Thursday, September 14

R.I.P. Ann Richards, EX-TX Governor and motorcyclist

Ann Richards had more class in a hair follicle than some of us have in our entire being! She was one smart and snazzy woman. Her spirit, humor and wit always made me stop to listen to her. I remember the comment she made in defense of women's abilities in a "man's world."

To paraphrase, she said, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only she did it backwards and in high heels. This morning, I heard another memorable Richards quote: "I don't want my headstone to say, 'She kept a clean house.' I could just hear her releasing that famous laugh.

At 60, Richards bought herself a motorcycle and rode it!

RIP, Ann Richards.

Great American Motorcycle Tours: A Brief Review/Rant

Gary McKechnie’s book, Great American Motorcycle Tours, is a book I really wanted to eat up. I mean, what is there not to relish? It's well-written, over 500 pages of detailed, fun-sounding motorcycle adventures with maps, restaurants and shopping suggestions, and black and white photos--it even includes an opening essay by Peter Fonda, Hollywood’s bad-boy motorcyclist. The book is the winner of the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award and the Lowell Thomas Silver Award. So how could I--or anyone--not love this book?

For the longest, however, I couldn’t put my finger on what was irritating me—a lot—about the book. It hit me after I had been riding a short time. My first “long” ride was around 50 miles—not long by most motorcycle standards. Within days, my ride length had doubled. One sunny Saturday, with little planning, I did 220 easy miles. Now, I still consider myself a re-entry/newbie rider. I rode more than 20 years ago (briefly) . No doubt about it, it has felt like...well…starting over. Yet, accumulating mileage has come naturally and easily. On any given excursion, the miles seem to melt away. Were it not for time and obligations, I feel as if I could ride forever. This, from a relative newbie like me; I am not unique. Experienced riders cover far more terrain than I currently can and do. One motorcyclist I read about went to the store to retrieve items for lunch and took a 200 plus mile "jaunt" home.

Now let's look at some tours McKechnie describes: Amish Country Run, 110 miles. To cover this, McKechnie suggests three days with stops. Blue Ridge Parkway Run, 200 miles, “consider five days with stops.” Mighty Montana Run, 335 miles, “consider four days with stops.” Sawtooth Range Run, 450 miles, “consider six days with stops.” McKechnie appears to have some exceedingly low expectations for motorcyclists. These are looooooong completion times!

Why, someone tell me, would it take anyone three days to cover 110 miles?! Even on challenging roads, one should be able to cover 110 miles in less than three days—even with stops! For the average biker, 110 miles could be covered in a few hours—even with stops. McKechnie's average is approximately 36 miles a day! Come on! I can walk 110 miles in three days! This rant applies to all the distances in McKechnie's book. Even playing tourist to the max, should not turn these trips into the multiple day outings McKechnie recommends.

If you want to squeeze in a weekender or have limited vacation time, following a McKechnie tour will devour--FAST--whatever time you set aside, while not taking you very far. In six days, one would only cover about 450 miles of a McKechnie trip. The times/distances in Great American Motorcycle Tours seemed written for bicyclists rather than for motorcyclists! It’s a shame that such a good book, in terms of its tour descriptions, will annoy many motorcyclists. It will. Trust me!