[View my route for the day: Day 10 Track]
First thing in the morning, I headed out to the Wiebler’s Harley dealership in Davenport, Iowa. I got there just before 8am (when they opened up) and started talking to the service manager about getting new tires and probably an oil change as well. He told me:
Him: “No problem, looks like we can get you in tomorrow around noon-ish.”
Me: “No, no, no, you don’t understand. The only reason I came to Davenport is because I needed to come to the Harley dealership today. I need new tires.”
Him: “Sorry, we only have one technician working today and we have a bunch of other bikes we need to work on.”
Me: “OK, well can you help me find another dealership on the way that I can stop by later on or tomorrow?”
We spent about 10 minutes looking, until I finally asked him if there really wasn’t anything he could do. “What if we forgot about the oil change? I understand that can take a while, so let’s just do a quick tire change.”
What I didn’t realize is that the estimate to change tires is 2 hours – per tire. Luckily, that didn’t seem to matter as I finally played to his senses and he agreed to do the work. Awesome.
Now, I had read last night that I needed to check out of the motel by 11 or else I would be subject to another day’s lodging. Not trying to push my luck (well, yes I was…) I asked the Harley guy if there was anyway they could speed things up and get me out of there by 11. To my surprise, he told me that shouldn’t be a problem.
Well, 10am rolled around and it still wasn’t getting worked on. Not only that, but the technician came out and told me that I also needed new rear brake pads (which was actually good, because last night I had heard lots of squeaking when I was braking). “Will we still be able to get out by 11?” “Yeah yeah yeah, we’ll get you out by 11.”
By 10:30 and I hadn’t received any updates on the bike. I called the motel and sweet-talked the nice Indian girl into giving me some extra time to check out. She was happy to help.
At 10:59, the technician came into the waiting room. I felt like I was in an intensive care unit waiting to hear the news about a friend who was undergoing surgery.
Me: “So, how is she, Doc?” Do you think she’ll make it?”
Doctor: “Well, it wasn’t easy, but we managed to save her.”
Me: “Oh, thank you thank you thank you!”
In reality, he came out, told me to get on my way, and shut the door. Talk about punctuality!
I ended up getting back only about 15 minutes late. As I pulled in, I saw the owner running up to me, hands flailing all about. “Dan, Dan. Hi, how you doing?!” She stammered out before managing to catch her breath. “No problem you’re a little late, but we couldn’t wait for you so we went ahead and cleaned your room anyway. We just left your stuff on the other bed.”
Hmmm OK. What could I do? Not a big deal, and none of my stuff seemed to be missing, so I shrugged it off. In the end, the workers came back over to my room and gave me advice on how I should get to Clay County and what roads should be taken. They told me to get on I-80 heading west, NOT east. Nice people. 4 stars for City Center Motel!
The plan was to meet the cousins of a family friend in Clay County, KS by the end of the day.
Before leaving the motel, I found an email from one of them – Bill:
Dan: One alternate route might be down to Hannibal Missouri then across 36. 36 is a four lane a good share of the way but is not as busy as I-80 as it is not interstate. I am also a Harley rider and I have nothing better this evening than riding out a ways to meet you. Let me know how your service work is going and when you leave and an update or two on the way.
OK that sounds good, I will take the route you suggested.
I just got out of the dealership and will be leaving by 11:45 or so and will keep you updated on my status. It would be great if you wanted to meet up with me somewhere and ride along, just let me know where a good place would be!
10-4. Probably something like Marysville, Kansas. Keep me posted later this afternoon, like around 4pm.
I could tell it was raining farther south and you could definitely feel it in the air. Nonetheless, it was hot in Davenport, so I took off the liner for my jacket just before heading out.
As I left, I waved to the help at the motel and then immediately went in the opposite direction from what they had suggested – East on I-80 (not on purpose, it’s just where my GPS took me). I passed back over the Mississippi for the second time in the same number of days, and into Illinois.
Looks like I should be in Hannibal by around 3, and then I will pick up 36 and start heading West.
According to the weather maps you will likely run into rain west of Hannibal around Chillicothe. Check in when convenient. If you proceed let me know when you are in the St. Joseph area. Tomorrow is fine as well, be safe.
Just got to Hannibal. Will let you know once in St. Joseph.
When I got into Missouri, it turned out that I had absolutely no service for the entirety of the state. (In fact, I didn’t regain service until 2 days later when I made it into Colorado). I was very worried I might break down or run out of gas. But that wasn’t all I should have been worried about. Remember on Day 2 when I said riding over those bridges out of Boston was some of the scariest riding I had ever done? Well, this topped that. The gale force winds howling across the Plains from the north threatened to blow me off my bike or, worse, into oncoming traffic. It was all I could do to lean to the right – into the wind – as if I was going around a turn to keep the bike upright and to keep me on it.
What’s more, in addition to the wind, I ended up riding through patches of rain and hail. The good news was I could see the clouds from miles away and prepare myself for the onslaught of coldness and wetness. The bad news was I was cold and wet, and it hurt!
About 30 minutes later, a sudden shutter from the bike snapped me to attention and made me realized that it had been quite some time since I had seen a gas station. I had clocked 114 miles since my last fill-up and my main tank had gone dry. I flipped it over to reserve, but since I had no idea when the next town would be I had to make sure I did everything I could to save on gas. I slowed down to 50mph, hoping that would give me the best gas mileage. I then pulled up as close behind a tractor-trailer as I possibly could to draft off them and use them to block the wind. Thankfully, about 10 miles down the road I passed a beat up, old-school gas station and managed to fill my tank.
I estimate your arrival in ST. Joe to be around 6:30 and Marysville about 8:00. You will come into Marysville from the east, go all the way through town to the west side. I will meet you at the Valero Convenience Store on your left side of the street.
Check in at St. Joe. Later.
I was amazed at how accurate Bill’s predication had been. By 6:23 I had made it to St. Joseph’s, Kansas but still with no cell service. Thankfully, I found a McDonalds and was able to tap into their WIFI. I took about 15 minutes at the McDonalds to warm up a bit and put my winter lining back into my jacket before continuing on.
Hi Bill, just got to St. Joe. No cell service all the way through Missouri so I stopped at a McDonalds’s with wifi. Will meet you at Valero!
I ended up being a little behind schedule, arriving at the Valero at 8:20pm. When I got there, I saw his Harley parked in the lot and went in to find him in the store. All the way in the back I spotted someone and assumed it to be Bill, so I walked over there, introduced myself, and apologized for being late. He was as nice as could be and was delighted I had made it safely through the rain, wind and cold. It turned out that he had only arrived a few minutes before me due to some issues with his mail server. He didn’t receive the email I sent him from St. Joseph’s until after 7:30, so he had been worried I would get there before him.
We sat down and chatted for a little while before heading another 20 miles west and 30 miles south to Clay County, Kansas and his house. The driveway was made of rock, dirt, and sand, so I had to be very careful and followed Bill’s tracks closely. About ¼ mile later we reached the garage, I pulled my bike inside, unloaded my things, and went into the house. There, I met Bill’s wife, Grace, and the three of us spent the rest of the night talking and getting to know each other. Finally, at around 11:30 or so, we decided to call it a night so I could get some sleep in preparation for the next day – the day I would become a true cowboy.
Random Riding Realizations (and Thoughts) of the Day:
- 12:20pm – What do farmers do in the winter?
- 12:56pm – It must be harvest time. Half of the fields are chopped down and the other half have people working on them.
- 1:10pm – In case you’re not aware, motorcycle tires are rounded while car tires are flat. What that means is, if you do a lot of flat, straight riding, the center of a motorcycle tire becomes worn down and becomes flat like a car tire – which is what happened to my tires and why I needed new ones. Now, I don’t know if this is good or bad, but right now I’m on a road that is more or less perfectly straight, so I figure I’ll weave side to side to (a) even out the wear on the tire to have it go all the way around rather than just stay in the middle; and (b) because it’s a hell of a lot more fun. I’m slaloming the center line at 75mph and creating “artificial curves” since there are no natural ones. Fun stuff.
- 3:30pm – I just crossed the Mississippi for the second time today, third time in two days. I made it into the northeastern part of Missouri. I’ve got over 300 miles to go to get to where I am going in Kansas and am driving straight across the state of Missouri before then going about 1/3 of the way across Kansas. And it’s already 3:30 in the afternoon. Still a long day of riding ahead and I’ve already gone almost 200 miles.
- 4:37pm – Stopping to put my rain stuff on my bags. I see rain up ahead.
- 5:30pm – I have seen a gradual shift overt the past hour and a half or so from the fields of Illinois to the plains of western Missouri and Kansas. It’s become a lot more plains and a lot less farming; you see many more cows out grazing in the grass fields.
- 6:10pm – Missouri? Ehh, not so much. There wasn’t anything really interesting about it. There were a few rolling hills that were nice. But I didn’t love it. In fact, I didn’t make a stop there, so I’m not sure I should count it as having been there. I did ride across the entire state though, so I’m going to count it.
- 7:10pm — Wow, the sunset over the plains of Kansas is absolutely gorgeous. I feel like I’m driving into the sun at the end of a long tunnel