Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 1: Erie 507 Miles

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But after 253,440 steps (120 miles), one invariably asks himself the universal question, "What the bleep did I get myself into?" According to Norman Vincent Peale that's the first invisible barrier to every great effort.

The great thing about encountering this barrier while riding is that by the time you are finished cursing and regretting, its already behind you by 10,560 steps (5 miles.) You just shut up and ride on.

In case you are about to embark on a similar journey, there are 5,280 feet in a mile and 2-1/2 feet in a step. My math is accurate even though your own invisible barrier may appear on a different milestone.

My great motorcycle trip is going to be about 1,500 miles. I have to ride up to Cleveland OH for a business trip and then ride North to Toronto. Then head back home to Storrs Connecticut. Today was day 1.

For starters, I had a late start today. I had to double check everything even though there wasn't much to check. Just a motorcycle, some clothes, one book and riding gear. The invisible barrier came immediately after crossing Albany on route 90. And went.

I have driven to Toronto on I-90 many times before and have always been unimpressed by the scenery. This time the view was more than decent. By the time I reached Buffalo, it turned dark and started raining hard.

On the bike, you experience the finer aspects of rain. As you ride into it, you start to feel invisible moisture. Then a few small drops here and there on the visor. Then bigger drops which look wet but you are completely dry because you have the right gear on. As rain gets strong, you get free acupuncture on your arms and front. Then the suit starts getting wet. Then the inside of the shoes. Then the visibility gets impaired. And last but not the least, all of a sudden, you are all wet all over. In my case, one minute I was completely dry, and the next minute, I could feel water dripping and sliding into body parts I didn't know I had. That's when I pulled aside under a bridge to figure out what to do.

There were only two options: Wait it out, or ride through. I moved my wallet, phone and passport to the fanny pocket which was completely dry. Now I know why the Germans built it on the jacket. Got back out from under the bridge and kept going.

Its funny how critical factors change when the mode of transportation is different. Rephrase that. Its not funny. In a car rain didn't even make it to the consideration list.

By the time I reached the Angola rest area, rain had subsided. I was happy to have kept riding. Somewhere in the back of my head, I was recalling something that somebody famous had once said. It was something like the best way to overcome a situation is through it.

A few more hours and I was in Erie PA. Checked into a motel and laid out my gear all over the room to dry it. Went to the nearby bar/restaurant, ate and hit the sack.

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