Sunday, February 28

"Asphalt Therapy" and my stolen bike of yore...

"Asphalt Therapy." I owe this blog title to a dear friend, who identified in an email message to me precisely what the doctor ordered. He should know; he needs some asphalt therapy too. Lucas is a highly skilled motorcyclist who rides a gorgeous--and tall--Kawasaki Versys, a bike I contend is a close relative of the Suzuki SV650! But I digress...

I needed a fix.

Each winter I reluctantly have stored my bikes, first Queenie (the wonderful Suzuki SV650) and now Jesse Owens (the sweet mile gobbler, BMW F800ST). This winter, the shop where I store my bike even offered, with a day or so notice, to allow me to reclaim my bike over the winter sans charge if and when the withdrawal became unbearable and a ride was the only panacea to save me, the patient.

Well, I've got the heebee-geebees something awful! I'm also exhausted and short of everything, including time. If my bike were in my garage, I could stumble my way out to sit on the bike, start it up and ride, if possible.

'Cause there's a monkey on my back . The incessant itch of withdrawal will surely leave visible scars...Something has to give soon.

I'm lucky that I have several outlets that can work in a pinch: reading, photography, bicycling, rollerblading, and mapping. But two wheel whizzing quells my soul like no other; perhaps, because it combines the best of my activities. On a weekend of bicycling I can go only so far--and only at a comparatively snail's pace. No matter how hard I peddle I can't get to Amherstburg, Ontario and back in a weekend and have energy left to call it fun. Inline skating, a activity that sports the most wheels, restricts me the most too. I am confined to a small geographic area unless I ride my bicycle or motorcycle to my skating destination. I can do long distance inline skating--many former runners, like myself, have turned this into a distance sport-- but I can skate all day and never get close to leaving Illinois. Reading and photography--I can do both for endless hours and each is good for my replenishing my spirit.

Still, something about getting on my motocycle that blends the "feel good" activities and offers the best therapy I can access without a prescription. Riding requires continuous reading of words and behavior (my own and everyone around me--in and out of vehicles!). Wanting to "shoot" something I've read about that is tucked inside a small town is reason enough to go for a ride.

Motorcycling is so much like my wanderings on my Schwinn bicycle with the "S" on the seat that I told everyone really stood for Sharon. I went everywhere, fast, on that entirely manual bike even though I was told, no warned, to remain within a tightly circumscribed, microscopic area near my home. My family told me about the evil that lurks and awaits those who stray too far from home. The Boogeyman was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In addition to not straying far, always, always take someone with you.

Yet, ninety-nine percent of the places I ventured back then, I did so alone. My family also told me that "God takes care of children and fools" so I figured I was covered--and I always tried to remember to say a prayer before I went off into supposedly dangerous neighborhood. Sure, I'd ride around with my neighborhood friends whom I was always itching to ditch so I could explore the places that their fear kept them from sampling.

It was on one of those forbidden voyages that my beloved Schwinn with the "S" on the seat was stolen. Right from in front of the Walker Branch Public library no less, which is where I spent a huge chunk of my childhood. On that fateful day, I learned what it meant to "cry a river." I cried myself dry! The worst part was I had to do all that crying before I got home where I knew my childish behavior and stolen bike would be seen as justice for disobedience. I cried all that summer when alone whenever my mind wandered to another girl, somewhere, riding my bike with my initial on the seat.

In my family, you don't bite off more than you can chew, which can lead to hesitancy and tentativeness I found stifling to a traveler at heart. I received little sympathy about my bicycle. I asked for a new one often and heard variations of this whenever I did: "Yes, you can get another bike," [LONG pause, long enough to get my hopes up and my heart beating with joyous anticipation] "...just as soon as you buy one for yourself."} I thought, "How could I be related to these heartless people?! "

In reality, they were not heartless. They were folks who felt that when you don't listen, the best sense, is bought sense! Not only did I disobey, I foolishly left my bike unprotected--and that wasn't the first time. I went through serious two wheel withdrawal that summer and the entire next summer too. I did eventually get another bike, a five speed, oddly name bike from Montgomery Wards that my parents bought. It had no "S" on the seat. It lacked the smoothness and quality of my Schwinn. Regardless, I was thrilled to be on two wheels once again.

The next Schwinn I owned came many years later. And I did buy it myself--a ten speed that came with a killer racing seat that not big enough for an "S" or most butts! I rode it everywhere. It is now over 30 years old, still in my possession and somewhere in the recesses of a garden shed. Days of riding it from the southside of Chicago to downtown or to Harvey, IL to my college job at the YMCA, remain fresh in my memories.

Two-wheel riding for the adult soul

Motorcycling makes get aways easy and fun. I can experience great distances from home in car-time. Without sweating, I can travel joyously from home to Amherstburg, Ontario and back in a weekend and still show up for work on Monday refreshed and relaxed. I lunch in Indianapolis and am back home before dark. Motorcycling combines all that I enjoy: strategy, skills, athleticism, fitness, planning/goal-setting, travel, photography, solitude and plenty of Zen moments to reconnect with others. And most of all, just plain fun. It's an update to the Schwinn in all the best ways.

So, it makes perfect sense that since my last ride on a cold December day, the need for asphalt therapy is acute. "Doctor, we're losing the patient!... Wait, I think I'm getting a pulse."

"She has pulled through yet again..".

This weekend I agreed to get away with Dave who will be basically home bound for a few weeks following surgery on Tuesday. We didn't venture far and it was via four wheels. But the distance was enough to reap the benefits from the flow of endorphins that travel promises.

Despite unequivocal evidence everywhere one looks of dwelling in the depths of winter, we answered the screams of the beach and wound up at Illinois Beach State Park, spending good, cold time hiking. The pictures here are some of the cold wintry scenes I'll remember.

Not quite asphalt therapy.

But a nice second.


cpa3485 said...

Reading this brings back many fond old memories of bicycles I once had. The first one I bought was a Sears, similar to the Schwinn StingRay. The next one was also a Sears, but a ten speed, that in retrospect was really a piece of junk. But at the time I didn't care and rode it all over the place.
Nice pictures!

Unknown said...


I know what you mean about the freedom to roam far from home and be independant at a young age, at a time where you could and you could go to any adult if you were in trouble. The world has changed for the worse . . . the innocent carefree times are long gone. It's amazing that "back" then someone would take your bike. Back then you could leave your doors open, keys in the ignition and all would be fine. Now you have to be a prisoner in your own home, lock all the doors and get an alarm systems, and perhaps bars on all your windows.

I had a brand new 3 speed bike that I rode everywhere with my friend. We would leave in the morning with a bag lunch and make it back in time for dinner. We had it good back then and thought that the world would be better as times rolled on . . . But we were wrong and things have gotten much worse. We were living the good times but didnt' realize those days were gone, until now . . .

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks, cpa3485. Back then we didn't seem to care, did we. As long as we had "flight" all was well with the world. Thanks for the kind words about the pictures. I wish I had some of my motorcycle.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Bob, Thanks. We all see to have those memories of being able to move freely about with little thought to our own safety.

But I don't want to romanticize that time period either. After all, nothing is new under the sun. People stole and did lots of evil at every point throughout history--even when we were growing up.

Technology and "the times" can make bad stuff and pure evil all see so much more pronounced--and it has clearly increased--that it is easy to long for times gone by.

I do miss those days, however.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

By the time I was 15–years–old, I was riding my bike up to 115 miles a day. I will never forget something my dad told me. He said, "It take just a second to lock a bike up to something. It may take six months of shoveling snow, raking leaves, or cleaning out garages to compensate for not locking up the bike. Which would you rather do?

I gave my last bike, which was a near-custom hybrid beauty, to my daughter to use in college. It was stolen within three weeks... With the $50 lock and cable still under the seat, because it was too much trouble to lock it up.

If you are still collecting national parks, ride east this spring and I will take you through Valley Forge and Gettysberg, but not on the same day.

Fondest regaeds,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Anonymous said...

cool blog,期待更新........................................

Scott said...

I just came across your blog and really enjoy it. The pictures are fantastic. I'm lucky to live in FL, where we can ride most of the year. I look forward to reading more when you are able to ride later this year.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...


I pegged you for a roamer too in your youth. I know it's just a "thing" but I'd be sick about that bike getting stolen. But at least our memories remain intact--if we're lucky.

I hope to get to cross paths with you this ride season. So much depends on whether I am willing to give up some things...but I will let you know.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...


Thanks so much for visiting! I appreciate your time. Thanks too for the kind words on the pics.

FL? I have been there serveral times. I recall it being rather flat, right? I might be willing to give that up for the joy of riding 'round--after all, I could go visit the mountains.

Scott said...


FL has been affectionately named "Flatistan" by riders in the southeast. You can ride all year and ride A1A or down to the keys in Dec and Jan, but it's definately a tradeoff. However, you can also make a day's ride and camp in the mountains on the GA, NC border, which is what I do when it gets too hot here.