Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Motorcycle Diaries: Clarion to Chicago


“Nothing beats a good night of sleep at The Clarion House!”

Nope, this is not their sales pitch, but could may as well be! Perhaps I was just too exhausted and in need of a comfortable bed to turn off main system power and recharge the batteries. I deservedly had an extended night of sleep, maybe longer than I expected. By the time I was ready for breakfast, I had a feeling I would be running late once again.

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At some point came the realization of how far I actually still was from Chicago: I went to bed thinking I was 30 to 45 mins away from Cleveland so I’d still have an easy riding day to Chicago, but as soon as I plugged in the coordinates on my GPS, I realized I was still 3 hours EAST off Cleveland! So there I was again having a late start - this time I had spent too much time at the breakfast table chit-chatting with guests and the owners - and had to cover lots of ground in order to make it to Chicago before it got too late and dark.

I left The Clarion House around 10am and had another 500 miles to Chicago. It occurred to me that this was it, if spontaneity was to be part of the package, so would delays – and the pressure associated with it. Simply AWESOME!

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Around lunch time, I ran across another nameless  rider also heading west. We rode together for about two gas stops and then we had some gas-station-lunch. I wish a had done a better way of keeping record of people I had met during the trip, but unfortunately I wasn’t thinking too much down the future. It’d be cool to hear about his road trip and also to give him the photo above.

It felt good running across other riders on the highway; it “breaks the ice” and changes your pace a bit. Unfortunately it only happened a few times during my trip, but enough to keep the spirits high and connecting to other people. Actually, riding the bike was definitely an advantage in this regard: normally bikers are very welcoming to other bikers but I realized that on long-distance solo trips there were this mutual need to share experiences, talk to another rider, talk to another human being. And all would happen in very natural, organic way. Definitely very different than traveling on a car.


Indiana State Police: Was the glass half full or half empty?

So on my second day riding I make friends with the Indiana State Police. We kinda bond over the fact that I was doing 91mph on a 75 limit and he even gives me a $150 gift, payable to the State of Indiana. Up to that point I was not happy about it: less than 800 miles and already a speeding ticket? WTF! At this pace I would be luck to even have a driver’s license by the time I made to the west coast!

After briefly discussing the predicament, in which I failed to convince him that I was merely passing a truck-trailer into a safer spot on the road, he asked me for my license and bike’s documentations, which was located in the bike’s trunk, under the passenger’s seat. As soon as I started unloading the saddlebags, in order to access the passenger’s seat, the officer asked if I needed to unload my bags in order to get to the registration and after I said yes, he then said to forget about it, that he would check it online instead.

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Moments later he comes back with my ticket and a very intriguing question: he asked me if the bike was actually registered. I told him I have had this bike for many years and that it was absolutely registered. He then mentions that under his Indiana DMV system shows that the bike is indeed mine and that registration was valid until March 2013 but also that registration was not currently valid.  He was not sure what was going on, so he just gave me the ticket and let me go. Up to that point I thought this whole thing was just a interstate “translation” issue, and that as soon as I arrived in Chicago and unloaded the saddle bags, that I would take the registration and keep it in my wallet instead of the bike’s trunk, to avoid any future delays and troubles with the laws.

Couchsurfing in Chicago

Well, as it turned out, the glass was definitely half full and the state trooper was maybe a blessing in disguise (and $150 price tag!). I had just realized upon arriving in Chicago that I had forgotten to renew my bike registration and I that any screw up on the road could mean the end of the trip. Not a good situation. This whole situation definitely spoiled my mood that day.

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And the rest of the day had all ingredients for a nice evening: it happened that my first couchsurfing experience could not had been any better. More on this down the road. Let’s just say I regret being so tired and mentally exhausted over the fact that my motorcycle was actually not registered and I had just started my roadtrip.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Motorcycle Diaries: Stamford to Cleveland, Ohio


Saturday, August 18th.  Connecticut, ground zero. Tire pressure checked, camel pack loaded, GPS on target. It’s about 10am and I am about to take the long way home. I had planned to have a smooth morning, an easy start around 8am. Well, it just happened that the Gamelatron (beyond words, but if you happen to have the chance to see it, do it! It is awesome!) was on display the night before and I just could use some inspirational vibes before my road trip. It just also happened that the display was all the way deep in Brooklyn and I wound up back home around 3am (thanks for that ride, sis!). Not a lot of rest right before a 8-hr motorcycle ride, but yet I was deeply peaceful and excited about the trip.

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I remember the feeling of being extremely sleepy and tired in the morning, but delaying the trip was not an option: it briefly occurred to me that I could easily head back home, sleep and take off early Sunday - assuming I wouldn’t be tempted to head to Barcelona, eat some delicious chicken and have 1-1/2 glass of wine (my legal limit)- but that was not how I wanted it to start. There could be some (energy) damage if I had chosen to break my mental agreement.

After slowly crossing NY/NJ (and being stuck on some traffic) I was finally in Pennsylvania. The goal was to hit Cleveland before the end of the day, so I’d have a nice ride the next day to Chicago. In the past road trips we made Stamford-Chicago in one shot arriving late evening, but that was driving  Catalina, the Goddess and a couple of people alternating the steering. This time I wanted to pace down a bit so I planned on stopping half way thru, around Cleveland.

Cleveland was looking harder and harder to achieve by each gas stop I  made. The delayed start and the heavy traffic in NYC had set me back more than 4 hours and I needed to decide if I want to speed up and make to Cleveland late night or just stop somewhere along the way and rest. At first I decided to speed up (perfect excuse to use that VTwin power), only stop for gas and make to Cleveland around 8pm. Perfect plan until the moment I really needed to take a leak and I still had about 45 mins to ride left on the gas tank. There was no way I could hold it for that long, so I was pathologically forced to stop and lose momentum – once again! 

Meet Pocono’s Streetfighter
So I pull over to take a leak and a rider shows up out of nowhere, in what I originally thought was a rider making sure I didn’t need any help (somewhat common among riders). It actually happened that this guy also had a TL1000S Streetfightered, which was a big coincidence considering how old and rare these bikes are, so he had pulled over to chat a bit. We talked about our bikes (we happened to be members in the same TLForums) then he asked me if I wanted to join him through some winding backroads in the Pocono Mountains. Hmmm… so here were my options: continue on the (straight-line boring) interstate and speed up even more to make to Cleveland late night OR relax, take some backroads, hit some turns with another rider and rest somewhere along the way after dusk?

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Not quite the conundrum for this rider here: this was the first out of many chances that I had (and chose) to make the long way home even longer. And the longer the better, as long as there were a nice tight turn on it. This is what this whole thing was about: riding the turns, talking to people and taking my photos. It was never about getting to that infamous point B. Where the hell would that be anyways? All stops, couches and even gas stations were points Bs in this journey.

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I followed him through the mountains not knowing exactly where we were headed to and also hoping that his route would not take me too much back east! I am glad I did, the ride was awesome: we started at some abandoned-like backroads with lots of nice turns and lose rocks and gravels, a bikers nightmare!  Then we headed to the mountains, in what seemed like those old car racing video-games where the road is an infinite straight line but with lots of ups and downs. Add the mountains to the background and that was the ride of the day.

So after indulging a bit at the Poconos, Cleveland was out of the plan and Clarion was the target for the night. I was able to find a nicely reviewed Bed&Breakfast, which was awesome because it was getting darker faster and I was trying to avoid a lot of night riding. This was my very first stay at a Bed&Breakfast after actually understanding its cultural importance in America. Very interesting experience and I was very lucky with the choice, The Clarion House Bed & Breakfast.

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August 20_09-47-09

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Astral Weeks

From the far side of the ocean
If I put the wheels in motion
And I stand with my arms behind me
And I'm pushin' on the door
In another time

Got a home on high

Ain't nothing but a stranger in this world
I'm nothing but a stranger in this world
I got a home on high
In another land
In another land
In another land

Remember the astral weeks...

Sent from my Nokia phone

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Photo Updates

Some photo updates:

- Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, California;
- Pacific Grove, California.

Sent from my Nokia phone

The Pacific Waters

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"

Not completely sure where exactly this goes, but i believe it somehow ties the room together!

I am back to sea level. Quite interesting going thru the elevation changes: left CT at sea level... Went thru the mountains, well around 10,000 feet elevation if not more, and today i rest at Pacific Grove, back again at sea level.

Rollercoaster, anyone? Thinking about it, it has been a rollercoaster in so many different ways. Life is one, so why wouldnt a roadtrip, heh?

Yesterday i was back to the mountains after a week at Burning Man: Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay. Not sure about statistics, but i'd say it is a modest mountain when compared to Utah/Colorado, but what a wonderful experience! What a surprise! I had never heard of the Emeral Bay area so i was quite thrilled by the ride. I had also a chance to relax by the Tahoe lake, even get minimally wet (IOW, wet feet!) in addition to playing some poker at Harveys!

Although fully rested, i had a late start. Originally i was hoping to make to San Luis Obispo (spell?) by the end of the day but had to (happilly) make a rest stop at Pacific Grove. I am glad to see the Pacific Ocean. It is fog and relatively cold, but it is perfect: i am officially across the continent. I made all the way to California, piling up issues behind and tackling new obstacles. A rollercoaster, as it should me. Actually i need to also mention Livermore, where i stopped for lunch. Lovely little town between Sacramento and San Jose. Hope to stop by again.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Alive & kicking in Nevada... Tires almost melted down while ripping thru I-80...

Sent from my Nokia phone

3,200 Miles and more to come!

3,200 miles
13 states
2 crashes
1 speeding ticket
Lots of people and faces
Mountains & Canyons
I-80 & Backroads

And here I am, at the Biggest Small City in America. Heading to Black Rock City later on today. What a journey!

Sent from my Nokia phone