I started off the morning by meeting a fellow rider, Mercedes, at the “blue angel parking lot” (although the blue angel isn’t the blue angel anymore). We headed off towards Elgin to meet up for breakfast. It was COLD. The air temperature was hovering around 40- so it was around 30 on the bike as we zipped down I-90. My fingers and toes went numb, my teeth were chattering, and I was going 70 mph not because I wanted to go fast, but because I was desperately seeking our exit and the promise of warmth. Note to self: heated gear- buy some soon!
We met up with Furies and Hangers on at Alexander’s in Elgin for breakfast. There were 9 of us at breakfast, but 4 of them were off to a skeet shooting adventure so that left 5 for the ride. Shannon was the leader of the day and the others were Mercedes, myself, Jodie, and Caryl. So it was 2 furies and 3 guests and we were off on our adventure to Norway and Peru.
We wound our way through some fun back roads and ended up first at Elvis. After some pictures and obligatory guitar strumming we hopped back on the bikes and were off to Norway. Norway, IL has a fantastic little Viking heritage museum and a store that has been run by 5 generations of the same family and still has the original wooden floors. It was a really neat little stop. We waved to the dead Vikings in the cemetery and at the downed plane commemorating the farm crash in the 80’s and then were off again.
We hopped on 71 and went towards Starved Rock State Park, we changed the line up of folks so that we could each go through the twisties at a comfortable speed. It was fantastically beautiful to be zipping in and out of the trees and up hills through the park area. It was also fun fun fun! I loved the road and wanted to do it again the second we were done.
Then we headed towards Oglesby, IL and Woody the Rootbeer Man. We ended up having a snack at the Rootbeer Stand http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/3378. They make their own rootbeer and it is delicious and the prices were fantastic. It was one of the highlights of the ride for sure!
Then we were off to Peru and the Star Trek Vulcan Hand were we all had to pose “Live Long and Prosper” style. After a few more winding roads it was time to say goodbye and we split off to find our ways home. I ended up leading the I-88 crew and I’m actually growing more comfortable at leading.
I find that despite small issues (killing the bike once at a stop sign, fighting to get out of neutral, fighting to get into neutral), that my general ability is improving and I am growing more confident on the road. I am much more able to relax on the bike and to actually enjoy the ride. I do however have these moments where I think, “I can’t believe I ride a motorcycle”. I do. And it’s awesome.
Miles ridden: 250
Total Miles: 1372
So, the Furies were out on an all day ride and I had too much homework, so I opted instead for a short afternoon jaunt. I met up with Staci and we headed up to the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, WI. It was a great day-- beautiful weather and sunshine. We took the interstate all the way and I'm quite shocked at how comfortable I'm getting riding on the interstate at appropriate speeds.
We visited the Castle, had some grilled cheese sandwiches and then headed back home. I ended up taking 41 and then Sheridan road through the ravines. I was so proud of myself that I was able to do the curves through the ravines without once tapping the brakes. It was an exercise in control--slowing and rolling at the right moments, and as I hit the top of the last hill i "Woohooed" as loud as I could.
Miles for the day: 122
Total miles: 1122
Sunday morning bright and early, I set out with my most awesome mentor, MJ. We headed towards the breakfast meetup spot, the Canteen, in Barrington IL. It was a fantastic little breakfast spot with great food. There were 11 of us for breakfast, but only 9 would end up riding.
Initially the weather was a little crisp, but as the day progressed it warmed up enough to be perfect. 70’s, blue skies, perfect fluffy clouds dotting the horizon. It was a beautiful day to be on the roads with a great group of riders.
We took off from breakfast and followed Dr.HiViz aka Dr. Gaget aka Nadine. We twisted and turned our way through Illinois and ended up at our first Giant, The Colonial Man.
Then we hopped back on the bikes and wound our way through more back roads and then onto I-55 to find our way to Route 66 and our second giant, The Gemini Man.
Next we wound our way through some more roads in an attempt to find the Metal Menagerie. We experienced a minor delay when we lost 3 of our pack and picked up some random guys on bikes in some confusion around a traffic light. 5 of us ended up napping atop our bikes on the side of the road while a scout was sent out to locate the wandering souls. About 30 minutes later with all bikes once again in our lovely stagger, we set out in search of the Menagerie.
We of course zoomed by it the first time, did a u-turn in a church parking lot and came back and again parked on the side of the road.
The Metal Menagerie was the creation of artist Jack Barker, a scrap metal sculptor and collector. He created this whimsical zoo of metal animals throughout his lifetime. Although he passed away on May 16, 2012, the sculptures are still there to see for now. We met his son who says everything will be auctioned off later this month, which is kind of sad. The sculptures were awesome though—this man was truly inspired by metal.
Then we hopped back on the road following the day-glo stylings of Nadine and headed along the Kankakee river. We didn’t actuall see much of the river, but the ride was beautiful. Sweeping turns, tree lined views, beautiful sky up ahead and not a stop sign in sight. It was awesome
We ended up in Bourbannais near Olivet Nazarene University and stopped for Ice Cream! There was also “The Library” bar across the street so of course my fellow v-star riding librarian Joyce and I had to have pictures taken in front of it.
Then it was time to head home—lazy twisting turns led us up the other side of the river and after a brief potty break we headed to I-55 so everyone could peel off on their separate ways to get home. I ended up leading MJ and I home on I-55 and then Lake Shore Drive.
We pulled in having ridden 244 miles for the day.
Some thoughts from the day:
I’m becoming much more confident on the road. I’m able to actually relax, look at scenery, do the “biker wave” and enjoy what’s going on.
I need to learn not to focus on what is making me crazy about other riders—their mistakes, or their issues. I need to focus on my ride and not worry about others unless my safety is endangered.
I know when to take the lead and keep myself safe—something I didn’t know I was ready to do until we were on I-55 an we were in the wrong lane and about to get run over. Instead of panicking, I took control and moved us over. I was really proud of myself for that.
I over came my fear of Lake Shore Drive. I had been so worried about it after the incident earlier in the season and had not been on it again. I was fine.
I still have a lot to learn. I’m still making mistakes, some little some not so little. But each mistake is something to learn from.
And the best news of the day:
I hit 1000 miles!!!!!!!!
This weekend my riding mentor MJ, my timeshare buddy Nora and 3 other riders attempted something I don't think I'll ever be brave enough to do. They did an Iron Butt-- 1000 miles in 24 hours. 4/5 riders made the whole trip in under the 24 hours and they actually all made it to Canada.
I am completely blown away by these women. I am in awe of the commitment, bravery and slight insanity it took to accomplish such a task.
Many congrats to MJ, Nora, Nadine, and Monique!