Another Year in the Books

With only 2 or 3 weeks of occasional motorcycling left in the 2010 riding season, it's time to look back and reflect on another year that has flown by. Once a person passes 40 years of age time speeds up, that's a well known fact. Scientists haven't been able to figure out why or how it happens, but it does. Beyond 50 time goes into high gear. How this happens is curious because for some people on the planet in 2010 time was going by slowly, while for others it was flying by - how can it be both slow and fast at the same time? I know it's not all in my head. There has to be a scientific explanation. What I do know is that the summer absolutely flew by - it was April, then it was October. I know the other months were in there, but I wonder if they were just a dream - they already seem unreal. My fear is that next year and coming years will fly by even faster. Maybe a new motorcycle will help slow them down. A new bike cures many of life's ills.

My theory regarding motorcycles is that you have to multiply the mileage by two. Since bikes only have two wheels, and cars have four, every mile on a bike counts twice as much as a mile on a car. So my bike has 100,000 on it according to this scientific analysis.

2010 was a very good year. About 12,000 miles on the odo, with three different trips to different parts of the country.

June found me in Massachusetts, visiting, among other places, the Indian Motorcycle Museum in Springfield. It's part of the larger City of Springfield Museum, and it is very fortunate that the city government has the wisdom to preserve an important part of their, and our collective, history. I hope the budget cutters don't decide that this is a waste of taxpayers money and close it. The ride east was nice - along the Lake Erie shoreline as much as physically possible, then following the Erie Canal as closely as possible on the old roads through the Mohawk Valley of New York. Very interesting, and since I was riding while NY and MA schools were still in session, there was minimal traffic.

Rode through the Berkshires on old 20, on the Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway. Fabulous story behind this road, built in 1910, the first ever road built to accommodate automobiles to cross over a mountain range. The old road was deadly and steep, with many a man and horse killed while trying to traverse it.

Heading west I went through the Hudson River Valley south, and then straight west through the Catskills. They are beautiful all times of the year, and once again I had the fabulous hilly and curvy roads pretty much to myself. Low clouds and intermittent cool rain made it a rigorous outing, not a walk in the park on a bluebird day.

South central NY and northern PA is a beautiful part of the country. 50/50 woods and farms, hilly, nice roads, light traffic because people use the Xways and NY Turnpike. It's charms are well known to locals, but probably not fully appreciated by those from outside the area.

Twelve or thirteen days in mid-July found me west - all the way to Truckee, CA.

Followed the old Lincoln Highway through large parts of IL, IA, NE, and WY. The most interesting part of the trip was in the Colorado Springs area, and westward to the Sierra Nevada Mountains of CA.

The ride up Pikes Peak was incredible, though because my brake fluid for the rear brake boiled due to atmospheric differences between sea level and 14,110 feet, it was a scary ride down with only first gear and the front brake to slow me on the hairpin curves with hundreds of feet of open air the result if a curve is missed.

Rode through snow at one point in the heart of the Rockies; very cold & very wet. But the benefit was seeing snow covered peaks that were normally mostly bare except for patches of snow in sheltered basins.

Glenwood Canyon is fabulous, as is the landscape across the Great Divide all the way to CA. That is a extremely interesting area to ride through - if one keeps an open mind and lets themselves be fascinated at the unusual landscape, and the wide open spaces. The widely spaced towns are like islands of civilization in a vast ocean of desert.

Went right through Reno - it was hot, traffic was heavy, and I wanted open spaces, no congested city expressways.

Truckee, Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass, and the entire area around Truckee is a great place to spend time. Wish I had had more than a couple of days!

The trip back east was on a different route - through northern NV and into Idaho. Came down into Utah from the north. Beautiful, though lots of development going on north of Salt Lake City. Houses are beginning to cover the foothills, and a lot of ranches are growing suburban cookie cutter houses rather than beef and corn.

The mountains east of SLC provide great riding and scenery and I was sorry to leave them and enter the high plains. From western WY to the Mississippi River is downhill all the way, losing about 5,000 feet in elevation. That's one reason the huge coal trains heading east out of Wyoming can do it - they're heading downhill except for occasional short uphill stretches. The highlight of the return trip, once out of the mountains, was a stop at the National Motorcycle Museum in Iowa - well worth the ride no matter where you're coming from!

A third and shorter trip was to St. Louis and Columbus, MO. Rode old US 24 all the way from Moberly, MO back east to western Ohio. Long stretches of it make for very pleasant riding, as long as a person can be patient and not expect expressway conditions. You do ride through small towns and follow tractors on occasion. But the trade off is worth it.

Got to spend two full days in Terre Haute this summer due to a stator/voltage regulator problem. By incredible luck the warning light came on when I was less than five miles from a dealer. Better there than in central Nevada on a 100-degree day!

The year had its low points. There were many funerals for military personnel killed in action. I attended 6 or 7 Patriot Guard Riders funeral events, standing guard in a flag line at the funeral services or visitation events.

A couple of American Legion Riders rides, one at the beginning of the season and one at the end, were very enjoyable day long rides. And a few military celebratory rides and events, including LZ Michigan in Grand Rapids, were very special.

Passed through a lot of states in 2010: MA, NY, OH, MI, IN, IL, IA, MO, CO, NE, WY, UT, NV, CA, ID - 15 if I can count correctly.

It was a good year, looking forward to an even better one next year.

Some fun book selling & signing events coming up yet this year. November 21st - at the Novi Rock Financial Center for a big motorcycle swap meet. December 18 at Battle Creek Harley-Davidson, and December 19 at Toledo H-D.