A Triumph Odyssey

Reader Contribution by Dennis Fisher
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This is a photo of me and my original 1968 Triumph Bonneville. I drove it home from the dealer through a snowstorm in Pennsylvania in January of 1968. Photo by Paul N. Fisher.

The tagline of Motorcycle Classics inspired me to set out on a six-day adventure around the southwest United States on my 1968 Triumph Bonneville with two friends: my old Marine Corps buddy and fellow combat photographer R.J. DelVecchio “Del” mounted on a 1987 BMW K75, and David Howell, a retired national sales/tech rep for Panasonic, on a 2002 BMW GS1150. David is a seasoned rider and having him along provided some comfort in the fact at least one of us had some recent experience with long-distance motorcycle riding. When I announced my plans for the trip to a few friends in our Central Coast Classic Motorcycle Club the responses were not exactly ringing endorsements. I heard everything thing from “you’ve got to be crazy” to “bring plenty of spare parts” to “not on that old Triumph.” In my heart I felt the bike was solid and had been running without problems for years but in my mind I conjured up a thousand things that could fail. The last time I embarked on a long trip like this was in 1969 when I had returned from Vietnam and took my original 1968 Bonneville on a trip from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, to Derby, Connecticut, and back, a 2,200 mile odyssey that saw the Zener diode fail and the battery split open. Back then there was a Triumph dealer in every town and having a bike repaired while on the road was a simple matter. Now I was going to have to be my own mechanic and as a result I ended up taking along a lot of tools and the phone numbers for sources that could overnight parts to me on the road. Prepare for the worst and hope for best was my motto for this trip.

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