Monday, October 30

Fall moto trip to the Kankakee River

Kankakee River State Park. My planned trip to Lake Geneva, WI didn't pan out. Instead, after staying up late reading about the Iron Butt Rally National Parks Tour , I started yearning for a visit to a park. The trip should have taken maybe 90 minutes, 2 hours max. It took me four hours to arrive at the park.

I mounted the bike and left the garage at 6:30 a.m.. The early morning cold made me want to return to bed. True to its name, "The Windy City" was kicking full force and it made the low 40s feel more like 20 degrees. After 25 miles, my fingers felt, well...I couldn't feel them, really. Stopped for hot chocolate and received a free glazed donut--a rare treat that I devoured! The hot chocolate was awful, but the cup served as an excellent hand warmer. If I aim to log another 500 miles before retiring the bike for winter, investing in heated gloves is mandatory!

The back roads heading south turned confusing in spots. I had the GPS in the tank bag but have come to rely most heavily on maps. Lack of a suitable mount for the GPS, makes it cumbersome to use. It's easier glancing down at a highlighted map in the tank bag's vinyl pocket than stopping to check the GPS. At one point, I realized I was lost--or so I thought. It seemed like I was riding around in one huge square. The roads had names like 4800 N 1200 W or something equally illogical. In some places, new construction forced me to head in an unexpected direction. I need to trust my gut more as I was often correct. Still, I had a brief weepy moment when I became so turned around and lacking understandable street signs, I caved in to my emotions.

Stopped, took out the GPS and used its compass feature to regain my bearings. It was then that I discovered that I was going in the right direction. Wide open country roads allowed the wind to do its kicking full force. At times I felt like I was riding side ways. A couple of times the bike's rear tire wagged heartily. Even though I know that counter steering works, it is still a breath-taking experience to be suddenly shoved by the wind; I can't help wonder if there have been bikes that have become airborne or flipped over due to the winds.

Finally, arrived at the park at 10:30 a.m.--four hours since leaving the apartment. The park was relatively isolated, saw a few hikers, walkers and a couple of bicycles. The ground was covered with crisp-crunchy leaves. Some trees were still in the midst of changing colors, others were naked. The four hour ride there resulted in only a 40 minute visit. Isn't there some saying that it's not the destination, it's the journey...Twas true in this case.

Scheduled to work at 3 p.m. So I pushed the ride home by taking the interstate one quarter of the way. Expressway traffic was light, which allowed me to push the little blue bike homeward, reaching ...well, I'll keep the speed to myself. Stopped for lunch in the south suburbs. Picked up Rt. 50 north and managed fairly heavy traffic to Chicago. Great practice on scanning, emergency stops, space cushion management, and self control (i.e., not acting on wanting to strangle the cellphone talking driver who wants to share a lane with you). With the exception of the lane-sharer, one vehicle weaver, the return trip was uneventful. Saw more bikes out today than I've seen in a long while.

Pulled into the garage at 2:30 p.m.. Amassed 156.6 miles. Arrived at work 2:58--two minutes early for my 3:00 meeting. Perfect timing. Perfect ride!

Kankakee River State Park pics