It’s Worth It

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Not every road tells the whole story. The thankless years of service while letting others run all over you, or the loneliness of never seeing a soul. The darkest of nights, the bitter cold and the constant beating of the sun can wear you down, but the road keeps on giving. It gives dreamers a place to go and it affords us a way out. For some, it’s a way of life and for others an escape. Either way, the door is open but it requires you to walk through it to get anywhere.

 It seems people want more down-hill avoiding the uphill climb. Just remember, it isn’t uphill both ways and the climb is worth it.

Sometimes the straight and narrow offers perspective, while the twists and turns keep us anticipating. The dirt and gravel will test your resolve but they are few and far between. It seems people want more down-hill avoiding the uphill climb. Just remember, it isn’t uphill both ways and the climb is always worth it.

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We often take the road for granted. We expect without fail it will take us where we are headed and then complain when we have to deal with bumps and depressions. Even when someone comes along to repair the damage, we find ways of going around it looking for our own solution to the problem. It’s during these detours we find that no matter how different the road, the obstacles are the same.

The road is what you make of it. If the glass is half full for you I can assure you your travels are mostly smooth sailing. If you complain about your glass never getting a refill, you will eventually find every pothole in the road.

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Uphill Both Ways

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When we were young we were told not to cross the road. Curiosity is a dangerous thing and sometimes temptation can get the best of us. Sometimes we listen and other times well, we don’t.

Soon enough we get permission to get on it and it becomes the beginning of a wild ride. Fast, late nights, friends and new places. A world opens up and we will never be the same. Ever. We push the boundaries of those limits imposed upon us and we find just how far we can go. And we go. Chasing girls and jobs and the future we think we want and it’s all there in front of us. We can see it just beyond the hood ornament on the car pulling us into our future further than what we’re ready for. Too young to know the difference we continue; we can always ask questions later.

The highway becomes such a big part of our lives. It’s takes us to places to celebrate the birth of new life and the end of someone else’s. It gives us a path to our daily grind but doubles as our escape route from it as well. It is our scenic byway and our road from hell and it can be all in the direction you’re traveling. Young and full of ourselves or old and tired of it all, we roll down the road not knowing where it will end. This is the road we’ve chosen and it’s ours. Paved or unpaved, uphill both ways or rocky, put it in drive and floor it. Why not and what are you waiting for?

Young and full of ourselves or old and tired of it all, we roll down the road not knowing where it will end. This is the road we’ve chosen and it’s ours

We spend a good portion of our lives looking down the roads we travel. Whether we’re running late or on sabbatical determines how our eyes perceive the road ahead. We all need some down time. You know the kind – the freedom to let our mind and body wander. The absence of a focal point, a desk free of clutter and a mind wide open to whatever. This is why I ride a motorcycle. It’s rare to see someone on a motorcycle distracted by anything other than 3000 pound, four wheel moving objects and an occasional furry friend. Take those out of the equation with a cell phone conveniently turned off and what more could you ask for? Warm, dry weather and a full tank of gas doesn’t hurt either.

Well-worn highways and beat down back roads. If you were to take one or the other, which would it be? It doesn’t really matter as long as the direction you’re going will get you to where you want to go. We all have a reason to be on the road. We share it with people just like us, looking to get to work or chasing a dream. And if it’s a hood ornament or a headlight you look over as you stare down the highway just remember that day long ago when you hit the road for the first time, and the freedom you felt. The windows down or wind in your face isn’t something you forget, in fact it’s something we desire. Just put it in gear and go.

Twists and Turns

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This road I’m on, much like a book, has a story to tell. Whether built out of commerce or curiosity, it is here to take me to a place only the author knows of. Each chapter changes as the storyline becomes real. The harder the road is to build, the better the story gets, and it takes longer for the story to be written than ridden, so like a good book it will have its ups and downs and whirlwinds of emotion, taking us chapter by chapter until we reach the end. We can feel the hard work the author experienced and we can see his intentions of bringing this book to life. So we ride on.

Traveling through the hills and valleys on a motorcycle can tell us of the trials and tribulations of building a road this difficult. I can appreciate the difficulty and both the builder and I know that it isn’t easy to finish something that can withstand the test of time. His way of bringing the landscape to life with the sweat of his brow gives all that read his book the best seat in the house. Like every story, you can always flip back through the pages to read certain passages over and over, and as this road twists and turns, I may have to return to ride this road again. It’s that good.

Who knows how this ride will end? The suspense is building and the road only gets better. The way the author placed the sunset in just the right place and the tree line of pines with just the right amount of backdrop. Beautiful in a way, that only the one who had a hand in building this road could do. He must have been a motorcyclist as the curves come at the right time and it all seems intentional. This must not be his first time of building suspense and putting us in a place of his choosing. But we are here, immersed in his interpretation, and I think I know where this story is going to end; I think.

As you would expect, this book ends with a happy ending. I’m glad this story ended the way it did, and it has only added to my experience and imagination. I will ride this road again and I’m sure I will pick up something I didn’t see the first time and as all stories go, it leaves us in a better place. Much like a road we discover, regardless of having ridden it before, something as simple as the seasons changing can put a new twist on the story. Whether you ride a motorcycle or not, ride the “Story of Life” and see where it takes you. If nothing else, the ending may surprise you.

The Storms of Life

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He watches over me, leading the way when the storms of life are coming. When there is no way around it and the only option is to put my head down and plow through it, He is there. I will not travel through this alone because He is leading the way, guiding me and protecting me from whatever this storm will bring. I do not have the strength to go it alone and He makes sure I do not have to face troubled times and stormy weather without Him. He gives me direction when I’m lost, and tells me when I should face the storm and when I should go around it. I trust Him.

When the dark clouds are approaching, our first instinct is to avoid them. We worry what might happen and wonder how we can get around it, because we get so caught up in what might happen we forget to have faith. The darkness and power of what’s coming makes us forget to appreciate the beauty in it. It is the experiences in our lives that made us who we are and we must remember that we will not go it alone. No matter how hard or bad it is, it too will end and a brand new beautiful day will dawn, giving us a better understanding of not only who we are but what we can handle. It always surprises me in how much we can handle.

When you are heading down that road in your life and you see a storm fast approaching, take a moment to look around and see who is going to ride it out with you. We hope that our friends and family will be there for us, and they will. But see who is leading, guiding and protecting you when it’s about to hit. It’s not always obvious, sometimes you have to look around for signs of His presence to see it for yourself.

My ride to work always gives me time to think about the day, week or life in general. As if I’m in some sort of meditative state, I can reflect on things and take a few minutes to figure it all out and put it into perspective. We all know our lives, as predictive as they may seem, are really unpredictable. It is this mind-clearing experience of riding to work where I do my best thinking because I’m alone with my thoughts and distractions are minimal. Sometimes it’s the obvious that we are quick to miss. I took this picture of the storm in the horizon unaware of the shadow being cast on the road before me. It may seem random to some and it may not even mean anything to others, but to me it was God telling me things were going to be alright. It is the open mind and open heart that hears the answers to questions we have, and today that question was answered.

 

Moving Bodies and Souls – 110 Years

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One-hundred and ten years is a long time in anyone’s book, especially when it comes to building motorcycles. It’s hard enough to feel passionate about anything for so long let alone beyond generations. That’s why you have enthusiasts building motorcycles for enthusiasts because nobody else can. Some dreams die with the dreamers, but in the case of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company it has kept the dream alive in all of us. In a time when wool suits were the proper riding apparel to ride your motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has been there to see the transformation of the culture and lifestyle of bikers to where it is today. Roads were being built, highways were being connected and destinations became real. What started out as a different kind of transportation 110 years ago, became a form of recreation and a lifestyle for so many. A combination of steel and style moves a nation both physically and emotionally and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles have been there through it all.

Just as any company knows, as time ticks by there are ups and downs, twists and turns, but it turns out that is the exact same thing we enthusiasts seek out when it comes to the roads we travel. It is “the ride” that gets you through it and whether it’s business or pleasure, we take the road less traveled because it is who we are and always will be. Nobody said “the ride” would be easy, but if nothing else, it has always been fun. Moving bodies and souls at the same time was probably not something the Harley and Davidson boys thought much about, but that’s how things ended up. It is Harley-Davidson that represents this country in a way that only it can and it changes you. Freedom, Pride, Emotion and American are a few things that come to mind, and we haven’t even looked at what it’s done to so many from a life-changing experience – and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles change lives. It’s brought people together and created a community around the world to the point of being a universal language – and it knocks down walls that are invisible and man-made.

Nobody said it would be easy, because easy wasn’t a concern 110 years ago. You rolled up your sleeves and you worked hard. You got your hands dirty and you brought your lunch in a pale. You were happy to be working with your hands and you didn’t think about life 100 years from then; we still don’t. But we dreamed, and we still do. And it is dreams that makes this country great, so we keep dreaming. For every road we travel down on our Harley-Davidson, someone before us has traveled that same road on their Harley-Davidson. Whether your ride in Rome Italy or Rome Wisconsin, there’s a good chance you’re not the first one there with your motorcycle. But knowing that also gives you a sense of belonging to something greater than the road traveled. It was created by men with a dream and a willingness to chase that dream on the creation before them. Just like we do today.

It has become a passion for which we have no control over. That passion is transformed into an expression of who we are, and where we are going – both in the sense of motion and emotion. To say Harley-Davidson has changed the way we put our lives into perspective would be an understatement. Some things have no explanation, and we accept that. This motorcycle has helped people through their ups and downs and the twists and turns that life has thrown at them, and it has been a member of the family that has been passed on through generations. It is a symbol and extension of our inner selves that only we know, and that only a few can understand.

So we ride. We ride like those did 110 years ago, and those that will ride when we no longer can. I’ve seen where Harley-Davidson has been, but I can’t see where this road will take us, but I guarantee it will be a great ride. Here’s to 100 more years Harley-Davidson!

The Statistics of Fun

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Who would have thought. Who would have thought that an inanimate object could be such an emotional thing? Certain bikers get caught up on fuel economy, horsepower, quarter-mile times and the like but what about the statistics of fun? Sure, horsepower can be good fun. Good gas mileage can be a kick in the pants when you know deep down you are “sticking it to the man” at the pump. But just for a moment, stop and think about the fun you have in between gas stops and those few times when you aren’t twisting the throttle to its stops. Feel that? That, simply put, is fun. You can’t really measure it on a pie graph, and you sure can’t measure it by sitting on the couch. It mostly happens when you can feel the wind in your face and the road beneath your tires. Sometimes it happens when you walk out to the garage and just – stare at your ride.

We often forget “fun” when talking about our bikes. We talk about customization, where we’ve been, how much we have invested in our bikes but rarely say “and I have a lot of fun riding it.” Maybe it’s implied, I don’t know, but you would think it would come up in conversation. I’ve seen motorcycles that just scream for someone to rip it down the quarter-mile. I’ve seen custom bikes that raise the question if it can be ridden at all. I’ve seen a smoky burnout in a cheering crowd that looked like a lot of fun (not on my bike please) but was it any fun riding it there? I guess after a few beers who cares, right?

Could it possible that saying we are having fun riding our motorcycle takes something away from the image we are trying to put forth? I bet those “nice” people on Honda’s are having fun, (you know – the ones you used to meet?) but what about the rest of us. I’ve had a few rides where it wasn’t a lot of fun during the ride do to the weather or something like that, but when I look back on that ride I don’t have much to complain about. And overall I think we all ride for the fun of it –  at least I do. Where are the patches sewn on leather jackets proclaiming “If You Can Read This – I’m Having Fun” or “Loud Pipes – Having Fun.” If you’ve seen one, let me know.

It appears that the culture of riding is based around the lifestyle and attitude of it all. We ride to have fun for sure and I know it goes beyond saying it out-loud, but to measure it like torque, horsepower or gas-mileage isn’t as easy as hooking your bike to a machine. I think, and this is just me, that it all boils down to perception. Fun isn’t built into our bikes, it’s built into us. We determine the fun we’re going to have in anything we do, and its up to me to decide if what I’m riding or where I’m riding to, is fun or not. And it’s revealed in what my perception of fun is compared to yours. It’s no different from our jobs, chores, or life in general, we can either make it enjoyable or make it suck. You decide. Can you measure suck on a pie graph?

 

 

Seat of Your Pants

Over time I’ve come to notice that all of my bikes have improved through the years. Suspension, handling, fuel injection and looks to name a few. Style and appeal are a matter of taste, and if I do say so myself, mine is about average. I have taken it for granted that the next bike will be better than the last in terms of reliability and ride ability, so it’s always been onward and upward when a trade happens. And as the bikes get better, the ride and experience should get better as well. And it does. But the fun we have as we ride really hasn’t changed that much over the years. The wind in your face and the sounds made as you crack open the throttle give you the seat-of-the-pants thrill we all seek.
 
What is it about the motorcycle that the automobile lacks? A true performance car can give you the kick-in-the-ass feeling of power and acceleration, but what about everything else? As cars have evolved, they have gotten quieter and more high-tech. They almost drive themselves. Designers have taken the car and turned it into an office or living room depending whether you are sitting in the front or the back. But a motorcycle gives you the elements. Weather, road conditions and even the sense of danger. Motorcycle manufacturers have also taken some models and pushed them to the limits of technology, performance and comfort without sacrificing the wind in your face feeling. Fast or slow, in a group or by yourself, that motorcycle feeling is always there.
 
 I guess you could argue that whether you are behind the wheel of your latest vehicle or hanging on to the handlebars of your new bike that there isn’t much difference from the previous one. And I would agree. Usually the new one has a little more power, the handling is a little better, and you look cooler on it. But it’s the “fun factor” that I’m struggling with. Old bike or new, the fun is about the same to me. I would almost go as far as saying that back in the day of  low-power, worn out tires and soft suspension, the fun level was a little higher. You had to compensate for what the bike didn’t have in those categories, and in the mean time you could see the smiles from miles away. The seat-of-the-pants meter was pegged out!
 
The roads are all the same and the dirt hasn’t changed. The trails are a little steeper to ride and the ground is a little harder. But when it comes to my pants…the seat that is…the fun is always the same!