One of those days. Fighting the crosswinds and a hangover, trying to outrun the storms. I made it out of Michigan alive, but by Indiana, the skies had turned eerily dark. Stoplights in small towns swinging in the threatening wind – I don’t remember the names. Holed up now in a city named after the way this ride began. The mountains are closer now, I can almost hear them.
June 2, 2014 : Defiance, Ohio : [ Day six ]
Not quite yet a week on the road, and I’m finally starting to settle in to this ride. The first two days were pure fun, the next three were up and down. The reality of the decision to leave everything behind was creeping into my thoughts. There was a bit of second-guessing; and stressing out about what the hell it is I’m doing, where I’m going to sleep tonight, how much I’ve spent already. I was sleeping poorly, getting angry at things I had no business getting worked up about, and riding distracted – there were a couple of moments where that little inner voice just took over, saying, “Pull over, you dipshit. You’re going to get us killed. Good. Now breathe.”
The mornings are the worst times, but it’s getting better. Once I feel the sun and hit third gear, it all goes away. A guy calling himself John Downs over on the ADV boards offered this advice: “The thoughts and stresses of life float through your mind as you ride down the roads less traveled and eventually diminish. You’re just getting started. Pretty soon you won’t know what day of the week it is. A few thousand miles later you won’t care.”
I hope he’s right. He’s ridden to South America and back on a 250, so I’m guessing he’s got it mostly figured it out.
But really, all things considered it’s been a good ride so far. The upper peninsula was a blast, particularly the Keeweenaw, maybe because it felt so similar to the good parts of Minnesota. Crossing the Mackinac Bridge was pretty cool, except the right lane was closed for part of the way, and the left lane is that steel grate stuff that kicks your tires around. The “Tunnel of Trees” road between Mackinaw City and Traverse City is a pretty cool run, and H58 through Pictured Rocks was the most fun I’ve had on a motorcycle since I left Montana – I lived in Red Lodge for a bit and got spoiled absolutely rotten by having Beartooth Pass right out my front door.
Last night, I unexpectedly met a high school classmate in Traverse City, Michigan, and had a blast drinking beer with one of his new coworkers – an air traffic controller who rides a 1200 Sportster. Great dude. This morning, maybe a little too early, I fled Traverse City to try and get ahead of some approaching weather, breaking my own rule and hitting some super-slab (interstate) in the interest of making time. From Kalamazoo to Indiana, I followed I-94 and I-69, then broke off on US Highway 6, eventually taking Ohio state highway 15 into Defiance. As soon as I checked into a motel, it started raining buckets, and one of the storms I barely outran became “Severe.”
I stopped in Defiance because I saw it on the map, and liked the name. It just seemed fitting somehow. But wouldn’t you know it, it’s actually a really cool town. Here are some photos from Michigan, in more or less chronological order.