Start of Day 4 – Danville, IL
I did it! I really did it – I rode 1154 miles from Maine to Illinois solo. Very proud of myself – as are Lance, Gregg and Rich. Okay, enough bragging and down to the details.
Started at 7:30 from Bowdoinham, ME with odometer reading 22,206 and rode to Scranton, PA. Rode in the rain for the last hour arriving at a super crappy Econo Lodge with 22,632 on the odometer. I stopped at Rein’s Deli in Vernon, CT for lunch and only ate half of my salami sandwich so I had the other half for dinner.
Rain stopped over night. I didn’t sleep very well and was awake around 11:30 PM and started Facebook chatting with some folks and got a bit of personal news that was devastating. That ensured I wasn’t going to get any more sleep and awoke to eyes that weren’t only bloodshot from windburn and road bleary but now puffy and swollen after hours of crying. Many thanks to all my friends who emailed and texted their love and support. It was hard to be so far from home and friends.
Started at 7:30 with 22,632 on the odometer to head for Pickerington, OH through the Allegheny Mountains. They aren’t all that high, but boy-oh-boy are they windy. The bike felt excessively heavy – perhaps the weight of loneliness?
I stopped somewhere in western PA at a Cracker Barrel to warm up. They poured me a piping hot mug of coffee. I wrapped my hands around it and quickly turned it into an ice coffee. I am loving my heated grips. On high with my winter gloves they really do tend to keep my hands warm. So far anyway …
Arrived in Ohio by 4:30 with 23,081 on the odometer and checked into a very nice Comfort Inn.
The AMA Hall of Fame didn’t open until 9 so I had a lazy morning. Rode over and timed it just perfectly. There was a woman jogging by and she took the picture of me at the gate. Lovely campus in a beautiful setting.
The Hall of Fame is small (my Dad did warn me) but still lovely with a nice dirt-track presence which is really what my interest in AMA stems from. Back in the early 1990s I did some video work of the northern New England AMA flat track races. Sideways Pete’s track, Canaan and Bear Hill. Have early raw footage that I shot of Aaron Creamer when he just a kid. For those who don’t know – Aaron was from Leominster, MA and Sideways Pete’s nephew. He was barely a teenager when I first met him racing and would consistently lap riders twice and three times his age. He later turned pro but sadly was killed when he was caught up in a multiple rider incident at the start of the main event back in August of 2004 at the AMA Hot Shoe Series motorcycle race at the Sturgis Fairgrounds in Sturgis, South Dakota.
I especially liked the H-Ds as those are what I saw Chris Carr and Scott Parker ride at Syracuse and Hagerstown racers in the early 1990s. I left the museum late morning and headed west to IL to meet up with Gregg. The temperature started to drop and the winds really picked up. I mean REALLY picked up. I felt like a piece of paper being blown all over the rode. At one point I pulled into a rest station and frantically texted both Gregg and Rich, “WTF is the trick to riding in these gusty and high winds? I am being blown all over the road.”
Rich came back with, “There isn’t one, don’t fight it.”
Gregg’s answer was, “Relax into it. For me at least the bike seems to lean into the wind on it’s own. Not a good answer I’m sure. But the best I have.” Please remember that Gregg weighs 275 so he’s got 125 pounds more mass holding his bike to the road than I do!!
Regardless – they were both right and as the day progressed and the winds picked up I did relax and it got better. Or I got used to the bike feeling all squirrely.
LESSON #15: Although bridges may freeze before road I apparently freeze 10 degrees before bridges.
Trepidation for the day: I am not looking forward to riding across Kansas. I’ve done it about five times in a car and even then it was hard. Not just do to the winds blowing the car all over the road, but due to severe boredom have had all I could do to keep myself from driving into a cement bridge abutment. And it’s not just a distant memory. Did it most recently once in April 2012 and then back again in May 2012. Hmmmm
New least favorite road sign: Heavy Cross Winds