In the Beginning

Driving a car, your relationship with the road is like that with a friend. Bumps are softened. On a motorcycle, the relationship is much more intimate, like that with a lover. You feel every small bump and dip.

Me, November 2011

This is the unfolding story of motorcycling and me. While I'd toyed with the idea of riding for several years, I'd never thrown a leg over a motorcycle until I was 51. Then the time seemed right. My youngest kid had finished high school so I considered myself expendable. I'd just spent two years with every waking moment was consumed writing a book. With it completed, I again owned my life and was looking for a new obsession.

My driving force in life has always been pushing myself, taking on new challenges and mastering new skills. I thrive on exploring new places and always prefer to be outside with the wind on me as much as possible. So I gravitated to riding.

As I contemplated this big plunge, I made several assumptions. One was that riding a motorcycle would save money given that gasoline prices had just spiked. A second was that royalties from the book would pay for a motorcycle. But most of all, I assumed that having put in thousands of miles on road racing and mountain bicycles, and manual transmission cars for years, I'd pick up motorcycle riding easily.

These assumptions all turned out to be wrong. What I spent on motorcycling far exceeded any savings from higher gas mileage. I didn't sell enough books to cover the costs. And learning to ride was much, much more difficult than I expected. But it was also much more fulfilling. In life, I've always wanted to be where I'm not. And I'm rushing to get there.

In the few years since I began riding, I've fallen passionately in love with it. The average American motorcyclist rides 1800 miles per year. I did 16,000 my first year, 18,000 the second, and over 20,000 in the third. I've continued to average 15,000 to 16,000 miles per year even when I began writing a weekly column that eats up much of my Sundays. At night I often dream of squiggly lines on a map. Seriously.

When everything is clicking--I'm alone on a winding country road, I've got my "A" game, the music is in a groove--I sometimes forget the motorcycle is there and feel like I'm simply flying. If you don't want to take my word for it, trust Alton Brown.

Luckily, I live close to some fine riding, with twisty roads over mountain ridges, large state forests, miles of farmland (which often requires dodging Amish buggies), charming little towns (each different from all the others), and lots of historic sites. There's always somewhere new to see. (Here's a map of my favorite routes and road food). I particularly like combining riding with photography--one of my other passions.

When I began this blog I was riding a 2010 BMW R1200R. In BMW jargon, this bike was a "hexhead" (named because the engine cylinder covers are hexagonal). So these are the "Hexhead Diaries." I'll update them regularly with stories and pictures. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Photos While Riding

Bike Poems

at night in dark
I sometimes hear the silent turbine whine shift

the wind to cool my face

then gone
early twenty miles of fog
no deer yet little barks of sun

a taunt

but faster

old stiff hands
awkward shifts


chill dawn

a hole
a cave

but do not come after me
there is horsepower enough

for now.

Friday, October 27, 2017

More Random Photos

In the bottom two photos here, you can see two long-planned, major upgrades I made to the bike. One is a Russell Day Long seat--a custom rebuild--to replace the horrible stock seat and make it so that I didn't have to use an Airhawk seat cushion to get through a ride.

The other is the addition of Clearwater Darla auxiliary lights, mostly to augment daytime conspicuity but also to help when I ride at night or in fog. They're really slick. I have them set to put out 20% of capacity when I'm on low beam and 100% on high beam. I can also increase or decrease the output using the bike's thumb wheel.

Next up is an LED headlight kit to replace the stock halogen bulb that burns out a couple of times a year. I'm awaiting parts to have that done.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I seem to have lost interest in this blog but can at least throw photos up here.