Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 4 - Rockford, IL to Mason City, IA

At some level I am amazed each time I kick the starter on the Hodaka and it actually starts. Again. One more time. I continue to be flabbergasted when I flog the crap out of the poor thing hustling down the highway at 55 or 60 mph in an attempt to avoid being run over by westbound truckers who are in a hurry! How long can this go on? Apparently a fair amount of time as I now find myself 1200 miles from home!

Today was the "crap" day that experienced riders know is (are?)embedded in every long bike trip. Last night, in Rockford, there were serious thunderstorms during the overnight hours. Serious enough to wake me up during the night and make it difficult to get back to sleep thinking about things like motorcycles blown over in the parking lot or the prospect of departing in the midst of more storms. Well, as it turned out there were no bikes lying on their side at daybreak and, at departure time, the rain had stopped, if only temporarily. However, when I left the hotel parking lot, a quick look skyward told me that today I was going to get wet. And boy did I!

Ever the optimist, I departed with the rain gear still stowed. But by my first coffee stop about 90 minutes out it was obvious that the time had come to suit up for severe weather. On went the REV'IT one piece Titan rain suit and not a minute too soon.
In to the rain gear in Gratiot, WI.

BY about 10:00 I was in heavy rain near Gratiot, Wisconsin and the rain never ended until late afternoon, well into Iowa. Not the kind of day that one stops to take those staged pictures while crossing over into Wisconsin or Iowa, nor crossing the Mississippi River. Nope, today was just about gritting my teeth and surviving in "Waterworld." I was basically in the rain gear the rest of the day. After passing through the cold front that brought all the steady rain in the Mississippi Valley it briefly began to clear, but only in time for the afternoon Thunderstorms to build. The heaviest rain I saw all day was a thunderstorm near Charles City, IA.
My wet world!

There was some utility in all this, however. In my pre trip testing I had never spent any time riding in heavy rain. Light? Sure. Heavy? Not so much. I have owned old bikes in the past that would simply stop running in rain, so the fact that the Hodaka ran flawlessly through the day was a very positive thing! The only "technical" casualtie all day was that the crappy old 6 Volt headlamp gave up during the course of all the rain. Water related failure? Hard to say, as vibration is a constant companion too. I'm carrying a spare that will be installed in the morning. I also learned that the Giant Loop Coyote bag does a pretty excellent job keeping the rain out of my clothing, as well as my electronic devices (including the computer I typing this story on.) Likewise the REV'IT suit kept me pretty darned dry through all of today's downpours!

Only other thing to note about today is that I went to the Yamaha dealer here in Mason City and picked up enough two-stroke oil to (probably) get me the rest of the way. Exciting stuff, eh!

Tomorrow my plan is to shorten up the ride a big and try for just over 200 miles. This will put me at the midpoint of the trip and, hopefully, allow for a little more time to enjoy (and photograph) what sights there may be.

Thanks for riding along!

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Sincere thanks to our supporters including Giant Loop Moto, REV’IT, Strictly Hodaka, Bell Helmets, Martin Motorsports.

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