Wingstock 2007, part 1

Wednesday rolled around, warm but not overly so. I really didn’t have a lot to pack – just some clothes and toiletries. I had some last-minute changes in the route and decided on an overnight stop in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The route was uploaded to the gps and everything was ready to go. Shut the thermostat off, turn off the water valve in the laundry room, bike outside, close the garage door. Go back into the house, check that all lights are off, doors and windows shut, then turn the alarm on and shut and lock the door. Oops, forgot the bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone – unlock the door, turn the alarm off. Find the earpiece, and go through the alarming and locking stuff again.

Finally, everything loaded and ready to go, bike warmed up. Put on jacket, insert earbuds, put on helmet, put on gloves, make sure everything is zipped and velcroed. Reset the tripmeter, check the clock, and we’re off. I quickly found out that the voice prompts from the gps will make it damn near impossible to listen to XM, particularly when the gps thinks you should turn and you decide not to turn. It will want you to turn around and reroute at every opportunity and will tell you over the audio that you need to turn. When you don’t it will say “recalculating” and then start the process over again. I stopped and figured out how to turn off the voice prompts. At last, music without interruptions. Except that the earbuds are getting really uncomfortable now. My helmet is a new Nolan N-42 3/4 helmet, and the foam around the ears is in a different place than in my Nolan N-102 flip helmet. There isn’t nearly as much room for the earbuds that the other helmet had, so I stop in Joliet to cut some foam off so they aren’t as long. It is better, but still not as comfortable as with the N-102. Oh, well. I am NOT going back home to switch helmets.

Headed south now, listening to XM channel 7 (70s music) with the occasional change to channel 6 (60s music) and making good time. Near Layafette, Indiana (GO PURDUE!) the nexrad shows some rain ahead. Suddenly, I’m in the middle of a rainshower but the rain is supposed to be AHEAD of me, not ON me. Oh well, I guess it rains even if the nexrad says not. I duck under a gas station awning to wait it out as it looks to be moving through at a good clip to the east. I bought gas and a snack, and headed out. Unfortunately, even though it wasn’t raining now, the roads were wet and the spray kicked up by other vehicles made it seem like it was raining. Finally, the road dried off and I did as well, a few miles further down the road. Rain showed up again near Indianapolis, this time it was the leading edge of a wide area of rain. It was drizzling a little so I upped the pace to get ahead of the main body of rain and was largely successful. About 10-15 miles south of Indy the roads were dry. The skies stayed gray but there was no more rain. I crossed the Ohio River at Louisville, and headed for Elizabethtown. Arrived around 5pm, found dinner and checked into the hotel. After a hot shower and some checking into tomorrow’s weather I called it a day.

I really had not planned to use the newly activated nexrad weather radar on this trip, but I guess it really wasn’t my decision. it worked very well, and once it’s been on for a while it will show the movement of the precipitation. Knowing the direction and rate of movement, you can make a decision to wait, reroute, speed up, etc. to try and avoid the worst. Yes, people have ridden motorcycles for years without radar and done just fine, but since weather is so much more a factor when on a motorcycle than in a car, I think that the additional information can be used to make the ride a safer one. Perhaps less wet as well, but in my mind the real benefit is safety.

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