The Moonshine Lunch Run 2014

I freely admit I had mixed feelings about attending the MLR this year. It’s a Ride to Eat – where motorcyclists from all over the country get together for a meal, then head home. The Moonshine Lunch Run was started by a friend (now deceased) years ago, this was actually the 10th year of the event, but in the last few years it has grown into something almost unmanageable, and the event itself is becoming more exclusive (in parts) to the long distance/endurance rider, rather than just people who ride (this might be my impression of the event, rather than any real bias).

The Overland Expo was approaching, though, and I wanted to do some sort of road trip before then. As the date of the MLR approached I thought about riding the Great River Road or just going somewhere along Lake Michigan and camping, but winter clung to the Midwest like a needy girlfriend, and looking at the weather it was clear the only place it was going to be warm and dry was to the south. So, I headed in the direction of Moonshine, still without committing to go. This meant I had to get Curiosity ready for the road, starting with a new rear tire.

Another change I decided to make was returning to stock gearing for the front sprocket. I remembered Curiosity struggling when I was riding across Arizona in strong headwinds, and hoping the stock gear (even though it would cost me some top speed and MPG).

With the bike ready, I packed and headed south late on Friday morning. I had already decided I wasn’t going to camp at the Farm this year, or go to Roberts for dinner (both of which are parts of the Moonshine event, the farm was a particularly hard decision since it’s free and I do like free camping). Instead I headed to a nearby state park that was recommended on the MLR website (in particular the restaurant was supposed to be good).

The ride was on the long side, especially since it was really my first ride on Curiosity this year. A week early it had been snowing and I had promised myself I wouldn’t ride the 250 when there was salt on the roads.

The weather, as expected, improved as I went south. Not long after getting through Chicago (I take the interstate through Chicago, it’s not any less safe than trying to get through on surface streets and a lot faster) I got onto smaller roads that led me through small towns.

Through no fault of my own, I was on some sort of Lincoln Highway, and was greeted by representations of the president in various forms all over the place. There were other things too.

I reached Lincoln Trail State park (see, Lincoln again) and found somewhere to set up my hammock.

My Hennessey is starting to show signs of wear, and I decide I should get a different hammock to use for the Expo trip. I ride back to the camp host’s site and pay for the night. I mention the restaurant only to learn it hadn’t opened this year yet, and had new owners they weren’t fond of. So, if anyone goes they will have to try it and let me know.

I was surprised at the complete lack of people in the campground. The RV area (where the hosts were) had about a dozen people, but the tent area was empty. speaking with the host, there was one other tent there, way on the other side of the tent area. The only traffic I saw was the host driving through right at dusk to look for squatters.

I slept well, as I usually do in the hammock, and in the morning was faced with the decision on whether or not to go to Moonshine for a burger. It wasn’t far and, after grabbing a small breakfast I went to fill up Curiosity. At the gas station there were three riders with Harley’s, sitting in the lot and talking. I said “hi” as I walked into to pay, only to have them all turn their backs to me. I admit to being more amused than snubbed, and wondered if they were also going to get a burger.

I didn’t head to Casey, where most of the events related to the MLR are held, and went ride to the Moonshine Store, beating the crowd. I got my burger and sat down at one of the communal tables with a few other riders. They were locals, whose big rides involved HD rallies and worst stories the poor condition of portajohns. I listened but didn’t add much, and they finished and left. The next group of riders from the New York (the city) and had a lot more travel behind and ahead of them. We talked about places we’d been and places we’d like to go. Modifications to our motorcycles and what podcasts to listen too while riding. One of them streamed Pandora, which seemed like it would go through a lot of data, but I really don’t know.

By the time I’d finished the crowd had arrived and motorcycles stretched for a mile or so in each direction. There were a few trapped cars, and I wondered how they’d get out.

I’ve heard next year they are going to have parking stewards, to make sure everyone parks responsibly. I’m not sure that it would matter, and I have mixed feelings about the increasing bureaucracy. Maybe I’m just an anarchist at heart, and in the end I know where Moonshine is and can go any time I want.

There were the odd and unique machines as well – there always are.

These things are called Stallions, and looked impressive. And hug, more like an open three wheeler car than a motorcycle. And I think one of them came with air conditioning.

There was also this guy –

whose name I wrote and and still forgot, and rode his buddy 150 from St Louis. It was nice to see another small bike there – even smaller then Curiosity – that had also come from somewhere not local. He was starting back that day and seemed to think he would make it.

It was just before noon and I started back north. There were sill bikes rolling in, and they had to hurry since Moonshine stopped serving at 1230 no matter how many people were waiting. I wasn’t sure my GPS and managed to take a wrong turn while making my way north. I had been following a group of motorcycles leaving, and assumed one of them knew where they were going. They might have, but the route they were taking let them to a loose gravel road. They turned around to back track, but the road was still headed where I wanted to go so I passed them and pressed on.

The road wasn’t bad, and not long after the gravel it switched to good dirt and I was able to make better time.

Not long after that I was back on pavement, watching motorcycles stream past towards Moonshine. I wondered if they’d make it, and if they cared whether they did or didn’t. There were more events that night in town, and the next day, so there were still lots of chances to join in. I was headed home, though.

The ride north was uneventful. I took a slightly different route, this one didn’t have random Lincoln statues along the way – and a lot less traffic. I took notes on what went right and wrong on the trip and got ready to head to Arizona a few weeks later.

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