Thursday, February 24, 2011

Memories & Life's Fuel Gauge

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about things, and aging gracefully. Then wham-O, Geoff puts up a post about elderly people riding motorcycles and when to know when to quit, or rather . . . to downsize to something more easily handled. There has been a lot of talk by others who take the more mature, “smell the roses” approach, slow down and enjoy the scenery rather than blast through the twisties at supersonic speeds. During our youth, we were invincible. It couldn’t happen to us. We try our best to take care of ourselves, eat healthy food, sneak in a hamburger and soda once in a while and be more aware whilst riding.

Then, without warning, another one of us (cpa3485) was stricken with a dreaded old age malady and this got me to thinking how fragile we are, after all, Jimbo was in the best of health and in his prime. I was just thinking how it would be to lose a few years and be like him, but alas, it is not to be unless I can find a time machine to turn my clock back a decade. I used to cycle a lot. I even purchased a new bike which is now sitting with flat tyres. I overdid it and wrecked my knees. I now prefer machines which move by themselves with a slight twist of the right wrist.

The other day I did something stupid that an old man shouldn’t have done. Yes, that is what I am thinking that I am now officially an ‘old man . We had decided to get rid of our old monster of a CRT TV and our new LED state of the art flat screen has been taking space in our hallway since Christmas. No rush, it’s only been two months since we purchased it and factory sealed. Our CRT tv has no handles or indents with which to grab hold of it and when I tried to maneuver it onto the floor I must have contorted myself and strained my back. Will help I managed to get it propped onto two folding chairs so now it sits in the middle of the living room until I can garner help from someone to help remove it.

Ever since the lifting event I have been feeling more pains everywhere, everything seems to hurt a bit and I have been taking it slower. On my way home yesterday I had to go through the mall to Safeway (grocery store) to pick up a few things and I noticed these old guys sitting on some chairs. It would appear that they are friends with nothing to do except to go to the mall and people watch. I imagined that I was sitting there with them doing the same thing. After all, what else do you do when you are old and retired with limited income to do anything else.

I have been riding motorcycles since the mid 1960’s. While Doug has owned over 45 bikes during his riding career, I have only had the pleasure of owning about 15 or so. I have nearly owned as many cars

For the past few years I have analogized my life as similar to a gas gauge. We all start out with a full tank and as life progresses the needle goes lower. Unfortunately it is a tank which cannot be refilled. If I were a car I would have filled up long ago but I am probably down to quarter tank . I hope the gas fumes last a long, long, long time.

Whilst I have been riding for many years I have only endured the challenges of urban riding and hardly any touring except for a few weekends during the recent past. I don’t have a great network of similarly minded riders here which share my same interests but I decided a couple of years ago to purchase a bike worthy for touring, with secure hard cases to carry my valuables

I am trying to make up for lost time and build up some memories for when I can look back and smile at the good times I had with great people I have met (or plan to) within our blogging community

While archiving my photos onto DVD I noticed some photos from our recent Oregon trip with SonjaM. This is what I am talking about. Photos bring back memories of good times. One day, many years from now, if we still have the capacity to remember, we can smile at our good fortune that we did something we loved, rather than to just exist and think “if only . . .” or “wished we could have . . .” Our road only goes forward in one direction and we have to choose our turns carefully


It was not just another day in Paradise. Under the hazy cloud cover and sputtering rain it promised to be another sunny day. We heard a rumour that Oregon had the best roads in the country so we had to check them out. We, my riding buddy SonjaM and myself were on our final leg of our short mini-vacation. It was our last day in Lincoln City with accommodations overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I woke up early and walked about the beach taking a few photos while I waited for SonjaM to catch a few more beauty winks. It’s not what you think. Even though we were together, we were not Technically together. We were travelling solo but in each other’s company. We had separate meals, separate bikes, separate rooms and separate significant others at home which approved the fact that we would be in close proximity for a few days.

Today was not just any Tuesday, but it was also Tuesday, July 20th a special day in Sonja’s young life. I think she told me she was 27 today, if I remember correctly. There was no need to hurry today as we were just heading home, back to Vancouver. We had a leisurely hotel supplied continental breakfast, checked and loaded up our bikes. She on her BMW F650GS and myself on my mighty Suzuki V-strom. I had planned an intimate brunch at my favourite place in Oceanside, OR and garnered a window spot overlooking the ocean. It has a sort of Morro Bay look to it with those large rocks planted on the beach. The waitress was accommodating and brought out a candle-lit muffin for this special occasion.


She thought that we were a “couple” and offered to snap a photo of the both of us, but I politely declined and told her we didn’t want any evidence, I mean what would Roland (Mrs SonjaM) say if he saw it ?


Even though we had planned a long day we started out trying to do too much. We took the 3 Cape Loop to Cape Meares to Tillamook. Then we got caught up with road construction. Hwy 101 was crawling at a snail’s pace and we tried to take an alternate more twisty road but saw signs that it was closed so we had no choice but to continue north to Astoria where we also stopped for a rest and nourishment break.

Again the waitress thought that we were a couple and offered to snap a photo of the two of us. I politely declined. I told her I didn’t want any evidence. After all, what would Mrs SonjaM say if he saw it. I mean, this was her special day and she was with me . . . plutonically I must add.


soon our tummies were full and we had to continue on our way


I even got the waitress to sing Happy Birthday to her. Here is a short video of SonjaM , from the rear, err , I really mean . . . with her leading . . .

Good memories for me and I hope for her too. I look forward to gathering more memories for 2011


  1. Bob, picking up TV's is not for our age, the last thing we need is a bad back ;-)
    Lucky you to take a trip with a young lady, I doubt my wife would be happy if I took a cross state, never mind to another country with a young lady :-)

  2. An excellent, thoughtful post. I'm afraid that I have been thinking the same thing lately. I don't know how many times I have been asked about "when I was going to retire". Up until this year, the thought never even passed through my mind. The little encounter with cancer last May really got me thinking. Fortunately, I still have a couple of teenagers at home when heavy things need to get moved around. But last weekend, I replaced the garage door springs and was surprised how many aches and pains I had once the task was completed.

    I have only been riding motorbikes for a couple of years and feel that I need to make up for lost time. I think I got the bicycle riding out of my system many years ago but still would like to go across the country sometime. Now, I would be happy to use a motorized version of the bicycle. More food for thought....


  3. A thought-provoking article Bob!

    We old guys can't let such things get us down though, we just have to remember we don't heal as fast as we used to and what used to not be a big deal, now is.

    In my case, it's the bending and kneeling involved with working on one's motorcycles. It's got me thinking of a motorcycle lift/table so I don't feel like I am 90 the next day!

    Yep, we're getting old, just means some adjustments....I got into motorcycling late late late in life and I'm going to keep doing it till I can't swing a leg over the seat, and maybe not even then.


    ps: you meant MR SonjaM in your article....right? : )

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    Redleg's Rides

  4. Seen not too long ago on IronDad's blog:
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.
    Then Jack London said:
    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow than a sleepy and permanent planet
    The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist.
    Not sure what all that means, but have been thinking about things like this lately. I hope to be able to continue thinking about things like this for a long time to come.
    Nice post today, made me think some more.

  5. Have you got two chairs, so we can go sit outside Safeway together, like a couple of old farts? There is a good chance I will be in Vancouver in June, so we could either do that or say to heck with it go for a ride together instead. Plus, if you haven’t moved the TV by then, I could help you....

  6. Superb post Bob!
    Recognising that we have to take care of our ageing bodies is important but we mustn't let our minds grow old eh? Mine hasn't got past that of a hormonal teen, so I should be ok for a while :-).

    Like you, energetic cycling a couple of decades ago didn't help with existing sports injuries to my knees but interestingly; gentle cycling is really good for my knee flexibility as walking a decent distance makes them pretty sore.

    Lovely pics of young Sonja too!

  7. Very nice post, Bob. You're not old... because if you are then I am.

    From what you've said and what others have said it's amazing how much we all have in common besides motorcycles/scooters and blogging. We should get a bunch of folding chairs and meet at Safeway!

  8. Sweet Memories. Thanks for making me smile today. Last weekend I went through all our pics again. It was a great trip, and I have seen many new places.

    We got quite the rumour started, eh?! Good, that Mrs Skoot and Mr M fully agreed to the arrangement and we all know each other well enough.

    I believe with motorcycling being the great equalizer I forgot that there is - well - let's put it in the open... a generation between the two of us. We made a good team, didn't we?

    Let's try something new again this year!

    And may your fuel gauge last for many miles to come.

  9. Bob, Be flattered that the servers thought you were a couple, they could have asked if you wanted a picture with your grand-daughter and then you'd really be in your cups. I was out with my older brother and someone thought I was his son. I'll never let him live it down, of course.

    I probably spend too much time thinking about getting older, time I should spend riding. There is an old saying "You don't stop riding because your get old, you get old because you stop riding."

    We'll all be at the Safeway soon enough but I believe this crowd here will have plenty of memories to talk about by then, as we watch the people walk by.

  10. Damm those passing years!

    I have a buddy, Vietnam Vet, when I run into him and ask, "how you doing"? He always says, "still on the green side!"

    For some reason I just love that answer!

    Good post Bob.

  11. Ahh, great video and good memories! Good thing you were behaving cuz I saw that official looking car parked there at the end! Then you pulled over and I feared the worst.

    I haven't been up to the north coast for a few years, and I've never been there on motorcycle. Now I've got the bug to ride my bike there!

    Hope the back heals up quickly!

  12. Bob,
    Well touhgtout and eloquent expression of how we old farts, as Geoff James says, feel...Are we just old farts fearing the day when we will undoubdetly have to give up some of our much beloved toys and tools and retire to that stool at Safeway, people watching and drooling (dreaming)over some fresh young bird walking by...some of us will and some of us will not...I must admit/confess to having the same toughts as most of us do...and despite the similar pains I get that you just lived through...I intend on riding till I drop.
    Great video of Sonja M's rear...oops leading te way

  13. I'm so sorry to hear about the TV and your back. I hope it, and you, starting feeling better soon. The stupid creeks and groans and pops are getting worse... :)

    The images and videos may be great to bring back your memories, but it brings smiles to the faces even of those who weren't there. I enjoyed them.


  14. How cool that you and Sonja found each other! And, yes, I mean in a riding buddy way. I am away for weekend using Hubby's painfully small Netbook. I'll read more when I get back to civilization.

  15. The image of "Life's Fuel Gauge" is a good one. I marvel at having been alive for over six decades. Doesn't seem I'm any different, yet my body does remind me nearly every morning that things aren't as they once were.

    Living is the important thing, yes? I have friends younger than me that seem to be growing old before my eyes. I have other friends who are older than me that seem ageless. Some of it is genes. Some of it is health. But, much of it seems to be a curiosity toward the future rather than what seems to me to be an overly keen interest in the past.

    Hope all settles down with your back. Backs are such fickle things. Hopefully, you are experiencing but a twinge and a wink from your body reminding you that you just don't need to do that stuff anymore.

    Great post and great comments.

  16. I'm sorry about your back Bob, an example of how hi tech can have unexpected consequences.

    I have not advanced from CRT(let alone LCD to LED)- this set weighs 100kg (I joke not)and a colleague could not give it away. So I volunteered and that probaly explains why 1) my car suspension has partially collapsed and 2) my facet joints need sorting out.

    toodle pip, N

  17. Bob:
    I know this is no compensation for your painful back but we are fellow travellers in pain at present. Getting out of the car yesterday in the normal manner, I strained a thigh muscle - couldn't believe it! Ibuprofen is now my friend. Too much enthusiastic cycling recently I suspect.

    We do indeed need to take extra care, even getting out of cars apparently. You take care too mate!

  18. Dear Bobscoot:

    Having a bad reaction to picking up a very heavy, cumbersome object without handholds is not necessarilly a sign of wearing out. It is, however, a lesson in physics. While the willow tree bends to the wind, it makes a poor loading crane.

    Next time, order the TV from a place that delivers and carries out the old one. It will cost you $50 more. Would you rather pay $50 and not feel old, or have the $50 bucks in your pocket and pain for three weeks?

    I could run up a flight of stairs 6 years ago. Last night I was happy just to make it up to bedrom. Still if I had to live my life all over, the only thing I'd change would be the last two marriages.

    Hunter S. Thompson once said, "It's better to get shot out of a cannon, than to be squeezed from a tube." This is how I plan to grow old:

    I think you should have had your picture taken with Sonja... How could anything taken by the waitress be construed as anything other than coffee and a muffin... As long as you weren't holding hands and looking off into the sunset. Who cares what anyone else thinks? Besides, explaining 50 times to everyone that there is nothing going on is like saying, "Too bad there wasn't something going on."

    I love having my friends think I'm pulling a fast one. I set Dick and Pete up nicely on one ride, pretending that the manager of a hotel had a thing for me. Then again, there is a lot to be said for not having Mr. Sonja show up and pound you into the ground like a nail. If I were you, I would have said to the waitress, "This is my... er, niece."

    Sonja, when you pulled over in the video, was there a reason why you didn't go into the gas station to get off the thoroughfare?

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  19. GeorgeF: today I got tired of looking at the TV in the middle of the room, so I put it back onto its stand. I hope it will be disposed of soon. A riding buddy is a riding buddy . . .

    RichardM: I also have the wandering desire. Perhaps if you want to ride your bike south, I could meet you in Kelowna sometime. It never occurred to me that you were near retirement.

    Charlie6: I suppose it was bound to happen. I appear much younger than I actually am and it fools a lot of people. I used to walk all day taking photos but now my legs need more rest than I remember

    cpa3485/Jimbo: I've been thinking of things for a while now, thus the reason I purchased the V-strom . I want to take some trips and meet more people while I am able. I am approaching a major crossroads soon. Hope you are getting better

    Gary: wish I could afford imported help all the time. We could do both; Ride to Safeway. I can't believe you may be coming here. I'll buy the Geritol

    Geoff: You are smarter than me. you've already recognized the signs and made yourself younger by purchasing your Striple. You've just got to watch out for getting out of taxis

  20. Mike: Birds of a feather flock together. Thanks to the internet and blogging we have found each other. we should start a Safeway club

    SonjaM: In spite of physical possessions, as time goes on we can only look back on our memories and smile at good times past.

    Doug: those are wise words, it's just that when you feel an ache you just can't help but think of our own vulnerabilies. Right now it is snowing so no rides this week.

    Ken: I like that phrase and I am going to borrow it. Wouldn't it be great if we could turn back time, or make it go slower

    BlueKat: NO, we weren't speeding. Our plan was to pull off the road to find a certain store . We do have some good roads in the interior of BC. Can't wait for you and Ron to ride up

  21. Baron: As time progresses we have to be more aware of our limitations and proceed accordingly. And we are never too old to look at chicks walking by. When are we going to do "brunch" ?

    BeemerGirl: You're too young to have creaks and groans, maybe the Beemer needs a lube job.
    I find that photography is a way to bring back, hopefully, good memories. I must remember to print more photos like in the past when we would fill up our photo albums, instead of leaving them on hard drives. Glad you liked the video, I like yours too

    ToadMama: I know what you mean about the small netbook keyboard. I only use mine when travelling too. Thank you for visiting

    Keith: I would never have suspected you were "our" age. I hope we have many years left. As long as we remain active and continue with our hobbies and riding we should be okay

    Nikos: Being an owner of old technology such as the K75 it's no wonder that you do not appreciate progress and innovation and would prefer to live out life in the dark ages. Does you TV still have rabbit ears ?

    Geoff: It's a wonder that we still have thighs. Take lots of medication and enjoy your vacation, even though you were already on vacation

    Jack: getting a new flat screen was the farthest from my mind until our CRT started to fail just before Christmas. Then after we purchased it the CRT started to work perfectly so there was no need to connect the new one. Then the other day it started to act up again so now we have decided to get rid of it and set the new one up. No rush as we still have other TV's to use in the meantime.

    and Jack, how did you know that Sonja was my niece ? You are more perceptive than you look

  22. If you're like me, and I think you are, then I'm glad there are ppl who live their dreams. Keep on riding, man! Ride safe and long! :) Cheers!

  23. Rip's been thinkin' about the "gettin' up there in age & still ridin'" thing for quite a while now. One day he even mentioned how we outta think about gettin' a !gasp! sidecar or a !horror-of-all-horrors! trike. I told him "hell darlin'....I may LQQK 34, I may sometimes ACT 20 years younger than that, and I may BE 54...but I'll NEVER get down like THAT! Now we got NO bike. I really shoulda kept my mouth shut :-(

  24. Motocraze: I'm trying to cram in all I can in the next few years and keep riding. Thank you for stopping by.

    MDJ: Oh, I am so sorry you don't have your bike anymore but you still have your memories and perhaps you will get another one soon.