Nick dropped me a note to update us on his first day headed to NAHBS. It was brutally cold, and he’s already behind schedule after the repeated stops, but he’s having a great time and we’re all a bit jealous.
At 5:00am when my alarm went off, I picked up my phone and double checked that was in fact Thursday and I did actually have to get up. A snooze or two later I was up.
It was pitch black and 11 degrees in Chicago – and after I had suited up in nearly everything warm I own, and secured it with my armored Gore Tex riding suit from Klim on top. I strapped down my duffle onto my bike’s rack, and pushed the bike out of my building’s parking area and started it with full choke in the street and let it warm up. Just like any cycling ride, my Garmin came with me, and once I located my satellites I was puttering off through the city to the highway… without my camera bag. So back I hurriedly went to get my camera bag which was still sitting on my driveway. I don’t do well in the morning.
11 degrees is pushing it, it’s pretty cold, especially at 70mph. My hands and feet were numb within 30 minutes of leaving my house. The real kick to the groin hit me after crossing into Indiana when the temperature dropped to 3 degrees. Today was supposed to be my high mileage day. My goal was to do nearly 600 miles; get through the corn fields and monotony of the Midwest so I could enjoy the twisting and rolling Southern highways like the Blue Ridge Parkway I had heard so much about on Friday. That was not going to happen, I would ride for 30 minutes until the cold was no longer numbing but searing pain. Then I would find a McDonald’s get a warm brown cup of something, and thaw for the following 30 minutes.
Eventually my riding intervals increased, and my thawing sessions shortened. I probably had no less than 12 cups of coffee throughout the day to fight the cold. I eventually made it down through Cincinnati and to the Ohio River Valley, where I started to rise and fall and ribbon along the river. It was beginning to become fun. My hands were only limited by the massive mountaineering gloves I had on, and my feet were a part of my body again.
This was short lived. Because it taken me so long to get through Indiana, I was now a little over 3 hours behind schedule. That meant that the mountains/hills (or whatever you want to call them) behind me were now starting to block out the sun. I was dressed to climb Everest, so 36 degrees in the sun at speed had felt fine. But now that the sun was casting shadows down onto my ribbon of road, the cold came knocking again.
My goal of Roanoke was set to put me at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I could have a leisurely ride into Charlotte, and NAHBS, by noon on Friday. From my hotel I am 243 miles from Roanoke, and 314 miles from Charlotte if I were to go their directly. That’s 5 hours and 6:30 respectively in motorcycle travel times for me. If I were to travel to Roanoke and then ride the Blue Ridge route to Charlotte, my guess is that would be 8+ hours of motorcycling all together.
I think I may have to forgo the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it makes me want to cry.