It was like a scene out of Fargo, only without the denuded white winter landscape. Long desolate highway with single crossbuck telephone poles receding in to the infinite distance. Barbed wire farm fences along the other side of the ditch off the road. Gray. Just gray. No detail in the sky at all – as if someone had simply washed everything with filthy dishwater. Me, the only vehicle on the road for as far as you could see.
… and in my head, playing on an endless loop, Adagio for Strings from Barber’s String Quartet, Op.11
It was very hard to be in a sunny mood this morning. Rain I can deal with. Wind I can deal with. Even the two combined aren’t that big a deal – until they are.
If this morning’s time on the Trans-Canada Highway between Regina, SK and Brandon, MB did not qualify as the most miserable riding conditions I’ve ever seen, it was pretty darned close. I’d been warned. Environment Canada had issued rain warnings for the Brandon area. They were forecasting very stormy conditions with potential thunderstorms and possibly even small hail, but in the main, they were advising 50-60 mm of rain just for the day today. What I guess I missed in the forecast was the mention of winds NE at 50 km/h, gusts to 70+. Oh, and temperatures under 10 C the whole day.
Combine all of that with eastbound travel at 100-110 km/h and there is literally nothing that I have with me now that’s not wet except the stuff in my Ortleib dry bag and inside the bike’s own saddlebags. The tank bag and contents are wet, my jacket is saturated, but it kept about 60% of me dry underneath. The lower half of my pant legs are wet just from rain blowing up, past the elastic and velcro closures on the riding gear. When the water is blowing up under the front fairing and wetting the instrument cluster and windscreen from below, that’s windy.
So, suffice it to say that I did not make Winnipeg today. Freezing cold, arms sore from fighting the wind all morning, shivering nearly uncontrollably and an impaired rider because of it all, there was no way I was going to successfully do another 200 km today. So here I am in Brandon Manitoba at the Lakeview Inn & Suites in what I suspect is a very expensive room – I didn’t even ask and I don’t care today.
I’m looking closely at the weather this afternoon. Comparing forecasts along two possible routes – do i continue east through Winnipeg to Thunder Bay and on to Sault Sainte Marie, or do I cut south first thing tomorrow morning in to North Dakota and continue southeast through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana? The weather system that’s currently pounding Manitoba is rotating up toward Ontario, but there’s still a pretty good tail down in to the great lakes states as well.
It’s all part of the adventure and what you accept up front when you take off on a motorcycle road trip.
Hey, more opportunity to read homework for next week.
Track the Trip <– This link takes you to my Amateur Radio call sign on aprs.fi. I’m traveling with an APRS enabled handheld radio which periodically transmits my GPS location, speed and heading. Standard disclaimer – the system relies on a network of club and privately owned digital Amateur Radio stations. The overall success of the tracking is dependent on a whole list of factors, including the fact that these stations don’t exist everywhere I’ll be riding (and are proving to be very few and far between in southern Canada) and it’s all done on VHF radio frequencies. When it works it works, when it doesn’t it doesn’t.