It was a good ride, a great weekend, and now I'm exhausted and it's hard to put two thoughts together. All I see are hills and bluffs, curves and vast expanses, and I'm zipping through these images at high speed, at a compressed rate, like fast forward. Then slowly my mind and body unwind. What a long strange weekend its been. I rode to my first MITM, although this is the 8th Meet In The Middle a good old time number 8 event quality Illinois bash just across the corner from misery, Cheezie, proprieter, established and reg in 1994, unless there are typos on the shirt I got for my entry fee. This group is found on the internet at rec.motorcycles.harley. In real life, they are a diverse bunch.
I cranked out 530 miles on Friday, the first weekend in June 2001. I was on the road at 6:30, on a 1987 Harley Davidson FLTC. The weather was cold. Took highway 93 south of Eau Claire. The cow's breath made fog in the morning mist. The young cattle are frisky, jumping around. Got to Prarie du Chien at about 9:30 and had breakfast. Amazing birds are all along the Mississippi.
Took backroads through southern Illinois and got some advice from a fellow Harley rider which took me on a nice road through Galena. I was stopping about every 140 miles for gas and a swig of juice. When I got near Dorchester, Illinois, I had one of those road creeps brain spasms. I hadn't seen any other bikes so then I thought "Oh shit, I have the wrong weekend!" I broke out in a hot sweat at my own stupidity. After a while I saw my first little white MITM sign and heard the distant familiar rumble of Harleys and suddenly I felt excellent again.
If you haven't followed any of this around the internet for a while, the rest of this story won't make much sense. There were Assholes(tm) everywhere. There were coyotes and fireflies and bikes galore. It was hard getting into the campground because you had to drive over granite boulders to get there. Cheezie and his wife were the hosts, and they were fantastic, especially considering what they put up with. There was a towering inferno with a person in it, briefly. I guess he was the resident fireman. A guy named Redbeard Emeritus was all held together with steel pins from a recent tank slapper at high speed, somewhere in Texas, I believe. The accident had totalled his Electra Glide. He was chasing the girls around like some kind of demented but kind-hearted Terminator. We laughed until our sides hurt. Whisky was passed around and, and jokes were told. A gal named Pepper Lady liked my bandana because it had red chili peppers on it. We all ate a bunch of barbeque and sat around the huge bonfire well into the night. I talked to a guy named Dave that had been racking up miles on his green road king. Green bikes can be bad luck, and he had the tank dents and road rash to prove it. It didn't seem to discourage him much. As soon as I fell asleep in my tent, I was awakend by a loud bellowing nude crazy man being chased around the campsite by a bunch of people. They were yelling things like "hold him down" and "put it in his ear". It was pretty crazy. Soon there were a bunch of flashing lights and people scurrying off into the darkness. The next morning I found out that the guy had a termite-like bug crawl into his ear and begin burrowing into his brain. The local doc couldn't help so they had to ship him off to a clinic in a nearby town. We went to a sponsored breakfast that was real good. I talked to the Hog Doc over breakfast. He was thinking about getting married, so we probably won't be seeing him for a while. He was also from Wisconsin.
There were miles and miles of countryside with strong wind where you could wear out the sides of your tires while traveling in a straight line. There was good food, and best of all, a great bunch of people. Eddie Keiger and some of his family and friends made an appearance, and people were real supportive of this unfortunate fellow who had been paralyzed in a motorcycle accident some years ago. You could tell he appreciated it too.
I rode around the area a little, looking at the houses up on stilts in the Mississippi basin. Some of them were twenty feet in the air, with a rowboat sitting on the dirt beside the house, attached to the house railing by a long rope. I cut through Iowa on the way home, covering some beautiful roads near Dubuque. Later, the bike started running like crap on the hills south of Wisconsin. By the time I got to Wisconsin, I had to keep the bike revved above 2000 rpm or it would crap out. Re-fueling became an adventure. But the bike kept on pulling, and I got back home OK. The next morning, at home, I went out to check the bike and the back tire had gone completely flat!
The engine problems turned out to be a bad plug wire combined with a worn-out Keihin carburator, but they never stopped me cold. A new CV carb takeoff from Northland Cycles (now Signature Cycles) fixed it like a charm. I don't know why anyone would replace this excellent stock carb with aftermarket crap, but it puts them on the parts market for cheap.
See ya on the road.