Day 32 - 8/2/07: Hudson, WI to Chicago, IL

Day 32 - Hudson to Chicago
 
USA Today
 

I woke up at 9:00 today so that I could leave the hotel by 11:00. Iím trying to time my arrival in Chicago for 6:00 as Iím meeting Eric at Chicago BMW to drop off my bike for service.

I showered up, got my stuff ready and went outside to load up the bike. Outside I saw two news crews in town to cover the bridge collapse. They were busy planning their day so I went ahead and loaded up the bike. I checked out of the hotel, and then went back to the bike and put on my gear. Of course, after I get my gear on, one of the news guys decide to come and talk to me. Itís only 94 degrees or so, Iíve got my jacket, gloves, and helmet on, and then he decides to come over. So I take off my helmet to talk with him. First he had lots of questions about the bike. They he asked where I was from. I told him Nashville, and he thought that was quite a long way from home. I then explained to him that I was on my way home from Alaska and the Arctic Ocean, he was quite impressed by this. He called over one of his buddies and we talked about the bike and the trip, as well as the bridge collapse. The first guy I had been talking with was covering the baseball game downtown, about 1 Ĺ miles from the bridge when it collapsed. They did not see it, nor did they hear the bridge collapse. They did hear lots of sirens, and when they went to investigate, they found the bridge collapsed. They had covered as much as they were going to yesterday and they were now on their way home.

After talking I hopped on the bike and rode across the street for some gas. I almost got run over by a guy turning left in front of me while I was crossing the intersection. I made it through ok and filled up. For breakfast I got a water and a Reeseís caramel cup, it wasnít very good.

So off I went. It was pretty hot today, and I was getting rather drowsy. I stopped after about an hour and got a Diet Dr. Pepper and an ice cream sandwich. I snacked outside in the shade and tried to cool off for a few minutes. Then it was back on the bike.

I thought on and off about stopping at Culverís for lunch, but kept putting it off. Eventually I stopped for gas in southern Wisconsin, just south of Madison. After I filled up I decided to just have a water and a taco at Taco Johnís, rather than stopping later on for Culvers.

I kept pressing on southeast and passed through Rockford, IL. I thought about stopping for a pic of the Loves Park water tower, but traffic was crazy. Iím really not used to this much traffic after spending so much time in Canada and Alaska. I didnít feel quite safe enough pulling over to the shoulder for some pictures on the toll way with all this traffic, so I passed on the pic.

The GPS gave some bogus directions, but I knew where I was and where to go, so it didnít affect me. In Rockford, the GPS said to follow I-39 south, and that the next turn was in 78 miles. I know that to get to Chicago, you have to turn east at Rockford, not go south. So I ignored the GPS instructions and went to Chicago. As soon as I turned onto I-90, the GPS corrected itself. If someone didnít know any better, they would have gone the wrong way.

Once I was on I-90 and headed to Chicago I thought about stopping to see Danny and Karen, rather than just giving them a call. I had only been to their house twice, in one week, a year and a half ago. I wasnít sure I could remember the way to the house, and I didnít have an address to input to the GPS. But I tried my best. I figured I could just turn back around and get on I-90 if I couldnít find it. When I got off on the exit I couldnít remember if I was to take the first right or the second. I took the first right and didnít recognize a thing. I knew I had to take a left somewhere. So I took the first left. The road went a ways and I was almost ready to give up. Then I recognized a street name. I remembered that the road was supposed to turn sharply to the right, it did. Then I remembered a stop sign, and neighborhoods with fences across the intersection, they were there. One thing I couldnít remember was which neighborhood was Dannyís. I knew they lived on a court, and I just happened to look down at the GPS while riding and saw their street. I turned around and headed back to their subdivisionís entrance. When I pulled in, a red truck came around the corner. It was Danny! I honked at him and he stopped. He obviously did not recognize me in my helmet, gear, and sunglasses. I said ďItís Adam!Ē I thought he knew of my trip. I told him to turn around and meet me at his house. He pulled up as I was taking off my helmet. Then he recognized me. He thought I was one of his friends from work and he had been wondering ďHow does this guy know where my house isĒ? I hung out at Dannyís for a few minutes and talked about the trip. His daughter Madison came outside for a few minutes as well. After catching up I let him know that I had to press on to Chicago BMW. He was glad I stopped by rather than just calling.

I made my way out of the neighborhood and back onto I-90. Traffic was good, until I got closer to downtown. Traffic was moving along at 65 mph or so, then just came to a complete stop at a toll booth. It took about 10 minutes to get the Ĺ mile through the toll booth. In the meantime my engine temp started climbing. I was on a slight downhill, so I shut off the engine and walked the bike on the interstate. Then traffic would speed up to 20 mph or so, much faster than I can walk a bike, so I would start up and ride for an 1/8 mile before stopping. So this went on and on. I turned off the bike when I could. The temp spiked at 8 bars, just under the red zone. I got off the interstate and got the bike to cool down a little. I ended up making it to BMW around 7:30, and the bike was not too hot, at least it never went into the red. It did smell an awful lot like burnt McNuggetís though.

I talked with the guys at BMW for a few minutes. Peter, the service manager, really liked the picture of the bike flopped over on its side. Walter and Mark were interested to see some pictures, so I gave them the website link. Mark actually told me that I had slimmed down some over the past month. I felt like I had lost some weight, but Iíve not been concerned enough to weigh myself to check. Itís just that so many things become unimportant on the road. With no cell phone access for the past 26 days, you get used to not being tied to a cell phone. I checked email when I could, but was not bogged down by a constant stream of it. I didnít worry too much about what to eat or where to sleep. Things just kind of fall into place. Of course there is some planning to be done, namely gas and hopefully plan the nightís campground, but all the regular pressures of life were left behind.

I unloaded my bike and threw everything in Ericís truck. I managed to drop my helmet in the process, but it landed on Ericís foot and appeared to be ok. Eric was tired of being there, he had apparently arrived at 4:30 or so and had been waiting for around 3 hours.

 Eric asked if I wanted to go to Leonaís. I told him I had never been. We then argued about this as he tried to convince me I had been there before, the last time I was in Chicago. I let him know this was not the case. He then admitted it was probably Mark, it was. I asked what kind of place it was as I stank really bad. He said itís just a regular pizza place. I figured Iíd be ok. After all, I smelled like onions, and some pizza has onions. We had a cheeseburger pizza, some garlic cheese bread, and cheese sticks. The garlic cheese bread was not very good.

 We then went to his house where I only took in the things I needed. I was a little uneasy about this given the neighborhood he lives in, but brought in all the important stuff. I figured if any of the other stuff was stolen, at least it wasnít important. Eric went to bed and I went to the basement to take a shower and get on the computer. I really needed that shower. Iíd been sweating all day long and I havenít had deodorant since I left Anchorage for my Deadhorse run. Thatís definitely one thing I need to get tomorrow. After showering, I checked my email and worked on my ride reports and the website. I eventually kicked off for bed around 1:00 am.

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