Today I looked at it with hungry eyes. Yesterday I rode to Petoskey, Michigan and back. It all started with a some random dinner with a friend of my wife. My wife and her started talking, and they thought it would be fun to go on a boat tour with a glass bottom that tours ship wrecks in the area. That seemed neat so I signed on. Later that day her daughter said she'd rather go shopping and wanted to go to like Petoskey. Which is weird for at least two reasons. Her daughter is a tomboy that doesn't generally like shopping, and Petoskey isn't that great for shopping either. Maybe it was just a ploy to avoid the boat for 2 hours. I don't know.
As soon as people started to side towards Petoskey I told my wife I wanted to take my bike. For two reasons: firstly, there is the "tunnel of trees" as its known, which is a tiny road with lots of twists, which is one of the few roadways within probably 150 kilometers or more where the road is actually fun. It's nothing like the "twisties" we dream about. The speed limit is pretty low, and for safety reasons (there could be gravel/sand in the corners occasionally) you don't want to push it anyway. Nevertheless, the ride is fun. I had only done it once before, and at the time I went with a group, and they had a woman in front that was consistently driving 5 MPH UNDER the limit. It's barely fun when speed is at your option, but when you're going excessively slow it's especially boring. And it takes you nearly 2 hours to get there already.
We opted to go to Petoskey so I was committed to taking my bike. This decision of course was made drunk on my wife's friend's porch. At like midnight. They planned for us to wake up around 7:30 AM. **** my life. I'd much rather sleep in and just get drunk on the weekend and play video games (while I can). Anyway, we headed home shortly after and I got as intoxicated as I could in 20 minutes and went to bed. I was woken up around 7:25 AM by my wife. I think I only had about 5 hours of sleep, but that's pretty usual for me.
The ride was mostly uneventful. It was fun. The notable moments are the border/toll crossings. I've always struggled with these on a bike. It's such a hassle to have to take off your helmet, pull out ID or money, etc., and then put it all back on again to go again. In particular, I was really struggling with my gloves and helmet when I heading into Michigan across the border. It was so bad I exclaimed, "I wish this was faster," as I was trying to get my gear back on, and the border agent just said, "so do the people behind you!"
GOOD DAY, SIR.
The toll booth was something of another beast. Our border happens to host a bridge. I don't know if they're normally tolled, but ours is, if for no other reason than our bridge. We have a card that we use to cross which gives us a discount. I had the card. My wife was traveling in a truck with our friends, and I had given her $40 US for these types of things to help out if needed/wanted. I pulled up to a special lane that only supports the specialized card, did my finagling that I needed to pull it out, and swiped it by the sensor. It seemed to beep, same as before, so I put it away in my jacket, and did the struggle to get my gloves back on. I reached for the controls and looked up. The fucking gate wasn't up. Nothing happened. Confused, I pulled it all out again and tried again. Nothing. I looked for feedback on the basic display that is used to show your payment and balance, but it was blank. Then I noticed a woman walking out of the administration building, which is usually pretty empty so I was quite surprised. At first I assumed it was just a shift change or something, but I hoped she'd see my desperation and come and help me. Sure enough she did. She was probably coming out just for me unfortunately. She said my bike was too light to trip the sensors in the roadway so it wouldn't activate the card sensor. Ugh. This is discrimination!
She took my payment and let me on my way. Fortunately, for the next two tolls (both ways over the Mackinaw Bridge) I stayed directly behind my wife, and that doesn't require I.D., and my wife paid for me both times (with my money) so I didn't have to really do anything other than stop as a formality for the machinery.
On my way back home I tried to avoid this source of humiliation as best as I could. I hoped my wife would pay for me again on the way back across the border, but she figured I had our card and figured I would be fine. Little did either of us realize that the card was in my Kriega rucksack, which I had stashed in the truck earlier in the day. So not only did I not even have the card, but regardless it was still a struggle to pull **** out. I had to endure the struggle again. Ugh. At this point, BTW, I was exhausted. This was like 5 PM or so. After this I figured out that my gloves were the primary source of awkwardness at those kinds of stops. It's difficult to get them back on in a rush in particular. Especially when sweaty. For the border where I needed to pull my helmet off for identification I decided to stuff my gloves inside my jacket at the duty-free shop and hope they wouldn't fall out. Then all I needed to worry about was my helmet, and accessing my I.D. I undid my helmet as I was waiting in line. Then I just needed to pull it off. That worked quite well. Fortunately, my gloves didn't fall out of my jacket (that could have ruined everything). I was able to get my helmet back on more easily, and I didn't need to struggle to get my gloves back on. I'm going to try to remember that for future crossings.
The trip was otherwise pretty uneventful. I had no real close calls. At one intersection where I was trying to keep up with the truck on the way back I sort of cut in front of a group of Gold Wings. I feel bad for that. I was exhausted from the whole day, and just wanted to get home, and was anticipating traffic being clear as the truck went. I saw the group of opposing bikes as the truck made the turn, but decided I could make it anyway. I went WOP, but I was in a higher gear trying to limit the vibration to reduce the strain on my hands so I wasn't as quick crossing the intersection as I would have liked. I don't think it was dangerous per se, but there's a chance they had to brake for me. I hate to be guilty of that kind of thing.
My throttle lock was a lifesaver for this trip. It absolutely made the interstate/freeway riding so much more relaxing. This year I cut my foam grip covers to allow the throttle lock to rest directly on the grip, which seems to be an improvement. It worked before, but now it seems to be working even better. The journey to Petoskey is about 150 km. I had done it once before a few years ago in a group. It was exhausting. I'm pretty sure by the time we got there both my ass and hands were all killing. Yesterday, though, with the throttle lock my hands were 100% fine by the time we got there. I tried my best to keep up with the truck because I was already a burden on the group and it would have been a **** show if I had to pull over to try to text my wife to catch up with them. Our friends have a tendency to drive way too fast, way over the speed limit. Our friend pays something stupid like CAD$5000 a year for insurance for one vehicle.
Anyway, despite it being a risk on my part (I cannot afford that ****!) I stayed with them. Knock on wood, it looks like we got away with it. Let's just hope we don't get a ticket in the mail I guess. We were doing probably 85 or 90 MPH in a 75 most of the way South. I would normally do 80 max in that scenario (approximately 10 km/h over the limit is what we get away with in Canada usually). To make matters worse, I forgot to switch the bike to Imperial units so I had to do my best guestimates in my head to figure out how fast we were going.
I didn't bother with my Airhawk seat cushion. I've found that it doesn't really seem to help much, and it's a bit awkward. Not to mention, not very pretty. My ass was killing me by the time we got there, but not as bad as I might have expected. It was livable. We rode around to a few shopping destinations, and the youth among us insisted on going to go-karts before we got something to eat. I was starting to suffer from the heat at this point so sitting in a restaurant with A/C was sounding pretty good right about then, but I didn't say anything. I had been keeping my riding pants and boots on at all of our stops thus far, but for this I decided to strip down to my street clothes. We bought a go-kart race, some time in the batting cages, and our friend bought a bag of golf balls to hit at the driving range.
I managed to "win" the go-kart race. I'm pretty sure I was the only one that was trying. Also, probably the only one that spent hours playing Gran Turismo as a kid. I managed to lap my wife and her friend, and nearly our friend's daughter, in the 5 minutes allotted to us. Almost all of the girls, in other words.
I had probably gained about half of a track of distance between the only other man.
I was terrible in the batting cages. It hadn't really occurred to me, but I probably haven't swung a bat in nearly 20 years. And we were wearing football helmets to protect our noggins, which may have thrown off hand-eye coordination. In any case, I couldn't connect with any of the pitches no matter the speed or style. I managed to foul a few of them though. I was disappointed.
Our friend got bored at the driving range, and I think he pulled something, so he encouraged me to spend some of his balls. The only other time I ever even attempted to swing a golf club was when we were kids and our parents were away and my brother and I dragged my dad's clubs out of the garage. I went to take a practice swing, and hit my brother square in the face behind me. We put them away after that. It was not looking good. I probably hit about 10 balls, and most of them were pretty pathetic as expected. I managed to get 2 or 3 up in the air and probably made it about 100 or 120 yards. 150 yards if you were generous and looking sideways. I'm not entirely disappointed with that for my first time trying, but I definitely appreciated the difficulty of golf that much more after attempting it for myself.
After that bit of "athletic" activity I started sweating like crazy, despite my shorts and T-shirt and slip-on running shoes. Needless to say, I had to force myself to put my riding pants and jacket back on over top of my sweating body. Fortunately, we had crisscrossed town and had to do it again to get to the restaurant that was our next destination. The vents in my jacket work great, and this gave me just enough relief to get by without suffering really. Then I got about an hour in the A/C of the restaurant to cool off. We skipped the "tunnel of trees" on the way down because you have to go out of your way to get to it, and I was expecting being exhausted and didn't want to go through it like that. I figured doing the tunnel on the way home would be more pleasant, and I think I was right.
That said, there were two tight corners that were covered with gravel/sand. It was pretty worrying, but I got through them unscathed. The road back to civilization was rough as **** too. Full of potholes. I had trouble keeping up with the truck. The only safe ish part of the road seemed right in the middle. And even that wasn't a guarantee. By the time we got back to the interstate I was exhausted. And I was no longer brazen enough to keep up with the truck. I really, really didn't want to get a speeding ticket in another country (one that communicates them back to my government in particular). I was still speeding more than I should have, but still couldn't keep up. It's rather a piss off, but you can't talk sense into stupid people. At some point they pulled over to wait for me, which just makes you question why the **** they'd speed in the first place. Literally not getting there any faster, and risking expensive penalties from fines and insurance.
Anyway, it was only about 400 km (more like 377 km based on my Trip A after filling up before leaving). Nevertheless, I was exhausted by the time we got back to town. In fact, I stalled the bike while leaving the toll booth at the border, and once again while pulling out of the duty-free shop at the border. It wasn't until I got into the line at the border that I realized that my clutch hand was sore as ****. It was a struggle to just operate the bike to get home. I'm not even sure what caused it since I had been on the highway with the throttle lock for the past 45 minutes/100 km with very little clutch work. I guess it had just worn out over the day. I don't know how people manage 500 or 1000 kilometers in a day. I guess it might be feasible if you stuck to a highway with the throttle lock engaged..
Anyway, that was my best ride in quite a while so I figured it was worth documenting. I'm due for a valve clearance adjustment, and I hope that will improve the bike significantly. It vibrates pretty intensely now at 5000 RPM, and I have never gotten the fuel mileage that everybody else is claiming. Doing about 140 km/h on the highway I burned through approximately 2/3 of a tank in 150 kilometers revving around 7000. It's still negligible on this bike, but nevertheless it was a bit shocking since I had never seen fuel economy quite that poor before (also, never driven so fast for so long).