Friday, March 31, 2006

A Twisty Loop Through Kentucky


My riding buddies and I (Alex and Andy), the more squidly ones, were eager to ride some twisties and get the season started. The Chicago area was not warming up much and the weather was drearier than normal for spring. Sure, rain showers are expected this time of year, but not persistent thunderstorms. Our easiest access to some good long twisties is in the Spring Green area, south west of Madison. But being not that far from Chicago, the weather's bound to be similar.

We started looking south. Now, I've already accounted for all my vacation days this year with two big trips planned and the STN national meet, so this little jaunt had to happen without taking anymore days off. We eagerly started planning a trip to Deals Gap. The reason was that we wanted to ride The Gap before it got too warm and got filled up. Layers, heated clothing and temps above 45 are all we need to rail. We'll usually ride in colder temps than that, but no railing. Tire temps would be too cold, leading to disaster.

I started my favorite past time - route planning on Streets & Trips. It's so much fun to look for twisty roads and imagine what it really looks like and dream of the fun to be had. And then go out and ride it. I planned a mad route from Chi town down to Knoxville, leaving Friday after work. That's around 600 miles. Then rail around on Saturday and start heading back on Sunday. We tweaked it to make it more realistic and the trip was almost a go a few days out. Weather was turning for the worse on Friday afternoon, snow showers predicted. We still didn't care, as long as the weather down in Tennessee was going to be good. Alas, a front moved in and snow was predicted the whole weekend for the Smoky Mountains, so the trip was called off. Bummer.

We still wanted to ride, and with an overseas business trip coming up, I wanted to get some twisty riding done. We started planning more sanely and figured we'd just get down to Kentucky and ride around and leave The Gap for an actual 3 or 4 day trip to properly enjoy it. With Andy's parents in Louisville and Alex's friend in Lexington, the trip started to take shape pretty quickly. With route planning on S&T done and the weather promising to be around 65 or above the whole weekend, this trip was definitely on. The plan: leave Friday afternoon after work; slab it down to Louisville to spend the night at Andy's parent's house. Saturday: back road to Lexington and ride the twisties of south eastern Kentucky before calling it a day at Alex's friend's house in Lexington. Sunday: back road it up to Lebanon, Indiana, before catching the slab for home.

Overall route map:

In our hasty planning, we kinda missed the fact that this weekend was going to see some terrible thunderstorms, at least up near the Chicago area. We were just keeping our eyes on Kentucky and it looked all good. We didn’t care if we had to ride through rain getting out of here or getting back, as long as the reward was still worth it.

Day 1
Friday, March 31, 2006
Start: Libertyville, IL, 3:20 pm CST
End: Louisville, KY, 11:45 pm EST
Mileage: 373

Andy (riding a brand new BMW K1200S with 600 miles on the clock) works downtown and Alex (riding a beat up BMW K1200GT) and I (on the soopa doopa Gixxa) planned to meet him south of the city, just before we got on the slab across Indiana. I planned to meet Alex enroute at on oasis on the freeway. I rode into work with all my luggage on the bike and hoped that no one would swipe any of it. To deter anybody with such a thought, my Scorpio alarm was engaged. Come near her and it chirps to warn you, hehe. I got out of work at 3 pm and the winds were picking up real fast. I only managed to get rolling at about 3:20 as last minute things (work clothes) that I was trying to pack in the parking lot were being tossed around.

Traffic was moving along pretty well at that time, heading south on I-294 and with perfect timing, Alex joined from I-90 just as the two highways cross. We were riding rather 'excitedly,' as happens when riding with Alex (squid in sport-touring disguise). Not really breaking any laws (besides speeding, but that doesn’t count), but let's just say, not really leaving a good image of motorcyclists on cagers.

We met up with Andy down in Schererville and got on I-65 heading south. At this point, the winds were gusting pretty forcefully. So much so that Andy and I were constantly fighting our bikes to keep it in the lane. Alex and his heavy bike were roaring away. Andy has a big 1200cc Beemer as well, but the rider's weight doesn’t compare to that of the GT's. I was pushing the Gix so much to the right that my left shoulder was starting to hurt. This part of Indiana is very flat with no hills in sight of the highway, so the winds were free to assault us. Keeping it leaned over into the wind is no problem, but rapid changes in wind force is a problem. When we went under an overpass, the brief relief was met with a slap on the face by the wind on the other side. A couple times I thought that's it, I'm going into the median or getting run over by a truck in the next lane.

Andy and I pulled over on the shoulder to take a break and even contemplated canceling the trip as this was not safe at all. However, we figured that as soon as we hit some of the hills and forests further south, we should be ok, so we continued on the shoulder with flashers going about 40 mph. We didn’t want to do this on the freeway as traffic moves about 80 mph between Chicago and Indy and there were no exits in sight in hopes of getting US-41 that runs parallel. Riding on the shoulder is not the best idea as we could easily pick up debris that might puncture the tires, but either that or getting rear-ended by a semi. As it got a little better, we got on the freeway and met up with Alex, who was waiting up ahead. We continued at a slower pace until we got into the hilly terrain, then we picked up our normal pace.

Taking a break after the crazy cross winds across flat Northern Indiana

We knew rain was expected south of Indy, so after ensuring that riders and luggage were properly covered, we set off into the storm. Alex kept giving us a hard time for our soft luggage that required rain covers, while bragging about his big fat BMW System Cases. I have Nelson Rigg saddle bags and Andy has the trunk bag from them. Works well for us.

If the weather was going to be good and if we had some daylight left, we were going to take some back roads that Andy knew from Indy down to Louisville. But, with heavy rain predicted, we stuck to the highway, which would be lighted at night. About an hour before reaching Kentucky, the heavens opened and huge rain drops started pummeling us. I found my vision to be worse when I wiped the shield (with the wiper on my TourMaster Winter Elite gloves) as opposed to not doing so and just focusing-out the drops on the shield. Traffic slowed as the rain got heavier and spray from nearby vehicles was a bigger issue than the rain itself, especially from semi-trucks. At some points, we were riding through inches of standing water on the highway. Not good. I'm glad to say that my Bridgestone BT020's behaved really well.

I thought I had an excellent wet weather set-up. This was not the case. The gloves came with a rain cover and had a waterproof barrier. That's all good, except that water was running down the jacket, straight into my fingers and soaking up in the fleece. Nice. Tightening the draw string of the glove didn’t help much. The gauntlet was too big to stuff under my jacket, so now I have to find a better solution. For boots, I have the Sidi Vertebra 2 Tepor - meaning waterproof. For pants, I have the Joe Rocket Alter Ego, which has a waterproof liner with an elastic hem that I stretched over the boot, near the ankle. This would mean that water would not be able to go into the boot. But my feet still got soaked. Still trying to figure this one out. I used the heated grips to combat the cold from the wet fingers and maybe, just maybe it would help in drying the wet fleece liner... while it was still pouring.

We arrived around midnight (EST) at Andy's parent's house in the rain and brought all our dripping gear into the house and straight down to the basement. His parents were very nice and provided us with lots of towels. After throwing all the wet clothes in the dryer and hanging everything else, we had some warm home-made chilly, which was the perfect thing after coming in from the rain. I had to take a shower to get rid of that cold wet feeling and un-shrivel everything, if you know what I mean... Referring to my toes, you dirty-minded people.

The Nelson Rigg luggage held up really well in the wet with no water seeping through inside. We still packed our clothes in plastic bags, just in case.

Wet gear put up to dry in the basement

Consulting the local (Andy) about the route for tomorrow

We briefly planned the route for tomorrow and headed off to bed. I was hoping there would Speed TV as I was trying to catch the qualifying for the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. Alas, no such luck.

Day 2
Saturday, April 1, 2006
Start: Louisville, KY, 8:15 am
End: Lexington, KY, 8:30 pm
Mileage: 455

Louisville, KY to Lexington, KY with a loop around South East Kentucky

We awoke to a bright and beautiful morning. Isn't it nice when it rains and storms at night and then is all gone by morning. I love that feeling. Scrambled eggs with cheese was prepared for us by Andy's mom, which was delicieux

Bright sunny Saturday morning, always a good thing.

I planned a route for the day in S&T with what looked like 'good' roads to me. Usually before a trip, I like to study the route a lot and understand the directions so that there are no surprises along the way. Does this take some of the fun out of a trip? I don’t think so, as by studying the route and surrounding area, we can spend more time on good roads, rather then trying to find them. Also, if a diversion is needed, my temporary knowledge of the area and sense of direction permits us to change our route on the fly with good confidence.

Well, I didn't have time to do any of this before this trip. So, I spent a good deal of time while Alex and Andy were getting ready, studying the route on the computer. Andy showed me this new mapping tool from Microsoft:, similar to Google maps. Alex being the 'best' rider of the three of us (or so we let his ego believe), was going to lead. So, I jotted down simple directions on a paper for him, like Left on 44, Right on 127. The directions were to follow the number until the next one showed up, as it's likely that routes would twist and turn.

Andy, his gracious parents and Eris

Alex and his smart-ass stickers

Mount Washington, KY to Lawrenceburg, KY on 44, 248 and 1579

Not wanting to ride anymore slab, I picked the simplest route between Louisville and Lexington to get us to the good stuff. Little did we know that getting to the good stuff was going to be mega fun. Sure, 44 looked twisty on the map, but with not knowing the terrain, who knows what kind of twisty it really is. Taking 44-248-1579 between 155 and 127 is a real gem. Route 157 was an undulating piece of tarmac with quite a few driveways, but being Saturday morning, there wasn't much traffic, so we felt safe leaning it into the corners. Alex has a lot more confidence than the two of us going around blind corners, or is it stupidity? Just kidding Alex. I like to see through the whole corner before I lean over.

Keene, KY through Nicholasville, KY to Richmond, KY on 169

A short hop on the Blue Grass Parkway was needed to get over 169 that would take us into SE Kentucky. We were already quite thrilled by the unexpected early morning fun and 169 had more in store for us. It did go through a few small towns, but in-between was good fun. We were to cross a river on a ferry and as 169 winds its way down the hillside toward the valley, we came across a beautifully built section of road. By looking at the map above, it doesn't look all that exciting, except that those turns are 20 mph downhill turns. The fear here is carrying too much speed, aided by gravity and overshooting the corner, that is, kissing the guard rail. Front brake, brake, brake, lean, gas it, front brake, brake, lean, etc... (no rear brake here as I was up on the balls of my feet). With the mid-morning light filtering through the trees, the setting was perfect.

Taking a ferry is always fun. There's something about it. This ferry had two support ropes running along side it to ensure it didn’t get swept away in the current. The area also seemed to have been flooded often. Also, many of the low lying bridges that we crossed had the sign "Caution, high water area."

Taking a break at Donaldson Park, near the Valley View Ferry crossing the Kentucky River

Tates Creek Rd (169) winding it's way down to the valley

The Valley View Ferry on the Kentucky River with a record flood height plaque

Record Flood Height Marker

The ferry being supported with cable stays to keep it from being caught by the current

About to cross

On the ferry

Paddle Power

Irvine, KY through Beattyville, KY on Rt 52

From there, we found our way into Richmond to catch Rt. 52 heading east towards Rt. 15, which looked like fun on the map. In Irvine, we came across a parking lot full of cruisers and of course had to stop. When we learnt it was a poker run, we figured we better be ahead of these guys. From there 52 was a real blast, lots of nice sweepers and tight corners and not much traffic. The only kinds of corners I don’t like are the 90 degree 20 mph turns, usually defined by land boundaries. Well laid out 25 mph turns are great for practicing corner entry and exit speed. Sweepers on the other hand are great for trying to get that knee down, all though it's not advisable on the street.

Poker Run in Irvine, KY

Watching from a safe distance

We had a little late start this morning and I figured we wouldn't be able to twisty our way back up to Lexington as planned; instead we'd have to get on I-75 and slab it north once it got dark. It might be fun but not really smart to ride twisties after dusk.

Oakdale, KY to Engle, KY on the semi-boring, heavy traffic-laden Rt 15

Rt 15 looked so promising, but we couldn't tell beforehand that it's a major North-South throughfare

Rt 15 was quite a let down. Sure, it had some nice big corners and was well laid-out but we didn't know that it's a major throughfare running north-south and this means patrolling by the popo. It was basically a passing-fest and Alex was setting a hefty pace. Was it fun, sure, but I'd rather be on a less inhabited road. This route was also heavily used by the quarry and coal trucks, which resulted in lots of dust being kicked up right into Andy and my contact lens-shod eyes. After a break, we agreed that we should slow down the pace on these public roads.

The plan now was to head west to catch Rt 421 heading back north. Rt 119 was the big road heading west and I was looking for a parallel side road. Thanks to my studying of this area in the morning, I knew which side road (931) intersected with 15 and we were all too glad to find it and get off the main road.

The very exciting Rt 931 and Rt 160, parallel to Rt 119 along the KY/VA border

Myra enjoying a beautiful stream on Rt 931

And just for Rick who complains that the bike ruins the picture

The beauty of SE Kentucky.... oh those corners

One thing that I can take away from SE Kentucky is that almost any side road will be loads of fun. It seemed that every side road we took was a route made for motorcyclists. Winding tarmac, probably near a river, with lots of tree cover and 25 to 40 mph corners.

Alex was leading up to this point and since the route had changed since what I wrote down for him, I suggested that I lead to get us back on the original route. Boy, was that a great decision. When you're following someone through twisties, it's a great blessing, as you can follow the path of their helmet to see where the road goes and prepare yourself for off-camber turns and sharp turns beyond a crest. Of course we all preach, "Ride your own ride," but having someone with better ability leading you is like dangling a carrot in front of this rabbit's face. I was pushing myself to keep up, but still knew my limits and let him go when it was too risky. It also helps to see what lines are being taken.

So, now I was in the lead with two riders with more experience than me behind them. Not wanting to ruin the twisties for them, I picked up my pace a bit, all though there was probably no need for it. Rt 160 didn't look all that twisty on the map, so I thought no problem in leading them through sweepers, as it's easy to gain confidence in these turns. But to my surprise, 160 was pretty tight and I was glad to see that I was holding a decent pace without someone to lead me. There were two scary moments, where too much speed was carried into sharp turns, which relegated me to use the old adage, "when in doubt, lean some more." I was happy to see that I didn’t panic in these moments and actually did lean more to rail through the corner. Also, this helped with those chicken strips.

I love corners with elevation change, especially uphill, as it's quite a feeling to smooth on that throttle around a tight bend, pulling the bike up and charging ahead. One such corner also caught me by surprise by its sharp degree and it felt exhilarating to be smooth on the throttle while leaned over going uphill.

We got Rt 119, which is a four lane divided parkway and allowed some rest for the knees and balls of my feet, which were used extensively in the dance through the twisties. I was looking for a small road to take us on a parallel fun off-shoot, but we missed it and continued straight to 421. It was about 5 pm already and we were at the southern most point of our journey. I was hoping for us to be here around 2 pm, so that we could twisty up to Lexington.

Catching the very exciting Rt 421 from Baxter, KY heading North

Elevation change on Rt 421. I know this picture would be just awesome in the Fall.

Rt 421 is a great stretch of road with lots of elevation change, but it does have considerable amounts of traffic and driveways. We took a break in Hyden, as our muscles were quite sore from the constant twisty roads that this land has to offer. Our break in Hyden was longer than expected as it was prom night in Leslie County and quite a few good-looking local dames were passing through the gas station, buying the last minute gum or soda. A young guy in a tux with shades was asking the gas station clerk where the parties were that night. He must be a well informed clerk.

Another thing to note about the Kentucky folk is how nice they are. I asked for directions quite a few times (no shame in that) and all of them kindly offered their knowledge of the local roads. I asked the clerk how to get to I-75 and he asked me, "Do you want the fun route or the fast route?" Usually, when this question is asked, the answer is obvious; the fun route. But at this stage in the day, our knees and wrists were sore and I didn't know if we could handle anymore twisties. But what the heck, let's have the fun route.

Hayden, KY to Manchester, KY, where we got on the Daniel Boone Parkway

The fast route would have been taking 118 to jump on the parkway sooner than needed. So, we did a bit more of 421 before jumping on the Daniel Boone Parkway heading into London to meet I-75. The parkway was beautifully set through the rolling hills. Traffic was heavy and moving and Alex took off into it. Andy and I kept a slower pace as we had agreed to 'turn it down a notch' on the main roads. No sooner did we see police lights flashing up ahead, making a u turn, and racing ahead to get somebody. Yup, Alex got a performance award. Luckily it was only for a 72 in a 55. We were expecting a much higher margin. Andy and I rolled by like we didn’t even know Alex, haha and kept going until we could find a place to wait for im. At the speed we thought Alex was supposedly going at, Andy was thinking his bike might be impounded. Luckily, that wasn't the case. The funny thing about the ticket was that it cost $2 per mph over the speed limit and $134 in court fees!

We hadn't stopped for a real lunch anywhere and just snacked at gas stations. Before jumping on the freeway, we had a quick McD's sandwich in the parking lot as dinner was going to be quite late. We were heading to Erskin's house in Lexington. He's a friend of a friend of Alex's who opened his house and garage to us. He was going to join us for some riding but he had just picked up a huge nail that ran sideways into his sidewall. He's got a Kawasaki Concours and has put about 50K miles on it. Last summer, he rode to Vancouver and back and was just riding from dawn till dusk. He said he did about 900-1000 miles each day. Wow. My butt was hurting just hearing that. My Sargent Cycle seat was not helping much at all.

The ladies in Erskin's garage in Lexington, KY

Erskin said he also did the entire maintenance of the bike himself after he overheard a conversation at a dealership, which goes like, "boss, this guy wants his drive shaft oil changed," "Just wipe the bike down and charge him for it."

We had a Chinese buffet for dinner and then headed home. I was thrilled to hear that Erskin had Speed TV. We started watching the Australian GP and soon Alex and Andy dozed off. This was quite an exciting race with four safety car periods, not common at all in a F1 race. Only 9 drivers finished out of 22. Was this eating into my precious rest time needed for riding the next day, sure, but I was multi-tasking passions here.

Day 3
Saturday, April 2, 2006
Start: Lexington, KY, 9:00 am EDT
End: Grayslake, IL, 10:30 pm CDT
Mileage: 550

Lexington, KY to Grayslake, IL

We woke up the next morning to the Weather Channel predicting severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to head across Illinois and Indiana. We decided to still carry on with our planned route and play it by ear, whether to jump on the freeway or not.

Mmmm, nice big juicy storm waiting to cross our path

Is red good? Oh.. it says severe

But, it's a beautiful day down in Lexington and that's all that matters... for now. Erskin's house.

His big guard dog, very fidgety.

Getting ready in Erskin's garage. That Connie sure does have a big ass.

The Boys in Blue, ready to roll.

The plan was to twisty our way up to the Kentucky/Indiana border, then head west to catch IN-135 going north. The storm front was moving fast across Illinois and we hoped to get in behind the storm as we got close to Chicago. Regardless of what lay ahead, we had a beautiful morning in front of us and by golly we were going to enjoy it.

Rt 922 to Rt 227, north of Lexington

We took 922 heading out of Lexington. This scenery was what I expected of Kentucky, gently rolling plains with horse farms and low stone-laden walls. The walls looked like the ones that dot the English countryside, very picturesque. As we were railing along, if one of us wanted to stop for pictures, we used the universal camera sign - thumb and fore finger in a clicking motion.

We stopped to take pictures of the road and the walls and soon some curious horsies came trotting towards the fence to see these creatures riding mechanically horses. Alex was getting very friendly with the horse, as he's an animal person, having a dog back home. I, myself have actually never petted a horse before. Just never come across them. Sure, I was in the wild in Africa and saw Lions, Giraffes and Elephants, but no horses. This horsy was quite curious about our gear, he was sniffing everything and then Alex said, "You know, horses bite." Ok, curious game over; don’t want a bitten hand, as throttle twisting was still required to get home.

Kaos and Eris, posing.

Kaos and Eris, zooming down a country road.

Myra at the entrance to an estate

Alex's bike (no name), patiently waiting for the treat in store.

Curious horsie checking out the new mechanical horse from Bavaria. The motorcycle has been described as the modern-day horse, as man's mode of exploration and quest for inner peace..... pretty chessy, huh.

He even posed for this shot

Alex getting friendly with the curious horsie. Name tag reads, "Artensia Ambrosio."

More horses walking towards us to see what all the commotion's about

Can I trade horses for a day?

Ok, my first time petting a horse. Never had the chance as a kid.

Ready for a little morning jaunt

Estate entrance, with a bit of country-side England touch.

North of 62, 922 becomes real small. The road is not even wide enough for two trucks to pass, without considerable off-roading. There was no centerline marked and certainly no shoulders. It seemed like someone had just laid a black carpet in the hillside. The corners were between 20 to 35 mph, which not much room for error. Luckily, it was early Sunday morning and not much traffic was on the roads. Hopefully, there were all in church.

Small roads that we found where it wasn't wide enough for two trucks

Rt 620, empty roads with decent surface and lots of fun

Untouched beauty

This is where Alex thought we didn't wait for him at a fork. We were so close to losing him.

Beautiful in its own way

We were to take Rt 32 heading west before catching the twisty looking Rt 227 heading north towards the state border. Another thing we learned about Kentucky is that state roads don’t necessarily mean reasonably wide, well marked roads. Rt 32 was as small as the end of 922. And as expected, we missed our small turn-off to cut across to 227. Instead we found ourselves heading south quite a bit till we came across 25. The crazy thing about Rt 32 is that it turns on itself and starts heading the other direction across 25. That means that we were looking at sign marked 32 West, which was actually heading in an easterly direction, before it turned south and probably continued west. But at that moment, I was flummoxed. If north was to our left, then we had to be facing east. I figured someone screwed up with the signs. A local driver saw our confusion and offered help. I gladly took it and we found ourselves heading north on 227. I still hadn’t figured out what happened back there.

Rt 32 near Porter, KY

Blue Blikes flowing in the direction of the river

Can you see anything behind that K12GT (besides Andy)? It's so fat, it's hiding the other two bikes.

Curious hoofed animals are abound in Kentucky. This time, it was moo cows, coming to the water's edge to have a look.

Nice shot, Alex.

Rt 227 from Scott County through Owen County to Rt 574

Rt 227 starts in Scott County and ends in Owen County. It wasn't that exciting in Scott County and the road surface was patched up concrete. As soon as we hit Owen County, we were in another world. The road surface was freshly laid smooth tarmac with unbelievable twisties. The road just kept winding through 35-40 mph turns. This is the kind of stuff that all three of us really like; turns that we can carry momentum through. This was our favorite section of road. It was a bit busy and lots of passing was involved, but it was great fun. At some points, we could see through 3 or 4 corners and that allowed some in-corner overtaking. I was being watchful not to carry too much speed from the overtaking into the next tight turn. We would have run it again, but dark clouds were moving in and we decided to keep pushing.

Rt 227 in Owen County, a very beautiful flowing section of tarmac with 35 mph corners.

Rt 22 was not all that exciting and we caught 389 before jumping on 574 heading west toward I-71. We missed a few of our turns, but some locals again pointed us in the right direction. Come to think of it, if we had GPS, our interaction with the locals would be greatly reduced. When we got on 55, I thought 549 was going to lead us around the cities of Prestonville and Carrollton. Rt 55 is a pretty busy road and 549 was a welcome back road, again with great corners and shaded forests. Little did I know that 549 was actually heading south to meet up 55 again. So, we just did a little loop.

Rt 389 to Rt 36 in Prestonville, KY with side trip on Rt 549.

Boring from Prestonville, KY to Salem, IN

From here till IN 135, it was going to be boring. We hugged the Ohio River from the Kentucky side until we met Rt 421 again to take us over the river into good ole' Indiana. The town of Madison, IN was quite interesting with some grand looking heritage buildings. We hopped on Rt 56 heading west. Up to this point, we were having great weather, except for a few small showers and sprinkles.

Delicious Rt 135 through the Hoosier National Forest

25 mph marked coners on Rt 135

In Salem, we caught IN-135. Oh what a road. Even though it runs north-south for a quite a distance, it's not used as a throughfare, probably due to the numerous technical turns. The corners ranged from sweepers to tight 20 mph turns; very enjoyable as it runs through some state parks. At one point, the road winds along a hillside with constant 25 mph turns. I came up to a mini-SUV that needed some overtaking. There was not going to be a straight piece of road for a long while and since I could see at least 4 corners ahead of me, I just got in the left lane and stayed there through the turns until I was ahead. What a feeling to be taking a right hand turn from the left lane. Don’t worry, no traffic or side access roads were spotted.

We ended in the town of Nashville, which had a great number of tourists walking about the nicely decorated downtown. Seemed like a Disney theme park kind of street with fun little stores and people sitting in outdoor cafes. This would have been a nice place to stop and stroll around, but time was not on our side as we had a storm to keep an eye on.

Twisties extending to Bloomington, IN on Rt 45

Instead of calling it quits right there, Andy suggested we take Rt 45 heading into Bloomington before getting on the slab for home. This was another fun road, but had quite a few driveways and as we got closer to Bloomington, traffic increased a lot.

The fun Rt 39 from Martinsville, IN to Lebanon, IN. Great way to bypass Indy.

We were trying to find Old Route 37 to take us out of Bloomington, but missed it and had to jump on the new 37 which was slab. At Martinsville, we caught 39 to head north to Lebanon, where we would catch I-65, north of Indy. Rt 39 was more a side road than I expected and twisty riding was in call. The first part was quite fun. Aren't the best twisties are the ones you don’t expect? We cut across I-70 and I-74 before heading into Lebanon. The skies were still clear and I was quite happy that we had managed to ride back-roads the whole two days in good weather. If it turned bad now, it didn't matter.

The biggest threat on the roads was probably us!

Taking an extended break before hitting the slab for home. Time was around 6:30 pm.

Riders satiated with our apetite for twisties.

After an extended stop at the Flying J and checking the radar maps, it was slab time. We were going to get off in 90 miles to determine which way to head into the city, based on where the worst of the storm was. We were clipping along at 90 mph, about 5 over what traffic was doing, when I realized that all of us got a sudden speed boost. We were soon averaging 110 mph, behind this new Tahoe, which was blazing the path for us. I figured that we decided to pick up the pace so that we could get as far north as possible before we hit the rain, as then we would need to slow down. Alex handed the lead to me as he forgot which exit we were planning to get off on. I'm not as highway savvy as Alex is, as he grew up in the city. But I was quite impressed with my average speed through there. I love it when complete and utter concentration is required in riding. Moving at those speeds, thoughts are being processed at an incredible rate. Always planning exit paths and judging speed and direction of nearby vehicles, while constantly studying the road surface for irregularities that could upset the bike. I love it. I usually don’t like to go too fast on the freeway, maybe 5-10 mph above what traffic is doing. However, this run was the fastest average speed that I've done on the freeway on the bike. Felt quite thrilling. It was also good to have that Tahoe to block any radar. I was figuring that if we got pulled over, we could try the weather story and about how we were trying to get home safely. Don’t know how that would have passed over... The winds were not too much a problem as the majority of the storm must have passed through already. There was some leaning into the wind required, but not much.

It started raining just as we got to Merrillville and we split where we met. Andy was heading north on 41 towards downtown and Alex and I were heading west to the burbs. The rain was in full swing by now and the same gear was getting wet as on Friday. Riding through the rain on the freeway through major construction is no fun at all. I was paying extra attention to the zillion tar snakes, which were slippery as eels. Also, changing lanes in the wet can be quite an adventure on the rear tire. Don’t apply too much throttle as you’re crossing a lane, as I learnt it might be slippery. At this point, my fingers were really starting to hurt, along with my butt.

I couldn't understand it; I had done the Canada trip (4400 miles) on this Sargent seat, and my butt didn’t really hurt that much. Maybe I just needed to get used to it after the months of absence of riding. But my fingers were another story. It wasn't the wrist, but more the fingers themselves.

We all got home safely and were glad to have gone that weekend for all the twisties that we discovered. And the best part was we didn't have to take a day off from work. Certainly planning to do this at least twice more this season. Also, with lodging covered, expenses were on the low side.

What a fun weekend!

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