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.

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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.

 

 

The Guy on the Motorcycle

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I’m just the guy on the motorcycle. You may not be able to tell if I’m a man or a woman, young or old or even how long I’ve been riding, but I’m a motorcyclist nonetheless. Maybe you’ve seen me, maybe not. But I see you. I’m on my way to work just like everyone else, or maybe I’m taking a long weekend ride. We’re a lot alike you and me, but I just choose to travel by two-wheels instead of four. You decided to drive your car today instead of riding your motorcycle. Hey, I’ve done that too. Sometimes the day requires more than my motorcycle can handle. Sometimes you see me and wish you had a motorcycle. You should get one because I know it will change your life, and how you drive that car of yours. Maybe you have an opinion of who I am inside this helmet I’m wearing but I want you to know that not all of us our outlaws. In fact, I waved at you this morning but you didn’t wave back. Maybe you just didn’t see me.

I know you wonder from the comfort of your car how I can ride when it’s cold or raining. You see, that’s how much I want to ride. I know it seems crazy to someone who doesn’t ride a motorcycle, but I have the proper gear to protect me from the elements. When we ride, we are exposed to all kinds of weather and this is all a part of the experience. You could say I’m vulnerable to the weather as it changes. I would say I’m vulnerable to anything outside of my leather jacket.

You could say I’m vulnerable to the weather as it changes. I would say I’m vulnerable, period.

When did you first notice me? Was it the sound my motorcycle makes? My headlight and bright-colored jacket? Or was it after you pulled out halfway into the intersection before slamming on your brakes? I kind of wondered if you were going to stop. Maybe you’re running late, and that’s okay. I run late all the time too. We both have places we need to be with families and jobs that require us to get the most out of our day. It’s okay, and I waved at you anyway.

Think about motorcycles as people – actual people – sharing the road with you and how vulnerable I feel when riding amongst cars and trucks.

Can I ask a favor? Take a second to look and listen for me. Think about motorcycles as people – actual people – sharing the road with you and how vulnerable I feel when riding amongst cars and trucks. I know you’re frustrated with the road construction and the light that won’t turn green quick enough because I am frustrated with it too. And when you do see me, wave at me. And not just because it’s nice to say “hello” but it also tells me that you know I’m here.

 

The Calm Before the Morn’

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For this split-second, this sliver of my life, I am standing here in the right place at the right time.

Who wouldn’t like to see this every morning? It can be easy to be preoccupied enough to let a moment like this slip away, but I just can’t do that. With the constant hurry and this wierd feeling I need to be somewhere lingering over me, I still want to stop and take it in. All of it.

We motorcyclists are often credited with pinning the throttle or living life on the edge, but sometimes we actually do stop and realize we aren’t bigger than life but actually a small piece of it.

I wonder how many moments I’ve missed over the years because of my own lack of awareness? The ability to stop and appreciate something so big and out of my control is a learned trait and one that may take years of practice. Or maybe a few birthdays to realize life is more than a daily commute. We motorcyclists are often credited with pinning the throttle or living life on the edge, but sometimes we actually do stop and realize we aren’t bigger than life but actually a small piece of it.

This is what I need each and every day to prepare me for what’s ahead. It’s this calm feeling I need before the storm of life hits the shore. Even though the temperature is 36 degrees, just knowing the sun is coming up to warm the skies makes me feel anything is possible. In a matter of moments this sunrise will change and evolve into another day, but for right now it’s majestic and worthy of a moment of my time.

For this split-second, this sliver of my life, I am standing here in the right place at the right time to take this in. Sure, I may be standing in the ditch but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

The Hunchback of White City

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The last week or so is a reminder to myself I’m really not as young as I think I am. I’ve had a nagging back problem for the last 25 years and every so often it tells me who is in charge. It’s very simple; a sneeze or cough, or maybe even just a slight twist and in a matter of hours I’m walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Within a few days it’s back to normal and I’m up in the tower ringing the bell like a boss.

This particular episode has me wondering if I’ll ever get back into the bell tower. It started out lasting a little longer than normal, so I went to the doctor. With a little more than two pills I was feeling better and walking around like it never happened. But once again, I’ve had that bit of a twinge indicating its return. It will be a long day. I’m not sure what I did, but it must have been enough. Of course, if I happen to see a $100 bill on the ground, I’m going for it. Even a $50. Probably a $20 too. A $5 bill? We’ll see how I feel.

Of course, if I happen to see a $100 bill on the ground, I’m going for it. Even a $50. Probably a $20 too. A $5 bill? We’ll see how I feel.

It will get better I know. With the weather warming up it has to. I have lots to do and a motorcycle that is begging to go for a ride, and who am I to argue? I always try to remember that there are plenty of people worse off than me and the fact that my socks won’t put themselves on is minor in comparison. And if I keep moving it should work itself out, right?

There are two sides to you’re only as old as you feel – mental and physical. When both are in harmony the possibilities are endless, when one is out of sync with the other the days can be endless. I rode my motorcycle to lunch today and I wasn’t sure I could get off the seat to walk inside. I’m sure that all those sitting in Subway having lunch were amused as I climbed off my bike but I found a little humor in it. Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself…

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!