Random Thought's on Riding...


Notes from my 5000 mile solo motorcycle road trip - Summer 2001:

There are a lot of really good roads (Arizona and New Mexico- black asphalt... smooth as glass) and a lot of really bad roads (parts of Nebraska and Minnesota)... One of the tricks I learned on the trip, was... On the four lane divided highways... The passing lane is used a lot less, and 80% of the time is a lot smoother to ride on... So if the road got rough, I just eased over to the passing lane... And if cars wanted to pass me, they didn't even have to change lanes.

Every bridge in America (Summer 2001) is being fixed and the roads leading to and from are torn up as well... As I approached them, I really kept my eyes open for road hazards or uneven pavement... In Colorado Springs I saw my first uneven highway... The passing lane was being worked on, and was 3 inches higher than the slow lane... Not a good time to change lanes.

I really started to understand how the cowboys must have felt as they rode solo through this great country of ours.

Most folks that came West were probably in a wagon, stage coach, or on a sailing ship... Roof, windows, and doors... A safe place to go and hide when the weather got bad... But here we are... Motorcycle guys and gals... Out In It... With no place to hide... Taking the extra time to prepare, at some level could be life or death for motorcycle folks... Granted, most of the time it just means being more comfortable.

One guy I met in Yellowstone... Riding a new BMW (from Seattle to Montana) Said... "Most of the stuff we carry on our Motorcycles is to keep us warm and dry"... How true.

Moments of perfection were in sharp contrast to the heat, cold, and rain.

Because of the contrast... When perfection did happen... WOW... I said to myself on more than one occasion... "It just can't get any better than this"... And yet, it always did... The colors, smells, and sounds... Moved me... Not to think... But to that place deep inside where words have no meaning... Where time comes to a complete stop, and space is forever... The place where all things are connected and fear can't exist, because you are no longer separate.

I wonder if the cowboys felt that way?

Fear... There were times when all the reasons I shouldn't being doing this surfaced... The million and one ways I could die... How could anyone go 5000 miles on a motorcycle and live?

I was expanding my comfort zone to include all things new. I had unlocked my jail cell in a way... Escaped from the prison of... "How It Should Be"... And found the place of... "How It Is"... I found myself thinking... Can I deal with all the stuff this journey is about to throw at me???... Do I have the personal resources to meet each new challenge and win or lose, learn something about myself??? Will I have the courage to travel until I'm tired... Letting the day tell me when to stop, and when to go... And not my watch?

I had confidence in myself and my motorcycle (Suzuki Volusia)... I had prepared for this ride over a period of months... Thinking and rethinking what I needed to take, and what I needed to avoid.

But, when it came time to hit the road, I was surprised to find so much resistance.

At all levels... I became aware of a subtle fear and dread... I was breaking away from my village (Los Angeles)... I was going on a personal journey of sorts... And not just a road trip.

Some how... I had to get on my Motorcycle, start the engine, and get out of Los Angeles... The morning of the first day was a tough one... But the engine started and off I went.

The discomfort I felt on the road... Was my first real sign of freedom.

Once I was on the road, it took a couple of hundred miles for the feelings of loss and fear to subside... To come to that place of... 'The Traveler'... Where home... Is the place you hang your helmet... And any bed, becomes your bed... It's back to basics... Food, clothing, shelter, and medicine.

Each day was so different... But the start and Finish of each day turned out to be pretty much the same.

I would get up before dawn... Take a shower... Drink some water... And go out to the bike... I would check the oil level in the sight glass... Check the tire pressure in both tires... I found on some days the air pressure could change as much as a few pounds because of heat, cold, or altitude (I kept, 31 front - 38 back)... And if there was a big change in only one tire, it would alert me to a problem... I would do a visual check of the bike, and then start the loading process.

First, the saddle bags... Then the tail pack... Next I would bungee-net the first duffle bag to the back seat... Then I would bungee-net the second duffle bag on top of the first... Under the second bungee and on top of the duffle bag, I would add the folded motorcycle cover.

After the riding of the day was over, and I found a motel or KOA (Kampgounds of America)... I would take everything off the bike... Store it in the motel room or kozy cabin... Take a shower, and get ready to find some food.

Most of the time I would have breakfast, a small lunch, and a good sized dinner... I found if I ate to much during the day, I would be uncomfortable in the afternoon... But all the food tasted great, it was hard not to eat.

I drank plenty of water, Gatorade, coffee, and sodas... It kept me hydrated, and encouraged me to pull into the rest stops and use the bathroom... A chance to stretch the legs.

I found 150 miles was about as much as I wanted to ride in between rest stops... And most of the time every hundred miles, or less... I would stop for gas, bathroom, or just a stretch.

Some days after lunch I would take a couple of aspirin, I could feel what was coming later (a sore and tired body)... Sometimes, I would take aspirin before I went to sleep or even when I got up in the morning... This old body of mine was doing the best it could, but once in awhile it needed a little help.

The first few miles on the road, I would go under the speed limit and test the balance of the bike... As it took awhile for everything to settle... When I was satisfied, I would go up to my cruising speed... Most of the time 5 to 10 M.P.H. over the posted limit... In my 21 days on the road, I only needed to stop once to change the balance of the bike.

Having that time in the morning to focus on the bike and luggage got me back into that 'travel' state of mind.

I wouldn't have my first cup of coffee, or breakfast, until I was a hundred miles or so from where I spent the night.

Even within the eight to ten hours I spent sleeping and eating at the motel or camp site... I could feel an attachment start to grow... I was becoming comfortable... I knew how it worked... Food, Shelter, Sleep... It's hard to leave those behind when you have miles and miles of black asphalt and cement looking you in the face each day.

When it was time to leave in the morning... I could feel a gentle pull and tug to stay just a little bit longer... From of all those things that added to my comfort the night before... I came to realize the early morning focus of getting ready to travel, helped me break the chains of my comfort zone and get back on the road.

It's a challenge to find comfort on a motorcycle if you're looking outside yourself... The comfort a motorcycle rider finds is on the inside... With acceptance of the way things are, and faith in his/her riding skills and motorcycle.

The freedom of the open road kept calling... And my answer each morning was to turn the key and shift into gear.

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"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming... WOW... What a Ride!" -- VolusiaGuy - Member #247



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