Day 11

Youngstown, OH 12739.8
Grinnell, IA 13436.7
696.9 miles

When I was heading east through Nebraska, I took a bird in the ribs. The thing swooped right at me. It felt like I got punched in the ribs. I swerved a bit, yelled What the hell was that?, and checked the mirror—the bird looked pretty woozy.

I checked my oil in the morning before I left, it was a bit low. I went to a motorcycle shop across town (Youngstown), got some oil when they opened at 9. Filled it up and hit the road. The grinding sound didn’t stop. I figured the oil would take a little while to work through the engine, but still no good. Tomorrow I’ll find a Honda dealer in Des Moines and try to get them to take a look at it.

Good riding today. It started out on kind of a bad foot—after getting on the freeway after the motorcycle shop, there was road working during some interchanges, and somehow I eneded up on the wrong freeway, I-76 instead of I-80. I made the time up. The first half of the day was okay, about normal. But once I got past the usual early-afternoon tiredness, I felt great.
     I stopped talking.
     I realized that I hadn’t been talking to myself for about an hour. The noise in my head kept up, though it was quieter; songs took over. When I stopped, I felt I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t even open my mouth. It felt great.

I didn’t feel like stopping. I did almost 700 miles and wanted to keep going, but it just got too dark.

The best things, I don’t photograph. The sight of the road stretching out in front of me, hills rolling by, cars silhouetted against the pink and orange sunset as I glance down, the road disappearing past my foot—frightening, beautiful, exciting, calming. The feeling of flying. The thought that at the top of the next hill, I’ll just lift off, away.

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