Trippin on Two Wheels: Indiana to Florida With Dennis Gage

For the sixth installment of "Trippin' on Two Wheels," classic car legend Dennis Gage, Gage's son Sam and the author journeyed over 1,100 miles from Indiana to Florida in four days.

| November/December 2009

Roaring majestically along in the sprung saddle of a 1967 Moto Guzzi V7, the afternoon sun burns the landscape a rich, deep golden hue as the shadow riders chasing us along the twisting country road grow longer and longer.

Night is coming down, and my inner dialogue turns to the question I am repeatedly asked: “How did Trippin’ on Two Wheels get started?” And for this trip specifically, “Why Indiana to Florida?” Forcing an inner smile, I look over to see Dennis Gage’s un-waxed mustache flying horizontal in the 60mph breeze. His face is set in a comfortable way as he indulges in his own motorcycle Chautauqua, roaring down the road on his 1969 BMW R60. Dennis’ son, Sam, is on point for the first time in the series, and looking back for the answer, it all seems like such a long time ago.

The Way We Were

It was a brutally hot, humid afternoon at the Santa Monica Raceway in Misano, Italy. Working a story about the 2002 World Ducati Week, the place was teeming with Ducatisti from all over the world, and at times it was hard to move. Yet somehow amongst all the madness, Dennis and I ended up talking over a cold drink. Looking back, it’s not surprising that the two weirdest, anti-establishment loonies at the event should find each other. Nor does it seem strange that a couple of hours later we found ourselves splitting traffic on a pair of Ducati Monsters at triple-digit speeds while heading back to Bologna. Or that less than a week after that we were both in Janesville, Wis., covering the Triumph Across America ride. Judging by our particular orbits, it’s clear now that the planets of insanity were in some sort of cosmic (or is that comedic?) alignment. Dennis, host of the highly successful My Classic Car on SPEED TV, was starting a new show called Corbin’s Ride On; I had some television production skills and knew a few things about motorcycles.

During the ensuing years there was much dialogue, lots of hard work and plenty of fun. As editor Backus will attest, when the caller ID says Dennis, you better have your mental “A” game on and at least an hour of free time. It was during one of these conversations that I suggested making a travel documentary in Scotland. Click! Dennis obviously didn’t like it, but at least I’d found a way of getting him off the phone.

This continued for months, with me constantly upping the ante. “I’ll have new Triumph Sprints ready to ride! We can take Sam! I’ll sell stories to cover the beer.” He was softening, but not yielding, when I finally went for the jugular. Using the line that has carried us to the Highlands of Scotland, Sicily, Southern Spain, Quebec and the Alps on two wheels I asked, “Could you live with yourself if you didn’t?”

The pair of us quickly adopted this as mantra, conveniently employing it when common sense and rational thinking are out to ruin a good adventure.

bike on highway

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