Back in the Saddle, and the Gravel, and the Rain, Again.

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

So after over a year of not being on two wheels, here I am back again! I thought it would feel awkward, but after a few seconds I felt like I was at home. I backed The Black Pearl out of my brother's garage, and turned it around. With the press of the start button, the engine turned, but didn't come to life. I waited a second, then pressed the button again, and with only one turn of the starter motor, the 1800cc's came to life, and my heart paced a little faster.

I followed Kasey, in her Ford Explorer, known as Ivory, out of Lafayette, Indiana, and we headed south down US 52. Near Thorntown, Kasey continued south and east while I headed west on SR 47. I took this road into Thorntown, and then headed south on SR 75. Kasey and I had a different set of errands to run, so we were splitting up to accomplish them.

I know it sounds strange, that one of my stops was the storage unit in Avon, Indiana. I mean, I am the one on the motorcycle with limited luggage capacity, and she is the one in the Ford Explorer, but we weren't looking for big items, just some things to get us through the next week of riding to Gathering of Eagles (GOE) Cruiser Club, USA's national gathering.

Even though I hadn't hit these roads in a year, the views came back to me, rekindling my memories. My memory also served me as point of reference for all those things that had changed since I last passed these places. SR 75 is a road that has a few meanders in it as it rolls through Indiana Farm Land. Two ninety degree corners that switch back let me know that I was about to enter North Salem, Indiana.

Here I would take a left, and head east and south along US 236. It is a great road with lots of sweeping corners and some of the best views in Hendricks County. Eventually, it would end at SR 39, which would take me south into Danville.

SR 39 joins up with US 36, and takes you right through the heart of Danville, Indiana. It is a great little Indiana Town, and the people at Mayberry Cafe will always welcome you on two wheels. There are some other great places to grab a bite to eat, so you can visit frequently. If you do travel through Danville, Indiana, let me know, it is where I usually live!

After cruising through town, checking out the changes, I headed for the storage unit. It was a hot day, as it should be in Indiana in June. The last time I was here, in January, it was three below zero, without the wind chill! I unloaded about a third of the unit, why we put the motorcycle stuff on the bottom, in the middle of the floor space, I'll never know. The tub full of the two wheel gear is now perched on top. After some other ingenious packing, the door closed with more space left in the unit.

Stop number two would take me further east on US 36, and through Avon, Indiana. I had needed a haircut since before we left Costa Rica, but the old barber in San Rafael was closed each of the three times I tried to visit. We ran out of time before I could get another Tico Trim.

After the haircut, it was time to head back to Lafayette. I started out on back roads, eventually working my way back to US 52, for an easy, and quicker cruise. I was running behind, and knew I was not going to my make my brother's, or more importantly, his wife's dinner time. I had to make time, and that just wasn't going to happen!

As I headed north on SR 39, nearing Lebanon, Indiana, dark storm clouds headed south, like we were on the same road. They were also sliding east, I thought if I could divert west, maybe I could skirt the edge of the storm. I decided before I got to US 52, I would take a county road to the west. It looked solid and paved, that was until it passed the first house. The gravel was well packed by farm equipment, and I decided slow on gravel and staying dry would be a better option.

I still got a little bit of rain, but made it to another paved road. After about a mile, and near a construction zone, the road veered right back under the clouds. I made a u-turn, and took the next road to the west. This one stayed paved, and lead me to another northerly county road.

Eventually, I found myself heading toward Crawfordsville. I knew I could hit SR 47 then, and maybe find a road to the north before US 52, or arrive after the storm had passed. I also had to stop for gas. When I did, my phone was dead, and no way to charge it. That meant no GPS, and not letting anyone know that I was going to be late.

After the sweepers through farm country on SR 47, I found myself through Thorntown, and back near US 52. It appeared that I was already back in the saddle, had been back in the gravel, and was headed to be back in the rain. Silly me, I thought I still had allowed enough time for the storm to pass, so I didn't slide on the rain gear.

Along US 52 I toughed it out in what I thought was light rain. I had found the sweet spot behind a semi, and didn't get all that wet. Once I had to go on my own, that was a different story. Welcome back to riding, Rodney, here is your baptism by fire, er I mean water.

I was so happy to see Lafayette, Indiana, and it shined with the sun pouring on her wet roads and turf. I could feel the warm air hitting my wet shirt and jeans. I had my riding jacket on, but being made of mesh meant that the elements just went right through. At this point, many would have thought this was a terrible ride, but I was riding, so nothing was terrible.

I rolled up my brother's driveway, Kasey was already back, and so was my brother and his wife. I pealed my wet body off the bike to see what mess I had made of The Black Pearl, she was more grey now, with coat of road grime on her.

So how's that for a first day back at riding?


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