Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin & Minnesota
Hi again everybody-
So, tomorrow will have been three weeks with my new little friend, my '11 red/silver 250R. In those 21 days, I have put almost 1,300 miles on my motorcycle and I've loved every single one. I've ridden at night, in the rain, in crazy wind and on all kinds of roads barring interstates/freeways/tollways - whatever your local term for limited-access,higher speed,multi-lane roadways are. Last weekend was a holiday weekend in the US, and I took advantage of that by putting about 550 miles on the odometer in two days and was in 4 states.
I started Saturday in my home of St. Charles, IL in northeastern Illinois, motored over to the northwest corner of Illinois to a town called Galena. Galena's a pretty little town situated in some honest-to-goodness hills. There's a nice road called Blackjack Road south of Galena that heads to a local Ski Resort called Chestnut Mountain. Although saturated last weekend with old, obnoxious dudes on even more obnoxious Harleys, the road was a blast. I had lunch at the resort, went up to East Dubuque and rode over the Mississippi river into Iowa for about 1.5 miles, then turned around, back over the (scary!!) bridge and headed north into the land of cheese and cows, AKA Wisconsin for state #3. Headed up the "Great River Road", which is a beautiful trip along the mighty Mississipp to La Crosse, WI where I spent the night. Saturday was about 280 miles and total door to door time was +/- 9 hours.
Sunday dawned a beautiful misty morning, and I couldn't resist heading a few miles west over another scary Mississippi River bridge (US 14) into Minnesota for state #4. The river was gorgeous at 6:45 am, with mist rising up off of it and the sun starting to appear, truly a majestic sight. I get super nervous on big bridges though, even in my car, so I didn't really sight see too much. I did stop and I tried to take some iPhone pics, but they're horrible and not worth posting at all, dangit. I took a different route home this time without looking at any maps. I just headed south and east on whatever roads looked interesting, and that actually worked out really well. I did cheat and look at my phone map at fill-ups to get an idea where I was, but for the most part, I just winged it. I lucked out big time though when found one brilliant piece of road, called County FF running east from Hillsboro to Wonewoc, WI that I'd love to go back up again and ride - it was empty, clean, just twisty enough for me, and the most fun I've had yet on the CBR. Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day all around, temps in the high 70's F,
mostly sunny, a small breeze - just ideal. The roads I was on were also deserted for the most part. I guess rural south-central Wisconsin isn't a popular vacation destination haha. After about 270 or so miles on Sunday and another 9 or so hours total, I was back home and ready for my some rest. I wish I had some pictures to post, but I never think about taking them until it's too late. Then, if I do try, they come out horrible like my river pics.
Anyway, some personal observations from a newbie rider on his first semi-long distance trip:
1. Bugs suck.
Seriously. When I plan another ride with some mileage to it, I'm going to invest in visor tear-offs. I'd clean the visor at every stop, and 1 mile down the road, SPLAT, another yellow or red or brown bunch of goo, always of course right in my sight line. The first thing I did when I got home was soap up a couple of sponges and wipe my bike and helmet down to get rid of all that crap.
2. Doing that "wave" thing to everyone gets kind of old.
I get why it's done, really I do. We're a special group of people (well, most of us anyway) and we like to recognize each other on the road. BUT... on holiday weekends, especially in a location close to where Harleys are built, there's going to be lots of bikers out. Feeling obligated to salute another rider every 30 seconds starts to be ridiculous. Honestly - I just quit at some point on Saturday. I mean I could not possibly care less if someone thinks I'm a dick for not waving. I started back up on my commute to work today, but at 5 am, there's not many people to wave at, yay!
3. I really don't like Harleys.
This is my personal opinion, and I'm not going to elaborate on it too much. I just don't understand or share in the appeal.
4. I'm surprised at how comfortable riding this little bike actually is.
I was ready to be more uncomfortable and take more rest stops on this ride than I actually did. I'm 46 years old, 6'-1" and about 240lbs and I was not sore anywhere when I woke up after the first 280 mile day. My weight isn't all big fat stomach - the best description of my stature is kind of like a football linebacker who hasn't been to a gym in a decade or so. The only lingering body issue from the ride is a small blistery thing on my throttle hand at the palm-side base of my middle finger.
5. I'm absolutely hooked on riding.
I wish I'd have been ready to start doing this 25 years ago. I waited until now because of personal reasons due to perceived lack of maturity, so for that reason I'm glad I waited, but on the other hand I sure wish I would've felt ready 25 years ago.
Anyway, that's my too-long summary of my too-short trip. I'm really sad that summer is coming to an end up here, and I'm dreading putting my little beasty into storage. Oh well, now I just have another reason to look forward to spring!
-dreaming of beautiful weather and empty roads....