Sunday, September 11, 2011

MD to the Hoosier State

Miles traveled: 1400/2240km.
Days on the road: 7/ actual riding 4
States crossed: 4
Longest day: 415miles/664km
Highest elevation: 2900ft/884m
Highest grade: 13% for half mile/.8km

It’s Sunday 6:30am, I slept four or five hours at the most. It’s go time, time to tour on the 250R. Our first real road test, the weather calls for rain all along my chosen route, oh well; time to really test all my gear! It’s dark, gloomy with the ever threatening skies, not exactly the way I picture being initiated into Moto-Touring. The first 50 miles are slow going, is dark foggy and drizzling, I’m starting to wonder: what am doing out here? The bike handles well despite being fully loaded (+ -175lbs/80kgs rider and gear).

Initially, I had planned on taking Route 50 West to Bloomington, IN., however, in the end I switched to the Super slab (SS), time to find out how the 250 will handle it. I’m averaging 60mph/96kph, climbing the hills of Western MD, and the 250 has plenty of power on tap. The challenging part begins once we entered OH. on I70 West, where Semis are ubiquitous. It starts, I am surrounded, all I can hear in my head are The Doors “…Let it roll, Baby, roll…” and I obliged and rolled the throttle. All is well for the first 300miles/480km until finally the skies opened up, I can’t see very well out of my shield, my gloves are soaked, semis are hurdling by at 65 mph, I pulled over, time to reassess and wait out the rain. The rain lets up and I find a place to sleep for the night. Total miles; 365/584km and trust me it feels like I’ve been out this long.

The next morning is more of the same, dark, gloomy and wet. I can’t wait around for the rain to stop, and so I’m back on the SS. Suddenly I noticed the exit numbers are climbing Oh wait, I’m heading east! No, no, I should be going west. The exit numbers should be decreasing, time to turn around, if I could only find and exit. I finally turned around and joined the semis; here comes one, no problem, later two in a row spraying water all over the road at 65mph/104km! And here is when I learned what Tarmac Surfing is all about.

I sensed their presence; I saw their headlights briefly. First, a slight change in wind direction, than I see the huge right front wheel zoom by, the rain is steady and relentless and it’s dark all around. The only light is the beam from my headlight ahead of me, (and the truck’s lights) where I can see the rain streaks fall to the ground. And as expected, now the wind turbulence from the truck is trying to push me off the road, normally you only feel the wind, except it’s raining and through my headlight beam I can see the air “wave” coming at me at full speed! The 250 cuts through it, I tucked in and gripped the handlebars. I’m in 5th gear rpms are high, I rolled the throttle and hang on! I’m weaving in the dark, gloomy wet interstate, riding the “wave”. The truck passes…but wait it’s not over here comes another one. That morning I caught my first two 13 foot waves; I hope it will be awhile before I surf again.

The rain ceased, and I’m hoping the rest of the day will be uneventful. And it was until the winds picked up around the southern Indiana and Ohio border. Did I mention IN., loves speed? The speed limit in the state is 70mph, so everyone is driving way over that, I have no choice, got to let it roll again, while facing some strong head winds, I tucked in and just like that I’m surfing again. At least this time I have more traction. On this half of the tour I was unwillingly one of the “Riders on the Storm” (TD).

Leaving home early sunday morning.

The first rest stop, there are trees behind all that fog!

Lake Lemon IN.

Cruising the twisties around Bloomington, IN.

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Off the bike activities.

A contrast of machines and horsepower.

Ultra Luxury vs Minimalist.

Old buildings near Nashville IN.

A Rider's view somewhere along Route 40.

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Route 40 between Washington PA., and Keyser Ridge MD.

A small town along Route 40.

Almost home, only 225 miles to go.

Next time: Gear set up, riding etc.

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