Monday, August 20, 2012

Solo Wing 2700mi

View Rochester - Austin TX in a larger map

In the years I rode my CX500 back in the early '80s and on occasion during my 24yr hiatus from riding, I tended to think of the "big ride" and what kind of daily distances were doable / enjoyable on a Gold Wing.

I've got my answer. 820 mi Rochester - OK City in coolish temps wasn't too bad, but clearly at my limits for that day. Leg and shoulder stiffness are the items that start to make it unpleasant for me after about that amount of time on the bike ... 12 hours, 7:30AM to 7:30PM.

The next day, to Bertram TX was only 450, but with 102-105 heat most of the way, it took more out of me physically and took from 9am-8pm to accomplish with many hydration stops. Oh, and also an EXCELLENT BBQ stop at "Hard Eight" in Stephenville TX

Wed brought zero time on the bike, but good TX Hill Country views, some successful shopping for hot weather motorcycle apparel, and and excellent lunch at Chuys in Austin along with enjoyable time spent seeing some old friends from IBM days.

Thursday AM saw a 6:30 launch with a great 600+ mi ride from Bertram to Beebe AR,  just north of Little Rock. Both East TX and AR are areas that I want to return to. Very much like the upper midwest terrain and greenery look, although I realize with a lot more heat in the summer -- but much less winter to deal with as well. A houseboat on one of the big impoundments?

Friday I spent a little too much time wrestling with the GPS on the bike for my liking ... "Shortest Time vs Distance" became an issue. The Wing seems to like routing through "fun motorcycle roads" which is fine, but when interspersed with a constant penchant to go all the way over to I-35 to make time, it can cause an on-bike tiff. Much like dealing with a wife, we worked it out by doing it the Wings way ... I hit I-35 just N of KC. Excitement of the day was a life flight chopper landing on US 13 right ahead of me and having to turn around and make my own "detour".

The biggest disappointment of the trip was pulling off at Albert Lea, less than 100mi from home as it was solid dark and I decided that the risk of tagging a deer the wrong way on that section of highway was just too great after 14 hours in the saddle. So I stayed the night and chipped it at 9AM Sat.

Lots of time to think of "why am I doing this?" and stuff on especially the interstate.

Some thoughts:

* an over 40  rider is 20x as likely to die riding a bike than in a car
* by not drinking when riding I cut that risk in half ... 10x
* by wearing a helmet, hi viz gear and taking a cycle safety class I cut the risk close to in half again ... 5x
* so since I drive about 20k mi a year and ride < 10k, I'm "only" about 2.5x as likely to die on my bike

Which is called RATIONALIZATION!

There is something irreplaceable about the experience of a trip like that. The danger is part of the thrill. Lots of guys are out there with no helmets, ape hangers, and riding "care free". They have a more fatalistic attitude ... But it is the same principle, just a matter of degree. Same with driving our cars and a lot of life activity. A safe life isn't a life. A risk free economy isn't an economy, it is a gulag.

It is a huge blessing to have made it to 55 with good health. The only way to be alive is some level of risk... One person's "reasonable risk" is completely insane for another, but be sure to embrace SOME risk that makes you less than fully comfortable. Lest you fail to have lived while alive.


  1. Moonbat2:30 PM

    I'm sure you meant AR instead of AK. By the way, do you have any trouble breathing behind that fairing?

  2. Good point on the AK, fixed.

    I started with no fairing way back ... never rode much over 100mi, and that was windy. Then went to a handlebar fairing, not all that worth it in my book. Then Vetter on a CX-500 ... very nice, riding a few hundred miles in a day very doable.

    I'm a sucker for comfort. There is still plenty of breeze on a Wing, and the vent can always be opened/directed if you need more ... or at my height, just adjust the windshield down and take it in the teeth. I even put the Laminar Lip on it which as a taller rider I really like.

    My wife's Kawi Vulcan 900 has a Memphis Shades bat wing ... I ride it once in awhile to realize how much I liken"not breathing" on the Wing.