This, my third ride report, is my contribution to stave off North America's motorcycle off-season. Getting this post started seemed like a good way to pass the day, especially as I look out my window at single digit temperatures and six inches of fresh snow. Although I enjoy reading real-time reports from other inmates, my personal en route patience and temperament would not allow it. This RR is from a trip ridden this past late July and into September. Needless to say, I survived the trip (and aftermath) and write this from the journal notes I had kept during the ride. I will try to update this report on a timely basis, interspersed with my best photographs, to keep my audience on the edge of their saddles. This RR briefly introduces my early infatuation with motorcycling, and then picks up the travelogue after retirement, as I embark on my transcontinental adventure, including the Alaskan Highway. Join me during a 12,000 mile journey over two months... The bike The route Introduction I was ten years old when my neighbor took me for a ride around the block on the back of his Honda CB175. My street had a very steep incline that I dreaded pedaling on my single gear bicycle, but strap on a motor and everything changed. I will never forget the sensation of that little twenty horsepower Honda powering so effortlessly up that hill. Even as a passenger, the noise, the wind, the entire experience was intoxicating. I could not imagine a more perfect mode of transportation. I had tasted a two-wheeled internal combustion cocktail, and I craved more. On my sixteenth birthday, I stood in line at the DMV for my learner's permit. A week later, I made a formal presentation to my parents to ask for permission to pour my meager life savings into a used motorcycle. They tried to dissuade me, but I was persistent, and after a month of incessant lobbying, they finally relented. My first motorcycle was a blue Kawasaki H-1 500cc two-stroke, that I bought for $700 off the estate of the man that died on it. I was told he had lost control on an exit ramp and slid into a guardrail. I hid that dark secret from my parents. The damage to the bike from the crash was relatively minor and I successfully negotiated a "death discount" off the sale price. The maniacal H-1 The Japanese engineers that designed that motorcycle for the American market were evidently seeking revenge for the events of WWII. That three cylinder Kawasaki had the temperament and manners of a deranged maniac, and it is a miracle that I survived that first summer. Reasonably docile until the RPMs hit 5,000, the bike would take off like a scalded cat, trailing foul blue smoke from the triple exhaust. The acceleration tempted you to do stupid things. I once buzzed a Mercury Cougar with out-of-state license plates on a winding road and unwittingly triggered a major case of road rage. After we both ran multiple stop signs, I knew he was fully invested in rearranging my face. This was the only time in my life I rode as if my life depended on it. With home court advantage, I eventually lost him in the maze of residential streets near my parents' house. That Kawasaki was an exhilarating terror. If you twisted the throttle with abandon, the front wheel lifted off the ground. If you rode it gently, the spark plugs had a tendency to foul. The gas mileage was atrocious; it had a range of maybe 120 miles. That first summer, long before I fully understood the danger (what's ATGATT?), I routinely rode in a T-shirt and jeans, and once on a hundred miles of highway from Cape Cod to Boston in a torrential downpour...with compromised tires. It was an unmistakable example of the infallible invincibility of adolescence. Eventually, the H-1 bit its master and high-sided me on a reverse camber, damp curve in Cambridge. It was my first experience with a tank-slapper, and the steering wobble felt as if it was orchestrated by the devil himself. After the scabs and psychological scars healed, I decided that it was time for a proper four-stroke power plant. Even possessing only the partially developed frontal cortex of an eighteen-year-old, I was determined not to end up as this psychopath's second homicide. After two years of shoveling driveways and cutting lawns, I had replenished my savings. I sold the H-1 to an unsuspecting middle-aged guy. In the Spring of 1976, I searched the Want-Ads and test rode a Norton Combat Commando 850, a Honda 750/4, and a BMW R75/5. All were a few years from new, but nevertheless in great shape. What four-stroke muscle. Jump on the throttle and you enjoyed predictable, linear power; close the throttle and the engine compression allowed deceleration without touching the brakes. These bikes were the top of the food chain and were wet-dream material for a twenty-year-old. The black and gold Norton was too cool for words but seemed untrustworthy for the long trips I envisioned. Even standing still at idle, the motor tried to shake out of its frame. The four cylinder Honda performed flawlessly during the test ride, but lacked a soul. Perhaps the machine was just too perfect. But the BMW hit a chord. The Teutonic Beemer's odd horizontal cylinder heads, shaft drive, and build-quality spoke to me. For the princely sum of $1,500, I bought a five-year-old jet black BMW (frame #2980971) with 18,000 miles on the clock, white hand-lettered pin stripping, and an oversized 6.3 gallon gas tank that promised me the horizon. The kiln-fired porcelain roundels on the tank exuded European craftsmanship. A used set of English Craven saddle bags, French Marchal driving light, and US made handlebar-mounted Wixom fairing were soon added. That motorcycle became my new adolescent obsession. One memorable trip included riding back to Boston from D.C. over college Thanksgiving break. I attempted to insulate from the bone-chilling cold by circling my long-underwear-clad limbs and torso with clear plastic wrap that I "liberated" from the dorm cafeteria. Years later, I rode that Beemer to grad school, Boston to Chicago, north of Lake Erie in two days. Not exactly Iron Butt Association worthy, but nevertheless adventurous for a twenty-one-year-old kid riding on skinny tube tires and drum brakes. That bike was a rock. I serviced it myself and drove it year round for thirteen years and eventually added 50,000 trouble free miles to the odometer. Back in the day when I had hair Marriage and child quelled the motorcycle fever. In the quest for adrenaline, I took up recreational flying, yet decided after the birth of my son to never introduce him to motorcycling. I carefully redacted any photographs of my proud grin astride my H-1 or /5. My son and I bonded over cars and sports and Pokémon, but never the "off limits" world of motorcycles.