Sunday, August 19, 2007

Day 2: Flat 4 Tour - Winona, MN

In the morning we clicked on the TV to check the weather. It was not looking good at all. The area we were in was now flooded, there were landslides, roads were washed away, many roads were under water and the rest were closed to traffic. And it was still raining and it was going to continue raining all day and in to the night, here and in Chicago and everywhere in between.

We originally knew that there was a pretty good chance of rain for both days, but I rarely pay too much attention to the weather and even if the forecast calls for rain, it hardly ever rains for two days straight.

Quality Inn parking lot

The bad weather and road closings had me worried, but another thing that had me worried also was that I wasn’t feeling good this morning. It was something I ate that wasn’t agreeing with me. My stomach was killing me and I also had a had a headache. The last thing I wanted to do right now was get on a bike and ride 300+ miles home in the rain.

Things weren’t improving, actually they were getting worst. Everyone had left already to get home and I was still laying in bed feeling like total crap. Then finally at 10:30AM, last nights dinner decided it wanted out of my stomach. After I threw up all of the smoked chicken ravioli and the cheesecake, it was 11AM and time to pack up and check out of the room.

The lobby was packed with people, many waiting to get some food at the Perkin’s next door, many waiting to check in to their rooms. There was a sign posted of the “only” open road out of town, which was 43 south that was going to take us to I-90.

Since others had the ravioli last night, I really didn’t know what made me sick, but I was still feeling sick, not feeling like I was capable of riding a motorcycle in the rain, so I sat in the lobby on the couch trying to rest as much as I could. At 2PM we had to make a decision, either try to get a room around here or try and get back home. As much as I didn’t want to ride feeling sick I didn’t want to try and find a motel room in town, with so many people’s houses flooding, many were checking in to the motels, there probably wasn’t very many rooms available around here.

It was drizzling when we left Winona. As if being sick and having to ride in the rain wasn’t bad enough, I was riding on my old Avon Azaro tires, which now had about 10,000 miles on them and not as much traction as they used to. My new tires came in last week but there was no time to get them mounted before this trip and the Azaros still looked decent.

The ST3 didn’t like the rain either, the left blinker was on, but not flashing, and all the lights on the dash took turns lighting up by themselves, first it was the hi beams even though they weren’t on, then it was the oil light then the engine light and finally the signals. That continued for a couple hours, finally the blinker light was off and the instrument cluster stopped its madness.

The traffic got heavier as we headed further south on I-90, the drizzle stayed with us, sometimes turning to light rain. By the time we got to RT 12 and Lake Delton, I needed to stop and take a break. I hadn’t eaten anything all day and I was starting to feel very week. We pulled over at a gas station and went in to the adjacent sub/pizza place. It was good to be off the bike for a while. I ordered a turkey sub, not feeling like telling the guy all the stuff I wanted on it, I just told him to put all the toppings on that he had, I would just take off what I didn’t like. When I got to my table and I unwrapped my sandwich, I was very surprised to see on my turkey and cheese sandwich covered in lettuce, tomatoes, olives, bacon bits and fresh mushrooms. Bacon bits and fresh mushrooms?

Lunch stop near Lake Delton, WI - is that a banana tree?

This gas station only had low octane gas so we rode past the interstate to the other side to get gas there. This gas station was totally busy. Back on I-90, traffic grew heavier by the minute, at times all you could see was brake lights and cars slowing down to 40-30MPH for no apparent reason. Around Madison, WI for the first time today, there was no rain on my helmet’s visor, but that only lasted 15-20 minutes then the drizzle started again which turned to rain. The traffic started to creep and crawl again, so we took the next exit which was for RT 59 around Milton, WI. If the traffic on the interstate continued this way I was contemplating taking back roads all the way, realizing that we were still very far from home and it was getting late, and if we took back roads we would be getting home at midnight, but then we glanced at the interstate and it looked to be moving again, so we got back on.

More rain

A few minutes later we stared approaching very dark skies and what appeared to be a large volume of water falling from the sky directly ahead of us. Shortly later we entered the curtain of water and I was instantly soaked. With so many hours of steady drizzle and light rain, the rain was already starting to penetrate the waterproof fabric of my gear, but it took hours of rain to do that, now with the down pour I was instantly soaked, as the rain forced itself in to every crevice and nook. Not to mention I started riding today with my gear still wet from yesterday. The traffic slowed down to 30MPH and I could barely make out the tail lights of the car in front of me. Many cars were just pulling off on to the shoulder. About 10-15 minutes later, the downpour was done and heavy rain continued as we entered Illinois. We continued though the suburbs, I so wanted to pull over again and rest but I so wanted just to get home, so I kept going, arriving home just after 9PM.

At least I was feeling better now, having eaten something, but with the rain, heavy interstate traffic and feeling sick, this was so far the toughest day on a bike for me.

I definitely should brought rain gear and my rain gloves. The waterproof textiles are great for some rain, but not for two straight days of rain.

The rain made national news, these were the headlines from Winona Daily News


Becca said...

Great Report! Did everyone else on the tour make it out ok? That much rain SUCKS to ride in!

Anna said...

Yes, everyone made it home OK. Kind of funny too, we had no incidents on this ride even though the weather was so bad. When the weather is nice we usually get a minor crash or two. This weekend this ride was renamed from the Flat 4 Tour to the Flood 4 Tour.

Jerry said...

Bummer about the rain. It is never fun riding in it. Riding in it when you feel bad is the worst.. Glad you made it home safe and sound. Love your blog. I want a New Tiger so bad..

Have a great week
Jerry & Jamie