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!

 

 

 

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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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 will 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!

I’ll Take That Bet

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As a half-inch of ice covers my little world, I find myself walking past my motorcycle in the garage wondering if it will ever see sunlight again. I know it will, but at the end of November it feels like a warm(er) day of riding is a long way from today.
I have been known to ride through the dark days of winter and as long as it’s not dangerous, I can put up with cold temperatures. I draw the line however, at dangerous or soon-to-be dangerous roads. There are too many things out of my control when dealing with the weather and those other folks that have their hands on the steering wheel sharing my little piece of asphalt. Like pulling up a chair in Vegas at the blackjack table you have to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em. Ice? I fold’em.
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So when I ran into the owner of this motorcycle, I had to question his sanity. He left central Missouri on his way to York Nebraska for Thanksgiving, stopping just long enough to warm up and make a phone call or two. It was on the Wednesday before the holiday and it was cold and over-cast but dry. He said he was returning on Saturday, and me being a junior meteorologists and the proud owner of a crystal ball, I told him there was no way he would be riding back on Saturday. He proved me wrong, but he also proved me right at the same time. I was wrong about him coming back by on Saturday, but I was right about how riding in the winter is all about mental fortitude. He was soaked through and through. His leather jacket and insulated bib overalls were heavy with drizzle and his gloves were dripping from the ice that was melting on them. He was in high spirits considering his situation. As for me, I would have pulled over long before I got to this point. Not that I don’t have the fortitude to ride in the cold, and for that matter I feel I would have been a little more prepared by wearing a proper rain suit. But the roads were only going to get worse and the traffic was heavy due to the holiday. In other words, not a good hand at the blackjack table and it was not a good bet to continue on.
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So after a handshake and a pat on his shoulder wishing him a safe trip, he climbed aboard his bike and took off heading east with another 3-4 hours of road ahead of him. Knowing he would arrive at his destination after dark, I knew the worst was yet to come for him. The glare from the headlights off the icy windshield and his full-face helmet would be sketchy at best and all of this while being tired and cold. I hope he made it safely. I hope he knows that complete strangers were worried about him. I hope he knows how dangerous it was to be doing this.
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I know one thing for sure. He made a promise to me on Wednesday that he would return, and he did. A man of his word – and I have a feeling he made someone else a promise that he would make it home safe and sound. Safe travels my friend and I know we’ll meet again.

 

More Than Words Can Say

Pictures really do say more than words. An image can bring words to life and put both the writer and reader right there on the same page, so to speak.

With technology today, we have forgotten how to thumb through pages in photo albums during a family get-together. The heavy pages were full of memories yellowed by time and fuzzy like the stories we told about each image.

Time passes and memories may fade a little, but they’re our memories and as long as we can record them – whether digitally or on film – they will be great memories.

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