It's been two months since my last post. I'm an adult and should not feel guilty about that - the same way I felt as a kid when I didn't get my homework done and the teacher told everyone to pass their reports forward - only I couldn't because it wasn't finished. The teachers used to say I had a good head if I'd just apply it, but with so many distractions in life, whether you're 15 or 50 (or more), who can blame you if you don't get assignments finished on a timely basis? Besides, I have a dog that truly is capable of eating my homework, so the excuse that my best friend as a fifth grader actually did use as his excuse for not being able to turn in his homework assignment is also a viable one for me.
It's been a busy couple of months in my personal version of Lake Wobegon. My latest book became a reality, but with a few birthing pains that complicated matters. I've been busy on the phone contacting motorcycle dealers, museums, libraries, and bookstores in many states, setting up selling & signing events along with talks and slide shows about the characters in the book. There is a reason I didn't dream about being a salesman or marketer when I grew up - it's not my natural strong suite - and not the favorite part of my new 'job'. But the talking circuit has begun and so far, so good.
I had an enjoyable day in Madison, WI last Saturday, participating in Capital City Harley-Davidson's annual Women's Day event. Lots of time to relax on the round-trip drive and listen to my ipod fed through the fancy stereo system of my car (it's fancy only in my 1960s mindset. USB ports for ipod and other devices are pretty standard in cars today). I refuse to listen to talk radio when I drive - left or right on the political spectrum; it's divisive, hateful, narrow-minded, intolerant, un-American, and of no value beyond making multi-millionaires out of the entertainers who spout all the garbage. (that's just my humble opinion, of course)
The drive had other impacts - it once again reminded me of a personal rule of motorcycling that I have told many dozens of people over the years - that if you cannot give 100% of your concentration 100% of the time to your riding, then do yourself, your family and society in general a favor and stay off a motorcycle.
Riding in the rain through I-80 and then I-90 near and through Chicago, I had four events happen that had I not been on high alert could have been very serious indeed.
The first was a tire / wheel laying in the center of the lane as I came over an overpass. Had I been daydreaming it likely would have done some major damage to the underside of my car. Had I been on a bike and hit it, it would have been fatal. One hundred percent focus, one hundred percent of the time.
The second was a large semi-truck that had missed its exit and was backing up on the X-Way in order to get back to the exit he wanted a couple hundred yard back. He decided to make his turn just as I was about to pass him. Fortunately I was on high alert and had an escape route already in mind when he did turn - had I been daydreaming it might have been ugly. The third incident involved somebody who for no apparent reason hit his brakes very hard three cars ahead of me, causing the two cars right ahead of me to slam on theirs. Because of a protective space, which I always maintain when on a bike, I had room to maneuver. Had I been tailgating or daydreaming - chain reaction multi-car accident. The fourth was a deer on the way home in the dark near Hammond, IN. I constantly scan for them and saw this one before he started onto the roadway.
All of these proactive defensive driving behaviors are the result of forty years of motorcycling. I have carried them over into my car driving and there are times when I've automatically done something, such as look both ways at a green light before starting ahead and seeing a truck running the red light, that no doubt have saved my life. It pays to be paranoid when in a car or on a bike - people and conditions really are out to get you!
The beautiful early summer weather we enjoyed for a couple of weeks recently was great for outdoor activities, including of course motorcycling. I've got a few hundred miles on from local rides. I participated in the Grand Ledge, MI St. Patrick's Day parade with the local American Legion Riders and it was incredible - felt more like a July 4th parade rather than the typical St. Pat's Day where cold rain, snow or sleet is the norm. Motorcycles and parades go together like hot dogs at baseball games.
I've had the maps out over the last few weeks planning some summer rides. Nothing quite as ambitious as last summer's two rides of 5,000 miles each, but short or long, they're all fun and interesting experiences that stay with me forever.
I gave a talk last evening at a local library and after the show was invited to the home of a couple who has ridden together for decades. Two other couples were meeting at their house after the talk for dessert and I was happy to be part of the gathering. We shared stories of experiences and travels, the good and the not so good but memorable just the same, and had a wonderful time. I was reminded once again of how much I have gained as a result of forty years of adventure and experiences on two wheels - all of which would have been missing had I not taken this road in life. I'm very grateful for all that I've been able to experience and enjoy.
So there - my homework is done. Now I have to sweat and worry until I find out what grade I get.