Fifteen years ago this week I entered the world of motorcycle riding by buying a beautiful 1998 Suzuki Intruder VS800. She was a fantastic machine from the start. Taking some risk, I bid $3,250 on an ebay auction from Ohio and won. The seller promised that, “you won’t be disappointed,” and his promise was the biggest understatement of my life. I received the bike about a week later, filled the tires and gas tank, and rode home, totally unconscious of the joy that this bike and motorcycle riding would bring me.
That was May 2003, and I was a young pup of 22 years, still working my first job after college and living with my mom. My first long ride, about a month later, was from Lufkin, Texas to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and my love for motorcycle travel was born. That winter I moved to Illinois and met several people, including Kevin, Kevin, and Brian. The four of us agreed to attend the Intruder Alert rally in Asheville, NC in June and made the trip out there. I met so many wonderful people at that meeting, far too many to name here, and decided that this was the crowd for me.
On the return ride to Illinois, I learned that my company was closing and that I wouldn’t have a job when I got back. With some obligations in Texas and Pennsylvania later that summer and the recent success of a 9 day trip, the concept for big road trip covering a lot of miles and states was an easy choice. In all, I met some amazing people and visited 33 states and two Canadian provinces in 12 weeks. The handle I had given myself, “crosscountry” wast aptly chosen.
In this post I can’t show all of the pictures from that trip, or the trips in 2005 and 2006 to visit the other 15 states to the west, or to the bigger rallies. I can’t name all of the wonderful people that opened their homes to me, shared some miles, or bought a wayward traveler a meal. My gratitude to them is enduring, and many I call lifelong friends. With their support I developed a greater love for this country and the beautiful people that live here than I could have any other way.
Since those first trips on the intruder, I’ve been blessed to have other fantastic road trip experiences riding across Europe, around New Zealand, deep into Mexico and have ridden scooters in a few other places. I’ve also bought and sold 8 motorcycles, including my current DL650 VStrom, many of which took me to far away places.
My enthusiasm for motorcycle riding continues to grow. Since May 2003, I’ve ridden almost 145,000 miles to places my younger self never thought I’d visit. I’ve been truly blessed with good experiences and good friends, all of which have shaped me into the person I am now.
I plan to continue riding a motorcycle long into the future, even as free time gets shorter and responsibilities grow in number and size. It’s a passion that gripped me and won’t let go. Here’s to 15 fantastic years of riding and as many more as my body will allow.