Sunday, May 10

Jesse's warning, getting out of Dodge, and a new daily record

I packed to stay overnight. But by the time I reached St. Louis yesterday I qualified as a battered woman! Upon leaving, I noticed the wind but optimist that I am, I believed if it did not worsen, I could handle it. It's one thing to deal with wind for a few minutes--even an hour. It is quite another to deal with it the entire trip! I said somewhere else on this blog that I didn't mind the wind. Ignorance will make us say things we only think we believe. An "assault," is the only word to describe how these winds treated those witless enough to ride a motorcycle in it.

Battered around and around, I kept hoping I was just traveling through bad spots and it would eventually die down; it never did. I admit to feeling challenged. I recognize that I have issues with letting go. So, I applied my training and counter steered and it did make me feel more able-and confident. Still, robust wind gusts, most of which were unpredictable and some of which whipped the bike in a way that made me feel it would swirl; several times, the ambush snatched my breath away. A clarion call to the ancestors was answered. After two hours, and no tangible end in sight, I settled down and concentrated on getting first to Springfield, IL and if there I had had enough, I would end my trip for the day, get a hotel room and return home on Sunday.

I stopped for gas and munching but remained on course. In Springfield I had a refreshing break at Oak Ridge Cemetery, where I visited the Lincoln Tomb. Getting off the bike for more than a few minutes, was the diversion I needed. I then made my way to the Lincoln Home NHS and collected my stamp. The slow speed required to navigate these locals streets seem to make the wind invisible. At the Visitor's Center, I spotted a Lincoln Harley-Davidson, called the "Circuit Rider" Lincoln Bicentennial Motorcycle. It's designer and builder, Kim Shirley created it in honor of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.

About the wind...I was duped! The wind hadn't disappeared, it was there lurking, waiting to exert itself sharpest at speeds over 30 mph. Thus, my journey to St. Louis continued the previous beating and before getting out of Illinois Jesse, for the first time, got a warning. I'm not a speed demon--it just doesn't appeal to me on any consistent level. I will confess to having tried out Jesse's horse power but that was on an isolated, wide open road in the early morning hours and no one else was present and Jesse was newly broken in and frisky for fun. That thrill is memorable and I've had little desire for a repeat performance. Speed is not easy to manage in the wind, I learned. A steady speed slowed considerable when bucking a headwind. Wind that butts from behind requires an adjustment too. A sideways wind slap made me handle the throttle differently too. It is no wonder that my previously broken clavical throbbed more than usual. Probably the worst part of the trip was the beating I took from trucks. I stay away from trucks. Trucks on a windy day--there's nothing like it. The wind they stirred made me feel as if I would be sucked underneath or blown off the road. I shoke and rattled in their space. I stayed away even more than usual.

As I was watching their loads sway and passing on the left, I came to the crest in the road. Once beyond the trucks, I slowed and switch lanes. It was then that I spotted an Illinois State Patrol car sitting on the side of the road in one of those spots for "Authorized Vehicles Only." I continued to slow down. The posted speed limit is 65mph. I checked the GPS and I was doing 67. I looked in my mirror and saw the patrol car pull in behind me. No pulsating red and blue lightsnthat accelerates your heart when you see them in your mirror. He rode behind me and I rode on. Minutes later. I mean many minutes later, he turned on his light. ??? I figured he needed me to move to the next lane so he could pass me and get whatever criminal he'd had just been radioed to pursue. But when I pulled over, so did he. It finally dawned on me that I was the culprit he was gunning for. But why?

It took him seemingly forever to exit the car and tell me he had made a horrible mistake. When he approached me, he seemed hesitant. Then he said, "Sir, do you know why I stopped you?" In my most polite voice, I said, "I'm not a sir and I don't know why?--I wasn't speeding." He apologized rather profusely and said he was confused by the bike-- "even though I saw all the hair--"Is that your hair?" I told him the hair was mine. He smiled and apologized again. His eyse traced the bike from front to back. Motioning his head toward the bike, he said, "That's a nice bike you have." Again, he asked if I knew why he stopped me. I said I didn't and again said I wasn't speeding. "I was doing 67 mph." He said I was but "back there as you were coming over the hill, I clocked you at 76."

I said, "Way back there?" I put an emphasis on "Way" to indicate that it was some time ago to just now put your lights on me. "Back then, I was trying to get away from the trucks, I slowed as soon as I passed them." He agreed that I did. "Nice bike. Let me see your license and registration, please" Momentarily, I didn't know where it was. I check the luggage--no find. I checked another place on the bike--no find. I wasn't worried about not finding it, just where. I knew I had it. I found it in a bag I had on me. I turned over multiple papers. "Where are you going?" I told him I was headed for St. Louis. "I wouldn't be out here, it's windy." I agreed and told him that I was being battered by the wind and trucks, which is why I was trying to get away from the convoy." He said, "I'm not going to give you a ticket, just a warning. Let me check these and I'll have you on your way in no time." At every point, he was polite--even friendly. Still, I was pissed. It took him a very long time to return to the bike and sitting there, I was getting chilled.

When he finally returned to my bike, he said words that stunned me. "Ma'am, this bike doesn't show up on the computer." Huh? "There is no record of this bike when I put in the VIN." "Huh?" I had turned over the vehicle registration, BMWMOA membership number, insurance card, title info--everything--including the bill of sale (I carry everything with me except the dealer who sold me the bike--I am that paranoid, especially riding anywhere south of Chicago!). "I don't know why that's the case, this is my bike and it's legit." He said he believed me and suspected that it is an error at the Secretary of State's office. Still, he looked for the VIN on the physical part of the bike. We found it and it too checked out against all the other papers. Yet, the state's computers failed to bring up any info on the bike--as if it didn't exist. "I swear, this is my bike." He said, "I agree, Ma'am. Seems like a clerical error in the Secretary's office--just give them a call and have them fix it." He complimented me on having so much paperwork with me and said had I had any less, he would be suspicious. He gave me a written warning and told me to "be careful out there and have a safe trip." He was a kind, friendly trooper and I appreciate the questionably deserved warning Jesse received. ;-) In my dark hours, my greatest fear of solo riding is a town like this. I imagine being stopped in such a place never to be heard from again.

By the time I reached St. Louis I felt depleted and famished when I got off the bike. I munched and drank the whole way and had consumed a hearty breakfast at 6:30am that morning. My GPS led me to what was to be the Visitor's Center but it wasn't there--at least I didn't see it. I rode around the maze that is downtown St. Louis and wound up too far east of the city. I pulled into a gas station and after talking to several people, a man who first told me he'd take me but didn't have time, insisted in the end to escort me. "I'm going that way, just follow me," he said. He led me to the parking facility of the Arch along Memorial Drive where I parked and learned I'd have to pay $6 for what I should be a five minute visit to collect the stamp.

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a magnificent site. But getting to it is a huge pain in the gluts! I had to hike to The Gateway Arch, where I expected to get info about the stamp. I enjoyed taking pictures of shiny arch. A gorgeous azure sky with puffy clouds made the walk to the arch lovely--if I didn't have to haul my tank bag, jacket and helmet, which I had to since I left the lock behind that would have allowed to keep these items on the bike. Two rangers stood at the foot of the arch and told the crowd that the access was close and to get in required walking to the other leg of the arch. We hike there. That's when I felt my blood begin to boil. I got in line (stamping my Passport book takes seconds, literally) and waited. We were instructed to remove jackets, empty pockets of metal objects and prepare for purse and bag checks. A sign said they apply airport security techniques to get into the Arch. I stood in line for way too long; I started sweating. Someone, several people ahead of me, kept tripping the machine's siren. They searched him several times but couldn't figure out what prevented him for passing through. Eventually, they snubbed the machine and waved him in.

By the time I reached the Visitor's Center Information desk, 45 minutes had elapsed. It would take a miracle to reach Grant's National Historic Site before it closed. The Ranger said I could but probably had only 5 or 10 minutes to spare. I couldn't get my GPS to locate the place with an address. The Ranger said it's a tough one to get to. He gave me what he felt were good instructions--and it's really NOT in St. Louis as the Passport book states. I left the Arch without seeing anything of historic value about St. Louis. It's not my first trip to St. Louis, but seeing anyplace from the seat of a motorcycle always makes it a novel experience.

As I walked back to the garage I came to another Ranger. As a check on what the first one said, I asked how far the Grant site was. He estimated 15 minutes, 10 minutes LESS than his co-worker. I decided to call the site and wade through the annoyingly automated phone system before being able to select a live person. When I reached one, she told me that I would probably pull in five minutes before they closed and, "We close right on time." She gave me detailed instructions, which differed dramatically from the first set of instructions. This was a longer route? but more direct. She doubted that I would make it there on time and her instructions seemed to guarantee it. That was all I needed as I too had reached a similar conclusion. While inside the Visitor's Center, I had stamped my book a second time for the Louis & Clark National Hist. Trail. I don't know if this will count, but my goal was two stamps for St. Louis. I decided to scrap any notion of staying overnight. I'd seen enough of St. Louis--I wanted out of Dodge. The wind's beating and hunger had made me a tad moody. I needed to slow the pace.

I hit "Go Home" on the GPS and made my way across the Martin Luther King Bridge and found I-70E and I-55N, which I took to IL. It was now 4:45 pm and would mean arriving home around 10pm. I didn't care. If I ate a decent meal, I'd be good the rest of the way. I rode for 90 minutes before finding a place to eat. I had a light, good meal and relaxed for about an hour before leaving. The GPS said I would arrive home at 10:59. Times like this make having music a good thing. I dug out the Ipod, stopped only for gas and was in the house at 11:15pm. The miles peeled away. With the exception of the SaddleSore I completed (over 1000 miles in less than 24 hours), I set a personal daily for myself. Knowing I can go the distance--even under challenging circumstances, will serve me well should I decide to finish this National Parks Tour.

I had planned to go to Indiana this morning--there's an easy stamp in Chesterton. Instead, I'm going to hang around, read the newspaper, finally finish Levitt's book, Freakonomics, and celebrate my commercially expropriated holiday, Mother's Day, any way the mood strikes.

Saturday ride total: 620.3 miles


D. Brent Miller said...

That's a lot of riding ... hard riding. Ride safe.


Jeffry said...

Teaching MC classes Saturday morning made me think that I was glad I wasn't out riding. The wind was fierce and cold. Way to battle the elements.

bobskoot said...

I know what you mean about the wind. Last year I went down to the Oregon Gorge, which is just west of Portland. They have fierce winds down there which never seem to stop and is a favourite spot for wind surfers. It is sort of like a gusting wind which you sort of lean into and get comfortable, until you hit an overpass (no wind) which will throw you off balance. While we only went around 100 miles can't imagine you doing it all day.

I never knew about the asset seizures but we hear a lot of stories about the southern US and the discrimination against minorities (which I am also), so I have no urgent desire to travel to those areas, without escort (or a travel buddy)
And congrats for only receiving a warning . . . Your lucky Mother's day present

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Sojourner rides said...

Brent, hard riding for a hard headed woman. I don't want to repeat it anytime soon!

Sojourner rides said...


The heated wear handled the cold. But the monster wind, well we had to deal with each other! At least I know that the counter steering techniques really work. Still, I couldn't help wonder if a heavier bike might have made things easier?

Sojourner rides said...

bob, your description of the wind gusts are giving me flashbacks! Yes, those windless spots will definitely play a trick on your mind and throw you off...

I hear you on riding through parts of the south. I have had a downright phobia about it. I've been to VA and WVA--out of necessity. But I'm actually going to attempt "deep" south this season. Maybe. I reserve the right to change my mind. ;-)

bobskoot said...

I've been looking at too many movies. I have this recurring dream of riding through the Ozarks (where ever that is) and we are captured by some hillbillies living in the bushes who are afraid of civilization, and we are never heard from again.

I'm glad you were more sensible on this trip to not ignore your stomach. It must be the blood sugar levels (or something), but when I don't have something to eat I sometimes get faint and that is my signal to get some nourishment pronto.

You know the rule, "Feed your bike, Feed yourself" (I just made this up - LOL)
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

Our paths actually crossed this week, but were off by a day or two. i drove out to Nebraska on family business this week, passing through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. But I left on Thursday and got into Omaha on Friday night.

I spent 13 houes behind the wheel on Thursday, and expect to do the same thing on the return trip tomorrow. I regret circumstances forced me to make this trip in the car.

I regret that your overwhelming racial fears are somewhat justified by bizarre police activity in Txeas, and I hope this turns out to be the exception as opposed to the rule. But I am white, and have been the target of municipal judicial action that sought a $1500.00 fine and 24-hours in jail, over a $5 parking ticket, issued 20-years prior, that no one could deny I had paid. And this was in New Jersey.

Scumbags are scumbags. If you are a member of the BMW-RA, you may have read where long-distance BMW legend and columnist Robert Higdon was handcuffed, and thrown on the hood of a police car, for taking a picture of a county courthouse -- that was on a public street.

Mr. Higdon is white -- and a successful lawyer. Last I heard, he was considering suit. I make no justification for cops, and have met some rather pleasant ones, but I suspect there is the usual percentage of small-dicked, skin-headed neanderthals that one finds in other professions. Regretably, cops are in a position to detain you, and most authorities give them the benefit of the doubt.

I'm glad you're getting the rubber's worth out of your tires.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

Sojourner rides said...


I sometimes have similar wild imaginations that occasionally afflict me. When riding around Lake Superior and I sometimes didn't see another vehicle for many miles, I'd get a bit paranoid. I imagined I would come upon some members of the aryan militia who for fun would force me into the woods, tie me to a tree and leave. I would die from exposure and years later my family would be told of my tragic end. It is an irrational fear--even if rooted in a historic reality.

In my other life, I'm fearless and as the adage goes, I "feel the fear and do it anyway."

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Jack,

Our misses will make the meeting that much more fun!

I agree with you that "scumbags are scumbags" and I know that these awful things happen to white folks as well. Those are the exception, though. That these things continue to happen (not just in TX) to people of the darker hue with regularity fuels these fears/concerns--they don't exist in a vacuum.

A friend of mine, white, has gotten passed up by cab drivers for who knows why and feels that it happens to everyone at some point and he shrugs is off. True, such experiences have happened to many many people. But skin color gives scumbags an extra venomous boost to throw around their power. Thus, some cabbies and others with power, can exercise their authority a bit easier if they just target the coloreds as one big monolithic collective. People like Higdon and othera do get singled out and picked on, but I'd contend that whites as a group are not targeted in the way I'm talking about.

I hope he does bring suit, because that could have a trickle down effect and help everyone who happens to be victimized by insanity behind a badge.

See ya in July, for sure! Or, as my grandparents would say..."Lord willing."

cpa3485 said...

Just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your last couple of posts. There is something very exciting and even romantic about a long trip like that. You made me feel like I was there with you. Heck, I can get tired from riding in a car for 10 hours, much less do it on a motorcycle, especially in the windy conditions you encountered. I'm impressed!
I got a bit of a chuckle about your use of the phrase "getting out of Dodge". I spent the very early part of my life growing up in a city just 50 miles west of the real Dodge City. The high schools were big sports rivals. Most of the time it was a friendly rivalry, but as we all know, sometimes things can get a bit uglier. It was at this early stage of my life that I first heard a comment about their nig$&rs competing with our colored boys. It literally was meant as a joke, but it wasn't funny to me and it was just stupid, demeaning and totally wrong. But there is no denying that these situations do exist in many societies and in many forms. Hopefully, someday people will realize that M L Kings dream will eventually be realized in its full form. Wouldn't it be nice for us all to be able to ride wherever we wanted to witout any fear. After all, it really is about the riding.

cpa3485 said...

PS: Around here the phrase is more commonly uttered as "Getting the hell out of Dodge"

Sojourner rides said...


Welcome! So glad you stopped by! Always nice to greet a new kindred spirit. You gave me a chuckle, living so near the real Dodge City! I realize now that that could be offensive to folks living in Dodge--and I don't even know much about the place and I'm ribbing it! Your story of the sporting events--thanks for that too. Amazing how we experience things and they stick with us forever...Memory is incredible!

You make an interesting point. About car vs. motorcycle. I whine a lot being stuck in a car for hours but never mind being on the bike. I'm exhausted after 3 hours in a car but feel like I'm just warming up at the 3 hours point on a motorcycle.

Thanks again. Glad you're enjoying my rambles.

Sojourner rides said...


haha...You're right, that's the exact way I've heard it. Poor Dodge City, I've got to do some research on it. I only know the Dodge City created in television mythology.

bobskoot said...

Sharon: (&cpa3485)
I keep looking at my map of the USA and wonder if, one day I will be able to visit the places you write and talk about. From British Columbia most of our time would be taken by getting to and from on our limited vacation allotment. There is not an economical way of shipping my bike to "safe" places and just fly there to ride different areas. I'm still mulling over the logistics

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Sojourner rides said...

Bob and cpa3485,

When I was circling Lake Superior, I met a gentleman from England, riding a seasoned BMW. He was retired so he had a lot of time. I recalled that he kept a bike in Toronto and one in South Africa and obviously had the resources to do so. Each ride season he'd fly to one of these locations where his bike was stored and ride from there. When I met him, he was a perimeter of the USA and planed afterwards to end up in BC and ride from there back to Toronto.

What a life! I envied him so. I am trying to work out a situation where next year I do not work from June 1 through Labor Day, Sept. 1. I have no idea how I will manage this, but I'm "mulling" it over too.

bobskoot said...

It's too bad we don't have really close friends who live about 1,000. miles away from each other, scattered throughout the country. Perhaps 6 or 8 people who would all purchase "SHARES" in a bike, make and model decided by the group. This bike would be travelling across the country and left in the care of one of these persons, and you could fly where the bike was last "left" and continue to another safe haven. from there you would fly home.

It may give you a chance to ride one way to the west coast, leave it for the next rider to take it back to Chicago. Or perhaps someone will take it to Florida, leave it there, and I could ride it back to West Chester, PA to visit my friend Jack R. and leave it there for you, etc. . . . blah, blah blah. (It's an idea I have in the dreaming stage)
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

cpa3485 (JIM) said...

Off topic for a bit; just want to announce that I have started a blog of my own.

It is a start for something I have been thinking about for some time. Would appreciate it If you would visit me there and make comments and suggestions on what you might think. Many of you have inspired me and I would appreciate your advice. Thanks in advance!

Anna MacKinnon said...

Hello Sojourner!
I first want to thank you for seemingly always reading my blog and putting cool comments. I'm way past overdue but just spent some time on YOUR blog and enjoyed reading this post. Am leaving this Saturday for another solo trip to Canada and back (from here in SF). I will be blogging about it of course! Take care and all the best. -A

Sojourner rides said...


The idea of a shared bike that can be used and re-used by other intrepid travelers really really intrigues me. A nice standard bike (like the SV) that would be great for the average rider, would sweet. Don't know how this would work in reality, but, gosh--it's an exciting idea!

Sojourner rides said...


Visited your new site! Love the pics--and really glad you've joined the club! Great intro blog!

Sojourner rides said...

Greetings, Anna,

Nice to "see" you. Safe travels on your trip to Canada. I'll send good thoughts your way as I too travel to Canada in a couple of days.