I woke up early, anxious to get on the road once more. This would be another 500+ mile day, and the long day had the potential to be even worse if I got stuck in the Chicago traffic. After saying my farewell to Joe, I set off, my departure timed to hopefully get me into the city by 10.
Time seemed to move slowly as I made my way south along Wisconsin’s eastern edge. Sometime in the morning, as I passed yet another farm, I realized that I hadn’t setup the tripod for any off-bike shots since I was on Route 50 in Nevada. But the closer home got, the more ready to be there I became.
Eventually the Chicago skyline appeared in the distance, and the traffic began to thicken as the city grew nearer. Somehow I managed to keep moving through the city, only stopping once for the briefest of seconds, and soon the skyline was lost somewhere behind me.
A benefit to staying off the main roads, as I had while traveling west, was the lack of toll roads. A minor inconvenience when in a vehicle, but a major hassle on a bike. At one of the booths, unable to get my wallet back into my back pocket, I chose to simply sit on it until I could get out of the way of the vehicles behind me. But as I set off, I realized it wasn’t as under me as I thought it was, instead falling between the high-mounted side pipe and the engine casing. I pulled to the side of the road and squeezed my gloved hand through the superheated space. Gripping the leather billfold with just two fingers, I managed to lift it through the narrow space, and return it to my back pocket where it belonged.
Sometime after crossing into Indiana, I caught sight of a series of windmills spinning on the horizon. I had seen the power generating devices previously on the trip, but never so many as I had now. There were hundreds, but a part of me thought even that number was too low. I’ve never been a believer of using headphones while riding, preferring to keep myself focused on the road and not getting lost in music, but on these long stretches of interstate, my will was tested. Instead, I chose to occupy myself by trying to figure speed of the windmills tips.
I didn’t know how long each blade was, but I had seen some carried by trucks and knew they were well over the standard 53’ trailer length. So I guessed. If they were 75’ long, a length that still seemed short, the tip of each blade traveled a little over 450 feet each rotation and took roughly 3 seconds per turn. In one minute, the tip of a single blade would travel over 9000 feet. From feet per minute, it would be a simple conversion into miles per hour, and basic math gave an answer of more than 100 miles per hour. It seemed like such an astounding number.
Heading east from Indianapolis, I caught sight of another storm. I had been lucky with weather throughout the trip, but I wouldn’t escape this one. The sky grew darker, my tinted visor making it seem even more so, and soon the first drops began to fall. Occasionally, I’d pass a motorcyclist that had stopped underneath an overpass to either wait out the rain, or to don their rain gear. One advantage of the “all the gear, all the time” philosophy is that your rain gear is always on, which let me and my simple Triumph ride on while the Harley riders on their two-wheeled boats hid from the rain.
I checked into the hotel, and much like on the very first night of the trip, kept my bike parked under the front overhang. I looked at the weather radar on my phone, and saw that the storm would continue to push its way east overnight. I had planned to visit a friend in Pittsburg the following night, but with the storm, I thought about changing route. After a moment’s contemplation I chose to head south, bypassing the storm and my friend, and surprise Alyssa by showing up at home a day early.