The View from Faraway Farm: More than one type of motorcycling


Lately, my thoughts have turned to motorcycling. I can remember a couple of years when I pulled my motorcycle out of winter storage in March and rode it. That doesn't happen as much as it once did simply because I like the cold less and less. Last year I yanked the Triumph out of the barn in late April, trailered it to Stanley Lynde's on Flat street in Brattleboro for new tires. The ride home had put just 28 miles on it and that was it for the year. Part of the reason I didn't ride it was because I wanted to put new fiberglass saddlebags on it. They're still not on it.

The generic saddlebags came in white gel coat. My 2010 Triumph Bonneville is two-tone green and cream white with a gold pinstripe separating the colors. I found factory correct paint in aerosols and spent a great deal of time painting, placing the pin-striping, painting again, sanding, painting again, and then disaster struck. I painted the bags on a beat up old flatbed trailer out in the back yard. After one such session, the wind came up and blew both bags off the trailer, ruining the paint job. I stored them in the garage and decided to give the project some breathing room until I was good and ready to fix the paint.

In the meantime, I got the itch for a dual sport motorcycle of relatively small engine displacement. I found a 1-year-old Honda CRF 250 in Greenfield, Mass., and brought it home. It only had 1,800 miles on it, so I proceeded to put about 1,500 miles on it before the season ran out in October. It took me back to the feeling I had when I first learned to ride in my grandfather's pasture, now the Little League field in Ludlow. Except for a short dirt access road, the pasture was a great place to fall over a bunch of times. Riding off road is its own kind of fun. Yes, the CRF 250 brought back some of that early passion to my riding.

Now, as the riding season approaches, the off and on mild weather is flirting with every hard-core motorcyclist out there. If I didn't mind getting a little salt on one of my bike I could have ridden a few times already, and I've seen a couple of hardy souls actually doing it. Years ago when I had a fully-flared BMW I rode every month of the year. Sure, I only did a 10-mile ride in January, but it did get ridden every month of the year. That particular motorcycle was designed for long distance touring, and I enjoyed the period of time when I did that kind of motorcycling. I'm not quite that fanatical about riding these days, but as long as I can hold the bike up and maintain my balance I will attempt to continue riding every year. Once it's in your blood it is difficult to stop. This brings me around to the fact that one kind of motorcycle just might not be enough.

A few years ago I purchased a sidecar with the intention of having it mounted on a Honda 750 Nighthawk that I have. That is a completely different kind of motorcycling that I've wanted to explore. I've ridden a sidecar equipped motorcycle, and three wheels handle nothing like two; it is a unique set of dynamics. I enjoyed the experience and will eventually have that project completed. The sidecar equipped motorcycle is just another example of how there are several different kinds of motorcycling, and to this motorcyclist, they are all worthwhile and enjoyable. Are three motorcycles enough? Right now it works for me.

There are even more narrowly focused kinds of motorcycling. I once rode a trials motorcycle, a rather odd machine that has a facsimile of a seat, but you don't generally sit on it. You ride standing, allowing your body to act as another aspect of the suspension. Trials motorcycles are designed for riding slowly through seemingly impossible terrain...over huge rocks, stumps, etc. You need to be in pretty good shape to effectively ride a trials motorcycle, and to the uninitiated it can be a very tiring experience. Then we have sport bikes. I once had a naked sport bike. The handling was razor sharp and acceleration was stunning. I remember passing four cars one day on a reasonably long straightaway. When I completed the pass I looked down at the speedometer and realized I was doing 135 mph. Well, I guess that kind of motorcycle was a little too narrowly focused, putting me in jeopardy of losing my driver's license, so I sold it. I've had dirt bikes, universal style bikes, you name it. In motorcycling, you have a lot of choices.

So, on the eve of riding weather, I am thinking about all the kinds of riding that I enjoy. Looking at my three motorcycle collection, I am satisfied that what I have in the barn is more than sufficient to provide a well-rounded season.

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.


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