by Victor Wanchena

We all want to be free. Free to ride our machines without being hassled by the “man”, to quote Peter Fonda. Those words, despite their Hollywood origins, still ring true today. What a great and wonderful country we live in where this is truly possible. The freedoms we enjoy in this country today should be cherished for we are truly fortunate.

I was reminded of this on a recent motorcycle trip to New Hampshire. Mile after mile I rolled along unhindered by border checks or random roadblocks. I was simply free to ride wherever I chose. From sea to shining sea nothing but wide-open road lay in front of me. This is not the case in other areas in the world.

It quite literally would take a lifetime to thoroughly explore all areas of this great nation. And if you throw in our neighbor to the north, the possibilities become almost limitless. A lifetime of memorable tours lie right out your front door. And with a lifetime of tours would come a lifetime of stories. Here are a couple of my favorites from my travels.

Once while stopped at a travel plaza on the New York Toll Way I met three Japanese fellows. They were driving a large car with California plates. They were slowly walking around my bike marveling at it size and technical features. They where especially fascinated with the GPS I had mounted above my gauges. They were squinting to read the map on it in the failing light of evening so I reached over and turned the back-light for the GPS screen on. They all simultaneously recoiled in amazement and let out an “OOOHHH”. We tried to speak but their English was poor and my Japanese was nonexistent. When I offered to let them sit on my bike they happily took turns. They each snapped a photo of each other astride my bike. When they finished we exchanged good byes and I began to suit up. As I was about to pull away I turned to give them a wave. The three were standing in line as if on cue they raised their hands and gave me a hardy “Bonzai”. I still smile whenever I think about them.

We all met the fellow at the gas station who ambles over to look at our machine and begins to ramble on about their experiences with motorcycles. It usually starts with them owning a bike about 20-30 years ago. The bike is most often a 40’s vintage Indian Chief or some other rare or exotic machine. They rode it somewhere distant (Alaska, Argentina or the next town over) and then enviably filled her up with race gas and went took off like the sons of thunder. Just as they were about to break the speed of sound something (read hay wagon, moose or flying saucer) pulled out in front of them and “I had to lay ‘er down.” After sliding to a stop they promptly got up and sold the bike to a bystander for several times what the bikes real value. I love the stories because to me what they really convey is that this person is trying to make a connection with you as a rider. They have also led some to believe that Indian must have produced about 5 million Chiefs and they are all hidden in warehouse somewhere just waiting to be discovered.

So this month ride fast, take chances and be thankful that you can.


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