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.

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All the Cool Kids Are Doing It – Sturgis 2016


The month of August has been a whirlwind. With a ride to Sturgis and another to the East Coast I’ve racked up about 5500 miles between the two. I know…I say it all the time. I ride a motorcycle a lot. You get it, and you’ve heard it before. But one thing I’m not sure you know. Not every ride has the same effect on me. The usual ride to and from work is one thing and of course the ride to Sturgis has its moments, but the ride to the east coast was a lot crammed into a short period of time. With an average of about 600 miles a day there were times when it wasn’t fun. But it kinda was. Get it? Also a guy like me really doesn’t need that much time to think. Life, family, friends and where this is all heading at this stage of my life definitely kept my mind busy.

 

 

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The New Full Throttle Saloon

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The New Full Throttle Saloon

First the trip to Sturgis. Three guys on touring bikes, loaded with everything you need to camp for a few days. Of course some have better packing skills than others, and I am always confused with why I carry so much crap. As DJ, Gary and I headed out for our first leg to Enders Lake, we stopped in Beloit Kansas for gas. About halfway there we were passed by a little gal on her Dyna who looked to be in a bit of a hurry. Other than catching her braided hair coming from the back of her helmet and the tiny bag strapped to her back seat I didn’t get much of a look. That is, until we stopped for gas in Beloit. She pulled in behind us after we had moved our bikes to the parking spaces in front of the Casey’s General Store. As I walked over to her at the pump I asked where she was headed. Alliance Nebraska tonight, but ultimately Sturgis she says. Hmm. Where did you start your day? She replies Oklahoma City. It’s already 3:00 pm and we’re hoping to make it to Enders by dark and she has a bit further to go than we do. I asked if she needed anything, and with a “no” she was gone. Our next stop is about 30 miles away in Cawker City so Gary and DJ can wrap their arms around the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Deja vu for me as it seems like just this past May I was standing there with three of my closest friends, the 3 Amigos. And who is stopped taking the obligatory picture of the current record-holder in the twine category? Our friend on her Dyna. Yep. After a formal introduction, I find out her name is Staci. I wish her safe travels and away she rolls. More about Staci later.

 

We made it to Enders Lake in southeast Nebraska just about dark and it was a nice quiet (dry) evening of sleeping in the tent. The next day put us in about 100 miles of rain and of course that can be expected. I won’t bore you with much about the rally – nice weather, rain two nights and flooding in my tent. I did meet the Lebo’s at One Eyed Jacks for a beer or two and that was great. Did I take a few pictures? Regrettably no. I did meet a fascinating bartender from California and her name is Cecilia Fairchild. Not your typical bartender, but as I found out she is quite the writer and has a unique way with words. Unlike myself who…not has way. She and her boyfriend rode their Dyna from California to Sturgis to work the rally. I must be getting old. I ride a touring bike and all the cool kids are riding their Dyna’s.


By Tuesday I had enough and as I packed up, I decided it was time to head somewhere. I threw my tent (8 trips to Sturgis) in the trash and headed east to the Badlands. A hot and windy ride I eventually landed in Grand Island Nebraska for the night. An easy 250 mile ride from Grand Island with a stop in Belleville Kansas for a bite to eat and my Sturgis Rally is done. Repeat after me…I am skipping next year’s rally. But I say that every year.

Oh, and Staci? After about a week of being back from South Dakota, I found a picture of her on my Instagram feed. She quite the young lady. Website, blog and a photographer – she has ridden 100,000 miles on her three bikes in the last couple of years. I’m getting old…And I thought I put a lot of miles on. Who am I kidding?

I’ll follow up with my ride to Boston to round out my month of August. Stay tuned!

 

It’s Worth It

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Not every road tells the whole story. The thankless years of service while letting others run all over you, or the loneliness of never seeing a soul. The darkest of nights, the bitter cold and the constant beating of the sun can wear you down, but the road keeps on giving. It gives dreamers a place to go and it affords us a way out. For some, it’s a way of life and for others an escape. Either way, the door is open but it requires you to walk through it to get anywhere.

 It seems people want more down-hill avoiding the uphill climb. Just remember, it isn’t uphill both ways and the climb is worth it.

Sometimes the straight and narrow offers perspective, while the twists and turns keep us anticipating. The dirt and gravel will test your resolve but they are few and far between. It seems people want more down-hill avoiding the uphill climb. Just remember, it isn’t uphill both ways and the climb is always worth it.

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We often take the road for granted. We expect without fail it will take us where we are headed and then complain when we have to deal with bumps and depressions. Even when someone comes along to repair the damage, we find ways of going around it looking for our own solution to the problem. It’s during these detours we find that no matter how different the road, the obstacles are the same.

The road is what you make of it. If the glass is half full for you I can assure you your travels are mostly smooth sailing. If you complain about your glass never getting a refill, you will eventually find every pothole in the road.

Ride 50 at 50 Part 2: This Just Got Real

Hands will be raised just like the laughter that will follow, and the memories will be born.

Adrian David Andy SFAs so the journey begins. It’s a simple concept, really. Pack a few things, jump on a plane, fly to America and rent three Indian Motorcycles. Once you land, it’s three weeks of riding highway 50 across the country with three of the best friends imaginable. Lot’s of 3’s here.

Nobody said it would be easy. Hell, even friendships can be hard at times, but adding the stress of where to stop and sleep and eat can just put each of you on your last nerve. Just remember, no matter how hard it is, every moment will be looked at and smiled upon once this epic ride is over. Hands will be raised just like the laughter that follows and memories will be born.

Adrian, Andrew and David are wheels-up on their way to America, and it’s about time. All of the anticipation and planning, logistics and doubts have all met in the intersection. This just got real. But soon you will find the rhythm of the road and I know the places and people you meet will bring it all together. Remember to breathe, but more importantly remember to put yourself smack-dab in the moment. Slow down and let this ride unfold into everything you want it will be.

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Please follow along on this ride of a lifetime. Three Amigos on Indian Motorcycles riding east to west on Route 50. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

From the Ground Up

It isn’t always blue sky and rainbows. Sometimes our day consists of grinding it out only to look up at the clock and see its been 10 minutes since the last time we looked. I’m not sure how many clocks have been replaced over the years by people who are convinced theirs have stopped working. It must be either a time warp or a clock manufacturer’s conspiracy to keep us guessing. Well, maybe not.

Weekends? Right now that’s too far off to think about. After all, it’s only 7:30 a.m. Thursday. That’s like an eternity in work hours.

We’ve all had days like this, where our work life and our personal life collide. A day when The Man won’t leave you alone and you swear he’s the one tampering with the clocks in the office to get more out of you. All I know is our bills show up in the mail every day convincing us we have to pack a lunch and ride to work, but the beer in the fridge and the flip flops we mistakenly put on our feet as we started out the door remind us that there is a life after 5 p.m. Weekends? Right now that’s too far off to think about. After all, it’s only 7:30 a.m. Thursday. That’s like an eternity in work hours.

So, about this grind. It’s necessary. It’s what puts food on the table and affords us all the bad habits we can acquire. It fills the gas tank and allows us a roof over our heads and puts flip flops on our feet. Oh, and work clothes and stuff like that. And when the grind becomes too much, we slip in a vacation to put it all behind us. Before we know it, the vacation is over before what seems it ever started. Good times. Forget the pizza and chips because it’s back to Lunchables and a Diet Coke and a date with a time-clock. At what point during the week does it turn from the grind to ground-up for you?

There is no cure for this. Work and be happy. Find a balance and put your priorities at the top of the list instead of in the sidebar. Take a minute and do what makes you happy, even if it’s between the Lunchable and punching your card. Make friends with The Man and maybe you’ll find some common ground where you both can sit and share a Diet Coke and a smile. Okay, I went a little far with that.

Blipping the Throttle

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Things haven’t change much in my 45+ years of riding motorcycles. Or have they? When I first got my start riding these crazy things, it was a much simpler time. Long, endless days of riding beneath the blue skies and hot sun in the pastures and back roads of rural Morris County. Our bikes were pure and uncomplicated and they did it all. A direct reflection of who we were and of course a mirror to who we are today.

Our bikes were pure and uncomplicated and they did it all. A direct reflection of who we were and of course a mirror to who we are today.

Little did I know that what I was actually experiencing in my little corner of the world was a culture not only defined by two wheels but whatever it was that bounced around in my head at the time. The same head that wore a helmet with a bubble shield much like the one I have today. Change? Some things will never change. I was becoming a product that was built from ideas of what I wanted it to be. In essence, I was creating a definition based on my perception of a culture that is ever evolving. And it still is. Now, within this culture of motorcycles is another underlying sub-culture of riders finding their own way and setting their own standards. The only rule is to be unique. Easier said than done, in a world of it’s all been done before.

I was creating a definition based on my perception of a culture that is ever evolving. And it still is.

This brings me to Ian Davis. The owner of a Kansas City coffee house in the West Bottoms called Blip Roasters. Ian is bringing two of his passions together whilst bringing us all together. From his vintage coffee equipment he succeeds in pulling in a mix of retro and custom hand-built motorcycles and an equal mix of riders that find that no matter how different we all are, there is always that mix of brew and bikes putting us on common grounds. How fitting to be in the industrial part of town.

I have to hand it to Ian. Both of his passions reflect a timeless tradition and will do so long after we’re gone. My only hope for Ian is his continued success in the Kansas City area and beyond. And thanks for promoting a lifestyle that has changed so little but changed so many lives, mine included. Follow along with Ian on Facebook and Instagram and check out their upcoming events if you’re in the Kansas City area.

Scootin’ America – Kansas Style

 What a leap of faith it takes to dedicate a couple of years time and ride thousands of miles spreading the word benefitting those who need a hand.

 

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For the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to meet and hang around Adam Sandoval as he travels around to every Harley-Davidson dealership in the United States with Scooter “Trash” Sandoval, his Chihuahua, raising money and awareness for the children of fallen soldiers. Since I work at a Harley-Davidson dealership it was inevitable that we would meet. Scootin’ America indeed.

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What a leap of faith it takes to dedicate a couple of years time and ride thousands of miles spreading the word benefitting those who need a hand. Now I could write about Adam and his accomplishments, but this has already been done. For me it’s more about what drives someone to be a motorcycle gypsy, putting most of your personal life on hold and hit the highway hoping, just hoping people will show up and donate to a worthy cause. Most people talk about or dream of doing this but that’s where we commonly stop – just short of pulling the bike out of the garage. After all, “it’s just wishful thinking” and “someone else will do it.” It’s one thing to say we want to do something similar to this on our very own motorcycle but to actually do it speaks volumes to a big heart, and a drive to make a difference. Both he and Scooter are going the distance to showing it can be done. Now if only more folks would actually follow through with an idea, just think of what could be accomplished on this big blue planet we call home.

I have to hand it to Adam. Riding a 1996 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide 100,000 plus miles through all kinds of weather would make most people rethink their big idea of riding the United States but I don’t imagine that’s the case here. Adam is sincere and genuine. And appreciative. Even Scooter is happiest when riding or stopping to have their pictures taken. But put yourself in Adam and Scooter’s position; ride, stop, meet and greet, hammer down to the next stop and repeat. The many faces and the endless handshakes, the well-wisher’s and the logistics can wear you down, but in meeting Adam I didn’t sense any of this. He was present in the conversation and took the time with everyone he met. This is a man who believes in his cause, and who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

 

It was an honor to meet you Adam and Scooter, Judge and Julia, who you can follow as HarleyBabe. I wish you all safe travels, and thanks for all you do. And if you see Scootin’ America on the highway or at your local Harley-Davidson dealership, stop and say hello and donate to the cause if you can.