I have rode motorcycles since 1979 which is not as long as some people, but longer than most. I sold my bike back about 1984 and stayed off 2 wheels until 2004 and I have been riding ever since. I’ve considered hanging my boots up several times over the past couple of years. First, motorcycling can be a dangerous way of life. Even under the most cautious and defensive of actions by a rider, there is still a RISK of injury or death due to equipment failure or the inattention of a distracted motorist in a car. So that’s one reason I’ve thought about calling it quits.
Another reason is that…HELL, I’m getting old. Now in the scheme of things, I ain’t THAT old, but almost daily there’s a new ache or pain that attacks this old body. A few years ago I broke my arm right at the ball joint in my shoulder and now that has turned into a minor rotator cuff pain that I’m having… But worse than that, MY OTHER NON-INJURED arm is having some moderate issues with my rotator cuff. Riding a motorcycle with your arms raised EVEN slightly is very tough on your rotator cuff.
Last year I was pretty serious about selling the bike. Not so much that I put out an ad, but it was frustrating to get on the bike and then feel pain with even a short ride. Some days it was better than others, and fortunately whenever I did do a trip, it seemed to work out that it wasn’t as bad. So, no pun intended…but instead of selling, I just let it “ride” and parked it in the garage for the winter. Normally winter didn’t stop me from riding, but it did this past year.
This year on the first NICE DAY of weather, I got the bike out again and went for a short 100 mile ride. It was refreshing, invigorating and most of all thought provoking. But again my shoulder was bothering me and that in itself can be a little depressing. I knew that within the next 6-8 weeks I might be riding out to Virginia on the bike, but I was very concerned about 17-20 hours on the bike and the impact it would have on the pain I would endure. I decided that I would do the same rehab I did when I broke my shoulder, except I would do it for BOTH of my shoulders. I did a series of 5 exercises for each side using dumbbells and although I didn’t see any immediate benefits, within a month…I could tell my shoulders were strengthening and the pain was lessening. The exercises were actually working.
So just before the trip, I was having second thoughts. I was not really excited about riding in the cold and possible rain. I was questioning how much I would enjoy 40 plus hours of just sitting on a motorcycle seat trekking across the eastern United States. I had these doubts all the way up to the DAY I was gonna leave(and including the first 20 miles of the ride). I seriously thought about just throwing everything in the car and driving out to Virginia. I’m GLAD I DIDN’T do that.
I took 3.5 days to get out to Virginia and saw not a single interstate! I stayed on 2 lane highways and rural roads and saw places and things I would have never saw had I been in a car. I saw rural America and it was refreshing (well, except for the hillside of grasslands that had the name TRUMP carved into it). I saw old buildings, landmarks I didn’t even know existed, gnarly trees (I’m thinking about a gnarly old tree coffee table book), and of course PEOPLE. At one place in Tremont, MS I stopped for gas…this is a small town known as the birthplace and home of Tammy Wynette. When I went in to pay for my gas at this ONE PUMP country gas station, the old man started up a conversation asking me where I was from and where I was headed. He said, they were just finishing up the new Tammy Wynette museum and that I should stop back by in a month or so when it will be completed. He then went on to tell me about her accomplishments at the high school (apparently she was a good basketball player). You could feel the sense of pride he had because he did know her and remember her from back then. That’s just not something I would have experienced had I taken my car…and my shoulders didn’t hurt either. 🙂
This ride was refreshing and invigorating to me. Maybe I’m not as old as I wanted to feel like. Maybe it is too early to think about hanging the boots up. Maybe I should take more time to experience rural America and see what she has to offer me. Maybe the rain and the cold are nothing more than just memories to talk about when remembering some of these rides. And there is a sense of accomplishment when you outwit mother nature by dodging storms, cold, wind and other obstacles that make each ride a UNIQUE experience.
Maybe I can do a few more of these rides before I’m laid int l the ground.
I always loved the solitude of riding a motorcycle..it’s just YOU, your wits, your bike and YOUR MIND. There’s a lot of time to think things out, or work on personal issues…and even listen to some great classic rock music. Yeah, this ride did me some good, and it helps when you have a great machine that’s comfortable and RELIABLE.
So basically…no, it’s too early to hang them boots up yet.
6 thoughts on “Hanging My Motorcycle Boots Up”
Good for you. You should ride the curvy roads of Southeastern Ohio. Beautiful hills and fun roads.
And…I think they have covered bridges too. Yep…on my list. 🙂
Wally, just wonder in if you ever bought a bike at Westbrooks? Henry was my Grandpa!
Yes I did buy my 2nd ever bike there…it was a 1979 Kawasaki 650. A very nice bike…fast too for just being a 650. As for Henry, that name does not ring a bell…I do remember Ray and his Mom, the mechanic and Donna. Were you related to them?
Enjoyed this article Wally. I agree with taking the less traveled roads. A couple years ago Tonna and I did that on a trip to Clarksville Ar. Did a three day weekend and did rides to Mount Magazine, Mena and roads north of Clarksville.
Riding in groups has diminished greatly, but I have maintained much of mileage regardless…same as with the website…has grown quiet. It’s probably in the throes of being shutdown…probably next year. But every time I think I am ready to call an end to my riding…I get rejuvenated. LOL