Camping would be the method of sleep while there, as Terry always offered up his farm as a home base and his wife and family decided to continue the tradition of hospitality. So, time to pack! Quickly I discovered this was a whole new ball game on this smaller bike with smaller bags, I was used to packing everything and the kitchen sink! No problem, just had to cut out the fluff. The only stuff I didn't cut down on were tools and "emergency" items such as road flares, tire repair kit and pump, bike jumper cables, zip ties, gorilla tape, yada yada... Better to be prepared...
As I was packing, Karla was at work and I found a few notes littered around the bike!
This one was in my saddlebag!
And this one where my GPS goes, to remind me that the Ninja was NOT built for long days on high speed interstate, so to not get angry with it!
Finally I found this one in the map pocket of my tankbag, referencing a joke from my ride to Arkansas last year, "Ride faster, I hear banjos!"
I loved all three of them, and put them in my tankbag where I could look down and see them while riding. Thanks honey!
The Ninja is all cleaned up and ready to go, so of course I had to take some pictures. Not bad for a "little" 650!
The ride out was an adventure, got to know my new-to-me Ninja 650R. Heated gear was a godsend, both the vest and glove liners were gifts from friends. I decided to head west first, to start in Idaho Springs, CO. This would allow me to complete an Saddle Sore 1000 Iron Butt, also known as an SS1000, if time and safety allowed. This would require me to ride 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours. I've completed 4 of these in the past, but all on much larger, more comfortable bikes with twice the fuel range.
The bike ran well, I only had to stop once to fix the heated gear (quick fix, popped a fuse) and once 120 miles from my destination to clean a corroded battery terminal.
Here's the stop to fix the heated gear, somewhere in Kansas:
Speaking of, Kansas proved to be rather foggy! Here we are just east of KC, sun has been up for an hour or two, and it's still foggy! Actually made the area even more beautiful, giving everything a bit of a spooky look to it. Felt like I was somewhere in Europe or Ireland, NOT just east of the Missouri line! Oh, and not to worry, I didn't hear any banjos except those coming from my MP3s!
Here's the stop about 120 miles from Casey. I had only three hours left if I wanted to complete the SS1000. Being that close, I was rather motivated! After checking off a few things from the list that could be wrong, it ended up being a simple fix.
I was rather shocked when this Harley rider completely ignored me for 30min sitting in the same parking lot. Tends to be biker code that you always offer assistance. Guess this guy didn't get the memo.
Ended up making it to Casey, Illinois without any other problems and zero speeding. I was pleased with myself!
Now, before the sun set in Kansas I had hit some rain and realized my boots leak. Without the wind/weather protection of my previous bikes, the boots were a bit overwhelmed! No problem, I stopped, changed into dry socks and put a plastic bag in each boot. Tada! Dry, warm feet on a budget. Well, look what was dangling when I arrived to greet all my friends! DOH! I believe I walked into atleast 5 gas stations like this as well.... Ah yes, I'm amazing. *wink
Well, everyone got a huge kick out of that, and once I realized what in the world they were giggling at I started laughing as well. Got my tent setup next to some grain silos and joined the rest of the crowd at the Farm Restaurant for a massive buffet dinner and awards ceremony. Also lots of talk by friends and family honoring Terry. I am not sure the official count, but I believe there were over 500 in attendance Friday evening.
After a heaping plate full of dinner, a big salad and sneaking a half slice of homemade chocolate cream pie (bad diet, but it's my favorite!) my eyelids were very heavy. There was a podium and sound system set up, folks were honoring Terry, giving out awards, telling stories and speaking of things I was very interested in. However, in respect for Terry and all those in attendance, I quietly took my leave after an hour of listening, as it would be bad form to fall asleep at the table! Thankfully my tent was 10min away. I came outside to a lovely sunset, the kind you only see in open farmland.
After a blissful 10 hours of hard, heavy sleep I woke around 6am to rain. Laid there and listened a while, when I heard distant thunder getting closer I knew it was time to get up and hit the head before I got soaked! Grabbed my rain gear and got dressed, soon enough it was a huge booming Illinois thunderstorm! Radar showed lots of red, it was very dramatic.
Before the storm really got rolling, it looked like this. That's the ninja under the silver cover. Glad I brought it, that thing is waterproof (my tank and saddlebags are not).
Here's a picture from another friend, I put my camera back in the bike where I knew it would stay dry. Holy cow the place turned into a lake! My tent didn't fair too badly, but many completely flooded. I knew I was going to have to move the tent to higher ground later. I counted only one ST1300 that fell over when it's kickstand sunk in the mud, no damage thankfully.
The spectacular storm finally started to lighten and clear off. While several campers had made off for the Moonshine Store and their burger in the rain, many of us waited (including me) for it to settle down. As the first bits of sunshine started to poke through, I suited up and headed off. Now, the road to Terry's farm where we were camping is a bit bumpy... Not 100 yards from the farm the glass in my left mirror fell out and went bouncing down the paved/gravel road. DOH. Thankfully I was able to find it, toss it in my saddle bag, and repair it once I got to the store with my handy dandy gorilla tape. Tapped the other just for good measure.
The store was awesome! It is so in the middle of nowhere that the organizers had set up "escorts" leaving from Casey. I managed to hook on to the end of one of the groups. Those in the know say there were 1500 bikes, 1800 people and an official new record: 2,068 of some of the BEST burgers I've ever eaten sold! I'll let the pictures do the talking.
Discovered the Ninja is so small I could easily squeeze into a front row spot, even though I didn't arrive until 10am.
The number of bikes was staggering... It was great to see every type, style, manufacturer of bike represented with all different sorts of people!! Really how I wish more motorcycle "rallies" worked.
Terry's Honda ST1300 had it's place of honor in front of the store, he called her "Relentless."
Here's the majority of the ST-Owners forum members that were there! I am an active member of the forum, and they graciously decided to keep me even though I ride a Kawasaki now. ;) (the forum is open to riders of any type of motorcycle)
Here are the four of us (that I could find, we were missing 2 others) that rode from Colorado!
As the front row parkers cleared out, the spaces didn't get filled in with newcomers as they parked aaaaall the way back on the "main" road. Photo op! Look Mom, a photo with me in it! LOL
My motorcycle mentor George snuck into the next one, I'm glad he did! What a guy, I have learned and continue to learn a lot from this man.
Someone else took this one, shows how small the bike is compared to my last one!
I got distracted when this beauty rolled by....
And finally decided it was time to clear out. George had mentioned several where gathering at Terry's shop in town, so opted to head that way. Of course, only I could manage to NOT find the place the first few times I drove right past it, in a town with one stoplight....
Terry's shop was awesome. Tools meticulously organized and a huge photo wall. Really enjoyed seeing it.
Spent most of my time there just sitting back, listening, watching and learning. The folks here were some of Terry's good friends and I unfortunately had never known the man that well. I was honored to be there.
This is a banner that is carried to each ST event, this one in 2009. Hung from the ceiling along with a road sign of Terry's forum handle: "Austin City Limits" aka "ACL."
Parked next to George's ST1100 (well, he has three, this is just the one he brought!). Looks like the Ninja's older brother. (The ST1100 was my last bike)
After taking in my fill of stories, jokes and comraderie among these old friends that seemed to have known each other, and Terry, for atleast a lifetime, I took my leave to head back to the Farm. I had a tent to dry out!
All settled in, out of the lake, on higher more sloped ground. Was glad I brought my heavy duty stakes to get purchase in the soft soil.
I love this new camera.
The little 400lb Ninja is quite inspiring on not so perfect roads... See the mud? *grin
With everything dry, re-organized (yes, I re-organize... often...I can hear Christie and Uncle Pete laughing...) it was time to head to the local high school. The volunteer firefighters were hosting a chili dinner to fund a new firehall! The Chief was a very good friend of Terry's and a fellow farmer. Dang the chili was good, and I got to speak with some riders I had never met in person.
As the dining hall filled up quickly, a friend of mine from WV and I headed back to the Farm for some quiet.
Carole enjoyed the sunset with me, she's an incredible photographer and fascinating to listen to about any topic!
Don't get sunsets like these at home.
Stayed up later that night hanging out with loads of folks around the campfire, shared my whiskey and coke and enjoyed the scene. Nature woke me early again, but this time with clear, warm skies! It was time to pack up and see an old friend 3 hours away before making my way to Christie's in Kansas City.
A mile outside of the Farm
Don't get sunrises like these at home either!!
Treated the Ninja and I to almost 2 hours of numbered farm roads, dancing around potholes, gravel and 2 farm trucks. What fun!
A bit later, I knew I would have to get on atleast 2 lane roads to make better time. A call to my friend Roofer (that's his forum handle, we all call him that) about an hour out, he picked a small town with a breakfast spot to meet.
Along the way, this massive coal plant begged for some photos.
Roofer and I had breakfast and lots of catching up. Hadn't seen him since last August in Arkansas. He rode with me as far as the Mississippi river, left me with a full stomach, a full tank of gas and an extra $20. He's like my second dad, much like Michael McCutcheon was when I was a kid.
Oh and yes, Roofer is a roofer, he built and owns one of the most successful roofing businesses in Illinois! His two sons just took over for him this year, although I doubt Roofer will ever get out of their hair entirely. Haha, he's a total ham as well, check out the sunglasses!
Made my way, inching closer and closer to the promise of a real bed, hot shower and a cold beer at Christie's... Wind was an ever-present factor, as it always is coming across middle America. This flag was ginormous!
A huge thank you to Christie and the Hawkins family for once again opening their home to me! The food was delicious (probably because you only had to stick it in the oven, LOL), the beer was cold, the shower was spectacular, bed was soft. The best though was lounging out on the back deck for a few hours with Christie just catching up, drinking Bud Light and generally shooting the shit. Thank you so much.
To her credit, Christie did get up the next morning... And then promptly went back to bed! LOL. Love you! Thanks to Brooke for seeing me off.
Wind was once again a challenge today, but hey, it's Kansas. Atleast it's consistent! Zoomed past a Denver friend on an ST1300 as he was stretching at a rest stop, he caught up with me about 50 miles or so east of the Colorado line. We stopped to get a photo, needed one with the Ninja!
John and his ST1300
As we were snapping photos, another ST1300 pulled in. It was RealST (can't remember his real name, just his handle) and his copilot Lexi! They are from New York, had camped with us in Moonshine at the Farm, and were headed tonight for Boulder! What a team.
He also grabbed this shot of me rolling down the highway, thanks!
With less than 80 miles to go, the wind that had dogged us all day from a 15 degree angle (north west wind, giving us a head/cross wind) shifted and blew me right into Denver!
It was a wonderful trip with great folks honoring an incredible man. I was pleased the bike ran so well and gave me so few troubles. I know I will return for another hamburger!!