Monday, July 19, 2010

Rain, Fog, Shipwrecks & Potential Moose

Image taken from

It took my typical three and a half hours from waking up, packing and load-in to get to the final step of entering the address into the nav and take-off. Last night the weather channel predicted rain, but the skies were clear when I loaded-in and so, I decided to wait to put on my new and yet untested rain gear (jacket and pants with suspenders from

I stopped for fuel about ten miles out of town and managed to put in $7, the most to date! I didn’t get a chance to figure out if it was because the price of the Premium, which the Piaggio requires, was higher or if I was the most empty I had been to date, because then the rain hit. I figured I was pretty fortunate to have the covering of the the awning to suit up, since I wasn’t bright enough to have my gear on from the get-go.

When I was at the hotel I had checked my air pressure and was delighted that the new gauge I bought in Ann Arbor (at Motor City Harley-Davidson) actually works. The stem on the gauge is mid-sized and allows me to read the pressure on the back tire in 30 seconds instead of the 20-30 minutes (honestly) it would take me with a full-size gauge, trying to get it into the only micro-sweet spot where the pressure could be read. Now, I knew the back tire pressure was perfect, but both the front tires were under and I confess, I didn’t have it in me to go over to the air in the rain and put air in the tires. I knew I wasn’t going to be going very fast, and I know this is a big shame on me, but I’m telling you the truth, I just wasn’t up to it.

This morning was not only a test for the rain gear, but for this anti-fog potion called Cat Crap which I had gingerly applied and buffed as directed (I believed) on my clear goggles. Well, I don’t know if I didn’t use enough (they say use very little), or if I buffed too much, or if I was supposed to use it on the inside as well as the outside -- but unfortunately, the Cat Crap was... well, crap. I have another product en route to me which has some great reviews, so we will see how it does next time it rains.

Image taken from

Just as I was pulling onto the road a couple other bikers pulled into the station to seek shelter under the awning. In general, my stress is less in these conditions, because I know that my Piaggio MP3 250 was designed to be ultra stable and this is the very kind of situation where Michi can show what she is made of, but riding in the rain can still feel arduous. I felt like I was in some Jedi Knight training on the slippery roads, which I couldn’t really see through foggy goggles and foggy air. Rain pelted my face and the cold temperatures chilled my bones, and my right hand began to feel numb. Every now and I again I wouldn’t be able to see anything at all, so I would pull over and wipe out my goggles with my sloppy soggy gloves and that would help for about 20 seconds. According to the drive report of the real-time tracker on my website, I chugged along at around 30 mph for most of the trip, finally reaching The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum about three and a half hours later.

Light Tower at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, on a sunny day.
Built 1861. Image taken from

Shortly after I arrived the power went out. I didn’t have much in the way of signal on my phone, so I asked Michael, my husband, to do an internet search for massage therapists in the area. Given that my body doesn’t have an abdominal muscular structure, I need to have occasional massages to unkink it from the inordinate taxation I put on other systems (like my back). Riding the scooter affects other things (like my wrists, ankles and neck), and riding in the rain compounds all of these issues. Getting chilled is my most dangerous fatigue issue, so just as soon as I was able to unload the scoot, I jumped into a hot shower and then under the blankets. If I get too chilled, or chilled for too long, I can end up bed-ridden for a couple of days. I was pretty sure that I managed to get warm fast enough, but many muscles were very cramped up from the long ride in the rain.

I was again incredibly lucky and found Mike Metzler of Northern Michigan Advanced Clinical Massage. He was kind enough to make an hour long drive each way to put my body back on track. He also left me with some water, an apple (which I really wanted! I haven’t had any real fruits or veggies since I left home) and a tennis ball, which he showed me how I could use the ball to fix my hip on my own when I’m on the road. He explained that at their clinic they place great importance on educating and empowering their clients to be able to take care of themselves. All way cool!

Amazing how tough a mere 35-mile ride can be when conditions are right (or wrong). Also, I suspect that the view along the coast from Sault Ste. Marie to Whitefish Point, where the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is, would have been unbelievably spectacular had I been able to see it through the fog and the foggy goggles. I do have to push on, but I’m starting to accumulate a list of great places in Michigan I can look forward to revisiting in the future.

Image taken from

When I checked into the Crew Quarters where I would be spending the night at the Shipwreck Museum, I was told to look out the back window during breakfast time, as there is often a visiting moose. It was presented very casually, like it might be just another interesting thing to see, but I’ve never seen a real moose in person, so if one appeared just outside the window, well, that would be a big deal to me. If only I could get up early enough for a moose-sighting.

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