Wednesday
Oct182017

Sharing the Experience with Your Lover Makes All the Difference

(October 18-22, 2017) I've had the best year ever riding a motorcycle and my sweetheart Lisa made that happen. She served not only as a companion with whom I could talk and dine, but she supported me in so many other ways, such as taking photos and helping lift the bike off my leg when I dropped it in northern Arizona. She made me smile and laugh over and over and showed me how much more I can enjoy riding than I ever thought possible.

Photo at left: That's Lisa outside our hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas getting ready to depart.

This year, I've ridden more than 15,000 miles and Lisa rode behind me in the saddle for more than 8,000 of those miles! She wanted to ride with me; she asked me to go and helped with planning. I didn't have to beg or bribe her. My beautiful, sexy lover actually likes riding through all kinds of weather, traffic, and terrain. I feel so lucky to have her.

Meeting the Family

Not only is my Lisa really beautiful, sexy, and outspoken, she's also very smart. For example, she has a doctorate in physics and is a very talented high performance computing programmer. I like it when people meet us together because I'm often perceived as smart too, simply by mere association. So, I really appreciated and enjoyed how she got to meet so many members of my family on our rides this year, including cousins that I haven't seen in decades, such as Lindsay in Little Rock, AR and Becky in North Collins, NY.

Lisa also met some of my aunts and uncles, my sister and her family in Buffalo, and my sister-in-law and her husband in Cape Vincent, NY. So, not only did she prove herself to be a great rider seeing a big chunk of the country from the back of a Harley, she also established herself as a new member of my extended family.

Having her by my side through all of the family engagements made them so much more pleasurable as she added a whole 'nother dimension to the conversations.

Sunset at the Grand Canyon

Even before this year, I'd ridden through all of the Lower 48 states and enjoyed many of those miles with my friends, especially Mitch Mitchell. However, none can compare to Lisa when it comes to the shear joy of the shared experience. She was beauty on beauty.

Photo at left: Lisa and I took a selfie with the sun setting behind us over the Grand Canyon on June 26, 2017. (South Rim)

It's also fun introducing someone to long-range riding and the varied experiences that go with it. After we watched the sun set over the Grand Canyon, we rode back to our hotel, the Grand Canyon Inn, in Valle, Arizona. As it was dark, bugs were plentiful in the air. As we came into a swarm and they splat across my forehead, I let out a loud complaint. Lisa didn't understand me and replied with her own yell, "I think it's raining!" I chuckled as I could see the stars shining brightly overhead. I then repeated, "Bugs!"

What was happening wasn't clear to her until about ten minutes later when we stopped at a gas station in Valle. A pickup truck that had been ahead of us also pulled into the gas station. The driver, a young man, got out and asked us, "Did you see those bugs?!" And he proceeded to begin wiping them from his windshield. He added, "My wife thought it was raining."

Lisa had been baptized by insects, a messy induction ceremony into the club of experienced touring riders!

We very much enjoyed our time that evening on the South Rim. However, we have a tip for you. If you decide you want to watch the sun set from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, get there about an hour before sunset -- sooner if it's a busy period -- and establish a position relatively close to the Visitor Center along AZ 64 (Desert View Drive), as opposed to further east near Grandview Point or Desert View Watchtower. You will see much better light patterns and color changes at the western end of that stretch of road.

Adapting to Riding Conditions

One of the interesting experiences we have when riding for several days or more in different climates and terrains is how feelings change about them. For example, when we first rolled into New Mexico and began seeing the colorful rocks and open, dry landscape, we thought, "How beautiful!" By day four of riding through those hot, dry, windy conditions in the high desert, we were thinking, "God, we can't wait to get out of this and into the mountains of Colorado!"

In the photo to the right, you can see how Lisa adapted two of her scarves into an impromptu balaclava. The wind was so strong and dry, we actually found ourselves struggling to breathe. Filtering it through the fabric helped make breathing much easier for Lisa. I just struggled and grumbled. :-)

My Devoted Photographer

Even for the few riding companions who don't mind taking photos on our rides, it still comes across as a huge demand when I ask them to take photos of me. And even then, I feel fortunate if they to manage to capture a few good ones. This is all despite the fact that almost everyone I ride with wants and appreciates the photos -- after the ride is over.

Lisa, on the other hand, enjoys taking photos of me and works hard to make them good. By "good" I mean that she pays attention to lighting, background, etc. Just a little bit of awareness and care makes a huge difference in the quality of the results.

Here, I've included one of my favorites: that's me in Silverton, Colorado after we enjoyed a tasty breakfast with two other riders. The two were brothers doing a west-to-east off-road tour of Colorado. They were clearly having a great time and we four shared stories of our recent adventures on two wheels.

Lisa enjoyed taking the photo and I enjoyed posting it here. I look forward many more rides, long and short, with my darling!

Keep the shiny side up.

-The Long Rider 

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