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The things that stick with you when motorcycling

  1. #1
    Super Adventurer SRTie4k's Avatar
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    The things that stick with you when motorcycling


    We are all fully aware of how being on a motorcycle makes you feel more "one with nature", or intimately more a part of what's around you, thanks in part to the sights, smells, temperature, the feeling of the air rushing past, and more, as you ride.

    There are certain places that I've been on the bike that just seem to stick with me, however. Some of those places are just so different from my everyday life, memories of them will pop up unexpectedly and for no real reason years later. Maybe it was because of the feeling like I'm a stranger in a strange land, or maybe it has something to do with the sights and smells, or sometimes it's just nostalgia. All I know is that there are places out there in the world that I've ridden through, or things I've seen or experienced, that had a big enough impact on me, that made me feel like I'm no longer in the America I know, that I will think of them randomly after years.

    One of the memories I always seem to come back to is when my buddy and I rode mostly back roads from southern NH down to NC. I built a route looking for the curviest roads I could find along the way. We rode through NY, VT, PA, MD, WV, VA and NC, a lot of which was out in the middle of nowhere. The route was not built was gas in mind, I figured we'd find it along the way, and that sometimes proved difficult; a few times I had to put in low octane to get to the next gas station for premium.

    Riding out in the countryside in MD and WV is nothing like riding in the countryside in the northeast. The hills are like rollercoasters, pavement goes every which way into the middle of nowhere, and there is so much obvious poverty that we are usually oblivious to up in the northeast (as an aside, it's surprising how much pavement there is when some of those areas are so impoverished). Here's an example of what we'd see riding in the hilly countryside of MD:



    What continually comes back to me, though, is riding through a small town called Luke, MD. Looking it up on Wikipedia, the 2020 census puts the population at 85. But what struck me was the fact that the entire town was almost literally one huge factory in a valley in the middle of a bunch of mountains. You can see it from street view here.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@39.4734...7i13312!8i6656

    You could see the smoke from the stacks from a few miles outside of town, and then suddenly we were hit by the smell - it reeked of propane, or rotten eggs throughout. And then when we turned off on to WV46, it just became all woods and beautiful country side again, with very few homes (what was there was extremely run down) but plenty of churches every few miles.

    I think what struck me the most was within a few miles of that town, we stopped at a little hole in the wall gas station in the middle of nowhere WV (right here actually), and as we're gassing up a beat to hell minivan with two parents and their 8-ish year old pulls in they hop out. The kid, who has a cast on his leg and some pretty ragged clothes, is interested in my bike and asks about it, so I tell him all about it and let him check it out (his mother wasn't too keen on him touching it). and that's when I notice that he's literally wearing newspaper shoes on both feet.

    Riding through that town and seeing that kid wearing newspaper shoes just stuck with me all these years, and whenever I think about the rides I've been on, that always bubbles up to the surface.

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    Last edited by SRTie4k; 01-13-22 at 03:52 PM.
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    Old and Slow Sheppo's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I can see why the newspaper shoes would stick with you. I did some traveling through WV many years ago and the poverty stuck with me. Things we take for granted, like even shoes.

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    Lifer typeone's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Quote Originally Posted by SRTie4k View Post
    Riding out in the countryside in MD and WV is nothing like riding in the countryside in the northeast. The hills are like rollercoasters, pavement goes every which way into the middle of nowhere, and there is so much obvious poverty that we are usually oblivious to up in the northeast (as an aside, it's surprising how much pavement there is when some of those areas are so impoverished).

    You could see the smoke from the stacks from a few miles outside of town, and then suddenly we were hit by the smell - it reeked of propane, or rotten eggs throughout. And then when we turned off on to WV46, it just became all woods and beautiful country side again, with very few homes (what was there was extremely run down) but plenty of churches every few miles.

    I think what struck me the most was within a few miles of that town, we stopped at a little hole in the wall gas station in the middle of nowhere WV, and as we're gassing up a beat to hell minivan with two parents and their 8-ish year old pulls in they hop out. The kid, who has a cast on his leg and some pretty ragged clothes, is interested in my bike and asks about it, so I tell him all about it and let him check it out (his mother wasn't too keen on him touching it). and that's when I notice that he's literally wearing newspaper shoes on both feet.

    Riding through that town and seeing that kid wearing newspaper shoes just stuck with me all these years, and whenever I think about the rides I've been on, that always bubbles up to the surface.
    good thread + post. not on a moto but.. .

    on my way back from TX solo with our campervan last March i drove a few min north of that area. hills like rollercoasters is an understatement, i had never experienced roads like that before. unreal ... and as you say, unbelievably beautiful and heart-wrenchingly depressing at the same time in some of the 'populated' areas. stopped for gas twice in those hills, reminded me of similar small-town locations i had stopped at in upstate NY years back. houses barely standing that looked abandoned but weren't ... in WV i was amazed how the homes were built in clusters in the valleys right on the hillsides. one town west of that area i stopped in was just full of logging, mud, smoke and a factory or two. i felt for the people there, had a sense of guilt that i was able to 'escape' so easily by just driving through. i have similar thoughts and memories from my time living in southern Florida. the poverty i witnessed was life changing as a young teen from lower CT.

    back on topic... i miss getting lost on a road bike, the smells were always a thing for me as well ... wet soil, fresh cut grass, fall leaves, laundry/dryer sheets haven't ridden road in years but constantly have memories bubble up stopping to look at maps or snagging gas/snack in some random town in NE. it would be a dream to do a long-distance ride like you did. maybe someday when my boys are older...

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    Member Crconnor18's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    My first thoughts after returning from a solo trip from UT to MA was understanding how a majority of the geographical America is no where near the same condition as those in Greater Boston or similar. A lot of 60 mi+ stints between fuel stations, low octane fuel, a lot of poverty but one thing I did notice was the happier people were when away from the cities.

    I took a break in the flats of Utah to share an icecream with a shop owner just sharing life stories. Maybe it’s the fact that not many people come through those town as they do big cities but I never felt un-welcomed in any way.

    A very grounding experience I feel all should take the time to see what America is behind the curtain.

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    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Love this post. Travel on 2 wheels is like nothing else. The places you go literally enter your body. Memories are burned in long term and shape who we become.

    Riding around Guatemala was one of my most memorable. Both for the poverty and for the beauty found in that same life.



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    Lifer capitalcrew's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    The strongest memory I have of traveling on a bike is from my move to Nashville. Two things stand out to me
    Or three I guess.

    1. Somewhere in Virginia around 2-3am I was passing a truck. I was doing probably 100 on an empty highway, just me and the truck. I got by him and went to move over and when I go to check my mirror a Porsche went by me faster than I had ever seen anything traveling on a public road, on the inside in the lane I was trying to merge into. Shaken, I checked again and moved over. A couple seconds later a Mercedes went by just as fast in the lane I was just in.

    That shit put deep fear in me, lol.

    2. Somewhere in eastern TN I had to give up. I stopped for gas, stretched, left the station to go to the McDonald's for a large tea to slam before getting back on the bike. I waited and waited at a red light that wouldn't register me. Eventually I ran it, and went to the McDonald's. I parked kind of far away from the door, walked all of the way over to the door while employees looked on, and the door was locked. After I tried it they said "we're closed". OH OKAY THANKS MAN. I was so disgusted and exhausted at that point that I rode to the nearest motel and passed out in leathers on top of the covers. Woke up three hours later to keep going.

    Last part, #3, I was within maybe an hour of my new apartment and it started raining and at first I was so pissed. Like man, after all of this I'm gonna get rained on? But after a couple of minutes with the sun coming out and rain still falling I just stopped caring. It wasn't cold, sun was shining, oh well. I'm wet. Getting wetter. We're almost there. The relief of being close was bigger than the rain for sure.

    That's pretty much it for me I guess. I've had some other good experiences but nothing super ground breaking. I'll always remember pulling over my car in a rural area, I had been following my dad on his bike. He told me I could ride the bike and he'd follow me. That was a rad moment.

    Also the old guy I rode with in TN with an 80s turbo kawasaki giving it the sauce on a straight as long as you could see. I had my tl1000 pinned in whatever the top gear is trying to keep up. Hahaha. Guy was in his 70s. What a trip.

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    Senior Member MHenry600's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I'll have to take more time to lay out a longer reply, but the very first thing that popped in my head was riding up through smugglers notch, for whatever reason. Going through the stone on either side is cool. Was 2up on the CBR, had to be 6 or 7 years ago now?

    It's certainly not the biggest memory I have on the bike, but just thought it was interesting to be the one that came to mind.

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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I'll never forget... getting lost in Ecuador... trying to get directions from a farmer tending to his cows... riding through REMOTE mountain roads... in the rain... AT NIGHT... in the PITCH BLACK... with one tiny SHHHHHIT headlight, and Sylwia right behind me on her own bike (with an equally shitty headlight).

    We told the rental company we'd try to be back by like 8pm at the latest... we didn't roll into the rental place till about midnight. The owner's mom & grandmother had cookies waiting for us

    The day STARTED with Sylwia's bike blowing an oil seal around the internal filter that we had to fix on the side of the highway... fixed it with one of her elastic hair ties.

    And at any point of the day, did she complain? Nope. Not even after she biffed it on a mountainous dirt farm trail and me not realizing that she wasn't behind me anymore for another two miles

    That was the day that I knew.

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 01-14-22 at 02:09 PM.
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    Senior Member MHenry600's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Oops.... double post...

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    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Bugs

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    Super Adventurer SRTie4k's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I think part of what made that particular ride down so memorable was all the crazy stuff that happened along the way.

    We went on that trip in mid April, and the day we left (a Saturday) it was 30 degrees going up over Route 9 from Brattleboro to Bennington. We had the cold to contend with, and then when we stopped in Troy NY for breakfast, I came back out to my motorcycle to find a puddle of oil on the ground under the front wheel. Great time to find out I have a leaking fork seal! We decided to push on and see if I could contact a KTM dealer in NY to get my fork seals changed (it was too early and nothing was open yet).

    A while later we stop for gas in Oneonta NY, and now I have 2 puddles up front; both fork seals are leaking! So I call various KTM dealers in the area and of course none of them have a fork seal kit in stock. After thinking on it a bit, I then decide fuck it, I'm going to try to make it 2 1/2 more days on leaking fork seals. What's the worst that happens? I lose all damping and ride on springs. So I call Eurosport Asheville and they can get the parts and get me in first thing in the morning Tuesday.

    Then we get down into PA, and it's still 30 degrees in northern PA, but as we work our way down through Susquehannock State Forest and on to Clearfield (where we stayed for the night), the temp is continually climbing and by the time we get to the hotel, it's 70 fuckin degrees. Craziest temp swing I've ever experienced on a bike. The next day is also beautiful as we ride from Clearfield PA down to Waynesboro VA, in the 60's and 70's all day long.

    Then day 3 we are doing the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, we wake up again to 30 degree weather. Luckily we're already dressed for it, but now we're riding in the mountains where it's sleeting on and off and we're seeing temps dipping down into the high 20's at times. This was one of the spots where it was a nice balmy mid 30's:



    We were actually playing leap frog with two other riders on V-Stroms that day. I hope they were dressed warmly as well. And then what I figured would probably happen finally happens; around Blowing Rock NC, it starts snowing, and not lightly. It snows enough that we finally hit a closed gate and have to get off in the mountains and find another way to Whittier (near Cherokee). All the while we're riding out of the mountains, it's 28 degrees, snowing and the roads are slushy. The leaking fork seals were a distant memory at this point. That was a seriously sketchy ride, but we did make it to Asheville where the temp was back around 50.

    But then instead of taking 74 all the way to Whittier, we make the dumb decision to peel off on 19 through Maggie Valley (some of you may know where this is going). I knew that was probably a bad idea (we rode the area 2 separate years before) but didn't say anything thinking maybe it would be clear. After passing through Maggie Valley though, you have to wind your way back up over a mountain and back down an extremely twisty road to get to Cherokee (instead of taking the highway-esque 74 that goes through the valley), and of course it was covered in snow and it was starting to stick. And the temp dropped back down to the high 20's. We finally did make it, but I wouldn't be lying if I said I'm surprised the seat didn't come off the bike with me when I dismounted at our cabin; Maggie Valley to Cherokee was probably the biggest and longest pucker moment I've ever had on a bike, including being inches away from hitting deer a few times.

    The rest of the week was smooth sailing; I got my fork seals replaced at Eurosport Asheville (probably the best KTM dealer in the country) and got to take a demo BMW R1200GS for a spin up the BRP. And we rode all over the place the rest of the week, including some off pavement excursions.



    But those 3 days riding down are still vividly etched in my mind. We've ridden in the snow here in the northeast a few times since then and it's never really been a concern.





    Riding the Bayley-Hazen near Cabot on 100% snow covered roads was probably the most dicey of all the snow riding we've done, but something about being 1000 miles from home in the mountains in the snow on a motorcycle with leaking fork seals is unnerving, to say the least!

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    Lifer capitalcrew's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Yeah you'd hate to get any of that oil on your rear tire. Could be slick! ��

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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    Love this post. Travel on 2 wheels is like nothing else. The places you go literally enter your body. Memories are burned in long term and shape who we become.

    Riding around Guatemala was one of my most memorable. Both for the poverty and for the beauty found in that same life.



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    yer wife puttin diesel in her tank, then taking the tank off n dumping it in a trash barrel

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    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyO View Post
    yer wife puttin diesel in her tank, then taking the tank off n dumping it in a trash barrel
    THAT was funny. It was like trying to catch a greased piglet.

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    Last edited by Paul_E_D; 01-14-22 at 11:59 AM.
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    Senior Member Spooler's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I’ve done a fair bit of riding in WV, I love the roads and landscape. As far as poverty goes, it actually reminds me a lot of the part of NY I was born in, and still spend a lot of time in. It’s like central NY with the landscape turned up a few notches.

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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Quote Originally Posted by OreoGaborio View Post
    ... fixed it with one of her elastic hair ties.
    MacGyver'd it!

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  17. #17
    Senior Member Spooler's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Oh, and last time I was in WV on the bike I came a few feet from hitting a bald eagle that was in the road eating something. I dodged and it took off, it felt like it passed over my head by only a couple of feet. My wife was on the back and she swears she saw a zebra later that day, I assume it was a white horse standing next to a black fence or something, although those escaped DC zebras have me reconsidering.

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    Lifer capitalcrew's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I don't know about WV but there's a private gated neighborhood in Texas with free roaming zebras

    Because of course there is

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  19. #19
    Lifer capitalcrew's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Edit - double post

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  20. #20
    Lifer burnham's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    I rode out from Mass to Yellowstone and back in late September of 01. I rode through what I'm assuming had to be a vineyard in western NY state. The smell of the grapes was overwhelming, I was just blown away by how strong it was. Kinda like New Jersey, but in a good way, not disgusting. 20 years later when I smell grape it puts me right back to that warm September afternoon.

    Also - don't ever ride cross country on a gsxr 1000. I was that stupid.

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  21. #21
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: The things that stick with you when motorcycling

    Almost becoming the hood ornament for an F350 being impatient on a "pass".

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