Winter Madness 2010
When did it all start?
The Madness I mean?
I'd say it started just a few months ago after returning to Chicago and jumping into a more "normal" life after a long fall ride. I haven't spent too much time in Chitown lately, being busy on the road working and riding...
I have been very lucky throughout my life, mostly doing things my way and coming out ahead, and rarely dissatisfied with the way things work out.
This year has been different, many things are out of balance in my life, many new firsts, and even a few regrets.
Not that I haven't had some good times this year, it's just a little different compared to the years before.
So is life.
Not doing my normal gigs or just many gigs in general this year put me in place where I'm commuting long miles to jobs not all that satisfying both mentally and financially (when there was even work). Add in the challenges of riding everyday in Chicagoland in December, (the intensely cold and crappy weather didn't help my mental state) and a not so satisfying living situation with a need to be free and SNAP! Holiday Pressures, work, home, life, money. Depression. :yikes
And it's not even really winter yet.
I felt like a bird in a cage for some time just yearning to be free to spread my wings and fly. When I say fly I mean ride!
Staying in line with my ONE LIFE ONE CHANCE way of being, I hastily packed my bike a few days ago, cancelled what very little work I had set up, said goodbye to my family and left Chicago the day after I decided I HAD to go. I Needed to go.
This wasn't an easy decision seeing as it's the week before Xmas.... maybe I'll touch on that later on. Maybe not.
Ever want to just say screw it and leave?
We all do right?
That's what I' did, heading back west with very little money and no job, dreaming of warm weather and new opportunities in the near future.
Now granted I did have a good reason to want to be in Sunny California besides the aforementioned reasons, I'll introduce her later on though... :wink:
Now a little of The Madness in my head is out of the way lets get moving and get into The Madness on two wheels!
Now, being determined (stubborn or just stupid) I left Chicago when I said I would, unfortunately there was an impending storm to make my departure form the Midwest in December one to be remembered.
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 8 PM CST THURSDAY... A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 8 PM CST THURSDAY. * TIMING...A MIXTURE OF SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WILL DEVELOP THIS EVENING AND GRADUALLY CHANGE OVER TO A FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET MIXTURE. * ACCUMULATIONS...LESS THAN A QUARTER OF INCH OF ICE BY MORNING WITH ANY SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 4-6 INCHES. * WIND...WILL NOT BE A FACTOR WITH THIS SYSTEM. * IMPACTS...WITH THE PRECIPITATION EXPECTED TO DEVELOP THIS EVENING THE TAIL END OF THE EVENING RUSH HOUR MAY BE AFFECTED. CURRENT INDICATIONS SUGGEST THE PRIMARY TIME FOR A STEADY MIX OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET WILL BE LATER THIS EVENING AND WITH THE WINTRY MIX TAPERING OFF TO SOME VERY LIGHT SNOW OR FREEZING DRIZZLE THURSDAY MORNING...AFFECTING THE MORNING RUSH HOUR. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. &&
Screw it, I'm leaving anyways. :deal
See that twinkle of Madness in my eyes?
That's the spark to the start of the Adventure that lies ahead. :wink:
Or is it just The Madness?
Bye bye snow!
I left around 10AM in an emotional departure, riding into The Snow.
This is where I rode 350 miles of single track straight south.
When I say single track, I mean the two feet of wet salty brine on the highway in between ice and snow where the car tires had worked in the salt laid down by the many plow trucks I had been passing. I guess technically it's a double track on tarmac, but I believe it would be real bad if you tried to cross over at highway speeds, making it essentially a single track.
Subsequently, we picked up the life giving salt and became covered in it. :evil
Eventually the roads became slightly better as the temperature dropped and the snow lightened up - but then the icy roads took over.
My way of dealing with it was to just keep all inputs to the bike very very gentle - little throttle, little brake, light turning, etc. I treated it all like solid ice and rode loose and mellow, no death grip, just kind of letting the bike float around.
Cold, wet, icy, grey, tense, scary, boring, exciting, terrifying, monotonous, cold, etc, etc, etc...
My Gerbings Jacket and G3 gloves combined with the Rukka suit plus good insulated underwear did a decent job of keeping up with the windchill temps around 0ºF.
My big problem was my feet. I couldn't find the Gerbings socks I hadn't used in a long time so my feet were to suffer.
I stopped after 2 hours to thaw out in a diner, and then after another few hours I had to stop at a truck stop and rent a shower to warm up my painfully cold feet.
A few truckers came up to talk to me, some of the comments:
( while walking through truck stop with helmet) " I hope to God you're on a snowmobile!"
(looking at the K60 snowtire on the back) "I'd say that's the tire you should be running right about now eh?"
Ah, the wisdom found at a Loves Truck Stop....
Getting back on the road I finally made it to a wet, cold St. Louis, the gateway to the West. :clap
Being in Missouri the temps rose to a balmy 28ºF as the sun set.
I was determined to go further south, and after a dinner stop at my favorite southern diner I set out to make it to Cape Girardeau.
The temps were dropping fast after dark, and the roads were Icing up. There was a light icy mist in the air, making my face shield quite fuzzy to look through. Not being able to see if I was on ice things were pretty scary.... Crazy scenarios ran through my head, all ending bad.
I finally stopped about 30 miles short of my goal when enough was enough.
The next day I was once again greeted with cold temps and ice on everything, but today would be different. I would cross that imaginary line into the South and away from the brutal winter found in the Midwest.
Even though there was ice on everything the main roads were OK, mostly dry and white with salt. The ice was actually quite beautiful adding a shimmer to every tree and rock.
The GS was looking and running good, even with the never ending little oil leak around the valve cover.
As I rode south, the ice disappeared and the temp went up, now being a nice 36ºF. :clap
As I was happier the further south I was (warmth can do that), it was also hard knowing what I was leaving behind. No Xmas with the family. No security of a home....
It was somewhere around here where my GS troubles began.
Stopping to get fuel my bike wouldn't start again! :eek1
I asked for a jump from a guy towing an RV and got the bike started.
I better take it easy on the electrics to let the battery charge...
Determined that my second night was to be spent in New Orleans I pushed on after dark.
It started to rain and was around 40º, but at least there was NO ICE!
Making it into N. O. I went into the French Quarter for a look around...
While I was cruising on Canal my superior riding skills prevailed and I killed the engine at a green light.
I push the bike off of Canal ( a major road) into the sidewalk on a side street.
45ºF and raining.
Welcome to New Orleans Mr. Adventure....
I flagged down a cab, offering $10 for a quick jump start.... the cabbie kept commenting how cold it was and how could I be riding in this horrible weather.... :wink:
Eventually I got the GS started, and kept all electrics off.
Knowing something was going wrong I bailed into a shitty part of town to find a cheap motel... but first stopping at a shady gas station to get some beer. SInce I had bike problems it was cold and raining, and little cash, there was to be no night out, just some cheap booze in a cheap hotel....
The bike had been running for at least 45 minutes by now with no accessories and I was faced with leaving it running while I went in or not...
There's no way I'm leaving it running in this super ghetto hood where I was the only white boy for miles...
Needless to say, of course it didn't start when I came out.
Dead GS in Da Hood!
I managed to buy a jump start for $5 from a truck full of people, an interesting experience, but got it going just the same.
Checking into a shady hotel I met the local very large, black prostitutes who where my neighbors.
We chatted while I unloaded my bike, leaving it running with the headlight disconnected to help with the charging.
Once they understood I was not in need of their services and couldn't be hustled they were friendly and we ended up smoking a big Blunt standing around my bike. :evil
Hey, hookers are people too!
At the time it was quite a weird place to be, high, talking with the working women of New Orleans about the economy, the area, the weather, etc.... :freaky
They went on to work and I ended up shutting the bike down and going to bed. ( the bike did start back up after idling for an hour)...
Bro you bring a new meaning to hard core. one question , have you thought of a charger at night to top off your battery?
I love 'screw it' ride reports. Very inspirational:evil----Keep us posted!
i would love to be able to get on the bike and GOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:freaky
Absolutely outstanding. You've just inspired me.
can just imagine ...
what I55 was like on 2 wheels. :puke1
The end of Day 2
It was already late and I was tired after such a long day riding in the cold.
The motel was as luxurious as to be expected, and the night came to an abrupt end once I hit the bed.
Luckily the GS started in the cold, wet morning and I set out, taking another spin in the French Quarter to hit a Chase bank. (I had my last paycheck which was post dated - this was it to get me to Cali and support me until I find some work.)
It was somewhat quiet and Bourbon Street was open for traffic. I wasn't going to stay, plus I had a lot of crap strapped to my bike, and while I hardly take the key out of the bike while traveling in rural areas, I had no doubt what could happen if I left my bike unattended here ... I wanted to start moving west now that I was south anyways.
Trying to get off the interstate now that I no longer needed what it had to offer me (safe passage) through the snow and ice of the Midwest, I head west through some of the Bayou's
(sounds like something to me, nothing don't need no stinkin' sign)
I took a detour down a gravel road surrounded by swamp water, excited to go explore a little.
See, this ride I was going against my light and fast ways. There was not to be much off road adventures, and nothing hard core. Since it was going to be a cold ride I packed heavy, bringing along anything I thought would make this trip more comfortable to camp in the cold. The plan was to htoel it the first 2 nights due to weather, but then go the better route and camp the rest of the way west.
So I was heavy....
As I tested out the bike on the gravel, getting a feel for how she was to handle all loaded up I noticed all of a sudden I had no ABS when the rear wheel locked up. :huh
Shit, what's up with the ABS?
The lights not on, so what the heck?....
Oh, wait, there's NO lights on!
My gauges were dead, along with the signals and computer. :eek1
This isn't good....
I'm now in the Louisiana back country with a half dead GS....
I had thought that my trouble were past me with my battery, thankfully the bike was still running and I immediately set out to get back to the interstate where I could at least get help when I needed it.
Maybe a half hour later I'm back on the highway and the bike is sputtering like it's running out of gas..... exit ahead..... go...... come on baby!.............finally died going down the ramp!
I rolled to about 50 yards from a gas station, and then pushed it the rest of the way.
Not the most stylish entrance I've had. :rofl
I called my buddy Ted @ A&S Cycle where I bought the bike for some advice... He emailed me the list of dealers in Houston, about 180 miles west.
Was this a battery problem or a charging problem?
I had already had one battery on this bike replaced under warranty from a sudden failure before, plus all the reports from others with a similar problem lead me to believe my battery had failed.
Currently I was about 10 miles outside Lafayette, LA with a dead bike.
I found a Honda dealer 8 miles away, right off the highway on the iPhone, then asked a guy dressed up in hunting gear for help jump starting my bike.
Eventually I got it started (luckily I had brought an improvised jumper cable that plugged into the tail going directly to the battery) only to have it die after idling for a minute while I got ready to ride.
Doing it all over again we got it started and I took off immediately... and after 5 minutes lost my gauges and lights..... and made it to the Honda dealer! :clap
Turns out they have an identical battery for my bike, only this one has a Honda Logo on it and is made in the USA!
A new battery, drama's over, it's time to camp and get moving west!!!
Using the Oh So useful Campwhere App on the iPhone I found Sea Rim State Park campground on the Gulf of Mexico, about 155 miles from my current location. As it was 3 PM I could be there right after sunset said Mr. Garmin, but if I really hauled butt I could be there in time for sunset...
Texas here I come! :clap
:lurk Wicked ride so far....
Just when I think I've found the baddest, most fearless ADV rider I find another. I need to stop reading faceplant and being such a wuss :rofl
Hey if you're headed my way and need anything just holler! Much respect!
I'm in! Been waiting for something like this from you.:clap
Your such an inspiration... living through you once again, Thank you!
Let us know...
when you get to So. Cal... or if you need a place to stay.... Have fun and good luck!!
In Socal we are experiencing the wettest 8 days in well over a decade. This coming Wednesday is supposed to be a record breaker so I guess you have some serious weather fronts heading your way. Good luck and try to stay dry.
he lives here. BUT we will have a welcome home get together over a few beers!:freaky
Just amazing that anyone would leave Chicago in December on a bike! I am 2 hours north of Chicago in Wisconsin. My bikes are in a heated garage on battery tenders. They are staying there till March!
Much respect to you, hope your bike troubles are over with the new battery. As anyone buying a Volt or Leaf car will find out, winter is hell on batteries.
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