August 14: The Great American Deli Schlep is Complete
By: Steve Goode
Edited by: Judi Goode
I had a wonderful reunion on Friday night with my wife after 2 1/2 months on the road. The plan for the next day, Saturday, was to meet up with my club, The Chaiway Riders, and ride up to Jakes Deli in Milwaukee.
On Saturday morning, about 12 riders and their bikes met me in a parking lot near our homes and we began to make our way up the Tri-State Tollway into Milwaukee, arriving, without incident, right on time at 11:30 for my last deli. It was a bittersweet arrival. I was definitely ready to hang up the helmet for now but I knew I would miss the adventure, meeting new people, eating the traditional deli food, and of course the riding itself. I would miss the yearning to find out what was on the other side of the hill as I rode my bike through deserts, forests, mountains, plains, small towns, and big cities. And I would even miss the game of trying to stay one step ahead of the weather as I encountered intense storms and rain, heat and humidity.
When we finally arrived at the last deli, family and friends were already there to greet us. In addition, ABC 7 showed up with a camera crew for an interview. Not sure when it will be aired but it was fun doing the interview with them.
What I didn’t know about Jake’s Deli is that it is owned by Bud Selig, the former Commissioner of Baseball. There is actually a sandwich named after him called, The Comish. I guess it is 3–4 lbs of meat on a loaf of bread. PS. I didn’t order it!
After a ton of photos and conversation it was time to ride back home. The final 60 miles were calm and relatively easy. I was accompanied by a few of my friends and fellow riding buddies. As I exited the Tri-State Tollway at Lake Cook Rd. I gave them a final farewell wave. Another couple of miles and I cruised into my driveway having logged 14,732 miles over 75 days.
It felt surreal to be back home after so many encounters with so many different people across our country. As I think back on my adventure, I hope that I have been able to highlight the plight of the hungry in our country and in Israel and the importance of organizations such as MAZON, who are working towards trying to end food insecurities. I have enjoyed being a goodwill ambassador to so many people in the name of MAZON. I have discovered pockets of Jewish communities in places that I never even imagined and enjoyed hearing about the creative ways they are trying to survive and create community. I have eaten the most amazing deli food with sandwiches too big for one hand to hold. I have seen the devastation of the fires out west; experienced torrential and dangerous rain and storms; and ridden in extreme heat. Most of all though, I have met wonderful people who heard about the shlep and came out just to greet me at their neighborhood delis; the bikers from the various JMA clubs who came out to support me; friends and family from all corners of the country who also came out to support me; owners of delis who sat with me and told me the family history of their restaurants; and strangers who became friends and opened their homes to host me for an evening or two and who wined and dined me and filled my days and evenings sharing their stories.
We live in a diverse country of many faiths, cultures, geographies and languages. Somehow, though, we remain united. I feel fortunate to have been given a chance to experience the many flavors of our country through some of the best delis in 42 states! As the old saying goes from William Cowper’s poem …. “Variety’s is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.”
The Great American Deli Shlep is now complete. Its mission fulfilled. And this rider is in need of some intense relaxation and sleep. Thank you for being on this journey with me.
P.S. I want to thank my wife, Judi, for spending endless hours correcting and embellishing my writings and making them readable. It is because of the many hours she has spent on the back of my motorcycle over the past 40 years that she is amply qualified to edit my writings. I cannot thank her enough for her hard work to make this blog happen.