Sometimes rides don’t go as planned. There are a number of ways things can go wrong, from flat tires and broken parts to closed hotels and vicious storms. Over my years as a motorcycle traveler, I’ve dealt with all kinds of setbacks on the road. Don’t even get me started on the time I was traveling through Virginia and had to sleep on the sidewalk by a Shell station. Or when I cowered under a bush in Colorado to shield myself from massive hail.
That’s part of the journey though, right? Experiencing the unexpected, adapting and overcoming, adjusting on the fly. That’s exactly how this Shamrock Tour® out of Bloomington, IN, turned out for Caleb and I in June 2023—not due to any serious issues, but a series of little instances that tested our patience. Luckily, it’s hard to have a bad day on a motorcycle.
Here Comes The Rain
Before the tour could officially begin, we had to ride two Honda Gold Wings to Bloomington. The roughly four-hour ride can be done easily in an afternoon, and the weather forecast was giving us the green light to start later in the day.
Sometimes, meteorologists lie.
An hour into the ride, the clouds began to lower and darken. As the temperature and atmospheric pressure dropped suddenly, we knew the next few hours wouldn’t go how we originally planned. By the time we made it to the Kentucky corn fields, the bottom fell off the clouds. With very little traffic on the road and nowhere to pull over for shelter, we pressed on. Lightning erupted across the sky in every direction and the hairs on the backs of our necks raised. The next two hours were slow going as we dodged lightning strikes and attempted to stay dry in the saddle. We didn’t, and our four-hour ride turned into six hours.
By the time we arrived at our hotel for the night, all the restaurants in town had closed, alongside the nearby gas station. Our dinner consisted of beef jerky and bottled water from the hotel’s snack selection. Off to a great start.
The sun shone brightly when we finished our hotel breakfast. It turned out that the coffee shop I had planned to visit the first morning was closed in the summer. Bloomington is a college town and that establishment takes the summer break seriously. Since we are vehemently opposed to patronizing fast food joints and large chain restaurants while traveling, the hotel breakfast would have to suffice. We just wanted to hit the road so our gear could finally dry out.
Motorcycles & Gear
2023 Honda Gold Wing
Helmet: HJC RPHA 11 Pro
Jacket: Klim Induction
Pants: Klim Induction, Klim Betty Tapered Stretch Denim
Boots: Klim Blak Jak
Gloves: Klim Dakar Pro
Comm System: Cardo Packtalk Edge
Camera: Nikon Z6ii, Nikkor 24-70/4S
We rode south on SR 37 before turning right on SR 450 near Bedford. SR 450 is curvy and runs for 25 miles between Bedford and Shoals through scenic countryside. Before long, we arrived at the Williams Covered Bridge, the longest double-span covered bridge in Indiana. It was closed to all but foot traffic and offered us the opportunity to stretch our legs. Some vandals had taken rattle cans to the bridge interior, but the colorful paintings gave the place a unique flair.
Afterward, we came across our first detour of the trip. SR 450 was under construction and closed to all through traffic. A quick stop to consult the map confirmed we should backtrack several miles and follow the detour signs for this one. We were back on route before too long and determined it was only a minor inconvenience.
As the June temperatures rose, we circled our way back around toward Bloomington. By the time we reached SR 45, we had forgotten about our earlier little detour. That is, until we reached the second one. Like SR 450, SR 45 was closed for construction. Rather than following the detour to the interstate, we decided to bounce around on the smaller county roads until we found our way back to town. Another minor inconvenience, but this time we wound up on some fun backroads we may not have otherwise found. Silver linings.
The town of Bloomington prides itself on the local college, Indiana University. The campus is known for its beautiful architecture as much as its haunted forest, Dunn’s Wood. We spent the afternoon strolling through campus, admiring old buildings that made us feel like we were on the set of a Harry Potter movie. As golden hour began to cast vibrant streaks of light through the trees, we sat down inside a concrete gazebo with a stained glass roof. The entire campus was picturesque and left us second-guessing our own choice of university back in the day.
As the sun set, we meandered through Dunn’s Wood. It’s said the place is haunted and locals have a few stories surrounding the claim. One popular tale involves the ghost of a grieving mother searching for her lost child. As the story goes, the Lady in Gray roams the woods, forever mourning the separation. As we walked through the dense forest, light from the sun faded into darkness. No gray ladies, though.