Saturday, September 13, 2008

It all started months ago. I had gotten a good deal on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and always wanted to tour, but never thought I would be able to afford the bike and all the gear. After getting the bike I decided I was going to ride from Chicago to Muskegon, Michigan to surprise my parents. From there I was going to take a ferry across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, and then ride back down to Chicago. I stared buying the things I decided I needed. I got a nice Jannd Expedition rear rack, a Tubus low rider front rack, and really great set of hand made panniers from Swift Industries. I thought about getting a new tent, but they're sooo super expensive, and the one I had I was kinda attached to. I gave it some TLC- I waterproofed the rain fly and sealed all the seems making it totally waterproof again. For weeks I planned and waited, and finally the day came.
It was Monday and time to go. I woke at 6:00 A.M. ( to tell the truth I barley slept because of the excitement). By 6:30 A.M. I was riding through the city, on my way out of town. Not even two miles into the trip and I had my first casualty. The magnet for the cadence on my computer fell off without me noticing...oh well. The morning was great! Riding along Lake Michigan with the sun rising over the lake, I was happy as could be. I was nervous about going through Hammond and Gary but it proved to be nothing to worry about. From there it was smooth sailing all the way to Michigan City. Once there, I was right at the lake again. The wind picked up and it started to rain. I was 60 miles in and knew I needed some more miles if I was going to make it to my parents in two days, so I put on my rain gear and headed south. Another 30 miles in the pouring rain. I needed to be done. Semi's were blowing by me, covering me with spray on top of the pouring rain. It was pretty crappy. I found a state park, pulled in, and started to set up my tent. I got it up pretty fast, but it got a little wet inside. No big deal- I got inside and to my horror it started to leak on me. I put my rain jacket over the leak and it kinda helped. The panniers were sweet and kept all my clothes dry, but because my tent was so wet, most everything got wet when I set it down. I took a long hot shower and ate a pb&j sandwich. I had planned on cooking veggie brats over the fire, but that wasn't going to happen in the monsoon that was going on outside. It was getting cold. Yeah, September... I thought I would be swimming in the lake, but instead I was shivering in my wet ass tent. I was a little worried
because it was going to get a lot colder and I didn't bring a sleeping pad. All my clothes were wet and my sleeping bag was damp. I got pretty bummed and just passed out. Got woke up an hour later by the ranger. He wasn't around when I got there, so I had to pay him $25.00 for my site! Give me a brake! I did ask him for some cardboard- an old hobo trick I learned from Derek. It makes a great sleeping pad and I really needed it. He said he'd see what he could do. I didn't expect much. I decided to not feel sorry for myself and went out in the rain to see if I could come up with a plan. I went into the bathroom and realized it was warm and dry. They had hand dryers, so I spent the next few hours trying to dry some of my clothes, and text people to keep my spirits up. Eventually I went back to my wet ass tent passed out. I woke up at six, packed up all my stuff, and got on the road.
It was cold- 48 degrees to be exact. 16 miles later I was in St. Jospeh trying to eat a bagel, but was feeling crappy and frozen. Called my dad and told him what I was doing and he said if I needed a ride him and my mom would come get me, but I had my pride and my friend Brandon telling me I could do it. 24 miles later, into a head wind with rain starting to fall, and all the extra weight from the rain soaked gear, I gave up. I called my mom and she came and got me. I realized I was still a long way from home and would've needed to camp another night, but all my shit was so soaked with no sun to dry it out. I was bummed to say the least. We drove my route home, and I still would have had 60 miles to go.
I'm now rested and armed with a brand new Mountain Hardware tent that's super duper water proof and really nice. I also picked up a few other things and I'm going to tackle part two of the trip Sunday. It's 90 miles from Milwakee to Chicago. I could do it in a day but that would take all the fun out of it! I'm going to do 40 miles Sunday and the rest Monday. I'll write part two when I get back. Wish me luck..seems I need it!


ps i have some pics but i didnt bring my card reader so ill post them when i get home


Nathan said...

Kudos on your effort. I hope Sunday was dry for you, at least a bit... We are kind of flooded out here in Aurora.

James said...

I hope the weather improves for you on the rest of the trip. At least you get to spend several days on your Long Haul Trucker! We could all be so lucky.