I Need Some Helmet Time

Winter means less motorcycle riding, and that means stress or anxiety can build up a little bit. A good fix for that is some helmet time—good for the head and good for the soul.  Unfortunately, that little rodent in Pennsylvania has told the world it will be six more weeks of winter, so actual helmet time might be a ways off. Yeah, right.

Let’s not overlook the fact that sometimes helmet time is not a good idea, especially when you’re on a roller coaster of emotions. Wait for the roller coaster to stop. Then ride.

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Everyone who rides a motorcycle knows that riding is good for your mental health. Well, nearly everyone. Recently, there was a scientific study conducted by Harley Davidson that concluded riding decreases the stress factors, and there have been other studies. It’s not like I’m under a lot of stress. I think it’s just good preventative maintenance.

Loveland 11-10-2022

For me, it’s motorcycling, but there are other stress reducing activities. Golf. Fishing. Hiking. Bicycling. All good for mental health. It’s all personal choice and action to keep us out of the therapist’s office.

Helmet-time

I never winterize or put a motorcycle away for the winter. There will be days that are good for a ride, like the other day. The temps got into the 50s. The sun was out. Roads were clear, and my Guzzi V7 sat waiting its turn for some exercise. I had not ridden the V7 for several weeks, but one push of the starter button, and it roared to life.

It is hard to describe this motorcycle, my 2020 Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough. No other motorcycle has ever moved my soul like this bike. I don’t know if it is the vibrations or the sound, but it just resonates with me. It is an old-school standard motorcycle with modern technology. Not a speed demon, but plenty of power and torque. The Perfect Motorcycle. Easy to throw a leg over and easy to ride. It is so flickable, handling the curves and twisties like it was made for that. It was! It was made in Italy for riding in the Alps.

I can be watching a You Tube video of a Guzzi V7, and I can feel the vibes just sitting in my office chair. I follow a few You Tubers, and sometimes, I just feel like I want to ride along.

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With jacket and helmet on, gloves snugged tight, I straddled the V7, pulled in the clutch and shifted into 1st gear. Releasing the clutch, I pulled away from home, headed down county roads to places I have been before with dreams of going farther. Resonance.

South Lebanon Veteran Memorial 02-05-2023

I rode my planned route, but it was not enough. I rode some more. Helmet time does not come every day in the winter.

See you on the highway.

Brent

Motorcycle Updates

I did something I never thought I would do. I ended my 14-year run of owning Suzuki V-Stroms, by trading my 2017 DL650. Not because they were not good. To the contrary. Excellent bikes. I think I just wanted something different.

And so, on March 1, I rode the V-Strom to Cadre Cycle, in Blue Ash, Ohio, and traded the bike on an inventory clearance, Moto Guzzi V85tt Adventure.

New Guzzi V85tt 2-26-2022-1

I never thought I would find a bike that I would like more than my V-Stroms, but I have. It fits me perfectly, and the performance is wonderful.

Since March, I have put about 2,000 miles on it. I rode it to the Horizons Unlimited-Virginia event in April. That was about 1,000 miles round trip. I was glad to have the heated grips riding through the mountains of West Virginia in 40-degree weather with snow on the side of the road. And, the cruise control came in very handy blasting home on the Interstate. It’s a keeper.

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While at HU-Virginia, my friend Chris Smith and the Moto Photo Adventures crew did a short video of me and the bike. Here is that YouTube video. https://youtu.be/IjU5Y3qxMWA 

I took a hard look at this bike because of owning the Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough, the Urban Scrambler. It is just a blast to ride, but not necessarily a touring bike as such. The V85 has the bags and utility for long distance or trips to the grocery store.

Tail Rack 5-12-2022-5

Do I miss the V-Strom? No. I was ready for something else. Do I like the Guzzi? Absolutely. Both of them. I guess I have become an old man on a Moto Guzzi.

See you on the highway.

Brent

My Motorcycling Year in Review; Now What?

The weather forecast for the last couple of days of 2021 are a disappointment. Not good for riding. So, the mileage numbers are pretty much complete for the year, and that is somewhat disappointing also.

I decided to analyze my riding to see if a pattern emerged.

MG 12-02-2021

The first thing I noticed is that I rode my 2020 Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough twice as many miles as my 2017 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Really? Yes, really. The V-Strom is my third DL650, and I have loved each of them, but the Guzzi has overtaken the mileage. It is so easy to ride, to throw a leg over. And frankly, it is soulful.

I decided to look back to 2008 for motorcycling mileage. That’s when I bought the first V-Strom 650, and really started to really travel on two wheels. I put 66,386 miles on that yellow bike before trading it on a new 2015 V-Strom 650. That first one took me to many places and most of my 48-state rides.

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In 2013, a distinct change occurred. I had one long tour to the southeast to work on my fill-in-the-states map, and that was one of my worst travels. I rode 2,400 miles round trip, five of the six days in rain. I was charged by a pit bull while taking a picture of crossing into the Georgia state line. Missed being involved in a multiple car accident by split seconds in Augusta, Georgia, because I was in the right lane and could take to shift to the highway shoulder. Took a bee sting in the face while traveling at 75 MPH next to a semi-truck and trailer on I-75. There were other incidents, but by the time I arrived home, I told my wife, “It was horrible. I’m selling that bike.” In her wisdom, she told me to wait a while. Smart woman.

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Aug-ride-0028

In 2012, I started volunteering with an organization that serves disabled Veterans. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc., is an incredible asset. The program teaches disabled Veterans all aspects of fly fishing—fly tying, casting techniques, rod building, and takes them fishing. As a Vietnam Veteran myself, I could relate. I got involved serving others. Sometimes, I would ride the motorcycle to events. It’s clear in my analysis that PHWFF was more important than long-distance motorcycling. I served for nine years, six as the program lead for Cincinnati.

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Then there was covid and the pandemic. We hunkered down, and got our vaccinations as soon as we could, but we still practiced caution and did little traveling or socializing. Thank God for Zoom to stay in touch with motorcycling friends.

Campfire Chat 07-22-2020

I started riding at the age of 15 in 1965 on a Lambretta scooter that my dad bought. More than 50 years of motorcycle ownership, and one at a time. There were a few years of non-ownership. I owned a 2004 Honda Shadow when I wrote a few articles for Road Runner Magazine. Since purchasing that 2008 V-Strom, I have owned a total of nine motorcycles, but never owned more than two at a time. Here is the list in the order of purchase and the miles I put on them:

  • 2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650 (66,386 miles) (traded)
  • 2014.5 Kawasaki KLR 650 (2,117 miles) (traded)
  • 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 650 (12,303 miles) (traded)
  • 2017 Suzuki SV650 (2,626 miles) (traded)
  • 2017 Suzuki V-Strom 650 (7,059 miles)
  • 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650 (4,600 miles) (regretted trading)
  • 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 (3,509 miles) (traded)
  • 2019 Moto Guzzi V7iii Special (2,296 miles) (traded)
  • 2020 Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough (3,001 miles)

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My current rides, the 2017 V-Strom and 2020 Moto Guzzi V7iii.

Guzzi-Strom 9-23-2021

So, here are the numbers. Since 2008, I have ridden 103,897 miles on two wheels. The years 2008-2012 totaled 57,434 for an average of 11,487 miles per year. The years 2013-2021 totaled 46,463 for an average of 5,162 miles per year. The year with the most miles was 2010 with 13,637 miles and the worst was 2015 with 3,551 miles, the year my Mom passed away.

Clearly, something or life choices made a huge difference in my motorcycling starting in 2013. Was it that horrible tour to the southeast? Or, was it refocused interest. For the most part, I think it was life choices and the opportunity to serve others that replaced my long-distance two-wheeled travel.

Now What?

Good question. Now what? At age 71, I am not ready to quit riding. I have ridden to and through all 48 states—all on V-Stroms. Looking at the numbers, it does not make sense to buy a third motorcycle when I would just be splitting miles with three bikes. And now that my PHWFF duties have changed, I have more time to get away. The easy decision is to make smaller two and three day rides and fishing trips, and that would be perfect for either of the bikes currently in the garage, the V-Strom and the Guzzi. In fact, I really want to take the Guzzi for a tour. It’s the perfect bike for two-lane highways. 

Grog Run Rd 12-23-2020

See you on the highway.

Brent

The Total Freedom Machine

Ed. Note: March 21, 2021 is International Poetry Day.

MC Ride 03-21-2021

Spring air coaxes me on as I lean  into the curves.
The park is filled with families, kids in the playgrounds.
Overhead, an airplane tows a glider, ready to be released
to near total freedom, but it must return to earth.
The motorcycle awaits. It is the total freedom machine.

See you on the highway.

Brent