So I’m now 11 days away from spending a month on the road on my beloved Condor A350 motorycle - my first tour that I’ll be undertaking entirely on two wheels. I’ll be playing more than 20 shows, covering most of the US east of the Mississippi, ranging from Chicago to Baltimore to Tampa to New Orleans. I’ve spent the last 5 months planning for this tour, and I can’t even explain how excited I am.
One of the last things on my lengthy to-do list for this tour was to obtain a full motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license. Since, up to this point, I had been travelling only in North Carolina on the bike, my temps were quite sufficient. Many states, however, will not recognize out of state temporary permits, so I had to get legal!
There were two ways I could go about this: take the DMV’s “road test”, which involves navigating a series of obstacles in their parking lot, or take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation‘s Basic RiderCourse. As I have not had a readily available parking lot, or the measurements for placement of the obstacles, I was not confident that I could ace the DMV’s test. As they only run the test once a week, I didn’t want to take the chance of not passing and not obtaining my endorsement before hitting the road. I also thought that it might give my loved ones a little peace of mind about my tour. Finally, I’d heard great things, even from experienced riders, about the class. So, a month ago I enrolled in the Blue Ridge Community College and signed up for the April 6-8 BRC.
Without going into extensive detail about the course, I will say that it was well worthwhile, and I learned a huge amount about maneuvering, techniques, safety, and handling emergency situations. I’d highly recommend it to any rider, even if you already have your endorsement.
At one point during the weekend (the class spans 3 days – a Friday night, and all day Saturday and Sunday), during a bit of downtime, several of us students were standing around chatting with Julia, one of the “RiderCoach” instructors. We were all talking about what we currently ride, or what kind of bike we’re planning to get. When it came my turn, I said that I ride a ’74 Condor A350, and explained how it’s a Swiss military motorcycle with a Ducati motor, how there were only 3,000 manufactured, and some other fun facts. She grinned and said, “You know, I’m not surprised that you’re the one who’s riding something I’ve never heard of. You struck me as a ‘none of the above’ type.”
I chuckled and smiled, but on the inside the gears were turning in my head – I’d never really thought of myself in those terms, but it struck me as a wonderful encapsulation of the way I generally approach life. I’ve always found great pleasure in discovering a different way to do or think about things.
I guess that explains why I’m touring on a motorcycle.
One decision I made over the weekend is that before leaving on tour, I’m going to swap my current half-helmet for a full-face affair. While what I’ve been wearing would likely save my brain (which I value quite a bit) in case of a collision, my face might not fare so well. I’d prefer to avoid plastic surgery if possible… even if I could fulfill my life-long dream of looking like a young William Shatner. On the other hand, I’ll be opting for a helmet without a face-shield, so I’ll still be rocking the goggles. Hey, if it’s good enough for The Toecutter, it’s good enough for me…