~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Someday" Might Slip By

June 25th marked the 3rd anniversary of Forty Years On Two Wheels. Concerning that momentous day I saw no headlines in the NY Times, Cycle World, or The National Enquirer and no congressional committee subpoenaed me to testify (I'd take the 5th anyway) so I guess my plan to become a world famous and incredibly wealthy moto-blogger is behind schedule. No matter, I'm having a pleasant time with all this, mostly, and you twelve regular readers seem to enjoy it also judging by the e-mails I receive.

Sometime back Angry Bob over at motorcyclebloggers.com offered up the question "Why blog?" and then answered it from his always interesting perspective. My answer to the question would be that I have some basic compulsion to write, to sort through my my thoughts and then see them in front of me, and blogging gives a better forum for that and a longer half-life for the words than what they would get in a typical motorcycle forum.

Things I've noticed about moto-blogging:
  • Starting is the easy part.
  • Many times I've thought of quitting (today, for example) but I'm not a quitter.
  • Trying to come up with something semi-unique to say that has not been said a jillion times is tough. The world doesn't need another piece on helmet fit or tire changing.
  • Taking and selecting the pictures for the blog is often times the most fun part.
  • Putting a mildly risque picture in a post will get me in trouble at home.
  • Writing about farting gets me lots of e-mails.
  • The Triumph Scrambler entries draw more interest than the Harley entries.
  • Blogging anything about Steve McQueen makes the hit counter jump.
  • I don't have a lot of regular readers but the ones I have, judging by my e-mail, are a pretty interesting lot, including the once famous, the never famous, and the likely-to-be-infamous (Jeff at the late great, "Iron Livered Goon" blog).
  • Meeting new people is the best part of blogging.
  • When I started blogging in '04 there were perhaps a dozen motorcycle blogs I could find and now there are more than anyone really knows or could possibly have time to read.
  • I only read about five blogs regularly now. I won't tell you which ones.
  • Hardly anyone actually cares what anyone else thinks on any given subject.
  • If it's not entertaining you're dead so never take yourself too seriously. There is a reason why Peter Egan is published and we blog.
  • My favorite punctuation mark is the ellipsis...
  • I can write a blog entry, edit it to death, re-read it a dozen times, and then find a typo thirty seconds after I hit the "Publish" button.

I didn't ride as much in late 2006 and early 2007 as I did in previous years. Some would say that getting married cut into the important things in life but that's not entirely true. Being well past 50 years old now means that the body, long abused by motorcycle racing, riding, hang gliding crashes, and other socially unacceptable activities, seems to let me down more often than it once did. There are a lot of really cool things about getting older but an aging body isn't one of them.

Back in early 1975 I had the misfortune to crash while flying an Icarus V hang glider. The confrontation with the earth left me with three fractured vertebrae in my back. Ask the fattest rider you know to stand on your back while wearing high heel shoes and you'll know how that feels. Be sure to get a picture too.

After laying around the house recouping for three months from the crash I did the only logical thing I could since I was also then out of work: I got on my BMW R90S and rode from California to Colorado to see what was there.

600 - 700 mile days were the norm as I set about riding all the highest paved passes I could find. It hurt but hey, I was young and tough...or thought so. These days, 30+ years later and long after the bones have healed but the arthritis the doctor predicted would happen has set in along with assorted other aliments, I'm pretty sure that one 600 mile day would be tough and doing several back to back would be my last foolish adventure.

That kiddies, is one of the reasons it is important to ride as much as you can when you can, because there will come a day when you cannot. Take the rides, push the days, buy the bikes. Do what mere mortals or financial managers say is crazy because one day your own body will begin to show it's own mortality. Don't do anything stupid, but do ride when you can and don't put it off thinking that "someday" you'll take that big trip or do that track day. "Someday" might slip by and become "never" and you'll truly be poorer for it.

If it sounds like I'm giving up riding you'd be dead wrong but I simply cannot ride as much or as far as I once did and frankly, that sucks. But reality is what it is and I'm really glad that I did that ride to Colorado and all the other crazy stuff over the years. But maybe because I did it I don't feel as much need now to venture off and flog myself through endless days on the road or prove anything to anybody. Good thing.

Speaking of pictures (nice segue, eh?)...

As you wander about riding, seeing the sites, taking in the rallies or doing whatever it is you like to do on your bike, be sure you STOP often and take pictures. And just as importantly, take pictures with people in them and YOU in them. The years will go by and memories will fade a bit and those pictures will mean the world to you when you're old and gray.

I've always been prone to taking pictures but like most people I took scenic shots without people in them. I've usually ridden alone which will in part explain the lack of people in the photos but beyond that, scenic shots are nearly worthless after 10 or 20 years. Unless you're a real pro photographer scenic shots look pretty dull because they never capture the reality of the moment. Take pictures of your friends, your bike, their bikes, and YOU. Turn the camera around because I guarantee you that in a decade or two you will get a big kick out of looking at pictures of yourself. That's not narcissism either, that's just the inherent human trait of trying to place our self in time, where we are now vs. where we were then.

Then and now. I have not changed a bit and I still like red bikes.

Sadly, for all the pictures I've taken over the years, almost none have me in them and most of the people were people I didn't even know. I've tried to do better the last ten or twenty years but that whole thing of turning the camera on one's self is somewhat intimidating for most of us. Do it anyway, you'll thank me someday.


Anonymous said...

Time is most definetly fleeting. I waited till I was 28 before I started riding. I wish I would have started sooner.

Keep with the writing. We'll keep listening. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Well.. congrats "old timer". We're one of the few that have held out that long.

Time for a medal or two...

Crusty said...

I kick my sorry ass when ever I think about the days i decided not to ride because it looked like it might rain, or was to hot or what ever the reason was. I would give anything to have those days back now. Amen Doug!...Ride on! -Crusty

Steve Williams said...

Damn. You're good Doug. I don't know where to begin. As often is the case your posts get right to the heart of things. I read this before leaving on the Vespa this morning and it was still with me when I stopped for something to eat. It has inspired a post that I will put up tomorrow.

I have similar feelings about blogging and have some of the same struggles. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

The ride when you can idea has hit home. At 53 I already recognize some changes and I'm not carrying the same amount of abuse. One unfortunate incident pole vaulting in high school is all I can claim. Physically anyways.

Thanks for the potent reminders!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Joe said...

You're so right. "Someday" is today. We've all had people die way too early who I'm sure are wishing they had another "someday."

Giest said...

Truer words can't be said, Doug. I will take this advice to heart.

Anonymous said...

Great post. It strikes home on so many different levels.

Dan Leri said...

Enjoyed your post. I have twice traveled the US, car camping and backpacking. Each trip was a bit over 20,000 miles. The second trip included a trail trailer that carried two street/trail bikes for local travel. My first trip and initial photograhy mimicked your description of scenic shots - until I called home to my mother and asked her how she was enjoying the trip. She was terminally ill at age 58 when I took the first trip and I had decided to travel the country for her just as she had always dreamed of doing herself once my father retired. I would take photos, develop them immediately, label them and send them to my parents for her to arm chair travel with me, tracing my route with a US map. I'll never forget her comment when I asked her how she liked the photos. She said, "They're wonderful, however, I have always been partial to photos that include people I love". I hung up the phone, went to the nearest photo store in Tennesse and purchased a portable tripod. Naturally, every picture from that point forward had my sorry looking mug in it. And as you said, they have become treasures. At her funeral service, my Dad hugged me and said, "You'll never know what that trip meant to your mother. She struggled to get to the mailbox everyday to see if a new package of pictures had arrived".

That first trip around the US was over 20 years ago. What a hoot to look through the pics.

Your reminder of making and saving memories is much appreciated.

Doug Klassen said...

You guys that blog know that blogging is a bit like throwing darts in the dark; you never know if you hit the target until someone turns on the lights with a comment. Thanks to all of you for "turning on the lights" and letting me know that I've at least hit the board and not just killed the cat.

Dan, your story perfectly and truly illustrates what I was trying to say. Thanks for sharing that.


Anonymous said...

Great post, wise advice. Your blog is always worth reading; the next best thing to Egan.

Brother K said...

Hello, Doug K. I bumped into your blog by accident--I was trying to verify the "All who wander" Tolkien line, and there you were. Google is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Anyway, I began to read and was immediately charmed by your voice. I know nothing about motorcycles beyond Pirsig--I'd assume that you're very familiar with him--but I love the way you put your words together. I don't read many blogs myself, but I am looking forward to going back and reading all of your entries. It's great to "meet" you.

Anonymous said...

Great entry on the blog mate, and something I have been thinking about even though I am only 41! Last weekend I rode 575 miles to see my mother for an afternoon and a morning, and then 575 miles back so I could go to work on Teusday. I'm very glad I did it, even though the motorway hell was a killer.

You have to take your chances when you get them.

Anonymous said...

Very wise and thought-provoking. I've come to believe that blogging is somewhat therapeutic, kinda like riding. A chance to mentally shuffle the cards in my brain and temporarily banish the bazillions of little distractions that daily life brings.

biggearhead said...

What an excellent blog! I've been away from reading yours for quite some time, and today I pop back in and find that you're post relates to my immediate situation! I'm 37 and am taking my first big trip from the midwest to Utah via the southwest. Yesterday it occurred to me to buy a tripod for the camera. Looks like it'll be getting a lot of use! Oh yeah - I'm going doing it on an R90S!

Doug Klassen said...

biggearhead, Have a great time on your trip and I INSIST that you send me pictures of that R90S out on the road. Include yourself in there too, just don't stand in front of the bike.


Anonymous said...

Great post. The aches and pains certainly take their toll these days, but I still finding myself wearing a goofy smile when riding. Grumpy old men? No, the world is just not entertaining us enough. Biking still does it for us.

Tilly said...

So, I found your blog interesting. I have a picture by the same sign on Independence Pass when my brother-in-law from England road bikes around the perimeter of Wyoming. We were on our way home to Colorado Springs. After not riding since the 1970's, I got a bike which I ride to work every day it isn't icy.

Anonymous said...

My father, who raced mx about the same time you did on his Elsinor 250's and Maicos sent me the link to your blog and asked me to read it. As he put it, and I'd have to agree, you're right on! I rode my '96 Pacific Coast from PHX to Silverton, CO one summer when I was 22. So glad I did as now, at 28 and about to get married, I'm not sure when I'll have that kind of freedom. Now the PC goes to work on occasion but I still swing a leg over my '82 R100, '00 CBR929RR, '93 DR350, and pristine and street legal '79 TT500.

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