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HOW IMPORTANT, THE BUG?

by Dennis Margeson   Stolen from his web page (I was too fast for him!)

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     Mid July, 1976. Three brothers, on three motorcycles, awake to the third day of a three week  motorcycle tour, to ice. Ice on the bikes, ice on the tent, ice on all three noses.
    The location is just south of Stanley, Idaho. The camp is just a wide spot in the road. The brothers  pack up two CB-550 Hondas and a Honda 305 Dream, and head for lower elevations and higher  temperatures. With the Sawtooth mountain range on the right and a vast valley to the left. The vision  is etched permanently into each of their minds.
     Upon reaching the popular ski resort of Sun Valley, they stop for breakfast. The middle brother  visits a local dirt bike shop and buys a "Gold Belt" for back support and off they go again. This time onto the flatlands, engulfed in the black of "Craters of the Moon", National Monument. After a long stop at the monument headquarters for info and lunch, they proceed east.
    The black ends as abruptly as it began, but soon the black of night again robs the desert of it's  color. Now the only light left is coming from the three motorcycle's lighting systems, quietly making  their way across the emptiness of southern Idaho. Then, without warning, the night sky was  breached by a huge meteor, that breaks into three pieces as it falls. The brothers stop a few minutes  to process what they have just seen. All agree. It is a sight they'll never forget.
    The night wears on. The machines get low on fuel, but the night's planned campsite is near. No  problem. However, a couple of days earlier, a dam had broken near the town of St. Anthony, Idaho.
    The planned campground 'was',  (as in past tense,) on the bank of the river below that dam. Damn! A trip back to the nearest town  revealed no motel or open gas station. Three brothers throw three sleeping bags onto the grass of a  churchyard, and quickly fall asleep. All knew, without saying it, that the rest of the trip would be great motorcycle touring, but this day was the one they went in search of. And no matter what else  happened, this was to be a great motorcycle trip because it included this one day.
     Last month, my column was about motorcycling in the future. I didn't paint an optimistic picture. I  feel sorry for those riders of the future, for they'll never know the sense of adventure and satisfaction  that can come from packing up a motorcycle with the bare essentials, and heading out to explore new  territory.
     Perhaps what bothers me more, is the fact that so few of today's riders seem interested in the  touring experience. Is this because the manufacturers have convinced these people that, to tour, they  need 800 pounds of motorcycle between their legs?
    My opinion is that smaller machines may actually add to the adventure. I know I've toured endless  miles on some pretty small bikes. My Gold Wing can be ridden farther, faster and more comfortably  than those other, smaller machines. But I really can't say that it has added anything to the touring experience. Perhaps it has even distracted from the adventure... One thinks twice before riding an  800 pound machine down a rough and rocky dirt road.  A minor tip-over can do hundreds of dollars  in damage to a touring bike. And raising a fallen touring rig?  TRACTION !!!
     As you may have guessed, I was the middle brother in the above story. That trip to Yellowstone  National Park remains the most memorable to this day. It included some hardship. Long hot, tiring  days and freezing cold nights. It also included wonderful times and beauty beyond description. We  were in no hurry and took the long route whenever possible. Many of the days of that one  motorcycle tour turned out to be great ones. But then, that is what motorcycle touring is all about... I  wish I could convey that to those that haven't, for whatever reason, taken the long ride.
    And the virtual riders of the future? No ride, no matter how beautiful, is any good without  anticipation, anxiety and hardship.
     Perhaps it was said best by a non-riding computer nerd I was speaking with while researching last month's column...
     "You won’t feel the bug splatter." Click here to return to Lessons Learned Page 1