Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Cha,Cha,Changes.....A Life with a Machine Strapped to Your Ass

I've reached one of those life moments that occur as we age where the aging process requires changes in activity. As stated in the title I've spent my life with a machine strapped to my ass. Growing up on a West Texas dirt farm in the 40s and 50s if you were big enough to push the clutch in you were big enough to drive the farm tractors to the fields and gin. Folks didn't pay a lot of attention to things like driver license and liability insurance either. By my early teens had I run through a secession of scooters, motorcycles, and trucks, some pretty ragged out, but whatever I always had something to ride or drive. About the time I entered High School a couple of life changing events happened, I discovered Road & Track Magazine and I took an after school job. I was driving a beautifully restored '34 Ford pickup but I lusted after a British or German sports car and I met a guy at the part time job who was a few years older and into airplanes.

After flying with Sherman a couple of times I started using the money from the part time job to take flying lessons. My mother found out, freaked but being a reader of Dr. Spock used the offer of a new '59 MG A to bribe me into quitting flying. It worked until I left home for College. It took several years to finish my degree (which has never been used) and pay for enough flying time to began work as a CFI.

In the early years I almost never flew less than 1000 hours a year, as my flying time increased and I followed the typical career path of instructing, FAR 135 Charter pilot, and then Corporate Pilot, my hours flown each year decreased to 300 to 600 hours per year but whatever the job I always had something strapped to my ass, if not an airplane, a sports car or motorcycle. I lived to see what was around the next bend, hill, or over the far horizon.

Because of aviation this dumb West Texas farm boy has seen most of the world with the exception of Australia and Antarctica, I might still see Australia but I will pass on Antarctica. A little over 6 years ago I could see my skills eroding mostly because of vision changes but also some because of slowing reaction time due to aging. I've recently said someone has snuck in and changed my dual core pentium processor to an old x86. Anyway I had an opportunity to semi-retire, instructing other pilots in Simulators, it required a move to Arizona but it has been a good move, I still strap a machine to my ass almost daily, I still get to talk Airplanes, and I still get paid to do it. If I wasn't doing this I would be hanging out at the airport, boring the hell out whoever with 'there I waz stories', for free.

The Sim is great for having a machine strapped to your ass but it lacks in seeing what is around the next bend, over the hill, or the far horizon so shortly after moving to Arizona I returned to motorcycling. Being someone who can't do anything in moderation I found out about the Iron Butt Association and was soon doing a Saddle Sore 1000, followed by a Coast to Coast in 50 and Bum Burner Gold (1500 miles in less than 24 hours). I fell in love with LD riding, it was much like the last years of my flying, strap a machine to my ass and go for long hours. The only difference, in the airplane I might cover 10-12 time zones or more, on the bike 4 at the most.

As this post is about changes I will cut to the chase: About a year ago my night vision had deteriorated to the point I no longer felt comfortable with long rides at night on any road other than maybe I-10. That cut out most IBA rides and Rallies. About the same time work changed requiring more time and fewer days off which also cut into my riding. Bottom line it is time to change, I expect to sell the GoldWing, I will keep the VTX for now and I will return to my early years of seeing what is around the next bend, over the next hill, or horizon by sports car.  I'm not sure what it will be just yet, I've found a beautiful '54 MG TD, I would love a Lotus 7, a MG A, or even one of the late 50s early 60s Triumphs but I expect I will be practical, if buying a sports car can be practical, and will replace the Wing with a Mazda Miata.

Sorry for the long post but it is for my record as much as anything.

I hope to see you folks on down the road.



  1. Great post.

    Regarding sports cars, I would stay of the Triumphs, They haven't got the best reputation as far as I have heard.
    Being Volvo man myself I would suggest a Volvo P-1800, it isn't pretty but it is the only sports car they ever made.


  2. If we riders don't depart this life early we all reach a point where time takes it's toll and we finally have to hang up our helmets. I'd thought about a Miata last year and even early this year but found I still get the shakes if there's not a big motorcycle in the garage. At least you've got the very nice VTX so you're not quiting entirely, just tapering off.