WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Finishers Wander 15 - Marquette, Michigan
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 2004 21:21:03 -0700

    Cool Canadian friends, indeed. At 7 am it was -2C but I had miles to go. Electric socks on high, electric jacket liner on medium (two Heattrollers hanging off my belt loop). North Face down-filled car coat that Frank made fun of in Branson - "you packed THAT?" Yes, Frank, and frankly I'm glad I did. Wish I had brought my long underwear, but instead I wore the Froggs Toggs as an overlayer to break the wind chill on my legs. Half mask 'dickie' to further seal the neck, cover the ears and nose. Nolan helmet faceshield fully sealed with nose guard breath deflector in place. This is a great helmet for weather protection. Winter guantlets with the heated grips on high. Knees tucked behind the fairing where the notorious "K heater" vents blew engine warmth. At road speed I was actually quite comfortable. People in cars would look at me like an aberration, but I was probably warmer in my full swaddling than they were.
    About cold weather riding, I can only offer ...

An Ode To Gordon

There is one man to whom I owe more
Than anyone else you can stand before.
'Cause the ability to ride would be fraught
With the pain of cold were it naught
For the work of Gordon and his kin
In the little Washington town of Union.

As a snowmobiler he said one day,
There surely must be a better way
To warm the body, hands, and feet
With a more direct source of heat.
He laid out the clothing to wire his own
And very soon as a legend was known.

The jackets, the liners, the gloves, the socks,
All work together glowing warmth that knocks
The cold out of your thoughts along the way,
Making any temperature a good riding day.
Thanks to Gordon, this ode to you I bring:
If warm you want to go riding, go Gerbing.
    Years ago during one of my previous trips, some Canadian readers made fun of my penchant for morning pastries and referred to me as Tim Horton material. Tim Horton's is a Canadian chain of donut shops where geezer gravity is extremely high. Despite that, I stopped at the one in Sturgeon Falls. Even with my gray hair I was but a minnow among the sturgeons. Wow, if this isn't the retirement village of Canada, Tim Horton's sure has some magic for attracting a particular demographic. That demographic does not include good drivers. In the span of 15 minutes in the shop I saw three near collisions in the lot, and held my breath watching one matron back her panel van into the spot beside my bike. It took her 6 backward and 5 forward movements. Relief, no contact made.

    The long day was flowing smoothly until somewhere between Thessalon and Bruce Mines. That black smoke in the distance which I assumed to be another farm field being charred turned out to be a wreck burning. When I stopped, the traffic line was about 1/2 mile (1 k?). When I stopped, so did my electrics. This would not stand, and neither would I. The truckers close by had no idea how long the road would be closed, so I walked to the scene to get an idea. Randumb observation: Do people of limited intelligence gravitate toward law enforcement, or does the procedural nature of law enforcement induce them to not use their intelligence? At the scene, traffic was stopped in both directions with about 100 feet clear between them. The truck had gone completely off the road. The ambulance had left minutes ago as I arrived in line. Everyone was just watching, including the police.
    I asked an officer when they were going allow traffic, since the road itself was clear. He did not know, saying "the accident scene had to be secured". The scene sure looked secure to me, the accident is off the road. This is the ONLY east-west highway in this part of Canada - and traffic flow is not important? Thinkers need not apply.
    Luckily, one of the drivers stuck in line was a local. She gave instructions for a road around the backup. Left, left, straight, left. A whole bunch of us turned around and began to follow ... but she wasn't going that way! Somehow I ended up leading whither not I knew where. First left was a dirt road that was fairly smooth but with a lot of kicked up loose gravel in the corners. I had to slow dramatically for the gravel. But the car following me was about 10 feet off my tail the whole way. After a couple turns where I was sure he was going to hit me, I pulled over and waved him by. He pulled over behind me. I got off and went back to ask him not to tail gate because I have difficulty in the gravel. He said he did not want to get lost so would stay close. Next corner he was right on my ass again. I stopped, went back and picked up a handful of rocks right in front of him. "I'm going to put these rocks in my pocket. If you get that close to me again I'll start tossing them back at you. You can either stay back or lose a windshield, your choice." No more problem.
    Border crossing at Sault Sainte Marie was more friendly than the Maine woods. I guess they hadn't sent an orange alert for a terrorist in an orange suit. The border guard asked me fewer personal questions than I expected and seemed interested in my route. He asked if I was going across Da Yoo Pee. I responded he must be a Yooper. How'd-ja-no? Only someone from Da (U)pper (P)eninsula would say "DA" U. P.. He smiled.
    After scoping the motels in Marquette, I rode into one lot. The hand written, well worn sign on the office door said "back in 15 min". A few minutes later, a man got out of a car and said he had been waiting almost an hour. We rang the bell again, I looked around back. Nothing. He left. How long do you wait when you don't know "15 minutes from when?" Human nature would have you believe no matter how long you wait, the response will come a minute after you leave. I waited exactly 30 minutes during which others came and left. While waiting I wandered into the laundry area, found a marker, and attached a sign to the door. In big letters, I wrote CLOSED, GO AWAY. Then in smaller pen I wrote: Dear Motel, if you care so little for your customers, you do not deserve them. Accuracy counts. Your 15 minutes was up hours ago. At least 5 customers have been turned away. Can you really afford to lose business? Signed, Frustrated Waiter P.S. I WILL BE BACK IN 15 MINUTES TO DISCUSS THIS WITH YOU.
    Suppose he or she looked suspiciously at whoever came in after the sign was found?

585 miles
Pembroke TransCanada17 ON17B I75 MI28 Marquette
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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