by Dan Hartman

I just rode 2206 miles in six days. My ride to the West was unbelievable for me and I discovered one important thing about myself. I love speed. The faster I went the better. The group rode south from Minnesota into Iowa and then into Nebraska before we headed west. Nebraska was either hot or it rained. What a choice.

The group was big this year. We had eighteen motorcycles with almost forty people. Jim Merkel and his wife led the way. The job they do each year is beyond words and I’m glad to count him among my friends. My niece rode on the back of my Road King most of the way. She even made a friend or two from the group. She had never ridden before.

After Nebraska we hit Colorado and the mountains. We spent the night at Estes Park and in the morning we rode up into the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was cold as we climbed above the tree line. The snow is permanent up there and the air is thin. The mountains were beautiful as we stood on top of the world. It made you stop and think how little we are in the great scheme of things. Then we headed back down to the plains and north to Cheyenne. Speed again on the open road.

After a night in Cheyenne we headed for the Black Hills Rally. We road Needles Highway and landed in Keystone, SD. The next day it was Sturgis and a long day of having fun in the hills. From Sturgis it was the highway again. I-90 + South Dakota = Speed. Chamberlain was the stop for the night. Sunday it was back on the highway and time to head home.

The only sad part of it was that the ride would soon be over. I love the trips I have with Jim each year. The new friends I make are great and I look forward to the adventure, but I never want it to end. I hate to turn north off I-90 each year and head home. The motorcycle becomes part of me and my love for it makes the open road so inviting.

It was hot and cold, rainy and sunny, but when you’re on the road you don’t care. All you want is the ride. I hate the winter and I know it’s coming. Give me the road, my motorcycle and cheap motels along the freeways and I’m happy. I know myself better today after the trip and my motorcycle is at the center of me. In all my life I’ve never felt free except when I ride my motorcycle. Someday when I’m an old man I will remember the freedom I had on the open road. It’s not a fad for me. It’s my love for life and my need to be free.

Whether you wear a helmet or not, Ride safe and you’ll always be free.


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