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.

 

 

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100 Miles

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One hundred miles sounds far, doesn’t it? If you had to walk it or even ride a bicycle that far you would have a full day ahead of you…or in my case several days ahead of me. But we ride motorcycles and one hundred miles may take a couple of hours if you find the right road. You see, as bikers it’s not about how fast you get there, it’s about the quality of the ride. It can actually be a “longer is better” mentality. Do we do that in our car? If you drive a classic Mustang convertible or a Jeep Wrangler with the top off you might feel this way. But the Chevette isn’t the “long way” approach of getting there.

That’s the difference of enjoying the ride or plain transportation. The motorcycle can pull double duty combining the commute with the long way home and that is often the case for the motorcyclist. For those of us that ride we might even take the long way home while driving our car because we know the mental benefits of doing so. But I might add that if you don’t ride a motorcycle and you find yourself taking the long way home-you are a biker in the making. You just don’t know it yet.

So this one hundred mile theory works just the opposite for bikers. We WANT the ride to take a couple of days if not literally, then figuratively. We NEED the ride to last longer than a mile a minute, so we take the long way. If it was all about getting there in a hurry we could drive-maybe not in the Chevette, but you know what I mean. We want one hundred miles to feel like three hundred.

I can’t change time and distance from the seat of my Road King, but I can change the speed it which I travel. I can change my attitude and the direction I go. So in a sense, I have a little bit of control over how late I will be when I get there! If you ever find yourself tired with your commute, that same old road you travel every day, think about taking the road less traveled. Motorcycle or not, you control how you get there. If you’re in a hurry, you might have to ask yourself “why.” Don’t we spend enough of our day in a blur? Slow down, go the extra few miles, and appreciate the scenery. You might be surprised how good the “long way” really feels!

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?

A Lost Art

A week or so ago I met Bubba Blackwell in Grapevine, Texas. It wasn’t the first time meeting him for me, but to him it was probably like the first time meeting me. To phrase that another way, I remember him and he didn’t remember me!

For those who don’t know who Bubba Blackwell is, he jumps Harley-Davidson XR750’s over whatever is in front of him. Most people will remember Evil Knievel and Bubba’s occupation is much the same. Sit at the end of a long stretch of pavement, look at a ramp, pin it, land safely, and repeat next weekend.

Now I don’t know about you but this isn’t something normal people will do for fun let alone compensation. He’s good at it and needs to be rewarded handsomely in the process. That is what makes it a lost art. If you are going to stand out in an occupation, pick one that doesn’t have a long line of potential applicants waiting to get in. Heart surgeons? There’s a few of those. Rocket scientists? Plenty, I’m sure. Guys like me? Dime a dozen. But Bubba? Evil? Robbie? Sure there are more, but in that field of expertise you have to be good. Real good. Or you don’t last long. I know a lot of folks go to see the down side of jumping motorcycles, but everyone there wants to see a successful jump.

Bubba is a great guy. We talked and he is just as down-to-earth as one can get. He truly loves what he does and it shows. Did I mention he’s good at it? He is.

Go to you-tube and watch. Follow him on Facebook and twitter. Better yet, go to one of his shows. He is a true professional.

Summertime 1974

1974 Harley-Davidson 90

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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.

Oh, Demanding!

Demands.

Are we really that demanding? I don’t consider that trait to be in my DNA but some people have that desire and are capable of making demands. And usually demands are made out loud. I would almost say for the rest of us it is more about silent expectations. We expect our motorcycle to start when we want to ride, we expect a reasonable amount of life from our tires, and we expect that car to pull out in front of us. All of this and more, we expect without saying it.

And let’s face it, we will continue expecting things that are going to happen anyway. And maybe that is more of taking those things for granted. Modern conveniences, such as electric start or pay at the pump gas, is all a part of it. So where is this all going? When I first started riding with little knowledge of what I might demand from my motorcycles or silently expect or even take for granted, had no bearing on the amount of enjoyment I received. What I didn’t have I didn’t miss, and didn’t become frustrated for the lack there of. Kick starting didn’t work? Push start. Nothing is going to keep me from riding.

And the weather man said……

Winter in Kansas. By all rights it should be cold and windy. So what makes this day any different? The weather man said “high of 50 and a slight breeze by this afternoon”. As I left the house to go to work, I was dressed in the appropriate gear and mentally prepared for at least a cold ride in. Now keep in mind, I live in a small town and I ride about 25 miles one way. It’s all at highway speeds with a couple of spots where you can slow down for a curve or two. Most folks in my home town know me and fully expect to see me riding to work so it’s nothing new to them. On occasion, I will get a look from a motorist not familiar with me or even small town living for that matter when I wave at them.

Sure I have ridden in colder weather than this, and regretted it. This time of year I do wear the appropriate riding gear-Leather jacket, chaps, gauntlet gloves and my full-face Fulmer helmet. No heated gear for me! When your face shield is fogged, and there’s that little leak of cold air coming in around your neck, your waist, your cuff or all of the above, you have to ask yourself  “am I the only guy who loves riding so much that this would be considered fun?”. Of course not. We’ve all been here to some degree. 16 degrees to be exact, with no windchill figured in. Now I have to admit, the first 5 miles were cold. Real cold. At 8 miles my mental fortitude was breaking down.

Don’t breathe because it fogs the shield. Just passed the neighbor on the road and I waved. That’s what we do in Kansas, we wave. Turn my head and the cold air gets to my neck. Focus. Over half way there so the rest should be easy. Down in another valley at mile 11. Wow, now that was cold. Cold? Of course you idiot you’re on a motorcycle! Focus! Meet another neighbor on the road, and I don’t wave. Didn’t have it in me. Now the whole town will be talking about me! Out of the valley and now the sun is coming into sight over my right shoulder and mentally it helps. Who am I kidding, I can’t feel anything. But at least it is helping on the right side of my face shield. Now I’m riding with what appears to be an eye patch over my left eye. Ugh. Mile 16 and I’m speeding, because as we all know the faster you go in the cold, the warmer you’ll be!

Finally, I slow down and make the final turn to work. As I’m riding along in the 30 mph zone I reflect on my adventure to the Arctic Circle. How is it possible to put yourself out there on purpose, on a bike, in the cold, and look forward to the “high of 50” that the weather man talked so proudly about? Because I ride. Not because I have to, but because I want to. It helps me to appreciate the ride when I know that sometimes the weather man gets it right!

Now excuse me while I find my neighbor to return a wave! Because that is what we do.