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FullSizeRender-4In the high-pressure major-responsibility career that I am living I have grabbed on to a few activities where my mind can detach from the weight of leadership.  One of those relief moments was climbing aboard the Silver Dragon and roaring down the pavement of a quiet road.  But the days of motorcycle riding have come to a close in my life.

The harnessed power of a powerful 1600cc 70hp perfectly blended highly tuned machine was as slick a ride as I have ever enjoyed.  It felt good, looked great and handled like a professionally trained quarter horse handling range chores. A simple twist of the throttle and the ribbon of asphalt would turn into a blur under my feet.

I remember long rides in the beautiful state of Michigan that soothed my soul.  Good friends would share a day ride or an annual pilgrimage to a distant destination to fill up our memory albums and deepen our friendships.  Facing threatening storms, surprised by stunning vistas and laughing over silly adventures bonded us for life.

The entire United States and Canada were fair game for our annual ride.  We would invest our personal vacation time and be drawn toward adventures with good friends.  Cameras were a must to record great stops and memorable introductions to places that others could only dream.

It was the open road and the constant testimony of God’s creation that enveloped each of us into His watchful care.  Safe miles and final destinations marked each year with splendid rides and moments of serenity from demanding jobs.  Motorcycling was a sheer delight.

Now, my doctors agree that my body can no longer safely negotiate the rigors of motorcycle riding.  Even if these learned physicians did not collectively give me the diagnosis, my aching back reminds me each time I try to throw a leg over the saddle of my trusty stead.  When the traffic light turns read or a massive 18 wheeler slams on its brakes, my body wrenches in trained response but my back screams out in agony.

The Silver Dragon has been a fantastic ride since 2007.  It was my dream bike.  Each time that I polished this gleaming combination of glistening paint and generous chrome, I sensed the joy and pride of ownership.

She made me proud.  Each ride filled me with satisfaction. Our friends along the way will always be buddies for life.Thank you and farewell, good machine.  May your future miles be smooth.

Have you ever had to say such a sad farewell to something so special? Life moves on and sometimes we have to simply accept that seasons come to an end, don’t we?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2198There are different juices that flow in the veins of different people.  Some have more than simply blood that pours through their bodies and energizes the soul that their body houses.  Others have  an additive in their blood vessels.

I join the many who feel the thrill of thunder.  No, it is not the kind that follows lightning and rumbles through the skies.  Rather, it is the roar that travels through the ground, caused by the horsepower of two-wheel machines known as motorcycles.  I feed on the spirit captured on the open road.

When I don my gear, then climb aboard my ride and turn on my ignition, the thrill never leaves.  It is always there.  Something in the heart and soul of a rider is ignited with the firing of plugs in the internal combustion engine of my V-twin.

The joy of  a ride is magnified when fellow bikers enjoy their freedom together.  We are brothers from different mothers.  There is a connection that can be seen when total strangers on bikes pass each other on the road.  They wave at each other in acknowledgement of what we share in common.

On this vacation trip we headed to experience the city of  Austin together.  Little did we know that our path would crossIMG_2195 the path with thousands of others whose blood flows with the same spirit of motorcycling.  We were met with the vision of a hotel lot filled with sparkling, customized and roaring motorcycles.  Instantaneously, it was exuberating.

Something special was happening in Austin that we did not know about in advance.  I did recall a number of biker groups and solo riders on our journey to our state’s capital.  The enjoyable journey was filled with many other sights, so I was not suspicious .  Now, it all made sense: Republic of Texas Rally, ROT13.

Like the tradition is, has been and always will be, I paid out a lot of compliments on custom rides.  Pride broke out on a number faces when they realized that someone was speaking with admiration of their personalized machine.  It is a way of life.

In town the famed Sixth St. was lined with motor magnificence.  No two bikes were alike.  Each one was like the people who ride them: unique, filled with pride and sharing in common the thunder of the open road.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Several years ago I rode with some great friends to a beautiful destination.  After a long hard ride, the hotel was a refreshing sight. Dismounting with a few groans and winces from specific aching body parts, I took in a deep breath and sighed with relief.  That’s when my eyes found new life.

Surrounding our little resort area were a ring of mountains.  These are real mountains, not artificial hills created from mountains of garbage.  Tens of thousands of feet at their peak and rugged ridges tracking over miles of impassable terrain, they are sentinels of the Rocky Mountain Range that force every eye to gasp in wonder.

The valleys and gullies that carve great contours in the mountain side play constant games with the setting of the sunlight.  Shadows make the beauty of this pristine landscape and ever changing canvas of God’s continuous artwork.  The Creator carpets the mountain with acres and acres of evergreen forests.  They drape the rugged terrain with a splash of vibrant shades of green

These forests hide those two bear that galloped across the grounds that we entered on our way into the resort.  Deer, Elk and Big Horn Sheep also call these special areas home.  I stood by the shore of a lake and marveled at the majesty of these immovable sculpters of rock and earth.

Even the weather shifted to accomodate these mountains.  The night engulfed these giants of the land.  In the morning I would see them again.  They would go no where.  Yet, their appearance changed again with the light of the sun decorating these moutains from yet another view.

The road of our next day wove through a course that these mountains dictated generations ago.  We followed the route that they permitted pioneers who first explored this beautiful land to make headway.  Now, these terra giants engulfed me; it was grand!

photo credit: brucefong photography

What can transform a group of nine sweaty, grungy, hungry and tired men into refreshed, satisfied and happy campers?  Is there an elixir that can reenergize a group of adventurers to look forward to another day of travel?  The world is looking for such a magical potion.  I have one to suggest.

God ordained that hospitality is a wonderful gift to offer to weary travelers.  The word “hospitality” actually means “love of strangers.”  Please note that it does not mean to love those who are strange! 

The term comes from a historical episode among early persecuted Christians.  When religious persecution drove many believers from the homes, they sought refuge in distant lands with family and friends.  Often such a journey required many days of travel. 

Such weary pilgrims were to be the object of Christian love.  Resident believers were to invite these “strangers” into their homes for a night of food and shelter.  Then, they were to send them on their way.  This gift of refreshment and encouragement is what hospitality is all about.

I finished our first leg of a long motorcycle journey.  The first day is always a bit tough with getting used to the riding, heat and packing.  That’s when the wonder of hospitality revived us. 

Bush and Sarah invited us into their home.  It’s been a year since we enjoyed each others company.  They were expecting us.  Dinner was on the table.  But, even before that their smiles drew us in.  Sarah hugged every unshowered sweaty hulk of a man.  She was delighted to give us that warm embrace.

The food was wonderful.  Sarah has great munchies before dinner.  Guy food is plentiful.  Beverages chase away the parched throat.  Conversation is catching up, laughing over old stories and dreams of days and blessings to come.

My life journey has taken me into many homes.  Some you feel the guarded polite welcome.  Others you know that it is a place where you will never return.  But, then there is that unusual place that makes you hope that you will be able to come back.

That lasting and lingering effect is what real hospitality is all about.  It is a gift.  People who have it give it away just because it is a part of them.  God made them that way and He smiles on them and all of us who are blessed enough to be blessed by them. 

photo credit:

Every time I walked through the garage that box sat quietly, unassuming and patient.  It was too heavy to get moved around much.  There were a lot of items that were stacked on top of it.

This was a Christmas gift from my brother. He has one.  After stopping by our place on numerous occasions, he realized that I could use one too.

It’s been six months since he dropped it off.  Only twice has he asked if I have used it yet.  Once I stopped by his place and saw his.  I liked what I saw.

This is a motorcycle dolly.  It is a heavy-duty ramp on casters.  When a motorcycle is loaded on the ramp and locked into place, anyone can push it around a small garage.

It makes so much sense.  Right now I have to do a 20 point turn to do a 180 with my bike.  This unit will allow me to spin the bike around.

Furthermore, I can push the bike around into tight spaces.  Our garage is smallish.  We have storage challenges and the garage is the overflow.

This dolly is a great idea and a makes very good sense for compact living.  I have seen it in use and I was even more convinced that it is a useful unit.  It even looks good.

The challenge is implementation.  No, it’s not a matter of putting something into use. I’m ready for that and have been for months.

A bigger problem exists.  First, our garage was buried under a lot of stuff that needed to be given away to the Salvation Army.  It took months to get a truck here to take our extra furniture. 

Once that stuff was gone, I could finally get to the box that packaged the dolly.  It was heavy.  The dolly is made out of steel and supports a heavy motorcycle, so it has to be strong.

I unpacked the carton.  Now, I was ready to face what I have ignored for so long.  The challenge of implementation was staring at me: assembly required. 

At least those who packaged this unit did not suggest that “some” assembly was required.  No one who sells this kind of product ever puts on the carton “MAJOR” assembly required.  The package of bolts, washers and nuts was loaded a massive number of parts that needed assembly.  It’s almost done!

photo credit: google image

The email note was a welcomed surprise.  It popped up and the subject line simply said, “Let’s ride.”  For a few moments I ignored it and kept on working until I could find a moment for pause.

After I opened the email and scanned the contents, I was smiling.  The ride would just take part of the day.  The rendezvous point was 20 minutes away.

The invitation was open and the request was to pass it on to others.  I immediately forwarded the message to several others who like the two-wheel version of riding.  Our lives are so different but we share the joy of the wind in our face, the asphalt below our boots and the horsepower under our saddles. 

Solo riding is cathartic.  Everyone who rides treasures those moments of solitude.  Our individuality is reborn in those moments of rumbling down a country road.

Group riding is just plain fun.  The power of horsepower multiplied many times over is stunning.  It’s better than being a part of a parade.

Individual bikes are a reflection of someone’s personality.  No two bikes are identical.  Each rider takes pride in making his ride and extension of who he is.

Brand is a focus of loyalty.  Very much like a sports fan, riders like their company.  There is no logic that supports it and the facts are minimal.  It is subjective but always full of rancor and subtleties.

When a group pulls out from the rally point, the sound is exhilarating.  Engines fire up and collectively call attention.  Heads turn, people pause, a path is cleared and the leader leads the pack into traffic.

Safely, a pack of riders moves as one.  Most cars and trucks melt back.  A whole in the traffic is filled with bikers slipping into formation. 

It is a totally different feeling than riding alone.  You are part of something bigger.  It is an elixir that draws bikers around the world to love what they do. 

Individuality melds into a new identity.  You are no longer alone.  The group is now a hive of activity, synchronizing movement and acting as a one, just much larger.

But, I sighed.  My work is never defined by the hour but rather the project.  Sunday is coming and I had to study a long and challenging passage for the sermon.  Duty called, I had to pass and work and hopefully ride another day.

photo credit: google image

Our Saturday morning motorcycle ride began just off the Interstate.  Four of us rendezvoused near the reservoir, south of San Francisco.  It’s amazing that such a beautiful environment is so close to a major world-class city.

This pristine drinking water source for millions is surrounded by a high fence.  It is protected from any kind of mishap whether accidental or intentional.  While we waited for our final biker buddy to roar up on his bike, we just took in the view, let the surrounding lush foliage embrace us and drank in the expanse of the crystal clear water cradled in the basin of surrounding mountains.

Once our foursome was complete we negotiated the narrow roads to Highway 35.  This is the famed Skyline Road that bikers in the Bay Area all know.  Those pesky yellow diamond signs with a squiggly line on it is a nuisance to those who drive cars but a delight to riders on top of a powerful two-wheeled machine.

The morning air was crisp.  God’s created sun was low to the East but steadily rising and shortening the shadows on the road.  I was already a fabulous ride.

Twisting through the curves of a downhill stretch, I could feel my bike gripping the asphalt and leaning into the turn.  Tall trees flashed by my peripheral vision and disappear behind me.  Steep cliffs would easily swallow a careless rider or turn a pleasant drive into a nightmare if someone were to lose their concentration on safe riding skills.

But, in the middle of all the dangers, threats and possible mishaps, the exhilaration of this lush country ride is almost impossible to describe.  From the cool darkened forests the road broke out into the ridge that overlooks a hidden valley.  There the sun brightened into a blaze erasing the shadows of the tree-lined canopy from which we had just emerged.

My duties fill my days with demands, stresses and responsibilities.  This thrill of riding is one great way to give my mind a respite.  Mentally, I am so focused on the skills of riding and the joys of embracing the scenery that for a few hours I get a genuine break from the pressures of life.  The racing asphalt beneath my boots, the unmatched delight of being in the environment through which I ride and the camaraderie of m fellow bikers is satisfying.

photo credit: google image

The weather on Saturday was cool.  A cold front was moving in and the threat of rain was forecast for the evening.  It didn’t take a meteorological computer schematic to prove that forecast had a high percentage of being validated.

My leather chaps slipped over my Mountain Hardware textile pants with ease.  The tough zippers closed off any air leaks.  My knee-high boots would add to the warmth on this dodgy weather day.

I put on my First Gear Katmandu jacket.  It is super warm, full of pockets, breathable and of course waterproof.  Add to this versatile jacket that it is great looking and the combination is fabulous.

In cooler weather I wrap a scarf around my neck.  The two ends fly in the wind like streamers.  But, my neck never gets cold when I add this simple garment.

With my hands still without gloves I put on my helmet.  Then, I strap it down.  Next, I put on my sun glasses.  Might as well look as cool as you can.

Last of all I put on my gloves.  These are amazingly comfortable Kevlar reenforced leather gloves.  I use them for most of my three season riding.

With my armor on I climb aboard the Silver Dragon, fire up the engine, roll on the throttle and head toward I-280.  I take the southern route.  After merging on to the freeway, one knucklehead comes roaring up on my right side.

The on ramp is for the purpose of safe acceleration before merging into the flow of traffic.  This young driver in his dad’s high-powered car uses it as a launching pad.  Just as he passes me, he is running out of pavement so he guns his car and leaps left in front of me.

This was not a surprise.  I saw his maneuvering in my rearview mirror.  I didn’t get close but dropped back.  He had chosen to pass me on the right and I wasn’t going to argue with him. 

When a motorcyclist and four-wheeled vehicle collide, it doesn’t matter who was right or wrong, the motorcyclist ALWAYS loses.  We are trained to spot potential hazards and then choose a safe escape.  So, I rolled off the throttle and gave the antsy drive a way to push his way on to the interstate.  Yeah, I was nice to him.  Afterall, he is driving a four-wheeled vehicle and not having nearly as much fun as me.

photo credit: google image

For the last decade of my life I was used to driving my four wheeled vehicle to an international motorcycle show in January.  We mount the latest in hot machines and give our opinions on the comfort, layout and latest features.

Some times we even buy something for the riding season that is still a distant April or more likely May Spring weather.  We eventually part company with a wave, last minute joke or good natured tease.  But, at home as we pass by our winterized motorcycles, we sigh deeply. 

Since November we have hidden our bikes from impossible riding weather.  We have added a stabilizer to our gasoline tank.  Of course we ran the engine to distribute the chemicals with the assignment to protect the fuel system from gumming up.  Gasoline left to itself will break down quickly, coat every part of the fuel system with gunk.

But, now I live on the Left Coast, God must love it here.  It’s January in Cali.  The weather for this past week has been amazing!  The sun has been shining.  Temperatures rose to the low 60’s.  Then, it crept even higher to the high 60’s.  Yesterday it was in the low 70’s.

On Thursday I put on my motorcyle gear.  Chaps are comfortable and take away the wind chill on my legs. Then, I put on my riding jacket. It zips up precisely and buttons up to keep the weather out.

With my helmet strapped on and gloves snuggly fitted, I rolled out on to our neighborhood street.  The rumble of my Kawi smoothly head south on 34th Ave. Normally, the shortest route to my office is down 36th Ave and then through Golden Gate Park.  But, this too beautiful a day for the shortest route. 

Instead, I followed Fulton down hill. It would end at the Pacific Ocean.  The sun was rising and cast a disappearing shadow on the asphalt that lay ahead of me. 

In the distance, without the shade trees of giant eucalyptus the ocean was lit by the morning light.  Waves were breaking on the sandy shores of the nearing beaches. They almost looked like they were lit up with some clever engineering lighting system. 

Then, my route took me south along the Great Highway.  A soft breeze cradled my steady ride.  Seagulls glided dodged each other overhead.  I drank it all in and felt the deep privilege of such a spectacular commute.

photo credit: google image