155_HipIt has been a long tough winter. I know I’m not alone in this. It has been declared “the worst winter in 30 years”. Record snow, record cold, blah, blah, blah. I would like to blame all my challenges in the past seven months on the weather but that would just be whining.

In early September of 2013, my lovely bride and I embarked on a 10-day motorcycle trip that was to include The Tail of The Dragon in North Carolina. It’s an 11-mile stretch of US 129 that contains 318 curves. It crosses Deal’s Gap at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line. It’s a nice road and I wanted to check it off my bucket list. Some folks say it’s the greatest motorcycle road in America but I found many roads in the Great Smoky Mountains that I liked just as much. I may have liked The Cherohala Skyway even more.

It was a great trip. We decided to run the whole trip off a GPS using only back-roads, no Interstates. I’ve never done a trip this way but I thought it would be fun. In recent years I’ve been trying to focus more on the journey and less on pounding miles. It’s been a tough transition but I’m getting much better. What we learned from back-roads riding only, is that mixing in a couple of Interstates is not a bad idea. There was a stretch through Illinois where we were hitting small towns every 8-10 miles. When it’s 100 degrees out, I’d like to be making a little better time.

With only a couple of days left in our trip, we reached Lafayette, Indiana. It was evening and there was heavy traffic. I think there may have been a Purdue football game that night. My wife was leading and planning to stop soon to let the rush-hour traffic thin out. Heavy traffic in an unfamiliar city is never fun on a motorcycle. While traveling through a very congested intersection, a car turned left right in front of us. The kid driving didn’t even look in our direction. He stopped his car when my wife collided with it. Thankfully she was wearing full gear. She did break her wrist and we got to spend the rest of the evening in the emergency room. We finished our trip with a rented cube truck.

My wife’s 2013 riding season ended that day. They declared her bike totaled, and she purchased a new one in October. Unfortunately, I had to ride it home from the dealer. It’s never fun to have someone else ride your new bike before you do.

Late in December we took a little vacation to Grand Marais to try and fight the winter blues. I broke my ankle cross-country skiing. I tried to do something that I may have been able to do when I was 22 but I had no business doing when I’m 52. Another vacation, another emergency room. I was laid-up for a month. I couldn’t work or even really leave the house. I missed the IMS show, which is something I count on to break up my winter. I got to watch my friends run an STFU-MC Ground Hog Enduro that I also count on to help me through these fabulous Minnesota winters. The recovery from this injury has been really long but I am getting better.

I suppose I can look at this long winter as somewhat of a blessing. It’s given both my wife and I time to heal. Not being able to ride means less miles on our bikes. That’s about all I can come up with and neither one carries much weight. I am ready to ride right now. Unfortunately, as I write this, in late March, it’s 20 degrees outside and there is still ice on the roads. I do have the Donnie Smith Show to look forward to and Vintage Torque Fest the first weekend in May. Although, last year, it snowed on our way to Torque Fest. This year has to be better. It just has to be.

MMM

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