Day 2: MS Enforces Zen

Early up. Breakfast meeting at 9.00 o’çlock with Jeff Blair, Chairman of Indiana Chapter of the LHAssociation at about 2 hours riding. Lunchtime meeting with David (Griz86) further west on LH. Crisp, cool and blue outside. Pack everything onto MS, full-face helmet on, turn the ignition key, hit the start button. A dry click only. Click? Try again. And again. Look her into her headlight eye, she doesn’t look back. No blink. So, we aren’t going anywhere. Despair with a bit of panic hits. Then Zen coolness jumps in. Analytics. First call Jeff to cancel meeting, fortunately he is no more than 10 minutes on his way from Chicago. Then: mind moves from why? to what obvious solution? Jump start – kick start I am not even going to try as I lack the technique and power to do that. Call Dave to tell him to not yet start out for our meeting point.

Two problems arise: how to get to the battery and where to get jump start assistance. It takes three phone calls to Dave to coach me on how to remove the seat. That is how technical I am…. My technical skills are twofold: 1) get the bike to the dealer for service and 2) push buttons to ride. Nobody has ever been able to explain to me the concepts of volts, amps and watts. Hence, I carry not a single tool. So I will say no more on this subject. A helpful hotel guest who has been riding a motorcycle all his life drives up his monstrous pick-up. He is a short skinny guy but in one single move he gets MS on her center stand – I myself, I am embarrassed to say, have tried it dozens of times without a single success. Connect batteries – and instantly MS starts. “It probably grounds out somwhere” he says when I tell him that I have been riding her each day for almost a week without problems. “And I think one of your plugs is fouled up” he adds encouringly when looking at the exhaust fumes. Well, whatever, she runs is all that matters to me. Firm resolve #1: don’t turn her off until lunch or maybe the evening. Resolve #2: each evening disconnect the battery as precaution against it happening again. I am pretty proud of that idea.

As if nothing happened MS and I are off through the hours and hours of boring Chicago suburbs with hundreds of uncoordinated traffic lights, repetetive chain stores, monstrous parking lots, bad roads and road works. If ever you decide to ride LH, skip it roughly between Melville Indiana and Aurora Illinois. Aurora, godess of dawn. Beyond her LH becomes beautiful: winding country roads, open skies, endless corn and grain fields, old historic western downtowns, huge shiny grain silos that could hold 20 story buildings. And a often an awkward welcome by so many rural towns that make you enter them with a fenceless open cemetary on both your left and right hand, graves calling out welcome to the passer-by, memento mori. I must make a quick-stop on the road shoulder.
Can’t stand the itching in my ear for which I must take of my helmet. “”You OK” calls a voice. Look up: gardener in a cemetery. Not ready for him yet.

Early afternoon: David is waiting and waving on an outside terrace off LH. Park MS next to his Pristina. His Pristina is pristine: everything clean and shining, spotless fairings, an impressive collection of top-class suitcase type bags fixed onto a chrome unit; a royal look. MS showing age and miles, my backpacks wrapped in heavy duty plastic bags chaotically tied down with colorful bungee cords – a gypsy look.

The odd couple gets on its LH way. Photo ops at murals, historic buildings. Highlight: the HQ of the LHAssociation located in a building built by a cousin of Abe Lincoln. One question gets the lady in the shop off on a nonstop and unstoppable narrative about the history and current function of the building – while one of the 80-a-day freight trains of 120 cars each thunder by at almost arms length. Signing the guest book (“and please add what motorcycle you are riding”), purchasing LH Polo and T-shirts and her kind willingness to take our joint picture outside the building set us free.

All day MS restarts fine. Tonight her battery is disconnected. Zen works for triples, too.

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