At the beginning of the season, I quietly set a goal for myself to ride 2000 miles my first season riding. As of my last ride, I had ridden 1960 miles and was terribly frustrated that I hadn't met my goal. As the leaves started to fall and the weather turned more crisp, I grew resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to get to my goal.
"It's just a number," I told myself.
"You did great!" I tried to convince myself.
"It's only 40 miles, you got close enough," I repeated to myself.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am extremely goal oriented and will stop at nothing to achieve a goal once I've set it for myself. I just needed one more warm-enough-to-ride-without-frostbite day.
And then, like a chorus of angels singing from the heavens, my weather woman said "It's going to be almost 70 this weekend." There was MUCH rejoicing. I requested my time on babybike, made a few last minute changes to my schedule, and it was time to ride!
This morning, at 5:45 AM, I set off on babybike and headed to the ice rink for skating practice. It was a gorgeous morning. I saw the sunrise as I headed off towards Bensenville. It was a simple route- 90 to 190 to Mannheim to Irving Park Road to York to the rink. Nothing exciting, no crazy twisties or traffic- just me and the bike and a goal in sight.
After practice, I zipped back towards the garage. I pulled into the garage with 40.6 miles for my ride and celebrated with breakfast with my mentor MJ and my timeshare buddy Nora.
It was a perfect morning.
Miles ridden: 40
Miles for the season: 2000!!!!!!
Sunday was an EXCEPTIONAL day out on the bike with Furies and Friends. The best part was that I got to ride with both MJ and Nora-- something I don't usually get to do because Nora and I are part of the timeshare for babybike. MJ decided to ride the Ducati which meant Nora could kidnap the blue bike and we all got to ride together. We zipped merrily on down I-90 towards Woodstock and due to a poor estimation of time
, we were very very late to the meet up spot and expected that the group would be leaving us behind. They didn't! They waited for us and we gathered, got the ride instructions from Shannon and headed off down the road. We ended up taking some beautiful roads with gentle curves and fall colors on our ride towards Roscoe.Lunch was at the Backyard Bar and Grill.
It was a great spot and "Mr Happy" came out to play on the tire swing and in the dog house at the restaurant. My favorite part of the meal though was looking at all 12 bikes lined up out front. It was a fantastic view!Several folks had to leave for various reasons before the next part of the adventure, but those who stayed went to the Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe.
It was a really neat museum with lots of artifacts from the Kennedys in particular, but also cars that had belonged to Hitler, Stalin, Eva Peron, Mussolini and Batman. It's definitely worth the trip to Roscoe to see all of the attractions.Then it was time to head home and we hopped right back on 90 and I ended up leading for most of the ride back-- apparently just a tad too zippy. Keeping up with the flow of traffic is tricky!It was an awesome day out on the bike. I loved getting to spend time with the Furies and my fellow hangers on. I did however fall just 40 miles short of my goal for the day and season, so a quick 40 mile trip is in my future soon! No matter how cold it is!Miles for the day 201Miles for the Season: 1960
For my birthday on 10/10, all I wanted to do was to get a chance to ride the motorcycle. I had spent the majority of the season riding here in Illinois and venturing into Wisconsin, so I wanted to add a couple more states to my tally. So, I decided to ride to Michigan for crepes.
So, I set out from the garage and hopped on Lake Shore Drive. I have pretty much reached peace with riding on the Drive and did not freak out too much when I entered the curve where I had my incident earlier in the season. I got on 1-55 and then 94 without any major issues and headed to meet up with Carol at the Torrence Road exit. I'm really surprised at how at-ease I've become on the bike-- especially on the interstates. And now I have ridden on all of the major interstates in Chicago-- kind of cool really. Carol and I stayed on 94 to get past Gary and then hopped off to take 12 through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride. The trees were ablaze with changing leaves and the curves were gentle and plentiful. It was a bit chilly, but MJ had loaned me her heated gear in honor of my birthday so I was toasty warm.We crossed over into Michigan, and in New Buffalo we had lunch at Pierre Anne Creperie.
Lunch was delicious-- I had a ham and gruyere crepe and then shared a nutella crepe with Carol for desert. Both were fantastic.Then we hopped back on the bikes and headed back into the city and split up where we had met. I headed back towards the garage, making a pit stop at my house and then taking Lake Shore Drive all the way back to the garage. Buckingham Fountain was still on and the lake was simply shimmering in the sunlight. I had 2 major realizations on the road today. The first is that this is the first "Birthday Ride" I've taken where I was not the passenger. I've had many people over the years take me out on the back of a bike for my birthday
, but this is the first time I've been the one driving. It was awesome. The second realization was a bit more profound. I had a moment on the road where I was completely content.
I have a very busy life and every moment is filled with things I'd rather be doing, things I should be doing, or things I'm worried about getting done. But today was different. There was no where else I would have rather been than on the back of babybike. All other cares and worries were locked tightly away and left in the garage. In that moment, I found joy.I get it now. I understand why people talk about riding as therapy. I understand why the first thought on a warm day is, "Can i ride?" and why the first thought on a cold day is, "Can i make myself warm enough to ride?" I understand the "freedom" that so many speak of and the peace others have found. After pulling into the garage and having a deliciously hot shower and finally feeling my toes again, I got to have dinner out with my chosen family here in Chicago. There was much laughter, blue cupcakes (don't ask), and wonderful fellowship.I couldn't have asked for a more perfect birthday.Miles ridden today: 167Total: 1759Hoping to hit 2000 before REALLY gets too cold to ride!
Another Sunday—another ride. The calendar goddesses have been very good to me the month of September, as I have gotten to ride four Sunday s in a row. That is coming to an end, but it’s been a fantastic month of putting miles on the bike. This just makes me more sure that I want to own my own bike so that I can ride whenever I wish!!
This Sunday, I set out with my mentor MJ—she decided to ride her Ducati 650 Monster instead of her Road King and she made me lead on our way out to the meet up spot. This is definitely an area for growth, as when I’m in front I have trouble maintaining a consistent speed and going fast enough. But we did make it to the meet up spot.
We met up with the other riders for the day—4 Furies- Kathie (the leader for the day), Lisa, MJ and Caryl and then 3 guests- myself, Kitty and Staci. It was a good group for riding and I was BY FAR the least experienced rider in the group but for the most part I didn’t have trouble keeping up. We headed off towards Wisconsin—twisting and turning our way through back roads and beautiful fall colors. The trees were gorgeous—so many of them turning goldens and reds and oranges and the sun was just warm enough to keep the day from being too crisp.
Kathie led us through Wisconsin to the town of Delavan to Spring Grove cemetery. Apparently Delavan used to be a circus town and many of the circus folk who made it their home are buried in this cemetery. Each circus performer buried there is denoted by a little grave marker bearing an elephant and a number. I assume there is a registry somewhere of who these various performers are, but we did not have access to one. It was completely fascinating.
The cemetery was also home to some other really cool grave markers—metal markers for WWI, WWII, Korea, and the Mexican War. Additionally there were GAR and DAR makers as well as some that I was not able to identify.
But what was really sad (besides all the dead people) was that some vandals had been into the cemetery and damaged the graves—they had pushed them over and cracked some of the headstones and monuments. Some of them cannot be up righted or repaired. I don’t understand why defacing the graves of people who have been gone over 100 years is considered fun or entertaining.
After our graveyard adventure we were starving—I swear some of the stomachs were rumbling louder than the pipes on a Harley. We found our way to a restaurant, and Captain Kitty nearly ate the manager alive when he wasn’t concerned about my onion allergy, but despite that it was nice to hang out and enjoy a leisurely lunch.
After lunch we all rode together for a little while. My biggest scare of the day was when we were taking some wonderful sweeping curves and the seat of the bike shifted way off kilter. I freaked out. The seat has been giving us issues, but I hadn’t had trouble while riding. The shift of the seat and the speed of the curves caused me to panic in my head and it was not god—not good at all. Then we unfortunately ended up in a traffic nightmare where 4 lanes suddenly became 1 and there was a 4 way stop…for about 30 minutes we were in first gear or stopped and barely went more than 1-2 mph. My clutch hand cramped painfully!
Finally we headed home—a jaunty ride down 176 to I-94 with MJ in the lead- on the Ducati. She goes really fast on the Duc. We were chasing daylight but still managed to make it home before dark.
Miles for the day: 220
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
One day, I would LOVE to have the chance to be a part of the awesome group of ladies that are known as the Furies. In the meantime, I'm very lucky they have open meetings. I love getting to go and hang with them and learn from them.
This month I got to ride to the meeting, so I met up with Furies Sue and we went from the city out to where the meetings take place. It was great to spend another Wednesday evening out on the road on babybike.
The meeting itself was good-- it was general tips and such and I got to ask a question I hadn't understood prior to actually spending some time on the bike, so that was good. I hadn't understood the concept of the "sweep" bike closing a lane and Caryl explained it very clearly.
Then there was the ride home-- in the dark--on the interstate. And then the last part alone.
Firsts? This was my first ride without any firsts! WOW!
Total miles: 756
So, not sure what possessed me to ride on a Wednesday but Furies Friend Shannon offered an adventure and I was ready to go. I headed out from the city and fought my way through traffic-- it took 45 minutes to go the first 6 miles, but then I finally made it to the meet up spot.
Shannon and a new friend Carol and i left from there and headed out on our little ride. I have no idea where we were. I know we started in Villa Park and then there were roads. Curvy, fun, long stretches without stopping, roads.
And then we were at sonic. Which was really funny because I had taken the day off of work and somehow ended up about 3 miles from work. But it was all good because it was SONIC.
Then it started getting dark and Me, being the new brave less scared of the dark and real roads me, was all bout getting home all by myself on 88 but Shannon decided to escort me part of the way, which was really nice of her.
First interstate in the dark.
First "ice cream" trip
First time riding alone in the dark (after Shannon let me go)
Rode 100 miles!
Mile total: 702
Today was my first ever charity ride. I went on the Big Cat Ride with Woodstock Harley Davidson to Valley of the Kings Sanctuary.
The Furies were out of town, so this was a hangers-on adventure and we had a blast.
We met up at the Mobil across from HD... I had at that point already ridden TO skating practice via 90 and 190 and out by O'hare all by myself and then skated and ran and all that jazz and then hopped back on the bike to take 290 and 90 ALONE to Woodstock. GO ME!!!
The rest of the gang had just pulled in to the Mobil, so it worked out perfectly. We headed over to HD got all registered and had lunch and then shopped. I might have fallen in love with a bike that I can't afford-- a 99 Soft Tail that is so pretty i could cry. Seriously..
At this point we had Monique, Jean, Kitty, Suze,Joanna, and Me, but Jean left us as the ride started and headed to prepare for her canadian adventure.
Then there were door prizes-- Joanna won a t-shirt and then our safety briefing from our road-captain-- a gentleman named Wayne from TopCats. He was awesome. And then omg...we were off. There were 100-ish bikes (probably more) and it was AWESOME to be riding with that many bikes-- hand signals getting passed back, watching the rows of bikes go up and down and around the curvy hilly roads. It was fantastic. We encountered dead things, gravel, crazy stops, and hills and curves and roads with no lines.
Finally we made it to VOTK-- and then there was more gravel-- the parking lot. But we managed to get the bikes parked, at which point Kitty had to leave us to deal with a family situation so we were down to 4.
Then we saw the kitties! They really do roar for Harleys...it's amazing. Some of their stories are so sad-- Charlie especially. The cruelty of people just amazes me. Some people brought raw chicken legs and fed the tigers. It was pretty awesome to watch and to hear the crunch of the bones.
After some quality big cat time, the 4 of us headed down 14 to make our way home. Monique led, Suze and Joanna were in the middle and I swept. We stopped for a cold-water and non-stinky-portapot (clearly not a purple potty) restroom stop before heading back out and making our way home.
It could not have been a more beautiful day. The temperatures were perfect, the breezes not to breezy and the roads were awesome.
On a personal note, I had a lot of firsts today-- first time really riding any distance alone, first time on 90, 190, or 290. First big charity ride. First state other than IL. And today was my Longest ride ever clocking in at about 180 total miles once you add in getting to practice. I even got a patch to commemorate my big day. It was truly fantastic!
We had a great day together and an awesome ride. Thanks to each of the ladies who came out and celebrated firsts along with me!
Oh and FYI...my total miles is now up to 423 with 2 states colored in!
Here are my pictures from the day.
Then we played musical bikes.
Then, it was time to get over it and get my butt up on the interstate. So...on we went. And i was doing ok! I was up to speed (kinda) and not freaking out and all was great. I was singing hymns in my helmet and having a grand old time. (yes, I sing hymns in my helmet...i don't know why)
And then...in the distance the sky grew dark...and then it grew darker. And then the hymns in my helmet started getting new words... "no that's not a big old rainstorm coming" and "please oh God don't let it rain on me on the interstate my first time or I'll completely lose my mind" and "is the sky supposed to be that color" were popular lyrics at the time.
Good news? It never did open up and pour. What it DID however was scarier...seriously the wind was insane. Trees were bent in half, branches and leaves and god only knows what else was flying across the road, trucks were blowing around, cars were bouncing and there we were...on bikes. It was at that time that I stopped singing and started screaming into my helmet. "OMG GET ME OFF THIS INTERSTATE" and "PLEASE MJ TAKE THE TOUHY EXIT" and "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING IS THE WORLD ENDING" were common phrases, a few might have had some expletives mixed in as well.
MJ led us off and we pulled into a parking lot and waited it out. It never did open up and pour, but MJ did get some pictures of our dramatic reenactment of the wind.
Once it passed we high-tailed it home, which was good because then there was lightening.
But hey-- my first interstate ride would not be thwarted! I DID IT!!!
Thanks to MJ and Nora for the support and courage!
So... today is one of the few days i'll get to ride this month thanks to a couple of minor surgeries and my crazy schedule, so I would not be thwarted in my desire to get some miles under my butt. I set out on an adventure with MJ (my riding mentor) and Nora (one of my time share buddies) that took us to my favorite place-- the ravines! Except-- the first time through we got behind a cage going- i kid you not- 10 miles per hour. so yeah-- not so much on the fun that time. Then we turned around to do them again...and a biker coming the opposite way tapped his helmet... SIGH cops...so slow way down, and no fun. FINALLY the third time through we got to ride at a more comfortable speed and it was fun fun fun!!!
So, yesterday I went out for a ride for the first time without the supervision of a mentor rider. I had never ridden without a more experienced rider along with me before, so needless to say, I was nervous.
To calm my nerves, I did "T-clocs" on the bike-- checking the tires, fluids, etc. I found out that the tires were at 22 and 29 psi and are supposed to be at 29 and 36 according to the M.O.M., so needless to say, I took a field trip to put air in the tires. Here's a lesson for you: proper air pressure makes for better gas mileage-- i got much fur
I ended up meeting up with 2 other new-ish riders. We met up and headed out the Ravines. And here's the kicker- I led the ride. Although there were only 3 of us, leading is a whole new set of experiences. There's always something to worry about-- making sure the people behind you are still there, wondering what happened to them when they are not, making sure you're leading everyone the right way, trying to keep everyone in close formation so that they are safe, trying to make sure that you point out any road hazards, send hand signals to ride single file, signal for turns and make sure you know if you're stopping at lights or going through them on yellow. It's a lot of responsibility!
All of that said, it was a fantasic ride and we felt super empowered afterwards. It felt really good to have accomplished a ride without a "grown up" rider along with us. For me, it was my first experience of being unsupervised and it was nerve-wrackign and exhilerating all at the same time.
It was a beautiful day for zipping through the ravines and enjoying the scenery, but for me it was all about taking another step in my riding and developing more confidence.