Black Beauty

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


There are a lot of things that I imagined as a kid that I never had any real hope to realize.  I grew up in a small town, the second of four children in an poor family.  I didn't know we were poor at the time; everyone I knew lived about the same as we did, so what we had was "normal".

I don't remember any real "objectives" or "goals" in life.  So many kids today seem to know what they will be or where they will be in their life at "X" age.  I never thought about it or had any idea what life would bring me.  My parents always taught me to do the best of my ability (which I rarely did).  But I never had a specific dream that I can recall to be or to do anything when I became an adult.

However, I did get glimpses of the rest of the world, primarily by TV.  I remember seeing clips of the Autobahn in Germany and thought it would be so cool to drive as fast as a vehicle would go on the Autobahn.  But I never dreamed of it or had any specific goal to do it.  It would just be way cool to do it.  Then, in 2005, when Gary and I went to Europe to ride motorcycles in the Alps for two weeks, we borrowed the bikes a few extra days and I got to ride on the Autobahn on a new BMW R 1200 GS motorcycle.  It went 129 mph!  Not any faster, but 129 wide open.  What a rush!!!  I loved it and wasn't afraid at all.  The wind, the noise, the slight darting back and forth a few inches as the front tire wandered just a little, all added to the experience to make it one I'll never forget.  I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  I love speed, just for the sensation of speed.

Another glimpse I remember was a short clip of a motorcycle race on a place called the Isle of Man, where they race motorcycles on city streets and in the countryside, wide-open, as fast as the bikes would run.  Was that crazy or what--racing on city streets, with no barricades, no protection at all.  Just the roads and the bikes.  It was definitely something that I would have liked to see, but where I was in my life, there wasn't even a remote possibility of that ever happening.  No dreams or even wishes because it was too far-fetched to imagine.  But I knew I'd like to see it.


The tour group Gary and I used when we did our Alps tour in 2005 (Beach's Motorcycle Adventures Beach's Motorcycle Adventures, Ltd. - European Motorcycle and Sports car tours.) is different from most tour companies.  What makes them unique is that they have no set route to get from place to place, and they really frown on having more than 2 or 3 bikes riding together at a time.  They discourage riding in groups, unlike most motorcycle touring companies.  Their logic (and I strongly agree with it) is that more bikes easily mean more crashes.  If a bike goes down in the front of the pack, likely a number of others will go down behind it.  I don't like group riding for that main reason.

The tour operators pick you up at the airport, carry you and your luggage to the tour hotel, have a get-together dinner for all tour participants where they give information necessary for a successful ride (like "remember to stay on the LEFT side of the road") and have everyone meet.  Each morning, we carry our luggage to the lobby, and the tour loads it into a support van to take it to the next hotel.  We usually have a group breakfast, where more details will be provided.  Then we suit up, jump on the bikes, and take off, 2 or 3 bikes at a time.  We will be given tour books with some highlights to see along the way and some suggested routes.  But the bikes are equipped with GPS devices with the hotels programmed in, so exploring is encouraged.   The bikes on the Alps tour had no GPS, and we stayed lost most of the time.  It's a wonder that I ever got back to the hotel in Munich at the end of the tour!  But with GPSs on the bikes for this tour, we can't get really lost.

The tour includes lodging, breakfast and most dinner meals.  Lunch is always on our own, and often is one of the real highlights of the day's ride. Fuel, which is very expensive in Europe (~$8.00 per gallon), is not included, so we spend a lot of money on gas for the bikes.

Speaking of bikes, Beach's provides only BMW vehicles.  I used vehicles because for those who want to tour, but not ride a motorcycle, there's a car option.  I rode a one-year-old R 1150 GS bike for the tour and a new R 1200 GS for the borrowed bike in 2005.  This year, I'm going to do something very different--I'm riding a C 650 GT, a scooter!  Well, they call it a scooter, but it's really a motorcycle with smaller wheels and no clutch.  I've not ridden one, but I've read many reviews and believe it will be a hoot to ride.  Here's a YouTube video of one of the reviews in case you're interested in what I'm riding (you'll have to cut and paste the address into your browser): 

Gary and I rode Suzuki Bergman 600s several years ago for a test ride in Daytona, and we were blown away with how well they rode and how fast they were.  We hit over 100 mph on the test ride in Daytona city limits!  They're not scooters, they're rockets!  And the BMW scooters are supposed to be faster and better handling and riding than the Bergmans.  So, I'm really looking forward to riding the scooter over there. BMW-C-600-Sport-action2

The tour itself begins on May 26 and ends on June 9.  I'm going with Gary and Linda, with whom I've done a lot of touring over the past few years.  We're adding some time for private exploring before the tour starts and more after the tour ends.  So, we leave home on May 21, fly overnight to land in London on May 22.  Tour starts and ends as above.  On June 10, we plan to rent a car and take off for Scotland for several days before we return to Manchester (tour headquarters) for the flight home on the 14th.

I've told friends that this trip is a "bucket list" item, but in truth, it never made the list.  As I said early in this post, I never believed that a poor boy from a small town would ever have the resources to see such an event, so I never had a bucket list.  Just little glimpses of things that would be terrific to see or do, but would never be possible.  I am so fortunate to be able to do some of the things I thought were impossible.  God has been good to me.


  1. Thinking of you and your adventures. Take care.

  2. Very excited for you!! What a great adventure...ENJOY