Sunday, April 15, 2007

Miles and Journeys

Hampton Beach, NH on a cloudy cool April Day. This is where we'll start our trip, hopefully with blue skys and higher temps!

April 14th was the opening day for the 2007 MOA mileage contest. This is the 5th year in a row that I’ll be entered the contest. If it weren’t for the mileage contest, I might never have journeyed to Spokane, Washington in 2004. If I’d never ridden to Spokane, I’d never be planning this trip with my daughter.

At the beginning of my second riding season I poured over the names and numbers of MOA members who had completed the mileage contest during the previous year. I could not imagine myself in that company. The average miles winners had upwards of eight thousand miles in a six-month season. Eight thousand! That seems unattainable. But then again, it was only a little more than a year ago that a motorcycle endorsement seemed unattainable. What I imagined I could accomplish grew with each mile on my odometer.

Three more seasons went by before it occurred to me that I should sign up. My first year, 2003, had me finishing better than average with close to 13,000 miles. The following year my love of numbers lead me to tracking miles and setting goals and in 2004 & 2005, I finished in the lists of top 20 women riders. By now I saw my name amongst new found riding friends.

Late in the summer of 2003 I learned that the National rally would be in Spokane, Washington. I wanted to go there. I wanted to ride clear across the country. But I quickly became discouraged when my local friends and associates not so subtly dismissed the idea. “That’s nuts”, “who would want to ride a bike that far” and “your butt will be killing you” where typical comments. I needed new friends. I found those friends online in the MOA Forum; people who where out there riding their motorcycles to place that I’d only read about. They were redefining for me what high miles and a long day meant. I wanted to be one of “them”.

By now, in my 5th riding season, chasing mileage goals, I had no qualms about doing 10 or 12-hour days, riding all over New England. What, I wondered is the difference between one 12-hour day and 5 of them in a row? I was confident enough to ride alone and had faith that my bike was not going to let me down, so why not string 5 days together. After 6 months of contemplation I made my decision to go. The difference I decided was a bunch of hotel rooms and a GPS.

I arrived in Spokane bursting with pride over my accomplishment, my self-confidence at an all time high. I realized that I had been the only one setting limits for myself. Most people will never understand why I want to do the things I do, but that will never again be a reason for me not to undertake them. I rode home that July knowing that I must come back and share this with my daughter. And I knew I would find a way to make it happen.

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