As is so often the case Karen and I were faced with multiple parties on consecutive weekends on opposite side of the country. This year the parties were the EKIII run and the party out west on the island. Karen doesn’t have as much paid vacation as I, so we needed to drop her off at home before heading out west. But the west is a long way away and the need to pick up Karen at the SeaTac airport Thursday night (it’s Sunday) doesn’t leave room for languishing at home Sunday night.
And so it was that we had a nice ride home from Ashtabula, OH to Ann Arbor. Mostly nice, but I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I could due to a sinus headache that was just beginning to impede upon my awareness. About 226 miles later, we’re home and making the necessary changes for my blast out west. Luggage was shifted to account for the loss of Karen’s clothing. The suspension was adjusted for the loss of weight. After a bit of relaxation and we time, it was time to go.
Except I needed cash and also needed to stop at REI to pick up a new set of tubing and a bite valve for my Camelback water bota. Since time was becoming a factor, and my head wasn’t feeling any better, Karen offered to help and pick up the cash and meet me at REI. I was able to pick up the equipment, get it installed on the water bota, and fill it at the sink in the REI restroom. That was when Karen showed up and handed off the cash to me in the parking lot. So a cute chick in a Jeep hands a wad of cash to a leather-clad biker in a store parking lot, I was surprised that Homeland Security didn’t swoop down on us. Alas, we were left alone to kiss each other goodbye and I headed west on I94.
The stretch of I94 towards Chicago has been travelled so many times that it just passes by in a haze, even more so when my head is throbbing. Thank the gods for the flip down sun visor on the Shoei to dim down the setting sun a bit. And then I got to Indiana.
The I94/I90/I80 corridor through northern Indiana is always a clusterfuck. Even with all the extra lanes that they’ve added, it still backs up. For this trip, I’m trying out a new app on my phone called Waze. It’s a GPS navigation app with the added twist that the traffic, police, and road hazard information on the map is crowdsourced. One nice feature is that it will select the best route for you to get around traffic jams. Consequently, when it directs me off the highway when there is no traffic in sight, I should trust it. I didn’t. Four miles later I’m in four lanes of 15mph stop-n-go traffic, on a motorcycle, with a headache. At the next exit, Waze dutifully directed me off the highway and this time I followed its suggestion. We paralleled the interstate on US20 for about five miles and then got back on at the tail end of some construction. Handy little app.
I refilled you water bota at the next gas stop south of Chicago, which was good. It meant that I was drinking lots of water, which usually helps with my sinus headaches. A few miles further west into the darkening night, I passed the interchange for I55 and the setting got a lot more rural. The exits spread out, the streetlights disappear, the traffic thins, and the speed limit increases to 70 mph. The temperature stayed a warm and humid 72°, which was comfortable for riding with the vents of the jacket closed, and good for my sinuses, which had just started to clear up. My right foot went up on the highway peg, my left hand dropped into my lap, my throttle hand kept us in the upper seventies, and the miles rolled. After another hour, my head didn’t hurt anymore and, hell, it was nice.
I know a lot of my friends don’t like to ride at night, primarily because they prefer not to have a close encounter with the wandering wildlife. I don’t want to hit a deer either, but I love night rides like this.
After one more gas stop just past the Mississippi River, I was in Iowa and ready for sleep. I would usually avoid the IOWA 80 truck stop like the plague, but it has a cheap hotel and I was to tired to be picky.
I composed this the next morning. I need some AA batteries for my bluetooth keyboard. They’re dead, which means I had to write this on the screen on my iPad.