GUEST COLUMN STARTING OVER
In 2006, I ended a self-imposed hiatus from motorcycling. Off a bike for almost 50 years, I hoped to replicate the motorcycle experiences of my teenage years. For me, that meant simplicity. The most common bikes when I grew up in western Massachusetts were Triumphs, BSAs and Arials. There was the occasional Harley-Davidson and a few CZs, Jawas, NSUs and Puchs. This was the era before mega horsepower, cushy passenger seats, trikes and traction control. Maybe you needed to be a shade-tree mechanic to keep your motorcycle on the road, but systems were simpler, bikes were more forgiving and speeds were more manageable. In 1953, Hollywood released “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando riding a 650cc Triumph Thunderbird. In those days it seemed like everyone wanted to ride. Of course, this is not the mid-1950s. Times have changed, and as I planned my return to motorcycling, I had no desire to spend the money and effort to run down a ’50s Brit bike and fulﬁll my fantasies of yesteryear. But I was determined to return to riding. It helped that three of my older brothers, then aged 76, 72, and 67, continued to ride. I didn’t want to be left out of the fun any longer. After taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation weekend motorcycle course to earn a state motorcycle license endorsement, I needed a motorcycle. Since I was unashamedly chasing the past, so to speak, I decided the bike for me was a new 500cc Royal Enﬁeld Bullet. Riding a Bullet was like stepping back into the 1950s. I found a new white 2005 sitting in a showroom in Sarasota. The following September, my brother Ken and I trailered our bikes from Tampa Bay, Fla., to Portsmouth, N.H., for a couple of weeks of riding with our brother Alan. The Bullet was great on the back roads of New England but had difﬁculty keeping up with the big boys on their HarleyDavidsons. On Sept. 11, along with nephew Steve, we rode from Portsmouth to the top of Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet, natives insist that the mountain has “the world’s worst weather.” However, on that day, the sun god was smiling. I ultimately decided that if I wanted to ride with Ken and Alan, I should be on a comparable bike—a cruiser. So, I kept the Bullet as my Sunday bike and purchased a 2007 Hyosung GV650. Sporting a PPALLI (Korean for “fast” or “hurry up”) license plate, the Hyosung and I were ready to run with my older siblings. Another year, another trip to Portsmouth and 17,000 miles later, I traded in the GV650 for a 2008 BMW F800ST, and in September 2008, Ken and I rode north to Bryson City, N.C. Brother Alan rode down from New Hampshire and joined us. From there, we rode the Tail of the Dragon, made a side-trip to Seneca, S.C., and visited The Wheels
Through Time motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley, N.C., before heading north to Washington, D.C. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the F800ST, but after I did some dual-sport riding I traded it in on a new 2009 BMW R1200GS. The shakedown trip for that bike in October was a ride north to North Carolina and Tennessee to ride the Cherohala Skyway from Robbinsville, N.C., to Tellico Plains, Tenn. My return to riding has evolved over four years. My skills have improved, as have my bikes and gear. At age 70, I will never be the dual-sport rider that I fantasize I could become, but with more than 10,000 miles on the R1200GS, I feel it is the ultimate riding machine for me. It will be with me for a long time. Very soon, I look forward to an advanced skills class and a cross-country trip to visit family and friends in the Paciﬁc Northwest. Then, in 2011, I hope to do “Tampa Bay to Prudhoe Bay.” David Gary Tucker, Ed. D. is a former military intelligence ofﬁcer, professor and leadership consultant who now dabbles in international consulting, mentors doctoral students and rides and writes for fun.
Photo Karen Harrison Photography
Full Throttle Ahead At 70 And Counting By Dave Tucker
The Journal of the AMA Preview Version