This was a day of major ups and downs all the way through the end.
The day started with visiting the Notre Dame campus and snapping some pictures of the gates, the Lou Holtz statue and Touch Down Jesus (sorry for the slight blasphemy but everybody calls it that). I even approached a groundskeeper to try and take a snapshot from inside the gates – i was quickly denied due to construction in the stadium. Normaly i would’ve left and started the ride to Milwaukee but today i felt that i had another shot, so I rode to the gate by the fieldhouse and waited for somebody(anybody) to enter. A plumber approached the gate so I made my move.
“Excuse me sir, I just rode my Harley from Boston – by the way, I hate Boston College (not untrue, I did go to BU) and would really love to get a picture of the field.
He paused and eventually said he’d introduce me to the secretary (secretary of what, I didn’t know, but it was a lead and I was all over it). I was let through the gate and started becoming filled with nervous excitement for whatever was next. The maintenance worker walked me through the tunnels – through bowels of the stadium where I met the secretary to Facilities Manager. She eventually agreed to take me to the field and took a few snapshots of me in front of the unlined turf. This was a big win and made the stop in South Bend completely worthwhile!
Onto the bike to Milwaukee via Chicago.
Traffic in Chicago sucked and to make matters worse, it was almost 90 degrees and I still had my oversized helmet and leather jacket on from the cooler Indiana morning. Traffic was further impacted due to a road closure 50 miles out of Milwaukee. When got to the front of the line for the traffic jam I saw a dozen police cruisers with a few cops spray painting lines on the ground. Then I saw the last thing I wanted to see – a red Harley Road King being pulled to the top of a flatbed. I had to think positive thoughts – “maybe he overheated”. “Maybe it was stolen and they needed backup”. Well, in any case, I’ll just take off the leather and leave the helmet on – it’s not that hot here anyway I told myself.
On to Milwaukee.
I stopped at a HD store 30 miles out of Milwaukee to grab some pins for souvenirs and saw a despicable site – they were selling canams. That is a travesty!
In Milwaukee I went straight to the HD Museum. The entire town looked as though it hadn’t been updated since the opening to Laverne and Shirley was filmed. With that said, the bridge to the HD museum brought me into a brand new world, one that is clean and beautiful – the bridge truly made this feel like an island set apart from everything else.
I arrived and immediately saw “no cages allowed” signs indicating the motorcycle only parking. When I found my shaded spot a guy named Ted who was traveling with his wife came over to say hello. We smoked cigars and shared road stories before he continued his journey and I went to the “motor” bar and grabbed lunch.
After lunch and a browse around the museum (by the way, this was incredible!) I prepared to leave. On the way out I met three guys from Springfield MA who asked me to ride a few miles with them as they were headed to Sturgis as well. It seemed like a good idea to ride with some people so I happily obliged.
15 miles out of Milwaukee, one of my new friends needed to pull off the highway for a pack of smokes. As we neared the off ramp we saw a biker on the shoulder talking on his phone. He waived us on indicating he isn’t in distress. A few minutes later that same biker pulled into the BP where my friend was enjoying the first drags of a cigarette from a fresh pack.
The biker from the side of the road we would learn was named Jean. Earlier in the day Jean had spilled and had a little road rash to prove it. Fortunately Jean was wearing a helmet and as a result he was alright but his friend wasn’t. Jean’s friend was the person on the Red Roadking from hours earlier and he is now in Intensive Care at a local hospital. We bikers always feel from the friends and family of anybody who goes down – I can’t even imagine what his family is going through tonight.
A somber end to that rest stop but now we had some ground to make up, or at least I did if I had any hopes of making Sturgis by Wednesday morning. I had 850 miles to go and no matter how much i tried to make up for it, Tuesday will have to be a big mile day.
85 miles later we had a rest stop and talked shop about bikes and after riding for 150 miles, my new friends from MA turned off in search of a hotel.
I continued onward and put another 150 miles on the bike ending in Rochester MN staying in a hotel across from the Mayo Clinic.
My meal was mild but the people at the bar were entertaining. Kyle (the 24 year old to my left) was very interested in everything i was typing. At first I was annoyed but soon learned that he was in town with his Fiance (engaged last month) who has been undergoing “procedures” for some time. I didn’t want to get into their details but Kyle turned out to be a really nice kid. Most interestingly is that his span of travel goes from here, Rochester MN to Kalispell Montana and nothing further East or West. He has never flown but doesn’t seem like he has time for world travel as he works 15 hour days as a pipefitter and farmer in North Dakota. Great work ethic and ultimately seemed like a good person. I hope everything works out for him and his Fiance.
Like I said earlier – ups and downs all day.
Tomorrow I have to ride 600 miles to Sturgis. Let’s just hope the weather holds out.
Originally published 8/7/2012