Saturday, July 18, 2009
-The first state sign I have seen
-The sun setting over Adair, Iowa
Up and ready to roll about 830am in whatever time zone this is. Later than I wanted but still not bad. Within the first hour I had crossed the border into Nebraska. Hey look, clouds, haven't seen those in weeks. Everyone warned me, "Nebraska is long and flat and boring. Be careful or you'll fall asleep while riding" so I decide to do the smart thing and put my Ipod in one ear so I can still hear traffic but have some music going to entertain me. The headphones I had were borrowed and painful to have in with a helmet so I decide at the next stop I need gas, I'll pick up a cheap new set that fits me better. So I stop right at the state border, fill up the tank and wander into the store. There were two middle aged women working at the counter that eyed me up as I walked in. I greeted them asked if they had headphones and was laughed at "why would they be in this town?". Puzzled I mentioned to them that I was just passing through to which they both got excited about my first time in Nebraska and went on a 15 minute discussion between themselves about where I should stop along the way to see the sights. The ultimate conclusion was that I was incorrect when I needed headphones and instead my next stop would be in Sidney where I would go to Cabella's and check out the "really neat" wildlife display. I exit the store, paused for a moment to regain myself. After 15 minutes of smiling and nodding and sounding like a cop recording a statement of a UFO sighting, "ooooo......AHHHHH.....really?", I paused outside looked around wondering "what just happened" and then went about my way deciding I would not be making any more stops, other than for gas, that encounter was quite sufficient for me. So through Nebraska......corn.....corn.....gas....corn....construction....corn....construction.....corn.....wind...corn....gas....corn...corn.....repeat. Its was amazingly exciting. The process was about to repeat for a third time when something different happened, the car in front of me swerved wildly to the right. There is something laying in the road......long....black....a crown. Red flags, warning sirens the works start going off. Alright options, swerve left....hit the car next to me; stay straight, buckle down and ramp it...potential of puncturing tires, having it pick up by the front tire get tangled destroying the bike and throwing me, losing control when the back tire hits; swerve right.....there may be enough room in the median for me to sneak by, loose gravel on one side means loss of control but it is well paved, worst case i loose control and skip into the grass, least possible damage to the bike and myself, we have a winner. So I swerve right, cross the line, cross the roll strip and just before I go off the road cut it back, Everything slows down, I see the front tire passing by the crown, and see the metal reinforcements shining out of the end of the tear watching it come close and....oh shit....THWANG. I"M HIT....the tail end of the bike hops sideways a few times, and just like from the movies text starts pouring over the inside of my visor with damage possibilities, the part of the bike that was hit flashing in red, required actions. Ok I am not in control....I'm sideways....what did Dale and Kathy (rider training instructors) say to do.....Clutch in, throttle down, downshift, gun throttle, swing hips while releasing clutch. The bike roared in disgust with the gear selection, the tire squealed as it regained the pavement, and everything went back on path as I threw my weight over. Pull over and think. Pulled over, first thing go back and pull the damn crown out of the road so no one else hits it. Next check me, boot is cut....hmmm minor at best but i need to take my helmet off, My heart is pounding so hard every time it beats I get choked by the chin strap. Now the bike....crash bars ruined....front tire and fenders fine.....all cables still connected....radiator/coolant lines protected by the crash bars.....wow. So the crash bars did their job. To give a rough idea of the force of hitting this crown, the crashing which i talk about is a 1 and 1/4 inch chrome pipe that sits in the front of the bike to protect my legs/engine if i fall or hit anything. They were sitting about an inch in front of the foot pegs and have now been bent over 6 inches over top of my foot and shifter. Have you ever bent a chrome pipe? Its not easy. The next town thankfully had a Harley Davidson store. I had been stopping for gas but rode there to see their mechanic. He looked it over, chuckled and shared a story of when the same thing had happened to him many years prior. I wandered around the store as he did his best to beat the bars back to the shape they should have been in. When he finished it didn't' look all that bad. Frustrating to me because I can still tell the difference but the average person wouldn't notice. So now that I've calmed down, had a bite to eat, joked around with another rider, I'm back on the road and about an hour and a half later, crossing into Iowa. The rest of the ride was extremely smooth. I continued to Adair, Iowa; about 50 miles west of Des Moines. Parked at a rest stop and was impressed. The rest stop offered wi-fi connection, was beautifully built and landscaped, had interactive weather maps, and assortment of vending machines (ranging from coffee and juice to candy and sandwiches). And touch tv screens that allowed you to explore Iowa from the rest stop. The walls were covered with stories about agriculture, the loss of top soil, the creation of hybrid corn by Henry Wallace and other stories that it was very interesting to read. So as I waited I first pulled out my US map and layed it out. Within ten minutes there was a group of approximately 12 people around looking at the route I had taken listening to the stories I had so far, looking at where I was headed and how I planned to get there and taking turns to run out look at my bike and come back in and ask me questions and share their own stories. Everyone there had the same opinion, "I always wanted to do that". A few of the wives around commented about don't even think about it, and one gentleman, traveling home with his bike on a trailer went far enough to say "dammit woman, next year this is how we are traveling". So definitely a scary day overall, but with the landscape, and the people I've met, it was definitely the right decision. Nothing beats riding through and being able to tell the produce by the smell in the air. Total for the day 634 miles.