Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Day 1: Chicago to Bloomington

After I posted my entry for yesterday I ventured down to the hotel's bar for a drink and bite to eat, after all I had been given a voucher for a free beer, so it would have been rude not to. It seems slightly ironic that having travelled this far I end up in the Elephant & Castle English pub, but there you go. Sat at the bar, I got chatting to a couple of other people who were also there on their own, Ian and Susan, each on business. It turned out that Ian lives in San Francisco so we agreed to hook up when I get there.

This morning I woke up early, and peeked out of the window to be greeted with the sight of leaden skies and persistent rain :-( Not quite what I'd hoped for, but what can you do? I had a few hours before I was being picked up, so I went out for a walk, only to discover that it was bloody cold to boot! However I did manage to find the start of the route on Adams Street:

Joe, from EagleRider picked me up later and took me to their office to finally get my bike, and what a beauty! A brand spanking new, black, Harley Davidson ElectraGlide, with just 1 (yes, one!) mile on the clock!

After about half an hour of filling in paperwork, and signing countless clauses (essentially saying that if anything whatsoever happened, it isn't their fault, I won't be able to sue them, and I will have to pay for it), the keys were handed over, and she was all mine for 18 days. Up until this point the trip has all been to a timetable: Get to the airport for this time; Go to that hotel; Get the next flight then; Get picked up to collect the bike at 10. Now timing of the trip is in my own hands, and the only deadlne I have to meet is to be in San Francisco on 8th May. Freedom!

So here she is outside the Launching Pad diner in Wilmington, where I had lunch, although how I managed to cut of the 'L' of Launching I'll never know.

The weather didn't improve as I headed south, and was actually miserable all the way, with a hail storm or two thrown in for good measure. I had decided to keep the riding fairly short today, to give me a chance to get used to the bike, riding on the wrong side of the road, and get over any jet lag that I might still have, so my destination for the night was the twin towns of Bloomington-Normal. I had numerouse stops on the way as I saw things of interest, including the old, restored gas stations in Dwight and Odell, which are now gift shops. Bloomington greeted me with fog, and a thunderstorm - how nice!

The route ridden today (once I remembered to switch on the GPS tracker), and the rest of the photos can be found here:

So, in summary very good day, which could have been improved had the weather been better, but overall, enjoyable.
A slightly longer day tomorrow, so why not "Meet me in St. Louis"?

Today's mileage ridden: 134

Total mileage covered: 134

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