My late night foray into North Dakota had good intentions but not enough luck. Note to self: more lube on the horseshoe. Staying the night near a large city put me right in the line-up for morning rush hour and when I made it through the rush construction crews were waiting, which set me back just enough to let me approach Minneapolis during the dinner rush. So in true pay-it-forward style, Minneapolis had its own construction followed by 70km/h zones the entire way through Chicago, which ultimately led me to the morning rush into Detroit. Haley Joel was happy, not I. And I was still riding. Well, until the cop made me stop. He claimed my tail lights weren’t working. I explained that my gear had aged a lot over the last two weeks and my bags were just sagging and covering the lights. He was in his 60s so he knew exactly what I was talking about and he let me go.
The sun was up and my 13-hour drive was approaching 20 hours…naturally, the bike started overheating. A full day of riding plus hours of stop-and-go traffic do not do good things to an air-cooled engine. I made it about 45 minutes into the Detroit rush when the bike started idling way too quickly so I had to pull off onto the shoulder, conveniently barely wider than shoulder-width and littered with as many metal pieces as you’d find in my right shoulder. Now I just needed a shoulder to cry on. My saving grace was deciding not to wait until Windsor to get my second morning coffee (the last one was 10am yesterday), so I had a little java jive happening from Ann Arbor and it kept me alive. I double-checked my oil and waited about ten minutes for the bike to cool and for the traffic to speed up. When it finally started moving again, it really started moving so I had to wait another five for a shot at merging back onto the I94 from the litter and hardware buffet I was idling on. Once I was back on and moving, the bike was happy. I, on the other hand, had to take my sunglasses off so the wind would keep my eyes open. I made it to the border at 9am and had my typical experience, based on many a solo trip::
Right, sorry. uhh, Canadian! (He already knew based on the “sorrys”)
*It continued for a while as my fatigue was not letting up.
And back in Canada! That means only 90 minutes to go! I started through Windsor towards the highway and then saw a sign for the Harley dealership. Shit. I do kind of owe it to the bike after she let me off the hook for not changing the oil as planned in Vancouver.
I pulled up to the dealership and asked the guys outside if they could squeeze me in since I was on a road trip and only passing through (didn’t tell them the road trip was 99% over). Excellent, but now I have to wait for the service guys to show up to open the shop. So I grabbed a seat on a big rock and decided I could take a quick nap. I got about 0.5 seconds in when they started asking about the trip. Thirty minutes later the service crew showed up and I hadn’t slept a wink. They took the bike out back and I was finally alone. YES, nap time!
“Hey der! You the guy on the big trip?!”
Serenity now, serenity now, serenity now. I didn’t even see you there.
They finished at 10:30; I was $100 poorer and my hunger was raging.
I thanked the guys for hooking me up on a busy day and then sought food. I realized no napping was in the cards until home…or until I started eating a muffin at Timmys and kept dropping the pieces because I was falling asleep right after I broke each bite off…I could hear 3rd world children yelling at me.
I gave myself a few Chris Browns to wake me up for the last leg home and as with him, against all odds everything worked out for me.
I pulled into the driveway around noon, threw my bags down, and slept so hard I woke up with a Pfizer sponsorship.
And that, my friends, concludes this trial of the life experiment.
I had the most ridiculous time, met some really amazing people, and saw beautiful places that I’d never seen before in my own country. I covered 5,600 miles (9,612 kms) in 9 days of riding, crossed 5 provinces and 5 states, endured 7 days of road rain and unheard of levels of butt-hurt. I somehow kept a semi-regular blog, wrote a ton of inspired shit that you will never see, learned more about myself than I thought possible, and documented this whole jive journey on a tough mother of a video camera.
As per usual after my little outings, I’ll keep up with the blogging, just on a slightly less regular basis. Because after all, this life experiment is about more than just the travel.
I’ve got one hectic week (and weekend) of work to catch up on and then hopefully I can get moving on throwing all of my footage together into something view-worthy on YouTube. There was so much time on the road and in the rain with the waterproof casing on the camera that I didn’t get as much talk-time on film, or as many different angles, etc. that I wanted, but I had some damned lofty goals, so here’s hoping it still turns out!
I’d say it’s time to get back to the grind, but that’s now reserved for Grouse Mountain. And she’ll have to wait at least another semester before I take a hike on my way to Tofino Pt. II.
I certainly won’t forget the relieving feeling of arriving at my house just as the rain was starting again. I looked up into the big round clouds and felt it all beautifully drip down. Like a midget at a wet t-shirt contest.