Well today was a major day for me. Had a mid-day business meeting in Bismarck. The weather forecast was absolutely perfect for riding too. How could I not take the mocycle? There were several firsts that would happen in the process too.
Headed out early. Hit the road about 5:45 a.m. The sun was up by then, but the traffic was still light. So for the first time ever, I took the shortest route possible – the same route I would take by car. I pulled onto the Interstate right near my home. There are a couple of construction zones in town, so that was another first for me. Haven’t really ridden in the middle of cones before. But at that time of the morning, there wasn’t any work going on.
My first stop was in Casselton to gas up. Already, I was finding the Interstate to be a cinch. Didn’t stay long there before I headed back out on the road. Next stop Jamestown.
I wasn’t traveling the 75 mph speed limit, but 65-70 mph was feeling pretty comfortable. And the few times I encountered semis were actually easier than the times I met them on the two-lanes. After stressing about Interstate travel, I was finding it pretty relaxing.
Stopped in Jamestown to add more gas. Jamestown is almost like a “last chance” gas stop. Not exactly true, there are stations between Jamestown and Bismarck, but the road is pretty open in between. Decided a “last chance” bathroom break would be prudent too. Spent a few minutes walking around the station to loosen up a bit, but got back on the road pretty quickly. Wasn’t sure how long this was going to take and I didn’t want to be late for the meeting.
Somewhere around 8:00, between Dawson and Sterling, I passed the 1000-mile mark. Watched the odometer turnover. (Why is the button that changes the display on the speedometer on the right side? Ya gotta use your left hand to change it on the road.) God it was a gorgeous moment. The sun still coming up behind me, very little wind, very little traffic, and everything was green and fresh. That one’s gonna stick with me for a while.
Next stop was the Apple Creek rest area just outside of Bismarck. That was a long run and I would have stopped anyway, but I always have the habit of stopping at this rest area as it is only 10 miles out of Bismarck. It’s kind of a last chance to check e-mail, phone messages, and the time before heading into town. Took a few minutes to stretch before the last leg into town. I was debating whether to stop at Starbucks when I got to town as it was only 9:30 (meeting was at 10:30). Turned the speedometer back to the clock display.
The last leg into Bismarck went very quickly. Decided to pass on Starbucks and just hit the drug store for a Mountain Dew instead. Wanted to be a few minutes early for the meeting so I could set up and be ready.
Funny thing happened when I got to the office. I pulled into the parking ramp like I always to, but I could get the ticket machine to cough out a ticket. The folks had to come up with the keys to get one for me. As I was sitting there waiting, I began to wonder if motorcycles were allowed in the ramp. That thought hadn’t crossed my mind before. Well, they let me in and I went to my meeting.
It was about 3:00 when I was geared up and ready to ride, but first I had to get out of the parking ramp. It has a spiral exit ramp that can be “interesting” in a car, much less on the bike. Made it down with no problems, and that too, the next time I’m there will be much easier. And I also spotted another motorcycle parked in the ramp, so I was feeling better about parking there. A quick stop for gas (which I almost forgot) and it was back on the road.
First stop was Crystal Springs, about an hour down the road. Wasn’t traveling quite as fast as I was in the morning. A combination of no time pressure and starting to get tired is what I’m blaming. And my cycle gets a bit of a vibration at 65 mph that I really didn’t want to deal with. So most of the trip was behind an RV and we traveled between 60-65 mph. Worked for me. A bit of a walk around the rest area and it was back on the road for me.
The next leg went quickly as I was planning on stopping at the Harley dealership in Jamestown. Number of things I wanted to accomplish there. Got my HOG mileage form signed, rescheduled the 1000-mile service, and picked up a T-Bag for the trip to Sturgis. Probably hung out there for an hour, nearly ’til their closing time. One more gas up and then back on the road.
Only one more rest area between Jamestown and home, and I took advantage of it. I was pretty tired by then. I’m still gripping too tightly, so my hands/arms were getting tired. And the backpack was becoming heavier with each mile. Didn’t really have that much in it, but it can sure drag on your shoulders after 8 hours of riding.
Decided to get off the Interstate at Mapleton as I didn’t want to deal with the construction zones and the traffic jams that go with them this time of day. Rode my usual back way into town and got home about 8:45. Pretty much went straight to bed. It had been a good day.
This was an important day for me. Proved a number of things to myself. And this is a route I travel often, so it was nice to prove I could do it on a motorcycle.
I’m down to just a few more experiences that I’d like to get behind me: riding in the rain, at night, and on gravel. But at this point, there’s little I’m afraid of anymore. Cautious, but not afraid. I’m not waging the internal battle everytime I jump on the bike. I’m much more focused on the purpose of the ride and enjoying it, and not on the specific obstacles I might encounter. I now know that I can handle most of the usual things I’m going to encounter.
Odometer: 1254 miles