As described in the post from two days ago, I’m trying to get home in record time so Karen and I can ride down to the SCUM run in South Carolina next weekend. Yesterday’s challenges were heat and wind. Who knows what plagues awaited me today.
The big problem in planning today was Chicago.
Starting in Sioux Falls, SD, I was just over 800 miles (1,287km) from home, which means I could be home a day early if I duplicated yesterday’s high-mileage effort. I was, however, too far away to clear Chicago before the start of the afternoon rush hour. If I waited to pass through Chicago until after the rush hour, I would end up crossing Michigan late into the night when the deer would be out and about.
What to do?
Much like the day before, the cold front that I was racing across the country caught me during the night. This meant that I was starting in comfortable temperatures, even when wearing full leathers. The wind, however, had not gone away. It wasn’t as random and gusty as it was the day before, but it was still a crosswind and occasionally a head wind. I didn’t relish the prospect of this wind buffeting me around for an entire high-mileage day.
I bought the day’s first tank of gas in Albert Lea, MN, discovering that you can ride the K1600 for a few miles past when the distance-to-empty readout drops to zero (0). I knew from previous fill-ups on this trip when I had run the range readout almost to zero that I still had at least a half-gallon in the tank.
The rest of Minnesota passed by without incident. I did wave in a generally northern direction as I passed Rochester, but I don’t think my friends Sparky and Pooder saw me. I’ll make a point to drop by when I’m not passing through while riding with divine purpose.
Sometimes the music we plan matches the conditions or landscape especially well. I’m not sure why I felt this way, but the rolling forested farmland of western Wisconsin seemed to provide the perfect backdrop for Tangled Up in Blue by Bob Dylan. <shrug> Tastes vary.
I got more gas just before I reached Madison, WI and the roads were beginning to get congested with the afternoon commute traffic. The vehicle volume died out a bit after Madison, but started to increase with a vengeance as I neared Chicago on I90. I wasn’t hitting Chicago at the peak, but 5:50pm CT is still well within the span of the evening rush hour.
I’d been using the iPhone app, Waze, to provide route information during this trip (sometimes, other times, I’d openly defy it). I decided to trust it to find me the least f–cked up route through the late Chicago rush hour.
In my experience, it is usually best to go through downtown Chicago; a strategy that often results in some stop-n-go traffic, but you don’t pay any tolls unless you elect to bail and take the Skyway (but bring your Gold Card; the Skyway is expensive). The alternative is to take the I294 Bypass, but that often results in stop-n-go traffic and now you’re paying for the privilege.
Pick your poison.
Waze routed me from I90 to I190, down to I294 and finally onto I80, which connected me to my desired end game of I94 east. I must confess that I did not have more than a few minutes of stop-n-go traffic. Most of the route moved fairly well, though I did have to stop several times to pay tolls.
Note: I really need to get one of those IPass/EZPass pucks that works on both systems.
With Chicago behind me, I only had to wade through one congested region in Indiana before I was free to cruise normally and hit the home stretch. I needed one more gas stop in Michigan, after which I was on full-deer-alert for the remaining ride. Unfortunately, the traffic wasn’t sparse enough to use my brights much, but at least I had the other vehicles to use as shields against the possibility of encroaching Bambis.
I finally pulled into my garage at 11:10 ET. The final numbers for the day were:
- Distance: 804 miles (1,294km)
- Time: 12:14
- Speed: 71 mph (114 kmh) while moving
- Mileage: 37.7 mpg