A few years ago, I rode out to Colorado to go camping with friends. I hope to go back in 2015.
See you on the highway.
When I first learned of Allan Karl’s Kickstarter project, I thought it to be an intriguing idea and quite different than the usual memoir of “I rode around the world on my motorcycle.” It’s not only unique, it is brilliant.
Had Karl taken this trip after the Ted Simon Foundation was in operation, this book would be the poster child for meaningful travel and sharing culture. More about that in a bit.
Currently on a book tour, Karl starts out his presentations with “I lost my job. I got a divorce. I might as well ride a motorcycle around the world.” And so he did. Three years. Sixty-two thousand miles. Five continents. Thirty-five countries. One motorcycle.
Karl says he started out with the intent he would write a memoir about his travels. Somewhere along the way, he realized that ordinary people in the vast mix of cultures greeted him with friendship and invited him to share a meal. That became the common denominator for the book. We all eat, and when we sit down to share a meal, we are no longer strangers.
The book is filled with travels in each of the countries—one country, one chapter, and a recipe. The book tour events build upon those stories—some which never made it into the book, like the Mexican police officer on a motorcycle who stopped Karl for “speeding.” Karl knew it was all about a bribe and tried his best to avoid payment. But it became clear the officer was not going to let Karl go without some kind of payout.
Trying to out wit the officer, Karl says he explained he had lost his wallet with an ATM card and passport and needed to get to the next town to get replacements. All he had was a $20 bill in his pocket, and Karl was trying not to give that up. “How do you ask for change from a police officer who will probably take $2.”
Finally insisting that he was nearly out of gas, the officer noticed Karl’s fuel bottles on the back of the bike. He takes the empty bottles, walks over to his motorcycle, pulls the fuel line and fills the empty bottles! Leaving his own motorcycle nearly empty. Shortly, Karl was headed down the road minus the $20. The cop had an answer for everything including giving up his own gas.
That’s the energy of attending one of Karl’s book events. The extra stories. You can read about his encounter with guerillas (the AK-47 armed kind) in Columbia, or crossing the border into Syria. Fascinating stories.
Crossing into Syria, after several days of delays, the chief inspector would not let Karl go until he shared a tea, and then the chief inspector wished Karl safe travels. Several hours down the road at a gas station, the attendant insists Karl share a meal for it is many miles to Damascus. They sit with tea and share a Fattoush Salad.
That’s one of the things Karl tries to do in his book events—share a sample of the foods as he did in Columbus, a Fattoush Salad.
This is a wonderfully colorful book, 264 pages, incredible color photography, fascinating stories of travel, recipes that will make your mouth water. This is where this book transcends the usual travel memoir. It is a book about meaningful or purposeful travel that brings cultures together and the sharing of a meal.
In 2011, a group of individuals created the Ted Simon Foundation to promote world travel for the purpose of sharing culture, unfortunately, after Allan Karl had finished his travels. Currently, the foundation is sponsoring 88 travelers from 15 countries. The foundation mission: “… encourages those who adventure into the world to go the extra mile and transform their experiences into something of value for the world to share.” Allan Karl could be their poster child. Maybe he still can.
See you on the highway.
I was out on the motorcycle yesterday. The weather was gorgeous, although just a little breezy. The KLR hummed down some of my favorite back roads. I felt like I could ride forever.
I did not feel this way a year ago. In fact, the past year of riding has been somewhat erratic. No long trips; at the most only long day rides to visit family. In my post, Soul searching on a motorcycle, I wrote: …”the reason—that thing that seemed to be missing—came to me. What I discovered: I have lost the joy in motorcycling.” In January, I actually created a flyer for the sale of my V-Strom. I put it aside and pondered posting it at several of my frequent hangouts. Through the Spring and Summer, I kept searching, and decided not to sell the V-Strom but rather buy another motorcycle—the Kawasaki KLR 650 New Edition—that would give me a different kind of ride.
On paper, the V-Strom DL650 and the KLR 650 are very similar. On the saddle, they are quite different. The V-Strom is a very smooth reliable motorcycle with plenty of power. The KLR is like a big dirt bike also capable of running down the highway. The V-Strom is a joy to ride. The KLR is a hoot to ride. Maybe it’s because of the newness, but I have found myself riding the KLR more than the V-Strom. The V-Strom will get the nod in the long distance rides.
Somewhere along my route yesterday, with the sun shining down on me and the breeze in my face, I began to think that it was nearly a year ago that I almost quit motorcycling. The rides this year have given me plenty to think about what it is I am doing with a motorcycle. Yes, I believe my riding pattern is changing, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll return to long-distance tours. Maybe not. The important thing is that I have rediscovered the joy of motorcycling, and it’s a hoot.
Finding the joy in motorcycling again has been like remembering that tune you used to listen to all the time, and have rediscovered. It’s like watching that favorite movie that you haven’t seen in a long time—you want to watch it again and again. And so it is with the motorcycles. I’d rather jump on the bike to run an errand than take the car.
Now, if I can only resolve that other nagging question from that post a year ago. “Why am I here?” What is my purpose at this stage of my life.
See you on the highway.
Are you one of those individuals who reads and researches to the Nth degree and ponders your reasoning before you buy something. I am one of those, especially on big-ticket items.
I have looked at other motorcycles for some time, and scrutinized a couple … very closely, reading up on all the forums, basically anyplace I could find credible information and feedback. It’s probably overkill, and may be considered part of my borderline mental health issues.
In my last post, I wrote about not buying a KLR, I thought that if I put it down on paper, out there for every one to read, that act alone would be my confirming decision. Instead, that little voice in my head nagged me even harder.
I surrendered. I bought a Kawasaki KLR 650, the 2014 New Edition.
See you on the highway!
Frankly, trying to make a decision while reading Facebook posts and comments is a terrible idea and could be a disastrous influence. For Facebook, not only wants to get in our minds, it was recently announced they were using posts and comments to influence emotions of users. Now, I’m all for social research, but that just doesn’t seem right. I have a better solution for decision making—helmet time.
Helmet time? Yes, helmet time. What is that you ask? Well, helmet time occurs during a motorcycle ride and the helmet does double duty as your “thinking cap.” It can be very productive, and it’s safe because you’re wearing the proper gear including a helmet. You won’t be answering the phone or texting. It’s just you, the road, and the thoughts in your head, and empty roads can be some of the most productive places.
For some time now, I have been struggling with my motorcycling efforts. I have wavered back and forth between selling what I have and buying a second bike. The bike at the top of that list is a new Kawasaki KLR 650. I’ve always wanted one.
Within the past couple of weeks, I have gone to the dealer to buy one. The first time I went, the one sitting on the floor had just been sold. The second time I started out, I was riding the V-Strom, and the farther I rode on this fine motor bike, the more I questioned why I would want anything else. I even had a check in my billfold. That’s how close it was. I never arrived at the dealer. Of course, I shared this with my wife, and she suggested I wait a week or so to see if it’s really what I want to do—buy another bike. It’s been two weeks, and I have been perusing through all the KLR 650 Riders Group posts, photos and comments on Facebook.
This morning, I put a fresh blank check in my billfold, and headed up the highway on my trusty V-Strom towards the dealer. The smoothness of the bike, the effortless pull of the engine, the knowledge that this bike truly gets 60+ miles-per-gallon. It has taken me everywhere I wanted to go—without issues and without worry about whether or not it will get me home.
Eastward I ride, thinking about this motorcycle and how it meets all my needs, and the “thinking cap” starts its process … again. My conclusion—again—why would I want to ride anything else. Where would another motor bike take me that this one can’t?
Just east of Morrow, Ohio, on Route 22/3, I reach the intersection of SR 123. To continue towards the dealer is straight ahead…. I turn south to follow more twisty roads before turning back towards home.
I put the blank check back in the checkbook, and I pull up my Facebook account to delete one or two motorcycle groups that were wasting my time and my more important helmet time.
See you on the highway.