Friday, August 18, 2006

Tribute to a losing love: How a beagle can alter one's life, Part 2

Looking through a batch of photos from a couple years ago, I came across these. If this was your motorcycle, would you ride it?

That's my bike. A 2001 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider. When I bought it I had a part-time job as well as my full-time graphic design job. I had disposable income (huh? what's that?!) so I customized it as I saw fit. Lower rear shocks, pull-back handlebars, hard saddlebags, a windshield, additional chrome, and other details. Before this bike I had a 1997 H-D Sportster Hugger. I loved that bike. It was nimble and narrow and I could zip around corners without worrying about scraping the pavement as I do with my very low Low Rider. But when I had the part-time job and the disposable income I figured it was the right time to upgrade so I did.

I never considered riding a motorcycle in my past life, although I've always appreciated vehicles of all sorts. In 1996 the design firm I work for acquired the account of Harley Owners Group's (H.O.G.) bimonthly membership magazine. Working on the page layouts of Hog Tales and reading articles about adventures people had with motorcycles fascinated me. What a perfect combination: driving (especially something fun) and travel. I love both so it was a match made in heaven. By May of 1997 I had completed the motorcycle safety course and was a proud Harley owner.

I was scared of the Sportster at first. Way heavier than the school bikes, it was intimidating. Not to mention I knew full well that if you don't hold it up securely, something with two wheels drops to the ground, as it did the day I picked it up from the dealership … um, oops. After attending a H.O.G. rally with the editor of Hog Tales that summer and seeing women my size handling Harleys twice the size of mine with ease, a flood of confidence rushed through me and I couldn't ride enough.

The Sportster and I had wonderful adventures that were later continued with the Low Rider. Excuse me as I reminisce over the longer tours:

1998: My first long ride. Milwaukee to Sturgis, SD. I was sent for work and traveled with Christine (the editor of Hog Tales) and her dad. Badlands and the Black Hills … a beautiful part of the country I'm looking forward to visiting with Mark sometime soon.

1999: I traveled all around Wisconsin and Illinois on weekend trips, obsessed with the tiniest, most out-of-the-way roads on the map.

For work once again (those were the days!) Christine and I went on H.O.G.'s Posse Ride: Sea to Shining Sea tour. We shipped our bikes from Milwaukee to San Diego. In two-plus relaxing weeks, we rode from San Diego all the way across the bottom of the country to Tybee Island, Georgia. From deserts to rains from the aftermath of a hurricane we experienced it all in those 3,000 miles. A trip like that bonds you to your bike and I will always feel most connected to the Sportster because of this experience.

2001: Now with the Low Rider, I rode from Milwaukee to Prince Edward Island, Canada for H.O.G.'s Canadian National Rally. Mainly highway driving with a group that needed to arrive ASAP because they were organizing the event, it wasn't relaxing or overly scenic (until we got there), but it was an accomplishment covering a total of 4,000 miles in just over a week.

2002: A big summer for riding. First, in May, was the California Touring Adventure. Organized by Buell Rider's Adventure Group (Buell being the sportbike affiliate of Harley), I tagged along on my Low Rider with the group of Buell riders. By far the most technically challenging ride to date with the mountain switchbacks … if I would have known what I was getting into before I went I'm not sure if I would have signed on. I managed the 600 lb. Low Rider without mishap and enjoyed every minute of the amazing California scenery that varies so greatly from the southern part of the state to the northern.

In early July,
a close friend from work, Lisa; her son, Adam; my boyfriend at the time; and I rode to Duluth, MN for H.O.G.'s Great Lakes Tour: Lake Superior. We did day trips to Bayfield and Madaline Island and rode north to hop across the border to Canada. On our way to and from Duluth we were sure to take the scenic route and followed the Mississippi River.

Not long home and later that month, Lisa and I rode from Milwaukee to Atlanta. We met up with a group of non-riders from work for the Open Road Tour celebrating the upcoming H-D 100th Anniversary. Our ride home was wrought with misfortune when coming to a stop at a light on a wet and oily intersection my back tire slipped out and the bike and I went down. With an injured shoulder, we trailered our bikes back to Milwaukee from Nashville and I suffered a lingering sense of defeat.

But things soon brightened …

2003: I celebrated Harley's 100th Anniversary with my brand-new fiance while he was over from England for the event for work. Can't even put that experience into words.

Enjoyed my first summer with my new bike-less husband who was now living in the same country as me. Riding not a priority.

With Mark now the owner of a Buell Firebolt, he, Lisa and her son, and I enjoyed a trip from Milwaukee to the ever-so-scenic southeast portion of Ohio.

Now back to the original question: If that was your motorcycle, would you ride it?

I don't. Well, maybe twice locally this summer. We have a beagle now. And I really love him. Oh yes, I've considered rigging a crate to the bike but, seriously, I don't believe dogs and motorcycles mix (even though I have seen it on a few of the rallies I've attended). Just when I start to think how wonderful it would be to ride to Colorado, just Mark and I on our bikes, I think how wonderful it would be to load Diesel up in the OB so we can take him to Denver to visit my friend, Renee, and explore some brand-new dog parks. Afterall, she and her husband just got a puppy so they are head over heels in the same way.
We've already experienced an amazing dog vacation in June. I just can't imagine going away without him. He's a big part of the fun.

I do miss the bike and riding. Just because I'm writing this I'll most likely put on my helmet and take a ride this weekend. But I find the real joy of motorcycle ownership is in those extended adventures where you are away long enough that you forget about work and everyday responsibilities.

I'll get back to it. I'm sure I will. But for now I'm playing favorites … and Diesel wins.


Blogger 2ndaryHighway said...

Do it. Make a Beagle Box. Do. It.

August 23, 2006 at 4:03 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home