The Joy of "Drop What You're Doing and Take a Ride" Rides

One of the joys of motorcycling is that it's something we can do just for fun. The activity is unique in the sense that it is both a purely practical mode of transportation, such as when riding to work or the store, and also an activity that is done simply for pleasure. The same machine ridden on the same roads, but for two very different purposes; and the fun factor remains the same.

Back when I worked out of an office and wore a jacket and tie to work most days I tried to ride my bike to work whenever feasible. I found that it took a little extra effort but I was always glad whenever I took the time and effort, especially on the afternoon ride home. Since I had never invested in expensive full body riding suits in my earlier biking experience I found inexpensive and practical ways to accommodate wearing a suit and tie. An over sized pair of jeans and a larger than normal jacket covered my dress clothes adequately, provided necessary early morning warmth, and made riding to work feasible and fun. While morning rides were generally direct and non exploratory, afternoon rides home usually took quite a bit longer than the same trip in a car would have because I rarely took the shortest distance or straight line option.

But I want to talk a bit about spur of the moment rides. It would probably seem silly to suggest that a person drop what they're doing and take their 4-door sedan or pickup truck for an enjoyable ride through the countryside. But it makes perfect sense to do that very thing on a bike. Spur of the moment riding has several advantages over planned trips. For one thing, good weather can be guaranteed. If the sky is blue and temperatures warm, you can be quite certain that there'll be no rain on your parade if you take a couple hour nearby ride. On planned trips one is subject to the conditions that exist at that moment, with little leeway available for changing routes or schedules - or weather conditions. It's fun to fool Mother Nature and just drop what you're doing to take a ride when conditions are great. And while having a destination or purpose for a ride is very enjoyable and satisfying, having none can be equally fulfilling if it means simply getting out, slowing down, and exploring your backyard. There are some roads we all drive or ride frequently, perhaps almost daily, while passing by other roads that we almost never have reason to venture onto. Even those rides to and from work can be more enjoyable by simply doing something different; taking a different road just to see and experience different scenery and places.
Yesterday was a perfect summer day and at mid-morning I decided to drop it all and just take a ride. The cloudless blue sky and temperatures in the 70s were too much to resist, or waste. We don't' want to let too many of these opportunities slip into the past because they're limited. Enjoy them today because tomorrow's ride is just a hope, not a guarantee.
Because I had enough hours left in the day I decided to make the ride a destination event rather than just cruising country roads with no particular end point in mind. I made South Haven, on Lake Michigan, my destination and took back roads all the way to get there. While at South Haven I decided to tour the Michigan Maritime Museum. If a person has an interest in Great Lakes nautical themes and Coast Guard lifesaving boats it's an interesting place to tour. An on-board tour of a 1950s Lake Michigan commercial fishing tug is an eye-opening experience. They obviously designed the boats for people less than 5' 8" in height because I hit my head on the overhead beams several times. A taller person would develop a permanent stoop if they spent a lifetime working on those boats! A Tall Ship, called Friends Good Will, normally docks at the museum for daily sailing trips but unfortunately it was across the lake in Wisconsin on a sailing tour. The ship is a replica of an "1810 square rigged top sail sloop" (??) built in 2004 for the museum.

South Haven is a very pleasant small coastal town. If you haven't been there before you oughta take the time to make the enjoyable drive or ride there to enjoy the lively small town atmosphere and marvelous beaches and marine activities (boat trips, charter fishing expeditions, sailing, and so on).

I rode the Potterville, Vermontville, Hastings, Fennmore route to get there, riding the Blue Star Highway south a bit to SH, and then headed east on back roads out of SH across northern Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties, then northeast. The hilltop orchards and vineyards of Allegan and Van Buren Counties are beautiful this time of year and there are many places where a person can stop to pick peaches, blueberries, and other fruits in season.

Riding east on Phoenix Road I encountered quite a number of bicyclists. The Kal-Haven bike and hiking trail somewhat parallels Phoenix Road east from South Haven. Now I enjoy bicycling probably more than the average person, and I ride at least 2 or 3 times each week; but on a trail, not on roads. Every time I see a group of cyclists on a narrow country road I cringe a little because of the danger they've placed themselves in. I also must admit that each time I see them I also think - 'why don't you buy a small motorcycle for your back road wanderings' as I effortless glide by them with a slight twist of the wrist as they work and sweat mightily pedaling up even small hills. Small motorcycles or scooters give the same feeling of freedom and fun as bicycles, but they allow a person to safely and easily cover many more miles of countryside. Save the non-motorized cycles for in town riding on trails and suburban streets, or on the several Rails-To-Trails biking trails around the state, which provide miles of safe riding for exercise and fresh air.
But back to the subject: I hope you all get a chance to just drop what you're doing and take a ride (or at least a drive in the country with the windows down). I find that even a half hour on two wheels is enough to alter my frame of mind and make things look much better than they were before the ride.