Ride-Run-Rock 1999

It all made sense at the time. Two motorcycles, two riders, 12 days. Cross country. And then run the Suzuki Rock and Roll marathon. OK, maybe it didn't even make sense at the time, but I am a writer for Runner's World magazine and a life long motorcyclist so why not? My son and partner in the escapade, at 27, has only the excuse of youth.

Like every other stupid idea I've ever had, this one developed a life of it's own. Before I could come to my senses my son and I were having our pictures taken in front of a Suzuki 1500 Intruder and a Bandit 1200. The next thing I remember someone was asking about helmets and accessories. And then, in an almost surreal vision, we were throwing our legs over the bikes in Ramsey New Jersey and heading south to Washington, DC.

Notes From
the Road

May 9

May 10

May 11

May 12

May 13

May 14

May 15

May 16

May 17

May 18

May 19

May 20

Marathon Day

The Reflecting Pool - Washington, DC

Not that we were convinced even then. The first night when we stopped in Delaware we half expected to get a phone call and be told that this was all an elaborate practical joke. Surely there were people in suits and ties in offices with big desks who would put an end to this foolishness. But the phone call never came and then next day we packed up the bikes, said our good-byes, and began our odyssey of discovery on the open road.

I'm an old guy. This was obvious from the start. My prepartion for the trip consisted of going to Sears to buy a looser fitting pair of blue jeans. I dug out my trusty Dakar jacket and Red Wing boots, checked my old rain suit for holes, found my most comfortable underwear and socks, threw them into a bag and bungie-netted it to the seat.

Not Terry. A trip of this proportion, he reckoned, required the purchase of a Gore-Tex lined, kevlar armored suit complete with, arm pads, knee pads, back protector, and pockets for everything. And, of course, to finish off the outfit, a pair of Gore-Tex boots. All of his belonging were packed neatly into saddle and seat and tank

Columbus, OH - The Last Sun

A pilgramage to the American Motorcycist Association

This was the third time I'd ridden cross county east to west. It was also the EARLIEST in the year I'd ever crossed. Now I know why. The weather in the Spring is unpredictable. With one exception. You know it's going to be bad, you just don't know when, or where.

For us the bad weather started as we arrived in Indianapolis. What started as merely a downpour, stopped and turned into four days of rain and wind. Kansas is long anyway. But Kansas with a headwind and sidewind and construction zones and cattle trucks is VERY long.

Somewhere in Kansas. Where's Toto?

There are many exciting moments on a motorcycle ride. Knowing that you're riding into what is almost certainly a tornado is one of the top 5. Actually, we missed the tornado my nearly 20 minutes, but it felt close!!

We were staying with friends that night, and they were having a reception so we pressed on. Looking back, it was probably the only time on the trip when we were in any real danger. Lucky for us, we didn't know it at the time.

But the house was warm, and the company good.
Terry in his fancy suit.

Much to Terry's dismay, we had spent most of the last few days trying to figure out how to get across the Rockies. Where we had intended to cross, through the Vail pass was cold, 23 degrees the morning we would have gone through. We needed a new plan.

After much 'grinding', and some very helpful advice, we decided to head south from Denver and cross nearer to the New Mexico border. The bitter cold stayed with us most of the morning. But at least we were dry.

Leaving Lone Tree, CO on the coldest morning

The world is different West of the Rocky Mountains. It's hard to describe. There are places where you can imagine that what you're seeing is exactly what people have seen for a thousand years.

We rode through the high desert. We saw the color of the sky near Taos, NM. We felt the geography change, and the culture with it. For the first time since we'd left, we seemed inseperably on the trip.

It was easy to look ahead, at Terry riding with confidence, and to look back, at all the miles and years that brought him to this place.

On the road from Taos to Santa Fe, NM

More riding in the desert, more wind, more heat.

When we finally started the climb towards Vegas, it was like going to another planet. Huge rock formations stood in sharp contrast to the sameness of the desert.

We crossed Hoover Dam, which is as humbling an experiece as any on the trip. The vision and courage of the people who built that monumental structure is awe inspiring.

Then there was Vegas. A monument in it's own right.

Leaving Las Vegas

I don't think either of us knew what to expect on Race Day. A day or so off the bikes didn't seem like quite enough time to recover.

But, we had come this far, we weren't going to quit now. We needed a plan that we could live with. A plan that had at least a chance of working. So we decided to start by running for 4 minutes, and walking for one, and repeating that sequence until mile 20.

The plan was then to assess how were were feeling, what we thought we had left, and how we could make it to the finish line while we were still vertical.

Terry was a trooper. He ran and walked and chatted with all the well wishers. I know he was tired, I know he hurt. But he did it.

The final 26.2 miles

We have a joke in our house. When we stop during a ride, I will stretch out on the cool grass and say "This is MY kind of touring".

Well THIS is Terry's kind of touring. And running and racing. My guess is that he hasn't been this tired since Basic Training. But it as fatigue that he earned. A fatigue that I earned along with him.

The question is, what now? I really don't think either of us want to think about it just yet. For now we are just grateful that it's over.
Copyright 1999 John J.Bingham -- No portion may be reproduced without permission

Last Updated: April 2, 2000 12:56

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