A test ride fully loaded
I’m sitting on my bike which is now fully loaded with a tank bag, left and right side tank panniers, a duffel bag, left and right side rear panniers, and a top case. The two gallon fuel and water jugs on each side are empty. Dang, this bike weighs a ton! After more fretful dreams last night about not being able to lift this pig when it falls, I vowed to cut ten percent of the gear weight — about fifteen pounds.
I have a fresh mind this morning and start removing the duplicates and spares. Out goes extra clothing, spare toiletries, the second quart of oil, a length of rope, and more. The discards weigh in at twelve pounds. Good. At least I’ll feel better knowing it’s not as heavy as it would have been when I do have to pick this pig up off its side.
Today is my brother’s 19th birthday. The thought crosses my mind that it would suck to crash and be injured or killed on a test ride today. But, I also think every day is a special day and tomorrow would be just as suck of a day to crash or die. And the day after that too. I can’t let fear catch me in its web because it will prevent me from doing what I’ve set out to do. Casting apprehension aside, I hug the parents, wish my brother a happy birthday, and say I’ll be back for the birthday dinner in a couple hours.
It’s raining — imagine that. I can count the sunny days this summer on two hands. First impressions of the bike’s handling are good. The new knobby tires grip dirt, grass, and gravel for breakfast and handle just fine on tarmac. They’re holding air, which is a good thing to know after my first ever manual tire mounting a few days ago.
Even with a heavy load, the bike tracks a straight line and brakes with a steady grip. I think everything new and unfamiliar or uncomfortable becomes practiced and acceptable in time. Two hours later, I pull into the garage, unharmed and happy to have gone.
I set the bike on its side stand, dismount, and step back to have a look. I imagine an open road, and then the wall behind the bike flashes scenic backgrounds and images of places to go and see. Mountains, tundra, desert, beaches, and forest fade in and out of each other. When I was a young boy, I learned that building a fort can often be even more fun than playing in it afterward. With over a year’s effort building my bike and preparing for this adventure, I think and hope that the fun has just begun.