Peak Performance

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This past Labor Day weekend I traveled to Colorado Springs to see my daughter Kelly, her husband Chanse and my grandkids Kylie and Casen. A quick trip indeed riding my latest bike, a ’06 Ultra Classic. Leaving Saturday after work puts me in Colorado Springs around 8:30 pm mountain time and can make for a long day. But as riding to Colorado goes, longer is better, right?

After a short visit on Saturday night I was eager to get some rest as Chanse had planned a ride to the top of Pike’s Peak Sunday morning before the rest of the house woke up. Pike’s Peak? I’m in. I will tell you from a Kansas boy’s perspective that a little bit of altitude can make me feel a lot light-headed. The highest point around where I live is Blythe’s hill. The first day of visiting with the kids is always an adjustment, but after that I’m good. Unless you’re expecting me to run, walk or climb a bunch of stairs. We head out on our bikes for the 20 minute ride there, and of course, the excitement is building. You can’t help but look at the front range as you’re rolling through town and again for a Kansas boy, well, I think you know.

We stop for gas just before the entrance and I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect. Temperature was in the high 50’s so after gassing up I put my gloves on. I already had my leather jacket on so let’s do this! After Chanse paid the way into the park he let me lead. It’s still pretty early in the morning and the shadows were making cornering difficult. Those decreasing radius corners wreak havoc on a guy riding a big bike on an unfamiliar road. I know they race up this mountain every year for the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb and right now I’m in last place. 19 miles and counting.

We soon fall into a rhythm and I start to relax. That’s the key to this – relax. With very little traffic I feel we’re making decent time and I will say the view is spectacular. As we approach the tree line where the terrain begins to change to moon-like, things become different. The temperature is dropping, the air is thinning like the hair on my head and the road is becoming more difficult. Speed isn’t a real factor, but momentum is. Slow is good as long as you’re not going too slow. At this point it’s obvious I’m not dressed warm enough and the sign I just passed indicated I still had a few miles to go. Up that is. It’s becoming windy and I later find out the gusts are up to 50 mph. Like a punch to my face, the wind hits me every so often and I can’t breathe. I look in my mirrors to see if Chanse is still back there in hopes that I would have to turn around and go back looking for him. Chanse is still there, and I think he let me lead so he wouldn’t have to go back for me.

The last 2 miles were difficult for me. Old and out of shape doesn’t help and neither does a lack of oxygen. We get to the top and park the bikes, climb off and look around. Fun Fact – it took us about 45 minutes to reach the top and the winner of this year’s Pike’s Peak Hill Climb was one of only three people to do it in less than 10 minutes. To the winner, speed is a factor. To me? Oxygen. We are both freezing as the wind chill is hovering at 30 degrees or so and we seek shelter in the gift shop. Closed. It doesn’t open for another 10 minutes and shelter from the wind is found on the side of the building. Finally the doors open in what seemed to be an hour later and we find the restroom to warm our hands under the hand dryers. I ask Chanse why people are wandering around here with shorts and light jackets on and he tells me they hiked up Pike’s Peak. On foot? “Yes” he says. I asked him what day would you have to leave to get here before us and he tells me at day break. I’m winded and I rode up the mountain. They hiked and look great!

I could hear the voices in my head saying we will have to go back outside and ride back down even though my body was telling me to have a seat and stay awhile. At 14,110 feet they really need to pump oxygen into the gift shop. My head is now pounding and Chanse has his butter pecan fudge he bought for Kelly and we are ready to go. We start to take a picture by the sign at the summit for proof of this adventure and a gentleman walks over and volunteers to take it for us. Chanse reciprocates for him and as far as I’m concerned we can’t get down to 5000 feet soon enough. Oh, and as I said the view is spectacular.

Chanse leads the way and immediately I feel better. Slow and sure we work our way down as the traffic is coming up. A real advantage of getting there early. I’m finally able to look around and take it all in. This is really a great experience and it’s something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. Coincidently, there were only a couple of times I thought I was going to die. I didn’t of course, but what makes a story more interesting than having a close call? This was a great ride to share with my son-in-law Chanse. Epic for sure and I would do it all over again. Thanks Chanse, for a great day!

 

 

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A Little Bit of Epic

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Some people have a way about them. There are those who are driven and challenged to be something bigger than the moment they live in. I believe Neale Bayly is this kind of person. I haven’t met Neale, but I understand him from a motorcyclist’s point of view. As bikers, we are always looking for “epic” in every ride but end up finding so much more than that. Neale has a series airing on MAVTV this month about his ride on BMW GS series motorcycles through Peru to the Hogar Belen Orphanage. The ride takes Neale and his friends from Lima to Moquegua to visit this orphanage where Neale has visited before. He was inspired enough to start the nonprofit organization called Wellspring International Outreach to help orphans and abandoned children.

It becomes about the surroundings and environment you’re in and it changes you. There is something about traveling on a motorcycle that brings the people to you.

The world can seem so big but so small at the same time. Neale has traveled this world and along the way has had plenty of time to think and take in all the sights, smells and sounds that travel can put you through. As a biker myself, I can tell you it runs so much deeper than that for him. I have taken week-long trips and as the ride goes, your mind will take you further into the trip than any motorcycle ever will. It becomes about the surroundings and environment you’re in and it changes you. There is something about traveling on a motorcycle that brings the people to you. No matter where you are headed, you are the one traveling into their world where you are welcomed with smiles and waves, and complete strangers are coming up to you to talk about your trip. Now take that to a global stage, where language and barriers require you to be dedicated to the trip at hand. For that I admire anyone who can take that on. At this point, language becomes secondary as compassion takes over.

 To simply say “it changed my life” does not do it justice, and in Neale’s case it inspired him to change other people’s lives.

Epic trips take the ordinary and familiar to an extraordinary level. When a trip becomes epic it transforms you and all those involved. To simply say “it changed my life” does not do it justice, and in Neale’s case it inspired him to change other people’s lives. Now that is epic. I would like to think as I have traveled on my motorcycle and I’ve taken the time to say a few words to someone I have met, they will take something away from our chance meeting – I know I do. The faces, the words spoken and the handshakes and smiles are forever burned in my memory and I did nothing but ride into someone’s life and say hello. Now picture yourself taking the time to actually change someone’s life for the better and the impact you can have on a community and the people who need the help. Epic.

I look forward to watching Neale Bayly Rides when it airs. I’ll watch because it is about Neale and his group riding motorcycles through Peru on an adventure of a lifetime. But let’s face it – it’s not about the motorcycles, it’s about everything around the trip that makes it epic. If motorcycles are the reason you check it out, that’s okay too. But as you’re watching take a minute to look at the people and the faces in the background. Watch Neale’s reaction when his fellow rider’s Troy, James, Laura, Brandon and Bill meet the children of Hogar Belen; that is when the trip just became an epic adventure.

I said before that I haven’t yet met Neale. I say “haven’t yet” because as a motorcyclist our paths may cross at some point. As bikers we ride with our heads up looking at all that is around us, eager to meet fellow riders and locals along the way. Every ride has a little bit of epic built-in and I know Neale’s epic rides will continue. They have to – because the inspiration he gives to those of us that do ride and the impact he has on those because he rides can’t be measured. Thanks Neale, and ride safe!

 

Motorcycles to Anamosa – J&P Cycles Open House

A couple of years ago I rode to Anamosa Iowa for J&P Cycles open house. The end of June was perfect and the weather was good with a slight chance of showers for part of the trip. But no worries, with warm weather a little shower wouldn’t matter. I left after work on my Heritage and planned on making Des Moines Iowa to spend the night. I don’t normally take the interstate but I needed to make a little time so look out big trucks and speeding cars!

A nice night in Des Moines and back on the road to Anamosa. You know at the time I had not ridden through Iowa on a motorcycle, so I was looking forward to it. It was also going to be my first trip to J&P’s and I couldn’t wait. The National Motorcycle Museum was also on my list, so quite frankly I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Now let’s be serious. We’ve all been to things like this, but as I pulled into the parking lot of motorcycles, I was amazed at the turn-out. The people working the event were directing people and it seemed like a well organized group. Very impressed! But wait this was just the beginning. In a box not far from me was a four inch square piece of plywood to put under my kickstand. what a great touch. That says to me that these people understand me and what is important to bikers in general. It’s weird to talk about a piece of wood like this but in that four inch square it might have well said “welcome my friend, we don’t want your bike to fall over”. Nice touch and I haven’t even walked through the split-rail gate to get to the open house.

The day was spent walking and talking to a lot of vendors and folks milling around. It was a beautiful day for watching a stunt show and some synchronized riding. All in all a great time. Fun and professional at the same time. Afterwords, a trip to the National Motorcycle Museum was just amazing. The history within those walls is a lifetime of labor and love for all that maintain it and enjoy it.

The trip was great. The food was good and the host John and Jill Parham, their son Zach and crew were awesome. Thanks for all you guys do and the passion you have for our sport, it’s history and future. You are good people.

If you ever get a chance, go. I mean it. GO! And tell the folks at J&P Cycle’s thanks. See you again this summer!

Summertime 1974

1974 Harley-Davidson 90

1974

Long, hot, endless summer days. Where the sky was blue with big white clouds. All I knew was my folks didn’t care what I did all summer but I had to be home by six. How I knew it was six p.m. is beyond me but supper was always ready and I’d better be there.

I was an impressionable kid and motorcycles were new to me. My brother got me interested with talk of them and a random magazine in the house to give me a visual. Trips to a couple of local dealerships and I was hooked. Picking up free brochures and reading them cover to cover studying everything from dry weights to tire sizes. As if some day I would be asked and a grand prize was in the balance. So the day my dad brought home an AMF Harley-Davidson 90 in the back of his ’67 Chevy truck was the day the earth stood still. Or at the very least the day seemed to be really long.

So the day my dad brought home an AMF Harley-Davidson 90 in the back of his ’67 Chevy truck was the day the earth stood still. Or at the very least the day seemed to be really long.

We had a pasture by the house I grew up in and we were able to spend many hours of every day riding aimlessly around and knocking down the tall grass to make trails. To this day I can still smell the yellow weeds that grew in that field. I would ride that 90 all day only stopping for gas and maybe a drink from the hose, and then back at it. After all I would be riding the Springfield Mile before long and I needed to practice. My stars and stripe helmet with a bubble shield and cheap gloves that turned my hands black as they sweat. Great times.

Simple. Pure. How can I get those days back? I read Dirtbike and Motocross Action. Cycle World and Cycle. Every word, over and over. never throwing an issue away. I practiced and pretended. Always wanting to ride and and explore. And I did. Long hours of riding with learning to fix what broke or wore out. I looked up to the local guys that rode the big bikes. If we heard a motorcycle coming down the road, we stopped what we were doing to watch as it went by. And of course I knew what the dry weight and tire size was!

Those were the days. Not much exposer on t.v. Wide World of Sports but who had a t.v. guide? Three channels and even so, I was too busy riding. On Any Sunday had a grip on me and I still love watching that film. It was the story of my life.

I still feel like that kid when I ride. It is a feeling of the the motorcycle as a part of me. It’s always been that way and always will. Looking back on the day my father brought home that 90 he had no idea what an effect it would have on me, or how it would change my life. My dad has never ridden a motorcycle but has always supported my habit and I love him for that.

Whether we are young or old when we start riding makes no difference. The days may not seem as long, but we can still go out and practice for the Springfield Mile.