Long time listener, first time caller. It's all I can think of as I'm typing the first few lines of this ride report, because for a year, this site literally served as a sanity-check for me. I would read it every day, and through the ride reports and photos of the other inmates, I'd vicariously exercise the overpowering compulsion I had to ride. In February of 2012, the Army Guard Medevac unit I'm a part of mobilized to Kuwait, and my buddies and I said goodbye to our families and friends for a year. But in addition to the farewells I bade the people in my life, I also had to say goodbye to motorcycling, the hobby that occupies nearly every day of my life (which is saying something, given the length and severity of the Maine winters). Anyone reading this who's been in the military will know how long deployments seem to stretch on, and the "feast or famine" nature of wartime operations. It's been popularly noted and reiterated that war is "long periods of boredom punctuated by sheer terror". I'll make no claims about Kuwait ever approaching sheer terror, but for every moment of our jobs there that looked like this: ...there were 100-times more that looked like this: While you're thousands of miles away from home, it's your friends who really keep you going. The CHU (the aluminum and linoleum shed we lived in near the flightline), only affords you about 25 square feet of space to live in, too, so you'd better like who you're bunking up with. I lucked out. Our unit is pretty lucky to have some great people in it, and I ended up getting billeted from two of the best amongst the lot: my buddies Josh and Tag The three of us spent interminable hours together off-duty, staving off boredom, and somewhere along the way it occurred to me that if we can live in those close quarters for a year without falling out, these guys might make good riding partners. There was only one problem: neither of them had bikes or licenses. With months of free time at my disposal, though, I was confident that I could mount a propaganda campaign that would sway the two of them to two wheels. So, with the front-page slideshow of ADVRider as my opening salvo, I sat Josh and Tag down and turned the subject of conversation to motorbikes...and it never really fully got off of it again. The idea started small, or at least vaguely defined: when we returned from the deployment, Josh would buy my old bike, Sabine ...and I would buy a new bike, the F800GS I'd been lusting after for years, Ilse ...as a "Welcome Back to The World" gift for myself. Tag, meanwhile, would strike out in another direction entirely and buy a sportbike. Actually, he'd kind of get THE sportbike. As his second-EVER bike, Tag went big and sought out an 848. I give you Lily: Oh, wait! Sorry. That's the bike Tag really wanted. Here's Lily: The riding plans were initially left vague. When we got home, we thought, we would take a few rides, starting small, and see what suited our fancy. After all, Tag and Josh still needed their certs (the Army, in one of the wisest moves I'VE ever seen them make, requires and provides MSF training for all of its soldiers who wish to ride), and we didn't even know (though I hoped ardently) if they would like riding long distance. But Josh had other plans brewing apart from biking. His brother, Mike, lived in Florida and had taken a freediving course there in 2011 that he had really enjoyed. One of the things that had initially brought Josh and I together as friends was his willingness to rearrange his life around his adventure list, and the idea of becoming proficient at long-period diving without the aid of O2 tanks proved to be no exception for him; we would go on bike trips when we got back, alright, but he would HAVE to be able to go to this class as well. It seemed patently indecent, since he had so willingly jumped on-board with my adventure, not to get on-board with his. So, the two ideas merged, and from the idea of a short trip we were very suddenly in the midst of planning a round-trip journey down the east coast of the U.S., Maine to Key West, for a free-diving class (and, of course, the reward of the journey itself). We leave today. The certs and bikes are all in place and ready. The route (Route 1, actually, in its entirety) is set. An adventure we've been dreaming of for a year is about to happen, and we'll update along the way. We'll see you from the road.