Bring It On

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And just like that, 2016 is behind us. Last year when I wrote Mind Over Matter I made some generic resolutions, much like everyone else around me – to eat better, exercise, appreciate stuff and be nice to others, blah, blah, blah. You know, like we’re supposed to do anyway. Well, I did some of those things except for the exercise and eating right. There’s just something about food…and furniture, that keeps getting in the way. This year I’ll try, I promise.

This was a year to remember for sure. I actually hooked up with three fellows from across the ocean and rode with them on their epic journey across the U.S. My part of it had me riding through Kansas and sharing some of the fine roadside attractions such as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. The Ride 50 at 50 crew of David, Adrian and Andrew made me feel welcome and not only took me in as one of their own, I also made some lifelong friends in the process. Thank you fellows! We also discovered Blip Roasters in Kansas City and Ian welcomed us with open arms as well.

But I did ride my motorcycle to the east coast.  A trip that came together at the last minute, it was something I didn’t think I would accomplish any time in the near future – but it happened. Along with the regular trip to Sturgis, it was a month full of miles and smiles. Somewhere in the mix I mamaged a ride out to Colorado Springs and that, combined with the usual commute to work, added up to a lot of miles. It was nice to get my head cleared a bit and see some different scenery. You know the kind, where although you’ve never been there it all looks eerily the same but just different enough to keep you wondering “have I been here before?”

You know the kind, where although you’ve never been there it all looks eerily the same but just different enough to keep you wondering “have I been here before?”

It’s hard to believe that we’re entering the year 2017. If I still wrote checks this would be that awkward time when every check for the next thirty days or so would have the wrong year written in and then scratched over with a 7. But that doesn’t happen any more.

So instead of making some other humorous resolutions for this coming year, I’m going to turn the tables around and challenge you to a few;

Be nice to a stranger. Not in the sense of just being a decent human being, but to actually put out the effort and engage with people you don’t know. This is easy for me as I don’t have a problem interacting with folks I don’t know.

Believe in yourself, and have the confidence that you can. Because when you believe the rest will come.

Take a moment for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in everything around you, focusing on the needs of others and it’s easy to forget about stopping to breathe it all in.

Remember those we’ve lost, but also share that precious time we have with those standing around us.

Happy New Year!

Weather Or Not To Ride

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It’s funny, winter comes around about the same time every year. We even have the early warning system derived from trees shedding their leaves. I know it isn’t an alarm or flashing lights but these leaves need to fall a little louder to the ground. They pile up and blow around signaling the coming of winter, but somehow it goes unnoticed to the motorcyclist in me. It’s this time of year when cold, blustery days start creeping in with excited weathermen and women telling us to be prepared. Even the dedicated weather channels start airing episodes depicting blizzards and freezing rain and the cause and effects of temperature change.

Cold temps can be tough enough to ride in, but when you just add water, in the form of rain sleet and snow, it brings us to a parked bike and a closet full of gear.

But the one detail left coming from the lips of said meteorologists is the affect is has on those of us who ride motorcycles. Cold temps can be tough enough to ride in, but when you just add water, in the form of rain sleet and snow, it brings us to a parked bike and a closet full of gear. Not to mention all the hopes and dreams of someday riding again. It just didn’t sound right to say “with the wind blowing through my hair again.”

So how do you break the bad news to a guy like me that the weather will make it dangerous to ride? First and foremost, don’t sound excited that bad weather is coming. This may be your line of work and I know at times it can be boring, but I like boring. Boring lets me get outside to ride. Secondly, be honest. Tell me it’s coming but give me hope. Hope that one day the sun will shine and the temperature will be above 20 degrees. And thirdly, be accurate. There is no honor in telling me lies. I know it’s hard to predict the weather but if we combine the room full of radar and computer programs you have at work with maybe a peak out the window we might get it right. Let’s recap – contain your excitement, be honest with me and be accurate.

One more thing, let’s get our local meteorologists interested in motorcycling. Maybe this will take the sting out of the cold weather forecast. At least then I would know we were in this together.

20 O’Clock

Nobody said it was easy. I would go a little further and say sometimes it isn’t much fun. For the last few days as the weather has danced around from comfortable to cold, it’s been a hit or miss as to whether or not to ride. I know what you’re thinking; but Jeff, you always ride. Not always. I seem to be in this transition of psyching myself up to ride in freezing temps. Did I just say riding in freezing temps? Whoa.

I seem to be in this transition of psyching myself up to ride in freezing temps. Did I just say riding in freezing temps? Whoa.

This morning as I sat down to put my boots on, I hesitated whether or not to ride. With snow-showers in the forecast for the weekend and a snow storm brewing up next week, I thought today I might as well put my pull up big-boy pants and ride. After checking the temperature on my phone I pushed the bike out of the garage and fired it up. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I have my junior meteorologist credentials and with that I could feel it wasn’t 30 degrees out. I hadn’t ridden for a couple of days, so I felt like maybe I just wasn’t acclimated to what 30 felt like. It’s all in my head, remember?

Well, the ride in was no fun. The first 10 miles was doable but after that it was obvious I wasn’t prepared for, you guessed it, 20 degrees. I didn’t have my glasses on after pulling my helmet over my head so from where I sat it looked like it was 30 degrees on my Formotion thermometer. It looks like a clock, doesn’t it? Take your glasses off and look again. See it?

This is just the first of many cold rides to work. Like callused hands it takes time to work your way up to the hard stuff. I’ve heard jogging is like this too but I wouldn’t know. So if you pass me on the road while you’re driving to work with your heater on and your coffee cup beside you, don’t feel sorry for me. I choose to do this. Wow, saying it like that makes me sound a little crazy.

 

Earning My Story – Trayvax

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If there is one thing this blog of mine has done, it has given me the ability to share my thoughts and feelings from not only the surface, but from a deeper sense within my helmet. I ride motorcycles and as you know this affords me time to reflect and delve into some of the more dusty corners in my head. And boy do I need to dust sometimes.

But this lifestyle of riding mostly year round makes you appreciate the good-weather days even more. Although the sun was shining on this morning’s ride in, the temperature was an alarming 19 degrees. Even with a ride like this I can find an opportunity to reflect and figure things out – and like my motorcycle – move forward.

…but it’s also a symbol of how we really want to be – free from all that clutter we carry with us throughout a normal work day. Is it possible to check our mental baggage?

As motorcyclists we seek that feeling of freedom and adventure. We know when riding our bikes it’s not unusual to carry only the minimum with us as space is a premium, but it’s also a symbol of how we really want to be – free from all that clutter we carry with us throughout a normal work day. Is it possible to check our mental baggage?

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Last week I received my new Trayvax Axis minimalist wallet in the mail. For those of you who haven’t heard of this company, I urge you to check them out. A few years ago I switched to carrying a typical wallet and moved to a much more user-friendly front pocket wallet for a variety of reasons. Mostly to lose the unnecessary stuff that found its way into my back pocket. I will say that after transferring my cards and cash to my Axis, this is the easiest wallet I have ever carried. Ever.

Trayvax is 100% made  in the USA produced in Bellingham, Washington. Mark King, owner and inventor of the Trayvax brand has a vision of adding 5000 jobs in the US and based on his passion and sense of purpose, I believe he is not only on his way to this goal but will exceed his own expectations. I hope so. I love Mark’s entrepreneurial spirit and I know with this kind of determination, this is only the beginning. He is showing us that it is possible to reach your goals both personally and professionally and live your dreams. Mark is earning his story through the stories of his customers but more importantly his story is one we can all relate to. And it doesn’t get more American than that.

Mark is earning his story through the stories of his customers but more importantly his story is one we can all relate to. And it doesn’t get more American than that.

Just like the pocket knife I’ve faithfully carried with me for the last 35 years, I hope to have my Trayvax Axis share the same life – experiences with me. I know it will as it’s built to last a life-time. After all, life is truly an adventure.

Check out this real life story of making a dream and a vision come true, and show your support by following along on social media and purchasing one for yourself or that someone special in your life.

Shaking the Rug

 

20161010_154312_hdr1On this evening’s ride home I noticed my shadow, stretched long and thin, riding ahead of me as I headed east. It’s getting darker sooner and the temperature is dropping faster as the day quickly comes to an end. Or is it the evening is beginning sooner? We motorcyclists are bracing ourselves and preparing for cooler rides led by our headlights. I’m not sure if its my age or not but cool is now cold and cold is now really cold. It could be I’m just getting old.

I’m not sure if its my age or not but cool is now cold and cold is now really cold. It could be I’m just getting old.

But I still make my mind up to ride. Just since Sturgis I’ve racked up about 10,000 miles on my Ultra Classic and I felt it was time to trade. Coming in with just under 70,000 on the clock, it still had a lot of miles left on it but if I were to continue riding it by next summer it would have had around 85,000 to 90,000. I traded a Road King in on the Ultra and now as you can see, a Road King it is again. I’ve been asked why I would give up the trunk and stereo but honestly I’m a fan of the Road King. It fits me and it’s a kick in the pants to ride.

There will always be a slight transition when you move from one bike to another. I have a tendency to carry more than I need to and this gives me an opportunity to sort and whittle down what isn’t necessary. Much like the bikers of old, we should carry the bare minimum when we ride. I found stuff in my saddle bags that really shouldn’t even be on a motorcycle. Socks? Really? So it’s like spring cleaning for me but only in the fall. I’m sure it won’t take long to accumulate those random items all over again in the next couple of years, but once in a while you just need to shake the rug if you get my drift.

So if you follow along with this blog you see a different bike in the picture. The Road King will evolve a bit over time but for the most part what you see is what you get. Even I find it remarkable to the transitions from a Heritage to a Road King to an Ultra Classic and back again. There sure have been a lot of miles and memories on each and every one of these Harley-Davidsons and I can appreciate each one for taking me on their own unique journey. I can’t wait to see where this one takes me.

Decipherability

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As the sun had already set on my later-than-usual ride home last night, I noticed the remains of the day lighting what was left of the evening sky. That moment where day meets night and the struggle between the two leaves the clouds visible along with the moon and a few stars. Almost as if the sun said “enough!” and went to bed.

I haven’t had a ride like this one for a while. After working a little late and being fully prepared to look out for deer, I headed south to home. But once I reached the highway and rolled up to speed I completely forgot about safety first. I like riding at night and I always say I should do it more often. There is something about how the landscape looks in comparison to the day-to-day commute. I noticed how my mind wandered to places it hasn’t been in a long time. These are places that I always want to go, but lately haven’t had the chance. For a short twenty-minute ride home, this ride seemed to take me the long way, carrying me down the road most affectionately called memory lane. Somehow my internal GPS has been re-calculating unable to find this road for the last few months.

These are places that I always want to go, but lately haven’t had the chance. For a short twenty-minute ride home, this one seemed to take the long way carrying me down the road most affectionately called memory lane

I’ve had a desperate need to sort through some things and as unpredictable as life can be, tonight was the night. I pictured myself having a couple of hours in the saddle to reflect and understand these things that forever pile up, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. Apparently twenty minutes is enough. For now. It felt good to put myself in a place – albeit temporary or imaginary – which provides clarity. To allow myself a moment of focus and to see through the fog that resides in the valleys of my grey matter always helps with my decipherability.

For those few minutes on the bike my mind was elsewhere. I felt as if I lived 100 miles from where I found myself but beyond that, my head was telling me to continue down this road of memories. A place we all should visit more often.

 

August Part Two: Boston and Back

So part two of my epic August involved a trip to Boston for the Harley-Davidson summer dealer meeting. What would normally be done via airplane, Dennis our parts manager and I decided to ride to the show with a total of around 3500 miles round-trip. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well I must say it was. Having never been further east on my motorcycle than St. Louis I thought this would be an awesome ride. I was right. Our first leg was from Junction City Kansas to Columbus Ohio, about 850 miles with the last 100 or so in the rain. Yep, me and my famous rain suit got to know each other at a whole new level. Somewhere there is a 10-year-old boy wondering where his rain suit pants are.

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There are a few preconceived notions I’ve had about the east coast: First, I pictured angry drivers. This was not the case. Most folks in their cars and trucks were very nice and even made room on the road when we needed to change lanes, etc. Pleasantly surprised. Second, I pictured pothole ridden roads and rusty bridges. Dare I say, the roads were great except for a couple of spots. One in particular would have swallowed me whole. As Dennis veered left I had a split second to avoid it – with my cat-like reflexes and my innate ability to shoot bullets around corners I bent the universe to avoid going down. Yes. This was the big one. Damage would have been done to my already tired Ultra Classic had either of us hit this hole. Whew. Thirdly, I wasn’t expecting so many trees. Don’t ask me why but for whatever reason I was looking for more concrete and skyscrapers. Don’t forget, I live in Kansas. I’m sure they have their own preconceived notions about us. No offense to my friends Steve Berner and Laurie Buchwald. We were hoping to stop and see Steve on Monday, but it just didn’t work out. We will next time Steve, I promise.

Connecticut Turnpike McDonalds

Connecticut Turnpike McDonald’s

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Though most of the trip was uneventful, the scenery was fantastic. We ate up a lot of miles the first couple of days just so our day of arrival would be a little shorter. We arrived in Boston early afternoon on Monday to get parked, unloaded and checked in to the hotel. Beer? Why don’t mind if I do. Let me sum up the show for you. Monday night at the meet and greet, (after a beer or was it two?) I was offered a part-time job with a dealer in China. He was so impressed by Dennis and I that he felt the need to extend the offer for the part-time gig. I explained that unless it was full-time I would have to pass. Talking to him through his niece the interpreter, I was clear that there truly is something lost in translation. I find myself incredibly funny and I’m not sure he completely understood that part. His niece Wenn was in stitches. Why am I the only one drinking in this picture? After this photo was taken Wang’s wife took the time to show me all of her family pictures on her phone. With only a few words spoken in English, I feel like a member of the family. I’ve said it before and I don’t completely understand it, but people will share their life story with me. I’m honored to have met this family.

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After Tuesday and Wednesday of taking care of business at the show, we headed back. I now know where the phrase “highway robbery” came from. Toll roads. This is one thing I wasn’t expecting on this trip and it’s apparent this is big business out east. Nice people though. We could see the rain coming and asked if there was any place we could put our rain suits on and the lady said just pull over here. So we did.

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Other than that, I was genuinely impressed with the whole thing. I almost forgot Tuesday night in the hotel bar. When you’re drinking with a guy that goes by the name Pickle, you better hold on.

The ride back was just as enjoyable. So many local, friendly people that we came across were completely made the trip. We did get a little lost somewhere in Vermont but that’s all a part of the adventure.

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All in all it was a great trip and I thank Dennis for leading the way. It was a pleasure to ride on this very memorable trip with you and I would do it again in a minute.

 

So Dennis and I were riding touring bikes. Cruise control, storage, comfortable seats and stereos. Pretty awesome, huh? After spending the night in Effingham Illinois Thursday night, we headed out pretty early to get me home so I could drive a Uhaul truck to Colorado Springs for my daughter Kelly. We stopped in Sweet Springs Missouri for gas and a cup of coffee around 7:30 am. A young man pulled up to the pump on a 2013 1200 Sportster 72 model with a backpack and a full face helmet on. I waved as all of us do and he gassed up and waved back. We passed this young man around Lawrence Kansas on the turnpike. We waved from the well-padded seats we were sitting upon and he waved back. After reaching highway 1-77 I peeled off to head home and pick up the truck to finish my day driving to  Colorado. Around 2:30 pm I got on the road stopping in Wakeeney Kansas to grab a bite and gas up the truck. My next stop, Limon Colorado, I pulled in around 9:00 pm for gas and more coffee only to be followed in my yes, you guessed it, our friend on the Sportster. Of course I had to ask him if he remembered waving at a couple of guys on touring bikes and he said yes. I’m one of those guys. He left Columbia Missouri on his way to Denver for the night, heading home to Phoenix the next day. On a bike with a 2.1 gallon gas tank and a seat made in the same place that nightmares come from. That’s a 750 mile ride for the day and he acted like it was nothing special. His 2013 had a little over 40,000 miles on it and he told me he makes this trip all the time. He has my respect and I will forever quit my complaining about being saddle-sore.

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