Reflecting Forward

Reflecting Forward

We are well into the busy holiday season and, as a result, seasonal activities have displaced my weekly ride participation.  And, like the mileage on my motorcycle, the posting counter on Changing Gears has slowed significantly.  These facts, however, do not mean that all activity has ceased.  To the contrary, like the calendar and like the name of this blog implies, I am steadily marching toward a significant transition.  Changing Gears is in the process of changing yet again.

As I write this it is 15 days short of one year since my Suzuki V-Strom was delivered.  When I purchased it, it had been over 40 years since I had last owned a motorcycle.  At that time, I had both a Kawasaki 750 triple and a Yamaha 250 moto-x bike.  With those bikes, I had enjoyed riding on the street and in the dirt equally.  With the passage of time, and the physical effect that has, I wasn’t sure what type of riding I would want, or be able, to do.  So an adventure bike seemed like the logical choice.  Not great at any one type of riding but pretty good at several types, it would be the perfect platform for me to figure out if I wanted to ride again and, if so, what type of riding I wanted to do. 

When it was delivered on Dec 19th of last year it had 2 miles on it.  As it sits in the garage now it has 18,381.  It has been a good year with many adventures.  The Suzuki has been, and is, an excellent motorcycle.  Motorcycling magazines have ranked it as one of the 10 best motorcycles ever produced.  It has done everything I have asked of it and done it well.  Including, making it possible to determine that; I indeed still love riding, possibly more than ever, and that long distance touring is the type of riding I most want to do.  I love riding long distances, to see new and interesting places and people – and – to photograph and write about the trip.  Armed with this knowledge, I have Changed Gears yet again.  This time the changes are geared toward focusing in on and improving my long distance touring experience and the associated photo/blog results. 

The changes for 2018 take several forms:

Motorcycle

As the image at the top of this post indicates, the first and biggest change is the motorcycle I will use.  After an extended period of consideration, I have replaced my 2015 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom ABS with a fully loaded 2017 BMW R1200RT.  The BMW is an “amazing” road bike.  It, and its sister bike the R1200GS, represented 14 of the first 20 finishers in the 2017 Iron Butt Rally.  An 11 day, 11,000 mile motorcycle bonus rally run every other year since 1986.  I also considered the Yamaha FJR and Honda ST1300.  However, the FJR was just a bit small and leans a bit too much toward the sport bike riding position, and the Honda is no longer in production, so parts may become an issue.  The R1200RT is the right size and riding position, is used by >100 countries as a police motorcycle, meaning parts will be available for years to come, and the engine has been refined since the 1920s.  I can’t really say why but I’ve never liked large vehicles.  Cars or motorcycles.  Therefore, bikes like the Honda Gold Wing or Victory/Indian or Harley Davidson, while they are all excellent choices for the open road, were never a consideration.

 Writing

As those who know me best have probably already figured out, this blog serves multiple purposes.  One is to act as sort of a personal journal to remind me, years from now, of where, when or how I saw something, went somewhere or met someone.  I already find myself wondering why I walked into a room more often than I like.  Another purpose is to give friends, old and new, and easy way to keep up with what I’ve been doing.  And, in similar fashion, I follow their blogs or social media to keep up with them.  Then there is the fact that it is just plain interesting.  When I research the places we visit, and the people associated with them, I learn a lot of very interesting, often unexpected, things about the area I live in to the country overall.  AND – all of this is probably also partially me hedging my bets on the “Use It Or Lose It” theory of aging.  Thinking that all the physical activity of riding and the mental activity of research, writing and photography will keep me a little bit more physically independent and mentally sharp a little bit longer.  Did I mention that I enjoy doing it?

So.  I would like to make these posts as interesting for anyone who reads them as I possibly can.  Keep the length down to a comfortable level, provide some information that you didn’t know or expect, and, if I’m really lucky, make you look forward to them.  All of that is a lot harder than it would seem.  But, better to aim high and fall a little short than aim low and hit your target.  Well, to this end, I’ve enrolled in some Continuing Ed courses for writing and photography at the local university.  We’ll see if an old dog can still learn some new tricks.

Photography

As I mentioned above, I will be taking some photography courses in 2018.  Years ago I was very much into photography.  Of course that was in the ancient times of film.  I had all the camera gear, filters for every light situation, strobes that made it possible to light any space and a color darkroom in my basement.  However, I had moved on from that to flying or something by the time digital came along.  So I’ve never really tried to figure out how digital differs, and I’ve never really tried to learn much about Photoshop, even though I have it. 

In my final post about the Void 12 Rally, I described what happens, when you least expect it, during long distance rides/rallies.  Experiences which are beyond description.  Well, beyond description by me.  Experiences which I will never forget and which make me want to go on another multi-day, multi-thousand mile ride in the hopes of it happening again.  The only way I know to share those moments sufficiently, is with photography.  However, they will never be easy images to capture.  The human eye is an amazing thing.  Capturing a true representation with digital technology will require a significant mastery of the tools.  I look forward to both the experiences and the challenge of trying to share them.

Of course, to capture images with such difficult light conditions, a camera with a full frame sensor will be necessary.  So I will be upgrading from my current Nikon D50.  It has been a good one.  But 4 megapixel with tiny sensors is in no way up to the challenge.

The Adventures Themselves

This is all about the adventures.  Right???  The trips.  The places.  The people.  Well those are getting a significant upgrade in 2018 as well.  Every bit as significant as the bike I will be riding.  

2017 saw many wonderful rides:

  • 34 NE Florida rides with Moto17Jax
  • The IBA Daytona Bike Week Party w/SS1K
  • The 31hour Void 12 Rally
  • The IBA Big As Texas Party Including:
    • SS1K from Jax FL to Allen TX
    • Big As Texas SS1K Around Texas
    • SS1K from Allen TX to Jax FL
  • 2 Blue Ridge Mountains Trips Including:
    • Tail of the Dragon
    • Cherohala Skyway
    • Moonshiner 28
    • Wahala Tower
    • Dry Falls
    • Bridal Veil Falls
    • Grandfather Mountain
      • Mile High Swinging Bridge

While 2018 will likely see some of the same rides, there are going to be some much bigger rides which go farther north and west. 

  • Moto17Jax is currently well into the planning of a 3 week ride which will include Harley Assembly In Kansas City, Mt Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Crazy Horse Mtn, Custer’s Battlefield, Yellowstone, Colorado Rockies, Twisted Sisters in Texas and possibly Grand Canyon. 
  • I will do a 50CC (Jax to San Diego in under 50 hours) and stop at Grand Canyon on the way back
  • I will ride the Curt Gran Memorial from Jax to Casey IL
  • I will be doing planning rides for the 2020 IBA Daytona Bike Week Party Rides (SS1K and BBG)
  • I will apply for the 2019 Iron Butt Rally and if selected will almost instantly regret it but simultaneously begin preparations

Of course, I will also be repeating

  • The IBA Daytona Bike Week Party in March, here in Jax,
  • The Void 13. 
  • Many NE Florida Rides w/Moto17Jax

I will endeavor to make the posts and photos worth every visit and every minute you spend here.  I appreciate your interest and feedback.

Merry Christmas

Happy, Exciting and Safe 2018