CustomTankBags by LindaT.

Adventures

IBA National Meet 2006, Denver Colorado

Preparation

As is usually the case before any event I need to ride to, I was madly sewing the day before I left. I had finished all my client work and was trying to sew up some samples and new ideas. I changed the rear drive and gear oil. After I was finished, I checked rear wheel play and got some movement. I understood that there should be no play, so I posted a question to the BMW list. The prognosis was not good, but I'm going anyway. Data (Brian Curry) called me and we discussed my options. He told me to keep in touch. I did laundry, printed a bunch of pictures, signs, forms and stuff for my vendor table. I went to charge up my phone and discovered the kittens had chewed my ac adapter. I tried to get another at the local Radio Shack to no avail. It was too late in the evening to go anywhere else. I did find my car charger, though, but I can't use it as I only have 2 cigar sockets right now and they're being used to produce my tunes. ACK!! I figured I would stop at a WalMart somewhere and get another charger (and hide it from the kittens). Eventually, I actually started to pack. I staggered off to bed at around 11:30 - not finished by a long shot. Original idea was to get up at 5am and finish, but I decided to sleep an extra hour and get up at 6.

Day 1

The dog woke me up at 3am and I really tried to go back to sleep, but there was nothing for it. I finally got up at 4:30 and remembered I hadn't uploaded my web page changes yet. That took much longer than it should have and I blame that on 3 hours of sleep.

Because I have no garage, I can't really setup the bike to leave until morning. As I was loading things up, I discovered that a cable was missing to connect my XM radio to my Mixit2. I looked all over for it, but it's lost in the black hole that is my workshop. My brother graciously offered to loan me one of his and I gladly accepted. It's way too long, of course, but beggars cannot be choosers and by golly, I'm gonna need my tunes to keep me awake.

After much clothing rending and agita, I FINALLY left at 8:45am. I was not in a good mood. So much for getting an early start. I rode over to the nearest entrance to the FL Turnpike and I was off! Except that I was so tired already, I was scaring myself. I then proceeded to ride from service plaza to service plaza getting breakfast, gas, lunch, gas, sodas. The service plazas are not conducive to IronButt moteling it and it was WAAAY too hot with no shade to try it outside.

I started out with a speed of a conservative 5-10 over and was getting run over. I wasn't comfortable going any faster in that condition, so I toughed it out. After Orlando, the temp dropped and it rained on me a few times. I welcomed every drop except where I had to cover the tuneage and V1. By the time I got to I75, I was feeling much better and started riding much faster with fewer stops. I-10 is a dream (at least the section I just rode). Little traffic, gently rolling hills and lots of green. I have, however, never seen so many state trooper cars in my life. And I was buzzing along, feeling pretty good. At one point, I looked in my rear view and saw two (count 'em, two) troopers coming up fast. OMG - I sure hoped it didn't take two of them to pull me over. I slowed down to mumble/mumble and they sailed right past me without a backward glance. Doing at least 95, I might add. DAMHIK.

I saw troopers eastbound, westbound, sitting in medians, sitting at rest stops, in unmarked cars, you name it I saw a classic example. There was one very odd feature, though. None (alright there was one, but he was county), was running radar. Just out for a Sunday drive, I guess. I only saw one stupid driver trick. A car east of Tallahassee with an FSU sticker with the Driver annotating something in a spiral bound notebook while driving. DOH!!!

At about 4:30, I started to crash again and I knew the end was near. I stopped in a rest stop, drank diet coke (with caffeine), took some advil and sat on a picnic table for a while. My knees were killing me and every time I went to put a leg on my hi-way pegs, I'd get a cramp in my thigh or hip or someplace that made me want to stop what I was doing. My IronButt was also hurting. The palms of my hands hurt as I don't have any calluses anymore, so I have to grow some new ones. I figure by the time I get back, my calluses should be just perfect. The only good thing is that the combo of heated grips and a ThrottleMeister means that I have a sticky throttle. Kinda like a cruise control, but with no settings. I like it, but I'd really have to warn anyone else who ever rode my bike. It gave me lots of opportunities to take my right hand off the throttle and massage some of the aches and pains. I am SO out of LD shape.

My plans of making 700 miles were totally trashed. I managed to hang on for a while, cross into Central time and find a hotel and a WalMart in Chipley Florida. The WalMart had a 'universal' ac adapter - that is they had an ac plug with a cigar socket built in. Life is good. My thermometer and volt meter both went TU today, so it's hot, but I don't know how hot it is. Maybe that's a good thing?

Stats for today

 
Trip Odometer 551 miles
Average speed 79.6mph
Timer 6:55:30
Max Speed 96.2mph (that simply must be an error)
Elapsed time around 11:30

So, ends Day 1.

Day2

I slept like crap as I was up 3 or 4 times with leg cramps. It's hell being old (and out of practice). I spoke (or wrote) too soon about the universal adapter for my phone. It quit working shortly after I plugged it in, so I'm still in the 'no charger for phone' boat. I retuned the non-functioning unit to WalMart, but kinda spaced on buying another accessory socket. I stopped at several truck stops and finally found a 3 socket adapter. The phone will charge sometimes. I knew I should have gotten a new phone before I left!

I was riding along on I-10 and making pretty good time, when I see a pickup truck up ahead that says 'Law Enforcement' on the tail gate. We are coming into the construction zone around the bridge that is under repair from hurricane damage. As I slowly pulled along side, I see a 'Fish and Game' on the door. I figure he's got no say in traffic enforcement, so I continue on, but not so fast. He flips on his lights for a bit and blips his siren to voice his displeasure. I ignore him and continue on. The next thing I know, I see this truck coming up on me fast, so I move to the right (the good citizen that I am). It's the Fish and Game guy and he's yelling at me over his PA, but I listening to tuneage and all I hear is BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH SLOW DOWN! I'm then boxed into behind some law abiding citizens in front and the F&G guy beside me. We puttered across the bridge. F&G pulled off at the next exit and I wicked it back up.

At Mobile, I was supposed to get off the interstate and light off cross country on 98. I somehow screwed up the directions, but I did get to see the Battleship Alabama at dock. Cool! I wandered off course for a while, until I realized that I was going the wrong way and backtracked until I found the correct route. A lot of stop'n'go in Mobile, then traffic lightened up, then the road went to 2 lanes. Just after the Mississippi border, the road went to 4 lanes and I started making time again. At Hattiesburg, I got on 49 to Jackson. There, I picked up I-20 to Shreveport. I kept praying for rain as it was stupid hot and I'd rather be wet than hot, but it stayed dry and HOT.

I checked my messages on one of my stops and Brian had left me messages with phone number for Howard Etkind who might be able to help and wasn't far off my proposed route in Dallas. I tried calling Howard a coupla times, but I-20 reststops must be in Cingular black holes as I couldn't make any calls.

At Shreveport, I was supposed to turn north towards Paris, TX, but I thought I would be better off staying on I-20 and getting hold of Howard. I stumbled into a crappy motel just east of the Texas border, got some food and called Howard. He offered to look at the bike to at least make sure I wasn't getting worked up over nothing, but I had to get there early as he had work to do. I promised to be there by 7:30. It's about 2 hours from where I was, so I had to leave at 5:30am. I am not a morning person, but I couldn't pass this up.

Stats for the day

 
Trip odo 583
Average speed ?
Timer 07:44:21
Max speed 95.5mph (another mistake)
Cumulative mileage 1134.9

Day 3

I set the alarm for 4:30 (ACK!!!). I only had to get up once with leg cramps. I loaded the bike up, but still ended up leaving 20 minutes late. It was really dark. Howard assured me that deer are not a problem in this area as the coyotes keep the populations down. After some thought, I realized I hadn't seen any road kill aside from one armadillo in Florida, so I felt better about riding at night. It was much cooler. In fact, my auto-cruise control was gone. I missed it.

It started to lighten up shortly and I made it to Howard and Jill's only 5 minutes late. Howard drained my rear drive fluid again and after some inspection, we saw some tiny metal flakes. DAMN. He called around to several shops in the DFW area and none of them had the bearing. We talked about how far I could get before I would have to replace more than just the bearing and the two seals. He decided that I could probably get to Denver without any additional damage. I called BMW of Denver and found out that they have the parts and make an appointment to have the bike fixed on Thursday.

I had a nice breakfast with Jill and Howard. Jill had to go off for work. Howard gave me directions to get back on course for Amarillo and we both left at the same time. I headed toward Dallas to get back on I-20. I was to get off onto 287N and travel through Ft. Worth. Howard assured me that at noontime, the traffic would be manageable. Of course, he was correct. It got really hot really fast.

When I was finally clear of Ft. Worth, 287 was an interesting road. It mostly went around towns on the southern section, but as I got closer and closer to Amarillo, we started going through towns. Some were so tiny, the speed limit didn't even go down. And the elevation kept going up. As soon as the temp got back up into the painful range, my cruise control was working again. It threatened to rain several times and finally did. Ah, wonderful. The temp didn't go all the way up after the rain quit, so it was reasonable.

It started raining again just outside Amarillo and the temp plummeted. I decided to find a hotel and bag it for the day. According to the weather channel, it's 65 degrees outside. Woohoo.

I picked the hotel from the marquee outside - cheap with free internet. So, the room I get costs more than advertised and I can't find their internet. So, nothing tonight. Even in the crappy hotel last night, I could find 4 unsecured networks to hook up to. Here, there are 10 or 12 networks, but none I can get on.

The only cool thing about this hotel was when I was opening my room door, I noticed a lot of spots on the ground outside my room air conditioner and thought it looked like bird shit. When I came out later (trying to find their #$%#@%$$# network), I looked up and had 10 little bird eyes looking at me. The babies are pretty big and the parents are working hard trying to feed all those mouths. The birds are some sort of swallows and are very cute. I took some pics

 

Props to the management for leaving the bird nests (yes, there are several nests visible). It's the only thing they did right. Harrumph!

 

Grrrr.

Stats for the day

 
Trip odo 543
Average speed ?
Timer 7:30:28
Max speed 97.9mph (I see a trend)
Cumulative mileage 1677.4

Day 4

I went outside this morning and discovered the nest empty. MY BABIES HAVE LEFT THE NEST!!! The other nest still had some birds in it, but my nest was empty. I feel privileged to have seen the babies before they took their first flight. It was awesome.

The temp stayed low and the weather looked overcast. I thought 'that's great, now it'll rain and I'll end up cold', but it didn't. I left Amarillo and tried to follow my Street Atlas instructions to no avail. I ended up about 15 miles out of my way before I turned back and tried to find the right turnoff. Got it, with no help from SA.

I also neglected to gas up, so about 20 miles outside Amarillo, I realized that there were no little towns out there and I might be in big trouble. The signs for the next town said it was 50 miles away and it wasn't even on my map. I decided to slow down and try to conserve some gas. The RID kept showing less and less gas, but the town wasn't getting closer fast enough. I slowed down some more. I ended up getting more than 250 miles to that tank - mostly because I slowed down and made it to the next town with about .3 gallons to spare. Woohoo. Texas, north and west of Amarillo, is pretty desolate.

The roads were pretty good - some 2 lane, some 4 lane divided. Texas is trying to make the entire route 4 lane, but has a lot to do first. I just wish they wouldn't declare an area a construction zone (and lower the speed limit) when all they've done is put some stakes in the prairie. I was bad.

New Mexico is just as bad. Worse even as I went through several construction zones, one even had a pilot vehicle. They also had something they called a 'Safety Zone' where they lowered the speed limit and raised the fines for speeding. Nice. The scenery was spectacular, though and that made up for a lot of bureaucratic bullshit. Wow.

I pulled in for gas just before I reached I-25. There were several trucks pulling trailers full of bikes and lots of people standing around. When I came back out, there were several folks standing around my bike. They had all sorts of questions and were suitably impressed with my bike.

Colorado Springs turned out to be farther away than I had thought. I caught up to another rider who looked like he was going to Colorado Springs, but he wanted to follow me, even though I tried to get him to go in front. My instructions had me getting off at exit xx. I realized that my follower got off on the exit before. I trundled on and realized I was lost at my first turn which did not correspond to my instructions. I figured I would pull over somewhere and try to figure out where I was going. My instructions didn't have the name or address of my destination and I didn't know the name of the hotel, so I would have to fire up my laptop to get the name. I pulled into a left turn lane as I noticed a funeral home on the corner that looked pretty empty (I could've said dead, but that would be crass). While I was waiting for the light to change, I noticed a pickup truck next to me. I thought about asking for assistance, but didn't as I didn't as of yet know where I was going. I pulled into the parking lot and started to fire up the laptop, when I noticed a pickup coming toward me from the other side of the lot. It was the guy who was next to me. He rides and RT as well and thought I looked lost. It started to rain while I was waiting for the laptop to boot and my new friend offered his truck as a refuge. The machine finally came up with the info and my friend gave me better directions to the hotel. I had made a totally unnecessary loop as the hotel was right off the hiway at the exit before I got off. DOH!!!

Got checked in and saw a lot of riders just coming in. I thought the riders would have come in during the morning, but I was wrong. They looked very tired. The banquet was good. The real downer was the death of Uncle Bud during the rally. Because I hadn't been on mail, I hadn't heard about the tragedy.

Day 5

The next morning, I wandered down to see the riders who were going off on the Pike's Peak ride, then I left for Denver. First, I thought I'd go to the hotel first and try to drop off all my stuff, but I figured that they probably wouldn't have my room ready then, so I decided to go directly to BMW of Denver. Bob Higdon gave me his cell phone number if I needed a ride to the hotel.

Street Atlas had the hotel and the dealership only 3 miles apart, so I wasn't terribly concerned. I found the dealership without any trouble. I hadn't been there five minutes when they told me I had a phone call. Huh?? Frank Cooper was looking for me as we were going to share a room and he had heard from someone that I was going to the dealership. He very kindly offered to pick me up, so all I had to do was wait. I told Clem at the dealership that I would take all my stuff off the bike, so they wouldn't have to deal with all of it. They assured me that my bike would be ready in three hours.

While I was removing stuff from the bike, I started talking to a guy who was wandering around the dealership. He was also from Florida and is here to take care of his kid's animals. He also had a bike that the dealership was going to work on next week. I encouraged him to come over to the hotel if he wanted to see some amazing bikes. He followed us over to the hotel.

If we had followed the Street Atlas instructions, we never would have gotten to the hotel. It had me getting off I-25 two exits too late and wandering even farther north. I think maybe that I'll never believe SA again. We got checked in and set up our vendor areas. The dealership called me to say that the swingarm pivot bearings needed to be replaced as well. ACK!!

Stats for the day(s)

 
Trip odo 453
Average Speed 68.6
Timer 6:35:44
Max speed 97.6
Cumulative mileage 2130.1

Days 6 and 7.

Lots of talking to prospective and current customers. My 'Rally Book' piqued a lot of interest. The dealership called to say the pinion seal needed to be replaced. I declined as I just can't afford it. Sometime later.

It was a great conference, I just wish I could have attended some of the seminars instead of working. The bike was finally ready, but I couldn't go get it until Saturday morning. While we were there, they told me I was a little low on oil and should top it off before I continued my journey.

Day 8

Frank helped me move all my stuff out to the bike and he loaded up his trailer and took off for Duluth. Just before I was about to leave, I remembered that I had to add some oil. I have an aftermarket oil filler cap on my bike that requires a 6mm allen wrench to open. I have one on my keychain. It's awkward to get off, but not impossible. It would not come off this time, though. A nice fellow came over to help and we finally got the cap off. I put in some oil and tried to get the cap back on. I just wouldn't go on. You have to push down while turning and it was just not working. Finally, I thought it was in, so I took off.

Denver has really crappy signage on the I-25 - I-70 junction. I missed the exit, so had to circle around. The weather was sunny in Denver, but got cloudy traveling east and it appeared that rain was imminent. I took an exit and wrapped all my electronics in plastic. I put on the liner that Frank had loaned me as I left mine at home. As I was getting back on I-70, I noticed an Aprillia go whizzing by. I recognized it from the Convention. As I'm accelerating, I see that something has flown off the Aprillia. Then I see other stuff flying off. I try to catch up to the rider, but he's really moving and I have to pin the RT in order to catch up. When I pull along side, I motion backwards. The rider gives me the thumbs up, so I just motor on.

Two hundred miles later, I stopped at a rest stop and noticed oil all over the valve cover, my boot and the left saddlebag. Oil was blowing out the filler cap. I was working on the bike trying to get the filler cap seated properly. I hadn't lost much oil, so the engine was still safe. Several nice people stopped and tried to help, but after awhile, I could see that it just wasn't going to get any better. I decided to keep a close eye on it.

After about 40 miles, I could see more oil on the valve cover, so I took a meal break in WiKaney, Kansas. I put the bike up on the centerstand and left it alone for a half hour so I could get a good reading on the oil level. I also thought I would call Brian Curry and get a bead on the nearest BMW dealer to get a new cap. Oh and one more complicating factor - the dealership has to be open on Monday (tomorrow). Brian gave me phone numbers for a dealership in Wichita and another in Oklahoma City. They are both open on Monday. I went back out to check the oil and discovered it was a bit down, so I decided to top it off with the oil I have left and get another quart while I was stopped. When I got the cap off, it came off with the inner sleeve that the cap is supposed to seat in to. I tried pressing it back into place, but I didn't really think it was fixed. I did see that the cap was seated properly in the sleeve, so I think that the whole problem was caused by the sleeve rotating inside the opening and not allowing the cap to seat.

Did I mention that I think my bike is cursed. I had already noted that my bike has already demonstrated every major problem that BMWs are prone to - save surging. Now, I'm getting the weird stuff.

I took I-135 south toward Wichita and started looking for a hotel for the night. I finally saw a sign for the Viking motel in Lindsborg, Kansas. It's 4 miles from I-135 and is owned and operated by an IronButt Association member named Richard Kurtz. He welcomed me to his hotel and we talked bikes for a while. I called Brian to give him the latest bit of news. He sent a diagram of my problem to Richard's email address.

Stats for the last coupla days

 
Trip odo 548
Average Speed 73.1
Timer ?
Max speed 106 (!)
Cumulative mileage 2678.5

Day 9

The day dawned very dismally with rain and darkness. I loaded up the bike and met Richard's son. I asked him to thank his father for his assistance. I called Mid-America Powersports to find out if they had the part. Success! They have the parts and they're cheap. It's a miracle. I told them I'd be there in an hour or so. I decided to put off a stop for breakfast until later and took off.

Traffic on I-135 was light while the rain was heavy. After about 20 miles, the bike just died. Mystified, I pulled to the shoulder and coasted as far as I could go. I tried to restart the bike a few times, but when the battery started running down, I gave up. Fortunately, I had joined KOA Road assistance the night before I left, so I had someone to call. KOA contracts with Allstate, so there was a little confusion when I asked for a flatbed tow truck. I had to explain a few times that MY BMW was a motorcycle, but we finally got it worked out. The guy had a hard time figuring out where I was. Ah, I-135 south of Salina, south bound at about mile marker 54. How hard is that? Oh, yes, that's in Kansas. Anyway, they told me 45 minutes or less and gave me the name and number of the towing company. So I wait. In the rain. I had to take my helmet off the make the phone calls, so I put my helmet back on and stood next to the bike.

When a tractor trailer went by in the near lane, the bike shook so badly, I thought the it would fall over. Most trucks moved to the left lane, but the few that couldn't really made me nervous. I was still having trouble with my phone and I was afraid it was going to go dead, so I put it in my glove box to charge up a bit. After 45 minutes, I checked the phone and I had missed a call. The towing company had called and wanted to know where I wanted to go. I called them back with the directions to the shop and they told me they were still 15 minutes out. It continued to rain while I was waiting.

At then 1 hour mark, a fellow stopped to find out if I needed any help. I thanked him for his concern and assured him that the tow truck was due momentarily. He left. Five minutes later, a Kansas State Trooper stopped and asked me if I needed help. I told him I was just waiting and he said he had gotten a report and I was trying to stop traffic and there was some sort of fight going on. WTF!! He said they usually don't believe those sorts of calls, but have to check them out anyway. He called the tow truck company and they said they were just 2 miles away. The trooper kindly stayed until the tow truck arrived. Actually, two trucks arrived - one tow truck and one pickup truck. It turns out that the tow truck driver didn't really know how to deal with a motorcycle, so the other guy was there to help get the bike on the truck. They had a little dolly gizmo that they rolled the bike front tire onto, then they winched it onto the truck. They had at least 8 different tiedowns on the bike, so it seemed pretty secure. We started south.

The tow truck driver was pretty talkative, so there wasn't much silence on the way. He was also coughing and sneezing non-stop. More on that later. I called the dealership to inform them that we were on the way and got a different set of directions. It really didn't matter what the directions were, the truck driver went the way he wanted to go, so we had a false start finding the place, but we did eventually get there. The other guy from the towing company had told the driver to get help unloading the bike. I went in to find out where they wanted the bike unloaded. The driver moved to the suggested spot and started untieing the tiedowns. I asked the service writer if he could help the driver get the bike down and he readily agreed. The driver got the bike on the dolly down with help, but getting the bike off the dolly almost looked insurmountable. The driver tried to lift the front end out of the dolly, but it was too heavy. They tried to pull the bike out, but the dolly just rolled in whatever direction the pulled. I wondered out loud if perhaps the dolly should still be connected by the winch, but I was ignored. Finally, the bike was free and the driver left.

Mid-America Powersports is a multi-line dealership that carries all the big Japanese lines as well as KTM and BMW. They just stopped carrying Ducati. I needed to get some food as it was after lunch time. I was talking to another waiting customer (a woman) and she took it upon herself to get as much info as possible for me on readily available restaurants in the area. A very nice gesture. Armed with that info, I took off to get some food. Ummmm, tacos.

While eating, I called Brian and told him the next chapter of my sorry story. I asked him if this could be the Hall Effect Sensor and agreed that it could be. If it was, I was to call him immediately as Mick could overnight me a rebuilt unit. I wandered back to the dealership as looked at all their bikes. They're really big and even have a separate building for their used bikes and lawnmowers and snow blowers and generators and… They're big. Did I say that already?

After a while, the mechanic, Clarence, came out to tell me that the Hall Effect Sensor was bad. I got on the phone with Brian and the ball started rolling. The dealership didn't have a replacement anyway, so they didn't care if I supplied my own. Mick called me back and promised to over-night a unit to me. The service writer guys helped me find hotels. I called a few trying to get a cheap rate AND internet access and was finally successful. Josh drove me over to the motel and told me I could get a ride back tomorrow with just a phone call. Mick called with the tracking number and said USPS promises to deliver before noon tomorrow. I sure hope so.

The sucker question is 'What else can go wrong?' I won't ask that as I think it's tempting the gods just a bit.

Mileage today 20 (dismal)

Day 10

I stayed up late watching TV and writing, so I slept in. The part wasn't due until NLT noon, free breakfast was 7a to 9a and checkout was at noon, so I wasn't in any real hurry. I called the dealership at 11:15a to find out if the part was in and it was. I requested a ride in, checked out and went outside to wait. Josh was there in 5 minutes, so he must have left as soon as I called. That's service.

Clarence worked on the bike, I read stuff on my PDA. A few years ago, I discovered ebooks and usually download something to my PDA before any long trip. I had a few essays to read, so I was entertained. At about 2:30p, Clarence came out and took the bike for a test ride. About a half hour later, I paid my bill and started loading up my bike. I left sometime after 3pm and headed south.

My plan was to get to I-40 by going through Tulsa, which I hit at 6pm. Luckily for me, rush hour in Tulsa is nearly indiscernible. I missed a turn and had to get off the hiway to get back on track. I usually hate tollroads, but decided they were the easiest way to get through Tulsa from the northwest to the southeast. The weather was fine if a bit hot.

I got as far as Sallisaw, OK, which is just west of Ft Smith, Arkansas. I'm going to leave early tomorrow and head toward Little Rock. I realized that today was the first day I've ridden that my hands didn't hurt so much. Hooray.

Stats for the day

 
Trip odo 279
Average Speed 75.8
Timer 3:40:22
Max speed 94.2
Cumulative mileage 2957.0

Day 11

I got up early so as to make an early start. Except that it was raining and I really didn't want to start in the rain. By 7am, it had stopped raining, so I started getting ready in earnest. I left before 8am and decided to get in a few miles before I stopped for breakfast. At about 50 miles, I pulled into a fast food place and it started raining again. I was already wet, so I decided to put in the liner to my jacket as the temp was a little low for staying wet. It rained all day and it sucked.

There were a few high points. I saw a sign for Toad Suck Park near Little Rock. I rode through Transylvania, LA. They have a bat on their watertower. I rode along the Mississippi River for a while and it was interesting. I stopped at a rest stop somewhere and was planning on figuring out my next direction change. It started raining (again), just as I parked. By the time I got out of the ladies, it was pouring. I geared up to leave and actually started out of the rest stop, when I realized that it was a bad idea and rode around the back of the reststop and parked at a covered picnic table. I had one dry, clean shirt left and I decided that I needed to put it on and try to be normal.

I made it to Florida. Barely. I stopped in Pensacola in a hotel that advertised free internet, but as this trip has shown, connecting was a whole different ballgame. I never did get on.

Stats for the day

 
Trip odo 684
Average Speed ?
Timer ?
Max speed ?
Cumulative mileage 3641.7

Day 12

I got up fairly early and got a good start. Rush hour in Pensacola is definitely discernible, but not bad. Quick estimates in my head got me home around 8pm. I kept looking for Chipley as I knew it was 550 miles from home. It was much farther away then I had thought. I re-estimated my arrival time to 9pm.

The weather was hot on I-10. The V1 was not working, but I figured it had just gotten a little wet yesterday and would be alright after it dried. I started feeling a little funky during the day and was sneezing a lot into my helmet. Ugh. Turns out the towtruck driver had given me his cold. I was just lucky this was on my last day of riding. If this had struck earlier, I would have had to hole up somewhere.

As soon as I got to I-75 and turned south, I could see bad weather was in my future. I went by some wide load trucks going south. These were the widest wide load I have ever seen. They stayed in the right lane and had to move to the left some whenever there was something in the shoulder lane. There were 2 or three doublewides being towed with the requisite support vehicles.

I figured I would get off before the storm hit and get some lunch, but the exit I chose had too much construction and really no place to stop that I could get into easily. After putting the V1 away, I decided to push on. Back on the highway, the sky opened up - some would call it a frog strangler. Cars were pulling over. I knew that was not a viable option for me as I would most likely get run over, so I pushed on albeit a bit slower. I had to pass the wide loads again and that was really exciting (not in a good way). I was soaked again. It sprinkled the whole way down to the West Palm service plaza when it finally stopped. My boots had filled up with water during the frog strangler and water was oozing out of the toe patch of my left boot. What a delight!! I made it home at 8:45pm.

Stats for the day

 
Trip odo 662
Average Speed 72.1
Timer 9:10:56
Max speed 89.6
Cumulative mileage 4303.7

Epilogue

I was miserable sick for three days. I can understand the tow truck driver having problems if he felt even half as bad as I felt. Ugh.

This trip could have been a real disaster if not for the help and support of Brian Curry, Howard Etkind and Jill, and Mick of Tucson. It's amazing what the internet can do for you (even when you can't get on very often).