Motorcycle Mentor

For early December, the weather was looking good. I had a list of things to do but mostly I just wanted to go ride my motorcycle. So in the early afternoon I put on my gear and took off, not sure of the direction I was headed I mostly wanted to put some miles on. Feeling guilty at first because walls won’t paint themselves, I hesitated but quickly got over that feeling as I rode off.

It felt good to get out. The weather hasn’t been the best but I figured an hour or so on the bike is what I needed to sort my thoughts. I hadn’t been on Humboldt Creek road for a while so I headed East towards Alta Vista to take Humboldt back North towards Junction City. I figured a big loop finding my way back home was a good bet.

It’s funny how the same road can look different based on direction, the time of year and the time of day. How the light casts shadows and the specific colors nature is wearing during any particular season can make a familiar road feel different. This was one of those rides.

How the light casts shadows and the specific colors nature is wearing any particular season can make a familiar road feel different.

After a quick ride on the scenic Humboldt Creek road, I ended up at a park to take a minute and enjoy the afternoon. I pulled up and laughed at myself for hitting the kill switch to shut my bike off. I don’t normally shut the bike down this way, and for some reason I did – even wondering why I would do that. Oh well, I’m getting older and I do weird stuff some times.

While sitting there admiring the side view of my BMW GS from about 30 feet away, a couple of kids rode up on their bikes. As I sat there on the bench I remembered how I was at 10 or 12 years old, riding my bike and dreaming of owning a motorcycle. I noticed one of the boys kept looking at my bike as they were horsing around and I was sure he too had an interest like I did in motorized two-wheel motion. I smiled at the thought.

I noticed one of the boys kept looking at my bike as they were horsing around and I was sure he too had an interest like I did in motorized two-wheel motion. I smiled at the thought.

I’m sure it was only a few moments as all of these thoughts ran through my head. Then, out of nowhere, it appears this boy is coming over to talk to me. At first, I thought what shall I say? Is this my chance to influence a young man who shows some interest in how motorcycles can change your life? Am I up to it? And how cool would it be to bump into him in 10 years on some lonesome highway where he recognizes me and says “hey, you were the one who got me into motorcycling.” How strange, I was just thinking this and now he’s 20 feet away and closing.

12 year old boy; Hey mister, is that your bike?

Me; Yes, it is.

Now keep in mind, my brain is clicking along faster than the conversation. I’m anticipating where this is going and I’m trying to be helpful and attentive to his questions because after all, this is my chance! For the last 20 minutes or so, while I’ve been sitting on this bench, this boy has admired my motorcycle. Now he’s mustered up his courage to come over to ask what it’s like to be wild and free on two wheels. Pay attention Jeff!

12 year old boy; Your headlight is on.

57 year old me; Hey, thanks…

When I pulled up and hit the kill-switch, I forgot to turn the key off. That usually happens to new riders – and guys like me just trying to enjoy a ride in December. For 20 minutes or so my key was on while I admired the profile of my motorcycle in the afternoon light. Thanks kid, for letting me know. As I got up and walked over to my bike, the boys climbed on theirs and took off. I guess they already know what it’s like to be wild and free on two-wheels.


The Guy on the Motorcycle


I’m just the guy on the motorcycle. You may not be able to tell if I’m a man or a woman, young or old or even how long I’ve been riding, but I’m a motorcyclist nonetheless. Maybe you’ve seen me, maybe not. But I see you. I’m on my way to work just like everyone else, or maybe I’m taking a long weekend ride. We’re a lot alike you and me, but I just choose to travel by two-wheels instead of four. You decided to drive your car today instead of riding your motorcycle. Hey, I’ve done that too. Sometimes the day requires more than my motorcycle can handle. Sometimes you see me and wish you had a motorcycle. You should get one because I know it will change your life, and how you drive that car of yours. Maybe you have an opinion of who I am inside this helmet I’m wearing but I want you to know that not all of us our outlaws. In fact, I waved at you this morning but you didn’t wave back. Maybe you just didn’t see me.

I know you wonder from the comfort of your car how I can ride when it’s cold or raining. You see, that’s how much I want to ride. I know it seems crazy to someone who doesn’t ride a motorcycle, but I have the proper gear to protect me from the elements. When we ride, we are exposed to all kinds of weather and this is all a part of the experience. You could say I’m vulnerable to the weather as it changes. I would say I’m vulnerable to anything outside of my leather jacket.

You could say I’m vulnerable to the weather as it changes. I would say I’m vulnerable, period.

When did you first notice me? Was it the sound my motorcycle makes? My headlight and bright-colored jacket? Or was it after you pulled out halfway into the intersection before slamming on your brakes? I kind of wondered if you were going to stop. Maybe you’re running late, and that’s okay. I run late all the time too. We both have places we need to be with families and jobs that require us to get the most out of our day. It’s okay, and I waved at you anyway.

Think about motorcycles as people – actual people – sharing the road with you and how vulnerable I feel when riding amongst cars and trucks.

Can I ask a favor? Take a second to look and listen for me. Think about motorcycles as people – actual people – sharing the road with you and how vulnerable I feel when riding amongst cars and trucks. I know you’re frustrated with the road construction and the light that won’t turn green quick enough because I am frustrated with it too. And when you do see me, wave at me. And not just because it’s nice to say “hello” but it also tells me that you know I’m here.


The Things Postcards and Calendars are Made Of

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“From the seat of my motorcycle…”

No matter your mode of transportation, you must admit this world is a beautiful place. And if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you will be gifted with something way bigger than we are. The power of the weather makes things seem small in comparison, and if we’re lucky, we can appreciate it without all the fuss. Even a bright sunny day with little or no wind (insert your favorite type of clouds here) can put a smile on your face. We motorcyclists know that if we ride long enough we will get to see some pretty cool things. Oh, and you folks that drive will see them too.

Often in my travels it seems my path and these brief seconds of beauty collide. The world around me is a constant changing thing and the fact that a mere moment or two can be the difference of seeing something camera worthy, or a minor inconvenience. We know our days can be punctuated with these small wonders, but if you’re not looking for them, they will never be seen.


It isn’t always about sunrises or sunsets. There can be beauty in anything when you take the time to look. It’s all around us for crying out loud. Today with the frigid temps you wouldn’t expect to find anything that makes you smile, but with the clear blue sky and snow on the ground I find it to my liking. The crispness in the air is just right. Cold? Yes. Groovy? Of course..


No matter the season or your state of mind, we can look around us and appreciate what makes those postcards and calendars so cool. There is nothing like seeing it and feeling it in person and as bikers we take the good with the bad. In this case; the cold with the view. No, I didn’t ride today, but it’s not because I didn’t want to. But I can still take in the scenery from wherever I am and wish that I had ridden. It will warm up soon enough and when it does…it will be from the seat of my motorcycle.


Looking for Phil – A Motorcycle Journey


At times it can seem like a desperate situation, one minute you’re a hero and the next a total zero. It’s hard to make up for those times when expectations are high and then reality beats you down. Some days it’s just not worth all the hassle. On the other hand, determination will take over and you feel like no matter the odds, you can – and will overcome. We ride. Sometimes we don’t ride. Sometimes we need to ride regardless of the weather. This morning it is freezing drizzle. Today, I’m looking for a particular Ground Hog.

I know it’s not his fault. Just like our local weatherman, both are just messengers of truth, or rather speculation, on what we motorcyclists consider the key ingredient to our particular mode of transportation. Good weather is our gasoline and right now for some motorcyclists the gas station is closed. Toying with our emotions is never advised and we put such high hopes in all you represent. How long will you keep us off our motorcycles? Maybe the greater question is CAN you keep us off our motorcycles?

So today I ride. I ride in search of you my friend – to show you that it is not my desperation to ride, but rather my passion to ride! Alas, I do not blame you. It’s your job to be the bearer of news, good or bad. And I will lift you to shoulder height when the news of an early spring comes, but not today. So hide in your stump, Phil. Look away from me and know that for the next few weeks we are not friends. Our relationship will always have its moments, but for now you are dead to me.

We can choose to be fair-weather riders and have our riding habits dictated by fury animals and “weather in motion”. But if the garage walls appear to be closing in, it’s time to get out – and ride. I prefer to ride!

The Storms of Life


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.


“And Then the Rain Came”


“And then the rain came.”
Motorcycles and rain…makes you think, doesn’t it? Like a boat without a trailer and Ramen Noodles without that little packet of brown stuff-something’s just not right. Motorcycles, with their lack of all-weather protection, just aren’t for everyone. There is plenty of gear for the rider to wear to help fend off any inclement weather, but that is only going to stop some of the elements. You can bundle up when it’s cold, put on your rain suit if it’s raining, and any combination of heavier or lighter gear as the temperature fluctuates. Sometimes it’s a combination of several weather conditions we deal with at the same time, and that too, is a challenge.

A few years ago, I took a solo ride to Greeley Colorado for a family reunion. The weather man, in his war against motorcycles, was predicting heavy rain on the Friday morning in July I had planned to leave. Normally his ten percent accuracy rating would not bother me, but this time he seemed serious. My morning alarm was a clap of thunder and without too much trouble I could hear the heavy rain as it came down. But we’re riding today, right? Yep.

I had already loaded my motorcycle for the weekend trip, and with just less than 500 miles to get there, I was looking forward to it. I’ve ridden in rain like this before, and I knew getting on the bike that I might get a little wet. My rain suit is on and away I go down the street to the stop sign. Boy, it is raining. For the next 150 miles of interstate the rain would not let up. I’m not uncomfortable riding in this at all, but I think there were a few motorist that were afraid for me. I stopped in Hays Kansas at the Harley-Davidson dealer to take a break and have some coffee. For July in Kansas can be hot, with the rain the temperature was just right.

Any of you that have ever ridden with a rain suit on know that you will still get wet as the rain will creep in around your neck and up your sleeves-and this ride was no different. After thirty minutes or so, I put my rain suit back on and decided to head North to avoid the storm as heading West would have put me in it for several more hours. A few miles up the road the rain suit came off and although a little cloud cover was hanging over me, it had stopped raining.

The rest of the ride was fantastic. Sometimes it takes a storm to put you on the right road-the one you should have been on to begin with. Kind of like “life.” When you’re pushing hard in the direction you think you should be going, and you’re fighting it every step of the way, change your direction.

I ended up taking the back roads through Benkelman Nebraska and Wray Colorado where my folks grew up. We visited these places a lot when I was growing up to see family but I had never been through here on a motorcycle. Kind of appropriate since I was on my way to a family reunion in Greeley. The weatherman was right and I’m glad he was.


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