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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

He Didn't Need 100 HP

Your riding jacket will never be this chic.
 Robert E. Fulton set out in 1932 to ride and film and study the world.  In his epic journey he circumnavigated the globe on his Douglas motorcycle while documenting his journey with 40,000 feet of film. He didn't need 100 HP, a day-glow riding suit, a SPOT GPS tracker, or a government approved crash helmet. 

More about Mr. Fulton here and here.

Of course I like to think that much of Mr. Fulton's success could be attributed to the Douglas motorcycle he rode.  Douglas stuff just keeps going and going, sometimes beyond all reason, much like this blog which has now been officially going for nine years.   My thoughts on keeping the blog alive, sometimes on life support, for nine years are nicely summed up by Snoopy:

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Answering My Own Question

Back in 1993 I was 42 years old, I was married, had a 6 year old son, and my career with VW was looking up.  In May of that year I hopped on my '92 BMW R100RT  and headed off from Arizona to the 49er BMW Rally in the northern California town of Quincy.  It was the 20th anniversary of the rally and I'd been meaning to attended it since 1974 or so. 

I can recount much to you from memory about that trip, the heat and boredom of crossing the desert via Interstate 10, the bite of the stock BMW seat -- possibly the worst seat ever put on a touring motorcycle.   I stopped near Edwards Air Force Base when I spotted the then mysterious B2 Stealth Bomber flying over and excitedly fumbled my camera out of the tank bag and snapped pictures of it.

On the eastern side of the Sierra mountains I  met a fellow BMW rider at a rest stop near the town of Lone Pine on Highway 395.  His bike was loaded in the back of his pick-up truck and before I could say anything about such a blatant BMW sin he quickly informed me that his wife had had surgery and they were headed to the 49er Rally themselves but she wasn't up to riding the whole trip.  I told him I'd let it go this time, hauling a BMW to a rally is usually a court martial offense amongst BMW riders, but since it was for his wife I'd all look the other way and not report him.

Normally I'd share some photos of that long ago trip with you but not this time.  Those were 35mm film camera days and I shot three or four rolls of film including shots of that B2 Bomber flying over.  Naturally every photo from the B2 to the classic BMW's on display at the rally was a masterpiece.  When I returned home I sent the film for processing and a week later standing in the camera store quickly going through the envelopes my heart took up residence in my shoes, every frame was bad.  A quick check revealed that the shutter on the camera had failed; it made a nice clicking sound but didn't actually do anything useful.   All gone, all my photos, each one of which was surely of historic quality, was gone -- or better said, never was.

I did buy the official t-shirt  at the rally,
still have it, and I still wear it periodically.

What I did do on that long ago trip was keep a handwritten journal of sorts, a log of the ride, a chicken scratch record which in time I would  forget that I'd written.

 Last week I was cleaning out a closet and there in a box with other assorted relics was a notebook and in the note book were ten hand written pages about the trip.  My handwriting sucked then just as bad then  as it does now.  Mostly the journal wasn't written very well, it was dry as dust, a recitation of days that were interesting and fun but none of which got translated into the well crafted prose I imagined I would write.

One thing in the journal did jump out at me from  my 1992 words.  At the 49er Rally I'd camped next to a couple from California, they were in their 60s, retired teachers, and only recently had the lady given up riding her own BMW R60 and become a passenger.  I was impressed with their fortitude, they'd racked up 35 years of touring together and I wrote back then "I hope I'll be doing as well in twenty years!"  In an odd bit of serendipity I read what I wrote in 1993 almost exactly 20 years later.  

How am I doing twenty years later?  Well, 42 year old Doug, 62 year old Doug is between bikes at the moment but there have been a bunch since the R100RT.  And my twelve regular readers readers know another bike will surely be along in due course.  There has been a good deal of upheaval in my life in the last twenty years.  My 6 year old son grew to be a fine man, I got divorced, endured mountains of stress at work, had health challenges, and finally came to retirement.   But all in all I'm doing pretty darned well twenty years on.  I wonder now how I'll be doing twenty years from now when I'd be 82?  Will I be at all??   Well, I'm not going to worry about it because life is very much what we make of it and I think I'm making something pretty good of it these days.  All I need is another motorcycle to get things fully in balance.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

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