Monday, November 05, 2007
Me, my motorcycle and I...
I had been keeping my eye on the weather forecast and Saturday was looking to be the best day for some time to come. If I was to get in a good ride in the country, that was going to be the day. Sunday was supposed to be windy (it was) and Monday a front was supposed to come through (it has) Snow flurries were a possiblility for Wednesday.
I have season tickets to Indiana home games. Usually I take someone with me - my son, Dad, daughter, wife - but I decided to sell my extra ticket and go to the game solo. Some alone time with the bike was definitely overdue!
Saturday morning dawned cold and clear. There had been a heavy frost the night before and the dog and I made tracks in the frost as I took him out for his morning walk along the treeline. My wife stood at the door and watched as I made my preparations for the ride south. She gave me that "you really ARE crazy" look as I exhaled puffs of steam and loaded up the bike and bundled up for the 100 mile ride to Bloomington and a noon kickoff for the Hoosiers vs. Ball State.
As usual for a cold weather ride, the first few miles are hard to get used to as your body adjusts to the chill. After that, you're either numb or 38 degrees isn't as cold as you thought it was. Either way, the next 50 miles or so to Danville went smoothly and the bike performed flawlessly as I motored south. The bike began to sputter about 3 miles out of Danville, so I switched to reserve and it smoothed out again. The bike has a 2.5 gallon tank and I have to make frequent gasoline stops. I stopped for gas at a station in Danville. I nearly got killed twice getting in and out of the station's driveway, once by a man with his turn signal on who didn't turn and once by a guy in a van who was in a bigger hurry than I was trying to get out of the driveway before me.
On a motorcycle, you learn to keep your eyes moving and your head on a swivel. I've learned the hard way that cars, concrete and asphalt hurt when you bounce off of them. Or, worse, slide over them...
I headed south on SR 39, a hilly, twisting, mostly rural, two lane blacktop that kept life interesting until I picked up heavier traffic around Martinsville, where I hooked up with SR 37, which is a divided and limited access highway from there to Bloomington. The scenery is more remote and the traffic heavier. The people in cages...I wonder if I look that uninvolved when I'm driving my car?
I got off on Kinser Pike and headed into Bloomington. By the time I rolled into the stadium parking lot, my Thinsulate lined leather riding gloves were no longer keeping my fingers warm and I was more than happy to get out of the wind and into the stadium, where the sun heated up my leather jacket as I sat in the stands watching the pre-game activities. I actually dozed, cat-like, enjoying the warmth and the ambience.
The Hoosiers won the game 38-20, becoming bowl eligible in the process, and I left the stadium in a good mood, happy with the win and looking forward to the ride back north. The temperature had warmed into the 50' s and I'm thinking the ride back is going to be sweet. I left the helmet on the sissy bar and headed off into the crisp Indiana afternoon. The air was a little cool on my head, but the opportunity to ride through the Indiana countryside without the brain bucket was too good to pass up
The sunlight was filtered through the golds and reds of the maples and oaks that lined the road. Set against the dark green background of lawns and pastures and the brilliant blue sky, the scenery was otherworldly. The road was curvy enough to be interesting without being too busy to enjoy the show.
I worked my way west on SR 46 to Spencer and then north on US 231 to Crawfordsville where I stopped for dinner at The Forum (the fish was WAY too salty) and, due to the fact that the sun had slipped below the horizon and the temperature dropped again, I changed back into cold weather gear for the last 35 miles of the ride. I finally pulled into my driveway just after dark - and again thoroughly chilled, but it was magnificent ride and a great day.
I'm looking forward to getting a touring bike. The cruiser is okay - I'm not complaining about the ride at all! - but it's a little hard on the tookus and adding windshield and bigger bags would make for a more comfortable ride. I still want to do the Appalachians from north to south in the fall and the West Coast through the Dakotas and Montana, but it ain't gonna happen on the cruiser.
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