Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Get on your bike, and ride!

This week, the weather warmed considerably and I was able to get back on my motorcycle – well to be truthful, Margo’s motorcycle – and drove it out of Windsor, Colorado down to Loveland, Colorado. We have leased a 1000 square foot heated facility where we can lockup all of our toys. The “shoes” we wrote about, in our last post, has seen new tires mounted to the wheels of the Corvette and along with the trailer the Corvette and motorcycle will welcome this facility as their new home. And it really is only a handful of miles away and is a vast improvement over where we had previously stored out RV and trailer. Oh yes, in time, the RV too will join the rest of the vehicles in this facility as soon as all the winter maintenance and repairs under way with the RV are completed. 

Getting back on the motorcycle and picking up once again from where I had left off last year, was enjoyable. I don’t what it is about riding a motorcycle but it certainly is outside of the ordinary. Helmet firmly tightened and my reinforced riding jacket and my much-loved boots brought back memories of so many rides over the past twenty years here in the US. Our sole motorcycle is a Yamaha V Star 1100 that is close to being the smallest motorcycle we have owned and yet as a middleweight cruiser, it is easy enough to maneuver and while down on power and weight, is proving to be a fun ride!  

There is a lot of history behind the photograph headlining this post and taken during the last months we spent residing in our former home in Niwot. The Honda and the Yamaha depicted – what are referred to as metric cruisers – have covered a lot of miles. As for the ride this week, properly attired as I was, getting back onto the saddle for a late winters day ride was not only enjoyable and memorable but having just celebrated another birthday, let me briefly relive my past in a way that surprised me. Someone once said you never forget how to ride a bike and for me, this seems so obvious. From my late teens into early adulthood, I have been riding motorcycles on two contents – on the left side of the road on one continent and on the right side for the other. Surprises? It was if years indeed decades just fell away!

Experience, they say, is everything. And in my early days, I learned a lot – whoever said, slow in, fast out, never gave me this message or taught me how to handle corners – and tore up a lot of clothing. I learnt the hard way and for a short period of time, riding in Sydney, I owned a Honda sports bike and a Yamaha moped (with the moped acting as my backup) but even so, there was a brief time where both modes of transportation were in the shop being straightened. So much for having a Plan B – ever tried taking off your glove while on a moped? Not recommended …

The big Honda depicted above was traded for the Mini Roadster just a few years ago. What a change – as a ragtop two seater and the smallest Mini on the road – we still enjoy the wind in our hair even as we have the A/C running and the satellite radio tuned to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville radio station. I loved that big, almost two-liter, Honda as my very first motorcycle had been that Honda sports bike although this model, a late 1960s “250cc” Honda CB72. Weighing almost nothing when compared with today’s sports bikes, it would barely be given a second glance by todays riders. And in the days when highways in Australia were not regulated or policed, I was able to pull 100 mph across on the top of Wollongong’s Mount Ousley Road. Yes, for two years, I commuted between my northern suburbs Sydney home and the steelworks in Wollongong where I was a “Computer Cadet” on a two year apprenticeship in technology. 

But those days ended when I took my first job in IT that had me working out of an office in the Sydney CBD. I sold that Honda after one really big shunt that had my father pull me aside to tell me, that’s enough! So, no more Honda CB72! Fast forward some thirty years and there I was, freshly married to perhaps the most adventurous young lady I have ever known who bluntly informed that if I was going to get another motorcycle then she would be getting one, too. Where we do we get lessons? This was all the way back in 1999 but we waited until late 2000 before we summoned enough courage for each of us to buy a motorcycle.

When you step onto a motorcycle and venture out onto America’s highways you immediately immerse yourself in an entirely different culture. The biggest, meanest, most-tattooed biker, coming towards you, will lift his hand from the handlebars and give you a friendly wave as he passes by. When it comes time to refill the gas tank, other bikers will wonder across for quick, “howdy,” oftentimes flash an even bigger smile as Margo removed her helmet, and ask quite politely (at times), what bike is that? Do you ride it?

Kitted out and all dressed up, as Margo had had her Yamaha customized to her taste, and dressed in full rider’s leathers as was he custom, they would ask, “do you really ride it?” Back in the early 2000s you rarely saw a woman riding a cruiser but today, they are everywhere you turn. So much for twenty years of riding as the lone, “lady of the lanes!” But just as it was when Margo took the Corvette on track, a day riding the bike was an opportunity to clear the head and distance yourself from the cares of the day! Once astride the motorcycle, staying alive was the sole order of the day!

Times are changing. We are now grandparents and there is a lot of time devoted to helping out with three youngsters under five. And with responsibilities comes caution and so the days of riding the Colorado front ranges are coming to an end even as still enjoy every ride I take no matter how long the road. Perhaps the Yamaha and the Mini are destined to be replaced by something that is a cross between both as we still keep a watchful eye on the Slingshot trikes that we often see touring the mountains. But it is still not a firm consideration at this point and until any decision is made on the front, I will keep taking advantage of any sunny days to go for a ride!

I recently read in Fortune Magazine of an executive of Adobe stating that “we are the CEOs of our own ideas” and I really warmed to this observation. In our daily lives, Margo and I continue to set an agenda that allows us both a lot of freedom. As a writer and do need to read and I do need to converse with others. And I do need to “take it all in,” as it were, as there really isn’t any other way to prepare to write – innovation takes many forms and creativity has many guises but it all takes work. And I have so many ideas …

We used to have a saying in technology about “garbage in / garbage out” and today I know it applies equally well to the work I do for my clients. Coming up with the story lines is always a challenge but getting out and about on America’s highways, no matter the mode of transportation, is by my reckoning the best formula for ensuring there is only minimal “garbage out.” One big idea I have is to make sure we see the West Coast from top to bottom and with a couple of business meetings coming up, this may just work out but no, the motorcycle will have to stay in storage for that trip.

On the other hand, we may not be covering as much distance as we did last year but even as we pull out the maps and begin to set plans in motion, I have my fingers crossed that there is still one more great ride to come! We have the Rockies just a stone’s throw away and there are still backcountry roads not ridden. And the Yamaha just needs a minor tune as winter transitions to spring but after that, well I hear the highway calling! With my atop the motorcycle and Margo behind the wheel of the Mini, roof retracted, we should make a fine pair. And yes, to my fellow riders, of course, for 2018 – ride safe!

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