Adventure of a Lifetime – Along for the Ride

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Writing a blog about motorcycles and my deep thoughts and perspectives about riding has opened up a whole new world for me. Within the last few years I’ve made several friends and contacts within this industry and I’ve had the opportunity to read some amazing blogs and articles written by these folks. When I started doing this there wasn’t any hope for me. I thought of this as more of a journal – a place to put what I’ve had stored up in my head just so I wouldn’t forget it all. But it has become so much more than that as its the inspiration of those who truly live their lives as an adventure. They take it beyond what I affectionately call the “city limit.” The city limit is an imaginary boundary I have put myself in growing up in a small town. Much like a dog with a collar and an invisible fence, I may feel a shock if I ever leave this small town.

The city limit is an imaginary boundary I have put myself in growing up in a small town. Much like a dog with a collar and an invisible fence, I may feel a shock if I ever leave this small town.

But for some of these riders and writers it has become a way of life. They have taken a dream and turned it into a reality of sorts – an adventure if you will. To create a world where words and roads meet can be a wonderful thing, and I have enjoyed following these people along their journey while they bring their experiences to life. It takes a lot to do this and the sacrifices are many. Time away from family and friends, living along the road or trail and pulling down some meager wages can add up to burnout and frustration at times, but they keep plugging away at it.

Dharma Anchor is a great example. I always enjoy reading Vallaree’s blog and looking at her amazing photography as it puts me right there in the moment as if I’m standing next to my motorcycle seeing it with my own eyes. Traveling by motorcycle, her view and descriptions are spot on and this is obviously pure talent as I know how difficult it is to convey. I love this blog.

Sharon Faith is and adventurer and writer from Florida, traveling on her Suzuki V-Strom and writing about her travels. She’s finally found her way to Alaska and from what I can tell she is loving every minute of it.

Dannell Lynn is currently hitting all 50 states and Canada in a year’s time on her Triumph motorcycle and writing about it on her blog Black Tie to Black Top. She has traveled the world and touched many lives along the way. To make this kind of commitment is an amazing thing for sure but I know the true reward is the people she meets along the way. Let’s face it, we ride motorcycles but it is the places and people who make the trip an adventure. Safe travels my friend.

Alisa Clickenger is proof that life isn’t always headed in the direction we think it is. Many years ago, she changed the direction of her life and it somehow involved motorcycles. Looking back I’m sure she would agree this was a good thing. Living in California, she has pursued her dream of being involved in the motorcycle industry by speaking at events encouraging others to ride and representing tours for women riders. Also a world traveler on a motorcycle, she only has more great things planned for the future. I can’t wait.

Shawn Thomas currently works for Rawhyde Adventures and makes his living doing what he loves to do. I know he’s not writing a blog about his adventures, but his enthusiasm is contagious. A family man making the sacrifices to follow a dream.

If you like following my blog, check out the people I like to follow. There are so many more I could mention They are doing what can be difficult to do: Writing about their riding adventures and making it interesting enough to keep you coming back for more. Thank you all for allowing me into your adventure and keep it coming!

Bucket List

sunsetBack in the day some bikers refered to a helmet as a “lid” or “bucket” when sitting around telling mostly true stories with their buddies. We all have certain terms for things as we often refer to our motorcycle as a “ride” or “steel horse.” So let’s take the “bucket” and use that as a question. What is your “bucket list.” Or better yet, what is your helmet list? All of us are in different stages in making our helmet list and often that list changes as we get older. Some things are crossed off the list with enthusiasm, while others seem impossible to achieve. As I ride I find some things just cross themselves off as if I set out to conquer it, but in reality it was just by chance that the item on the list happened without even trying. The whole reason for our helmet list is to make sure that we experience and enjoy life, no matter what it is you set out to do. 

Now you just don’t fall out of a plane by accident when the goal was to go parachuting, but to see the sunset from the most random place is quite frankly, a pretty big deal to me. To have a great conversation with a long-lost friend might not make your list, but for me is one that I can check off. I think that sometimes we make our helmet list so difficult we find ourselves miserable when we can’t get anything crossed off.

Sure, I have several things I want to achieve in my life but I also want to enjoy every possible experience I can. After all, that is what life is about. Experiences. Riding a motorcycle can open the door of experiences you may not get anywhere else. You can meet some amazing people who can also share experiences they’ve had along the way. Of course, in some cases it may not be a helmet list to them, but maybe a “bandana list” is more their style. To each their own!

If you haven’t made your helmet list, you should. If you don’t have a helmet, get one. And a motorcycle as well. You might find that as you ride, that list inside your bucket will slowly disappear, along with some things you weren’t expecting. At least for a while, the stress of life and the problems at work have a way of sorting themselves out. Take a ride to the coast, ride through the mountains or to the corner store. But ride. Mentally cross off those things you see that weren’t on your list. Looking over my shoulder at a beautiful sunset while pumping gas is one of mine, and I tell myself – at this moment, right now, I am right where I want to be. Check.

Chasing Horizons

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The need to get there. You know…over there. Someplace you are not. We bikers are real bad about that as we are constantly searching for the “new” perfect road. Even as we travel the same old boring rides over the years, there is a pit in our stomach that there might quite possibly be a more perfect way of getting there. You know…over there. Better trees, curvier curves, more scenic bridges and more hilly terrain. I think you get the idea. And so the search continues.

Just when we think we’ve found our utopia, we realize it’s just not enough. Like a kid is to sugar, we bikers are to scenery. Our drug of choice is the feel of the wind and the sound of our bikes as we ride down another less congested highway to somewhere we’ve never been. Sounds easy right? Right. But life can be that way. We should always be searching or at least looking around with our head up instead of walking in circles looking at the ground. We should be wanting to discover things and places we have never experienced. Some people do and others…well, do not.

I must admit when I take on a new day I’m just as much in a rut as the next person. But once in a while I do wander out of my little world and take life on. It’s exciting to be somewhere new and to talk to new people, experience new things and make some new memories. But the searching I speak of is different. It is the horizon that we just can’t get to. It’s always just over the next hill. You know…over there. It’s that constant drive and curiosity that keeps us in motion. And besides, what would we do when we get there?

It’s Never Too Late

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Yesterday a friend of mine mentioned of having thoughts of mortality because of the loss of a close friend. Along with other things going on in and around her life with family, my only comment was “this is what makes us realize how precious life really is”. I too, have had these thoughts the last couple of years with the loss of a couple of friends. Both losses didn’t make much sense and to this day still don’t. But every day I get up, do my best, be myself and carry on with the day-to-day stuff. While most of the “stuff” I refer to is pretty meaningless in the big picture, it needs to be done. But more importantly, it needs to be done. It is the “stuff” we do that gets us through every day, whether it’s dealing with mortality, or stress or whatever. So we do it. Sometimes begrudgingly, but we do it all the same.

My approach to the last couple of years of dealing with these thoughts have been simply to tell those around me how important they are in my life. It’s not something we usually do, I know, but think about it. A few simple words of encouragement, a random message that you are thinking of them, or better yet a “thank you” for being a person in your life can give both parties a clear understanding of where we are in this world. I may not see you or talk to you again before something sudden happens. But if something does, if nothing else, I know we both know. Realize, that if you volunteer to someone what you think about them, and you don’t get the same response, it’s ok. Just know that when they walk away they will be thinking about what you said.

There are a lot of inspirational quotes to fall back on that can bring reassurance and peace to our lives, but the impact of a few original words from your mouth can change people. And the feeling it gives you is the same peace in our lives that we need. Outcomes in life can’t always be changed. And we can go through life thinking people know how we feel about them. Maybe they do know, but what better way to make sure than to tell them yourself?

Live your life and enjoy even the bad days. It’s ok to feel the way you do and to open up your heart even if it hurts. Easier said than done, without a doubt, but today is the day someone may need to hear how important they are to you.  So tell them.

The Price We Paid in the ’70s

As a teenager in the ’70s I was completely distracted by girls and motorcycles. If I only knew then what I know now, I would be in better shape with both motorcycles and women in general. You see, some of the motorcycles I owned back then have become new again. Highly desirable and worth more money than originally priced. Examples include, Honda 305 Scrambler,  1975 Yamaha DT175, Harley-Davidson X90, 1976 Husky 175, a Yamaha TY250 Trials and the list goes on and on. Sometimes, even in the moment, we are aware we should hold on to something with everything we have knowing we may never get them back. I know now I was never thinking they would be worth more than what I had invested, but living in the moment has its price. And I paid that price in full.

I was a child of that era and it goes beyond just motorcycles and girls. Cars and trucks came and went just as easy. 1966 Plymouth Fury, 1970 Dodge Charger, 1972 Dodge Charger, 1956 Ford truck, 1961 Ford truck Uni-body, 1949 Chevy truck, 1967 Chevy short-wide bed truck…see the trend? What was I thinking? But you have to remember, to me, cars and bikes were just a moment in time. Girls on the other hand were different. Like hair styles and bell bottoms. High School and dating. Transportation and recreation. Buy and sell or trade. Some were great deals and others were, well… not so great.

Even the Levi’s I was wearing back then are worth money! Say what? Yes, and in high demand. I’m not sure the pea green or sky blue leisure suites my mom made for me with her McCall’s Patterns would be worth much now, but who knows? Stranger things are happening. Some people save things from their past with hopes of it being worth something, but when it comes time to actually sell said things, they can’t part with them. They have a name for that. Hoarding.

As much as I appreciate the beauty of the Honda 305 Scrambler or the ’70 Dodge Charger, I can truly say that I am so much happier having owned and enjoyed them without the worry of damaging them or decreasing their value in some way. We rode hard and drove hard back then because we were living life. 8-track music blaring through cheap speakers or our Levi’s bell bottom pant leg chewed up from the chain of our motorcycles. It didn’t matter because we had a date that night!

Practical

As I was pumping my usual $12 worth of gas into my Heritage, a older gentleman walked over to me and floored me with the question “is it practical?”. He was driving the required older gentleman’s car, a Buick, which I have owned a few myself. I know the fuel economy of that wonderful engine, and it is nothing to dismiss. Usually when I get asked a question from a stanger at a gas station, it’s “where are you headed” or “how many miles to the gallon do you get”. But never “is it practical”.

So I thought about it and answered with “only if you ride it”. He continued about his love for motorcycles and how he wished he was still riding. I could see it in his eyes and he was very sincere in his words. We had a great talk and he was on his way as I was mine.

The ride home I couldn’t help but think of this exchange. The truth is there a cars that get as good of mileage as my motorcycle and yes, that would make them more practical. Enough to carry more than two people, cup holders, radio, storage, heat and conditioned air. Why didn’t I think of that? But I ride because I want to, not that I have to. I ride all year long as long as it’s not dangerous and saving gas is just a benefit. Most of my friends ride as recreation and wouldn’t think of riding the way I do, and that’s OK. They have their passions and I have mine. To me a boat doesn’t make sense but I don’t have any interest in that particular form of recreation. And that too is OK. But if you want to ride a motorcycle to save gas you have to ride it. A fair weather rider I’m not and I have the miles on my bike to show for it. Sixty degrees and a twenty percent chance of rain, will you ride? Probably. Forty degrees and a twenty percent chance of rain? I will. Most folks will look outside and say it’s just easier to take my coffee cup and jump in the car. It’s not convenient to ride for a lot of people, with dress clothes and laptops. I don’t have much hair, so helmet head isn’t an issue for me.

There are a lot of forms of transportation that are not practical. The distance to our destination comes into play as well as what we need to take with us. My saddle bags are full for any of you who have followed me, so apparently I have a lot of stuff I need to carry as well! I’m fortunate to be able to ride almost daily all year long. Some winters are worse than others but you know what I mean. If there is one point I want to make here is this. Be passionate about what you want in life. Bicycling, running, sports cars or boats. Enjoy your hobby as I enjoy mine! If you haven’t experienced riding a motorcycle or are curious about it, ask someone who does. Then someday it might be me that walks up to you and asks “is it practical?’

The Road Home

I have been living in this small town in Kansas now for about 45 years. White City hasn’t changed much over time and the same could be said about the people who live there, me included. That isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how it is. From White City you have to travel about twenty miles in any direction to get to another “incorporated” town. Skiddy, (look it up!) which is “unincorporated”, named after Francis Skiddy,  is about seven miles from White City and I’ve seen that town slowly turn into a memory of what it once was. The Pepsi sign on Mann’s Grocery is still there but the roof is not. The Standard station is a house now but for anyone with any history in the area, you know what I’m talking about. A church and a school are still standing but that’s about it. Population hasn’t change as there are maybe 20-25 that are living there.

Riding to work the past few days has been interesting. There is work being done on a pasture to remove a tree line for new fencing. I know some might think I’m a motorcycle vagabond, traveling the two-lane highways, sleeping on picnic tables and writing this stuff on discarded paper bags. The reality is I have a job and have traveled this road from White City for over thirty years. So as this work is being done the landscape around Skiddy is changing. Somewhat of a shock for a small town guy like me. I can only imagine the shock the citizens of Skiddy are experiencing as they are a smaller community than White City! Change just doesn’t happen that often so when it does it almost always makes the newspaper.

But this morning the trees have all been removed and now you can actually see around the curves for any oncoming cars or tractors. And I must mention it’s a nice view of the small valley into this pasture. This tree line has been there as long as I can remember and has defined this section of road. It’s forever gone and I’m a little sad. I know this road like the back of my hand. Now it looks like the back of someone else’s hand! At least this half of mile where the trees are gone!

I like it and as progress goes, so does Skiddy. A new fence will be up in no time and the cattle will have a new view of the passing traffic. I use the term “traffic” loosely as I passed two cars this morning in the first fifteen miles of my commute. And that’s OK, as a small town guy will tell you, “some, or a least most, things never change”!