Long ago, as an antidote to the pressures of everyday life, I began taking motorcycle trips. As these journeys grew longer with each year’s passing, what started as a mission of soul searching gradually became a thing of great passion. I began to hate coming home. Next I hated being home. So, in the spring of 1994, I set out to see if it were possible to stay gone an entire year. It was. Then, in the spring of 1995, I returned home only to liquidate everything save what fit on the bike then rode off, hopefully, forever.. But it was not a life of hardship such as sleeping on picnic tables under a tarp in the rain that I sought, but rather a way that was comfortable enough to work as an everyday lifestyle.
Although I enjoyed a natural knack for road life from the beginning, by the second year I’d probably have been forced to quit where it not for some very important things I learned. Some of this knowledge was gained from other drifters, some from experience, while quite a bit of the most important stuff came accidentally. For full time road life is nothing like an extended ride or vacation. The weary, drug out feeling brought about from traveling at high speed constantly will almost always send a person home before long. That lost feeling of loneliness while being in a foreign land will eventually beat a rider down until he longs for the comfort of family and old friends. Being truly homeless (which I am not) is a terrible way to live. And there’s much more.
As in their own way have all he long term drifters I’ve known, I long ago learned to eliminate these problems almost completely. But the learning curb was a bitch at times. Still, once most of these obstacles were mastered, it then became possible to fully enjoy the “dream” on a continuing basis. Today, almost all who travel with me for a time later tell of good times, wonderful adventures, comfortable accommodations, and easy living. This is the reason I never go home. I don’t need to. I am home.
Among the first questions people ask is almost always, “Where do you get your money?” To this curiosity I point out that none of the motorcycle drifters I’ve known are independently wealthy. We earn as we go. But the saving grace is that since we own very little and never see a monthly bill there’s very little financial pressure. We’re not in the game. Of course there’s still gas, food, etc. but it does not require a 40 hour work-week to maintain such simple needs. I personally never exceed two months of work per year—usually less. Most often (but not always) these days, I work for the vendors that permeate the big motorcycle rallies across the country. This is a job that allows one to put in a hard week, get paid, then hit the road again with his little pocket full of green-freedom.
As to the travels, leisure riding, relaxation, huge events, and the kind of highway adventure that can never be planned, well, let me just say that they are extensive.
The old Electra Glide now has 526,000 miles on the clock and if it could talk it would tell of cross country trips…every year. Of rides through Canada, the Yukon, the Alaskan Highway and Alaska itself. It would talk of places like La Paz, Mazatlan, Acapulco, and other places in the deep jungles of Mexico where mango trees grow and banana groves line the tiny roads. It would tell of the bridges under which we’ve taken refuge from the many rainstorms. Of mechanical breakdowns in far off lands and the contortions I’ve endured to get the bike fixed. Of the seemingly eccentric people we’ve met and outrageous circumstances in which many of them live. Of the women who’ve invited me home or accompanied me in a sleeping bag on the ground beside the bike. Of sandstorms, of deserts, of mountains—some as high as 14,000 feet. Of intense heat, and bitter cold. It would tell of great parties like the Marti Gras in New Orleans; the Jazz Fest in Toronto, Canada; the Daytona rally, Laconia, Laughlin; Four Corners and Cripple Creak in Colorado; Mazatlan Bike Week and, of course, the many years of Sturgis SD. It would tell of the cargo holds of all the great vessels it’s been tied into then shipped across huge bodies of water. It could tell stories for days…even weeks.
To date I have been on the road for 21 years never staying in one place for longer than two months. It is my sincere hope that this journey will continue that I might bring these true gypsy stories to life across the pages of Cycle Source for many years to come.