what I would have thought it feels less oppresive.
Normally the first few days of riding just suck. Everything hurts. You fumble. You drop things. Nothing flows as it should. Simple tasks like zipping the jacket, putting on gloves, and attaching the tank bag all take much longer than they should. Strangely, I seem to be getting into the swing of things much quicker. I'm hardly hurting at all, but maybe it's because I'm not doing that many miles. Only 378 miles today.
The bike is running great. I have a few times where for less than a second the engine would sputter and the rpms would drop. This has been an intermittent ignition problem with the bike for years. It happens very rarely. Maybe once every few years, but it happened twice today. More foreshadowing?
The wind was just brutal. I kept on and continued to make good time. Relatively late in the day it was pretty clear I was going to be able to make it to Chicago to meet up with Dave. The fact that I had, unbeknownst to me, crossed a timezone worked in my favor. I crossed into Indiana and, since the speed limit there is 70, upped my speed as well.
I was intent on making it into Chicago. It turns out Dave lives two blocks from Lake Michigan farther into the city than I expected. Oh well.
As I approached Chicago the sky turned angry again:
Naively I thought that maybe the route would take me away from the clouds. No joy. After waiting out a few short showers under some overpasses I eventually got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic right next to the lake. The backup was caused by two cops ruining someone's day. Right as I passed them, the skies opened up and rain started pouring down. There was no shoulder, but luckily, because the cops were occupying the left lane, I slipped in behind them and in the middle of traffic did the time honored hopping monkey dance to try to get my rainsuit on as quickly as possible. There was much cursing involved.
I AM SO GETTING A TRANSIT SUIT!!!! And if I can find a suitable replacement I am so ditching my tankbag. This rain cover, rain suit BS is getting old. The rain up here never lasts long. It's just long enough to get you wet, then it stops and the sun comes out. You take off the suit in an effort to dry out again and it dumps on you.
Once I got close to Daves place the sun came out again. I called him and he helped me carry my bags into his place. It's very cool of him to let me stay here, especially since he wasn't going to be here.
Dave's a project manager for web development projects and specializes in Drupal installations for non profits. He also rides. Had been in a nasty motorcycle accident in DC some years back and had just finished the court case. So he's looking to get back into riding and is going to pick up a BMW R1150RT in Oregon later this month. He may be out that way when Ian and I get together in Yellowstone. I guess there's a chance we might be able to meet up.
We had dinner at a place called Jury, which has excellent burgers.
I listened to him tell stories of motorcycle trips out of Calcutta and the changing socio-economic landscape there.
(yea, I know, horrible photo of me. Caught me in mid sentence)
The bar rocked.
Fida, a friend of mine from the German meetup, is a TV graphic designer and suggested that I try to shoot video. So I've been trying "Survivorman" style talking to the camera. Just like writing this blog, it's horribly awkward, but I'll try it nevertheless.
So here I sit at 1:30AM thinking about this trip and all the thoughts and insights I haven't been able to capture in words. I keep thinking I need some way to capture my thoughts as I ride because by the end of the day I've forgotten most of what I wanted to write.
Yermo, I'm impressed that you're taking the time to write so much. Thanks for the posts - and I'll look forward to your updates.
Sounds like this is a very meaningful trip for you. And why not? This is a proper long-distance, long-duration trip. It will, no doubt, be good for your soul. And I suspect that at the end of it all you will in fact retain some of the uplifting aspects of it in your daily grind.