It is just above freezing at the start of the last leg homeward bound to Bloomington Indiana from about 30 miles northwest of Bloomington Illinois. First things first before anything else after waking up and getting dressed: what mood is MS in? Well, pretty fiery. She sounds like the last shots fired in the Civil War. High pitch explosions she unloads from her exhausts. Then she settles down to a quiet idle mumble ready to be packed & go. Just a tiny oil top-up. Some character.
To the Indiana state line I have settled for I74, then rural highways again. Not only out of necessity – losing one hour and a dinner with friends waiting. Also out of love. I enjoy the higher speeds for a change. I am heading into a stormy wind and with 70mph the G-forces on my body – naked bike you remember – offer a nice workout for a few hours.
I just love these huge American trucks. There is only one thing that scares me: there is no steel bar at axle level between the trailer’s rear wheels and front end to prevent motorcycles and cars from skidding under them to be 2-dimensionalized; these protective bars are required in Europe. Come to think of it: one more thing is scary. When passing a truck I usually look up to the guy at the steering wheel; how often the drivers seem to be doing all kinds of other things then paying attention to the road. What, I can’t see, but many have more interesting things to look at; text messaging, playing a computer game, watching a film? And rarely do they look down to what roaring machine is passing them. In their own world.
The monotony of the interstate brings back random memories. Just a few:
* Out west is Kum & Go country. First time I saw the tall hotel-like sign coming up, I thought: this is a pretty liberal area, for men in dire need they publicly offer quickie cathouses out here. The fuel pumps a front?
* Big church, big sign: “Church of Believers”. Non-believers in all other churches?
* Cemetary in rural somewhere offers counceling through sign: “Troubles? Try Psalm 37”. Here it is: http://www.esvbible.org/Psalm+37/
* Uncountable numbers of very seriously obese men, women and children in breakfast, lunch and dinner places downing overdose quantities of fat food while watching television commercials promoting more fat foods – fat food addicts drinking diet soft drinks to pacify their minds
* “Dutch baby” is a thing to eat according to an army sergeant standing outside a bar smoking; explains: blend flour, milk, let rise, syrup, sugar
* Widely varying gas grades; I have seen: 87, 89, 89,7, 91 and 93 (in Europe: 95 period)
* No fuel pump alike in how to get them to deliver gas: different unreadable displays telling you what to do, different locations of buttons to push, different handles to move up or sideways or not at all – each time I have to study what is required; sometimes also a US (postal) ZIP code which of course I don’t have on my Dutch credit cards – follows an interesting exchange at the cashier’s to free the pump anyway (“You’re from Holland? Oh, how cool”)
* Almost all motorcycle riders wearing no protective gear whatsoever. In a car you buckle up, but why a helmet on a motorbike? Something loose already in the ABATE minds.
Thoughts go back to the week David and I spend riding together.
* A very good team with differences that typify personalities. David is a high-level machinist of profession producing zero tolerance top quality parts and components for a wide variety of industries. It shows on the trip. Extremely well-organized with chrome luggage rack, nice click-on bags, rain covers for bags, full fairing, GPS, testers for I don’t know what (came in handy checking my dead battery), waterproof riding gear, and at the start a shining showpiece 850. I have none of that. I just dump stuff in a smaller and a larger backpack that get thrown over the buddy seat tied down with a bunch of bungy cords – yeah I know, once the small backpack fell off.
* Riding styles and positioning on the road are quite similar – but also typical differences. David keeps his line straight. I don’t: I play with the winds and the dangers. At the top of 2 lane hills I will always move to the right: some idiot may come over the hill passing or so. To the right side of 2-lane highways I also move allowing for a random stray into my direction by oncoming cars & trucks due to being on the phone or not anticipating the impact of strong side winds. I am sailing the turbulent wake of trucks. Curves I ride outside-in. My line is not straight, it dances upon the tunes of traffic, road and weather.
* Stop-signs bring up another difference. David is very very diligent in making full stops. Even on dirt and gravel intersections where one can see the end of the world on all sides and where perhaps 2 cars a day pass and never at the same moment. Full stop, foot to the ground, look left and right, go. I approach any intersection stop sign going into first gear and before stalling open up and go. Unless of course other traffic has already made a full stop and I must yield.
* Speed zones also trigger different behavior. David makes sure to have cut down to the posted speed limit where the sign is. That is: even lower. I just ease out after the sign to what is about right.
Summary: David follows the rules to the letter. In European style I follow their spirit; a bit like Sesame Street’s Swedish cook would ride in David’s eyes probably.
* No we didn’t discuss this. We were a perfect match: thanks David for coming along, for keeping MS going and for being a great riding partner second to none!!
The last few hours is again local Southern Indiana highways.. Always up or down, curve to the right or left, and usually a combination. Lots of trees, very scenic. Arcadia. No better place to return to.
Says magnificent factory original MS at 31 years of age. Agree.