Itchy Throttle Hand

Lately, with the summer heat slowly dissipating (the temperature is only 97 F at this moment), my throttle hand has been quite itchy. And there is a limit to the actions I can take to ease the itch. I can jump on the bike and ride. I can plan rides. Since I’m recovering from a non-life-threatening surgery and it will be a couple more days before I should fire up the v-twin, I’ve been hitting the planning hard. I now have ride plans stacked up to cover most of the month.

1. The next ride will be a pre-dawn ride through the lower Colorado and Mojave deserts to Joshua Tree National Park next week. Mike Harmon and I, along with one or two other possible riders will be in the park before sunrise to catch whatever color presents itself. Joshua Tree is always a good place to be at sunrise. There seems to be no end of photographs in that location.

2. A week later, a large part of the riding group will meet in Riverside, then ride toward San Diego County, specifically to the town of Julian. The roads between Hemet and Julian are quite rural and uncrowded. Julian is a popular destination for motorcyclists who live in San Diego County and the town has a certain amount of civic pride about the locally grown apples and the pies baked in town. I think that the apple pie is generally good, but not as good as the hype would have one believe. But if one needs an excuse to ride, going for a piece of pie will do quite nicely (actually, why bother with an excuse?).

3. Yet one more week later, I’ll make a solo 4-day ride to Monument Valley. That one is for the specific purpose of shooting the Yashica Mat 124 with color film. If all goes well, I’ll catch two sunsets and a sunrise in the valley and get a good frame or two at each of those times.  I’ve wanted to return to that location since the last time I passed through on the bike. It is one of those locations like Joshua Tree, which are easy to visit multiple times.

There will be other rides, of course. I rarely go more than three days without riding, even if it is just a hop across the city. Maybe by October the itching will have subsided somewhat.

I recently came to the realization that I enjoy the planning nearly as much as the actual riding. Perhaps as much as 70 percent. I like thinking about what I’ll need to pack into the saddlebags, and on the multi-day rides what will go in the bag strapped to the luggage racks over the rear fender.

The ride to Monument Valley will add to the number of items that need to be packed, because in addition to the tent and sleeping bag, I have progressively less interest in shooting digital, so I’ll have to make allowances for keeping the film cool while crossing deserts. That ride will require that I strap on a small Playmate ice chest. The insulated lunch box, adequate for one-day rides, just won’t do it, since I’ll be carrying several rolls each of 220 color and 35mm color film to keep the Yashica and Nikon fed.

I’m slowly getting better at the packing and I travel progressively lighter with each trip. I’ll probably have the system perfected by the year 2050, when I’m working on my hundredth year in this body…

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