“We pity the poor one, the shy and unsure one, who wanted it perfect, but waited too long, much too long“
~Neil Diamond, On the Way to the Sky
On Monday May 10, 2021, I finished up work, strapped my backpack to my 2019 Triumph Street Scrambler, kissed my wife goodbye and amid a nationwide pandemic, began a 3,000 mile solo motorcycle ride across 13 of the 50 United States.
I am predisposed to wanderlust and when I travel, I travel hard with usually too many activities packed into too little time. This trip was no different. I allowed myself 8 days to get across the country (7 riding days and one rest day). That’s more than enough time in a car, but on a motorcycle, the pace was not casual. I rode from 9 to 11 hours per day to cover anywhere between 370 and 540 miles. The few planned stops I made to see friends or visit places of interest were always done with my internal clock grinding, because as you may know, I am bound to cover just a little more ground.
Between the desert, the mountains, the prairies and the the forests, no two days were alike, but they were all fun. There were a few absolutely amazing moments and a few seconds of “What the hell have I gotten myself into“, best reflected in Vail, Colorado when the temperature quickly dropped to 35oF, the roads were wet with melted snow and there were two road construction signs, the first which read “Danger! Grated Road”, followed immediately by another sign which warned, “Motorcycles, Use Extreme Caution“.
Riding was easy, difficult was everything not on the bike: the finding hotels, securing the bike in the hotel parking lots, unpacking each night, finding dinner in a pandemic, repacking and reloading the bike, deciding if, when and where to eat breakfast. Everything took longer than I thought it would. Eventually I started measuring the days by the countdown until sundown. Every single morning I thought it would be easy to have the bike locked up before the sun down. A few days I made it, some night I was lucky to be sorted at twilight. There was one dark night in (again) Colorado where I pulled up to a hotel in Burlington about 10pm under a pitch black sky, shivering from the cold after nearly running out of gas. The next day was better.
I am not sure how much of this trip was inspired by Kerouac’s, “On the Road” and how much by MTV’s Road Rules, or by Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels or even Ewan McGregor & Charlie Boorman’s book/series, Long Way, Around. What pushed me to make this trip in 2021 were all the lives have been cut short in the past year. Millions of people never got to live out their dreams. It became a question of, “If not now, when?”. The answer to that question came in the form of 2020 tweet from @yesterdaygirly, “The hope is to run out of excuses before you run out of time“
At the end of week, I pulled into my boyhood home of Long Beach, New York. I rode into town the day before the second anniversary of my father’s passing. This was where the memories of my father are most rich. I went to the boardwalk where we used to hang out and once ate an entire large pizza between us. I went to the Starbucks where we used drink coffee and laugh. I had a long list of things I wanted to do while in Long Beach… but the sun was starting to go down and I had a 120 mile ride left to get to upstate New York where my wife and family were waiting for me, again bound to cover just a little more ground.
Some times, we have to go down the road alone; no family, no friends, just us and God. It was an epic (or epidemic) adventure, dense with memories, time to think, get centered and get perspective on life (Big life). Much like life, it went by too quickly. A few weeks after I am still trying to unpack all the memories and process the places and the visits with people. I had some much needed, uninterrupted time to continue to say goodbye to my dad.
I had been down many of those roads before and I enjoyed travelling them again. I literally travelled the roads back to where my life began. I also added a few new roads to the map of my life and that was good too. Here’s hoping that whatever your big thing is you want to do, you get it done before you can’t.
“This is your time, you life. Do you and enjoy it.” ~ @northerngent4