Our pre-ride started with a trip from Cincinnati up to Toledo. The ride would be my fathers first Iron Butt Ride.
We'd been watching the weather all week and it looked great. Highs in the mid 70's lows in the 50's.
About an hour into our ride up I-70 it starts to drizzle, then rain, then out of no-where, a torrential down-pour. Now riding in the rain (not a drizzle, but rain), seems like a bad thing. Especially if you've never done it. Which in this case my father had not. But as long as you keep moving you are alright. He has BMW RT. We both had (allegedly) waterproof gear on. Again, as long as you're moving, and behind your windshield or what ever fairing you have you're good to go.
But the problem was we started to slow down and not be so, uhm, moving. For me on my bike it takes about 60 MHP for me to keep the rain off my helmet/visor. For me to be able to turn my head and have the wind clear my visor so I can see. If I can't do that, well then I'm toast.
Then the down pour came. It was literally raining sheets and the traffic started slowing so we had to bail, we stopped under an over-pass. Not the best place of course, but you do what you have to. We ran into a Harley rider under the bridge as well, and across the highway was a Goldwing rider also waiting out the rain.
My crotch was soaked, so much for a water-proof Fieldsheer 1-piece Highlander suit! But again that's what you get when you can't keep moving. Water hits your front and just falls in your lap.
We changed out our wet gloves for fresh dry rain gloves and after about 15 minutes the storm passed and we continued our ride up to Toledo in and out of rain showers. Mostly sprinkles, nothing dramatic. We arrived at the hotel right at 5pm Friday night. We were the first ones in.
We checked in, and changed out of our wet clothes. The hotel was special. But we were happy to find that we had a Denny's right next door open 24 hours and a BP station next to that. Streets and Trips didn't show us any of these so we were good to go to start from here instead of 5 miles up the road. Oh, and the BP had beer too.
We elected smoking rooms because I knew that Tony T smoked. Not that he would in the room but you never know and that's what Basco made the reservations for. We wanted the rooms next to each other because someone has to wake up at 2:30am and someone will need to wake everyone else up. We also want the bikes together so we could keep an eye on them. I asked how bad the rooms were and the front desk lady said she didn't think they were bad at all, pretty good as a matter of fact. I'd hate to see what she thought was bad. These rooms were the pits. At least we had a fridge and a microwave though we weren't going to be there long enough to use either of them. The rooms smelled like an ashtray, hadn't ever been aired out that I could tell. Oh well, what do you want for $44 a night?
Basco shows up about 30 minutes later and we drink a couple brews and shoot the bull while waiting for Tony T to arrive. About 8pm we're getting pretty darn hungry. While checking in we asked about places to eat besides Denny's and were told that Jerry's restaurant across the street was good. Good home cooking. I didn't put 2 and 2 together. Her opinion of the rooms and dining experience were about the same.
We finally decided we couldn't wait any longer for Tony. If you know him, you know he isn't going to eat much anyway. I've seen fatter Ethiopians on Sally Struthers commercials. So we head on over to Jerry's.
Tonight's specials are All You Can Eat Shrimp or Fish or BOTH. So we all partake in the deep fried fish and shrimp combo with fries and tea. What sounded like a good idea at the time had all our stomachs churning 24 hours. Not good. Items to add to travel pack: Tums, and other hard core antacids. Lucky for me I still had some left over prescription antacids so I did OK. But Basco and my father weren't so lucky.
After dinner, we stopped back at the BP, picked up another 6 pack and waited for Tony. LastInLine (my father) sat up with us for a while before he cashed in his chips.
Tony finally arrived around 11pm. We caught up and cashed in our chips as well.
|2:30am Comes Early Starting Point:
1130 Buck Rd.
Time: 04:22 09/08/05
It's our goal to be locked, loaded and ready for kickstands up at 4:00am, so that means up and at em at 2:30 to load the bike, get breakfast and be at the gas station by 3:45am or so. Of course that's always the plan.
Getting ready at O-Dark-Thirty:
We head on over to Denny's for breakfast. It's pretty hard to screw up breakfast. Eggs are eggs and toast is toast and well, bad coffee at Denny's is bad coffee at Denny's.
Being on a long distance ride you want to avoid caffeine anyway if you can. It dehydrates you and makes you have to stop and use the facilities.
Denny's wasn't overly crowded at 3am when we got there but it was obvious they didn't have the A-crew working this morning. We ordered by 3:10 but by 3:40 we we're really beginning to wonder where our food was.
We tossed it down and hit up the manager to be our witness. Marggie was great, and was more than happy to oblige. We didn't think we should ask anyone else as they may not be there by the time the IB association gets around to verifying that we were there.
She followed us out to the bike, rambling about her lousy crew and how bad this and that was. She couldn't wait until her husbands business got off the ground so she could get out of this dump. She thought it was great we were out doing something exciting.
She witnessed our odometers and we headed for the BP station next door.
6675 Burtwistle LN
We fueled up without incident and headed north, although Tony T didn't get a starting receipt. He'll have to use one of ours.
Not much traffic through Detroit on a Saturday at 4:15-4:30am and that was the plan. Everything was going well until we got to the border.
I nor my father (LastInLine) brought anything other than our drivers Licenses. I don't think Basco did either. I knew starting Jan 1 of 06 you'd need a passport but according to my calendar we weren't there yet. Tony T at least brought his Birth certificate. I did bring it when we did our preliminary ride around Lake Erie. I got the 4th degree then too but they never asked for that.
I pulled up to the Border guarding tool booth and the following conversation ensued:
Border Guard (a woman no less): Citizenship?
Me: United States
Border Guard: What's your purpose in Canada.
Me: Just driving through, riding around Lake Erie.
Border Guard: Proof of Citizenship?
Me: (I hand her my drivers license.)
Border Guard: I said proof, this isn't proof, I can go to Ohio and get one of these in less than 10 minutes.
Me: I kind of doubt that, It would probably take longer.
Border Guard: I need a passport or other proof of Citizenship.
Me: I was told I didn't need that yet, not until the 1st of the year. All I needed today was a drivers licence.
Border Guard: Who told you that?
Me: Well, when I visited Vancouver earlier this year they only needed my drivers license, my dad over there just came back from Canada and all he used was his drivers license even though he had his passport, and the guys that I ride with, well, they said, a drivers license is all we should need for this ride.
Border Guard: Oh, so you think that's a good source of information do ya? eh?
Me: Well, it's all I had.
Border Guard: She shakes her head, fills out this yellow slip and hands it to me.
You need to go through Immigration, park inside that building, go in turn left park at Customs and walk into the door to the left.
So I pull into this building, or parking garage thing. I can already sense that I'm going to have my bike and luggage ripped apart. I get off go into the building, I walk up to Customs and ask what to do. They tell me I need to go over there to Immigration. But I don't want to immigrate, I just want to drive through.
I walk through two sets of security doors and the lady behind the bullet proof glass asks me for proof of Citizenship. I hand her my drivers license. She says, "This isn't proof of citizenship." I said, I thought that's why I was in here. She said you need a passport or proof of Citizenship. I said I *might have my Social Security card* and start digging through my wallet. She starts typing my stuff into the computer. She says no that won't do. You need a birth certificate, or a passport.
"What is it you expect to do here in Canada?", she asks.
"Drive through, around lake Erie, with the 3 other bikes sitting outside." I respond.
More typing on the computer ensued.
I added, "I have Canadian relatives, you could call them if you like"
She said, "Sir, this may take a while, you should have a seat over there." I looked around, no one else there but me at 4:30 am, I shake my head and walk about 5 feet towards the bench to sit down. As soon as I start to think about the time we're losing, she says, "OK sir, you're free to go, take this over to Customs".
I smile, then realize she said "Take this to customs", this is where we get to take my bike apart.
I've nothing to hide, but this can take a while. I walk back over to where the 4 custom folks were 'hanging out. As I approach with my yellow form in hand and announce that I'm back, the girl says just leave the form on the counter.
"That's it?" I ask
I drop the form and start walking away. I stop turn around and ask, "Say, we're going to circle lake Ontario too, can I take that with me to short circuit the process next time?"
She gave me this evil look and said no, you probably won't get stopped again.
I mounted backup and took off. The rest of the gang was no where to be found. There was a McDonalds just outside of the border and I figured I'd find them there. I was right.
Apparently the fried food from the night before was working hard on Basco. He needed to make a deposit but McDonalds wasn't open yet. Good thing Tony T was prepared and carried Toilet paper ;)
We continued on to our first fuel stop.
LastInLine getting IB Fuel stops down pat.
Niagara Falls, NY
Leg 2 was pretty uneventful. little bit of rain, drizzles, but nothing bad at all.
The sunrise was awesome as we rode into it, or kind or north of it, not directly into it. It was perfect. Tony T had never been too or seen Niagara Falls so we had to make a point to stop there.
Somewhere along this leg, LastInLine was holding his place, last in line. I looked back and he wasn't back there.
I sped up caught Tony T flagged him down and he noticed the same thing. I caught up to Basco and motioned for him to slow down. We dropped our pace back a bit and waited for a few minutes. We took the next exit and as we started to exit, he caught up with us. Apparently while he was adjusting something or another he hit his kill switch (doh). Better that, than a flat or worse.
No worse for wear we marched on to Niagara.
It's tourist trap of course, and the parking is crazy. There's a tourist boutique/restaurant/trap thing with limited parking on the north side. Tony T shmoozed the parking guard to let us move our bikes in to take a picture. They also ran in to use the facilities and Tony procured the Niagara shot glass he wanted for his collection.
Time spent in Niagara: about 20 minutes. We then crossed back into the states without incident, apparently my new Canadian citizenship did not cause a problem.
2723 Brewertown Rd
Leg 3 was extremely uneventful, boring, boring slab. I-90 with lots of, er well a couple Toll booths.
I can't remember if we stopped anywhere along here or not, don't think we did.
We bailed off I-90, hit the toll booth and decided we needed gas, we looked over to our right and we saw a couple gas stations. We started to take off, but to the right was 81 South, not what we wanted. What ensued was a Chinese fire drill of 4 motorcycle riders on a split on-ramp. Starting to go right, needing to go left in a very short amount of time. We made it, there wasn't any other traffic, no one died, or crashed, and it was rather humorous.
We got gas and stopped for lunch, we discussed fast food and decided (Tony and I did) that Arbys would be the traditional lunch for around the lakes rides. And so it was.
Back across the border into Canada. Again, my new found Citizenship cause no problems. Apparently they are no longer racially profiling my kind.
Here we stopped at the first full service gas station that I've been to since I pumped gas myself in the late 80's. Amazing, I didn't know they still existed.
We downed some gatorade, pop-tarts and power bars and headed down 401/QEW or as Basco would call it the Canadian Autobahn.
155 North Service
Oh my, this section of 401, traffic just goes.
We actually had a little fun during this part of the ride... The road here is long, straight as an arrow and wide open. We're just cruising along with the traffic, all 4 of us and we come across this guy:
Exhibit A: Asshat
Photo credit: Tony T
Now, those that know me know I'm not a typical Harley basher. Hey what you ride is what you ride. The fact is you ride. But the stigma and the stereotype is often so true. Here we are just 4 of us riding along until we catch up to him. Now we're on 'Sport-Touring' bikes. I guess he decides to show us what his cruiser can do. He opens it up. Problem is, he passes a Goldwing in the same lane and nearly scares the guy half to death. So Tony T runs him down and plays with him for a few miles. Each one of us toyed with him a bit. Horse power is a wonderful thing.
More Tony T photos along that stretch:
By the time we got into Toronto it was about 5 to 6pm on a Saturday. Traffic was Crazy I don't know what was going on in downtown Toronto but if it had been a weekday we would have been screwed. They also need to fix the roads around there too. Reminded me way too much of Chicago with the crappy roads and traffic.
We managed to get through though without any road rage incidents.
184 N. Portage St
Again back around the south west end of lake Ontario and back into our native homeland.
Once again no trouble crossing back into the states. Back on the turnpike and toll road. It's getting dark now. Time to start watching for bambies. Needing to stop for fuel and not finding any we stop at the next exit marked for fuel, yet we don't see anything obvious.
I ask the turnpike attendant where the nearest fuel is and if we can get any without exiting. He says no, you're going to have to exit no matter what. There's a gas station down the road to your right about a quarter mile. So we exit turn right, but it's closed. Frustrated we head the other direction. We are out in the boonies so what do you expect? Luckily about a half mile up the road is another mobile station with vintage 1970's gas pumps. No pay at the pump here, but at least they do take credit cards in the store.
It's after dark and the temperature is dropping so those of us that have warmer gear put it all back on.
25466 Detroit Rd
Rounding 3rd and heading for home.
Getting through this leg was probably the most difficult. The fog rolling in off the lake was impossible. The guys with bigger fairings were able to do better. I have a fog city face shield so my visor itself didn't 'fog' per see. But I had to wipe it clean with my glove every few seconds. The condensation on the outside was incredible. We were in and out of some pretty impressive clouds.
All of this while trying to keep an eye out for bambies. On and off the gas, at one point I thought I was going to run into the back of a truck or something then I realized it was a big green interstate sign, 20 feet above my head, not good.
Towards the end LastInLine and Basco were really getting tired. The stop in Westlake was needed to refresh. We took our time. It's midnight, the gas station is buzzing with all the kiddies out partying. A car full of teenagers pulls up and the let two girls out of the trunk. A guy walks over to Tony and I to admire the bikes. He tells us all about his sport bike and the wheelies he rides., but how hard it is for him to travel. How he likes our setup with bags and taller windshields, etc. Tony and I just nod our heads.
Of course I've shed my one piece while we're standing around because I'll burn up if I don't. So I'm standing there looking like a complete goof. Wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and Alpinestars street boots ;)
1130 Buck Rd.
Time: 01:54 09/19/05
The final leg.
Completely uneventful, we're far enough away from the lake, the fog is no longer an issue. Either that or it was an issue on this leg, I can't exactly remember.
We roll into the gas station and fill up. I have to go to the bathroom, the Gatorade is catching up with me. Basco grabs me and says these receipts don't have times on them. What? No time, our start receipt doesn't either.
That would be bad. Our entire trip would be a waste if we can't prove our start and end time. After shaking down the clerk we realize that the invoice number is the time stamp so we're good to go. But they can't sell us beer to celebrate, it's Sunday.
Off to Denny's to get breakfast and find Marggie to witness our return.
Denny's is a buzz with activity, we finally get seated.
If you've ever watched the Jerry Springer show and wondered where in the world these people come from? Well let me tell you, Perrysburg, OH, that's where. They are all hanging around that Denny's at 2 am on a Saturday night. Some stay at that Knights Inn or live there long term too. You can live there for $520 a month. Not bad for 2 beds, a refrigerator, microwave and maid service if you ask me.
A really loud and obnoxious inter-racial bunch sits in the booth next to us. I guess they didn't realize they didn't have the restaurant to themselves. In the middle of our breakfast one of them interrupts us and asks us the most unbelievable question about his girlfriend and what would we do if she did something to us.
We're guys, so we weren't offended. In fact as tired as we were and given our surroundings it wasn't all that surprising. Like I said, exactly what you'd expect from a Jerry Springer show guest or audience.
At one point we thought the manager was coming over to kick them out, but apparently they asked her the same question. Every one was laughing and giggling.
After our meal, we tracked down Marggie again and she came out to sign our witness forms again.
What a weekend.