A Little Bit of Epic

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Some people have a way about them. There are those who are driven and challenged to be something bigger than the moment they live in. I believe Neale Bayly is this kind of person. I haven’t met Neale, but I understand him from a motorcyclist’s point of view. As bikers, we are always looking for “epic” in every ride but end up finding so much more than that. Neale has a series airing on MAVTV this month about his ride on BMW GS series motorcycles through Peru to the Hogar Belen Orphanage. The ride takes Neale and his friends from Lima to Moquegua to visit this orphanage where Neale has visited before. He was inspired enough to start the nonprofit organization called Wellspring International Outreach to help orphans and abandoned children.

It becomes about the surroundings and environment you’re in and it changes you. There is something about traveling on a motorcycle that brings the people to you.

The world…

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Stretching the Truth

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 But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.

A small break in the winter weather found me riding my bike the last couple of days. Yeah, it’s cold in the mornings but the ride home was generally a nice one and it also helps not only physically, but mentally that the sun is hanging around a little longer to see me home. But the mornings have always been one of my favorite times to ride, and even though the temperatures keep you honest this time of year, it is when the road is mostly mine.
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The last couple of days have had me thinking about the serious side of life. There are a certain amount of expectations required by any responsible adult and I would consider myself somewhat responsible. The fact that some people may think by me riding a motorcycle I smell like exhaust and alcohol, I’m wearing the same clothes since the last beer-drinking-bonfire-slash-rally and I’m itching to pick a fight if you look at me sideways. Well I do smell like exhaust a good portion of the time but aside from that I’m just a normal guy. And I have a clean shirt on.

If there is one thing about a motorcycle blog, it gives you plenty of time to write about the sunrise and sunsets on a regular basis. Since most days start and end in this manner it almost seems redundant to mention, but I do anyway. Mostly because they are just that beautiful. Throw in a couple of local landmarks into the shot and anyone who grew up here and around White City can take it in as well. Although we all share the same sunrise and sunsets, we don’t always have the time to take it all in.

It’s hard to think about those long hot summer days when a morning ride might start out in the 30’s here in February, but they’re coming. Soon, these cold morning rides will be another memory and when they get shared to a fellow rider, I might even embellish how cold it really was. But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.

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Inside This Helmet of Mine

It’s a simple concept really. Write a blog about growing up in a small town and my experiences riding my motorcycles. This is how it all started and, for the most part, still is. As this blog has grown and more and more people from around the world read it, it tells me that this simple life of mine and my reflections on life from the seat of my bike have been enthralling, or at the very least humorous in some way. If nothing else it has given you a look at what goes on in this helmet of mine.

So where do I go from here? I fully enjoy writing and putting these thoughts I have out there, and I would probably still do this even if it was more in journal form. A book with real pages and an ink pen that writes in cursive hidden in the hallway next to my motorcycle helmet sort of journal. But if you know me, you know I don’t write in cursive, but in all-caps. Come to think of it, I type using four or five fingers out of the ten I have but it all seems to work out somehow.

Winter weather, like our age is all subject to perception. I’m still young at heart and there is plenty of beauty and nice days during the winter months – it’s all in how you choose to look at it.

As winter keeps me from riding as frequent, or more accurately my urge to throw away my underoos and pull up my big-boy underwear, I find the desire to ride to be that much more obvious. Winter weather, like our age is all subject to perception. I’m still young at heart and there is plenty of beauty and nice days during the winter months – it’s all in how you choose to look at it. You would think the cold weather wouldn’t bother me as much as I appear to have put on my winter layer of fat. Mind over matter…Blah! Acting like a kid in trouble, I walk past the bike in the garage on my way out the door trying not to make eye-contact with it. I’m sorry for all the nice days I didn’t ride, and I will try harder this year. But the blog goes on anyway.

It really is hard to believe this blog is going on five years now. Five years of letting my thoughts fall out of my head in this random order and putting it out there for anyone who wants to read it. I go back and read some of my past posts and it surprises me that I’m even capable of putting a sentence together. If there is one thing that surprises me the most is the top three post that I’ve written. White City Ks. 66872, Hello, My Name Is Jeff, and A Dip In The Road have been some of the most viewed posts I’ve had and I thank all of you for that. I do have my personal favorites as well and these three are right up there. Some posts are more personal than others and some don’t tell the whole story but for the most part the point comes across. And there are some things I have wanted to write about but just haven’t pulled the trigger. If you could see the draft section of this blog it would truly show how random I can be. Yikes!

 

 

 

A Sight for Sore Eyes

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If you read anything I write about my zany travels on my motorcycle you know there are many times I talk of wild animals, crazy drivers, Walmart bags and what appear to be flying squirrels coming at me as I roll down the highways and byways of Kansas. Although I make light of these things there is a seriousness to riding bikes. Nature and garbage are one thing because they know no better, but those drivers who refuse to notice me are another. I’ve never been the type to say “look at me!” but in this instance I am.

I can go on about my frustrations, but I won’t. But what I did do was reach out to the Kansas Highway Patrol through their twitter account explaining my experiences passing through the intersection Of I-70 and Ks. Hwy 77 every morning on my way to work. As a motorcyclist it was refreshing to see a Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper sitting along the highway monitoring traffic exiting 1-70. With a big wave I thanked the trooper, but to me it wasn’t enough. As I pulled into a car dealership driveway to circle around, my intentions were to hop a barb wire fence to personally thank him. Okay, hop a barb wire fence at my age and in my full leather gear might be a stretch, but I would have found a way. This is an example to NOT look at me. By the time I got close enough to do so, Trooper Cameron pulled out to stop a motorist violating the law. Missing my chance to thank the trooper, I felt compelled to contact KHP through twitter.

 The vulnerability we motorcyclists feel at times can be nerve-wracking and although we ride defensively, it’s nice to know there are men and women out there helping not only our cause as bikers but by being there for all motorists as well.

Trooper Ben who has been instrumental in at least making me feel better. But he has gone above and beyond that. The vulnerability we motorcyclists feel at times can be nerve-wracking and although we ride defensively, it’s nice to know there are men and women out there helping not only our cause as bikers but being there for all motorists. Trooper Ben responded back today telling me it was Trooper Cameron sitting in the car as I passed, and I know as he pulled over the motorist, all they were thinking about was the anger they were feeling for getting pulled over. I’m sure they weren’t thinking about what could have happened by not stopping at the stop sign as they came off the Interstate ramp where I find myself passing each morning on my motorcycle.

Thank you to the Kansas Highway Patrol. Thank you to all who patrol our streets and highways, and to those first responders for being there in our time of need. At times you may feel its a thankless job but I’m here to tell you otherwise. Thank you.

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Groovier

As the weather finally allowed me to ride to work this morning, I had a few miles to think about years past when I would have been riding most every day instead of picking and choosing the days as I am now. It felt good to get the bike out and although a little chilly at 24 degrees, it was still a nice ride in. It was almost as if instead of watching for deer through the Skiddy basin, I was watching unicorns cross at the appropriate marked areas along the highway. Yes, it felt that good.

But it truly is more than that. I usually go on and on about riding and how I use this time to put my thoughts together, and even though this is true, this particular ride I was waiting for my head to clear and I think my expectations of one ride to be my fix-all. I believe now it might take more than a twenty minute ride to work to achieve this. Sure, I have my ride home and my frame of mind will be different allowing me to focus not on the fact it has been a little while since the last ride and focus on this ride.

. My bike allows my mind to be wherever I want to be at any given time and it also lets me dream and wish until I run out of gas. If that happens, I guess I could just jump on the back of one of these unicorns and continue on.

I sure do a lot of thinking, huh? Why analyze the ride when it’s easier to just go? Good question. We all have our reasons for riding motorcycles, and mine acts as a mirror to my past and where I might be headed in the future. It also gives me a place to see what could have been and what will be. Kind of like a time machine, only better. A time machine is designed to place you into a certain period of time whether it be the future of the past. My bike allows my mind to be wherever I want to be at any given time and it also lets me dream and wish until I run out of gas. If that happens, I guess I could just jump on the back of one of these unicorns and continue on. Note to self – get gas.

As warmer weather and longer days get closer, I know I’ll get into a groove again. There is a huge difference between a groove and a rut. Same principle but one is, how do I say it – groovier. Yeah, groovier. I know what you’re thinking; what kind of ride takes you through the Skiddy basin on a motorcycle, seeing unicorns and saying groovier? I’m not sure how to respond to that, but at least I’m getting out of a rut.

I can’t wait for trees with leaves and grass to line the roads I travel. A southern breeze with the sun hitting the back of my neck is a good feeling for anyone but especially a motorcyclist. Just a thought, do unicorns have a rut season?

I’m Bitter, and Cold

So this goes without saying but I’m saying it anyway. If you live anywhere that experiences a full swing of seasons and you ride a motorcycle, it can be the same as an emotional rollercoaster. Ride today, wait a week, sneak in a 15 minute ride before the temperatures drop at dusk and then spend days walking around dazed and confused at the conflicting reports of weather from one channel to the next. What TV station is right and why do the weathermen lie to me? Even my phone can be overly optimistic when it comes to predicting the weather and riding my motorcycle.

I know it’s temporary and Spring is right around the corner, but for crying out loud, I need to put some miles on my bike as all of this winter baggage is stacking up in my head. I have all these thoughts running around in no particular order and I use my bike to file them properly. My head feels like someone dumped a filing cabinet in the front yard while the wind was blowing and left me to pick it up. In the dark. With my motorcycle mocking me through the garage window.

We all know the solution to this. Move. Move south where the sun shines 365 days a year and the temperature hovers in the 70’s every day. Trees and grass and rainbows around every curve, and no matter the direction you look, there are mountains and clouds that have whatever shape that makes you happy…blah, blah and blah.

But when the weather finally does break, look out. You can only hold the excitement back for so long and then we kick the door in and free that trapped motorcycle from the chains of isolation we call a battery tender.

The reality is overcast, cold and windy with a chance of rain mixed with snow. My motorcycle is sitting in the garage (or at least I hope it is, I can’t say I’ve looked that hard) just waiting to be backed out and fired up. It’s tough having a blog about riding motorcycles when, well, you can’t except for maybe that sliver of nice weather the weatherman is promising me, next Thursday, south of I-70 between 9 am and 9:45 am – if you’re lucky. But that’s a week away and it might as well be a month from now. Do I sound bitter? I sound like I ride motorcycles.

But when the weather finally does break, look out. You can only hold the excitement back for so long and then we kick the door in and free that trapped motorcycle from the chains of isolation we call a battery tender.

We ride motorcycles, and unless you are fortunate enough to live in the land where the weathermen are accurate and the roads are free of salt and sand, we wait. We wait until we can wait no more. Be patient my fellow riders as it’s coming… soon.

 

3 Amigos

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It’s funny how we mark moments in our lives. Memories are made in the most random of ways and are usually referenced by a certain month or year in which it happened, or triggered when the friends we choose to surround ourselves with remind us of how it really was. Certain birthdays, a time of day, a street address, a highway sign and the list can go on and on. Numbers can make us do crazy things, and those lifelong friends poking and prodding each other along the way don’t help much either. Those same lifelong friends that have been through it all with you are the same ones that will be down for anything. Anything? Why not?

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If you’re fortunate to have friends like this – friends that have always been there – count your lucky stars. Usually time erodes bonds and distance will put us in places where our closest friends aren’t. But when the opportunity comes, we can make up lost time as if it were the 80’s once more. Friends are always friends no matter the length of time or the distance we are apart. These guys seem to have had the luxury of keeping distance to a minimum, wouldn’t you say? You only live once, but friends are forever.

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I recently found three guys who fit this description. Friends since they were 14 years old, they have hit the milestone of age; that magical age of 50. These three friends who live in the U.K. are planning a trip to the United States to ride US Highway 50 across this great land on Indian Motorcycles. Credit for this inspiration might have a little to do with Charley Boorman, who is known for taking life by the handlebars and living it to the fullest. This isn’t their first trip  to the U.S. for sure, but this time it will be different. They will be riding highway 50 at the tender young age of 50 years old. Traveling coast to coast with your best mates sounds like something I would love to cross off my bucket list. Mid-life crisis? Probably, but who cares? Of course timing is important, as they are due to set off on their journey in May 2016. As luck would have it, highway 50 runs just south of where I live and I’m hoping to take a day and ride with them through a part of Kansas. I’m 53 and that’s close enough for me. Anyway, mom always told me to act my age, not my shoe size. She also said if all my friends jumped off a bridge would you? Hmm.

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So please follow the 3 Amigos on twitter @ Ride50at50 to see how their #route50 adventure is going. Send them a message and wish them luck, but more importantly, if you see three friends on motorcycles acting their shoe size instead of their age, let me know!