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I have lasting impressions of some of our previous tours. Some warm and windy, others cold or rainy, all gloriously full of good times. And to Prescott? The fun really begins once off the I-17 and heading west towards the Bradshaw Mountains, and this time on an older Moto Guzzi Le Mans that we had purchased just weeks before. How did it do? Check the video below and see for yourself! Merry Moreno Lucero.
While I've pined to pilot a bike of my own (that is still near the top on my bucket list) there's some definite advantages to riding pillion. You’re allowed the thrill of two wheeled travel without having to concentrate on the actual operation of the machine, but there’s still some very important jobs to do. I take my role as spotter of darting animals, erratic drivers, and random tumbleweeds very seriously, not to mention helping with the route and road conditions. As a passenger I'm keenly aware of how connected we are on the bike, as a slight shift or movement can affect our line as we hurtle along. Getting it right as we carve through the twisties together is almost like dancing…moving together, in unison and the bike responding beneath us. On longer straight sections or interstates it’s good motivation to relax, breathe and enjoy the experience.
Along with drinking in the scenic countryside, there is a beauty to going inward, into the silent companionship of your sweetheart along with the hum of the engine. You are together, but at the same time really able to be with yourself, spending quality time inside your head, inside your helmet. Sometimes when the sunlight shines just right on your faceshield, you can see your own reflection looking back at you. Now that’s a moment to remember.
Photos: John J. Cerilli. Mike Larson
On these tours I’ve learned to pack lighter than I ever have before. I’m always surprised at how little I really need to drag along with me from home. It’s leaving the baggage behind both figuratively and metaphorically. For me time feels different on a bike. It speeds up, or maybe it slows down but either way, amazingly, road trips seem to take half the time they really do. Moto road trips are also minus the snacks, music libraries and chit-chat that typically takes place on a car ride. These mini adventures reinforce our relationship while giving us time for some valuable introspection.
Two-Up on a Guzzi Le Mans
Even as a passenger, when you fall in love with the experience of two-wheeled travel, you're all in. The feelings go especially deep when you have the good fortune to accompany an excellent rider. So when I get the chance to go with Nolan on one of his speedy machines and head out for a ride, I’m always game. We've done short runs from Phoenix to places like Globe and Tucson, and multiple times I've joined him winding our way to Datil, New Mexico for the Guzzi club rally. We typically do this trip on our 1985 1000 Le Mans (below) which is better for longer rides, but once epically on a Sport 1100. Not the most comfy on the backside, but the fun made up for the tight ergos while ripping along an open stretch of Highway 60. I know a high-speed pass is coming when Nolan reaches around to touch my leg, cranking up the speed somewhere past the mythical ton. Few things equal the sensation of the bike stretching long and low, yet at the same time grabbing the road and flying. Magic. For our jaunts to Datil, a couple of shiny awards for longest two-up grace our bookshelf.
Out in the open there is beauty in the view from the pillion that is hard to describe. Like riding in a car, when the landscape turns scenic you can let your eyes leave the road and really survey the vast stretches of country. But there is more to it on a bike. Un-encased from the climate-controlled bubble of a car, you are there together experiencing the road and all that is around it. On the way to New Mexico we never know what we’re going to get until we are there. It could be rolling hills festooned with wildflowers, rainy monsoon storms, rainbows or rays of sun strobe-lighting between the trunks of pine trees. It is truly enchanting, ancient and vividly real. We might encounter a trio of exotic sports cars pursued by flashing lights and sirens (true story) or a family of deer peacefully grazing away from the road. Adventure is good for the soul!