Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Choose a Road and Follow It

riding motorcycles into the sunsetChantele writes on her blog that life as a scrapbooking, motorcycle-riding mommy is nothing what she had originally planned...

I mean come on, who in their right minds ever thought I would end up creating scrapbook kits and riding motorcycles? Definitely NOT me or anyone that knew me. Honestly I never wanted to get married or have kids. I wanted to be the type of person that allowed my career to take me everywhere I wanted to go and I didn't care who I had to step on to get there....
Each of us started out with an idea of where we wanted to go in our lives, but the road we travelled down always took us somewhere else.

One of the favorite pasttimes my wife and I had years ago was finding a major avenue or boulevard, and following it until it ended. Sometimes it would take us a few miles, but sometimes it went for 25-30 miles.

It would take us into towns and communities that we never ventured into, and we'd point out interesting shops and stores passing us by. Wherever the road ended, we'd find a restaurant and have dinner there.

One particular road we explored led us to a neighborhood with brand new homes being built. We stopped to look at the model homes. We had a lot of fun. Over the next several weeks, we took up a new hobby of touring model homes all over that region. We questioned if maybe the time was right to sell that cramped condo and get us a real house. That's how we found the home we live in today, by choosing a road and following it.

My parents divorced when I was seven. I was an only child. My father was a sailor in the Navy, and as it was I hardly saw him anyways. Both my father and mother ended up remarrying to different people, and had new sons all over again. Had my parents stayed together I might not have harbored this frustration for having lost my family and becoming the jealous step-child. I wouldn't be the angry, opinionated, motorcycle rider I am today.

And the road would not have brought me to my wife of 19 years, to the career path I ventured down, to this home that we bought, to this small business that we started, to the motorcycles I now own, to the friends I have today. But yet I look around me and I feel blessed.

Of course, I could have had all those same things had my parents remained in love and raised me in a happier disposition. But then, what difference does it make? I'm happy now.

Just a couple of days ago Joker pointed out that in his riding club, a riding plan must be planned out in detail and cannot be changed by anyone but the road captain. And if a road captain isn't there, the ride is off. But in our riding club, we come up with a plan, start down that direction, and then let the road throw its ideas at us.

You might decide to steer your motorcyle down a specific road, and you might have decided where you'll eat lunch, where you'll get gas, and where you'll take a pee, but you'll never really know what you'll get until you ride it.

But what you do know is that you have some good riding buddies, and plenty of good sunshine.


  1. Thanks for the mention. It makes us sound a bit too anal for the "freedom" of the road many equate with the way riding really should be. I just want to clarify a few things:

    The main reason for the planning is safety. We have around 180 members give or take, and you never know just how many will show for a ride. Sometimes it's 7. Sometimes it's 27 or even more. I plan carefully because I take the responsibility seriously. Not every Road Captain in the Chapter is as anal about how he or she leads a ride. All I can say is those who don't plan well end up doing a lot of turning around. Doing that with 4 bikes is no big deal. Doing it with 20 bikes sucks.

    I make sure that I pre-ride my route a day or two before to make sure they didn't decide to dig up 5 miles of it to work on a new water main. Nothing pisses the owner of a nice shined-up Harley off more than being led off the pavement onto a few miles of dirt, interspersed with raised man-hole covers and sewer grates that serve as motorcycle land mines. I also call ahead to eaterys with a headcount. The 2nd biggest thing to piss everyone off is getting to the restaurant and finding it's either closed, or they can't accommodate a big group.

    The idea of choosing a direction over a destination is romantic and all, but not practical for a large group of folks each sitting on between 10 to 25 grand worth of iron horse. It's true that we prefer not to schedule a ride without assigning a Road Captain. But, as I said, in the rare instance where there isn't one, it's not like everyone just leaves and we don't ride. We improvise if we can, just as we did on that day I told you about.

    HOG's mantra is "Ride and Have Fun." My mantra is that, with "get everyone there safe" added on.

  2. I always wanted to be an architect when I grew up, maybe I will one day (grow up, that is)! How the ehll did I ever end up being a teacher?

    Jay & I comment often that we wish we had come into each other's lives so much sooner. But the fact of the matter is, that if we had we wouldn't have been in the places that we needed to be for everything to fall into place. I never would have guessed that my life would turn out the way it has, but I am soooooo glad that it did! I wouldn't change a thing...except maybe that darn teaching job. LOL

  3. Sorry if I digress from the topic at hand but I would like to back my friend Joker here as well as the HOG organization in general. With an "official" HOG chapter ride their is liability involved and you have to take that into consideration. But like Joker points out, although the "official" ride may be canceled it's not like we don't get together in an unofficial capacity and just follow the road like any self respecting motorcyclist. Believe me we HOGs can hang, but if you see us riding together in staggered formation with ten or more bikes then most likely we have some slow pokes and beginners with us and we will be poking along a little slower than my grandmother in a Yugo.

  4. "Sorry if I digress from the topic at hand but I would like to back my friend Joker here as well as the HOG organization in general."

    Guys, it's not personal, it's just me blogging on my blog. I'm just thinking out loud about philosophy.

    I can appreciate what you guys do. Aside from the club, I run a motorcycle meetup group on my own where I invite the public out for a ride. I'll get 20-30 people show up, many of whom I've never met before, and I have to lead them without the benefit of a sweep, or other teammate. I know the feeling. I just don't know HOG.

  5. Steve: Hey, believe me, I never took the slightest offense to what you said. I just didn't want any of your readers unfamiliar with HOG to get the idea that we're so wrapped up in organization that we lose sight of having a good time.

    "Road Captain" was the first blogger I met, and it was his blog that inspired me to start mine. From what I know of him, I don't think he'd take anything said personally either. He's just passionate about his own HOG Chapter, and about being a good Road Captain.

    I checked out your rider's group and I think it's terrific. You are really to be commended for taking the initiative to do your own thing. I chose HOG because I'm too busy/lazy to try and organize a riding group of my own, but I still wanted to find others to ride with. One thing I will say is that you have an advantage in that you don't have to abide by anyone else's guidelines but your own. There's something to be said for that.

    As I said before, I never mean to suggest HOG is any better or worse than any other riding club. It's just that because the Motor Company sponsors it, there does have to be a certain minimal structure. That doesn't bother me any, but there are folks who don't care for it and I respect that.

    The way I see it, the best thing here for all of us is to take advantage of learning how we all do things. Sharing our experiences on two wheels, however they may be organized, is what the blogs are really supposed to be all about. You have a great blog here, I enjoy reading your stuff very much, and I look forward to learning more about how you and your friends ride.

  6. Great post. I don't think there are many people who can say their lives are exactly how they expected them to be.
    And my two cents about HOG....I really think it depends on where you are. I know that for the most part they are all supposed to follow the same guidelines, but I'm sure every area differs. I've heard Joker and RC talk about loving their chapters, and I think that's awesome, but I haven't been impressed by our local HOG.

  7. BB: You are absolutely right. The basic guidelines from H-D are the same everywhere, but any HOG Chapter is only as good as the sum of its parts, meaning it's all about the people. In my post about our "Ride Home" to Milwaukee for H-D's 105th, I wrote about a guy named Jay who hooked up with us for the ride. He came 50 miles out of his way to be with Blackstone, because he wasn't impressed with the HOG Chapters closer to him.

    No matter who you ride with and whether it's well organized or just mount up and "follow me," you have to have good people around you. I know that you do, and you do it without any help from HOG. It's too bad your local Chapter isn't what you're looking for. As far as I'm concerned, they are the ones who are losing out on the deal.

  8. For myself, I don't like to ride in groups. Large or small. I have ridden all over the United States as well as three countries in Central America for the most part by myself...(In Guatemala I paired up with another rider, and we skeedadled the heck outta there rather quickly...just too much civil disruptions going on for our safety back in 1994.)

    I've been a loner for as long as I can remember. I have rarely felt comfortable riding with a group larger than two.

    huh, well I'm not sure exactly what my point is here...never mind, I just wanted to say I enjoyed this blog...reading it, and your musings regarding childhood to manhood...sparks my own fascination of happiness now...because of (in spite of?) then.... Thanks so much



About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)