A girl, a bike, and an open road

I managed a really solid 7 hours of sleep, despite the delay getting into the room. Having a strategy for each stop that maximizes time your lay flat on your back is important, so anything that wastes that time - leisurely meals, phone calls home, fiddling with luggage - all these things leak time and are best avoided.

One way I avoid time leaks is how I pack the bike. I usually have 2 soft bags on my bike, Rok Strapped to my locking hard cases. One has my backup clothes - jeans, extra LD Comforts, a pair of sandals.. things I want at a checkpoint or if I DNF, or things I want to be carrying but don’t need access to quickly. This bag stays on the bike overnight, and I don’t worry too much about it disappearing because I park in places that discourage thievery, always throw a cover over the bike when I’m stopped for a rest, and there’s nothing in there that will make or break my rally. If it does disappear, I really hope the person who stole it needed a change of clothes.

The other bag is more practical, and has clean underoos and socks, pajamas, eye mask and ear plugs, and enough personal care kit for brushing my teeth and a quick shower. I can quickly remove it and after covering my bike, walk into a hotel with just that bag and my helmet – no fussing with multiple bags, shlepping up and down stairs, etc. I save time, but more than that, I just save hassle, which is almost as important as a couple minutes here or there.

Back on the road after exactly 8 hours, to the minute!

There wasn’t a ton of traffic in the hour and a half-ish down into Milwaukee. Having spent so much time in Wisconsin and Milwaukee in particular, I knew from experience how empty the place feels even on the busiest of days, and today was no exception.

9) ACL12 - Goethe & Schiller - Milwaukee, WI - 1277 pts (+225)

Another bonus where I pulled in as someone was leaving, parking next to another bike. I hoofed it over to the statue where… well, someone (see my previous comment about never recognizing people!) was there as well, taking their photo. Realizing I don’t ever have any photos of myself during rallies, we swapped phones and took photos of each other, a nice change of pace, before heading back to the bikes, trading some small talk, news of the rally, who had DNF’d so far and why, and while I fiddled with Waze to get me to my next bonus downtown, he sped off.

I wonder, sometimes, what normal folks think of us, in our motorcycle onesies and our bikes that look like the cockpit of a 747…

This was the first of the three Goethe & Schiller bonuses I needed for the combo bonus. Apparently these 2 guys were so influential and famous that the immigrants who settled the northern midwest had statues of these guys all over. You learn so much about this country doing these rallies…

This segment: 104 miles, 1h31m
Total: 104 miles, 1h31m
Time Remaining: 34h14m
Points scored: 21,907

10) APR55 - George Washington - Milwaukee, WI - 621 pts

I got a little turned around trying to get back onto the highway, missing an entrance and having to slow-poke through a residential street under construction. Waze and Garmin both started freaking out trying to reroute me, but the detour was so short I could make it up on my own.. of course, I didn’t notice that there was a weird 100-foot section of one-way only, but no one saw me do it, so you can’t prove anything!

This statue was on a traffic island in front of the Milwaukee Public Library, so I boldly parked in the passenger loading zone, walked over and got my photo before sauntering back; Milwaukee has almost no traffic, it’s such an empty city these days, so I wasn’t too worried about getting towed (let alone getting hit slow-poking across the street..)

This segment: 5 miles, 0h15m
Total: 109 miles, 1h46m
Time Remaining: 33h39m
Points scored: 22,528

I made a couple calls while shoving some calories into my face, and took a look at the map. I needed a non-George Washington bonus to maximize the bonus stacking, and there were only 2 between here and my next George Washington in Indianapolis. I had originally planned on the 66-point bonus in downtown Chicago, and instead made the executive decision to skip it and instead detour out to the 447-point bonus in Joliet, IL. Chicago traffic is notoriously either “perfectly fine” or “that’s where I DNF’d my rally” and while I’ve have pretty good luck with it over the years, I didn’t feel like rolling the dice.. besides, since I hadn’t been really aggressive with my route planning for this leg, I had hours of slack built in, so an extra 15 minutes for 380+ more points and less uncertainty? Seems like a win.

It turned out to be the right decision, as I-294 was a bit of a mess, but nothing compared to the cluster of red on my traffic apps. Chicago Monday morning traffic was gnarly, and construction didn’t help; lots of merging, weird diversion lanes, miles and miles of highway with no lane markings left.. I just picked a vehicle in front of me and stuck to its bumper as best I could, and managed to survive. West of the city, I picked up I-55, AKA Old Route 66 AKA Barak Obama Presidential Expressway and started angling southwest towards Joliet, and traffic became much less “frantic commuters” and more white vans, passenger vans, and pickup trucks laden with landscaping equipment. I stopped in Bolingbrook at a minimart for a quick bio break, and spotted a hiviz road worker vest with retroreflective strips on it for cheap, which I’d been wanting to add to my summer gear pack for a while. Extra bonus, it came on a decent clothes hanger, which I usually use for helping hang, support, and/or weigh-down rally flags in photos. I’d left mine at home and had forgotten to replace it at any point until now, so it was a worthwhile purchase.

11) AEX68 - Louis Joliet - Joliet, IL - 447 pts (+300)

Louis Joliet was a French-Canadian explorer who, along with Jacques Marquette, were the first Europeans to map the Mississippi and the Chicago Portage. Really all I know about Joliet the city is there’s a prison here where the Blues Brothers were incarcerated. The city itself was a bit shabby, but tiny and quiet. I got some attention from the homeless folks lounging on the grassy lawn of the library, but honestly, I was probably the most interesting thing to happen all day in Joliet.

Another thing I noticed right away about Joliet is how proud they are of Route 66 more or less starting here. I’ve never gotten the Route 66 nostalgia thing - I’m probably just too young to really be into.. I dunno, sock hops and cars with fins? That’s what that’s all about, right? :D

This was another bonus location where I spent a couple minutes taking multiple photos, scared to death I wasn’t perfectly replicating the sample photo. Of course, I wouldn’t lose any additional points in this rally, but I sure as hell put in the work to make sure I wouldn’t!

This segment: 115 miles, 2h06m
Total: 224 miles, 3h52m
Time Remaining: 31h54m
Points scored: 23,275

I wiggled my way out of Joliet following a piece of the official Route 66 routing, and had a moment where I recognized that I was starting to encroach into “eastern” cities.. something about how I was funneling down one way streets, occasionally having to shift over a block via a diagonal, the architecture of the place just reminded me that I was no longer in the west or the mega-sprawl of southern cities..

At the south edge of downtown I picked up I-80 again, the road that would continue to be the constant motif of this rally. Soon enough I crossed into Indiana, and about 10 minutes later in Gary, IN turned south on I-65 towards my next bonus in Indianapolis. A long, hot, flat road, I tuned out in the sunshine, blue skies and green fields and yellow sun for a few hours of riding monotony. Sometimes “boring” is what the doctor ordered.. then you get to Indianapolis.

12) APR56 - George Washington - Indianapolis, IN - 1722 pts

On the way into Indianapolis, I was trading phone calls and texts with folks, and hearing some horror stories about construction on I-70 around the north edge of the city, and I spotted signage warning about detours. Starting to swelter in the humidity and relentless sunshine, traffic started to clog up a bit, but actually getting into downtown Indianapolis wasn’t difficult. Crowded and busy, I saw a small handful of protesters but again none of the mass protests I was worried about. I even found a parking spot right in front of the statehouse, and dodged random packs of college kids to get my photo.

This being my fourth George Washington, I would now be earning an extra 300 points per non-GW bonus - sweet! I started to wonder if going after George Washingtons and stacking them up would’ve been a better option for this leg, but again - let’s just get through Leg A. If the pattern from other multi-leg rallies holds, each leg will offer higher scoring opportunities than the one before it, and it’s better to pace myself now and make up points in the next one.

This segment: 190 miles, 3h23m
Total: 414 miles, 7h15m
Time Remaining: 28h30m
Points scored: 24,997

4:30pm in a major, car-centric city wasn’t ideal timing, and knowing I’d be in traffic for a bit I took the time to rehydrate a bit, stretch, snack a little, and generally try to get as refreshed as I could before braving whatever I-70 construction was going to throw my way. Turns out I needn’t have worried about construction… but getting to it was a challenge. It took me nearly 25 minutes just to get the 7 blocks back to the highway, all of it sweating profusely while giant SUVs played chicken with me, daring me to complain when they merged into me.. seriously, Indianapolis, 3-4 times in 7 blocks isn’t just a few bad apples, m’k?

Still, once I was back on I-70, I zipped right through the construction area, settling into a busy but flowing I-70 full of commuters to the suburbs, rapidly eating miles heading east across Indiana towards Columbus, OH.

13) AST13 - Lucas Sullivant - Columbus, OH - 775 pts (+375)

Losing almost half an hour to Indianapolis traffic combined with taking the wrong exit in Columbus and having to navigate through downtown on surface streets, and boy, did I have to pee something awful! Of course, rolling up to the road through the park where the statue of Lucas Sullivant resides only to see ROAD CLOSED signs and fencing all around the park didn’t worry me at first; I rode around the block and the nearby parking lots, looking for alternative entrances and at place to park, but with 2 or 3 police vehicles parked nearby, and still no real clue where I needed to go, I ended up paying to park in the underground garage, wasting a fair amount of time fiddling with gates and tickets and then how do you even exit the garage.. of course, the park itself was entirely closed off.. I later found out that this was due to staging fireworks or something else Fourth of July related here, so I yet again had to call Nancy. She confirmed that the statue was inaccessible, so I took photos of all the different fences making the park off-limits and moved on, keeping my eyes peeled for a portapotty or truck stop or anything! I briefly considered peeing in the parking garage - just find a dark corner, park the bike strategically, do my business, get embarrassed, feel bad for the next person who tries to park in that spot…

This segment: 175 miles, 3h10m
Total: 589 miles, 10h25m
Time Remaining: 25h20m
Points scored: 26,147

I called a couple riders I had spoken to earlier in the day who I knew where heading for this bonus as well to warn them about the closure; they should of course confirm the park’s closure with their own scorer, but it might be a bit less stressful for them to know what they’re rolling up on.

Despite the delays, I was still running ahead of schedule, heading north on I-71 towards Cleveland and feeling pretty good. An hour or so past Columbus, I decided to again stop early to claim my 3rd and final meal bonus (XEAT3)… and what was that I see? An Arby’s? Will I got 3 for 3?!

Mmmmm…. french dip…

14) AED15 - Friedrich Ludwig Jahn - Cleveland, OH - 189 pts (+375)

It was fully dark by the time I got through Cleveland and to the quiet, upscale residential area bordering Rockefeller Park.. I mean, it’s called Rockefeller Park, you know it’s probably pretty fancy! So fancy, in fact, there’s no street parking, just a narrow bike lane on either side of the street. The night was thick and dark, the street lit only by a few dim streetlights, and signs warned of neighborhood watches and residential surveillance, so I felt like a Suspicious Character parking my bike on the side walk and wandering around an unlit sculpture garden with a headlamp and a cellphone.. no peace officers or neighborhood watch captains hassled me, so I assume they saw the BMW badge on the bike and thought “Oh, she must be one of us, not one of those filthy Harley’s Angels or whatever they’re called!”

Several riders in this rally failed to notice that a handful of bonus locations were more or less right on top of each other, and you could lose easy points if you didn’t look carefully at the map! This was the first of such a pair, as the 2nd Goethe & Schiller statue of the 3-part combo was located about 20 feet west of here…

15) ACL13 - Goethe & Schiller - Cleveland, OH - 389 pts (+375)

This segment: 150 miles, 3h25m
Total: 739 miles, 13h50m
Time Remaining: 21h53m
Points scored: 27,475

16) APR60 - George Washington - Waterford, PA - 811 pts

Ah, I-90, my old friend.. the exit to Waterford, US-19, was one I’ve stopped at a number of times, so there was a moment of excitement pulling past the last bright yellow and red sign of interstate retail, being swallowed by the darkness of rural Pennsylvanian forests after midnight. Waterford itself was a sleepy little town, the most excitement being a couple bars, a Little Caesars, and a single blinking stoplight. Ol’ George was in a tiny park next to the Eagle Hotel, surrounded by flags for the branches of the military and a memorial for local folks who’d served. A town cop rolled by slowly while I was fiddling with paperwork, but he kept rolling past without saying a word. I must be a pretty disreputable looking character.. but I imagine the pink helmet topped with kitty ears makes them relax.

This segment: 101 miles, 1h57m
Total: 840 miles, 15h47m
Time Remaining: 17h56m
Points scored: 28,286

I futzed around for 10 minutes or so, then headed back to I-90 and continued to ride east towards my next bonus location in Buffalo, but was getting a bit punchy and needed a nap. The highway was one long stretch of construction all the way into New York, zapping me of my last reserves, and I knew I need to lay my head down for a bit. I stopped in Westfield, NY, and thought I’d take a quick nap at the Tractor Supply - quiet but well-lit, I laid my head down but felt myself getting jumpy at the sound of every car going by.. I needed something more comfortable. A small independent motel was night door, so I buzzed in, waking the poor young woman in charge of the overnight shift; I don’t blame her for being a bit grumpy, it’s after 2 am, and both of us want to sleep. I overpaid for a clean, comfortable bed, set my alarm for 5am, and closed my eyes for 3 hours.

Onward to Day 4 ➡️

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