“That rain cell out at 11:00 o’clock is directly over our route,” I said to Richard over our helmet intercoms as we approached the intersection of I-77 and Route 460 near Princeton, WV. “I think a check of the radar might be a good idea.”
We were only 45 minutes from Blacksburg, VA, the end of our journey. Our inclination was to keep riding and “plow through” whatever it was, given we were so close to home. Our better judgement won over and we stopped and pulled on our rain gear one more time. It was a nasty little cell. It began with just a shower, then suddenly all hell broke loose. Cars pulled to the side of the road to wait it out. We put on our emergency flashers and kept rolling. The drops got bigger then it hailed. The hail lasted only long enough for me to momentarily watch the little marbles bounce on the highway and wonder how they might affect my traction with the road—- then it stopped.
So, that last bit of weather excitement a few miles from home added to a most memorable adventure that took us across 19 states and provinces during 30 days (Check out the different Legs of the trip: Leg 1, Leg 2, Leg 3). During the journey we traveled 7,511 miles; we stopped for gas 55 times, and BOXXER consumed 156 gallons at a total cost of $452.00 at an average of $2.90 per gallon. Average mpg over the entire travel was 48.3.
I once saw a list of reasons why travel is good for us: It keeps the mind sharp; enhances creativity; boosts mental health; broadens one’s perspective; increases connection to others and self. I agree that it does all those things, but there’s more: It increases self-confidence by having to deal with unexpected situations; it can be very educational as it was for us as we visited many national park sites; it gives us experiences and certain moments to remember; we make new friends; and it makes us appreciate family and home.
Another thing it allowed me to do was reconnect with my friend and colleague, Richard. At a previous motorcycle rally, I attended a seminar given by a long-distance motorcycling guide. He had a list of ten requirements for a successful long-distance ride that included: Bike in good shape, all paperwork and inspections current and legal, riding gear and helmet, good raingear, complete tool set, prescription meds, passport and IC of E information, maps and GPS for navigation, fix-a-flat tools———–you get the picture. “Now the tenth and most important thing you need to do,” he said, “is choose your riding companions carefully.”
I worked with Richard for 34 years. We share the same profession (forestry), politics, and personal and family values, but I had never ridden with him. Thirty days in close quarters and constant contact is a long time if you really don’t want to be with someone. And on a trip like this, you need to look out for each other. Nor did I know much about his motorcycle, a BMW K1200GT. “Is this journey advisable or possible?” I wondered.
Not to worry. Even at age 75, Richard was physically fit, skilled, and always in good humor. He kept me laughing on the road with his constant commentary on just about everything, some of which could not be shared with polite company. We were good friends at the beginning of the trip and I am happy to say we still are. He was a great riding buddy and companion.
“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.”——--Horizons Unlimited