I am finally home after a four-day journey. It could not have worked out better, from Noah’s Flood to yesterday’s ride. It rained a lot during my trip and it did limit my riding during my stay in Fort Lauderdale. Nonetheless all of my time was well spent. I got to trouble shoot problems like what clothing to bring, how much I could bring, what camera equipment I had to relinquish in exchange for more room, and on and on. Details that sooner or later have to be worked out. I now feel ready to take my first “real” journey.
Yesterday’s ride home reminded me of that old joke: if you want to make little g laugh, tell him what you think you will be doing in five or ten years. Yesterday I learned you could perhaps make little g have a good chuckle by telling him what sort of motorcycle ride you’ll be having that day. when I started I expected clear skies and got Noah’s Flood; yesterday I braced for periods of heavy rain and planned out shelter stops but instead got one of the most perfect riding days I’ve had. You need to be ready for anything when you flip that kickstand up. It’s just impossible to really know what will happen on your ride. Isn’t that such a grand lesson right there?
I left at 9:30 am and within 15 minutes was on the freeway with puffy white clouds ahead of me and dark brooding skies in my rearview mirrors. I knew a storm cell was out in the Atlantic and I calculated I may not out run it and was prepared with rest stops along my route back. Turns out I never needed to worry as an hour later, even the rearview mirrors showed nothing but blue and white. I couldn’t know if I would continue to stay ahead of the storm cells but in fact I did for the full four hours. An hour or two after I got home, it rained.
Once I was out of town, the first leg of the ride was on a country road separated by a divider (two lanes each way). As it had been raining for a few days, the roads were pristine as if swept. I pulled over to grab a quick snapshot with my iPhone since I was surprised I had the road all to myself for long periods of time (click on image to see larger version).
Long straight aways and the roads were indeed dry and clean. So, what are you thinking now? For me, I thought Bonneville Speed Test. If I had been riding a Kawasaki XR-14 with a top speed of 185 mph I’m not sure I could have resisted the urge to see how close to maximum speed I would take it. But I had no super-performance bike, just my humble cruiser. Still a man can fantasize, right? And so I did: I could imagine opening up the throttle in fifth gear and getting my Vulcan up to 104 mph a four or five times, even during a slight downhill section where it would squeak out 106 mph. I imagined I’d be in a tuck position similar to road racers where my legs and arms were lined up with the windshield for minimum drag (might even feel a little stiff since I was tired). It was an amazing fantasy, it just seemed so real to me. Like I said a man can fantasize, right?
After the Bonneville stretch I pulled in for lunch. In and out within 30 minutes. I wasn’t rushing, just didn’t need any more time to eat. It’s pleasant when there are no schedules and you can take whatever time you want to do something so simple. I could feel myself relaxing quit a bit within those 30 minutes.
After another hour I was at Lake Okeechobee, which means “big water” in the Seminole Indian language. It seems an appropriate name for a water body that I’m told the opposite shore can’t be seen from the water’s edge.
Alas, I could not find this view. I asked a few people yet no one was able to send me anywhere but the put-in points. Still I could see the boats heading off to the main body of water. I wasn’t up to chasing down the supposedly magical view this time around (when I came home I checked my GPS data and discovered the lake is a few hundred feet on the other side of where the boat is heading; there isn’t any place from the road where you can see the lake because of the foliage barrier, so it would have been a futile search). I did decide to take a few photographs (click on images to see larger version).
Then another leg of the trip which nothing unusual. That is, until the construction zone appeared. Traffic slowed and we all had to navigate the usual road crews. I realized I was not using my throttle and front brake in my usual manner. I wondered what on earth I was doing for a moment. And then I saw it: sand patches. My preconscious mind had caught them first and I was positioning myself to not run over them or cut through them at zero lean angle to avoid a slide. My painful rib (yes, still) was paying dividends on a preconscious level. I did my best to not interfere and trust my body and bike figure this out and simply stay out of the way. A psychologist’s dream to watch this all happening, truly.
After all that, another period of normal freeway driving and then I came upon the open secret on this one section of road: between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm the freeway might as well be the German Autobahn. Speeds were very fast with all drivers managing their vehicles with perfection. I suspect these are “professional” drivers; people who drive as part of their job and have a lot of experience doing so. Trucks of various sizes but cars as well, in a coordinate dance with fast reaction times and “in the zone” driving. It was wonderful to be part of that. I worked as a bike messenger in NYC many years ago and this is what I found myself thinking of: riding down Fifth Avenue midday with more traffic in one street than you see here in a quarter-mile of city driving. Those were situations you had to trust your skills and not let your conscious thinking get in the way too much. This was starting to feel like that but not quite. It went on for 70 miles like this and just as my exit approached, I was ready to be home. Zip zap zing—full stop at end of the off ramp and I was waiting for my turn. It was like dropping out of a worm hole back to regular spacetime.
And that was that; I was home in less than 30 minutes on surface roads and have been resting ever since. Until the very end of the trip I was still learning something: the ride I feared would be full of stops and rain was anything but that, and it was perhaps one of the most fun rides I’ve had to date. I hope little g had a good chuckle.
May You Always Enjoy The Ride