Happy Mother’s Day

Today, I rode home from Macon on my 2015 Indian Chief Vintage.  Riding always helps me think.

I remembered my Mom.  For as long as I can remember, I would ask my mother what she wanted for Mother’s day and she would reply with something that would benefit me; new shoes, new clothes…  Selfless in every conceivable way, she loved my kids like that too.  2001 was the last Mother’s day I was able to celebrate with her. joyce 2

I remembered I owe so much to the people around me.

I remembered that the woman who drove me down to pick up the bike and was following me through Atlanta traffic was the most amazing influence in my life.  Without her, I’m not certain there would be a me.  I am certain there would not be a me that I liked.  She has shaped the lives of our children with the power of her heart.  Her quiet, constant, beautiful care has changed lives of people around her, lifting them in ways so extraordinary that even she refuses to believe she had anything to do with it.

There will be time here soon to detail my new, undeserved ride, but right now, please, help me remember all the people in our lives who let us take them by the heart, and give of themselves in ways that overwhelm us, lift us up, and give us a better path, but somehow, they never feel as if they’ve done enough.

I wish we could all tell them, that what they’ve done is so much more than enough.  So much more than we deserve.

It’s been a great ride.

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Fear and waiting in North Georgia

After my unscheduled get off on March 25th, my incredible wife kindly took me to the emergency room for some expert opinions on my new found bruises and stiff muscles.

I met a nice lady at the admissions window.  She was sincere as she checked me into the emergency room.  “This is exactly why I got rid of my bike.”

“Really?”  I said. “What did you ride?”

“Had a Harley but I was coming around a curve up in the mountains and a car was in my lane.  I had no choice but to lay it down and went off the side.”

“Sounds bad.”

“Scraped up my leg and tore this tendon.”  She showed me her normal looking arm.  “Wow.  So are you glad the bike is gone?”

“No, I still miss it on days like this.  Great weather.  But I see so many people come in here after a wreck,” she moved her hand suggesting the entire hospital ”that I just got rid of it.”

Okay, I’ll not address the fact that the hospital is where every single person comes who has a wreck, so if you want to see them all, work at the admissions deck in the emergency room!  Sorry, I guess I just addressed that fact.

Anyway, my theory is that no one EVER got rid of a bike and is glad to have a hole in their garage (or driveway, or shed…).  I’ve seen fear keep people off horses, roller coasters, and bridges.  Fear can be a great thing.  It can be your brain telling you that there is a boundary you should not cross when you hear that voice say, “what if we get caught?”  It can help you react faster than you even thought possible when avoiding snakes.  It can help you reach a decision, but it should never be the dominant drive in that decision, unless you are having shots fired in your direction.

I’ve talked to lots of people who got rid of their bikes.  I have yet to meet one that says, “I’m so glad I did that.  Best decision I ever made was to stop riding.”

Just a few thoughts while I still hope to fill the hole in my garage SOOON! IMG_5386

 

Shopping, ugh…

Shopping

Normally, I hate shopping.  Unless it’s for something to put on my grill or smoker.  In that case it’s only pleasant anticipation of what magic lies ahead.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been shopping for a new motorcycle.  This is a serious and life changing process.  There’s research, and more research, then test rides, then more research, then a quick check of my bank account… After a few test rides of the latest and greatest bikes out there, I’m fulling willing to proclaim that my computer fuel mapped, stage 2 exhaust, high capacity custom air filter Suzuki 109 cubic inches of engine ran like a thoroughbred.  It’s a bit disappointing to get on a bike touted as the most torque heavy bike and find out that the one that was taken away from me could beat it to the horizon and have time to stop for lunch.  Now, it was broken in, and had many years of upgrades to get there, but still… I think that bike will only get better in my memory.

Craigslist, Cycle trader, dealerships are all a part of this search.  Many of you have chimed in with advice and suggestions.  Thank you!  I’ll take the word of riders over salesmen any day.  Riders don’t get commission.

I have to go out of town for work this week and I’ll be extremely busy so my shopping will be non-existent.  Maybe some of the research I’ve done will solidify in my brain and make the choice clear.

 

Goodbye Old Friend

You could not ask for better weather to ride than right now in Georgia.  Spring has sprung and unfortunately between my work hours, riding hours have been few, and it looks like they’re going to be fewer for a while.

I haven’t been writing on this blog because life has been clipping along at a pretty fast pace.  But, hey, I’ve got a little time this afternoon, so let’s catch up.

On Saturday, March 25th I was out running a few errands.  I found myself heading toward the local Indian motorcycle dealership to drool over the bikes and ask if they had any discount tickets to the motorcycle flat track races at Dixie Speedway later that night.  I turned onto a two lane highway and traffic was unusually thick, even by local standards.  It was stop and go, stop and go, stop and go.  The car in front of me stopped.  I stopped.  The car behind me was still on “go.”

As I looked up from the asphalt trying to feel my fingers and toes and evaluate what just happened, I heard a voice from the lady driving the vehicle that just hit me.  “I was putting down my window!”  Apparently Cadillacs have a unique window system that requires the driver to use both eyes before adjusting.  She continued, “This is my second accident in the last few weeks.”  Strangely, this information didn’t make me feel any better.

After finishing a few moment of self-evaluation I was ready to start some movement and see how sitting up would feel.  But by that time a small crowd had gathered and expressed a distinctly strident opinion that I should not move until the medics got there.  Two in the crowd claimed to be nurses.  One in the crowd was a biker.  They all voted and agreed to keep me on the ground by relating stories of the horrible effects suffered by friends of friends who now were completely paralyzed and in savage pain because they moved too soon after a minor accident.  Reluctantly, I stayed down and tried to determine if any important fluids were leaving my body without permission.

As I was lying on the ground discussing with the people standing over me my own ability to move, I really couldn’t survey the scene completely.  I think I missed a lot of the action.  The lady that caused the accident apparently melted into a puddle nearby.  I never saw her again.  My bike had travelled far enough forward from the impact to hit the car in front of me.  The two people from that car suffered minor damage to their bumper and were amazingly supportive.  From my vantage point, I couldn’t really get a good view of my bike, so I had to ask the most important question.  “How’s my bike?”

Now, there are bikers, and cagers and the difference was immediately apparent.

ME – “How’s my bike?”

CAGERS – “Oh, it’s not too bad at all.”

THE BIKER – “Dude…”

ME – “Really?”

THE BIKER – “Yeah.”

I knew it was a mess.

Eventually, the medics got there, sirens, lights, and all.  We squeezed hands, followed moving fingers, and talked convivially about a free ride to the emergency room.  They gave me a hand up, helped me remove my helmet, and I kindly refused their offer for a ride, promising instead to take the trip with my wife as soon as she got there.  They left, and I began discussions with the police and a local wrecker service.

Oh, yeah.  I needed to call my wonderful bride.  I have to be honest, I was not looking forward to her reaction.  Had I just taken my last ride?   Well, I still don’t know why she agreed to marry me nearly a quarter century ago, and I’m completely at a loss to explain why she’s stuck by me all that time, but her reactions have never failed to surprise me.  She was as calm and controlled as a combat veteran going to the grocery store.  I love her so.

After I learned I could stand, I also learned that I was sore, and swollen, and stiff.  I kept walking, with a fine John Wayne limp, so I wouldn’t lock up too much later.  We saw my bike loaded onto a flatbed, and we drove off to the emergency room to get a few pictures of my insides.

She was 800 pounds give or take.  She had custom pull backs, custom fuel controller, home made custom air covers, Corbin seat, high flow air filters, and few other odds and ends that made me happy to log the miles.  She saw me through Sturgis, and Yellowstone, and trips with my girls.  She took me home to West Virginia, and only once failed to bring me back to my home (through no fault of her own).  Goodbye old friend.  Even though you were only a machine, I am sure you helped make me a better man.

Now, I’m not saying that it was a sign from above, but at the emergency room my doctor was… an INDIAN!  Although I never found out what tribe Dr. Patel was from, I’m still fairly sure the almighty was giving me a direction for my next bike.

So, nothing broken.  Still a bit sore.  A few bruises.  All my safety gear did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It’s why I wear the boots, gloves, helmet, and Kevlar jeans all the time.  In twelve years of riding, it was my first real life test for all of it, and I hope the last.

So that’s the situation today, as I sit on my back contemplating the hole in my garage with a glass of wine, and a cigar.  I’m waiting to hear the next step from the insurance company.  There is no argument of who is “at fault.”  The adjuster that saw my bike hinted that it was a total loss.

I think I just heard a bike going by and I’m jealous.  I wonder if it was an Indian?

Summer must be a day away

It’s February 19, and 70 degrees of wonderful Fahrenheit sun-shining goodness here in North Georgia.  Yes, I have been riding through some not-so-wonderful days.  Rain, cold, gray skies that can help teach us all that the sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow… Okay, sorry, it’s just that today was so beautiful it made me think I was actually in a musical.

Most of my rides through January were errands, commutes, or just because I wanted to get the bike out of the garage and shake my fist at winter.  There is always a day here and there in January where you can ride comfortably in North Georgia.  The trouble is finding that day and coordinating it with the rest of your life.  It doesn’t always come when my calendar is ready for it.

Although I did manage a ride or two to grab some food.img_5286

 

 

 

 

Also, there’s a one hour round trip from my house to Awesome-ville Dawsonville Georgia – the root of NASCAR nation.

The Steelers made it to the first quarter of the AFC Playoff!img_5277

 

 

 

At the end of January there was a four wheel trip to take in a motorcycle show with a friend who I’m trying to convince to buy a bike.  These weren’t bike salesmen…img_5283

My hand was obviously shaking when trying to take further pictures at the show.

img_5282

My Scottish friend with some strange blurry super biker girl with a plastic cross bow.  This is not the bike he will buy.

Today was a three hour loop through Blue Ridge, and then down from the tip top of Georgia’s border with North Carolina and Tennessee all the way down Hwy. 60 into Dahlonega.

Blue Ridge is an amazing town with history, and breweries, and restaurants (The Black Sheep is featured in the picture at the top.  Don’t tell my wife, but I want to take her there for our anniversary), stores that love dogs, and a scenic train.

No more pictures.  I was too busy riding some curves that I hadn’t seen since last fall.

Groundhog day has come and gone, and I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’re supposed to be hoping for a reprieve from salt, sand, and sitting on a couch by the fire.  Amazing riding today.  Just thinkin’ about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow ‘til there’s none.   Tomorrow, tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow…

 

I would. I should. I did.

Yep, I’ve been away a while. Thinking, digesting, sulking, and not really finding a reason to keep posting here without an ongoing narrative of my travels.

After reaching the west coast and having some mechanical problems that changed my TENTATIVE plans, I flew home, made arrangements to ship the broken bike back, and went back to work. It was an odd time. A lot of people asked about my trip, and said they’d love to have gone, and they listened as I chose a single experience to relate that might in some way represent the entire trip…but it always fell short. I’m sure both in their understanding and my telling of the story.

And then there was the empty space in my garage. It wasn’t just the empty garage, it was an empty piece of they way I spend my time. It was a space where I used to walk out of my house and chose to take some time for me to recharge, and refocus.

Now, instead of getting out of bed, packing up my gear, and heading out into an unfamiliar landscape, meeting new people, and breathing in some stress-free air… well, I am ashamed to say, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I spent time online seeking advice on how to repair my broken bike. They all agreed that I was going to have to crack open the transmission; an expensive process. I sulked some more.

I honestly do not like the idea of being that attached to a piece of metal. I also honestly have to admit…I certainly am.

Well, the piece of metal arrived on a huge truck. Thank you haulbikes.com. After recharging the battery and hopping on to refill the gas tank, I confirmed that indeed, the transmission was not downshifting. I knew it wouldn’t heal itself, but still … eesh. Dollar signs were multiplying in my head. How much would I spend? Was it really worth it to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a bike that was probably worth $5,000?

The day came where I knew the next morning I would take it into the shop and brace myself for the professional bad news. I stood in my garage looking at the bike. Then I thought…”Well, I can’t really break it.” So I grabbed a couple of wrenches and started taking some things apart. There is a small panel on the underside of the frame that is designed to keep dirt from accumulating on the end of the gearshift link arm. It’s also designed very well to actually collect the dirt at a point that impedes the arm from easy travel. In other words – there was a big hairball on the end of the rod that was keeping my shifter from working! After about 20 minutes with some WD-40, a rag, and a few wrenches … My bike shifts like butter.

I WAS ELATED!!! I saved those imaginary thousands! I had a working bike again! Then it hit me.

I had at least three days on the west coast that I could have been riding. I only needed a rag and some WD-40 and I could have… I should have…

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That’s been some of my journey since I last posted. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not live in “Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.” I’m so grateful for the time I was given to make my trip. I’m so grateful to have that empty space in my garage again sporting a shiny piece of working machinery. And I’m grateful to be out on the roads in North Georgia enjoying the fall weather. I am truly a blessed man.

Seaside and Cannon Beach

I know many of you have suffered through my “point my phone, shut one eye, and shoot” system of picture taking.  I thought you may enjoy a few shots from time my cross-country trip officially ended at Seaside Beach in Oregon, and the celebration continued at Cannon Beach.  This time Ken Hawkins, a real live published photographer had the camera.  I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as we did making them.

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