DISCLAMER: No KLR 650s were harmed in the making of this ride. Memorial rides are bittersweet occasions. Bitter in that you're confronted with the loss-- that painful realization that some thing or somebody you knew and loved isn't coming back. Sweet, though, for the memories-- the great memories of times enjoyed doing what you loved with people and things you care about. Maybe it's because of the bitterness, or maybe it's because my KTM has been in the shop for about 340 of the last 365 days but we've been putting this ride off for almost a year. Today was the day we gutted up and did it. Today was, finally, the day for closure. Last year saw a departure from the WOODLAWN ADV riding posse. The group was, at the time, comprised mostly of myself, @Three Crates (N.E. Illinois' most prolific wanderer and the photographer of most the images in this report... follow him on Instagram) and this dude @KLRFred. Nobody has seen KLRFred on a motorcycle since he rode off into the night's rain and darkness on a DR650 last August. While we know KLRFred is still alive and fine, we don't know where that DR is. Wait. That's a lie. He sold that DR650 earlier this year. And he only bought it after he bought a KLX250sf, which he only got because he sold his KLR650... all in a very short period of time. And THAT is what this ride is about. The KLR650 Fred had 3 bikes ago. He crashed it on this route hurt his ankle and thumb, and broke the mirror off (which lead to him selling it for a smaller bike which lead to him selling that for a bigger bike, which turned into him selling that for NO motorcycle... don't ask questions). Joining @Three Crates (DR650) and I (KTM 690 Enduro R) on this pilgrimage was TJ (KLX250s), whom you might remember as one of the riders who did NOT crash in the great kidney caper of 2017. We also had John (CRF 250 Rallye)- which leads us to the second important reason we were riding. Today was going to be John's baptism into the WOODLAWN ADV club. We start our rides at the donut shop. Here is a pic of our bikes outside Fresh Donuts in Geneva. These weren't the only donuts we saw on this ride, but they were the only donuts we saw on this ride that weren't in a dumpster. But they weren't spiritual. There's something to be said for spiritual donuts, no matter where they're found. Fresh Donuts does great breakfast sandwiches. Give them a try. You won't regret it. From there, ride captain @Three Crates guided us out towards the scene of Fred's last crash on his third-to-last motorcycle. We high-tailed it out Seavey, Scott, Greenacres and a few other great gravel roads before making it to our first stop about an hour later. Chief Shabbona forest preserve adjacent to Shabbona Lake State Park is a great little property to ride through. The twisting forest road looks a lot like... not Illinois. We rested at a quiet picnic area known historically for being the site of Chief Shabbona something something something something words and more words. With heavy hearts, it was a somber, funeral-style procession to the sight of the last accident of Fred's KLR (while he owned it, anyway). Only a few fun, twisty, gravel miles away, we made it over the treacherous "Woodlawn Pass" without incident. I'd brought a mirror- snapped off when my KTM fell (in the trailer, on the way to the dealer... where it literally has been for like 340 of the last 365 days have I mentioned that yet?). While it wasn't an exact replica of the one Fred lost to this stretch of road on that fateful day last year, I thought we could still use it for a fitting tribute- We wanted to mark the spot of the accident so that Fred's KLR's mirror would never be forgotten. It wasn't difficult finding that stretch of road. It's been burned into my memory since the day it all happened. The ruts, the bane of Fred's KLR's mirror's existence, were still there. In a former life TJ must have been a boy scout or handyman or MacGyver or both. Before we could wonder what a fitting tribute would be, he used a combination of sticks (locally sourced), the mirror, and orange paracord (locally sourced from my tool kit because when you have a KTM you don't ever go anywhere without the stuff somebody else can use to tow you home) to erect a beautiful cross-and-mirror. After the memorial was placed, the Reverend @Three Crates lead us through a moving ceremony. "KLRFred's KLR mirror lived life to the fullest and never regretted it. On that fateful day last year, KLRFred's KLR mirror could have been doing what so many other KLR mirrors do- collecting dust in the garage, or making coffee runs..." "...but KLRFred's KLR mirror was not content living like that. It wanted to ride the gnarliest, toughest, bumpiest farm roads in all of Lee County. Although there's no solace to us in the manner of its demise, KLRFred's KLR mirror went out doing what it wanted, when it wanted on its own terms..." "...so long as we live, we use your memory as inspiration for our lives. KLRFred's KLR mirror, we are honored to have known you. Godspeed." <Insert brief moment of silence for the mirror here> With that, we headed to the creek crossing for John's baptism into the Woodlawn ADV club: You're going to have to take our word that John's creek baptism went well (which is sad, because if you've ever seen anybody fall in a creek it's really funny). Nobody seemed to capture any of John's creek crossings on camera. You'll just have to picture his Honda in place of Three Crate's DR650: Or TJ's KLX Or my KTM, (which SHOCKER OF SHOKERS was still running just fine): With that, we did the only thing you can do after a memorial service and/or baptism. We threw an after-party at a venue befitting such a beautiful occasion- the parking spot in front of a dumpster at Caseys' in the DUAL SPORT CAPITOL of DeKalb County (Shabbona). The circle of life is a funny thing. Sometimes life is happy. Sometimes life is sad. Things always seem to end up where they start, though. Death, in many ways, brings on new life. We end where we start. This dumpster could not have been a more beautiful reminder of that circle and just how wonderful it is. We'd started the day at a donut shop, just hoping to get out for a few hours an pay homage to the memory of a mirror gone before its time. And here- after recognizing that death, after honoring new life with the baptism of a new member into the crew- we were standing in front of a dumpster that happened to be filled with... DONUTS HALLELUJAH! (he actually paid for that donut. Sadly it wasn't from the dumpster. And, yeah, he's in his underwear... it got hot... don't judge). With that, our day could not have been more touching. We packed up, hit a few more cool, but not-as-spiritual-spots, and headed home. If you want to say you don't believe in miracles, that's fine. If you say that dumpster donuts aren't the sign of something "bigger than us" at work, that's fine too. Believe what you want. At the end of this day, though, my KTM made it 180 problem free miles. It left under its own power, did the whole trip under its own power, and returned under its own power. If that's not a miracle, nothing is. Another great day riding in N.E. Illinois. Miracles or not, that's what it's all about.