When I finally got out to the various dealers to shop for a new bike a month after getting my endorsement, I only looked at small cruiser-style bikes. Being short, I felt it was the only option available to me. And even with low, low seat heights - 24, 25, 26 inches - I was intimidated by every single bike I sat on. But I needed to just do it before I chickened out forever. And so I bought a small Yamaha cruiser.
The shortcomings of a cruiser motorcycle became obvious to me only once I outgrew the large group day rides and yearned to go beyond the 50-mile, all-day rides to a greasy spoon lunch spot 30 miles outside of Houston. This is when I realized that a 130-mile gas range was hugely inconvenient. And it's when I came to realize that the cruiser "feet forward" riding position was uncomfortable and impractical for more than 100 mile trips.
When I approached my 2-year anniversary of riding, a friend started pushing me toward a motorcycle more suited for the kind of rider I was evolving into. He convinced me I was ready for a BMW. Until this point, I never even considered what options were out there besides Harleys and Harley-clones. I had no knowledge of "standard" and "sport-touring" mounts. I only knew about cruisers and crotch rockets.
But he was right. I was ready in theory, just not ready in practice, not ready to tackle a completely different style of bike. However, a year later, a trip to Laconia - four 500-mile days strung together back to back on interstates in pouring rain - was the turning point. I'd put 31,000 miles on this Yamaha V-Star 1100 in 2 years. That sounded like an outrageous amount of miles to me and indeed it sounded like a lot of miles to prospective buyers as well.
A new BMW R1150R that summer of 2005 changed my riding forever. A short learning curve and a change in my habits and riding style, and I adapted to the radically different riding position and the much higher seating position. And then, 6 months later, I discovered and got active in a "virtual" riding group called Motorcycle Tourers Forum (MTF).
In March 2006 I did a SS1000 to become a member of the Iron Butt Association (IBA) and thus began my long-distance riding career. I put nearly 90,000 miles on this first BMW in just 3 years, crisscrossing the continent to attend MTF events, participate in IBA events, and visit every National Park within easy reach of an interstate highway.
But suddenly I had a motorcycle with almost 90,000 miles on it. 5 sets of tires; 15 oil changes and valve checks; 3 alternator belts...one well-traveled companion to adventure. And just 10,000 or so miles away from earning the BMW Motorrad USA 100,000 mileage award.
While I was accumulating these miles, I wasn't conscious of doing so; it wasn't about the miles at all. The BMW was an excellent conveyance to parts of the country I'd always wanted to visit and see: Mt. Rushmore, Acadia National Park, the great plains of the midwest, Rocky Mountains, mid-Atlantic seashore. It was about escape. And about satisfying my wanderlust and need to travel.
I found a willing buyer of this very high mileage BMW in July 2008 and ordered myself a new 2009 R1200R BMW. This new mount arrived the end of October and I took my first trip on it the first weekend of December - to Cedar Key FL. By May, 2009 I had accrued 100,000 miles combined on BMW's: My first one, the R1150R, and my second and current BMW, the R1200R.
Throughout this BMW "era" a second motorcycle has always shared garage space with her. First a Harley 883C Sportster, then a Yamaha FZ6. They accumulated their share of miles and - including those first Yamaha cruisers - another 80,000 miles' worth of rubber have been burned in the interest of riding enjoyment.
The BMW Motorrad USA 100,000 mile award was presented to me on December 19, 2009 at the Gulf Coast BMW dealership.