MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 13

Amazing color image courtesy of ryan schude.

JULY 1, 2021 – CHICAGO, IL TO PITTSBURGH, PA

492.8 Brutal Miles

[START OF AUDIO]: All right. It’s July 1st. Holy fuck. I’m somewhere in Ohio [inaudible 00:00:10]. The entire day has been rather [inaudible 00:00:27] The rainstorm in the morning was wonderful [inaudible 00:00:33] breakfast, coffee, lunch. It’s delightful. Went to a car wash, blasted the bugs off the front of the bike and left town. But once I left town the entire trip descended into a relentless pain in the ass. Traffic in Chicago. Lunatic drivers in the city. Stop and go traffic…

Once made it out of the city and headed toward Indiana it was nothing but fucking WIND and fucking TOLLS. Tolls that don’t accept credit cards but [inaudible 00:01:22] Wind. The fucking wind, fucking wind. Wind, wind, wind, and then more aggressive-driving assholes. I stay out of the way and whatever, and ride carefully but it was irritating.

Also – I’ve been hydrating like crazy today, as I had become accustomed to doing this in the west. It’s been 80-something degrees every day, 90-something in some cases. Anyway – you drink a lot of water is the point. Everybody warns you to drink a lot of water. You don’t want to get dehydrated. It can happen. You may not realize it’s happening because you’re on the bike. Today, I kept up the hydration but it was only 70 degrees. So instead of perspiring and sweating it all out, I’ve had to stop and piss somewhere between 60 and 150 fucking times. Anyway, I may not have mention this but it has been windy. There has been traffic. There have been, a lot of not just traffic, but a lot of vehicles on the interstate, overall. Congestion. Just for mental breaks to calm my nerves and also to fucking piss like crazy, I’ve stopped a lot today. Incredibly hard to make progress and cover some miles. I never really got into a groove. It’s been super irritating. Wind. Traffic. Tolls. Endless pissing.

West Giveashit, Indiana. Home of the Mike Pence Tornado Minivan Motherfuckers.

Also – this happened once before maybe in Nevada or Idaho or something… that the SENA comms on the fucking helmet went out. I think there’s a hard reset somewhere, but I can’t get it to work. So, I’m not listening to music. I’m not listening to the nice Garmin robot woman who’s been in my fucking head telling me where to go. Just the sound of wind in the helmet and the incessant swarms of tractor trailers and psychotic drivers trying to break the sound barrier in their minivans. I’m stopping a lot – like every 50 miles, every 20 miles, even, and anytime I need to take a piss, anytime I see a rest stop, really. Honestly, tonight – every time I see a rest stop I’m pulling over. Fuck it. I’m stopping for just a few minutes each time just to keep my head – and that’s what I did right now. Just got some gas and now I’m just taking a break. Just trying to clear my head, breathe, and relax and not let the hours of frustration today break my spirit.

I’m going all the way to Pittsburg. I don’t think it’s quite 200 miles away. It might be 150 or so. I’m going to get there. If I have to stop a dozen times, two dozen times, I’m going all the god damned way to Pittsburgh. I’m probably going to get there after 2:00 in the morning. I’m not tired. I’m actually wide awake. A break [inaudible 00:03:58] respecting the fact that it [inaudible 00:04:11] I feel like today is a bad day of motorcycling. I think maybe part of the equation is that I’m moving through the center of the country, heading east where it’s maybe more densely populated. The interstate is more densely packed, for sure. Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy all day, too. It continues to be windy now. Nerve rattling wind. Fuck the wind.

I’m repeating myself, I realize. There are lots of trucks on the road. Other than trucks hauling their shit you have drivers who are there in the center lane and in the left lane [inaudible 00:05:04] 80, 90 miles an hour. It’s just a bit much. I’m very much looking forward to the next milestones [inaudible 00:05:15] [inaudible 00:05:24] The first milestone is in a hundred miles from here. That’s when I get off of Interstate 80 and onto I-76. The second milestone, which I’m really looking forward to… it’s a big milestone in the trip.

East Killmenow, Ohio.

Today, tonight – I get off this fucking interstate that’s taken me all the way out of Chicago through Illinois, all of Indiana and will take me through all of Ohio. I at least get to– Well, it won’t take me through all of Ohio. It will almost take me all the way out of Ohio. Anyway, once I diverge– divert rather, onto I-76, I’m heading toward Pennsylvania. Then crossing the Pennsylvania border I think will be a moment of great internal celebration, then of course the third milestone for the night will be arriving in Pittsburg itself.

I’m getting into my fucking bed. I have not mentioned him yet, but Peter is what I’m calling him. Peter is named after Peter Sellers, and he is a British man who has been LIVING IN MY HEAD and coming out of my mouth for much of the journey this whole time. He has a very soothing manner and he talks me through the experience. He has been my guide.

I don’t know if this is an indication that I’ve lost my mind or whether it’s actually an indication [inaudible 00:07:31] miles [inaudible 00:07:41] or so. I’ll be getting back on the bike in a moment, getting back on Interstate 80 [inaudible 00:07:52] for that and then Pete will take control again to help me through the next miles until I divert onto I-76, the first of three celebrations ahead. [END OF AUDIO]

[START OF AUDIO]: 4:10 AM July 2nd. I’m at a Wyndham downtown in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I fucking made it. That was the hardest day. I’m looking at a river, the Allegheny, I think, Three Rivers Stadium, and a rather empty downtown. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh before and I am struck by how big it is. It feels as big or bigger than Philadelphia, and I thought the opposite was true, but perhaps it’s the delirium and relief and exhaustion distorting my senses. Philly must be bigger, but Pittsburgh appears huge at the moment.

This is a big city. Whatever. I’m here. I’m grateful to be here. Delighted to be here. My checkout isn’t until 1:00 PM. I’m going to sleep. I’m so fucking happy. I have a valeted bike which just means that I parked it against the front of the building by the valet’s window. The Pigeon is safe. We did I think just shy of 500 miles, just shy, one and a half or two miles shy, and all of those miles were HARD MILES all caps. I’m just going to plug in my phone and my helmet, I’m going to brush my teeth, I’m going to draw the shades, put the thingy on the door, and sleep. [END OF AUDIO]

[START OF AUDIO]: An addendum. Just a few minutes later. As I undress, just noting that it got cold. When I stopped at my last rest stop, fuck, my body– I went into the handicapped stall again and put on my thermal pants and my puffy jacket, which involves taking off the motorcycle pants, the boots, the whole thing. Did that and then came out and I went into the 7-Eleven that was part of the rest stop structure. I got a $2.49 bean and cheese burrito from the grab-it-and-go case.

I will say, I sat there in the food court by myself, like the only human being on earth. That bean and cheese burrito was the best thing I ever ate in my life. I was so hungry and cold and I think, unbeknownst to me, ravenous. It was so fucking good. Then I had warm clothes on and I knew that it was just the final stretch, and it was. [END OF AUDIO]

Sweet, Glorious Pittsburgh, PA.
Pittsburg as viewed from the windless safety of a hotel room.