Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When in Rain, Do as the Wind Does

Cute title, but more of a harrowing story. MeAsWe and Me are heading out of St Louis around 3pm (behind schedule) heading for Indianapolis, IN, some 250 miles away. I figure with stops and such 5 hours or so and we will be back on track. Pulling in at 8pm won’t seem so bad, well at least it will be before it is totally dark out.

We are humping along I70 to make time all while I am feeling guilty we should be on US 40 the National Road. Somewhere about 1.5 hours into our trip, I point to the sky for MeAsWe to view. It looks like we are in for a change in weather. I slow the bike (I really need to get some kind of communication technology) and yell back to see if she wants to put on her rain gear. We have grown accustom to simply riding in the rain without our rain gear. Mesh pants and jackets work great in the rain and when it is 90+ degrees, it is sometimes a welcome relief. What is that adage, be careful for what you wish for.

Well as predicted the rain begins. We are still making good time and really haven't slowed our pace, running between 70 and 75. A few more miles and a few more raindrops are added to the mix, a few more miles, a few more drops. Well eventually the rain is coming down so hard, I might as well been a down spout for a roof. The rain (more like a gushing stream) was entering around my collar, going down my back, over my waist, following my legs and gushing out around my knee caps. Mesh does a great job of venting the rain.

With rain comes that flickering of light from Thor, Zeus, Typhor, Maduk and Apollo coming together to finally decide the cosmic order of the world, once and for all. The thunderbolts if they were swords would be akin to that scene in Kill Bill Volume where Uma is being attacked by all the swordsmen. Let’s just say there was a lot of lighting. But that was in the sky, and I was on 1-70 paying attention where the road was. (thank god the roads in the Illinois are straight as a ruler). The rain is so hard at this point, the traffic (and most [note: I said most]) have slowed to under 35mph (who could look at the speedo) and are driving with flashers. The more sane people are pulling over on the side of the road, but I judge this would be an unwise move for us, since we could be run down by someone pulling off the side of the road and I just couldn’t tell what the edge of the road was made of.

Well with the rain of the 40DaysAnd40Nights, the lighting of the Gods, we only needed one more element to complete Earth, Wind and Fire. You got it with the rain and lightning you have wind. Remember the scene in the Perfect Storm; well that was what the wind was like. Not only I can’t see, and I am ducking (why I can’t tell you) for the flashing lights in the sky, I am leaning the bike at what feels like 10 degree lean to keep the bike going straight.

I pass one exit but can’t turn in because A> I didn’t see it on time and B> the car have pulled over and parked on the exit ramp. Forging ahead, my 2 best friends at the time are the 18 Wheeler and SUV in front of me with their flashers going and guiding me like a ship off the Atlantic being guided by the lighthouses (no pictures of lighthouses for the treasure hunt now). Appearing is one of those Green signs and all I see is EXIT 1 MILE at the bottom. At the moment that is all that is important. I have decided I am pulling off here no matter what. EXIT 1/2 MILE. Just 2,640 feet, 880 yards or less than 60 seconds and we will be out of this. I spot the exit and ease off my 10 degree left lean and we ease onto the ramp. It sweeps right and then left to the top of the road and without slowing I make the left hand turn onto the road.

At this point the WIND is the most compelling obstacle. At this point I don’t even notice the lightning and the rain is just a nuisance, but the wind is so fierce. Flashing red light at the intersection, I don’t slow and run the light. We are the only fools on the road at this point and we make the left hand turn. Popeye’s is off to the left, with a school on our right. Only about 100 yards to the entrance.

I realize that I am not going to be able to turn the bike into the wind, so I slow and edge to the side of the road. Slower, slower, we are at a crawl, the wind whipping us like a roman oar slave, the rain water boarding us ala CIA style. I get my feet placed on the ground and with one more Huff and Puff of the Big Bad Wolf, both MeAsWe and Me are blown off the bike. MeAsWe is blown down the shallow embankment. I am back on my feet and MeAsWe is running up the hill, yelling “Do you need help with upping the bike” to which I respond “Naw let her lay there, if we put it up it will just get blown over again.”

We stood out there for 5 or 10 minutes, me holding onto MeAsWe so not to get blown back down the hill. I see a cop in the distance pulling into the school and then immediately pulling out, puts on the lights and pulls up to our location. At this point the wind has died down. I ensure the officer that we are physically OK. He assists us with getting the bike up righted and takes off to his next emergency. I tell MeAsWe to walk to Popeye’s as I start up the Connie and ride to the parking lot, parking the bike between 2 cars so as not to be blown over again.

After a cup of coffee, I went out and inspected the bike. The mirrors, pegs, plastic and bags are all intact and undamaged. Tip over bars are a wonderful thing.

We have hurricanes and the midwest has tornadoes and that is the rest of the story.

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