Loyal readers know that I completed my five-day bucket-list motorcycle ride in Utah. We rode 1,244 total miles (sounds more when you say 2,002km). Some people have asked me, “did you ride your own bike?” Others asked, “why did you do it?” and finally others asked, “is this the first of many more adventures to come?”
I learned a lot of things on this ride. When you are riding alone for long stretches, you have a lot of time to think. Unlike some others, I do not distract myself with music on an iPod. All I heard was the wind and roar of my rental Harley’s 107cu (1,753cc) engine.
To begin recounting what I learned…
1. I cannot ride long distances alone. It is some 2,300 miles from where I live to Salt Lake City. A ride that far all alone is crazy (for me to consider.)
2. I have limited myself to no more than 200 miles/day before this ride, and while on the ride, averaged 250 miles/day. For me, that is a LOT. What, specifically, did I learn? Stock Harley seats suck! We had to stop, dismount, take a break (and for me, take Excedrin) about once an hour. My butt is sore, sore, sore and will take a long time to recover.
3. Because I do not want to ride more than an average of 250 miles/day, it would take me over nine days to ride TO Salt Lake City from home, ride five days, work-meeting five days, and take another nine days to get back. No way I can take that much time off work, or be away from my spouse that long. A rental Harley is what would work for me.
4. Why did I do this ride? a) truly a bucket-list — I have been talking about visiting the “Mighty Five” National Parks of Southern Utah for years; b) I am not getting any younger — it gets exponentially harder to ride a heavyweight motorcycle with each month (it seems) as I age — so it was “now or never.” and finally c) I had a business meeting in Salt Lake City anyway, and it is unlikely that I will ever come back — so again, it was a matter of convenient opportunity.
5. Is this the first of more adventures to come? No. Most important lesson — I enjoyed this ride and feel a sense of successful accomplishment (or relief), but doing something like this long ride again is testing fate. I almost died on Friday while riding on narrow, monsoon-slick roads with no guard rails and 1,000-ft drop-offs on either side. I got through it, because (as “S” said), I had to. I will not put myself in that situation again.
More self-taught lessons:
6. The new Harley Milwaukee-Eight 107cu engine is too big and too heavy for me. Thus, I learned that I will not buy a new Harley. The 2008 Harley I own with its smaller 96cu (1,573cc) engine will be lovingly maintained and I will keep it until either it dies or I can’t ride any more. But after this current bike, I’m done.
7. The new Harleys handle heat better than previous models, but that is not enough to convince me to buy a new one.
8. I can live in one pair of boots for five hard days of riding. Amazing for a guy who ordinarily changes boots several times a day.
9. I can wear the same pair of pants again, but not underwear 🙂
10. If you don’t want to ride at the posted interstate highway speed limit of 80mph (130kph) and feel more comfortable going 60mph (95kph), ride your own ride at your preferred speed. People who want to go faster will pass and that’s fine. Only a few jerks honked and gave me the finger, but most folks just passed me when they had a chance.
11. My riding partner “S” was the best — very gentle, accommodating of my nervousness, slower speed riding style, and need for frequent breaks. We developed a brotherly friendship and felt like we were old friends forever rather quickly. I cherish our relationship, his style, wit, and encouragement. I could not have completed this ride without him.
12. I guess there is more — there is always more — but these are the lessons that I recall for now. I assume at some future point, I will have more memories to share.
Life is short: ride your own ride at your own pace.