It turned out to be a long, hot, frustrating 700-mile loop.
September is a great month to ride motorcycles. The weather is still good, and it is the perfect time to get in one last long ride before the season ends.
That is exactly what I had planned with a friend the weekend of Sept. 16. We both took off on Friday so we could ride down to Point Pleasant, W.V., for something called the Mothman Festival.
Ever heard of the Mothman? It is a mythical beast who appears before disaster strikes, like it did in Point Pleasant in the 1960s. The creature was allegedly spotted for months before the Silver Bride into town collapsed in 1967, killing 46 people.
Yes, it is folklore, although some believe it. Point Pleasant has made the best of it by hosting this popular festival every year. I am not big Mothman believer, but it seemed like a nice ride to a fun event.
So, we leave at 6 a.m. on Sept. 16. We ride a little more than 80 miles south on I-39 before stopping for a sugar free Red Bull. Our plan is to take I-74 East to Indianapolis and then head south.
While we stand outside the convenience store talking about our day of riding ahead, my riding partner notices a nail in his back tire.
Big, big problem.
We had no choice, so we backtracked to the nearest Harley dealership in Ottawa. As with many products these days, the tires are backordered, so my friend must head slowly home. Since there are hotel reservations already in place I decide to head on to West Virginia.
But now, since we are on I-80, I decide to stick to it and head East toward Indiana. That turns out to be a mistake of monumental proportions.
Everything starts out fine, but the closer I get to the border with Indiana, the thicker the traffic. Eventually, we stop. I am watching the GPS on my bike, which shows the time of my arrival at my destination. It says 5:30 p.m. As traffic creeps along, and the heat from my pipes starts to burn my leg and my clutch hand starts to stiffen up, I notice I am losing a lot of time. It goes from, a 5:30 p.m. arrival to 6 p.m. Then 6:15 p.m. We slowly cross into Indiana and time continues to slip away.
My arrival time sits on 7:15 p.m. when traffic finally starts to move again. I am hot and not very happy, but at least we are moving again. I take the exit to get on I-65 in Indiana and head south. I stop for a Snickers because I am getting hangry (hungry + angry) and let my wife know I am heading on.
I get back onto I-65 and try to make up time, but traffic is fairly heavy. Eventually it thins, my mood lifts and I start to make decent time. I will still get to my destination later than I hoped, but I will make it!
Turns out I was being way too optimistic.
I hit construction delay after construction delay on I-65. Eventually, as I am sitting parked on the freeway, I notice my face is starting to burn. Yep – forgot sunblock.
Add it to the list.
Once my arrival time slips past 8 p.m. while I am sitting in another construction zone, I mentally throw in the towel. The miles, delays, heat and frustration have taken their toll. I eventually reach I-74 again and head West toward Illinois.
I deal with more construction in Indiana, but eventually enter the Land of Lincoln. Smooth sailing until I get near Champaign and traffic stalls again. This costs me another 45 minutes. The culprit? Turns out they are painting new lines on the freeway … on a Friday at 4 p.m. How about at night when the traffic is much lighter? Anyone?
I finally make it home at 7 p.m. I have ridden 700 miles in a loop, basically. Two days later my face starts to peel.
The moral of this story? They say the worst day of riding is still a good day. Well, “they” are wrong.