Day 29 – Off to the races
Date: 06/30/2016 Thursday
Starting Location: Cleveland, OH
Ending Location: Bath, NY
Starting Odometer: 12,724
Ending Odometer: 12,991
Mileage Today: 266.1 Miles
Mileage Total: 6137.5 miles
Today’s MPG: 38 mpg (Once again, all of those miles on the Interstate affect MPG)
Total Average MPG: 41 mpg
States Visited: CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM, CO, UT, WY, ID, WY, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, MI, WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY (18 States so far)
A nod to Flint, MI
I’ve been thinking about Flint since I first heard of the water problems early in 2026, or late 2015. I had hoped to be able to ride through Flint, and just take it all in. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly what I would have done in Flint, but I wanted to see it first hand, if possible.
The original plan was to spend 2 days in Cleveland, visiting the Hall of Fame, and perhaps getting maintenance done on my bike. But, in the end the schedule changed, and I did not have enough time to stop in flint, as I headed from Indiana to Cleveland. So, I’ve missed my opportunity.
For those of you that are skeptical, I know that Flint is a very depressed place within the US. And as an affluent white guy, I’m not sure I would have known what to do, but I did want to show some form or amount of solidarity, if at all possible.
That said, there was no time, and I’ve ridden on, but I wanted to take this moment to acknowledge the people of Flint, and the trouble that they are having, and which they don’t deserve, and which is no fault of theirs.
It is with a breath, and a twist of the wrist that I say good-bye to Cleveland. The city is warm, clean, and welcoming, but the Rock and Roll hall of fame left me wanting. That said, just like every other morning, it’s time to move on.
I’ve been eluding to having some issues with the software on my PC that controls the GPS that I clip into a cradle on the bike. The GPS is functioning properly, but I’ve had software issues with the PC software three times now, and unfortunately, each time I have a problem, it’s because all of the data that I need for navigating across the US ends up missing.
This time, the problem stemmed from not having one of the maps installed, which is necessary to create routes. After installing the map, the mapping program (basecamp) had a dependency with the version of the map, and it caused Basecamp to upgrade to the new version, and the upgrade process seemed to corrupt the database, causing the loss of data.
That said, I cannot thank the folks at Garmin enough. They are professional, knowledgeable, and have great empathy for me as we jointly work on getting the problem solved. Well done Garmin!
So, what happened?
When all of the s/w decided to take a powder yesterday, Garmin support was already closed for the day. So, I thought I had fixed the problem, but knew that I would need to chat with Garmin when I arrived at the hotel this afternoon.
But, when I tried to select the proper route in the GPS this morning, I discovered that all of my way-points were also missing in the Garmin GPS. I was eventually able to select the Microtel hotel that I thought was the correct one, and it seemed to agree with the distance I expected to travel. So, I told the GPS to calculate the route, and take me there.
The wrong hotel?
I arrived at the hotel early, as it was a relatively short 200 mile day. I walked up to the front desk, using my patented Motorcycle Swagger (Much like George W Bush’s swagger) and I said that I wanted to check in. The desk clerk said “I’m sorry, but I don’t see a reservation here for you”. Hmmm, I said. Let me sit down, open my laptop, and figure it out.
While I was opening the laptop, I saw a guy in the lobby who had a gun on his hip. He was also wearing an FBO – Quantico, VA sport shirt. So, since I’m still channeling my brother Carl, I said something like “What the heck is the FBI doing here?”.
He Chuckled, and started to tell me what he’s doing in this hotel. But, more on that later.
Eventually, I figured out that I was at the Microtel in Allegheny, NY, but my reservation was at the Microtel in Bath, NY, about 65 miles down the road. So, I packed up my gear, and loaded the bike and got ready to travel the 60 miles to the next hotel. In the meantime, I had a really interesting conversation with the FBI Agent.
It turns out that the FBI runs exercises all over the country, and he was here, in Upstate NY, running an exercise. The exercise is one of education, and alertness. In essence, they talk to a number of merchants in the area, explain the “See something, Say something” credo, and talk to them about their specific business, and how a terrorist might try to buy supplies, which could be used for nefarious reasons.
For example, if they went to a h/w store, they might explain that buying steel pipes, with caps, and some materials that can be used as an explosive, is almost certainly going to be used to build a pipe bomb. So, without saying too much about our conversation, i can say that I’m glad that the FBI is working with merchants, to make them smarter and more aware. We should not live in fear, but we should respect the process of thought and observation, so that each of us can be helpful, in our own ways.
That said, he was a super-nice guy, and we had a fascinating talk.
Suicide Bombers & Assassination attempts on my life
Given the previous paragraph, you might wonder what I’m going to talk about now. So, the issue is that I have seen several creatures, and even people that are trying to assassinate me. I’ve been lucky so far, and none of these little critters have been able to disrupt my ride, or compromise my safety, but there is no telling how long this is going to last.
Between the two Microtel hotels, I was attacked by two different flying bugs. Both of them so big that when they hit my face (forehead, and then cheek) they exploded into a gooey, nasty liquid, which I found to be really disgusting. But these bugs are no match for super-biker. I’m tougher, smarter, and meaner than they are (or perhaps I should have said that I’m meaner than they were…).
Bugs are everywhere, and you really can’t get too excited about them, but other animals, like marmots, squirrels, rabbits, and birds are more foreboding. These little guys are about as dumb as a bug, but they are bigger, and can cause more damage. And so, today’s encounter with a bird was somewhat astonishing.
I’m riding along on the highway at about 70 mph, and I see a bird flying towards the center of the road. The bird seems to turn and high-tail it out of there just as I’m about to hit it, and for all of the birds that have pulled this move on me before, they were quick enough, and smart enough to make it happen. This bird was apparently not smart enough, or quick enough, and the next thing I know he’s hit me.
I fell this thump, and I watched the bird as he dive bombed right into my right arm. It didn’t hurt, but it sure did shock the hell out of me. In all my years on the planet, this is my first official bird strike. I hope that it is also my last.
In any case, his assassination attempt failed, but it does look like he’s no longer part of the 4 bird infantry platoon. He’s now looking to find a spot near the tomb of the unknown bird.
6000 Miles so far
I’ve been on the road for 6000 miles so far, and I thought it might be revealing to share some thoughts.
First and foremost, there are three things that stand out for me. To ride like I’ve been riding, changing cities each day, is pretty exhausting. The process of changing hotels, packing/unpacking, and taking care of the bike consumes a good deal of time each day, and it taxes you over the course of the day. If I could start again, i would try to stay for multiple days in cities where I’m visiting a friend, or where there are a great number of National Parks and Monuments.
As I think about riding alone, and compare it to riding in a group of 2 or more, I think that while I miss the camaraderie of riding with friends, I actually enjoy riding by myself. I get to enjoy the music, and I’m always riding at my pace.
While some folks have given me gruff for planning each hotel in advance, I have found that this approach has been excellent. I’m always getting a good hotel, at the best price, and I never spend any time looking around in a strange city for a hotel.
And lastly, for the most part, I’ve managed to pack just what is needed, and not too much that isn’t needed. I’ve been able to find a few pieces of clothing that I don’t need, and I wish that I had at least one more shirt that is a causal shirt, appropriate for walking around downtown.
So, what’s on store for tomorrow?
Tomorrow I get up early, jump on the bike, and head to Watkins Glen to watch practice for the 6 hours at the Glen race. It should be fun. I’ll stay there the whole day, even into the night if necessary. I’ll try to find some friends who are drivers and/or support folks, and if possible, spend some time with them. When all of this is done, I head to another hotel, which is another 20 miles down the road so that I can wake up on Saturday, and head over to CT, to see some of my family.
Haven’t gotten an e-mail update since 6/6…had to go to your original sign up e-mail to see all your progress. I see you are headed for CT..say Hi to anyone I might know. When do you think you will be in our area of Charlottesville, VA? Looking forward to your visit. If you have never been here, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Pkwy are great motorcycle rides. Chuck would probably cruise with you if you went up there. Talk to you soon.
I’ve looked at your subscription/profile, and everything seems to be in order. I’ve sent you a private email to discuss the logistics of my upcoming visit.
I have visited Flint more than once – I have a good friend who lives there who teaches at UM, Flint. Amazingly, there is a nice and relatively safe eight square blocks in the middle of Flint that isn’t so bad. That is where my friend lives. The first time I visited him in Flint, we took a walk at about 1am around his neighborhood. I remember asking him, “What are the odds that two able males are walking about Flint at 1am and are not looking to mug anyone?” He thought my question humorous. Flint’s problems are mostly (not entirely) of its own making, but one has to feel sorry for all the misery and pain that exists there.