CHICAGO OR BUST!

Updated: Mar 7

I solo rode 5,300 miles to Chicago, IL to visit my dear friend Elyza.

Oct 5, 2021


Love knows no distance or boundaries. I could have taken a flight, driven a car or ridden the Amtrak. Those modes of transportation, however, are extremely boring to me. So instead, I chose to ride 5,300 grueling miles just to visit my friend. They say, "Go big or go home." This was my first solo trip and I went big. I rode big, and rode home a different person.


Here are 5 things I learned on my solo trip.



1. Do a test ride with all your gear before your trip.


My trip was a total of 3 weeks. One week of riding, 5 day break, and another week to ride home. I rode 300-500 miles for about 6 to 9 hours a day and I don't recommend this to anyone. It doesn't give you any time to explore and play. I rode to the midwest in October, the beginning of when temperatures drop. Cue Morgan Freeman voice, "There she goes again *eye roll*." As I left home, I was getting speed wobbles whenever I decelerated. I stopped at a friends house and tried to troubleshoot packing different ways for an hour to balance the weight better to eliminate this. I couldn't figure this out and instead, I rode home, abandoned my tent and opted for a mosquito net as a tent instead. I would later regret this. And this leads me to Lesson #2.


I rode to the midwest in October, the beginning of when temperatures drop.
Cue Morgan Freeman voice, "There she goes again *eye roll*."


2. Even though a tent is only a thin sheet of nylon and polyester that would not prevent a wild animal attack, it provides a sense of protection and safety.


I look happy in this photo and I am. But I could not describe to you how physically and mentally exhausted I was. It sprinkled at night and since I abandoned my tent, I thought I would need to frantically pack my belongings in the middle of the night, ride down the mountain in the mud and get a hotel. Luckily, the sprinkling stopped. Later in the night after I fell asleep again, a man and his dog were looking for a spot to camp, and his dog came right up to my sleeping bag and sniffed me. This was a terrible sound to wake up to in the middle of the night especially since one of my fears is getting attacked by a wild animal when I'm sleeping.


Lesson learned, bring a tent, even if it won't stop a coyote from attacking me. At least, it doesn't exist if I can't see it. Nee-ner, nee-ner.



3. I will never ride on the 80E in Wyoming ever again.


Seeing freeway signs saying "Warning: high winds over 65mph" is the one of the most terrifying things you could see while riding, especially when you're on a 300cc sportbike that gets tossed around in the wind. I guess I'm lucky I had a sportbike so the wind wrapped around me ergonomically because of the aggressive shape of the fairings? NAHHH. And if you know the 80E, it's big rig territory for thousands of miles. And the worst thing is, you have no choice, there is no other road that will take you across the state in that area, no backroads, no local streets, there is nothing out there.


I never tuck when I ride. But I tucked and became one human smushed with machine with my little bike. My anxiety was flaring as the wind tossed me across my lane. Luckily the few times it tossed me closer to the dashed line, there were no vehicles next to me. I'm thankful I'm alive. I have a saying that you can only cheat death so many times doing the same thing. I cheated death that day, alright, and I am not pushing my luck again. If I have to ride an extra 4 hours and take the 90 or the 70, I'll do it.


4. Human kindness runs rampant.

“There is kindness out there, just keep sending your good energy out into the world."

My cold black heart melts a little when I think about all the kind souls who offered me help and kindness along the way. One gas station attendant warned me there were mountain lions in the mountains near the Bonneville Salt Flats and offered me the keys to his hotel while he was at work. He pulled his keys out and held them out for me. He trusted me, a complete stranger will all his belongings. WOW. My little heart. Of course stubborn me didn't lug all this camping gear not to camp, so I rode off into the mountains, but his gesture of kindness remains in my heart.


Another man who owned a small convenience store let me eat behind the counter so I wouldn't have to eat on the sidewalk in the cold. He also said I didn't have to pay for my meal. But ya'll, he thought I had nothing because I looked so disheveled from my ride. LOL. Of course I paid him, but I am thankful for his gesture. There is kindness out there, just keep sending your good energy out into the world.



5. This trip changed me.


Being in survival mode, so exhausted and not truly enjoying the way I did this trip muted my emotions and existence. I would not recommend to anyone to do this trip the way I did it. I was rushing everyday, some nights I could not fall asleep because the wind was so cold, and some mornings it took me two hours to get ready because it was 28 degrees out and I could not get my hands warm. It was so cold, my water would not boil so I couldn't make my oatmeal. There was one morning I ate my oatmeal under cooked and crunchy.


And slowly, I, my family, friends and my best friend nursed me back to help. I was emotionless and numb for a very long time. It took me a long time for my spirit to recuperate. I'm back now. I feel things. I learned that just because I can endure, doesn't mean I need to. And you don't either. If you don't like something about yourself or your situation, do something about it or change how you do things the next time around. I will never do such a rushed high mileage trip like this again. Neither my mind, body or soul enjoyed it. Take your time, life moves fast, but not that fast that we always need to be rushing.

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