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Classic Velocity Blog

Recalibrating Normal

Classic Velocity

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Sometimes family or friends will hear about something that you have done, and respond with amazement. You will hear statements like "Wow, that's impressive", or "That must be incredibly difficult". Sometimes this amazement is masking the true statement, which would sound something like "You are stark raving barking mad!" Close friends will feel no need to mask anything. Even other like-minded individuals will have a range of reactions. Motorcyclists are renown for this as they are a pretty diverse community with many sub cultures. Having just returned from the BMWMOA Rally, I got an email from a guy following the sub-blog dedicated to the trip. He thinks this trip must have been miserable and risky given the number of miles in the timeframe, weather, etc. Readers of this blog will know that there have been many marathon trips, last minute excursions, and fruitless escapades. So for Mike who emailed, here are the facts and the reasoning to help you put this trip in perspective.

The Facts. The bike, 2003 BMW R1150GSA. Leave PA on Tuesday around 6am and travel to Grayling, MI. I could have taken a more direct route, but I wanted to see what Michigan's upper peninsula was like. Get off the bike in Grayling around 6pm. 12 hours in the saddle. 750 Miles. Leave Grayling on Wednesday at 6:30am, and travel to St Paul, MN. Up and around the U.P., and across northern Wisconsin before descending to St Paul. Again about 12 hours in the saddle. 680 miles. Thursday, at the Rally. 1 hour in the saddle to go to a group dinner across town. 38 miles. Friday, up to Monticello, MN for a service, then back to the rally, then depart and head to Madison, WI. 7 hours in the saddle total. 400 miles. Saturday, travel back to PA via a more direct route. 16 hours in the saddle. 880 miles. Grand total of 48 hours in the saddle. 2750 miles in 5 days. 

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The Analysis. If you know the background, then this is not extraordinary. I am an Iron Butt member with multiple certificates. Not that this disproves insanity, it just makes it eccentric. Without the money. The IBA Rally (which requires the completion of qualifying events and an invitation) typically entails doing 11 back to back 1000 mile days! I have no desire to do that. Ever. However, there have been more than a few sudden 24 and 48 hour trips to check out a vintage car or motorcycle, or to attend a show for 4 hours. In addition, these escapades have not always been my idea. There are others who have been accomplices or instigators. You know who you are! Lastly, if you were at the MOA rally (any year), or if you are around BMW motorcycle riders, then you will know that this story can be matched or topped by randomly grabbing 4 or 5 others. Beyond lastly, I know that there are fellow members of the early 911 Gruppe, the 2002 club, and others who have pulled all-nighters driving, riding, or working on vehicles. Some endurance race. More broadly, I have met riders who do not wear a helmet (or any other gear for that matter), guys who use their bike to do a pub crawl, hill climbers, land speed record participants, guys who run their tires to the cords, etc. Risk is often in the eye of the beholder.

The Conclusion. While I can't say that every mile and every hour was enjoyable (rain in Ohio, an infestation of constabulary in Michigan, boredom in Indiana), this was another great trip. So you can see Mike, that as disturbing as this may seem, it is neither unusual, nor particularly risky. The key is to surround yourself with a group of certified lunatics in sufficient quantity to render you solidly in the middle of the bell curve. Mission accomplished.