And we’re back home. Since the combination of long days and little wifi meant I didn’t blog the trip as we went along, I’m just going to throw the rest of the adventure into one long post. Mostly, we had a fantastic trip, bookended by tire troubles (yup, Day 5 was just about a repeat of Day 1, read on…):
Trip summary: NC to Indianapolis and back
Total Miles: 1336 (me), ~1400 (Kevin)
Total Days: 5 (4 riding, 1 watching the race and then riding about 100 miles)
Average mi/day (4 riding days): 310 mi/day
Here’s a pic from the start of the main Moto GP race:
Ok, here’s the break. Click to read about the rest of the trip.
Day 2 – Arrival in Indianapolis
We woke up at the campground in KY feeling refreshed and ready to go, fully recovered from the previous long day of dealing with my flat tire. Camping is so easy when the weather is this nice.
This was an Army Corps campground (Jenny Wiley State Park), and was thus on a reservoir. Naturally, we went to see the dam:
Generally, on motorcycle trips, we like to find interesting places to stop and take a break. Motorcycle traveling is wholly unlike traveling in a car. The whole country looks pretty much the same from the interstate. On bikes, we only grab the superslab as a last resort. Our ideal roads are two-lanes and curvy. Part of the appeal are the places we experience along the way, some planned, some not. Anyway, on this particular trip, on the way out of town, we happened by a civil war site; even though we had a long way to go, we still stopped to check it out:
We took a short detour off the parkway around lunch time to ride a fun little back road in the national forest with a tunnel (again, the Nada Tunnel on the National Register of Historic Places), and stop for a picnic lunch:
Since we didn’t have electric hook up at the campground the night before, we weren’t able to charge the camera batteries and phones. As such, my camera battery died not long after this shot. This afternoon slowly devolved as we rode out of the mountains into the flat countryside and secondary roads of Indiana, and then eventually onto the hectic (and always unpleasant) Interstate going into Indianapolis. We never look forward to urban riding, but the weather was perfect, and we had a race to look froward to. Staying at a hotel that night (with a hot shower:) and restaurant in walking distance wasn’t so bad either. Tire trouble aside, it had been a really nice couple of days of riding.
Day 3 – Race Day!
We woke up early and grabbed breakfast at the hotel (the breakfast area was full of race fans), and headed over to the track. Motorcycles get special parking of course:
While Indy isn’t my favorite track, it was definitely worth the effort to experience the race live rather than on TV (although its easier to follow on TV, since you can watch the racers the whole way ’round.) Also, on TV, they only show the main Moto GP event, and not the two other classes, Moto 2 and the 125cc class, which I’d never seen. The 125’s were really fun to watch, and I’m disappointed that this is the last year for the two-strokes.
Here is a video of the start of the 125cc race, as they go through turns 2-4.
This is the start of the main event, following the first lap through turns 2-4.
If you want to know more about the actual race and results, go here.
We had originally planned to stay in Indianapolis that night, and start heading back home in the morning. However, there was still plenty of daylight after the race, the weather was absolutely perfect, and we weren’t tired after spending all day at the track. We decided we’d rather camp, so we packed up and headed out, hoping to put 75 or 100 mi behind us and avoid rush hour traffic in the morning. We found a state park not too far away that was ideal. We definitely made the right choice not to stay at the hotel.
Day 4 – Time to head home
We left Indiana and headed east into Ohio.
Kevin realized that we weren’t too far from one of our all-time favorite landmarks, George’s Dairy Bar, a discovery made on a Baja SAE race trip several years ago. George’s has the best milkeshakes and malts
in the entire country on the planet, and remains the gold standard to compare every other milkshake. It didn’t matter that we’d get there when they opened at 11:30 in the morning, it was time for a milkshake:
In southern OH we happened by yet another historical marker that was too good to pass up: The Serpent Mound, a nearly 1/4 mile long earthen effigy constructed by the indigenous prehistoric people. This site is listed as one of the “Great Wonder Of Ancient World” by National Geographic Magazine.
From the serpent mound, we made our towards West Virginia and the final campground of the trip.
Day 5 – Back Home, but not without more tire trouble
We camped among the RVs at a state park in West Virginia. The wildlife was abundant at this park, although we discovered that most of it wasn’t very wild. The deer, ducks, and skunk (yikes) were not very concerned about their close proximity to people:
Somehow, we were going to get yet another beautiful day to ride. West Virginia has some spectacular roads, which we enjoyed until about mid-morning. While passing through a town, we happened by a motorcycle dealer. We had run out of chain lube a day or two ago, so we decided to stop in and buy more. That’s when Kevin found the slow leak in his rear tire. It must have happened that morning, but somehow a small rock had punctured the rear tire, making a very small hole that was slowly letting the air out.
Here we go again. Didn’t we just do this on Friday with my bike? Unfortunately, the dealer we were already at did not have a tire in stock in the required size. They made a good faith effort to call around and find one, but with no luck (which is strange, its a standard sportbike tire size. Apparently bike shops in WV don’t carry much stock). I didn’t have much luck on the phone either. So, out came the plug kit.
Riding on a plugged tire is definitely a gamble. We inspected the plug at every stop on the way home, and it held up well. So well, in fact, we gave up on trying to find a replacement tire, and just rode home. Both our bikes were almost due for a new set of tires before we left on this trip anyway, so it looks like we’ll be ordering some tires this week.
Overall, this was a really fun trip.