Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Chapter Closes

It was born out of the need to fill my life with something different after my husband died.  That's how motorcycling came into my life.  First came running.  I started running six months after my husband's death and then, one year later, ran my first full marathon in January 2002.  Eight months after running that marathon I took the MSF Rider's Edge riding course and got my motorcycle endorsement.  That was in August, 2002.

Me, barely able to touch the ground, on a Buell Blast in rider school

My first bike - Yamaha Virago

A string of motorcycles then came and went in my riding life.  First a little Yamaha Virago.  It took me a month after getting my motorcycle endorsement to get the courage up to go buy that bike.  I even had to have a friend ride it home for me.  I put 80 miles on the odometer just riding it around my gated neighborhood before I screwed up the courage to take it outside the gates and down the road a half mile to the gas station.  I had no idea what kind of gas mileage this bike got, so felt that surely I needed to put gas in the tank.  It took one gallon.  80 mpg on this little Virago.  I rode this little Yamaha for 3 months, gaining the needed road skills that a motorcycle class just can't provide.

Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom - Violetta

Then I traded the Virago in for a V-Star 650 Custom, getting all of my money back on that Virago since they had an immediate buyer for it. The V-Star 650 was probably the bike I should have gotten in the first place, instead of the little Virago.  But I was intimidated by its size.  Looking back, it really wasn't that much bigger than the Virago but it had a wide, cruiser-style gas tank which made it look huge to me.

V-Star 1100 Silverado - Candy

Six months later, with some more riding experience behind me, I realized the shortcomings of that 650 V-Star Custom and sold it to a gal in San Antonio.  I then got a V-Star 1100 Silverado, a quite capable and comfortable bike for longer trips.  I rode that bike by myself to Pensacola Beach FL on Father's Day weekend, to visit the Navy flight museum.  I rode up and down the barrier island, from Ft. Pickens in one direction, down to Navarre Beach in the other direction, then across the bridge to visit my old high school and the house we lived in when we lived in Milton FL.  This first overnight trip by myself was liberating.

On the beach in Pensacola

Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park

I rode that V-Star Silverado through Rocky Mountain National Park, across several Colorado passes, down to Buena Vista, over to Gunnison.  The next summer I rode it up to New Hampshire to attend Bike Week at Weir's Beach, through heavy rains every day on the way up to New Hampshire.  I rode it from New Hampshire down through Norfolk Va and over to the Outer Banks.  It was here that I started my first of five different IBA National Park Tours.

Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

But that trip to NH whetted my appetite for bigger and better and longer trips.  The limited gas range of this carburated bike hindered my ability to make good time on the interstates.  It seemed that I was always looking for the next exit with a decent gas station.

2004 BMW R1150R - Red Baron

When I returned from the NH trip, I immediately sold the bike to a Yamaha dealership and bought a brand new BMW R1150R.  This beautiful and highly capable motorcycle took me a total of 100,000 miles, chasing after several Iron Butt Association endurance rides and riding through nearly every state in the U.S.:  Several Saddle Sore 1000's (more than 1000 miles in less than 24 hours), a Bun Burner Gold (more than 1500 miles in less than 24 hours) IBA National Park Tours, AMA Grand Tours, and BMW rallies all over the country.
Going to Ft. Spokane,WA to get the National Park stamp for IBA NPT Silver

At the same time that this 2004 BMW lived in my garage, a really pretty H-D 883 Custom in pearl white resided there as well, and I took her on some shorter trips, including to AR, west Texas, and LA, and on plenty of day rides.

2004 H-D Sportster 883 Custom

In late 2006 I sold that 883 Custom to a girlfriend who had just gotten her motorcycle license and bought myself an absolutely gorgeous 2007 Yamaha FZ6.  Now I had two red beauties parked in my garage, one for the really long hauls, one for shorter trips and day rides whenever I needed the thrill that only the power of an in-line four, 100 hp sport bike can provide.

2007 Yamaha FZ6

When the BMW R1150R mileage reached 100,000 miles, I knew she'd start needing some major maintenance so in August 2008 I sold her and ordered a 2009 R1200R from the BMW factory in Germany.  It took four months for her to arrive stateside, so in the meantime my FZ6 became my primary ride.  During those four months I really bonded with her and began to fully appreciate just how comfortable she was for me, especially after I decked her out with Givi side cases and top case, a custom Bill Mayer seat, and added a powerlet outlet for my heated jacket liner.

At Vicksburg National Park

In the Fall I took that FZ6 to Indiana for our MTF annual Founders Feast, doing an IBA Saddle Sore 1000 (over 1000 miles in less than 24 hours) to get there.  She didn't disappoint me, and was more than capable and very comfortable.  She saw lots of travel in those four months, gathering AMA Grand Tour points and IBA National Park Tour stamps, and attending a number of lunch gatherings around the country.

New BMW 2009 R1200R

I'd bonded so strongly with my FZ6 that when the new BMW arrived at the dealer's, I hated it immediately.  That first ride home from the dealership was miserable.  Even with slight pull back risers and a custom Bill Mayer saddle, I never could get that new BMW as comfortable as my old BMW, and definitely couldn't get it as comfortable as my FZ6.

That BMW did some significant traveling, though, going to BMW rallies in Redmond OR, Chippewa Falls WI, Johnson City TN, and Sedalia MO; attending MTF events all over the country; and earning a number of IBA ride certificates including a SS2000 and a National Park Tour Silver.  But in almost 70,000 miles, we just never bonded.

Riding the R1200R in the Ozarks

The FZ6 earned herself a Bun Burner Gold on the way to the Iron Butt Association bi-annual meet in Denver and, by doing so, sealed her top position in my garage.  So when I realized that I just wasn't riding the BMW that much anymore, I sold her on consignment through the BMW dealership in spring of 2013.

Now I was down to one beloved FZ6.   But at the same time I sold my BMW, my destination half marathon trips began to really take control of my time and my budget.  Now, time and money previously spent taking motorcycle trips all over the country was being spent traveling around the country to run in half marathons.

In ten years, I'd ridden a quarter of a million miles on my motorcycles.  In the subsequent three years, I'd ridden barely two thousand miles.

Timeless styling

My heart hurt every time I walked out to the garage and saw that pretty FZ6 just sitting there, unridden.  Once in a while I'd get out of bed, gear up, and take her for a ride - just to burn some gas and keep the battery charged.  I'd get it done before I'd even showered and dressed or had breakfast.  I knew that if I waited, it wouldn't happen.  Before long, this became a dreaded chore.  As much as I loved that bike, I was having a hard time giving her the attention she deserved.

So....a couple of weeks ago I drove over to the Yamaha dealership and talked to the Service Manager.  He knew that bike well.  He was there when I bought that bike new and his shop had done all of the service on the bike.  I asked him to talk to the Buyer or General Manager about buying it from me.  It was perfect condition and was diligently serviced.

Is this goodbye?  At the dealership

And then, this past week, I rode her over there and turned her over with title to the dealership.  That was it.  It was a very sad day for me.  I really loved that motorcycle; she was the absolute perfect bike for me.  She would run all day, giving me over 200 miles on a tank of gas.  Plenty of power at the throttle - 100 hp - accelerating quickly and smoothly and easily with just a slight twist of the throttle, yet the most well-mannered bike I've ever owned, requiring absolutely no clutch feathering at speeds below 5 mph.  She was a dream to ride in stop-and-go traffic.

Ahh....I'm going to miss that pretty girl.   Not sure I'm going to miss riding, though.  We'll see.  Let me finish my 50 States Half Marathon quest, let me run the races that have popped up on my calendar over the next 12 months,  Then we'll see....

So long, pretty girl.  I'm really going to miss you...

1 comment:

  1. SO here it is a year later, do you still miss her?