Friday, March 25, 2016

Helmet Laws

I’ve been riding across the United States for the past few months trying to ride in every state, I’ve worked it down to only 8 states. I’ve been bouncing back and forth across the Ohio River for a day and a half before making it to Cave in Rock, Illinois. From here I’m running up the Mississippi for a couple of days, I stop in the little town Anna for fuel. While I was having a snack at the pump, a couple on a new 2015 Electra Glide pull up for fuel next to me. They see my Montana plates and ask how the ride down was, I tell them about my ride across the country. He starts telling me some things around there I should see, she stops him, asking me if I’ve ridden the Ozarks yet. He smiles and say that’s definitely where I should ride. I ask “Where are they?” he says “Turn left here on Route 3, turn right on Route 60, then left on Route 65 and you’ll be entering the Ozarks.  We say goodbyes, they head east, I head south.
 I’ve been flying down Route 60 for about 30/40 minutes, enjoying the sun, warm breeze, and the increasing curves. Next thing I know, I hear that dreadful sound coming up behind me, yes he’s behind me lights a flashing. I pull to the side, put the stand down, shut her off, put my hands to my side and wait. He catches me off guard by not asking if I know why he pulled me over. He looks at me says I clocked you at 87 mph in a 65 mph, I paced you at 78 mph in a 65 mph. But the main reason I pulled you over is we have Helmet Laws here!
 A look of shock comes over my face as I ask “What state am I in? He looks with a look of disbelief and say’s I’m in Missouri. While shaking my head, I ask if I can get into my touring pack, he says “Fine. I pull out my atlas, open it to Missouri revealing my writing saying Helmet Law. It’s at that point I say “Damn, it says it right here Helmet Law. He looks at me with disbelief. I give over my license and registration as I’m trying to figure out how I ended up riding in a state with a helmet law without knowing it.
 After some time, he returns with his clipboard which is never a good sign. He starts with a question, Where are you riding from? I tell him about getting laid off while working in Montana and deciding to see the country instead of being snowed in a hotel in Montana. He says “Riding is a much better place, then he says “This is what I did, I only gave you a ticket for 5 mph over but I couldn’t let you off on the helmet ticket, but don’t worry, it’s only $15 and does not carry any points. I gave him a Ride With Dirk card so he could keep up with my travels, he said he would be glad to follow. It was at this point I remember how I ended up in Missouri without a helmet. I told him about my hearing of a great road to ride and changing direction to ride said road. He gives a small chuckle, nod of the head, and walks back to his car.
 After crossing into Arkansas, I stop at the first gas station to remove the helmet and top off the tank. As I’m filling, I realize that there are motorcycles everywhere, including the three that just pulling into the pumps. I put the cap on the tank and walk around the pumps to the first couple that pull in. It being Friday, I ask if there is a rally in town this weekend.  He and his woman look up in shock. He asks “You're not in town for BBB?”  I ask “What’s that?”  They look at each other as he says “It’s Bikes, Blues, and BBQ. I tell them I’ve just been riding across country. Now the rest of their group walk over to us, he tells them that I just happened across the rally, to their chagrin.  I start questioning the best roads to ride in the area, without a doubt the consensus was Route 123. They say locals call it the Arkansas Tail of the Dragon. Having completed it now, I would definitely say a great road worth the drive.  It even has a couple of surprising 15 mph turns that could catch you off guard if you’re not paying complete attention.
 The day has been on a steady climb for late September, I’m realizing its rather hot. After finishing the Arkansas Dragon, I find myself thirsty and hungry so I pull into the first gas station that has food. I top off and head inside, standing in line, I start looking at my choices. Then I see it, they have Fried Frog Legs on the menu. Yes, I ordered a dozen frog legs from a gas station, and I must say they were awesome.  I grab an ice cream as I head to the register to pay. Standing outside eating my Klondike bar, leaning against a post and watching the people come and go, sitting in the rocking chairs are a couple of ladies, one is chatting it up with a lady as she passes. Off to the side are three guys watching the ladies, as the one lady finishes their conversation. The lady walks away and one of the guys asks “Do you know everybody? She replied “Yes, I say “You don’t know me, she looks up and says I’m Debbie. Laughing, I say “My name is Dirk.”  He just shakes his head laughing.  Then she says “We’re heading to get a beer. do you want to go? While standing, leaning against the pole, I raise my arm look at my watch shrug my shoulders and say sure.
 They start heading to their bikes as I finish my ice cream. I walk over, climb on mine and ride over to where they are parked, she says I didn’t know you were on a bike.” I ask “What did you think I was going to do, follow you in a pickup truck?”  she shrugs her shoulders.  As they gather, we have the talker Debbie and her husband Wade. From there, it’s Rick and Astrid, Pam, David and they’re still looking for Max. Finally, Max strolls out of the gas station getting in line. They roll out with me bringing up the tail, 30 minutes later and one wrong turn, we arrive at the bar. As we put the stands down Debbie starts going over how they have become plus one.

 We walk into the bar, finding it is just opening, after some confusion
on the bartender’s part we get drinks. From there, we gather and they start telling me about their trip from Texas so far. After a couple of drinks, they decide it’s time to go for a ride, so I decide to hang with them for a while. They spent the rest of the day showing me their favorite roads. As we rode through the Ozark Mountains, changing positions, passing back and forth, talking as we rode, the day turned to night. Finding us in Eureka Springs, sitting at the Cathouse, having a few drinks, eating dinner and laughing about the day. It’s at this point I realize I don’t have a place to stay on BBB weekend and it might not be easy. I pull out the phone doing a search, I find one down the street taking it for the rest of the weekend. Turns out part of the gang is staying there.  After more stories and some cold ones, we head inside for some long awaited blues. The band is Katy Guillen & the girls, three young ladies with some of their own songs and kick ass renditions of the classic blues.  As the night wears on I realize I have made a lifelong friendship.

Riding is a lifelong friendship waiting to happen.

See the video from the ride by clicking here......

Or you can watch the faster ride with just the guys.....

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Daytona Bike Week

Getting Back on the Road!!!

Daytona Bound

If you will be in Daytona or the area give me a shout-out 

Okay if you don't want to push play than read. (Never mind the video won't even play, so click here to link to my Tweet or read on). I'm packing the bike and heading East to Daytona Bike Week. Than I'll be heading to points north. I want to meet and hang out with as many of my followers and or the people I follow as I can. So if you'd like to hang give me a shout.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Open Your Eyes

Open Your Eyes

      I’m riding up the PCH (Pacific Coastal Highway) in early Spring, I’ve been battling a cold, hard, windy rain for the last 3 days. As I drop out of the cliffs, down to an open section of beach just up past Eureka, the sun makes an appearance. The last of the clouds have lifted and the wind has vanished. I pull into a spot at the beach near a 650 Yamaha with Canadian tags. There are a couple of backpacks laying on the ground next to the bike. As I’m getting out of the rain gear a couple of guys walk off the beach, heading towards me. They get to the 650 and stop, one guy is taking pictures of the surf, the other starts going through a backpack. After a few more pictures the camera goes in his pocket.

      I finish packing my gear into the touring pack and walk over towards the guys. One is in his early 20’s, just shy of 6’ tall, with dark blonde hair and around 185 lbs. the other is much shorter, he’s maybe 5’6” tall, with black hair, both are dressed for the previously bad weather. The taller one is riding the bike, ‘shorty’ is the passenger. 

I ask where in Canada did they rode from, the rider tells me they flew into Montreal.  As he’s saying this I stop him, “What do you mean you flew into Montreal?”  Shorty says “We’re from Amsterdam, we just graduated University.”  Rider says “We found the bike online and bought it from the guy. He even picked us up at the airport.”

      The rider says “We rode across Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, before dropping into Washington, and Oregon.”  Shorty says they have already ridden almost 10,000 kl since they hit the states. I say “You both rode that 650 all across Canada and the Canadian Rockies?”  I look over at them standing with giant smiles, heads shaking up and down like a couple of bobblehead dolls.

      I give them giant kudos for the ride so far, they’re pretty much doing the same as me. They have a few friends and family on the ride they want to see. Other than that, they are just riding, the only real difference is they have to get back to Montreal for their return flight. We each pull out our Atlas, I start giving them some of the best places, in my opinion so far. We agree the Grand Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend. Then I suggested Zion National Park, Moab/Arches National Park, Mesa Verde Cliff Dwelling, and Million Dollar Highway. From there they wanted to head down to New Orleans, I suggest San Antonio and the River Walk on the way. Equipped with newly highlighted sights to see along the way we exchanged Instagram pages.

      We each tell a few more lies from the road and we take a few pictures for prosperity before they start packing for the next leg of the ride. Once the backpacks are on, they climb on the bike, now I truly stand there in awe. That bike carried near 600 lbs. all the way through Canada and across the Rockies already.

      Over the next month we followed each other’s progress, I saw their pictures from key spots, San Francisco, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Moab, Four Corners, Austin, New Orleans, Key West, Washington DC, and New York City. Upon reaching Montreal they sold the old 650 with only a two day $500 repair and an additions 21,000 kl. on the odometer.


      As happy as I am for the guys, I’m even sicker for most people here. We have this truly beautiful country and two kids from another country have seen more of it than probably 75% of the people that live here. Work, power, money, and things don’t make a life! Stop the rat race if for only a week, pack a bag and get into whatever moves you. Highlight a few things on an old fashioned atlas (this is not a schedule, it’s places you might see) grab a back road and open your eyes to the beauty. If you don’t make a plan, you can’t be upset if you don’t make it somewhere.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Step It Up

Step It Up

  It’s a cool day in late September as I ride up Interstate 35 in Oklahoma for the third time in 24 hours. But now the bike has fresh fluids and the stripped screws on the derby cover have been replaced with new ones. Thanks goes out to the club for the help, I’d still be stuck without their help. It’s only 5 hours after I thought I’d be on the road, but with the late start, the cobwebs are beginning to subside, another thanks goes out to the club.

  As I get to the little town of Tonkawa near the border of Kansas, I decide it’s time for a very late breakfast. I pull into one of the zombie fast food places that I normally would have avoided if it wasn’t for the delay. I whip the bike into the vacant spot in front of the entrance and drop in line behind the rest of the sheep. As I’m waiting in the stiles, I see the small form of a lady looking out of the glass into the parking lot. The kid behind the counter calls out an order breaking her gaze. As she turns, I see that she has a big smile. Her face has a look of years, but you can tell the years have been great, as I look into her face, all I see are smile lines.

  As she walks by me I get an even closer look, she’s around 5’4 at best. Her salt and pepper hair is pushed back as if she had been riding with it in a ponytail, then I notice her clear hazel eyes.  She has spirit in her step as she walks, from looking at her, you can see the beauty she has in her.  As she’s approaching the counter, her eyes turn, looking into mine, without losing a step she gives me a nod as she passes by.

  As I’m getting my fixings for my sandwich, I see her grabbing some napkins and a straw. The next thing I realize is that she has walked up to me, she asks if the bike is mine as she is looking out of the window again.  I say “yes ma’am.”  She says with a fondness “Before my husband passed, we rode all the time.”  Before I could say my condolences for the loss of her husband, she turns and heads back to her table. After I finish prepping my food, I walk towards the tables, I notice her happily eating her lunch. So I approach her table asking if she would mind company for lunch, she says “That would be lovely.”

  As I sit, she asks where I’m traveling to.  I tell her that someone I met in Oklahoma City had said before I leave the state that I should see Alabaster Caverns.  She agrees that since I’m this close, I should definitely make a point to stop. She asks where I started my ride from.  I tell her about getting laid off while working in Montana and deciding it would be nicer in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bike week versus stranded in the snow for the rest of the Winter. She agrees with my decision saying they used to make all of the big rallies. She names off some of her favorites, Sturgis, BBQ, Daytona, Texas, Laconia, and Myrtle Beach. Then she asks where my next destination was after Alabaster? I say “No real destination, I’m riding around the country learning as much of it as possible. But since I’ve ridden through Oklahoma I had to ride Nebraska completing the lower 48 states.” She asks how many miles have I ridden so far.  I inform her that so far on this trip I’ve ridden over 30,000 miles. She leans back, sizing me up and says that I need to step it up. She tells me that for years, she rode her own bike, but after a time, she realized how much she hated not being on the back of the bike holding on to the love of her life. Then she gets a shit-eating grin saying that, since she got back on her husband’s bike alone, she’s ridden over 700,000 miles.

  She starts telling about some of the amazing things she’s seen from the back of a bike. I sit there in awe of her life and the love she had for him and the ride. Everything her and her husband did was so they could ride, each working 60 plus hours a week so the weekend would be clear for the ride. With every word, she has a glow coming from her, I could sit listening for days. She looks down at her watch and jumps up saying “If I keep running on, I’m going to miss my doctor’s appointment.”  

  As we reach the parking, lot she gives my bike a walk around shaking her head in approval. I offer her a ride if she wants, she gives her biggest smile lowering her head. As she raised her head, she says that if she were 20 years younger and single, she would miss her doctor’s appointment for a ride with me.

 As we say our goodbyes she steps in giving me a giant hug, thanking me for the conversation, and walks to her car. As I sit on my bike watching her drive away, I realize how lucky I was to have had problems with the oil change. Spending these brief moments with her is one of the most amazing things in my life.