5 days to go – You never really know, do you?

Try to imagine

Imagine that you’ve been planning a trip.  Perhaps a big trip; Maybe even a trip that is part of a huge series of changes that are happening to you, or even that you’re initiating yourself.  Imagine this trip will be taking you from your home in CA, to a new home, thousands of miles away.  Imagine that all of the friends that you’ve made over the past 21 years are being left behind as you make your way East.  Sure, you’ll see them again, and you’ll talk to them, trying to keep in touch, but it is not an insignificant point that you’re driving away from all of them, spending 60 days to see America.

Perhaps you’ve thought about this?

My trip isn’t your trip, but maybe you’ve experienced something similar at some point in the past.  Maybe you’ve thought about doing the same kind of thing as I am, and you’re thinking of taking a long trip across America, taking it all in as you venture forward.  Maybe you’ve even begun to start thinking that in a year, or perhaps a few years you’ll get a chance to make the same kind of journey.  To have the same kind of trip.

What would you do on your trip, and how would you feel?

Feelings, fears, fascination and fortitude

It is indeed a romanticism to think that a trip like this will be wondrous, and magical all of the time.  It’s more realistic to think that it will be a great trip, with many great days, but the occasional unforeseen situation that causes pain, delay, or even diversion.

When you strip away the romantic feelings about the trip, and you start to imagine that some things will go wrong, you start to think that being prepared, and being self-reliant will be two important qualities that you’ll need to have.  But, even with a healthy amount of these two qualities, it’s safe to say that you’ll be surprised every now and then.

As I think about this trip specifically, I focus on preparation.  Each day I think of a new situation that might occur, and I think it through, planning how I’ll deal with it when it happens on the trail.  I imagine the length of the day, the number of miles, and how much time I’ll have to play, and to deal with these unforeseen issues when they come up.  So, it’s easy to imagine that these situations, the situations that might arise from time to time just might cause me to get depressed, or overwhelmed or intimidated in some way.  But, that’s not all what’s happening.

The open road

Just this evening, I was turning the TV off at the end of the night, and I started to let it all sink in, and I started to imagine the trip, in great detail.  This time however, I wasn’t thinking about these “situations that might arise”.  Instead, I was thinking about what it will truly be like to be riding a motorcycle across the US.  Just pause for a moment and think about that.

I’ll be riding a 1200 cc dual-sport motorcycle across the US, doing just about whatever I want, and stopping for anything that looks interesting, or about which I am curious.  There will long stretches of open highway, which can only be truly enjoyed when sitting on a motorcycle.  You see, on a bike you get to take in everything.  You can smell every flower, feel every crack in the pavement, and see the eyes of every driver in every car.  You’re on high alert, and you’re taking it all in.

The open road is glorious, but then there’s also the twisty mountain roads that I’ll also get to see.  It’s a great deal of fun to drive the twisty mountain roads in a high-performance, well-handling car, but it’s even more fun to drive those same roads on a bike.  In fact, I have many friends that would argue that it’s not even close, and riding the bike is simply the only way.

Over the river and through the woods

So, if I’m not on the open road, enjoying all that it offers, then I might just be driving on those twisty mountain roads (just described in the last section).

In California, we have lots of those kind of roads.  In fact, when I ride with the gang on the weekends, I tend to ride on just that kind of road.  I really enjoy the challenge of keeping up a good pace, while riding smoothly, and not compromising the security that comes from staying on my side of the road.  It’s easy to ride beyond your capability, but with each ride your skills rise, so it’s literally a moving target.

That said, when we’re out on those weekend rides, I sometimes try to follow the sport bikes in the fast group.  I quickly realize the folly of following purpose built race bikes on a 650 lb giraffe.  So, I do my best, settle in, and let them slowly pull ahead.  As is almost always the case, I arrive at the next stop a few moments after they do.

If you look at the map below, you’ll see one of the roads that we took on the 15th of May, just two weeks ago.  The ride was put together by Doc Wong, and it follows a route that has come to be Doc’s weekend ride route.  Just about all of his weekend clinics follow the same route, with some variation on occasion.  There’s really no reason to change the route, because this route from Belmont to Davenport follows some really great roads, and it has almost 1100 turns over the course of the 120 mile round trip.  The map below shows only a small portion of the ride, but I’m sure you’ll get the point.

DocWongRide2016-05-15

So, what’s this trip going to be like?

Oh yeah, I forgot I was supposed to be talking about this trip, and what it would feel like, instead I’ve digressed into talking about the roads of NORCAL.  But, that just won’t do; So, let’s get back at it.

Try to imagine riding the bike.  My bike, a 2015 BMW R1200 GS Adventure.

It’s a hot summer’s day, but I’m staying cool because I’m riding through the woods in the high elevations of Colorado.  At this moment, I’m traveling between two of the national parks that I’ve programmed into the GPS.  I’m riding through a twisty section, with lots of trees on either side of the road.  There’s a never-ending series of lakes along the side of the road.  I ride as the road gains and then loses thousands of feet of elevation.  I’m offered some of the most majestic, and far-reaching views of anywhere on the planet.

I can smell every flower, every fire burning in the back yard of every log cabin.  I see eagles, deer, moose, raccoons, and maybe the occasional bear.  I feel the temperature as it changes.  Yes, I feel every change in degree immediately.  My body is warm from the sun, and sweaty from the heat.  I cool down as I drive through the trees, and I can hear the rivers that are just off of the side of the road.

I’m on an adventure of a lifetime, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.  Each adversity will be met with a smile (maybe a little swearing, I mean hell, I always swear).  Every person that I meet is someone with a story to tell.  Every town is a new memory, and every mile of highway is just another tick of the clock that we’ll simply call America.

And with that, I say good night…

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This ‘Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

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