Starting up and Laying down
(continued from Part 1)
Finally a morning came when the weather was mostly clear over the great plains, all the plans were set. Up to this point, I’d had my bike parked in front of the sleep room under cover. I hadn’t really ridden it much recently as I was busy looking for new computer contracts. The only parts that were exposed were the very bottoms of the wheels and it was parked just outside the drip edge of the motel.
I didn’t think much of it sitting there as I had pulled the cover and started it a couple of times to keep everything in working order. I needed to go pick up a few things before heading out. I had already scheduled a stop in Ann Arbor at Nicholson’s Enterprises to have the bike given a basic service including oil change, oil filter and a check over all the basics.
So I headed out of the motel onto Michigan ave rather uneventfully. For those of you that don’t live in Michigan, we have a traditional traffic condition known as a ‘Michigan left’ – this is essentially a number of boulevard type roads with a center divider. If you need to make a left hand turn onto the road, you have to turn right instead, cross all the lanes of traffic and enter a ‘turn around’ in the median. Thus was the case in front of the motel.
I pulled out, crossed all the lanes of traffic and turned into the left-turn turn-around lane and applied the front brake while going about 15 mph. I hadn’t really stopped to do a full inspection of the bike yet as I was just going a few blocks up the road to pick up a few things. What I hadn’t noticed is that one side of the front disc brake that was exposed under the bike cover had been collecting a combination of dew and rain splatter and had a very fine ‘rosatia’ rust on the surface. When this iron oxide is sandwiched between an otherwise smooth brake disc and a brake pad, it acts like sandpaper.
The front wheel locked up and the handlebars immediately tried to jackknife. I wrenched them back but it was too late, the bike was already going out of control. I managed to apply the rear brake sufficiently to slow the bike to about 8mph before it went over and, thinking quickly put some of my weight under that side with one leg while pressing the rear brake more with the other I kept the bike from going down too hard. Unfortunately, in doing so, the bike impacted my thigh pretty good and the handlebars again jackknifed over further, going so far as to put a small dime sized dent in the gas tank with the end of the hand grip. As the bike lay over on it’s side and I jumped free, the side mirror was shattered, a foot peg took most of the sideways momentum and a small scuff was made in the lower tailpipe.
I walked off the initial pain from the hit to my thigh, and righted the bike but not before some of the oil ran up through the air filter on one side. Now I needed to add air filters to my list of maintenance. I continued to the store carefully feathering the brake to smooth out the disc of the rust dust and, although it was running a bit rough due to the clogged air filter on one side, things seemed to be running reasonably normal.
Nicholson’s hooked me up with new oil, oil filter and air filters, I found a generic mirror to replace the damaged one and they helped me call ahead to a dealer in Denver to have them order an OEM mirror that I could pick up upon arriving in town. My leg was still being quite bothersome but I tried as much as I could to ‘walk it off’ while waiting for the bike to be serviced. It wasn’t helping much. But it seemed at least tolerable so I decided to venture forth anyway – worst case scenario would be turning back at some point before I was a full day’s out.
Mind you, I didn’t really plan much more than a route. I wanted it to really be a by-the-pants type trip. Departing mid week, I didn’t have any reason to believe finding cheap places to stay the night where ever I might be at the end of a day’s riding would be difficult (and it wasn’t).
The first day’s riding was rather uneventful. The gas tank on this bike was just about 2 1/2 gallons and although the gas mileage was considerably better than on an automobile, that still meant you got just about 125 miles on a tank full before the reserve fuel light came on and it was time to start looking for a refill. On highway driving, this equates to a stop about every 2 hours. This is actually part of what makes a cycle trip interesting. Whereas in a car, you can go about 5-6 hours on a full tank and you are closed up inside, you don’t see much of the people and the places you are traveling through. On a bike, however, you are not only open to the surroundings and ever the more alert out of necessity, but you are stopping more often and running across people at the stops.
The first part of the trip was through Indiana. I hadn’t fully grasped just how long it would take to drive through Indiana and the additional ‘events’ of the day caused me to head out about 2 hours later than I had initially planned. Not too much ‘eventful’ happened after I hit the road, but I quickly found that my leg would ‘stiffen up’ under the vibrations of the bike and from being in a single position for 2 hours straight. Yeah, I had ‘highway bars’ that allowed me to extend my legs further while on the expressway, but it still became very interesting whenever I would pull off to stop. Sometimes, so interesting, that I couldn’t even move that leg off the peg at first and I would have to be very careful to make sure the bike always canted toward the side with the ‘good leg’ until I could stop and literally ‘grab the pantleg’ with my hand and pull it up off the peg to set it down. Similarly, I would have to use both hands to pull that leg over the bike to get off. Once I walked on the leg a bit and got circulation going through it, it would still be sore but much more functional. This condition persisted throughout the first two days.
But, as I mention, the rest of that first day was rather uneventful. Being still close to home, I didn’t really start to get too many comments through most of Indiana on my stops, but did start to notice them near the south end of the state. People would see my Michigan plate, sometimes could tell I was heading SW rather than NE, see my backpack stuffed full and strapped to the back seat and immediately ask me where I was going. (this became far more frequent the further west I got and was one of the great joys of such a trip)
I found a small hotel about 10 miles over the Illinois border. The following morning I crossed the Illinois panhandle and went through St. Louis and tried to make a stop to see the arch, but the lift and the primary parking lot were both under construction and you couldn’t even get close enough to it to take a really good picture so I decided to just move on.
I really liked riding through the Ozarks and had purposely gone off the highway in Missouri for a couple of reasons. (I knew someone that lived down there and wanted to see if they were around or if I could find their town. We ended up not crossing paths, but it definitely made the ride through Missouri much more eventful)
I’d continue on, but the events of that day, especially as relates to ‘Eldon, Missouri’ will probably take an entire part all on their own…
(continued in Part 3)