Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! If you’re like me, you’ve spent the biggest part of your life just throwin’ a leg over your scoot an’ headin’ off to who the hell knows where with just the clothes on your back an’ a bedroll. If you were lucky, you had the price of a burger in your pocket, an’ if not, you had a .22, a book of matches an’ a whole slew of rabbits runnin’ in every direction to pick your dinner menu from. Those were the days; roadside repairs, sleepin’ under the stars (or an overpass if it was raining), an’ takin’ whatever nature an’ the road threw at you in stride. We thought those days would last forever, just like a lot of other things we thought would last that didn’t. Like fillin’ your gas tank for a buck or less, havin’ cagers give you lots of room because they knew what would happen if they didn’t, an’ the feelin’ of your hair blowin’ in the wind because you didn’t have to wear a skid-lid.
One more thing that didn’t last was youth. Forty years ago, I could ride a rigid-frame Pan for days on end, laughin’ off bumps, rocks an’ potholes that could swallow a troop of dancin’ elephants. A quick stop every 100 miles or so for gas an’ a cold one, then back on the road.
Twenty years ago, the trips started to get more respect. The stops got a little longer, the beer took longer to drink, an’ I discovered shock absorbers. A bug-eatin’ grin got replaced more frequently with a bump-induced grimace, an’ that bedroll got less comfortable with each mile. Now, with arthritis, water in the knee, an’ every ache-an’-pain-inducin’ discomfiture known to man, I’m still out there ridin’ as hard an’ as long as ever. Well… Maybe not as hard an’ long as ever, but still…
Awww hell, I just loaf along most of the time, OK? Now, I enjoy the trips where me an’ my amigos stop every 50 miles or so, have a cold one, talk about the old days, old rides an’ old ladies. Now it’s more about the brotherhood an’ camaraderie than ridin’ so fast you miss the beauty of the trip. Now I don’t have to answer, “What was Colorado like?” with “Hell, I don’t know; I was doin’ 110 all the way across it. It just looked like the back of the trucks I was passin’.”
As much as we hate the thought, there comes a time when, for whatever reason, we’ll actually have to use a (insert expletive here) trailer to haul our bikes somewhere. Whether it’s because of a breakdown or some other reason that ya can’t seem to fathom right at this particular moment with your .22 in your hand an’ rabbits runnin’ everywhere, but sometime between now an’ the end of your ridin’ days that humiliatin’ fact will become self evident. Such is the case with me an’ Reggie.
By the time you read this, we’ll be back from our trip to Sturgis. So to those of you we met along the way this’ll be old news, but we had to break down an’ buy a toy hauler for the trip. Not that we won’t be doin’ our share of ridin’ along the way, mind you, but I can only ride one bike at a time, an’ we’re takin’ three of ’em.
I’m takin’ my ol’ Shovelhead an’ putting a for sale sign on her. As much as I hate to sell her, I want to build other projects. An’ for me, building ’em is as big a part of the fun as I get out of ridin’. A lot of people come to Sturgis without a bike and get so overwhelmed with the experience that they won’t go home without one. I’m hopin’ that someone falls in love with the Shovel an’ gives her the good home she deserves.
OK… Back to the &#$*% trailer. Since necessity drove me to this humiliatin’ end, I figured I may as well make the damn thing set up as good as possible, short of a complete bar an’ machine shop, an’ still stay at a weight that the pickup will pull. There’s not only the possibility of Reggie an’ I needing roadside repairs, but there may be breakdowns among the group we’re going with, as well. Reggie always says I can pack for a week-long ride in my pockets. An’ after nearly 50 years on the road, I can, so havin’ the room to take extra crap along is all new to me. The trailer’s 24 feet long, an’ hasn’t got beds or a bathroom in it, so the roadside foliage doesn’t have to worry about goin’ unwatered, an’ all that extra room can be stuffed with… well… stuff! There’s an onboard generator so I’m taking my MIG welder, a compressor an’ a good set of tools if I can find room among the 15 pairs of “blingy” shoes and 10 suitcases of “stuff” Reggie’s bringing along. She’ll never be happy with saddlebags again!
I know what you’re probably thinkin’ right now: “Not me! I’ll never trailer my bike!” But the fact remains that sometimes, whether for health reasons or necessity, you’ll find yourself hitched to a trailer. So don’t be too hard on this ol’ road dog; he’s paid his dues.