Nothing really went as planned for this first day out.
I wanted to get out of work around 3pm to I could be well on the road by 5pm. That would put me in good position to beat the advancing line of thunderstorms that was coming up from Indiana. It would also afford me the best chance to get down towards St. Louis, MO before I turned into a pumpkin.
The first wheel came off the wagon when I couldn’t leave work until after 4pm. After the normal 50-minute drive home, it was almost 5pm by the time I was doing final packing and prepping the house to be away for a while. The eventual 6pm start virtually ensured that I would get caught by the leading fingers of that line of storms that extended all the way from southern Michigan down into Missouri.
Much to my surprise, I was able to get past the leading edge of that system before getting drenched. You could easily see the torrential downpour about five miles to the south, but I passed by unscathed.
After a gas stop in Indiana, the weather gods set up their revenge. They threw a little bit of rain at me; not enough to demand rain gear, but enough to get my boots, chaps, and gloves a little damp. The lynchpin to the weather gods plan came next; it got cold. When I popped out of the light mist/rain around the Indiana/Illinois border, the temperature dropped from 53˚F to 45˚F in a matter of minutes. Add the constant 20mph wind and you had a good recipe for turning bikers into ice cubes.
During a gas stop at Chenoa, Illinois, I discovered that my credit card company was dutifully protecting myself from the most dastardly of thieves: myself. The day’s four transactions spread over hundreds of miles was simply too much for the credit card sever’s little artificial intelligence to handle and the card was stopped. This prompted a call to prove to them that I:
1. Was who I said I was.
2. Was really, truly, traveling.
The brilliant side effect of this setback was that I was able to warm up for a few moments. The gas station attendant was a fellow biker and stressed that I should venture no further than Bloomington. Another helpful gentleman walked by in the parking lot while I was adding my favorite purple flannel shirt (you’ve all seen it over the years) as an additional layer. He provided directions to the cheapest non-fleabag hotel in Bloomington. So, instead of heading a block away to a rather tempting Super8 hotel, I threw my still chilled ass back on the Vector and headed down the road.
I reached Bloomington about 30 minutes later and didn’t feel too bad, so I pressed on towards Springfield. During this leg of the trip, I discovered that I was beginning to “fall behind” the bike a little as reactions were starting to freeze up.
It was time to get my ass indoors.
I ended up in a Red Roof Inn in Springfield, Illinois. I’m writing this sitting next to the room heater with the heat cranked up all the way. I’ll duck into the shower to warm up completely and then get to bed.
Brilliant Author Foreshadowing: This means that I’ll need to make up this hour tomorrow. Could be a long-assed day.
The total mileage for tonight was 416 miles in 7.5 hours. I screwed up the configuration of the Trails application that I use to log my track, so the following map was manually created from the “get directions” feature of Google Maps.