There’s nothing like a finely tuned motorcycle road trip.
You’ve got the hotel booked. The schedule prepared down to the last minute. Tickets purchased. Bike maintenance performed. Rain gear ready. You’re set. You’re pumped. High fives all around.
Then the morning of the trip comes around and you might as well throw everything into a burning dumpster fire. You won’t need any of the plans, because zero things will go right. You’ll lose people. The weather won’t cooperate. Your comm units won’t sync. Engine lights will go on. Activities will get cancelled. Cats and dogs living together. You get the gist of it.
Here’s the thing though… you’ll love it anyway.
The cracks started to show the week of the trip when one of our motorcycles wouldn’t start up after some last minute rewiring. That’s when the panic started to rear its ugly head. The sweat. The anxiety.
The problem was eventually solved, when the troublesome fuse was located. Fine. We’re fine. Surely this would be the only hiccup.
Don’t call me Surely… name’s Murphy.
A license plate falls off, of the back of the bike. Gone. Lost. Palm meet forehead. Ok. Let’s regroup and find a (less than ideal) solution. Zip ties and someone else’s plate? Sure. Let’s just put him in the middle of the pack and hope we don’t get pulled over.
Then a text message from a teammate. He’s sick and can’t go. Or he has too much work. We don’t quite know which. Ok, so let’s just peer-pressure him into going anyway. He’s back in! But as it turns out, only for the first 50 or so miles.
Then he turns back.
We keep pushing forward, despite our comms going in and out on us, because at the end of the road, a spectacle we’d never witnessed awaits us. A Flat Track race at the Springfield Mile. Harley will duke it out with the reigning champions, the formidable Indian Motorcycles.
But before we reach our destination, my engine light goes on, and I can no longer enjoy the road. My attention is now divided equally between the scenary and that rage-inducing orange light on my odometer.
We get to the AirBnB exhausted, tired and hungry. We relax with tequila, cigars and other inhalable items, secure in the knowledge that the race would happen the next day.
Hi… remember me? Name’s Murphy in case you forgot.
We get a text notifying us of a serious health issue back home and just like that, another rider must peel off and head back. He makes the decision to head home right after the race. We settle back into relaxing. It will be short-lived.
While we sleep, the race track is battered by a massive storm. We wake to the news that the race is postponed until the day after - the day we are slated to return home.
Dejected, we formulate a new plan. We meet up with another friend and trespass into the racing paddock. It is free of people, except for the racing teams and their bikes. It is a veritable cornucopia of motorcycles. We geek over Indian FTR750s, speak to Zilla Racing Team members and meet all sorts of other interesting folks and famous riders. After, we say goodbye to our friend, who leaves for home having not witnessed a single race.
The next day, what’s left of our team finally get to our seats and watch the flat trackers flog their machines, doing laps at 120mphs. Sideways on purpose. The day goes smooth until a horrific crash on the far side, sidelining two racers with various injuries. No one is seriously hurt, but the crowd is shook up.
Because it is our last day, we have to cut our stay short and get back on the road. We gear up for the last time in the blistering heat, sync up our comms, point our bikes North and put rubber to the boring highway. And other than a chance, and a rather hostile encounter with Freak from Mancow Morning Madhouse by one of our team members, everything goes smooth and I arrive home without any further incidents.
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder once said that “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” I feel that is also true for any trip plan. You have to be able to adapt and roll with the punches. Even if those punches could come from a guy named Freak.