By Paul Berglund
I like things. I have to balance “wanting things” with “having money”. My lovely wife set up an alert on our credit card. When ever it gets used, she gets a text. When she get’s a text, I get a phone call. “Did you just spend $807 dollars on Moto Guzzi Parts?” You can’t show the grizzly fear, so I look her right in the eye (over the phone) and tell her “Yes I did”. I tend to pay less attention to the verbal pummeling that comes after that. I pet the cat or think about how cute she was when I met her and eventually she calms down. My wife I mean, we have boy cats. If she’s still upset at the end of the tirade, I try to end on a positive note. I tell her that since I spent more than $400 I get free shipping. She likes free shipping.
In addition to the rat fink squealers that she employs at our credit card provider, she’s bought into a thing called Amazon Prime. It costs $100 per year to have “Prime”. With Prime, anything you buy from Amazon is shipped free. She loves free shipping. Hopefully you already know that freedom isn’t free. Now you know that “free shipping” costs $100. I do not fear the grizzly, but I respect her. I try to buy my motorcycle parts locally. The price is about the same as on line. I pay taxes at both places, but I don’t have to pay for shipping when I buy stuff from my local shop. Another advantage is I can pay cash. If the NSA has tracking devices in our money, they aren’t sharing that information with my wife. If no one pokes the bear, we will all be the happier for it.
Buying Moto Guzzi parts isn’t easy. You can’t just go on Craig’s List and pick up a used Hepco Becker luggage rack for your Le Mans. If you join one of the on line Moto Guzzi owners clubs, you might be able to buy one after a few years. But would you really hang out in a Moto Guzzi chat room for three years to save a few bucks? No, I couldn’t do it ether. Plus you’d still have to pay for shipping. So I had to buy a new rack from a company on line and I got free shipping. Now that I have a rack and hard cases on my bike, I can ride my bike to pick up what ever parts I find on Craig’s List. Buying bags for your bike costs more than Amazon Prime, but works the same way. If you have a bike with saddle bags, you can pick up your stuff for free. Here’s how I figure that. The most expensive part of ridding a bike is owning a bike. You’re paying for the bike and insurance and license tabs wether you ride the bike or not. Having a bike costs money, riding it just costs gas.
I have to pay for gas for my bike just like you. I even have to pay extra to buy gas that’s uncontaminated with corn. I’m not happy with that part. We need to eliminate the Corn Maffia and take back our country, but that’s another article for another time. This article isn’t about some small, powerful, greedy special interests group putting tank melting ethanol in our gas just so they can line their pockets with our money. No this is about free shipping. So, chances are you know how many miles per gallon your car or truck gets. I drive a station wagon (you read that right) with a 5.7 liter V8. I’m well aware of every corn tainted gallon that I have to pay for. My dirt bike gets over 50 MPG of unpolluted premium. I know that because when you are trail riding there aren’t any gas stations out there. You have to know your range. It’s nice to get 50 MPG, but that’s not why I ride a dual sport bike. I ride it because I love riding it. My street bike, I’m not sure what the MPG is. I keep track, but I don’t care.
Stay with me here, it’s all related to free shipping. For example, if I were going to buy something from Aerostich in Duluth, I would have to factor in the shipping cost or the cost of driving my car to Duluth from Saint Paul and back again. Driving could be much more expensive. However, if I were to ride my bike up and back I can forget about the cost of gas because riding my bike is so damn much fun that it cancels out the cost. If I want something and it’s far away that’s no longer a problem or an expense it’s an opportunity. An opportunity for fun. Riding my bike is like free shipping. The same thing goes for travel expenses.
A few winters ago I was reading about Cow Boy Action Shooting. The powers that be were having rally that was taking place in New Mexico at the beginning of April. I’m not a cow boy nor do I action shoot, but I thought that it looked interesting. The cost to fly or drive that far for something I had no part in and was only curious about would be foolish. Then March turned into one of the warmest in many years. April looked to be the same way. Just days before the rally I realized, I could ride my bike there. That’s like it’s free. I have to eat where ever I am so I don’t figure that in. Lodging would be an extra expense, but that’s about it. I put out some bear bait and jumped on the bike. I had a wonderful time. My only mistake was forgetting that in Colorado, rain plus altitude = snow. Turns out a Yamaha FJR can be ridden in the snow. Now I know.
The summer of that same year my nephew was getting married in Seattle. Buy coincidence he had bought two framed prints from a collection of four. I had bought the other two. I decided to give him my pictures so he would have the full set. I went out to my garage and (over) built a wooden crate to ship the prints, frames, glass and all. When I stood back to admire my work, I saw the FJR just sitting there. Unused. Slowly, my brain began to formulate a plan. The crate would be expensive to ship. My sister lives in Missoula Montana. My brother lives in Seattle. So maybe one motel between Saint Paul and Seattle. The bike was paid for yet it was sitting idle. Gas is like it’s free. I placed the crate on the passenger seat of the bike. I added some eye bolts to secure it with bungie straps. It would cut a ragged hole in the air all the way across the western half of America, but the mighty 1300cc FJR could plow threw it. I ain’t afraid of no vortices, but I would need to inform the Grizz.
My second solo trip of the year turned out to be epic. I had a ride that would stand out as one of the highlights of my life. I saw people, places and things that still inspire me today. Half of my nephew’s art collection has ridden further on a motorcycle than most people have. Including going over Bear Tooth pass twice. Even my wife was happy when I eventually came home. All that and free shipping.