Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    It is over and done with. It has been for several months. Looking back it is still almost unbelievable that I did it, not that it was anything spectacular. But like many things in my life - once the thought occurs it becomes all consuming and impossible to shake. This particular thought was innocent enough: “I wonder how far it is to Fairbanks, Alaska?”. In another era it would have ended right there or at least slowed considerably. The internet doesn’t do that however. Instead, it is like a giant amphetamine - speeding things up. It is the greatest of all entropy enablers. Google responded, “3,030 miles”. What a nice number. Round. Melodic. Easy to remember now that nobody has a need to remember a seven digit phone number. Let’s just call it “three thousand miles” and dispense with the leftover change.

    I grew up in the outer suburbs of Indianapolis in the late seventies and early eighties at the tail end of the Boomer generation. Economically, on average, my parents were middle class: upper middle class on payday and lower middle class thirteen days later. It was a difficult period in American history coming out of the tumultuous sixties. Vietnam, Watergate, and disco hung a heavy cloud over the country. Heavier yet was the increase in gasoline prices due to OPEC. The white people in charge failed at war, politics, and on the dance floor but they had the answer to the last burden: a pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez in Alaska. Around the age of ten I first heard the word “Alaska” spoken in our home as my father discussed the opportunity of going to work on the pipeline with my mother. Ultimately my father decided against going to work on the pipeline. It was probably the correct decision for him and us as a family. Here's a picture of him about the time he was thinking about going to work on the pipeline. Dad pic2.jpg

    I lost my father in 2016 - the year I started riding motorcycles again after raising my own family. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I honestly don’t know what he would think of me riding a motorcycle to Alaska.

    [This thread is brought to you via my public education high school English teachers: Ms. Strychalski, Mrs. Shaffer, Mrs. Lyons, and Mrs. Singer. Any errors in spelling/punctuation, wordiness, or disjointed story line are solely the responsibility of the author and no reflection on their life's work. My hope is that this thread could survive the critique of their red pens.]
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  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Four doors down from the house I grew up in lived a gentle giant. Mel stood 6’4” tall and weighed 238 lbs. To a twelve year old kid he was towering but completely the opposite of a “get off my lawn” adult. He was recently retired and adjusting to his newfound freedom by reading the newspaper in the afternoon on his front lawn. After getting off the school bus, my friends and I would get on our bicycles and ride up and down the street. A frequent destination was Mel’s. He never discouraged us from visiting even though we had to be a disruption to his peaceful reading of the paper.

    Mel had served twenty years with the Indianapolis Police Department as a motorcycle cop and detective. His years of interacting with the public as a police officer enabled him to engage us in conversation, sometimes about the headlines, other times about the comics or sports, and other times just in pure fun like the day he taught me how to ride a bicycle while facing rearward (sitting on the handlebars).

    I didn’t know it at the time, but Mel had attained a level of notoriety in the police department for his bravery during a shootout with a madman referred to as the “Battle of Elder Avenue” in 1954.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    What attracted us to Mel wasn’t just his welcoming manner and his wonderful wife, Lois, or his son-in-law’s ‘64 Corvette parked out front. Next to Mel’s lawnchair and newspaper sat a brand new Honda CX500 Custom motorcycle - just like this one.

    [​IMG]
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  3. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    As I got into junior high school I started working for a family with a hobby farm. They had a nursery of trees, a vegetable garden bigger than most people’s entire yards, a perimeter planting of rose bushes, and one acre of strawberries that would soon grow to five. All of this required maintenance and I was hired to do it (along with a few classmates eventually).

    Dan Cooper was a Civil Engineer for the state highway department. His wife, Mary, was a sweet Christian woman who doled out the daily work assignments and a personal check every two weeks with a handwritten pay stub attached noting the hours worked and appropriate taxes deducted. Besides a job and a paycheck, I received three invaluable things from Dan and Mary.

    Coopers.jpg

    The first was how to work long and hard without regard to a clock. We would work until the job was done. Heat, cold, rain, aching muscles - it didn’t matter. I will spare you the stories but imagine, for a minute, pulling all the weeds in a five acre strawberry field by hand and you’ll get the idea.

    The second was stories of Alaska. Dan and Mary had moved to Alaska after the 1965 earthquake to work on reconstruction projects. I don’t recall how long they lived there but it was sufficient to fill the hours of tedious work around the farm. You see, I wasn’t working alone all those hours. It was their farm and they were working it for free right there beside me - pulling weeds, planting flowers, picking raspberries and strawberries, digging trees.

    The third was a motorcycle. Dan and Mary had an older son with a seven year old motorcycle in the barn. He bought it new in late ‘72 or early ‘73. By the time I had a driver’s license he didn’t ride it anymore and wanted to sell it. I was happy to pay $500 to never pedal a bicycle again. I didn’t know a single thing about motorcycles other than what I had seen Evel Knievel do on television. Nobody in my immediate nor extended family rode a motorcycle. I was sure my mother would say “NO!” so I made a mental list of my rationale and approached her one day. To my complete and utter surprise her response was a simple, “ok”. And that was it. In no time at all I was the owner of a 1973 Yamaha RD350 with less than 5,000 miles on the odometer. I don't have many pictures of the RD, but here it is at rest on our back porch in Avon, Indiana, where I grew up in the mid-to-late 1970's.

    [​IMG]
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  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    It was a mid-summer day in 1980. I had $500 in my pocket and met Joe to hand over the cash and take possession of my first motorcycle. Let’s just say things were “different” back then when it came to motorcycle rider training and instruction… a lot different. I have the vaguest of memories of going to the rural DMV and taking a short written test to get an endorsement on my driver’s license. That was it. No class. No riding training. No riding test. Just a few questions and you were good to go in 1980.

    He took five minutes to go over the details of the bike and explain the controls. And that was that. I had 1.5 miles to ride home. After making it home safely the first time I realized that I had a lot to learn about riding a motorcycle. I loved cars and anything mechanical so I immediately cleaned the barn dirt off and began to study it. The tires were factory originals and cracked so a trip to the dealer was eventually scheduled for replacements. Most days I would go for rides after work or school to practice shifting, braking, and all the coordinated skills riding requires. I subscribed to Rider magazine and read anything I thought I could learn from. I think it took me months to develop the motor skills and coordination to start, shift, turn, and stop smoothly and even more months for it to become largely subconscious.

    Eventually I was confident enough to ride it down to Mel’s and he looked it over. He suggested we go for a ride together sometime. He liked riding the same rural roads I did so instead of reading the paper, occasionally he would want to go for a short ride before Lois got home. We would go out for 60 to 90 minutes, rarely getting to 50 mph, just enjoying the narrow country roads of west central Indiana.

    On the longer of these rides I began to notice the RD wasn’t particularly well suited to lazy touring through the countryside. The two stroke engine was peppy with a 10,000 rpm redline and a commensurate amount of vibration. It was one of the first race-capable production bikes - a crotch rocket before there was such a thing. It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say the RD was capable of vibrating my dental fillings out at idle… but not much. After thirty minutes the vibration would cause a tingling and numbing sensation in my hands which would slowly climb up my arms to the elbows, and if I rode long enough - all the way up to my shoulders. Unaware of my slight discomfort, Mel suggested that we go for a longer ride on a Saturday and I eagerly agreed. On the appointed day we rode south to Nashville, Indiana, and the bucolic hills of Brown County. It was beautiful scenery and an engaging ride but by the time we arrived home many hours later both my arms were completely numb. Of course, his CX500 was silky smooth without an ounce of vibration. I admired the CX for every trait my RD lacked. On my next visit to Mel’s I stood in his front yard staring intently at his motorcycle as we chatted.

    It was then and there that I had my first aspirational dream in life: Someday I wanted to own a smooth motorcycle and go on a long ride. I was seventeen years old.
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  5. JeepDawg

    JeepDawg Long timer

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    Like. I had a 73 Yamaha 100 and i been to Alaska a couple times. Keep it coming!
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  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I was fortunate to learn how to ride in a largely rural area with low or non-existent traffic. Still, mistakes were made and I learned the hard way. One day I was practicing cornering speeds through an “S” turn until I carried too much speed into the entry and went off the road into a corn field with four foot tall stalks hitting my knuckles until I came to a stop. The farmer said, “I was watching you and I knew that was going to happen”, but he helped me push the bike back to the road and didn’t charge me for the small amount of crop damage I’d caused.

    As my skills grew, so did my confidence. I took the RD “to the ton” a time or two. The parallel twin engine screamed at redline in fifth gear as the speedometer entered triple digits mere inches beneath my chin as I tucked onto the gas tank to minimize drag. Eventually I was scraping pegs through the curves underneath the Haunted Bridge. We were immortal as teenagers.

    rr bridge.jpg
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  7. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The scariest experience I ever had on the RD was my own fault. I kept the bike spotless and, in my overzealousness one day, applied Armor-All to the seat. Out on a ride shortly thereafter I gave the throttle a big pull to go from zero to sixty as quickly as possible and, instead, my ass slid out from underneath me! I was holding on for dear life with my chest on the seat, my feet past the rear taillights, and the more I attempted to pull myself up - the faster it went. I had one mile to the nearest stop sign to get this situation under control which I miraculously managed to do. Unintentional or not, it was scary enough to be my last reckless stunt on a motorcycle.
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  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Opposite the mistakes, the RD provided independence, freedom, and romance. It reliably took me to school and to work - relieving my parents from taking me or giving me the car. When I wasn’t at school or work the RD could take me anywhere I wanted to go. I remember one day after school I went east and got onto I-465 and rode the entire loop around Indianapolis in early rush hour with semi-trucks at full speed in the lane beside me. That’s crazy now that I think back on it but I felt completely comfortable with riding at that point.

    It probably wasn’t long after that ride around I-465 that I got my first serious girlfriend. Our relationship took awhile to develop but, like many in that high gas price era, her father owned a motorcycle of some sort - I really have no idea what it was. So it wasn’t out of the question the day I asked him if I could take his daughter for a ride on my motorcycle and he approved. At an age when we were just past the holding hands stage, words cannot describe the thrill of having my teenage love interest on a motorcycle seat with me. At that age it’s as physically intimate as you’ve ever been with a member of the opposite sex… her thighs are touching my hips, she has her hands wrapped around my waist trying to hold on but not so tight that her breasts touch my back. And, in the moment, what am I thinking about? Can I really let this clutch out slow enough and increase the throttle at just the right rate so that:

    1. I don’t stall it

    2. I don’t wheelie

    3. I don’t burn out the clutch

    4. I don’t embarrass myself in front of both her and her father
    She was wearing jeans, and if my memory is correct, a white oxford button-down shirt and a white helmet her father handed her. I don’t recall exactly where we went but we were gone less than an hour. And at every stop I was sweating bullets to get us off the line smoothly in first gear. Our combined weight was a bit over 250 lbs which the RD could easily handle once moving but the two stroke engine was geared high even for a single rider, let alone a pillion. It was the only motorcycle ride we ever took in the five years we spent together. The more time we spent traveling together in a car, the less I rode the RD.

    [Note: It would be inappropriate to post a picture of aforementioned girlfriend on the internet. Substitute here your own photographic memory of your first real lover. That will do.]

    Here's a favorite picture I have of Mel that touches upon the subject of feminine beauty.

    Mel pic3.jpg
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  9. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yeah, keep it coming.... A retired ex-cop helped me choose my first bike, a 2t Suzuki 250 "enduro". I was 17 and it was 1980. :)

    Was never quite badass enough for an RD. Not then, not now....
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  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Eventually the RD ended up in my garage, largely unridden, in the same state of dis-use I had acquired it. I took it with me to Phoenix when I moved there, but after nearly roasting alive at a stoplight in April of 1988, I put it in the classifieds and said goodbye to motorcycling for nearly 30 years. Here it is sitting in front of my '88 S-10 Blazer in Chandler, AZ. If you have been to the corner of Ray & Dobson Roads, you were within a few hundred yards of where my RD once resided.

    AZ RD.jpg
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  11. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Of course, we all know what followed: find woman, marry woman, have children, buy house, and raise children.

    Three of four children in 1997 at Sequoia NP.

    SequoiaNP.jpg

    First of three houses (the one with the Jeep Wrangler in the driveway). At the time I was a Scoutmaster and "the boys" decided it would be funny to "TP" my Brazilian Pepper tree.
    Glenmere.jpg .

    Speaking of the Wrangler - it's the primary reason I don't ride off-road. I got all that bouncing and shaking stuff out of my system in the Wrangler when I was younger. This is what the Butterfield Stagecoach/Mormon Battalion Trail area looked like twenty years ago. Box Canyon, Montana Mountain Rd, West Clear Creek, Pinal Peak, Cherry Creek road, ... yep, been there done that. Took my dad up to to Point of Pines lake once to go trout fishing - holy moly the last couple miles were bad.

    Butterfield.jpg
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  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    In twenty-eight years of not riding, I had never given any thought to riding again. In fact, I remember only once in all those years even acknowledging the existence of motorcycles - of all things, I saw a Honda PC800 in the late 90’s and thought it was a good looking bike.

    [​IMG]
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  13. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I’m almost ashamed to admit: It was Ewan and Charlie that renewed my interest in riding. While looking for something new on Netflix one winter’s day in 2015 I happened upon “Long Way Round”. My wife saw a clip and said, “Hey, that’s Ewan McGregor!” and my exact words were “Who’s Ewan McGregor?”. I’m not a movie guy and had not seen a Star Wars movie since the original three (‘77, ‘80, ‘83) but she’s a movie maven. Of course, my wife and kids knew Ewan McGregor and were more than willing to watch Obiwan Kenobi get his ass kicked by the Road of Bones.

    I had never heard of what these guys were doing - riding motorcycles around the world. It sounded crazy to me but it was quality entertainment during a cold winter. [In 2003 I left the warmth and sunshine of Arizona for Minnesota.]

    I followed up by watching “Long Way Down”. After that it was probably “Wild Hogs” although I don’t recall. And somewhere before all that was the Top Gear Vietnam Special. In that milieu I had a critical thought: You are 52 years old and if you ever want to ride a motorcycle again you better do it now because Father Time is counting down. Not long after that I was one shrubbery short in a landscaping project. The Harley dealer was next door to the source of my last juniperus pfitzeriana. I’m probably the only guy in America who took up riding again in middle age due to a shrubbery. But in that Harley dealership was a Street 500 and the salesman said the magic words, “We offer a new rider class.”

    [​IMG]


    After 28 years of not riding a motorcycle - a class is exactly what I needed. The community colleges offered the Basic Rider Course (BRC) but they used a hodge podge collection of bikes, some of which I knew I would not like riding even for short periods. But Harley uses the same style bike for every student and the Street 500 was close enough to my RD350 that I knew my aging body could handle it for 12 hours. Yes, twelve hours. From zero hours of required training in 1980 to twelve hours in 2016. There happened to be an opening in an upcoming class so I went home with my one shrubbery, got on the internet to study the permit test material, and made it to the DMV fifteen minutes before closing time to take the test. With a passing score the woman handed me my permit and I enrolled in the Harley Riding Academy.

    I didn’t know exactly what to expect in the Harley rider training program, but I showed up for the first night of class which, no surprise, contained a small amount of Harley propaganda and indoctrination. We were instructed to introduce ourselves and name our “Dream Harley”. I didn’t have a “Dream Harley”. I didn’t even like Harley Davidson motorcycles. Like a first-timer in an AA meeting I mumbled something like “My name is Mike and I don’t have a Dream Harley” and most of my classmates looked at me like I was a space alien. Fortunately, the instructors weren’t Harley riders and quickly moved on to the female student to my right.
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  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    At 8am on Saturday, June 25, 2016, I found myself in an elementary school parking lot for the BRC. I have not ridden a motorcycle in twenty-eight years. I’m not afraid... or, at least, not yet. Unlike most others in the class, I’ve ridden before… somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 miles on the RD decades earlier. I’ve sat on the Street 500 in the dealership. I’m immediately comfortable. It feels remarkably similar to the RD.

    But I'm also only a few months removed from the one and only panic attack in my entire life. Although I overcame the situation, it is as real today as the day it happened. It illustrates the level of anxiety one can experience in totally new settings. If you are reading solely for motorcycle content, you might want to skip ahead a few posts as I'm going on a detour.

    In the early winter of 2015/2016 my oldest son invited me to go skiing in Colorado with him. I had never really skied before aside from a couple field trips in junior high (1978) to the mountains of Greencastle, Indiana. Pleasant Run Hills had 150 feet of vertical and a two acre slope with four rope tows that cost $8. With no instruction, I fell on the bunny hill. My youthful pride demanded that I fall on something more respectful of my awesomeness... so to the rope tow headed to the very top I went... whereupon I discovered that I had made a very serious mistake. One hundred and fifty feet isn’t a very tall ski hill… unless you don’t know how to turn… or stop… essentially the only elements of skiing. There was no other way down so I pushed off and the speed began. The ground began to move beneath me and the wind began to whistle in my ears. It was nighttime and visibility was poor… or at least I think that’s why I didn’t see the two foot ramp of snow in the middle of the run that launched me into the air. Like a cat, I landed feet down but my ass was now resting on my skies - and the ground was moving even faster beneath me. More concerning was the line of people stretched across the bottom of the run waiting for the rope tow who were directly in my line of travel. Like a torpedo headed for a ship - I was going to do some damage. In that instant I realized my only escape was to roll over and save the innocent. And that’s what I did. Just like the time my brother put me in the dryer for a few spins, I have no idea how many times I rolled - three - four - five, but unlike the dryer I had snow packed in every orifice of my body.

    It was against this background of successful skiing experience that I told my son, “Sure, I’ll go skiing with you in Colorado.” We agreed on Loveland Ski Area as our destination. The roles now reversed, on the appointed morning he dropped me off at Ski School while he went to the big mountain where the adults played. I told the woman at the desk I was there for “Never, Ever Ski Lessons” and she had me fill out a form and sign a liability release. Legalities out of the way, the woman waived me forward into the rental room where a young woman installed boots on my feet. She pointed me to a short line for skis and, as I stood up, I saw this 20x20 square foot room had filled with four and five year old kids and a few mothers. At this point the lunacy of my endeavor struck me hard and over the din of one hundred pre-school children an impromptu tape began playing in my head:
    “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
    YOU ARE FIFTY-TWO YEARS OLD!
    YOU ARE GOING TO BREAK A LEG!
    NO - YOU ARE GOING TO BREAK BOTH YOUR LEGS!
    NO YOU’RE NOT - YOU’RE GOING TO KILL YOURSELF!
    WHAT THE F_CK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING!

    My heart was beating faster than it ever had before in my entire life and I was sweating profusely. Never in my life had I experienced true panic - but THIS WAS IT.

    I was saved from this destructive monologue by a Geppetto-looking fellow behind the counter who motioned me forward. “How are you?”, he asked. I replied, “Honestly, I’m scared shitless” which caught him off guard. His eyes rose from the paper I had slid across the counter and he pushed his glasses up from the end of his nose. Giving me the once over from top to bottom, he said, “You’re going to be fine.” With those words, my heart rate returned to normal. He stepped away to get some skis, adjusted the bindings while I regained my composure, and pointed me toward the flag outside where I was to wait for my class to start.

    Like all chairlifts at Loveland Ski Area, even the one shown here in the learning area does not have a safety retaining bar. In retrospect, I don't know which was scarier - being on skis or being on the chairlift.

    LLBBH.jpg

    He was right. I was fine. By the end of the day I was skiing a Blue with my son and several classes ahead of Never Ever Skied. Notwithstanding my quick progression, in my class of six adults there was a woman about forty who had been doing fine. We got off the chairlift for the fifth or sixth time and as we waited at the top of the bunny hill for the rest of the class she inexplicably had a full blown panic attack of such intensity that she could not descend the hill.

    Even after getting comfortable on skis, it took me a lot of rides on chairlifts (some without safety retaining bars) to feel comfortable being 70 feet off the ground with mere gravity holding me in place. And rather quickly I got comfortable with being places I never imagined I would be.

    Kaboom.jpg

    There’s a dozen of us in this Riding Academy class. Who in this class is going to be overwhelmed by the stress and have a panic attack? Is it going to be me? Is it going to be one of the other men or women who have never piloted a motorcycle previously? It doesn’t help that it is raining on day two of riding class.

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Harley loyalist hate, and I do mean HATE the Street series. Aside from the V-twin engine, it is everything the faithful despise: a chrome-less, water cooled, standard riding position, shake-less motorcycle. It is, in short, the antithesis of a Harley Davidson motorcycle which is exactly why I am here. I’m not a Harley guy. (Warning: Never say never.)

    The first morning on the range I made certain to select a bike with a Tall Seat to be more comfortable. (Harley Streets come with three seat height options: Low, Std, Tall.) It had been twenty-eight years since I had last piloted a motorcycle. To my amazement, In less than fifteen minutes it all came back to me.

    In the intervening years I taught two sons and two daughters how to drive a car. With them I consistently relied on one word in my instruction: smooth. I addressed whatever uncertainties I had about learning to ride again with the same instruction to myself: be smooth letting off the clutch, be smooth applying the throttle, apply the brakes smoothly, lean into the curves smoothly.

    There’s a dozen of us students and two instructors, both over the age of sixty-five and the most important of the two - the woman is a state certified inspector. After four more hours of practicing drills she’ll be the assessor for the riding test that absolves me from repeating said test at the DMV.

    Having successfully passed the riding test with minimal loss of points, I made a trip to the DMV to turn in my stamped permit. Two and a half months and two more trips to the DMV later, my motorcycle endorsed drivers license finally showed up in the mail - just in time for winter as the paperwork had gotten lost. Motorcycling would need to wait until next year.
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  16. swimmer

    swimmer armchair asshole

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    Really enjoying your delivery. Great writing.
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  17. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The motorcycle world had changed drastically in the decades I had been away. Segments had formed and the UJM was virtually non-existent or non-recognizable. Suffice to say, I eventually settled on the Toyota Camry of motorcycles - a Suzuki VStrom 650. Before long the farkling was complete.
    VStrom pic1.jpg
    #17
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  18. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I enjoyed riding the VStrom and considered it a more than competent bike to re-learn how to ride. I enjoyed watching YouTube videos, reading ADVRider, and listening to the Adventure Rider Radio podcast. In no time at all I began to plot and conspire to ride the VStrom to Alaska. I began taking longer and longer rides culminating in a roundtrip ride in 2018 to my hometown near Indianapolis. This was the longest motorcycle ride of my life - roughly 720 miles each way. The route down was the Great River Road with a diversion onto my favorite road in Iowa, C9Y. Unfortunately, it had started raining about 30 minutes south of Winona MN and, the further south I went, the harder it rained. Much of C9Y is concrete with grass growing in the seams. It wasn't the ideal ride I had imagined but it built character.

    If you are ever near Dubuque IA and have a couple hours to spare - head north on C9Y and enjoy. It may not be the best road you've ever ridden/driven, but hey, it's Iowa.

    Effigy_Mounds.jpg bridge.jpg C9Y.jpg
    #18
  19. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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    Wonderful start.
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  20. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    I had never planned to ride straight through to Indianapolis from Minneapolis, but neither did I plan a specific overnight point. I would stop when I was ready to stop. Until I had turned off of US52 and onto C9Y, the rain had been steady but light and the temperature was in the high 60's - manageable riding with decent gear. But once onto C9Y the heavens opened in typical Midwest fashion, the temperature dropped ten degrees, and the road I had dreamed of riding more than any other had turned into what my former Boy Scouts would have termed a "death march". I stuck it out 50 miles past Dubuque where I pulled into a Super8 in DeWitt just as the storm receded.

    I was greeted inside by Mr.Patel. As he processed the registration paperwork I inquired where he was from originally and he said, "Bangalore". I mentioned that I had just been to Bangalore and his face lit up. He asked me a few questions and we had a pleasant exchange as he handed me the room key. I went to the room and stripped off a few layers of gear before going back out to bring in the panniers. I was met in the hallway by Mrs.Patel who insisted that I leave my motorcycle parked underneath the canopy next to the front door. Being rural Iowa I felt the VStrom would be safe enough in a normal parking spot. I'm not certain that Mrs. Patel ever forgave that slight.

    If you've never been to an undeveloped or a developing country with a high population density, it is impossible to comprehend from a North American viewpoint. India, for example, has four times the population of the USA in one third the area. I saw things there that effected me for months afterward. Traffic is unfathomable. A seven mile commute was 75 minutes.

    038_Bangalore.jpg

    After living a life largely devoted to God, I gave up religion at age forty for reasons too long to explain here. But just months after completing the Basic Riding Course and putting motorcycle riding back in my future, I found myself on the opposite side of the globe at a Hindu temple. Now, I'm not saying I'm a Believer but with all the people in India on scooters and motorcycles there might just be something to those Hindu gods.

    038a_India.jpg

    I left India wanting to go back some day and ride a motorcycle to the top of the Himalayas. There is the Dalton, the Dempster, Canol, the Trans-Labrador and others - but I don't think anything in North America would compare to riding Ladakh.
    #20
    motofshr, SuhoMeso, PvtPts and 17 others like this.