Ride to the Rockies, Day Fifteen
Looking down from the third floor of the inn at Spring Mill State Park at the circular drive where the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America held its bike show
I had set the alarm for seven, as late as I could and still be able to see Joe before he went off to work. There was no hurry to get on the road with only 250 miles or so between South Bend and Mitchell, Indiana and Spring Mill State Park, where the VJMC was having their national rally and I would be getting into work mode to make sure we had the needed photos of the event for the upcoming magazine issue.
By the time I walked into the dining room/kitchen there was a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast along with hot French pressed coffee waiting for me. Joe soon left and then between sips of coffee I methodically reloaded the bike. I had checked the engine oil and Scottoiler reservoir the night before and had topped up the chain oil, so nothing else was left to do to ready the bik, but load it back up with all the stuff I had spread around the garage to dry like my tent and my clean clothes already deposited into my panniers. By ten I was ready to go and rolled the bike out of the garage, being careful not to let the now heavy bike tip too much on the sloped driveway. I gave Jan a hug, offered her and Joe a place to stay when they visit, and rolled back onto the road.
I would my way back out of South Bend on vaguely familiar streets, which I hadn't been on in many years. I found my way to Old US 31, now called 931, avoiding the Interstate-like new 31, which wrapped itself around and outside the west and south sides of the city. Eventually, though, construction detoured me off the old highway and out on IN 331 fir the run south to Rochester in the flat, fertile northern Indiana farmland, carpeted with green thigh-high corn and low soybean plants.
AT Rochester I got off the divided highway and onto quiet back country raods again, first south-southwest to Logansport on IN 25 then south on IN 29. I hopped west on IN 28, and to avoid the sprawl of Indianapolis by passing to its west, I caught IN 39 at Frankfort, whose high school proudly announced to the world in large block letters across its front “THE HOME OF THE HOTDOGS.”
39 intersected IN 67 and I followed it southwest for several miles until I could take a short connector road to IN 37. I had only one more largish city to pass through, Bloomington, before being spat out into the countryside again into the rolling and forested area of southwestern Indiana with Mitchell dead ahead. The stretch into Bloomington was a bit of an ordeal, as it was under construction from Martinsville to the home of Indiana University at Bloomington, a stretch of sixteen miles.
Clearing the construction I made easy progress and arrived at Mitchell about 1:30, and by the time I had unloaded all the gear and had deposited it in my room at the Spring Mill Inn it was after 2 pm.
I wandered downstairs to find my fellow club members in the banquet hall getting ready to check early arrivals in for the rally. I had passed a couple hours chatting and plugging stuff in to recharge when the plan was announced to meet up at the Dairy Master in Loogootee, a diminutive town to the west. Some would drive and others would ride, so I joined the riders.
As I had pulled in at the state park, I had noticed a strange sound coming from the Bonnie, but I didn't notice it again after getting on the road with the group of a half dozen riders. Stopping at the diner after a slow speed ride of about thirty miles I heard the sound again and took a closer look. It was obvious that the chain was very loose, with two or three inches of slop, and as it went around it would bounce and scrape on the foot of the center stand. We all went in the diner to eat and I made a mental note to adjust the chain as soon as we returned to the inn.
I opted for a lunch of fish and chips, although the specialty of the house was a pork tenderloin sandwich, which turn out to be fried like a large weinerschnitzel and by all accounts was fantastic.
Heading back I babied the bike, being cautious of rolling on and off the throttle too aggressively and taking care crossing rough railroad tracks. I made plans as I rode to break out the tools the moment I got back and while it was still light enough to see to adjust it. Meanwhile, our group got slowed down by an old Honda CB350 Four as it slowly lost charging capacity and fell to the back of the group as I watched its headlight get dimmer and yellow, then go out altogether. Eventually, a trailer had to be sent back out from the inn to pick up Jim and the ailing bike.
I had made it back in fading light, but by the time I had gotten out of jacket and boots, retrieved my tools from the room, and gotten back to the bike the sun had settled behind the trees and the flashlight, which I had the forethought to grab with the tools came in handy. Unfortunately, the small ratchet that came in my RRR Tools tool roll wasn't up to the task of turning the big 25 millimeter axle nut. Luckily, with all the bike guys around, it wasn't long before a large adjustable wrench was offered and the axle was freed enough for me to turn the adjusters and take the enormous slack out fo the chain. But the chain had developed a stretched section, so with it adjusted properly in one spot, upon moving the wheel and chain to a new position yielded slack and tight points.
The chain was shot and would have to go, but I hope it would be good enough to get me home so I could do the replacement there. I thought it strange, though, that when I last checked the chain in Jackson it was exactly the same as it had been back home before I had left after close to 3,000 miles. What had stretched it since then, a similar distance was a mystery, but I did recall having hit a rough railroad crossing particularly hard (hard enough to have bottomed out the forks and rear shocks) on the way from South Bend to Mitchell, so I had my suspicion that might have caused a sudden stretch.
At Spring Mill, I had no signal again, but did have WiFi provided by the hotel, so I hwas able to Facebook message Andrea and let her know I was in the day. I also got a couple Facebook posts in and a message from my friend, Julie, who invited me to stop by her place for the night on my way home. That left me with only one night to wing it looking for a campsite.
As evening settled in, and members sat around talking at the front of the inn, we watched the crippled CB400 roll in on a trailer. I called it a night and headed up to my room early. I set the alarm for 7:30, the time the restaurant at the inn opened for breakfast.
Miles so far 6,364.1