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US trip, strike 1

Fall of 2000 was the time for my US trip but with the wife working and the daughter too young to stay home alone I decided to take the trip in June instead of my usual September time frame while the young one was out of school for the summer.

I loaded up my ZR-7 on the trailer, packed the truck, grabbed the daughter and off to grand-ma’s house we go in upstate NY.

Once at the mother-in-law’s place with the bike back where she belongs (on the ground) and the daughter situated I load up to head west.

I spot a waterfall before leaving the state and take the opportunity for a break

The weather is overcast but holding as I traverse Pennsylvania on route 666, with low rolling humps this road will bring the devil out in you.

I arrive at a friends’ house in Columbus Ohio under a drizzle but he’s still at work so parked next his garage behind the house. I decide to lay down in full rain gear and helmet to pass the time napping. The gentle sound of the rain puts me right to sleep.

I wake up with a start to find out the rain had passed and the hot sun was out.

I now know what it must feel like to be a soup-in-a-bag you just drop in boiling water and wasted no time getting out of my gear.

After spending some quality time with my bud it was time to move on and as usual he would escort me out of state.

At the Illinois/Indiana line we part ways and I’m back in rain gear prepared for the menace on the horizon.

I get a few sprinkles in Illinois but barely enough to keep me from overheating.

Crossing into Wisconsin is another story. The rain is really coming down and the temperature is dropping fast.

Just east of Richland Center the road is under construction with nothing but graded dirt. The rain from the past few days has created a sea of water filled potholes over a 40 mile stretch and at 50 mph the bike feels like riding on flat tires in the slippery mud.

Past Richland Center and back on paved roads I make my way to a friends’ house in Viola. Normally I would have a good time on this curvy country road but with the rain and fatigue from the 40°f temperature and a 700 mile day I’m just looking forward to a meal and hot bath.

I find my friends’ house just after sunset but she’s not home, I set about to wait in the rain.

Two hours go by and it’s getting late so I need to ride back the 30 miles to Richland Center and find a room. I would later find out I’m a day early and she works 24 on/24 0ff.

I warm the bike some but not enough, I stalled as I try to turn around on a soft water logged lawn and fall over. @#^%!!

I strip off what luggage I can but standing her back up is out of the question, she's too heavy for me. I leave her like a beached wale and head off to look for help.

At the local bar I bribe Bubba-joe with a beer and he stands her back up for me.

All loaded up and time to go. This time I make sure to keep the revs so as not to stall it. The grass is so soft that the bike refuses to turn and I ride through the lawn onto the neighbors’ lawn before I get her turned back toward the street but now I’m facing a water filled ditch. I’m not giving up the momentum. I power through the ditch with water reaching halfway up the engine, the exhaust gurgling in protest but I make it to the road.

It would take me over an hour to cover the 30 miles back to town. The rain is still coming down so it’s pitch black and there’s nothing reflective on the newly paved road devoid of markings. With my high beam and auxiliary light I could barely make out the road from the ditch, it was slightly darker and I didn’t dare blink for fear of loosing the contrast difference.

Back in town and it’s 0230 so all the mom & pop motels are shut down and the only place left is the Motel8.

For what they wanted to charge they must have thought I was taking the room with me when I left. She could not find a way to discount it so I decided to go to the next larger town and look for something there.

0330 and 15 miles out of town I’m starting to fall asleep on the bike, OK no choice I go back to the Motel8 and fork over $123 for the room.


The next morning I go to the lobby and pull the big sofa chair to the pastry cabinet and sit down to breakfast daring the staff to say anything.


Looking at the weather I decide this was not the time of year to take such a trip. In the next 10 days I would have 2 days of good riding weather and any camping was out since the ground was saturated. Time to abort.

I turn south and run along the Mississippi but after only 100 miles or so I realized I wasn’t having any fun on a fun road. I didn’t get enough sleep to wipe away the previous days’ woes.

I found a nice privately owned motel on the river for $18 a night, except for the lack of cable the room was every bit as nice as the Motel8.

The next day rolling south through Illinois I came on a 25 mile section of road under construction and nearly lost the bike.

They had laid down a film of oil and covered it with a black felt paper which would easily rip should I attempt any directional change, braking or anything that required traction so I would get in the finished on-coming lane and accelerate to 120 mph until I saw oncoming traffic then slow to 20 mph and gingerly travel in my lane until the traffic passed.

I make my way back home to Tampa without further incident and wait for a weather window to ride back up to NY to collect the truck and daughter.

Never again will I plan a trip during the rainy season. 

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