Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

21 August 2012

The Long Trip Home - Part 1

It seemed like such a good plan.  But then they always do.  I’d leave Brewster, Washington on the motorcycle on August 1st, making a leisurely ride home on the Sportster. I’d stay off the Interstates as much as possible, and visit friends old and new along the way. I guess the question is why I ever thought it would work out that way?

Brandon showed right as I was supposed to leave. He had been one of our copilots last year, and we had become close. I wanted to spend some time with him, so that put my departure date off a bit.

But I had houseguests as well. I have a big place in Pensacola, Florida and a number of my friends have keys. They know they can always stop by and stay…whether or not I’m there. I like that.  In this case, my friend Gene would be in town from August 8th through the 12th. Jacob and his new bride, Melisa announced they were coming a couple of days after that.  I needed to be home. 

I finally left Brewster on Wednesday, the 8th. My planned route home worked out to be about 2,850 miles. I figured it would take four solid days of riding.

When you embark on such a long motorcycle trip you always wonder how things are going to go.  You plan for the worst weather, and for mechanical breakdowns.  In my case I packed a good rainsuit and some plastic money instead of tools.  I am an optimist.  As it turned out, I needed neither the rainsuit nor tools.  Things went surprisingly well.

Originally, on the way up last year I thought I could do 800 miles per day on the bike. That turned out to be a wild fantasy. Six-hundred was about all I could endure. And even then, when you’re only averaging 50 mph, 600 miles takes 12 hours.  This year, for the return ride I knew I'd have to average more than 700 miles per day.  It was gonna be rough.  And it was.

The trip ended up being 2,950 miles. I did make it home Saturday evening just before dark - four long days after leaving Washington.   Unbelievably, not one drop of rain touched me or the motorcycle. The Sportster performed flawlessly, never missing a beat. My aging, aching body…not so much. Trips like this remind me that I’m not a kid anymore.  I just act like one.

I will take the Sportster back up to Washington next year…only it’ll be on a trailer hooked to the back of the car.


Hal Johnson said...

Geez, 700 miles per day? I've done that on a motorcycle exactly once. In 1975, I rode from Fort Smith to Fort Rucker in one day. It was 730 miles, as I recall. I swore I'd never do that again. Granted, the Yamaha 650 I had then wasn't nearly as comfortable rolling down the highway as my '80 Harley Low Rider would later be, but when I made long trips during the twelve years I had that bike, I never broke 500 miles in a day. More than that, and I thought it would take away from the benefits of making the trip by bike in the first place.

But 700 miles a day for FOUR DAYS? I hurt just reading about that.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Yeaaahhhh, actually it was more than that.

The problem was that I shortstopped on the first day - only made it to Missoula, MT because a) I got a late start and b) It was getting dark and Bob does *not* ride at night unless he is very drunk. So the first day was only 330 miles, leaving (although I didn't know it at the time) 2,620 miles to go...or 873 miles per day. Piece o'cake, eh? If I'd known that I would've called Gene and said, "See you Sunday!" But I wasn't really paying too much attention. I'd simply get up early and get on the bike, stopping for the day when I just couldn't go any further.

Luckily the days are long and I am in slightly better shape than I pretend, at least, when it comes to riding ;)

Still, it was grueling, I won't deny it. I would've liked to take my time and stop more at interesting places along the way. Meh- maybe next time.

I'll say this- at least the trip has not soured me on traveling by motorcycle...even by Sportster motorcycle! It is the best bike in the world. I just have to figure out a way to REALLY allow enough time to stay off the Interstates and meander.

Anonymous said...

i thought the time i did 300m i did great, i dont envy your backside but do admire your gumption. Russell

Anonymous said...

The trailer is OK as long as you don't stop around Sturgis and then ride into town!