The Skiddy Basin


Early this Saturday morning during my usual ride to work, I spent a few minutes trying to put some thoughts together. It seems to me on this cool, damp ride that my head was as foggy as the Skiddy Basin as I passed through it. Listening half-heartedly to the radio, Lee Brice was singing I Drive Your Truck setting the framework for my mood and giving me plenty to think about as I followed the road to prosperity.

There are so many triggers throughout our day that cause us to pause or stop and reflect. If you read anything I write you know I spend a lot of time reflecting on life and events that have happened. This is a direct result of my surroundings which by the way, is full of said triggers. The road I travel to work on is a road I’ve downed many times over the last 45 years, and while it’s bumps and curves remain the same my view of it has changed. That old road will always lead to somewhere but it is always taking me back.

That old road will always lead to somewhere but it is always taking me back.

As a kid, the 23 miles to anywhere from White City always seemed to take forever, but the older I get the distance seems insignificant. What’s 20 minutes in a lifetime? Although there are days when I wouldn’t mind sitting on a front porch looking out at an old truck in the driveway, contemplating the sunrise or sunsets.  I suppose my blog wouldn’t be about motorcycles if that were the case. A small town guy riding and writing about rocking chairs doesn’t quite fit, does it? Hmm.

There is something about a quiet country highway on a motorcycle, a couple of bridges and the early morning to help you think. A country song on the radio doesn’t hurt either. Maybe the mixture of all the above is the perfect concoction to clear the fog and shorten the old road to anywhere.


The Actions of Wild Animals and Trained Humans

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There are so many reasons I ride a motorcycle. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but transportation and recreation are a start. The side benefits include a lower heart rate, clearer head and a prettier smile every time I climb off after a ride. Most benefits are hard to explain but I think you get the picture. I don’t ride to save gas but this too is a benefit, but I’m not bragging.

With all that’s good coming from riding motorcycles, there will always be a down side. Yes, wild animals can be a part of my daily routine. I’m not upset about it because I know living in a rural area, I’m traveling through their natural habitat. They don’t live by the same rules we humans do, so with that I give them a little latitude. The only wild thing a barbwire fence will keep off the road is a Wal-Mart bag… Deer, opossums and raccoons can be cute until they become obstacles in the road. Don’t they know I’m looking at the sunrise?

The only wild  thing a barbwire fence will keep off the road is a Wal-Mart bag…

But this morning’s commute, like so many days before, has a danger I don’t talk about much. As most of my 23 mile ride to work is rural two-lane highway my attention is always on those sweet furry friends that live in the country. About a mile from work, just on the edge of town, everything changes for the worse. At the junction of highways 77 and I-70 lies something more beastly than any four-legged animal. Traffic. In a span of less than an eighth-mile I deal with more cars pulling out in front of me than I care to talk about. Every day. Most don’t stop at all, some use the turning lane as a onramp to merge onto highway 77 exiting I-70 and none of them see me. Even though I have the right-of-way, they look right through me. Obviously, the desire to pull out in front of me is much too strong for them to stop to let me pass safely. I have given the “angry bird morning wave” to many.

This morning was a close one. Believe me, it takes a lot to even bring it up because history shows me it will happen time and time again. I can handle the drivers that don’t stop because they have already revealed their intentions. It’s the driver who stops and then rolls forward and stops again, that always has me worried. The driver this morning was unpredictable. After I had already slowed down, a sudden movement from him caused me to lock up my back brake causing a slight fishtail, followed with a few wild hand gestures and a mouth full of bad words. For a brief second I was ready to kick his ass. In fact, I’m still ready. After getting through the danger zone, heart racing and almost to work, I was inspired to write this.

So why do I ride? That’s a great question with an ever-evolving answer.

So why do I ride? That’s a great question with an ever-evolving answer. I lost my son-in-law Chanse to an inattentive driver this year. To say I’m hyper-sensitive to this very traffic situation is an understatement. Kicking this guys ass won’t solve anything but bringing awareness to it will. I can’t predict the actions of wild animals or trained humans but I can become a better rider and more importantly a better driver. To anyone who rides just remember, we are invisible. Educate yourself through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and check into the Motorcycle Industry Council for even more information. And gear up for every ride. Always expect the unexpected, because it’s a jungle out their whether its rural or urban, so be prepared.

Love you Chanse!

The Closer We Get


The older I get the more I find myself looking back. Memories, experiences and lessons learned are usually following me wherever I go and to recall them all I have to do is look back and there they are. But no matter how distant the memory, they truly are closer than we think. Although my childhood seems like an eternity ago, the memories of growing up are fairly clear. Friends and family are a constant reminder of who I am, and I know by the familiarity of the small town I live and grew up in, those memories are real.

But no matter how distant the memory, they truly are closer than we think.

Life’s experiences are an ongoing thing for all of us, but the lessons learned over the years are always reminding us of what or what not to do. Some of us learn a little harder than others, but we eventually learn nonetheless. Looking backwards isn’t necessary in this case as we carry these teachings with us like gold stars on the chalkboard of life. Looking back at all of my life’s experience would indicate I’m smarter now than I have ever been, but my palm slapping my forehead a dozen times a day would argue otherwise.

I also find the older I get the closer I get to the realization that you can’t live forever. I’m kind of caught in the middle of my life at my current age, and with each passing year you can’t help but think about it. I don’t feel that old, but my dad staring back at me in the mirror indicates I’m in denial. You’re only as old as you feel, right? Yeah, me too.

Buying Time


The power of words. A word or two can change our very mindset when we hear them but it is the power behind those words that give them the medicine in which they are delivered. Sincerity in its most simplest form can move mountains and change attitudes but a perfectly timed sentence, delivered by a kind heart at the right moment can point someone into the right direction. We have those days when we need to hear what is usually left unspoken. To actually say what we automatically assume is a form of confession that only reinforces the bond that brings us together. We don’t say it enough – to describe how we feel to those who mean the most to us and without that it’s left to interpretation.

We get so caught up in how we feel that we lose our sensitivity to how those around us are feeling. But it is the individual who can say what needs to be said to someone who is struggling, “I understand” or “chin up” awakening the positive attitude within them and allowing their eyes to open up to see the light at the end of the tunnel – no matter how far the tunnel goes. It’s the heartfelt way in which it’s said that has the most impact when someone needs lifting up.

 Focus is a good thing unless you are focusing too much on the wrong thing.

We’ve heard the words and felt the wave of change as the weight of the worry falls away. To say the problems have disappeared entirely would be unjust, but the idea of knowing we’re not alone in those dark moments says so much. I find solace in the hum of my motorcycle and a lot gets figured out when the wheels are in motion, but knowing there is someone who is willing to acknowledge they understand can put the mind at ease and change the thought process. Focus is a good thing unless you are focusing too much on the wrong thing.

My motorcycle can only do so much. It can push me down the highway buying me time to figure things out, it can drown out the noise that distracts and move me towards the end of the tunnel and into the light. Friends are the same. they can push you to understand, give you a voice of reason that will rise over the noise and lead you out of the darkness.

Asking for Directions


This morning as I was backing my motorcycle out of the garage, I knew I wouldn’t be taking my normal route to work. Living in White City, work is to the north of me so I headed south out of town. Why take the long way to work? I needed a little seat time to sort things out. For all those things swirling around in my head, I find the best time for me to sort through them is riding down the road. Much like someone in a glass box trying to grab as much cash as they can as it flies around them, in this case this isn’t cash flying around me and untamed animals are ready to spring out from the ditch to ruin my day.


So off I go as my morning is begins. My plan was to ride in a big circle and end up traveling east so I could see the sun come up from my bike. Apparently folks take this Labor Day Weekend business pretty seriously because I had ridden 20 miles before I passed another car on the road. I find that when I really don’t think about anything in particular the answers usually seem to come. Often the surface questions I have are of insignificance and the real questions are buried under my full head of hair, so it takes a few miles to figure it out and get to the real heart of what needs organized. Not being a typical male, I’ve never been afraid to ask for directions, and The Man upstairs is a pretty good listener.


As I settled into my morning commute my mind wandered from one subject to the next but not landing on anything specific. Just the way I like it. As the plan of riding in a big circle came to fruition, I could see the sun peaking up over the horizon just as I turned to head back east. Often the answers to even the deepest questions can be right before your eyes and all we have to do is look up. The quiet inside my helmet is a great place to hear the answers that so many times are drowned out by the constant noise and distractions of a normal day. The old adage of the not seeing the forest for the trees is so true, and even though we recognize what our eyes are seeing, we may not fully understand that a sign can be so simple.

 The quiet inside my helmet is a great place to hear the answers that so many times are drowned out by the constant noise and distractions.

Once I realized I was looking at a cloud pointing in an obvious direction, I had what I was looking for. I’m not sure if I really needed a big arrow in the sky, but obviously someone thought I did. I’ll take it.

Sturgis or…Bust?


I was so looking forward to the 75th Annual Sturgis Rally and at one point I wasn’t sure if this year was going to happen – read: Clarityville. Like every year, this gives me a chance to get away and spend a week riding the highways and byways of Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota while finding interesting things along the way. As I’ve said before, Sturgis is a great place to turn around because it’s the ride I so look forward to, and although a good time is always had during the rally, weather can also play a big part in having a great trip versus a good trip. You see, there really isn’t such a thing as a bad trip to Sturgis. Well…

Planning this trip every year always starts about a week after I get back from the rally, and last year was no different. As winter rolls in you lose a little urgency and just like everything else, plans are put on the back-burner until the first break in the weather and then it all fires back up. Who’s going, who can’t go and all the other details and gossip that go along with planning for Sturgis seem to find their way into the conversation whenever there’s the false sense of Spring in air. We know the trip is happening but like a kid who can’t wait for the last day of school, it’s not getting here fast enough. I swear, we’re just like little kids sometimes.

I heard rumors and I’ve seen old grainy photos of what appears to be people going to Sturgis with dare I say, their motorcycle on a trailer. Heck, I didn’t know you could put a motorcycle on a trailer and why would you? It is a self-propelled machine capable or moving bodies and souls great distances with little more than the twist of the throttle. So this year it happened to me; in a borrowed trailer I hauled my touring bike to the rally. Gasp! A touring bike on a trailer. Where do you buy a t-shirt that says “I hauled mine?” Oh, the verbal beating I will take for this.

Gasp! A touring bike on a trailer. Where do you buy a t-shirt that says “I hauled mine to Sturgis 2015?” Oh, the verbal beating I will take for this.

Let me say this. After hitting rain across the Kansas/Nebraska border, hauling it didn’t seem so bad. After all, I’m delicate. I’ve ridden to the rally 8 years in a row with nothing to prove, and this “pulling a trailer” thing was a little foreign to me. Such things as wipers, a comfortable seat with armrests and climate control changed everything. If I didn’t know any better, I would have wondered why there were so many bikes on the road all heading in the same direction. But wait, I knew better. After a long day behind the wheel, camp was set up, the bike was unloaded and it was a quick ride into Sturgis for a bite to eat. Lot’s of people and somewhat tough to park, but not too bad. Saturday night was pretty uneventful and after all, I did have a long day driving. Can you tell I’m a little bitter about not riding this year? Yeah.


Sunday plans were to ride to Spearfish and head through the canyon to Lead and then south to Rapid City. Back up through Custer State Park into Keystone, Hill City and Deadwood, ending back up in Sturgis. A good days riding and I really hoped to get 250 miles on the bike before it got hot and crowded in the Black Hills. That was the plan… Hitting I-90 west to Spearfish my motorcycle coughed and hesitated. Hmmm. Surely a fluke, I thought to myself. Stopping in Lead about 60 miles later, the decision was made to go back to Sturgis, abandoning the plans due to heavy traffic and a bunch of folks out on the roads that probably shouldn’t have been there – at least on motorcycles. What’s a couple of close calls among friends?

After getting back into town and wandering around for a few hours it was time to head back to the campground for a siesta. Apparently pulling a trailer with your motorcycle in it can wear a fella out. Pulling up to a stop sign leading up to the main drag in and out of Sturgis, my bike died. I fired it up, got a block further and it died again. Rinse, lather, repeat for another couple of blocks and then it wouldn’t start. An innocent bystander watching the parade of bikes rolling into town from his front yard, asked if I needed a ride somewhere, and I gladly accepted. Pretty handy having a pickup and trailer just down the road in the campground isn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking. Am I glad I towed the bike to the rally? Yes, and of course no. The unpredictability of a breakdown is always there no matter where you ride. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have this happen to me on any other trip, and I guess I was probably due. The fact that I trailered this year is pure luck and as a biker, we usually have a plan B in the event of a breakdown. You do have a plan B don’t you?

So as much as I wanted to stay, it was a little difficult getting around in the pickup. With my frustration level peaking, it was only logical to leave the rally early. Two days early. Driving as far as North Platte Nebraska to spend the night, the rain convinced me that I would rather be in the cab of the truck than on a bike. What is it about rain and Nebraska? Or am I getting soft? I think I actually used the word “delicate” earlier. Wednesday, when I should have been planning on an evening at The Knuckle Saloon for the fights I was changing a blowout on the trailer which ruined the tire and wheel. A borrowed trailer at that. Thanks Russ!


All said, it was a trip to be remembered. Pictures? I took 14. Miles ridden? 80. Rain? Yes. Will there be a next year? Probably.