Ride 50 at 50 Part 4: Surrounded by Indians

 

248In what seemed like an eternity, I finally met the 3 Amigos David, Andrew and Adrian. Day one, I left Sunday morning to meet up with the trio at Blip Roasters in Kansas City Mo. A beautiful morning ride, I arrived a little early and met Ian Davis the owner of Blip. While having a hot cup of coffee, I engaged in conversation with a few like-minded folks about Blip Roasters and our dedication to these two-wheeled machines. Wonderful. Shortly thereafter and without much fanfare, the 3 Amigos rode in on their Indian Motorcycles and as we say in America – Welcome! After some handshaking and introductions, these three made themselves at home. A few pictures and some video were taken and we saddled up and headed west to Junction City. Just in time as the rain began to fall. Me on my Harley-Davidson surrounded by Indians.

 

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It’s interesting how a group of riders deal with the dynamics of riding and spending so much time together. These three have ridden roughly 1500 miles across the U.S. so far and they have it down. They’ve known each other almost a lifetime, so a lot can be said between them without saying word. Throw an American into the mix and it gives each of them an opportunity to take a mental break from the others. See? I’m doing good things for others all the time!

After we arrived in Junction City and after a nice dinner of burgers and beer, plans were made for day two. Originally, Dodge City Kansas was on the radar but when you’re this close to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, you go see it. So day two we set off under cloudy skies with that sliver of blue on the horizon letting us know that the sun would be our friend for the day. After about 100 miles, we stopped in Beloit for a cup of coffee with the anticipation of twine right around the corner. We loaded up, turned on a couple of cameras mounted to me and my motorcycle and headed down the road. What a beautiful day, with clouds floating against the big blue sky.

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No one can be fully prepared for it. The quaint little town of Cawker City holds in its possession the envy of all twine connoisseurs, the epitome of dedication and the record for balls made of twine. I would hate to be the community with the World’s Second Largest Ball of Twine. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Follow your dreams and whether its balls of twine or coming to America to ride motorcycles with your best friends, just do it. The people who call you crazy secretly want to do it as well.

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After a brief stop soaking in the ambiance of burlap we once again headed west on highway 24 through the rolling hills of green beneath a ceiling of blue. This stretch of road was perfect for me to think about how this all came about. You can read the previous blogs I’ve written about David, Andrew and Adrian and their journey to the U.S. But as I rode along with them, I realized that in some weird way this was going to happen. How random is this? Is it random at all? Sometimes we make things happen and sometimes it all happens for a reason. Maybe both? I believe so. Did I change some little bit of their trip by riding with them? How did we get on highway 24 when the trip is supposed to be highway 50? Yeah, that’s the stuff rolling around in my head while I have these three following me through north-central Kansas.

The rest of the ride to Hoxie was uneventful but satisfying for me. I hoped in some way these three new how great it was for me to spend a couple of days riding with them. We stopped in Hoxie for some beef jerky and a drink, and I knew it was all coming to an end. We were 20 miles north of Interstate 70 where our ride would go separate ways. We did a short bit of video, said some warm goodbyes and fired up the bikes for the final ride as the “Four Strokes” as we headed south.

That moment – that last three miles summed it up for me. We’re all alike no matter where we’re from and we had just ridden across the state of Kansas together. Our pilot in the crop duster has no idea that he’s responsible for the exclamation point on this trip for me.

One of the most memorable times for me was about 3 miles north of the interstate as a crop duster came up from the field it was spraying. David was passing me shooting a little video and I pointed up at it. As David saw it circling around for another pass, he raced ahead to catch it on video as well. Andrew, Adrian and I slowed, David was about a mile ahead and I knew that he was setting up to catch me for the last time riding by as we went our separate ways. That moment – that last three miles summed it up for me. We’re all alike no matter where we’re from and we had just ridden across the state of Kansas together. Our pilot in the crop duster has no idea that he’s responsible for the exclamation point on this trip for me.

By the time I turned east heading back to White City, the 3 Amigos were a mile from Oakley where they would call it a day. I still had a few hours to go but I didn’t mind. This is where I do my best thinking. I won’t bore you with my ride but I will say that there were storms brewing in front of me and I had a date with a rain suit.

 

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!

Brake Time

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It’s not often I ride after dark but for the last month or so I have been riding the roads of rural Kansas just before the sun has set completely. For all of those obvious reasons that riding at this hour presents, it is kind of nice to roll down the road with my headlight bouncing of the tarmac as my eyes dance side-to-side looking for those pesky critters that also enjoy coming out at night.

Keeping my speed a little below the posted limit on one particular night, I was soon passed by a car. This isn’t a bad thing as I don’t mind a vehicle running interference for me when I’m unsure if I will be greeted by one of nature’s finest. As I followed along behind my new best friend, I allowed myself to relax a little and let myself look around at the clouds as the moonlight reflected off the edges. A beautiful night for sure, and a guy could easily get used o this.

A couple of miles later I noticed the car in front of me tap his brakes. His brake lights caught my attention and I immediately knew based on my familiarity of the road, he was braking for a deer. But this is what I find most interesting about the driver in front of me; he not only tapped his brakes, but he did so multiple times letting me know that there was not only a deer in the road but a couple more waiting to cross. All of this information came through his brake lights. I thought to myself the person driving the car in front of me is surely a biker. I too have flashed my brake lights letting those behind me know of any dangers ahead. I’m sure this isn’t uncommon, but on this given night on this particular road the driver gave me a gift. Three more deer just stepping onto the road, no big hurry and not surprised of the motorcyclist coming up on them.

 I’m also known for my moves, but that is a completely different subject and besides it was the ’80’s.

Whether or not my friend in the car actually rides motorcycles or not, it’s nice to know that someone still thinks about the safety of others on the road. I had plenty of time to slow down and be prepared for any sudden moves that deer are known for. I’m also known for my moves, but that is a completely different subject and besides it was the ’80’s.

There are so many unwritten rules of the road. Some of these rules need to be written down and this is one of them. It’s the little things that can be so beneficial to the safety and well-being of others – especially motorcyclists.

Indian Motorcycles – Every Story Needs A Hero

 

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I love a great story, one that takes me back to a world before my time. And as you know every great story has a beginning, a middle and some even have an end. But this story hasn’t ended yet. In fact, I think this may be just the beginning.

Indian Motorcycles is a great story, and as the story goes right now, it has me sitting on the edge of my chair. I’ve been a motorcycle guy for over 40 years. Growing up, my world revolved around everything I could get my hands on that could give me any information to what was going on out in the world of motorcycling. Living in the Midwest in the ’70s, information was a little slow to arrive, but when it did I hung onto each picture and every word. Yes, as in the printed word. We didn’t live in some futuristic world of instant information, video on a whim or hand-held telecommunication devices that kept us current with the media…you know, like socially. Magazines told us of what in the world was going on, and we liked it so much we saved them in stacks. For you folks living in the future, that means we didn’t “delete” them.

We are living in a period where we can witness the Indian Motorcycle story as it unfolds. We already know how the story began, and much like those folks living around 1901 when George Hendee and Carl Hedstrom put their collective heads together and started it all, those who followed it through the local newspapers watched it unfold in real-time. They were living through the era of racing board track, the beginning of the Isle of Man TT, World War I, and “Cannonball” Baker as the Indian story progressed through the ’20s. I’m sure around 1915 they weren’t sitting on the edge of their seats, but as news goes people will follow. No one thought they would ever see the end of the story in their lifetime. We often live our lives not thinking like this, but it’s still true today. What has happened in your lifetime that we take for granted, not thinking how many more chapters there will be?

Like any good book there are chapters where the reading gets a little dry. Around 1953 all production was halted and the company went bankrupt. With several attempts over the years to revive the Indian brand it was discovered to be harder than one would think. Deep pockets and big dreams can get you far but it takes more than that. It takes a hero to come in and save the day and that hero is Polaris Industries. A company with the know-how and the wherewithal to make it happen. The secret ingredient? I believe it’s the people. Just as George and Carl were the guys to kick it off, the people behind Polaris Industries have the passion and desire and more importantly – a track record to make it happen. The Indian Motorcycle brand is a story within itself, but the real story is its success. Polaris, quietly building Victory Motorcycles for years, shakes the industry up with the new Indian Brand. Not only did it garner worldwide attention, but as a side benefit, it pulls Victory Motorcycles into an even brighter spotlight. This story can only get better.

The Indian Motorcycle Brand has found a good, permanent home with Polaris. A rough and rocky road for many years, Indian can now be the Brand it so deserves to be. When you are passionate about something it’s easy to get excited about it. I’ve been a passionate motorcyclist for many years and it isn’t hard to spot the kind of enthusiasm building behind Indian Motorcycles. I know there is so much more to come and it’s happening in real-time for us.

How It’s Going to Be

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“I have seen the past and its future is looking bright.” There are certain events or objects we encounter that evoke a sense of where we came from and where we are going, and in the re-introduction of the Indian® Motorcycle brand, we have seen the past and it is truly the sign of things to come. So, is it possible to hold the idea of “days gone by” in your hand, and feel the same wind as it brushed up against those early riders of this iconic Indian® motorcycle? Of course it is. The Thunder Stroke™ 111 easily pulls you into the here and now.

Few brands have this kind of power. The power to move us physically and the power to evoke emotion. After all, it is those two elements that have caused hearts to beat faster and memories to be made. Memories that withstand time. Just like an old, dog-eared black and white photograph that speaks volumes about its subject; the stories, the people and the times, all in a single snapshot that only took seconds to create. That split second, when time stood still, has preserved the moment for all to see. Indian® Motorcycles were there. There when life was hard and the people were harder and on the verge of there own destiny, much like we are today. We take it all for granted, but as they lived in the early 1900’s things were happening and happening fast. They too, took it for granted.

We are no different from our predecessors. We seek the freedom and adventure that life brings to us every day, and we desire what the future brings – without giving up our past. The past that defines us and made us who we are; Enthusiasts. We “make history” each time we ride, only we aren’t aware of when exactly it’s happening. It just happens. Somewhere, someone is taking that memorable photo right now that will be looked upon by another generation and their reaction will be the same then, as it is for us today. A different time and a different place, telling stories of how it used to be. Or rather how it’s going to be?

I believe Indian® Motorcycles are here to stay. Over the years they have come and gone, much like a dream with hopes of “someday.” But today is that day. History has repeated itself and Indian® Motorcycles has a future derived from a time when pride, excitement and a passion was the main ingredient to ingenuity. Just like it is today.