Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cruising on Two Wheels

The last few days Dawn and I took a short break from thinking about boat stuff to get our motorcycles out of storage and take them for a 2-day romp through the hill country of Southeastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Our adventures over our 15 years together have taken many forms, and motorcycling has been a major one since 2008. That was the year I bought my 1985 BMW K100RS in Aspen, Colorado, largely because Dawn could comfortably ride on the back (unlike my earlier Yamaha FZ600). In 2009-2010, I made a 14,680 mile trip around the circumference of the Lower 48 states in multiple stages, and Dawn rode on the back for some 5000-odd miles of it and really enjoyed it. Later in 2010, my good friend Brad Phillips and I were planning a trip to Alaska and back for summer 2011, and Dawn gave her permission but wanted to come along. "Ah, gee, honey - two people and all our stuff for a month on one bike would be kinda tough" - to which she suggested she get her motorcycle license and her own bike! Which is exactly what she proceeded to do. We bought her 2005 Yamaha FZ6 in Portland, OR (where the Alaska trip was departing from), and when we took off in June 2011 she had all of six days of street riding experience under her belt thanks to a run down the West Coast to Napa and back we did over her Spring Break that year. Dawn did great on the 6500+ miles of the Alaska ride and has been an avid rider since - these days, she puts more miles per year on her Yamaha than I do on the BMW.

When we embarked on the "sell everything and go sailing" plan, "everything" originally included the motorbikes. But then we decided we would come back to MN and live with family during the first hurricane season down south (when the boat will live on land), and it made sense to keep the bikes since we'll be back north during prime riding season. For now we're keeping them in a nearby storage unit, and this fall they'll go to Dawn's brother's garage for the winter. Sadly, we haven't got much use out of them this year - there's been precious little time between Delta keeping me busy flying, boat purchase and now refit trips, etc. When we were getting our saddlebags and camping equipment out of the mini-storage space in the basement of our apartment building, Dawn somewhat reproachfully said "You know, you get really gung-ho for one hobby, go full out for a year or two, and then move onto the next big thing." Ouch! She's not exactly wrong. I do have a pretty wide variety of hobbies & interests. It's not like I lost interest in motorcycling, but my passions for flying small planes and sailing have both blossomed over the last few years, and we continued to travel fairly extensively during that time as well. There's only so many days in the year, and well, some of those we have to work. Now that we've committed to cruising nearly-full-time for several seasons, pretty much everything else is getting shoved aside. That's not a bad thing. This is a big undertaking and it deserves our full attention. But I'm going to have to be a lot more single-minded and not "move onto the next big thing."

I've put nearly 50,000 miles on the BMW since I bought it (it's close to turning over 100k miles - these old BMWs are known for running pretty much forever), and so it didn't take long to get back into the groove once we got back out on the road. Our little two-day, 450-mile trip reminded me just how much I enjoy motorcycling once I actually get out and do it. But it occurred to me last night, while we sat in a small-town Wisconsin tavern eating dinner and sipping New Glarus Spotted Cow ales, that my enjoyment of motorcycling, flying small planes, international travel, and sailing/cruising are all different sides of the same (apparently 4-sided) coin. They're all adventurous ways to get out and explore the most beautiful corners of our diverse, fascinating world and meet a wide variety of interesting people while doing so. Cruising will allow us to do this in a much more in-depth and unhurried fashion than we're used to, and that prospect has me really excited.

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