Last Sunday we came back from a trip around Lake Michigan, and I thought Iíll share some of my experiences and observations with this wise crowd.
1100 miles, four days, not a lot but when you ride 919 it seems more like a trip around the planet.
My ass hates me.
Despite cushioning it with sheepskin covered gel pad 3 days later it still has sore spots. I do have an aftermarket Sargent seat, but I think it was made for someone half my modest 260 poundage I also have an Ohlinís in the back and Race Tech springs in front mounted in the F4i swap. Didnít help.
Day one it rained all the way from Milwaukee to Sister Bay, roughly 260 miles. Pure determination pushed us to go on, it wonít rain forever right?
My helmet is a HJC i70, bought on a budget partially driven by my better halfís comment: cheap helmet=less of a chance of survival in a crash, would make her pulling the plug much less stressful and the life insurance a welcome gift.
Helmet is mediocre at best, its loud, fogs up like a rear window on a date in high school. Just takes less time to do it. Tried cracking the windshield open just a little but anything over 40 mph would shut it right back down. Me being a glasses wearer my whole life (eyes wonít tolerate contacts) was dealing with 3 layers of wet; outside the shield, inside fogging up crap, and whatever sneaked past the crack onto my glasses. Thought about crying but that would just blur my vision, so decided not to. But hey there was one positive in this; every hour or so I would scream into my newly gifted Sena to pull over! I need to clean my glasses, and that gave my backside really welcomed respite from this Marquis de Sade seat of mine.
The breath guard is a joke, short of crazy gluing it in place there is nothing that will keep it in its designed locating slits. Every single time I tried to scratch my snifter it would dislocate at an awkward angle and slip under my glasses, messing them up even further. The chin guard/shield I bought with the helmet does not fit, once again short of riveting in place it wonít stay where itís supposed to.
If anybodyís interested I will give you a great deal on a barely used HJC i70 helmet
The boots: literally 2 days before the trip I bought a pair of Tourmaster Solution 3.0 WP Boots. A little hard to get on if you have a taller foot arch but once on theyíre pretty comfy. However the most important part is that they kept my feet warm and dry for the whole trip. Temps varied from lower 40ís to upper 60ís, and I only wore thin cotton socks. They worked really well and I recommend them highly.
When we got to the hotel I expected at least some of the stuff I carried to be wet, not so. I packed almost everything into a Kriega 30 bag. I am really impressed with the quality of this product. It has enough volume to pack everything for a trip like this. It really takes seconds to strap down and even quicker to take it off. Expensive like hell but well worth it. Itís a keeper.
One more piece of gear that SUCKED were the gloves, Alpinestars Drystar something or other. One thing they are not is waterproof. The whole water proofness lasted whole of half hour. While dry they are pretty warm and comfy, when wet they are neither. It was a pure joy trying to shove my polish sausage fingers into the wet confines of finger pockets. To realize 2 minutes later that I forgot to put my earplugs in and have to take them off again. Insert crying in frustration emoji.
This brings me to a question; why the long cuff gloves donít fit OVER the sleeves of a jacket. Isnít the purpose of a cuff to deflect air over the sleeve not under it? Are there any really waterproof gloves out there with cuffs big enough to fit over a jacket sleeve? Please let me know.
On a subject of fit; I have a Nelson Rigg 2pc rain suit. I bought a size 3XL which fit my slender figure perfectly. I wore a Tourmaster Transition 5 Jacket with conspicuous lime green pattern in size 2XL and the rain suit fit well over the whole ensemble. Only gripe with the rain suit is the collar Velcro tab. It will not close if you have anything underneath, especially another jacket collar. It leaves a little exposed area which will allow rain to get in. A little sewing exercise is in my future. I have sewn sailboat sails before so this should not be that hard. Unless you guys have some suggestions?
Only drawback to wearing all this protective gear is the way I had to straddle to scoot. I was afraid to step on the peg and swing my stiff right leg over the bike and luggage. I thought of a running start, alas cowboys and Indians in the old movies, however 260 pounds does not run very well. I ended up Can Caning my right leg over the seat aiming between the tank and luggage. It worked, most of the time.
Got to the hotel after dark, a little sketchy ride if you donít know where youíre going and canít see squat, but we made it. I have to give a shout out to the place: Open Hearth Lodge in Sister Bay WI.
They provided us with 3 different types of fans, including industrial carpet drying one, to dry out our clothes, opened the lodge laundry to use driers if we chose to, and generally were extremely hospitable.
The next morning was almost dry, a welcome sight after last day. We rode to the end of the Highway 42.
This is the piece of the road thatís featured most often when googling Highway 42. Also this was my inspiration for this whole trip. When I saw it for the first time, I told myself that one day I will ride this road. And I did. 4 times
I wonít bore you with the following 2 days of spectacular views of Lake Michigan poking thru the trees lining the sides of the road. The little towns we rode thru reminded me some of the small villages on the coast of Maine. Just more crowded with end of the season tourists.
Occasionally I would break the monotony with my freshly installed Stebiel Nautilius. Only when the fair sex was jogging by or hard at work weeding front gardens facing the house. Responses varied from WTF!!! thru smiles, to indistinguishable hand gestures. Something for everybody. Horn works like magic
Of course me being deathly afraid of heights the morning before crossing Mackinac Bridge I got the shit s. Like major ones. I used to climb mountains in my youth, yup the real ones. For some inexplicable reason now in my 50ís as I step on a 2 step ladder I get knee shakes and my head spins, and thatís on the first step! After losing 10 pounds in sweat and other fluids we packed up and got to the bridge. As expected, with my luck, the right lane, yup you guessed right, the one with blacktop was under construction. We were forced to use the expended sheet metal/ grate one. Once we got to the other side I told myself, that this is not going to happen again any time soon.
Last night was spent in some swanky hotel in a Muskegon marina were a hamburger costs more than half the gas money I spent on this trip. It was not my turn to pay so it worked
Next morning more rain, all the way home. Stopped at Sophieís Pancakes somewhere along the way. Turned out to be another biker friendly place. Got fed really well and left for home.
Last piece of memorable experience was a gas station in Calumet City. Think apocalypse in the suburbs, with burned out homes, drug dealers and cars running red lights for safety, and youíll get the idea. Always make sure you have enough gas to get to the next stop. However 3 guys on motorcycles in a pouring rain, dressed in lime green and bright orange, must be friggin nuts and nobody even noticed us.
Got home, hugged my kids, shared a beer with my better half in the garage while telling her about the trip. Took a hot bath with 5 lbs of Epsom salts and went to bed.
Lake Superior next spring.
My ass still hates me.