And still counting!
It’s hard to imagine doing anything for a longer period of time, except for living of course. But yes, I have been riding motorized, two-wheeled vehicles for 57 years … and counting. There have been a couple of periods without motorcycles, but I still count from the beginning.
It all started with that broken Lambretta motor scooter that Dad brought home and fixed up. He would take us kids for rides. I’m not sure how Mom felt about that exactly. I only know that I was not allowed to buy a vehicle until I graduated from high school. I wrecked that Lambretta at age 16 when a driver turned left in front of me. Scooter was gone in a day.
Many years and motorcycles later, my thoughts turn to how much longer I will be able to ride. My riding buddies and friends have had this discussion. One has already sold his bike and quit. I, on the other hand, have sought out books and articles on the subject. Stories of older riders and riding into the senior years. Here are a couple of books.
What Remains, Memoir of an Old man on the Road, by John Otterbacher. (2021)
Otterbacher, at age 74, embarks on a motorcycle journey from his home in Michigan to the west coast. Riding back roads and through small towns, he is reliving past journeys. He has heart issues and carries nitroglycerin tablets, but persists on his journey until a disastrous accident in a construction zone. He nearly dies, but does recover and questions what he will do with the rest of his life, with what remains. In the Epilogue he writes, “What remains is what is always available, with a little more clarity and a little less pretense. … I am old, but don’t much feel that way, more a willful child with some aches and pains. … Retreat is out of the question.”
Do It While You Still Can, motorcycle escapades and tribulations, by Nick Adams, (2021)
Adams, age 71, has been a prolific writer of motorcycle travels. He lives in Canada, has owned numerous motorcycles, currently rides a 1974 Moto Guzzi Eldorado, 1960 Panther, and a 1986 Suzuki Cavalcade. Nearly all of his travels suggest that any motorcycle can be an adventure bike.
I think it was the Moto Guzzi that caught my eye and prompted me to start following him. I always thought he was an old man on a Moto Guzzi—something I admired. When I started looking for his actual age, I learned he is one year younger that me! He is just a youngster. LOL. What is old? I recently heard that we perceive old as being ten years older than we actually are.
On the end cover of Adams’ book, he writes, “ As baby-boomers like myself get older and the median age of motorcyclists climbs ever higher, it’s easy to find the couch more appealing than the bike seat. But don’t let those aching joints and wasted muscles hold you back. Life is short. The time is now. Do it while you still can.”
Sound advice from two authors: With whatever time you have left, do it while you still can.
I began to think about this several years ago. My riding habits were changing. Long-distance touring diminished. Fewer annual miles. Thinking about those tall and heavy adventure bikes that I had been riding. I wanted a bike that would allow me to ride into the future, riding as long as I physically can. After a long search, I bought a Moto Guzzi V7iii. Easy to throw a leg over and easy to ride. And, it just resonates with me. And, I have toured on this bike, riding to a Kentucky backroad campout.
Are you thinking about quitting? Family and friends encouraging you to quit? Then maybe the time has come. Or, if you’re still healthy and physically active and able, you can ride for a while longer. Some things are not easily given up.
I’d like to think I will be riding to the very end, and the most likely last two-wheeler for me will be a Vespa motor scooter. What goes around comes around.
See you on the highway … for a long time to come.
2 Replies to “Fifty-Seven Years of Motorcycling”
I sold my motorcycle last year with the intention to stop riding then at age 71. I found out on the road that my timing was a bit off, I wasn’t turning into the curves with the same assurance I once had, and I was having minor vertigo issues in the mornings. After 56 years of riding, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and hung up my helmet. And yet I can’t say for sure that I won’t buy a small bike, maybe a 125cc machine just to cruise the local roads. Motorcycling is like malaria, you never fully get over it.
Yes, I understand Doug. There are legitimate reasons to quit riding. Like I said in the article, “Some things are not easily given up.”