I’m a map guy. I love to study maps. Paper maps mostly, but the digital versions can be just as intriguing. There was an older BMW ad that I loved, even though I don’t own that brand of motorcycle it read: “My favorite author? Rand McNally.” That about says it right there.
Some time ago, I noticed on a paper map an airport that I had never seen. There it was on the map, and I have been past that location many times, but have never seen it. It even shows up on my Gaia GPS. The San Mar Gale Airport.
Of course, the airport is closed now, and this is what it looks like from Waynesville Road nearest the end of what was the airstrip. The strip is just over the back end of my V-Strom.
I had to do a little searching to find out that the airport was closed in the 1990s. It was probably a grass strip, which made it easy to convert to agriculture. It had an official airport designation, but I could not find a record of that.
There are a couple of other private, abandoned airfields in Warren County, and they most likely were on farms, much like this one. It is exploration like this, and detailed maps like the DeLorme Gazeteers and Gaia GPS that reveal opportunities for a motorcycle adventure.
We have had an incredible warm up. The temps reached 65+ and I have been lusting for a motorcycle ride. So, I aired up the tires, checked the chain, and fired up the V-Strom for a ride around the block. Okay, it was a long block, but much needed.
And of course, I found a church for a photo in Goshen.
For some strange reason, I awoke this morning dreaming of my 2012 ride on the Oregon Trail. It was a 6,000-mile, 21 day adventure. But, why this morning? Maybe I’m just dreaming of another motorcycle adventure.
When I was 30 or even 40, I never asked myself how long I thought I would continue to ride motorcycles. My friends, about the same age, never considered such a question either. But as I “matured” into my 60s, the question popped into my head. And now that I am only months away from 70, it is a question I have been asking myself and others. “How long do you plan to keep riding?”
I have been riding since age 15. Unofficially, of course on that Lambretta motor scooter that dad brought home. When I turned 16 with a new driver’s license, that Lambretta was mine to ride. Riding has always been my passion. It’s the freedom of the road, wind in your face experience. Even though I have had three accidents (one seriously) I never felt like I would quit riding.
My first owned motorcycle was a 1963 Harley Davidson Sprint Scrambler 250cc made by Aermacchi. It needed a lot of work. When I returned from Vietnam in 1971, I bought a brand new Honda Scrambler CL350. Then another Honda, and another Honda, and so on, including a 1976 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing that I partially restored to its original standard configuration in the early 1990s.
In the “old days,” all motorcycles were standards. You bought them and then modified them to do what you wanted with it. Today, there are so many different types of bikes, niche bikes. There are dirt bikes, motocross bikes, dual sports, adventure bikes, touring bikes, cruisers, and many variations thereof.
Technology has entered the scene with ABS brakes, traction control, and even cruise control, making motorcycles safer and more expensive. My 2017 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 has ABS and traction control, and is much more capable than my riding skills. It, and my previous DL650s, has taken me anywhere and everywhere I’ve wanted to go, including all 48 states of the USA.
So, I’ve been through a few motorcycles in the past decade, looking for that perfect vehicle, and more recently asking about ability to keep riding. I concluded that tall, heavy adventure bikes may not be the right bike for me as I get older. I am not the fit young man of my earlier years. A little arthritis and reduced flexibility remind me often of that, even if 70 is the new 50. It has become a little more difficult to throw a leg over a motorcycle and prepare for launch.
I needed to make some changes. I started by selling my V-Strom 1000. It was a great bike with plenty of power. Lots of power and torque. But, it was tall and top heavy. It will be a great bike for its new owner, who seems to be happy. I plan to keep the V-Strom 650 for a while. It is lighter, more economical, and frankly the better bike.
I also renewed my interest in a smaller bike, one easier to mount, and I returned to my previous research and interest. I found a great deal on an inventory clearance sale on a 2019 Moto Guzzi V7iii Special. Old school bike with modern technology.
The bike and I are just getting to know each other, and I am quite happy. I have also learned a couple of things. The Guzzi draws a little attention. Both of my brothers said they wanted to ride it even before I offered them a ride. They never did that with my previous bikes. One of them invoked the hallowed name of Steve McQueen. There is something to an old school, standard bike.
Another thing I learned, or should I say re-learned, is the true joy of motorcycling. The V-Stroms and the KLRs are great bikes, as are many other adventure bikes, but when I started riding the Guzzi, I noticed something. The Guzzi is wide open. Naked. More exposed to the elements, the environment, the road. All of that which we identify with the joy of motorcycling. And, it dawned on me that when riding the adventure bikes, I feel like I’m in a cockpit on two wheels. Fairing and wind screen with a seat that dips quite lower than the fuel tank. Yes. A cockpit.
This is what I want riding into the future as long and as far as I can. Something easy to ride that brings the joy of motorcycling. Downsizing is good as long as it works toward the goal. Who knows? Maybe the last scoot will be a Vespa. I hope I’m still riding through my 70s and into 80. That is only ten more years.
We have been self quarantined since March 13. That’s 8+ weeks. We are managing nicely and getting along just fine. But, I am ready to ride. Not just a short one, but a long, overnight travel on the motorcycle.
I have managed short rides just to get out of the house. An hour or so. Around the block. The big block. And those rides have me dreaming about the bigger ones.
Several overnight trips were on my calendar. That is, until this coronavirus came along and tossed my calendar into the garbage. Perhaps one or two can still be salvaged. It all depends upon travel conditions. What will be open? What closed? Facilities and accommodations.
Every time I take one of the bikes out for one of those get-out-of-the-house, short rides, I think just a few more miles before I turn towards home. And then, I return home refreshed.