Postcards from the Road

Spirit Traffic is the story of the 10,000-mile motorcycle trip the author C. Jane Taylor took with her husband, John, and son, Emmett, to celebrate Emmett’s college graduation. They were all new riders, and it was their first trip. In May, Jane and John took Spirit Traffic back to the road on their BMW 650 GSs for a 97-day national book tour. Below is her fifth installment of Postcards from the Road, which will be published every Monday.

Related Story: C. Jane Taylor Rides 6,000 Miles on National Book Tour

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We learned after riding its length that Western Avenue is the longest city street in the U.S., maybe in North America. We also learned that it passes through some of Chicago’s most notoriously dangerous neighborhoods and there had been a spate of shootings just a few days before we were there. The reception we received on this infamous street was mostly good-natured surprise. Smiles shined out from under raised eyebrows and from behind enthusiastically waving hands. Maybe the pouring rain we rode through kept the gunfire down?

The street was in ill-repair with tire-eating potholes and slippery, uneven surfaces, but we passed through green light after green light. I was pleased, proud, and a little surprised at the ease with which I dodged the pavement’s many obstacles. Feeling like a real adventure rider on a wilderness safari, I swerved and weaved my way through the metropolis.

Exhilarated, exhausted, and a little chilly, we pulled into a Starbucks, entering the café in full regalia: dripping wet helmets, foggy face shields, hazmat-green Motorrad rain suits. A table full of men and women looked up from their laptops at us as if we were Martians newly landed.

Postcards from the Road Chicago Starbucks
At a Starbucks in Chicago, this man bought a book and asked it to be dedicated to Pastor Tyler.

We doffed our helmets and found a corner table. As we sipped hot tea and cocoa, we smiled and nodded at the people watching us. A man in a suit and elegant shoes, who had been shaking hands around the room, came over to our table to ask what we were about. When I told him, he immediately shook hands with us and asked for selfies. He also asked pointed questions about the greater meaning of the book.

“What you’ve written is applicable to business and to all aspects of life,” he said. “We all must face fear each day.” He bought the book and asked for another photo as I signed and dedicated his copy to Pastor Tyler. It was an honor to be so well heard and understood so quickly by a complete stranger. Most people I describe my book to immediately talk about someone they know who rides or about their family vacation in the National Parks, not the good pastor.


Day Twenty-six: Our hosts Steve and Judi in Deerfield, IL, were like family, only better. Steve is a rider known for The Great American Deli Schlep.

Day Twenty-seven: Windy City International Cycle is a Midwestern motorcycle Mecca. Though only four people attended my talk, they all told great stories and bought books. Our host JB was terrific.

Postcards from the Road Jane Reads at Windy City International Cycle
A small crowd with big stories showed up at Windy City International Cycle.

Day Twenty-eight: Chicago Region BMW Owners Association, Elmhurst, IL. I read to a rapt audience of 50 people at the Elks Club. Club president Patrick King is a great champion. Club members treated us like old friends and invited us to join their camp at the upcoming National Rally. Their spirited questions lasted for an hour. What a delight! We are going to try to swing by in August on our way back to Vermont. 

Postcards from the Road Jane Reads at BMW Owners Association
Chicago Region BMW Owners Association. Reading for a crowded room at the Elk Club.

Day Twenty-nine: Leora hosted us at her home in Oak Park. She invited 15 interesting and enthusiastic guests including James, a friend I’ve worked with over the years but had never met in person, and Heidi, a friend from Simon’s Rock (where I went to college). The moth-style stories told after my reading were indeed inspiring. In the morning, Leora took us for a walking tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s local homes. Wow. 

Tonight, Mark and Lorrie-Anne host.

Postcard from the Road Jane Reads at Leora's home in Oak Park
Reading in the shade at Leora’s home in Oak Park.

Keep the rubber side down.


Spirit Traffic can be purchased on the author’s website It is also available on eBook, audio book read by the author.

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