Happy Birthday to me. Today I turn 51. I have been at this blog now for a full year and I have been riding again just a little bit less than a year. In that time I have added five states to the total number that I have ridden a motorcycle in, I have ridden about a dozen different types of motorcycles and I have experienced the thrill of several thousand miles of wind therapy.
This year I added Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana to the list of states that I've traveled through on a motorcycle. I could've added Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia by making a simple turn and going a few miles, but I wasn't going to take the easy way of crossing those states off. Each of these states has their own set of motorcycle laws covering things like helmets, safety gear, and pipe volume but other than that it was the road condition and the intelligence of the other folks on the road that made each one unique.
This year I rode these Hondas: Silverwing 500 & 650, Shadow 700 & 750, and GoldWing 1800. I also put a few miles on these Harley Davidson's: Elektra Glide Ultra Glide, Road King, Street King Ultra, Cross Bones, and Trike. Each bike had their own pluses and minuses. Each brand also had their own quirks. Most of this diversity in riding was not due to the desire of adding numbers but more to give me a flavor of what bikes were out there to help me choose my next one. The three bikes I had the most time on for my Silverwing, the GoldWing 1800, and the Road King. In the end my choice matrix actually adds a bike I have never been on into the mix purely for chrome reasons. So, my narrowed down list is: the Honda GoldWing 1800, the Honda Valkyrie, and the Harley Electra Glide Ultra Glide.
To the best of my estimation I am somewhere over 4000 miles of riding for this season. The variety of roads I've been on is massive. Busy cities (including Washington DC and Chicago), out in the middle of nowhere country roads, well-known motorcycle touring routes, not so wide known motorcycle touring routes, agricultural areas, historical sites, lakeside, oceanside, tunnels, bridges, and my own driveway. Surfaces I have ridden on include blacktop, pavement, concrete, cobblestone, chip and seal, and the one I hate: gravel. in all those miles I suffered one fall, at very low speed, and with minimal damage due to gravel.
I have met some really nice people both online and on the road who generously shared their knowledge, experiences, and advice. I have met a number of people willing to provide mentorship on-the-fly and to be supportive when I needed it. There are some really great folks doing it on two wheels in that environment by itself tends to create an immediate commraderie between riders.
I now ride in Harley boots, leather chaps, Cordura and leather jacket, have a leather vest with colors, a helmet with Bluetooth intercom and connectivity, and gloves. None of which I even owned a year ago, but all of which have proven their extreme value every time I mount Blue Highway Spirit.
I think one of the most remarkable comments I've had made to me in recent days was from somebody who's been reading this blog since the beginning, but whom I have never met face-to-face . It was after my Virginia Adventure when I got an e-mail from them that said that I had dramatically changed since I started all of this. They went on to tell me that I seemed more at ease, more relaxed, and happy. I thought that was a pretty deep perception for someone who's never met me but only read the words that I leave here.
So as I start my second year, I look forward to getting a newer bike with a bit more power and to the new roads that are waiting for me to discover them. But then, I still have at least a month left of this riding season for some really intense wind therapy.