Lake Erie and the Tour of Honor

The Original Plan

So a while back I wrote about completing a demo for a 2017 Harley Davidson Road Glide Special (in the rain). I also mentioned that I had a big trip planned and I couldn’t wait to share it all with you. Here’s how the story unfolds…

Originally, I planned to take an interstate ride all the way to Chicago, Illinois so that I could add a few more states to my list (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan if I went out of my way). I had planned to take stops at Horseshoe Casino, Leon’s BBQ in Chicago, and planned to drone the miles away on toll roads. The sum of 700+ miles were at stake and I believed that I was ready for this. Well, after picking up the Tour of Honor rides, and the costly challenges of my Chicago rental deemed a new for a route revamp. Enter the Ohio Tour of Honor run. My new goal became to ride to three locations for my ToH ride and life would be great. I could also add any additional miles that I though would be great and just enjoy the rental. That being said, that’s how the adventure started…

“Demonstrating Skills for Rental Pickup”

So I chose a 2017 Harley Davidson Road Glide Special in Olive Gold color with a passenger backrest added by the folks at Rock and Roll City Harley Davidson in Cleveland, Ohio. I signed all the papers after arriving 45 minutes early (like a kid at Christmas waiting to open presents from Santa) to hopefully get on the road quickly. I watched as they pulled the motorcycle out and then the staff mentions, ” oh, by the way, can you ride around the parking lot so we can see you’re going to be ok?” I hopped on, fired up the familiar sounds of the Milwaukee 8 engine and made a large loop around the few parked cars in the lot. I was already grinning from ear to ear. The staff gave me a thumbs up, my wife snapped some photos of me and the bike, I suited up, plugged in my route and took off… for city traffic.

Needless to say, to get to the back roads, I needed to ride through 30 miles of stop and go traffic, grooved highways, and one lane frustration. But after a while, I finally made it to my first stop, a 9/11 memorial in Tiffin, Ohio. The 9/11 memorials seem to have a soft spot in my heart because so far these have been my favorite stops.

After a few pictures, I took off for lunch, less than a mile to The Clover Club, a small tavern with tons of food options. My pick of the day was a custom patty melt: rye bread, beef, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion, plus a side order of fries. I couldn’t ask for a better sandwich. I chugged my water, paid my tab, and took off for the open road.

Ohio’s Farmland

It became apparent that my ride would have a theme: I would zig-zag down country back roads that were barely big enough for tractors and their equipment to travel down. It made for a great experience because I rarely followed behind someone, and when I could, I would drop a gear and hear the sweet exhaust note the Road Glide purred as I passed slow moving trucks and tractors. After a confusing gps location, I found my next location, an Air Force memorial. I took my pictures, grabbed a drink of water and headed towards my last stop.

My last stop dropped me inside of Mohican Memorial State Forrest. The Women’s Memorial was located here and was quite a view. This was also the first time I was able to sign a guest book, and I mentioned “Tour of Honor” as one of my reasons for visiting. I hopped on the bike and made a pitstop at a family member’s house prior to returning to the hotel. On this last two stretches of riding I noticed a lot of one thing: Amish people.  I don’t travel to Ohio often, but this was the first time I saw so many people: farming, horse and buggies, and just hanging out. Some people were very interested in me as I passed but other shied away as I passed.

The Midnight Run

When we got back to the hotel, I convinced my wife that she needed to ride with me to Pennsylvania that night so I could do another stop. Somehow she says yes, we both suit up and do a little parking lot shuffle to make sure we’re both comfortable. After a quick pat on the back, we take off down the interstate.

One of the best things about this ride was the fact that the sun was setting behind Cleveland and Lake Erie, so we were able to see a beautiful skyline. We spent this time catching up on all the adventures of the day, including her hiking and my motorcycle adventures, and we bombed down the highway. As we crossed the state line, I filmed with the gopro to ensure I had credit for my state crossing.

We soon arrived at the Veteran’s Memorial in Albion, Pennsylvania. It was bright enough for photos and my wife really liked the stop. We pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot to add some extra layers: a thermal liner and a rain jacket outer layer for my wife’s mere mesh jacket while I just added the external liner to my Tourmaster Flex 3 jacket. Now that we were both warmer, we headed back to the hotel to ensure we got back before it got any later. The daymaker lights on the road glide really lit up the road as we drove on the back roads towards the highway. We enjoyed a few karaoke tunes until we pulled into the hotel parking lot.

Somehow, I knew that wasn’t enough. A whole day of sunshine, minimal traffic, wife on the back and no problems wasn’t going to fill my urge. I needed more. A quick search put another Tour of Honor stop near the Michigan state line. I quickly checked with the wife and I was off to bed to get up early for more.

 

Dirty after 500 miles of riding

 

No SundayFunday

As I woke 4 hours later for a cup of yogurt for breakfast, placed my rain pants on, and set off for a scenic ride around the west side of Lake Erie. I followed back highways up past Sandusky and was just about to cross the Michigan state line when a few drops of water started to fall. As I crossed into Michigan, the rain falls more and more and starts to get harder. At one point, I questioned whether or not to finish the ride there but realized I would have to go back into the rain, so I continued onward.

I arrived at the Vietnam Memorial where it had stopped raining so I could enjoy this final stop in the great northern states of the US. I snapped some photos, read a bunch of the signs, I signed the guest book, and then realized that I was hungry. I pulled into the McDonald’s nearby and ate a quick McGriddle to hold me over until I returned to the hotel. When I came out of the bathroom I heard an all to familiar sound…

Rainy Retreat

I soon realized that my entire return trip would be in the rain. I was slightly worried that every time I rode a road glide that it rained was seeming like some curse. I was also concerned because I only had a safety net of one hour to ensure I returned my rental on time. Though I decided that I wouldn’t push it, I did decide to continue to ride forward and see how far I could go without issues. I was fully suited up on the ride back: rain paints, rain jacket, and visor closed.

While sitting in water puddles wasn’t my favorite pastime, I did learn a lot about riding in the rain:

  • a taller windshield might block more rain from hitting my visor,
  • waterproof gloves and boots increase comfort,
  • musical soundtracks gets you through any challenges,
  • tar snakes are even worse in the rain, and
  • sometimes things get a little squirrelly leaving a stop.

I eventually pull into the hotel parking lot and walk to the door of our room. I didn’t have the happiest look but I did enjoy myself.

The Grand Finale

After a short break in the hotel, and my last gas fill-up, we arrived back at the dealership to return the motorcycle. After they opened, we went to the rental counter, I handed over the keys. I quickly spit out the mileage on the bike to save him a walk, and then learned my adventures landed me 771 miles of riding over my 24 hour rental. I later calculated that the 771 miles was rode over 16 hours (taking out time for all stops longer than 30 minutes). At those numbers, I was happy to have gotten my money’s worth renting, and I was feeling great. We picked up a few souvenirs to remember our adventures together and I bid farewell to the dealership.

Motorcycle Review in the Works

As many of you may want to know, I will complete a review of my rental motorcycle within one of my next posts. I don’t have a video like my last motorcycle reviews (the blue road glide and the tiger 800 xrx low) but I will do a mashup of all my riding. I hope everyone is enjoying the blog thus far, and any ideas please leave them in a comment. Thanks for your continuous support, reading, and sharing!

Jamming out on my “guitar” to wrap up my rental

Mileage- Year to date: 3,092 miles

Lifetime mileage: 8,486 miles since 2015

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