Asphalt, Fresh Air, and a Throttle

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” -Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll


Alice is the name of my 2009 Superglide FXDC. As you might have guessed, she shares the name with the heroine from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Why? I’ve always admired Alice’s ability to navigate through a backwards world. How’s that for being relatable?

A few observations from the time I’ve spent on Harley’s:

-It’s a brotherhood.

There’s an instant sense of camaraderie when you’re out there and you pass by another rider. Stop for those in need, lend advice when asked, and savor the friendship you may not have past the conversation you’re holding. Blood may be thicker than water, but we’re all filled with both. That 2 or 3 finger salute/wave we give is a sign that you’re never alone and we all wish for the best for each other.

-Don’t buy a Harley to save money or gas. 

Do it for the love of the ride. Fuel economy is a bonus. Parts and maintenance can add up quickly. But you can’t and shouldn’t put a price on outpacing the wind. Especially when it’s done while engaging all your senses, fully exposed (some people prefer the term unprotected). You just can’t get that same sense of liberation in a car (cage). The satisfaction of earning miles through the work of your hands rivals surpasses any vehicle I’ve ever been in. You’re so cut off from the world by panels, mirrors, a/c and a hood that you forget the limitations of man are being broken with every gear that’s shifted. There’s a greater sense of realization out there on that bike.

-Take care of what takes care of you. 

Your whip is valuable because your life is valuable. Don’t skimp and play Mr. Cheapskate just because it’s easier. The more time and attention you put into cleaning her up and preserving what you have, the more likely you are to live long enough to tell your kids and their kids what it truly means to ride. Your bike gets you to and from, creates long-lasting memories, and carries a soul that can’t be replaced.

-Be concerned, but don’t worry when it comes to death. 

If you’re going to constantly worry about dying, then don’t ride. People love to ask “Are you okay with the fact that something may happen?” Well, no. Who is? And how unfair is that? If we had to become comfortable with the idea of death every time we decided to try something new, we’d accomplish very little and miss out on a lot. Back to the main lesson, though…we tend to gravitate towards what we think can happen and help our thoughts come to fruition. Sow a worry, and you’re more likely to reap an accident or worse. Keep your head in the game and try to make sure your skill-set outweighs as much of the risk within your ability to do so. The rest of it is the stuff of prayers I pray every time I kick my clutch into first. I don’t think about angels as much as the God that made them.

-Ride with your kids and your spouse.

Some of the earliest sounds my 1 1/2 year old has imitated in this world has been the Vance and Hines pipes when I roll in from a hard day’s work. I love that he’s so amazed at how it all works. It’s the first thing he points to when we leave the house, and I plan on taking him on the back with me until he’s old enough to decide whether he’ll ride alongside on his own. I hear it imprints on them forever. As for my wife and family, there’s no greater feeling on the road than when you have you’re loved ones holding on to you, viewing God’s green Earth in ways that some people never will. It’s also humbling. I’ve never spent so much time in silence while actively contributing to the strength my marriage has, or the bond my family shares.

Alice will never be my favorite lady, but she’s been a blessing. The beauty of riding is that you can’t foresee how even the next leg of the next trip will change you or the people you care about. It’s an adventure. Fueled by gas but driven with passion. Stay safe out there and ride like you mean it.