Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Days 39 to 41

Cambridge, Ohio

View from hotel in Cambridge, Ohio

Day 38 of my motorcycle road trip, and today was potentially looking very ugly. I’d planned to ride west on Highway 2 to New Hampshire, then Highway 16 and 112 through the White Mountains. After that, continue west to Highway 100, and then south through the Green Mountains. However, massive thunderstorms to my west had me rethink my route.

I used my Apple iPhone MyRadar App to track the location and size of the thunderstorms. I had to ride south at least to Hartford, Connecticut, before heading west, in order to pass below the thunderstorms. This eliminated a lot of my scenic ride through the eastern states. However, riding in thunderstorms, or potentially sitting in a hotel waiting for the thunderstorms to pass, wouldn’t be fun either.

So, I started south on Highway 95 toward Boston. Traffic was terrible, especially with a couple of motorhomes crashing and closing all of the lanes. I jumped onto 495 to bypass Boston, and then picked up Highway 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike, heading west. I finally reached Highway 84, and was through much of the heavy traffic. I reached Hartford, Connecticut late afternoon, and decided I still had time to ride a little further. I continued on until I reached Danbury, Connecticut and stopped for the evening.

 


 

As I sat eating a great Pizza at Rizzuto’s Pizzeria, I checked out the weather forecast. There were more thunderstorms heading east. The next day would be just as sketchy.

I woke up at 5:00 am on Day 40, and again checked my iPhone MyRadar app. Things looked ugly. There was a major thunderstorm heading northeast toward me. There was also another major thunderstorm heading east through Pittsburg, PA. I closed my eyes and seriously considered spending another night in Danbury, but sitting around the hotel for a day didn’t excite me. I looked at the weather radar again. If I started riding immediately, there was a chance of getting away from Danbury before the thunderstorm from the southwest hit me.  Then, if the timing was right, I’d reach Scranton, PA, and be able to head south on Highway 81 before the Pittsburg thunderstorm got to me. That would allow me to squeeze between two major storm systems, and get to Highway 70 that appeared to be clear weather. By 5:30 am, I was packed, checked out, and on the road.

It was raining through most of the ride along Highway 84, but at least no thunderstorms. The worst weather was a short hail storm just after I started riding. It sounded like someone throwing rocks at my helmet. The rain cleared up shortly before reaching Scranton. I then headed south on Highway 81. Everything looked very promising. Highway 81 is supposed to be a very beautiful ride. However, the fog was so thick I could hardly see the side of the road, let alone any scenic view. Then we reached a large construction zone, closing lanes, and forcing even more traffic problems, even slower traffic. I finally popped out of the fog just outside of Harrisburg, PA.

At Harrisburg I took Highway 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it appeared to be clear weather. However, it wasn’t long before I could see dark clouds on the horizon. It was the thunderstorm passing through Pittsburg. Just east of Pittsburg it got really dark. I saw a large flash of lightening, and heard a loud crash. It scared the crap out of me. The flash of lightening, and sound of thunder, were virtually simultaneous. The lightening was very close. All of a sudden torrential rains started. Cars were slowing down dramatically, some over-reacting putting themselves into a skid. Others pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. I decided to get off at the next exit, and sit out the storm. Fortunately, by the time I reached the next exit the storm clouds were to my northeast.

At New Stanton, I exited onto Highway 70. I was finally off interstate highways, and back onto smaller secondary highways. Much more pleasant and relaxing. A short hop through West Virginia, and I was into Ohio. Highway 70 was nice, and the scenery was starting to change from mountains, hills and forested area to rolling farmland. I stopped for the night in Cambridge, Ohio.

Day 41 started off looking like Day 40. It was raining. From my iPhone, it looked as if the weather would clear up in about 40 miles. I decided to skip the rain gear and hope for the best. I was correct, in less than an hour it stopped raining. And by the time I reached Columbus, the skies were clearing. The ride continued to be pleasant through Springfield and Dayton, Ohio. However, as I reached Indianapolis, Indiana, the traffic started to get bad. More road construction. Even worse, uneven lanes. The newly paved lane looked at least 2 inches higher than the older lane. Not much fun on a motorcycle. That alternated with complete lane closures. At Indianapolis, I switch to Highway 74, starting a northwest trajectory.

After another hour and a half of riding, I stopped for the night in Champaign, Illinois. It’s home to the University of Illinois in Champaign. The downtown was quite lively, and prosperous. It was late afternoon, and a beautifully hot and sunny. Lots of people walking around, and sitting in outdoor cafes. It was then I heard that the storm in Indianapolis blew over the Sugarland Concert stage killing four spectators. I’m glad I managed to skirt around that storm.

 

Road Trip – Previous and Next Day Posts

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 38

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 42

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 1

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