Ouch!

15 April 2006
Kalamazoo, Michigan

I may have an Iron Butt but my knees must be made of aluminum.

We got our usual early start from Escanaba around the crack of noon.  Although it was a little chilly I didn't bother putting the liners in my First Gear jacket and pants.  I almost ended up regretting this decision.  Without the liners the gear is little more than wind and sun protection.  Well, there is that little matter of road-rash protection but I don't dwell much on that even though that's why we're really wearing the gear in the first place.  Anyway...  When we left Escanaba it was around 54F with a clear and sunny sky.  It could only get warmer, right?

Two and one-half hours later we were crossing the Mackinaw bridge that connects the Upper Peninsula to the "rest" of Michigan and it hadn't warmed up a single degree.  That  bridge crossing was pretty challenging.  With the right lane closed for construction only the left lane was open.  Just so happens the left lane is metal grating.  Add to the metal grating a right cross wind blowing about 30 mph (occasionally blocked by various bridge features) and some guy behind you in an SUV not happy with the 45 mph speed limit you've got an E-ticket ride a couple hundred(?) feet above Lake Michigan.  I don't think Tamara enjoyed it quite as much as I did.  She was quite the trooper, however, and left me to concentrate on not turning the K-Bike into Das Boot.

Tamara's been doing quite well sitting on the back of the bike and taking whatever comes along with aplomb.  I know for a fact I would last about 5.33201 seconds back there before I totally freaked out.  Even just the thought of sitting back there through some of the stuff we've been through (like Hurricane Bertha in '96) makes me uncomfortable.  I really don't know how she does it...

Although we are on a schedule, it's a rather easy schedule and we haven't been pushing ourselves too hard.  Even still, I'm having a hell of a time with my knees.  After a couple hours in the saddle they feel like they are on fire.  Standing on the pegs, stretching my legs out to the sides, even stopping and getting off the bike brings only temporary relief.  Hopefully I'll fall into a groove pretty soon and things will level out.  Not sure what I'll do if they get any worse.

We're working our way up slowly to a 2-Up "Bun Burner" (1,500 miles in 36 hours) later in the trip.  It certainly won't happen until we get back across the other side of the Mississippi River.  The scenery on the two-lane highways through the UP is really nice but the 55 mph speed limits are maddening.  A side benefit to traveling so slowly (after 75 mph limits to the west) is an increase in our fuel economy.

"Why Kalamazoo, of all places?"  Glad you asked.  To visit the Air Zoo, of course!  http://www.airzoo.org/ (opens in new window).  I saw a segment on this place on "Wings to Adventure" several months ago and resolved then and there to make this a mandatory stop on our trip.  Hopefully it lives up to my expectations.  We'll see tomorrow.

-Are We There Yet?

Travel Stats:
Miles Traveled Today 439
Today's Total Average Speed 52.5 mph
Today's Total Moving Average Speed 62.7 mph
Miles Traveled Total (including "local" travel) 2610

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