I’ve been a solo rider for all my motorcycling life. While there might be occasional shared trips, or long passengers in the Ural, if you looked at my total miles 99% of them have been in my own. This is my sad or anything, I like being in my own. It’s allows for freedom in choosing where go, how to get there, and when to stop along the way. Solo travelers also seem to be more able to connect with locals on the rode, being more exposed and less threatening than a group would be.
As I’ve mentioned a bunch lately, I met a very nice woman late last year. We haven’t been able to take a lot of trips yet, but travel (and motorcycle travel in particular) is high on both our lists. I have a friend in Lower Michigan who hosts a party at his house in the summer, where he grills meat and offers camping in his yard. Sue was feeling pretty good that weekend, so we decided to ride motorcycles around the southern tip of Lake Michigan and attend the party.
I haven’t used the Ural for a multiway trip in years, and chose to bring it this time to remove any pressure from what was packed. In the end, we only managed to fill the Ural half way, even with the passenger features (seat and windshield) still installed. Urals carry a lot.
We left later than planned, and after a stop for lunch and ice cream at A&W, we entered Chicago. Sue was leading, but I had heard her plan to take I-94 through the center of the city. What I didn’t see, and she did, was the sign reporting major traffic backups on I-94, so when she hadn’t moved over as the exit approached, I assumed it was because of traffic and blocked the lane for her. We didn’t have hand signals for directions, and (unsure hat to do) Sue moved over as well. And we got to sit I traffic for hours and hours, instead of taking the bypass.
I have a Sena headset, which includes an intercom. Sue didn’t have one, so we couldn’t talk. She has one now.
We struggled through, reaching the south side of the city about the time we had planned on camping, still with a ways to ride. The rest was much easier, and we reached the sandy dunes of Southern Michigan ready to call it’s a day.
And there was no where to camp.
We tried state and private parks without success, and as it’s got later heavy fog rolled in off the lake. I was willing to give up and find a cheap hotel, but worried about Sues feelings on cheap lodging. As it turned out, her feelings were much the same as mine – hotels need a bed and bathroom, and nothing else. We found motel, walked somewhere for dinner, and went to sleep.
In the morning we found one of the bolts holding on her luggage had sheared off, and one saddlebag was resting in her exhaust. We used straps to secure it as best we could, and I hoped Clay would have tools for a repair. He did.
The afternoon was food, fun, and tall tales. Sue met everyone and ate and laughed, which made me happy. There was a bit of extra paint damage but we got it all sorted out, with higher grade bolts so it shouldn’t happen again. They actually felt far more secure afterwards.
We sat up late around the fire, going into the tent just before the skies opened up and a huge thunderstorm roared. I don’t remember it ending, but when I woke in the morning, the sun was bright and hot. We headed to coffee, then returned to pack up and start towards Wisconsin. We decided on a scenic route, and a cool little BBQ place for lunch.
Sue found an old Ford, and we posted a picture on social media reporting she’d bought it. She might’ve, if he hadn’t been on the motorcycles.
The rest of the ride was uneventful, and we took the bypass around Chicago. We stopped again to watch the USA vs Ghana World Cup match in Kenosha, then finished the ride home. I was happy with how the trip went, happy enough to look forward to the next one.