Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 19b

This was the day of fighting with the wind and trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. But...

It started as a standard "follow the Interstate to see where it ends" ride, except for one strange phenomenon. My fuel gauge (five bars on an LC display) was going down much faster than usual. Only when I pulled in to gas up after just 170km I realized that I've been fighting a pretty strong direct wind. Well, I'm not going to slow down for the damn wind, so it'll be gassing up every hour and a half instead of three.

As soon as I entered Minnesota the dark, blanket looking cloud covered the entire sky and the temperature abruptly fell to 14. Since I was sure that I was going to get wet at some point and I was quite cold, I put on the heated vest and rain suit. That kept me cozy and warm. What it couldn't help me with was the wind that grew stronger and turned sideways (blowing from approximately 2 o'clock).

It wasn't as bad as Wyoming, but still quite gusting and very tiring. You know it's bad when you feel the bike will just be swiped from under you. You also don't realize how bad it is until you get into the rare quiet zone, like in a dip or behind a truck. Passing tractor-trailers with the wind blowing from the right can be a very scary maneuver, but I figured it out in July 2011. The trick is to pass the truck like you are aiming to cut him off. In other words, right before you pas the front of the truck you swerve pretty hard towards it. That counteracts the wind blow that would otherwise easily get you to the rumble strip on the other side of the road, or worse.

Bridges and overpasses are another challenge. One would think that the wind will blow harder on the bridge, but it's actually the opposite. The bridge is calm because the air can flow both over and under it, but the ramps give you a beating because they ramp up the wind as well. No trick there, except to brace yourself.

The only non-Interstate part today was 16 from Dexter to La Crosse, MI. I took it more to take a break from fighting the wind than anything else, but it was a pleasant surptise. A ridge like mini Niagara Escarpment frames a picturesque valley through which a winding and waving road goes. The most pleasant surprise was the little town of Lanesboro. Very pretty from what I can see without stopping. This is Amish country and it appears to offer both activities and amenities not easily found elsewhere. Definitely a place to spend some time in when in the vicinity.

Entering Wisconsin, the speed limit on I90 went down to 65. Thinking nothing of it, I adjusted my speed a little, but generally kept plowing at my usual pace. Soon I passed a police cruiser sitting at the median at about 85. No cherries, nothing. Well, he did come after me and pulled me over a little later on. 85 in 65, that's a $275 fine, officer says. I offer no explanation for speeding when he asks, more-less resigned to my faith. The officer was polite and friendly, commented on my bike leaking oil (nothing worrisome) and eventually le me off with a warning. Needless to say, I adjusted my speed as promised a nd saw two other cruisers on stakeout later on. As I was riding I thought that 32km/h over the speed limit on the highway wouldn't be likely to get me pulled over even in Ontario. Time to adjust the riding habits to the Eastern customs and revenue streams.

The ride through Chicago at night was an interesting experience. Full moon peeking through the clouds, plenty of traffic but all flowing smoothly at about 100km/h. That did wonders for my fuel economy and I easily managed over 300km on a tank.

The GPS got me riding through some pretty shady and deserted areas of Gary (or they seemed like that to me at night) to the hotel in Portage, Indiana. It was five states in one day. If I went a few miles further I'd be in seventh, Michigan.

Sleeping in my own bed tomorrow, can't wait.