The Ride Home
I left a little bit later than I had wanted to, around 9am MST, but the weather was crap and I lacked some motivation. Plus my friend and his wife were sleeping and she had the day off so I didn’t want to wake them up too early. I’d packed everything up the previous night and only had to load a couple of things onto the bike like my toothbrush etc. I hit the road as fast as I could and at this point the weather was just cloudy and cold it wasn’t too bad. However that quickly changed to rain and heavy crosswinds for 300-400 km until I’d got a ways into Nebraska where the wind had seemed to shift more in my favour and the rain had stopped and was just cloud cover. I checked my GPS’s weather radar and saw that the cloud cover would end about halfway through Nebraska and the temperatures would pickup as well. Good news!
I stopped for lunch in North Platte, NB, heading to my usual spot on cross country trips, McDonald’s, because I know they have WiFi. Oddly this McDonald’s was full of old people, usually older folks go to a better place in town than a McDonald’s. Did this mean that McDonald’s was the best this town had to offer? Yikes. Whatever the case, I had a good rest and then continued on towards my destination, Waterloo, IA. This destination was once again picked by a friend of mine, it was too far, but it was also too late to change the hotel reservation as I wouldn’t have any internet for most of the day, save a couple stops at WiFi hot spots so I didn’t want to risk not having a place at all.
The ride to Omaha, NB was about as boring as any other ride through flat nothingness would be. However things got a little bit more interesting from there on. As I approached Des Moines, IA probably a good ways out still but in that direction, there were what seemed like hundreds of red lights floating in the sky, all flashing at the same time. Now, I know that buildings and towers all have flashing lights above a certain height for airplanes and such, but I didn’t know that all the windmills in an area would flash in unison. For a good while it seemed quite alien to me, I had no idea what these could possibly be until I realized where I was and then it clicked, windmills.
The sky continued to get darker and as I turned on to US-20 towards Waterloo, IA there were more lights, these ones however were on the ground. I thought that it was an airport, then I saw more on the other side of the road, thought perhaps there was a runway on either side of me. This however continued for far too long, I think it might have continued for like 16 km, there’s no way that could have been a runway. I never did figure out what it was. Adding to the weirdness of this area though, there was a strange sound I heard but I couldn’t pin point where it was coming from, turns out the truck I was drafting had got a flat and the sound was the air from the tyre escaping rather rapidly. He slowed down to a crawl and I passed him and continued on. It was far too late and I was far too tired to care. Ended up getting to my hotel around 11pm CST having lost an hour in the time zone change.
The next day, instead of heading out towards home, I headed towards my friends place in Madison, WI, the friend who’d been booking all the hotels. This made for a very nice short day, only around 4 hours riding time, had I not got lost looking for the ferry between Gutenberg, IA and Cassville, WI. There were lots of old cars in Gutenberg, and lots of bikers taking the ferry as well. Ended up following them for a good while till I stopped in Montfort, WI for some Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, a favourite of mine when I’m in Wisconsin. From there it wasn’t long till I was resting in Madison.
While in Madison my friend took me to a bar called Le Tigre Lounge. Before entering he asked me to guess what kind of place it was, I’d told him a gay bar with a cat theme, I wasn’t far off. Wasn’t a gay bar, but it definitely had a cat theme, specifically tigers. There were tigers everywhere, you couldn’t look anywhere without seeing a different bit of tiger memorabilia. Photos, paintings, statues, drawings, stuffed animals, clocks, you name it, they had it. Apparently there was also a house rule, no swearing, which is kind of a difficult thing for me to do. Never got caught though while I was there, didn’t swear too much and we didn’t stay long, we headed to another local bar, this one a brew pub. It had recently opened up and I can’t remember it’s name, but the beer I chose wasn’t the beer for me, my friend chose a much better beer. Anyway, stuck around there for another day, went to a cupcakery which I’d never heard of such a thing before, and ate an expensive set of cupcakes, had dinner, forgot my half of the left overs in his fridge and left Monday morning for home.
The ride home from Madison took the usual amount of time, an entire day of riding, and was on the whole pretty uneventful. By the time I got home late in the evening I’d traveled just over 9,000 km since leaving home nearly an entire month earlier (yes… over 9000). Had the flooding not occurred, and had I not had the bad set of tyres I’d have done the same amount of distance in less time, or, had I decided to stay longer I could have easily done another couple thousand, Colorado has so much to offer for a motorcyclist, I don’t think you’d ever get tired of riding around that state. Well physically you would, but give it a day and you’d be fine to do some more.
The saddest thing about the whole journey was arriving home and finally seeing all the devastation the flooding caused. It was happening while I was there, but where I was it was just rain and the occasional photo. However by the time I got home there were lots of photos and videos all over. Many of the fun roads I traveled on in the foothills around Boulder were destroyed, and many of the wonderful homes along the sides of them as well. My connection to these areas is solely the roads I traveled on and the scenery, so for me it’s really sad to see those great roads washed away. It’s weird to think the week before I’d been on those very roads, and then a week later they’re all destroyed. I wonder how long it will take them to recover, and selfishly, how long till I can travel those wonderful roads again.
Images Copyright dp-Colorado Heli-Op.
The second saddest thing about the whole journey was arriving home. And seeing just how boring a province I live in, once again. There are fun roads in Ontario, but they’re few and far between, and nothing like Colorado. I was discouraged from riding, thinking what point was there as it’s all grids and flatness. Then a friend calls me up the night I returned, he’d just bought a motorcycle himself and wanted to go for a ride. I agreed and headed out the next day, despite having just finished a 9,000 km trip. And as fun as that ride was, Southern Ontario still kind of sucked. I think I need to move to Colorado, but, do I really want to be an ‘murican? I’m positive I do not. Their cheap wonderful food, their huge portions, their wonderful state of Colorado are all great, but the stigma of being an American just isn’t for me. I’ll have to move to British Columbia instead and buy a dirt bike, since we don’t pave mountains like the Americans do.
Why can’t Colorado be Canadian?
PS: “Colorful Colorado” has to be an inside joke with the people who made the signs. Take a look at the photo below, Colorado is so colourful! Even the sign is colourful, all that brown! (Ok, it is in places, and certain times of year, but this is how I saw the signs each time I passed one, brown, brown, maybe some green). Photo taken by Sebastian Bergmann.