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Motorcycling Across America

April 10, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good adventure? There’s something fascinating about submerging yourself in new experiences and leaving the comfort of routine. Like my first jump off the high-dive at Scott County Park pool in Long Grove, Iowa as a kid, the build up is the scariest part. Once you’re in the air…okay, that’s pretty scary too. But once you hit the water, make your way to the surface, and realize all limbs are where they’re supposed to be, it’s an awkward child speed walk to do it all again. No running at the pool.

Surrounded by a culture of travel since moving to California three years ago, things have escalated. Accompanied by other midwestern transplants, I’ve visited nine countries, 17 states, and countless cities. 2014 was the most eventful year of my life. A new city to explore in San Francisco, and at only seven miles by seven miles, easily conquered on a bicycle. 2015 topped it. A friend with a car increased the exploration radius and we only got swindled once on our two week trip to Asia.

You can pay a lot of money and fly round the world, but to know it, to smell it and feel it between your toes you have to crawl. ―Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels

Rewinding a bit, I visited Greece in 2006 with my brother and friends. On the island of Naxos, we rented mopeds and spent the afternoon riding through tiny town after town stopping at the occasional beach or cliff to take it all in. It was the highlight of the trip. The sunshine on our faces, wind in our hair, the drop in temperature as we’d zoom into a valley, and the gradual rise as we coaxed the tiny scooters up the other side.

So it’s unclear both why it took so long and why I was so surprised when, on my birthday in 2016, I took motorcycle lessons and didn’t want to get off. Two days later, I bought one. And 2016 was the greatest year of my life. California has some of the most amazing motorcycle roads on Earth and I caught myself packing days in advance out of excitement for weekend trips up and down the coast.

Riding Highway 1 north of San Francisco. Narration by Ted Simon who spent 4 yrs riding around the world in the 70s.

I’m aware this trend cannot continue forever. But like a heroin addict chasing their high, I’m sure as hell going to try. So on May 6th, 2017, I’m taking a one-way flight from San Francisco to Orlando, renting a motorcycle, and riding 4,000 miles across America to get back home. Am I in over my head? Probably. Will there be trouble along the way? Yes. Am I nervous? Absolutely. Assuming all limbs are where they’re supposed to be when I get back to California, will doing something that scares me be worth it? Time will tell.


Rocky Warren's blog.

Principal Engineer and Architect at Vertex Software. I do other stuff too.

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