There is something about traveling on a motorcycle that is different from any other type of travel. Sometimes we ride with specific destinations and time frames and other times we just wander. I have ridden rally’s with check points from Mexico to Canada and then spent days just wandering the western US on my way home. In forty years and and nearly three quarters of a million miles on two wheels, I have a lot of stories and memories but I find I spend more time listening to and enjoying other riders stories. Everybody that travels on a motorcycle has stories of great routes, favorite destinations, the best restaurant in Wyoming or Utah. Tales of breakdowns and rescues, new friends made and occasionally tragedies. Everybody has a travel story.
Last week while covering the World Superbike races at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah I met a couple of men with a truly great story. Heather and I were sitting outside enjoying an end of the day beverage and our view of the Wasatch Mountains when a man stopped and said we looked so happy he wanted to take a picture of us, then we got to talking.
Terry and his friend Guy had ridden down from Vancouver, BC to attend the races. Terry took a few days off from his job as a tile setter and Guy is retired so, time for a ride. I need to back up a minute here, when we arrived at the campground the evening before the first thing I saw was a Vincent Black Shadow across the way. My first thought was that someone trailered it and is just riding to and from the track. I was wrong.
After taking our picture, Terry told us that he and his friend had ridden down on on that Black Shadow and his old Norton Commando. I was impressed to say the least, to have that kind of faith in old English motorcycles, brave men indeed. But then story got even better.
A year or two earlier these two guys got a wild hair up their fannies and decided they wanted to go see the TT, The Isle of Man TT. It would be easy to fly over to England, rent a couple of bikes, take the ferry across to the island and have the trip of a lifetime…but NOOOOOO (in my best John Belushi imitation), they’re going to take their own bikes. Both the Vincent and the Norton are treated to rebuilds and upgrades, crated up and loaded onto the plane.
Terry, Guy and their wives had a fantastic time at the TT but now the trip was just beginning. For the next two months for Terry and four months for Guy they traipsed all over Europe. Now, most people going to a foreign country get a bunch of maps, spend months poring over them, planning a route, changing it half a dozen times and reading the tour guides. And again…But NOOOOO, these two decide that a compass is plenty good enough. “ Today we go North”, let’s see where we end up? It was like that for two months, they have very trusting wives. The days ride ended wherever it ended. Now let me remind you, this wandering the country side and the cities, the story about navigating a European Roundabout while looking at the compass to see which exit to take was hilarious, was done on a 1952 Vincent and a 1974 Norton. Not for the faint hearted.
Terry’s story continued on for a while and I just wanted to hear more and more, I wanted to do a trip like that. We said our good nights and thanks for the story now it was time to refresh the beverages and start making dinner. The rest of the night I replayed his story in my head and loved it again and again.
All motorcycle travelers have stories and thank you Terry for yours. You’ve made my day many times over.