Day 15: Champaign, IL to HOME

Although I kind of wanted to leave Champaign super early this morning, and get home about 9am, that didn’t make sense for us since we would have hit Indy at morning rush hour, and that could have been dangerous. So instead we slept in til 6:15 and had the free hotel breakfast at 6:30, then packed our stuff and hit the road shortly after 7.

It was a nice morning, about 75 degrees and sunny, but it was a bit hazy, so the sun wasn’t as intense as it had been the morning before, thankfully. We were cruising along nicely, but of course Illinois had more of their stupid construction in store for us, so we dealt with 3 or 4 more of those sections before we finally hit the Indiana state line. It was merely an annoyance though, since it kept moving the whole time and we only had to slow down 10-20mph each time.

I was keeping an eye on the map ahead of us on my phone to see if anything popped up in Indy on the bypass, but everything was looking fine. After we were already on the bypass, I saw some yellow and red pop up about halfway around it, so we considered getting off, but decided not to since the only option to get around it would be about a 30-45 minute detour, and we didn’t want to do that, so we decided to take our chances. As it turned out, there was no issue there and traffic was moving fine when we got to where it was showing on the map, but then another smaller section popped up right at the exit for I-65 South.

That turned out to be an actual backup, and things were a bit slow moving as people were merging onto 65, but it picked back up okay. We quickly realized that traffic was incredibly heavy all around us and as far in front of us as we could see. 65 is three lanes where we were, and all three lanes were full. I told Dwayne that when it went down to two lanes, things were going to get bad, and I was right. When it got close to where it merges down to 2 lanes, things came to a halt, and it was stop and go for about 5 miles. With about a mile to go, Dwayne got smart and told me to stay in the middle lane and he got beside me in the left lane, and we essentially blocked all of the people who were trying to fly up to the bottleneck and merge at the last minute, which made things go a lot smoother for the last little bit.

Unfortunately right after we got past the bottleneck and it was down to two lanes, it continued to slow down and speed up, and then stop and go. We have no idea what was causing it, I mean, traffic was MUCH heavier than you would expect at 10am on a Tuesday morning, but even with the heavy traffic it should have been moving better than it was. Perhaps it was a wide load holding everything up, perhaps it was construction up ahead that we never made it to, but regardless of what it was, we didn’t feel safe on the interstate with the way things were going and the way people were weaving back and forth between the lanes like they thought they may get somewhere quicker in the other lane, even though it was obvious that they were both going the same speed and no one was getting ahead of anyone else, so we took the next exit that we came to, and decided to detour over to one of the state highways instead.

Of course, that would have been too easy though, and it seemed that the travel gods were frowning upon us at this point, because the road that we needed to take to get to the highway we wanted to take was closed due to construction. The other highway option would have taken us right through Columbus, which is a busy town with a lot of stoplights, so we didn’t want to do that either, as it was getting hot out (85 degrees at this point), and traffic can get pretty bad there. So we consulted the map and found a detour around our detour through some country roads, so we took that route instead. It eventually took us to the highway we intended to take, too, it just took a bit longer than expected to get there.

Our detour ended up adding about 45 minutes to our trip anways, so I guess we could have just taken the first detour and missed out on the nerve wrecking traffic we endured on the interstate, but how were we supposed to know that at the time? Hindsight is always 20/20.

We did eventually make it home, although a bit later than anticipated, and a lot hotter, but we were just thankful to make it there safely. As soon as we got the bikes unloaded, Dwayne pulled them in the garage and started their oil change, so now they have fresh oil, and in the morning they will get a MUCH needed and deserved bath. We may have to take a pressure sprayer to our panniers though, I’m not sure that the gazillion bugs that are stuck to them will come off any other way.

Our total mileage for the 15 day trip was 5,244, which translates to nearly 350 miles per day. Not bad! The bikes also passed 22,000 miles, which is in 16 months of ownership, with about 4 months of no riding due to winter weather. We have another smaller trip coming up in 3 weeks when we go to the RoadRUNNER Touring Magazine “Touring Weekend” in Tennessee, and I’d say it is safe to say that the Tigers will surpass 25,000 miles by the time riding season is over, and they will be ready for their 2nd major service, which is supposed to be done at 24,000 miles, but since we did the 12,000 miles service at around 13,500, I think they’ll be okay to wait until winter and be a little over on the 24,000 mile service, too.

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