By the time you receive this issue, it will be mid-June. With any luck, it’s warm where you are and your bikes have had all the maintenance they need to be ready for a summer and a fall full of riding. It’s tough to know what events will or won’t take place this year. Individual states and counties continue to decide what size of groups can gather as we proceed through what has surely been one of the most unpredictable years I’ve ever seen. But whether there are events to attend or not, if your bike and your gear are ready, it’s time to go, somewhere, anywhere.
I find even short solo rides can be a great cure for what ails you. I’m lucky to be about 15 minutes away from quiet country roads that take me out to the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. It’s not the Rockies in terms of the degree of difficulty, but there are plenty of curvy two-lanes to traverse, especially when at some point in the day you turn back for home anyway. I’ve always done more “loop” riding than real touring. This was to be the year I changed that, as I added a modern sport tourer (a 2006 Yamaha FJR1300) to the fleet in hopes of plenty of long weekends in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Many of those plans are on hold at the moment, but the bike will soon be prepped and ready to go just the same.
Whether I ride with friends and family, or even some days just all by myself, riding clears the head. I find solo rides particularly freeing. There’s no need for a planned route, a destination, or even figuring out who is hungry and when. You just go. Turn where you want to turn, see what you want to see. And some days, the slower the pace, the better.
Kansas has its share of dirt and gravel roads, many of which run past farms and old homesteads. I’ve found my old BMW R75/5 to be an ideal gravel bike, as the suspension is cushy enough that it doesn’t beat you up too bad, but it’s still light enough that it’s easy to handle if the going gets a little more challenging. It also has the built-in BMW flat-twin advantage: At slow speeds, an airhead can fall over only so far before a valve cover touches down, saving you from going completely horizontal.
If you get out on a good ride soon, be sure to take a couple of pictures to send me. I want to hear about all your rides, long or short, solo or with friends.
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