There’s an African song that goes something like: The Spirit is the journey, the body is the bus; I am the driver, from dust to dust.
There was a time when arriving at your destination actually meant something. Make no mistake, Ewan and Charley needed every possible mechanical advantage to accomplish what they did when they did the Long Way Around and the Long Way Down. But at some point, every rider should try to solo at least one foolish journey and at least an annual group ride that is designed in part to hone your groups basic teamwork and survival skills.
Your average modern dual sport / adventure motorcycle will travel roughly the distance around the earth at the equator requiring little more that gas, oil, filters and perhaps a chain and valve adjustment or two. This in itself is more than enough “adventure” for the average rider.
But classic and vintage riders are far from average.
If arriving at a particular destination on time or ahead of schedule is paramount to the success of the trip, by all means, take the Beemer or the V-Strom. But, if discovering things about yourself and other people or places was the reason for the trip in the first place, consider the vintage.
First and foremost, it requires an intimate relationship between man and machine. This is not unlike that between mother and children. Any father who has taken his kids on a day’s outing, knows precisely how many things it is possible to forget, and the sheer number of items itself is staggering. Food, drinks, diapers, spare pants, shirts, underwear, money, tickets, stuffed toy thing, even the mom-packed bag itself. But somehow, we survive. We loathe ourselves it as it is happening, but we relive it for years.
It might seem that burning out that Harley wheel bearing in Florence South Carolina on your way to a wedding (in which you are best man), is one of the biggest mistakes of your life at the time. But years later, when you buy that old Triumph on a business trip and it breaks down in west Texas as you are riding it home, instead of flying with that company paid ticket, you will remember.
You will still feel angry at the time, but things have a way of working out.
Just ask that French guy, Emile Leray. You know, the one who was crossing the Moroccan desert and got stranded when his Citroën 2CV broke down? Ten days later, armed with only a hacksaw and a small toolbox, off he rides. Maybe skip the Speedo thong self-portrait thing, but whatever works for you.
Now get on that old iron horse, be it a Moto Guzzi, a Norton, BSA, Triumph or what-have-you, and ride it somewhere exciting for a day or ten. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t forget the hacksaw.