Friday, August 14, 2015

Indy Motorcycle Trip: Clam Jam and MotoGP!

Frigid winter weather can drive a fellow crazy. It's bad enough when it's too cold to ride a motorcycle, and even worse when the temperature drops to the point that you can't even work on stuff in the garage. That is what led me to Netflix to get my motorcycle fix. I watched a couple documentaries about MotoGP, the top class of motorcycle road racing. I'm not a very big fan of racing, but this motorcycle grand prix stuff was pretty exciting. After a little bit of research and yearning for a summer trip, I decided that I was going to head to Indy in August for the Red Bull MotoGP race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As usual, it didn't take a whole lot of convincing to talk my buddy Tom into going with me. That dude is always up for an adventure! The plan was for us to meet up in Greenville, IL on Saturday morning and ride out to Martinsville, IN for the Clam Jam chopper gathering, Tom was on his BMW R60/5 and I on my BMW R80/7. Aside from a small fuel delivery issues (some bozo forgetting to turn his petcocks on), and some road construction, the ride was smooth sailin'. It hardly seemed like we had been on the road for 4 hours when we found ourselves booking it down some country roads, trying to get to the "Boogie Farm" in time for the 50 mile group ride. We knew we were pretty late due to a closed bridge we had to navigate around, but as we got closer and rode up over a small hill we saw about eighty headlights coming toward us. We twisted the throttle and got to a bend in the road just as the last of the group of choppers passed us. We stopped and asked each other if we should head to the farm to meet up with our buddy Wes, or go with the group. About fifteen seconds later Wes pulls up on his shovelhead chopper, looking like a Hells Angel from that 1965 LIFE photoshoot. The three of us looked at each other, skipping the "hellos", and knew it was time to rip up the road and catch up with the group. Luckily there was a gas stop planned before the actual ride started which made it easy for us to join them.

Once everyone gassed up and gathered their wits, we headed off on a 25 mile ride to Cataract Falls. The destination was a pleasant surprise considering I had no clue where the organizers where taking us. Cataract Falls is a really cool little water fall in Mill Creek. We all paid the entry fee and parked our bikes. The group immediately headed over to the creek while shedding clothes to hop in the water. The setting was perfect and a fun place for everyone to cool off by finding the "deep end" or just sit on the rocks and dip your feet in the water. 

Everyone ambled toward the parking lot so we could finish the ride back to the Boogie Farm. The roads in the area weren't exactly made of marble so most of the ladies and gents were a bit more wary of the potholes and bumps in the road. It seemed like most of the group made it back with no more than an achy back but one guy hit a particularly sinister bad spot in the road and bent the lip on his rear wheel. The 25ish mile ride funneled us into the farm where everyone parked their motor scooters. It was only a matter of minutes before the party started. Hundreds of beers were iced down in blue plastic kiddie pools, raffle tickets were being handed out, and a line was forming at the food truck which was on site. People roamed around hanging out with each other while some music played. Soon after we got back, the mini bikes were fired up for some races and ramping. If that wasn't your thing, the handful of vendors were worth checking out on the way to the giant slip-n-slide. There were loads of awesome prizes given away throughout the day. All of which were donated by generous sponsors. Most people were camping right there at the farm but Tom, Wes, and myself decided to head back to the south side of Indy to rest up at Wesley's house. A couple of Wes' pals joined us for the 40 minute ride back to town.

Tom and I unpacked our stuff and Wes took us to the Broadripple area of Indy for some much needed food. Despite my best efforts to keep us out of every good restaurant, by forgetting my wallet and i.d., we ate at a great Mexican joint named George's. After a few good hours of sleep we were up early on Sunday to watch the races at the Speedway. We spent the first couple hours walking through the moto midway area. This was where all of the bike companies had their products on display. Then, we went to several different areas of the track, and seat sections to watch the Moto3 and Moto2 races. Our cheap, general admission, tickets gave us the ability to roam around and watch from different areas. Time went by rather quickly and before we knew it, it was almost time for the MotoGP race. We headed toward the opposite corner where there was a concentration of tight curves on the race course. We posted up on the front side of a small hill on the infield. We got a great view of the action, as well as the giant video board.

Marc Marquez continued his dominance in Indy with a 1st place finish. Jorge Lorenzo took 2nd, while the crowd favorite, Valentino Rossi rounded out the podium in 3rd place. It seemed as if we just got into town, but the racing was over and it was time to head home. While we were at the track, Wesley's dad covered up our Beemers because of the rain that started coming down. We packed up our bags, uncovered our bikes and said our goodbyes. Our rain gear wasn't very necessary for the sprinkles that turned into sun and clear skies for most of the ride home. We stopped in Vandalia, IL for a bite to eat right around dusk. We still had our rain gear on, and it's a good thing we did. The last 80 miles home was in a torrential down pour. It was so windy that we had to take a breather at a rest stop before finishing up the trip with a wet and dark ride home. It was an incredible trip that I will remember for the rest of my life. Not even a bit of rain could wash the near-permanent smile off of my face. I'd like to end this post by saying thanks to Tom and Wes for making the trip such a blast and for being patient with me and my less experienced riding skills. Thanks, guys! Can't wait to ride with you both again.

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