I’ve had a lot of questions regarding my little motorcycle addiction and our goal of hitting every state and province in North America within 5 years, so I thought I’d go ahead and put all the facts in here.
The cast of characters:
There we are. Three Amigos in the Utah Desert.
The most desolate place in the US.
This is Eric, aka “Sweaty” or “Mac”. My oldest and dearest friend. I met him when he was 3 years old. We spent every day together growing up, whether it was trout fishing, riding dirt bikes, canoeing, collecting beer cans or playing tournament soccer. He now owns the pizza joint we both worked in while growing up, along with 2 or 3 others. If you’re ever in my hometown(Hudson, WI) you may see him delivering pizzas in a blacked out Hummer H2 with a huge Harley logo on the back. Stop into Carbone’s and try the pizza. It’d kick Mystic Pizza’s ass.
I’ve stood up for Sweaty in two weddings now. I also stood up for him in 2 divorces. At this point, we guard him from girls like he was the crown jewels, and honestly… he is. I’m just not sure his heart could take another hit. He asked us to enter a pact last year… regardless of his feelings, Bullfrog and I both must approve his next wife, or he will not marry her. That’s it. No negotiating. Love is blind. This, of course, is highly confidential. Or was, anyway. Just don’t tell the impending candidates and everything will be cool.
Eric’s the kindest, most caring, generous and and loving man I’ve ever known… and somehow, he manages to do it all so subtly that one would hardly notice. Also, among the most handsome. Somewhere along the line things got out of hand, but I guarantee you if he drops 40(a mountain of a man, even when he’s trim) and grows his blond curly locks back, even Brad Pitt would envy him. Honestly, I think he might subconsciously hide in this fashion on purpose, to keep the trouble away.
Next, we have Mike, aka “Bullfrog”. Even his mom calls him that. Most people don’t even know his real name. Froggy moved into town when he was about 18. We all hit it off right away. Three things we had in common. Beer, fun and a penchant for 4X4s with ridiculously large tires. We all spent many years “mudding” and going to 4X4 rallies along with riding motorcycles.
Bullfrog’s a high-tech thread specialist. Basically, a top-shelf machinist. He puts ridiculously accurate threads on machine tools and other pieces parts, including surgical bone screws. Even some components for the space shuttle (no, not the ones that broke). Froggy’s the MacGuyver of metals, too. Incredibly mechanically inclined, he could singlehandedly bring the boys on Junkyard Wars and Monster Garage to their knees.
To say that Bullfrog loves beer would be a gross understatement. I’ve seen him down cases in a night. How, I’m not sure. Once he gets going, though… it’s not over until the last bottle is empty. He’s also a bit of a maniac, and quite legendary with his antics. Stories float around about his riding his old chopper right into bars and doing burnouts on the dance floor. It seems that time(and court costs) have mellowed him a bit over the years. He’s quite laid-back with his friends and strangers alike, but can be mean as a grizzly bear with those who aren’t nice to his friends. Always quick with a joke, he easily amuses all around him(and horrifies those who don’t like dirty jokes). Whenever we’re out, he’s our entertainment. Just buy him beer and turn him loose on the world. Strong as an ox and dependable as the morning sun, he’s one helluva good friend to have.
Well, you pretty much know everything about me. I’m the brains of the operation by default, I guess. Officially, I’m the Road Captain (yes, there are titles in the biker world, although we don’t run around handing out business cards). This means I do have to make all the final decisions(Note that I didn’t say “get to”; I said have to. It doesn’t feel good when you have to say “no”). I do all the research and planning and thinking and ride out in front and give them hand signals in traffic, while they calmly follow orders, sit back there on their butts and listen to their damned stereos(Sweaty Prefers Rap/Hip-Hop. Bullfrog Digs rock and a bit of country) and follow along. This is what we call a symbiotic relationship. They tell me where they hope to go and what they’d like to see on the trips and I make sure that they get there on the best roads… both on time and in one piece. In return, they don’t bitch. They don’t complain. They follow my instructions to the letter. A big concern at border crossings, because trust me, you don’t want any government official asking a world-class smartass like Bullfrog an open-ended question like “Do you have anything to declare?”. Without very explicit instructions on how, precisely, to answer such a question, we’d be in shit up to our eyeballs in 2 minutes… and we wouldn’t be going anywhere for quite some time. Maybe even years.
The Real Estate:
This is where we’ve been to date. The red represents places we’ve ridden annually due to the Sturgis and Daytona bike weeks, so I thought I’d make it a different color. Last year we rode to Cabo San Lucas. Those are in blue(I think? I’m colorblind!) The umm… puky color is where we went in June/July of this year. Next year we’ll be doing all that white stuff on the right. The following year we’ll finish Mexico.
This is what it should look like in another 2 years:
The logistics: Each year, our trip begins roughly July 1 and goes for 11-12 days. In that time, we cover anywhere from 5500 to 7000 miles averaging about 600 miles a day. We take days off while we’re gone, which means we do ride quite a few days pushing 1000 miles, and sometimes do crest that sacred mark, which is known worldwide as “Iron Butt”: 1,000+ in under 24hrs. This means nothing to non-bikers, of course, but it’s a test of endurance beyond the reach the majority of even the most seasoned bikers. Very few do it. Ever. Roughly 1%. Most won’t even consider attempting it and for good reason.
On “long days”, we ride for 10-16 hours, depending on our destination for the night. We cruise at around 83mph, which puts us at an average of 65mph when we throw in the fuel/pee stops (we only empty the bladders when we fill the tanks). We rarely eat breakfast until we’ve burned our first tank of fuel for the day (we call it “earning”) and we primarily eat lunch and snacks on the highway, thanks to cruise control. Dinner’s always big and generally followed by a few beers before bed. Hopefully I haven’t left us time for more than a few beers because it really throws a wrench into the next day. On our days off, we feast and drink to our heart’s content and try not to get arrested. This is our life on the road: Earn every beer and meal and pay for them in miles.
I’m asked often about our accomodations when we travel. We have a single rule about that; no reservations. We find what we can find when we get there. The philosophical reason being that we don’t want to know exactly what tomorrow will bring, so that we can live in the now. There are no concrete plans, only rough estimations, a turnaround point and a turnaround date.
Hopefully, these dates will match if I’ve done my job right. One never knows. Weather, mechanical problems, the law, a hangover, or even a woman(potentially the most threatening of all) could alter plans unexpectedly.
Speaking of the law, there is one more rule: No man gets left behind for any reason except being a complete idiot and ending up in jail. This helps keep everyone on their best behavior(or reasonably close).
When all is said and done, we’ll have covered about 60,000 miles and ridden in every state and province in north America in under 5 years.
After that, we head either to Europe or South America. That’s one decision I won’t make. Sweaty and Bullfrog always make the big-picture plan. I just break it down and try to make it happen. Frankly, I don’t care if we flip a coin.
So that’s the deal with the Harleys and the men who ride them.
All it takes is a simple dream, a bit of wanderlust, a cooked up plan and enough tenacity to see it through.
We’ve met hundreds of people and shared so many experiences, both good and bad. Someday we’ll tell our grandchildren the stories from the road. We have many.
We’ll even play our theme song. Sure, we have one of those, too.
Here it is. Perfect.
Cowboys Like Us – George Straight
I take off time to time
With those crazy friends of mine
Head out on steel horses
With wheels and we ride
We burn up that road to old Mexico
Blend in with the desert
Just we amigos
And we roll
Cowboys like us sure do have fun
Racin’ the wind, chasin’ the sun
Take the long way around back to square one
Today we’re just outlaws out on the run
There’ll be no regrets, no worries and such
For cowboys like us
We talk about livin’, babies, and women
All that we’ve lost and all we’ve been givin’
We sing about true love, about things we ain’t done
Drink one more cold one, come mornin’ get up
And we roll
(Repeat Chorus twice)