A few weeks ago, July 4th weekend in fact, I met up with some of my scootering buddies down on the Gasconade River. We’d have a few days to camp, float, practice our outdoor cooking skills and, of course, imbibe adult libations. As happens when you get a handful of 2-wheeled nutcases together, talk eventually turns from conversation about the bikes to conversations about traveling on the bikes.
The inimitable Rufus Swan was in attendance and brought up the question, “How many miles do you rack up in a day when you’re traveling?”
The three of us, Stimpy433, Matty_X, and myself, sat there for a moment thinking on Rufus’ question. Stimpy rides a 150cc swapped Ruckus, Matty a Burgman 400 (in addition to a parade of geared scoots he’s restored over the years), I, of course, tour on my 250cc Big Ruckus and Rufus currently rolls a 1971 BMW R75/5 (and owns a Bajaj Chetak and a Honda CL200). Matty and I stated that 300-400 miles in a day were what we aim for and Chad, not being a touring oriented rider, suggested 100-200 miles per ride.
Rufus’ declared that 300-400 was far too much for a single day. “You don’t get to see anything when you ride like that!”
Well, that comment set me to contemplating a few things.
Two years ago Julian and I embarked on a epic scooter ride to Texas and back in late July. Yeah, July in Texas…hence the trip’s title, “The Flamin’ Texas Road Trip of 2008″. Needless to say, I’m no stranger to lengthy two-wheeled treks. Rufus’ comment, however, led me to realize that, as much fun as I have plotting and planning the day-to-day aspects of a long ride, I tend to forget why I love to ride while I’m on a trip. It becomes an exercise in “getting there”. I began to understand that I’d been putting the “get there” before the “I am here”.
In the midst of all this brooding and navel-gazing I finally got around to watching Long Way Round. While watching Ewan and Charley trek across Mongolia something in my head clicked. 12 mile days in Mongolia were the norm. Marshes, detours, mechanical difficulties, crashes, meeting indigenous peoples–just incredible experiences. It took two weeks to cross Mongolia.
I sat in front of my monitor, stunned. THAT WAS IT. Now I get it! It’s not how far you go, and sure as hell not how fast, but the experiences along the way. The people, the random conversations, the amusing road signs, the out-of-the-way places that you’d never find on your own.
Rufus was right. I hadn’t really been seeing anything on my trips.
Wednesday of last week I’d finally had enough of thinking about a scooter trip. It was time to ride. It was time to try The Rufus Method.