El Rojo at the St. Louis arch
64 East. 260 miles to Louisville.  The sun is off to my right, the highway is curvy enough to
keep my attention and the scenery is great. Late fall and all the trees are dark red and brown.
Very light traffic. Cops are out but I can see a good distance and I’m taking it easy anyway. On
previous trips, my GPS unit has told me how fast my bike will go, no reason to cause any
trouble today. At the border of Illinois and Indiana, I take a picture of the “
Welcome to Indiana
sign to add to my collection (I think that makes a total of 26).
I get gas in Ferdinand, Indiana and get back on the bike quick (I’m in the zone). Another
couple hours and
I cross the Ohio River into Kentucky. I wanted to take a picture of the
‘Welcome to’ sign but I was on the highway with traffic and there was no shoulder to be
had. Through the city and another stop for gas (39 mpg). I am about half way done (570
miles so far). It’s starting to get a little dark so I changed the lenses in my sunglasses to
orange (I thought they would be better than nothing in the dark). I was wrong, they
sucked.
I left 64 and took 71 North towards Cincinnati. As I crossed over some small rolling hills it got dark fast
and I saw more and more deer. Live ones. Theses things were everywhere. 45 minutes out of Louisville,
I figured I had seen 5 or 6 hundred deer in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes.
10 feet away from the side of the highway, they stood and munched grass, unconcerned about all the
speeding cars. I couldn’t help thinking “
How did they get between the lanes?” They must have crossed
traffic at some point, right? I doubt they would live their whole lives in an area 100 yards wide and 20
miles long.
Never before have I been on my bike and so happy to be surrounded by cages (cars)…I
guess there is a first for everything.
Traffic was fairly heavy but it moved steadily (and it kept the deer away from me) as I got closer to
Cincinnati. I had never been to that city before. Approaching from the south the city was lit well and I
could see the skyline; very picturesque. I wanted to stop and get the camera out, but again I couldn’t
find a good spot on the shoulder and I didn’t want to get run over in the dark. Besides,
Chicago has the
best skyline in the world…
look at it from a mile out in Lake Michigan, you’ll agree. 71 merged with 75 for
a few miles and then I stayed on 75 and headed north towards Dayton. I am not sure what I expected
(one of my nieces goes to school there) but Dayton was a non event.
Another gas stop in Sidney, Ohio. I just rode 205 miles on 4.3 gallons of gas which translates into 47
mpg. I did the math over and over in my head, thinking I was making a mistake before I realize I was
cruising at 63 mph for 3 hours. I have never had mileage like that; around the city it’s always about 35. At
the gas stop I change my plan and decide to exit the highway a few exits early and ride northwest to Fort
Wayne on route 33 instead of route 30. But I’m hungry so I stop at a Wendy’s in Wapakoneta, Ohio, get
some chow and flag down a police officer. He tells me route 33 to Fort Wayne is an easy drive and I ask
him how it would be on a motorcycle “
Oh, you’re on a motorcycle?”…No Sh*t Sherlock…why else would I
be holding a helmet and be standing next to a bright red bike? I digress.
I take 33 west for only a few minutes and realize not only did I leave the highway, I left civilization.
Route 33 is a 2 lane country rode that is probably a very good time during the day if you know the
area. All I know is I’m out in the middle of nowhere, its pitch black (10pm-ish) and I have no idea
where I am. I cruise along at the posted speed or maybe a little over, but about every 10 miles or
so, I have to slow down to 25 and go through a town (if you want to call it that). I’m a little nervous,
but I figure I’ll be ok. After maybe an hour of this, I start playing with my GPS unit. This thing will tell
me pretty much anything I ask if I ask it correctly; Garmin makes a good unit. Well, I don’t know what
I asked it because in some small town (very small) it told me to turn right instead of following 33 as
it continued northwest. 200 yards later I turn left on to RR 49
(RR means rural route and that’s
accurate)
. 5 miles later I take another left and this road (calling it a road would be generous) turns
to all gravel. Crap. A mile later it dead ends into a dirt road
(path would be better). The h#ll with
this, I turn around and retrace my tracks. About halfway back through the gravel a big dog (very
big) comes out of the shadows and starts chasing me while barking his head off. Nice. It is at this
point that I think maybe things aren’t going so well. I leave the dog behind (after just about wetting
my pants) and follow 49 back to 33 and keep going the way I was originally. It is somewhere along
this road
I notice that the thermometer that said 73 earlier now says 37. My heated grips and jacket
are both turned on full blast.
I make it from 33 onto 469, which is a bypass around Fort Wayne and get on 69 north. I ride through
a few miles of construction and get out into the boonies again. I am tired and cold and I just want to
get home. I realize that I need to upgrade my headlights or something because I can’t see much
without my high beams on. 200-ish more miles to go. 69 goes north all the way to Lansing, Michigan
and the original plan was to get over the border into Michigan (just so I could say I rode 6 states in
one day) but I was running on fumes at this point. From 69 I took the 80/90 toll road west back
towards Chicago.
The woman at the tollbooth told me its 22 miles to the next gas station. I made it
there, filled up (42 mpg) and walked around to get some feeling back in my feet. It was then I
remembered I had packed my heated socks (they plug into the jacket). I put those on and just stood
next to the bike in the parking lot with everything turned on high. 144 miles to go.
I got back on 80/90 and just sat at 70 mph for an hour and a half. I reached the end of the toll part of
the highway and paid $3.70.
I asked if motorcycles got a break because they use less of the
road…the woman just laughed.
Another 10 miles or so and I reach the Indiana – Illinois border
where I had to give them $0.50 (I’m not sure what for …“
Didn’t I just pay?”). Once I cross the border
I am almost immediately in Chicago (or maybe I don’t know where the border is…) and I made a
$2.50 donation to Mayor Daley so I could cross a bridge (?). I’m tired. I’m really tired.
Once I get on the Dan Ryan Expressway, it’s not hard to keep my attention on the road. Its 1:15 in
the morning and the traffic there is moving. The Ryan is not the greatest place to ride a motorcycle
because it’s half demolition derby and half Indy 500. Plus, most of it is under construction (the
construction project started about the time I was born and isn’t done yet). I am trying not to get hit
when I catch a red light (red light?). Somehow I managed to not watch all the lanes closure signs
and I find that I have exited the expressway and I am looking at Cermak road. “
You gotta be kidding
me!!
” Anyway, I drive around for a few minutes before I get back on 55 south (where this whole
adventure started) and make it to 90/94 west (which actually goes north). Exit at Ohio Street and
back to the same gas station I filled up at 19 hours ago. 1073 miles by the bike’s odometer and 1068
by GPS.

-TC Rides
Before and
after pics of the
odometer. The
time on the left
is Thursday
night 11/23.
The time on the
right is
Saturday
11/25, about 27
hours and 1073
miles later.
Garmin Quest the night before the trip. After is below. Total mileage is 1068 vs 1073
on the bike odometer
Counter


So…I did it!! 1,073 miles (or 1,068 depending on who you believe) in less than 24 hours. Here’s
the story; Friday the 24th of November, day after Thanksgiving, I get up at 5:30 and get all suited
up. Going to be a cold ride I think. Long underwear, new motopants I bought 2 days earlier along
with a new pair of riding boots. Turtleneck, a mock turtleneck over that (I hate being cold). North
Face windproof
- waterproof- insulated gloves. And my best friend…a Gerbing Union Ridge
heated jacket. Time to go. Get the bike out of the garage, warm it up in front of my building for a
few minutes and I’m off. A quick stop at Citibank to get some cash (just in case…) and a tank of
gas at the Shell station up the street. No cold ride would be complete without of thermos of hot
coffee so a few minutes at Starbucks and I’m good to go. Stand up at 7:20.
It’s 38 degrees.
Out of Chicago (90/94 to 55 south) is uneventful, the highway is quiet. I figure most people are
taking the day off from work or shopping. The guy on the radio said the crowds were out at the
malls already, but I didn’t see them. An hour into the ride and I’m a little cold, but not concerned; I
know it is supposed to be a beautiful day. I get settled at speed and start eating miles. Really the
only thing that I have noticed so far is the number of deer that have been hit by cars. I figure I
see one about every 5 miles or so. Living in the city, I don’t see deer very often. I stop after 155
miles for gas. An older lady asks if the cross winds on the highway bothers me at all. Back on the
bike and I figure out my mileage as I’m riding. Something like 33 mpg. Not too good. As I get
closer to St. Louis, I am seeing more and more deer that have been hit. I guess I see one about
every mile. That’s a lot of smashed cars too. Traffic picks up closer to St. Louis, and a police
officer pulls me over. The ticket says 80 in a 65 zone. I don’t think I was going that fast and "
How
does he estimate my speed from ½ a mile behind me anyway?
" Well, either way I have to slow
down. St. Louis is great. I took a picture of the bike with the Arch in the background, get some
gas (35 mpg!!) and eat a few White Castle sliders (I am going to regret it later, but I am hungry and
they taste so good). Its 73 degrees and sunny; fantastic weather…sure beats being at my office.
Travels With TC
(or The Adventures of El Rojo)