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August 26, 2011

1

Back Home Again

by drivingfarce

There is a buzz in the air these days. My mind is preoccupied with thoughts of adventure and interstate. (Strange, since the two are often mutually exclusive.) I’m finding it difficult to remain focused on the work left to do before departure.

This particular trip will be taking me and five other riders from eastern Pennsylvania to Speedway, Indiana for the Red Bull MotoGP race. I know the route well, having been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway numerous times for the USGP Formula 1 races. (This was back when the United States still cared about Formula 1. Or, more accurately, when Formula 1 still cared about the United States.) I call it a route, but that’s a bit of an exaggeration. No GPS will be needed (nor is it allowed in this group). Our path will take us up a two-lane highway for about 20 minutes, where we will make a left onto the Turnpike, then continue straight for about 11 hours.

It will be a very different experience from my previous Indy treks. We took a Coachman RV on every other trip to the Steakhouse Capital. I never understood the draw that a recreational vehicle offered to the elders of our society until I used it just once. It provided transportation, shelter, and entertainment to its occupants. (Albeit the last one in the tragic drama of nauseatingly high fuel consumption.) We could set up camp (extend the awning) in a parking lot directly across the street from the speedway. Aside from the fact that we were situated on top of blazing-hot asphalt skillet, this location proved ideal since there was no traffic to battle after a long day spent at the track, food & beverage were immediately available, and there was the added bonus of being awakened at 7AM to the shriek V10s turning 20,000 rpm. Also, motorhomes also give you the ability to pack once and be done. You don’t even need a bag, just pack your clothing and toiletries directly where you need them; none of this hauling suitcases and sleeping bags in and out of vehicles every time you stop for the night.

JordanF1, 2001 USGP

JordanF1, 2001 USGP

An RV allows you to bring your entire household of material possessions along with you: a turtle on wheels. There will not be this sort of luxury this time. We’ll be heading out on two wheels. Well, 12, technically; unless Steve has fitted that trike kit for his Goldwing that we suspect he’s been secretly lusting after. (After all, why lean into corners when you can lean away from them?) This means that we will be limited to whatever we can squeeze into the hard bags and soft bags we have managed to affix to our bikes. This requires careful planning.

My bags are packed, with 4 days to go until departure. Well, mostly packed. There are always those items that cannot be added until the very last minute. (House keys, eyeglasses, dog, etc.) Thankfully, my Aprilia Futura has ample hard bags and an even more cavernous tank bag that allow me to pack the essentials that one would normally pack for a long weekend in an automobile: clothing, toiletries, and footwear. On a motorcycle trip I also pack for the potential problems one might encounter. I have to make room for wet weather gear, tire repair kit, toolkit, spare faceshield, tire pressure gauge, bike lock, miner’s headlamp, and chain lube. (Thanks to my newly-fitted Scottoiler system, I’ll be leaving the can of chain lube at home this time.) These bike-only essentials are all stuffed into the top portion of the tank bag to allow quick access. What good is a flashlight if you need one flashlight to find the one you’d packed in the bottom of your luggage? Strangely, even with all of this extra stuff, I still find myself with room left over to pack even more things. I’ve added a Sigg bottle for water at fuel stops, plus a cargo net, and cinch straps, and I’m not even sure why. I can only presume that deep within my being I’m secretly hoping that one of us manages to bag a buck on the return trip. Cinch straps could prove essential in keeping the carcass draped securely across the tank of Ted’s Buell, it’s big air-cooled V-twin slowly roasting the venison to perfection. Without the straps we would be left with just the cargo net to hold our quarry, which would mean that the biggest game we could pack would be a Canada Goose. I’m trying to keep our options open.

This trip is also setting a milestone for me in that it will mark the furthest point I’ve traveled from home on two wheels. This is equally exhilarating and embarrassing. It’s exciting since I love road trips, motorcycles, racing, and umbrella girls. This trip promises to have all of those wonders in spades. It is also a bit humbling, since I am now realizing that it has taken me 13 years of riding motorcycles to venture beyond the 600 mile radius of home. I’ve done overnight trips and marathon day trips, but never a ride-all-day-til-you’ve-finally-reached-your-destination kind of ride. We will be at the mercy of the road and whatever it throws at us. I fully expect it to be quite special, and I already feel like I’ve been missing out on something for all these years.

An oldie but goodie: Garry McCoy sliding the YSR500

I anticipate seeing great racing, observe new riding techniques, and take in artistry in the form of two wheels. Gear vendors will be hocking their wares. Motorcycle manufacturers will be putting their best footpegs forward, displaying their latest and greatest models. It will be a feast for the senses; yet, as the time approaches to leave I find myself less and less excited about what I will experience inside the gates of the IMS, in comparison to the rest of the trip. What I’m anticipating most of all is the simple beauty of riding off into the distant horizon with the sun on my back, with friends that I know and trust, and deriding each other mercilessly for 5 days. It promises to be all the splendor of motorcycling, condensed into one fabulous weekend.

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