How did I get here, to the place where I can go on this epic bucket list adventure? I was born in 1958 and grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I bought my first motorcycle in 1977 on April 17, which is also my father’s birthday. I plan to ride another 40 years, so check back later.
My father was a life insurance salesman; he was risk averse. As a kid there were no BB guns, sling shots, fireworks and, especially motorcycles. Upon occasion we would get a chance to try these things when a friend had them. My first BB gun experience was in the attic of my brother’s friend. We were shooting targets and it did not take long before a ricochet hit me in the cheek. It hurt; maybe I should be more careful. One of my early encounters with fire crackers resulted in a Black Cat exploding in my hand. It hurt; maybe I should be more careful. Once a friend came by with his dirt bike and my attempt to ride behind him resulted in me flying off the back. I never let my father know about these things.
As I grew up I was interested in aviation history and in 1973 I met a pioneer in hang gliding at the Cleveland Air Show. His name was Chuck Slazarcheck (I hope I spelled it correctly). Believe it or not Cleveland was an early mecca of the sport. His gliders were all the early delta-wing design; most made with aluminum tubing but one or two were bamboo. Soon after, I sent him a few dollars for the plans to make one and presented my idea to dear old dad. It did not go well and I never got off the ground.
Fast forward to when I was 18 years old and an enlisted kid in the Air Force. Dad was not around to prevent me from buying a motorcycle. I have been hooked ever since and have far more miles logged on two wheels than in cars. The bike was a 1976 Yamaha XS750D, I loved it. It was way to much bike for a noob with almost no riding experience; what could possibly go wrong.
It did not take long for me to crash, at Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas. I was relatively unscathed except for road rash on my hands because I had no gloves. When my bike got fixed the front fender was new so I had to get a new sticker to get on military bases. To get the sticker I had to take the Air Force rider safety course. It opened my eyes and I learned a ton. It got me serious about practicing and wearing the right protective gear. It is probably why I am still at it today and more serious than ever.
After the Air Force I worked my way through school, got married and had four sons, you know, typical life. All of the boys are through college and on their own so now I can take this trip. I have a very understanding wife, Sandy, that knows I have to do this and supports me fully.