Don’t wait too long to take that trip

The National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, had been on my list of places to visit on two wheels for years before I finally made it there in 2022. The news that the museum is set to close permanently in September served as a reminder to tour as much as I can each year – as you never know when the places and events you want to experience will be no more.

There’s a scene in a trailer for the documentary Senna where the film’s subject, Formula 1 legend Aryton Senna, says there’s a lot he still wants to do in life, but there’s plenty of time to do it. Senna was later killed in a crash in 1994, and that scene lit a fire to me to stop putting off too much each year. 

The news about the museum closing brought that powerful impression back to the forefront of my mind – at a time when I was weighing how much time I should be spending on the road each year. 

My girlfriend and I bought our first house a couple years ago, and it’s been one project after another since we signed on the dotted line. We’re also dog parents, and I’m usually absent from home 10-12 weekends per year for two-wheeled adventures. 

The additional load of increased responsibilities at home – not to mention separation from my significant other and fur child – and side hustle projects had me questioning whether I needed to cut back on my annual touring plans.

But the realization that I could easily have been scrambling this year to go and see something I’d wanted to check out for at least half a decade reaffirmed my desire to explore as many new places as I can each year. 

Obviously family and work commitments have to come first, and it’s not worth trying to pack too much into a tour where your safety or finances are put in jeopardy. 

But I am convinced that it’s worth spending as much as you reasonably can each year visiting new places and experiencing new events. If you have an interest in something, you don’t always have “next year” to check it out.

And, unlike the case of the National Motorcycle Museum, you don’t always have advance notice that your window to visit it is closing. After I’d penned my first draft of this piece, I learned one of my all-time favorite restaurants – Freddy’s Street Food in Delaware, Ohio – was abruptly going out of business. I loved that restaurant, but it was in a city I used to live that’s about two hours away from Cleveland. 

Every time I rode or drove through the Columbus, Ohio, area, I’d think about stopping there and say, “I’ll stop there next time.” And now there is no more next time to get a pasta bowl with spicy chicken, chardonnay sauce, sauteed peppers and cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan and bacon.

Here are a few examples from my 14 years of motorcycle touring experience that I’m glad I made the time to visit:

Rochester’s Abandoned Subway

When the Erie Canal was widened and rerouted to the south of downtown Rochester, N.Y., in the 1910s, the city decided to convert the canal bed within its borders into a below-grade railroad route. I could wax poetic about the history of Rochester’s subway for hours – maybe even days – but it ended service in the mid-1950s and one of the small portions of the route that remain is the tunnel through downtown.

From the time I learned about the abandoned subway in high school, I’ve had a fascination with its history, and, at one time, the eastern portal of the subway tunnel was accessible. In 2016, I was back visiting family in Rochester and decided to go see the subway entrance again. To my dismay, crews had begun construction of an apartment building on the land of the eastern portal, and the feel and sight of the tunnel entrance was soon to be no more. Now, you wouldn’t even know the subway had been there.

Graffiti Highway

The now-ghost town of Centralia, Pa., was once served by a four-lane highway that connected it to nearby Interstate 80. When an underground coal mine fire began raging under the village, the former alignment of Pennsylvania Route 61 began to suffer from subsidence and fissures in its pavement and was eventually abandoned. 

In the years between its abandonment and its being covered with mounds of dirt in 2020, the pavement gradually turned into a concrete canvas – covered in years of graffiti from the many sightseers who traversed its about 0.75-mile length. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation returned the right-of-way to its former owners in 2018, and the coal company that owns most of the land decided to bury the former roadway under heaps of dirt to cut down on trespassing.

I only visited the Graffiti Highway once. It was a cold ride there from my then-home near Allentown, Pa., but I’m really glad I got to take in this most unique public space at least once.

Turner Field

Though I’m now a proud Cleveland Guardians fan – and was a New York Yankees fan before that – my early appreciation of baseball is rooted in my middle school friend Tim’s Atlanta Braves fandom. Many Braves games were broadcast nationally on TBS during my younger years, which helped me gain a familiarity with the sport and team even though I grew up in upstate New York. 

The Braves home field from the time I started watching them in the late 1990s through 2016 was Turner Field. Originally built to serve as a main venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the stadium served as the Braves home field starting in 1997. It also was the scene of the 2000 MLB All-Star Game – a game I watched my video recording of over and over again to study the art of pitching.

When I found out the Braves were building a new stadium to replace Turner Field, I was determined to attend at least one game there before the team moved out. I did make it there for one game in July 2016 and really enjoyed seeing a piece of Olympic history – especially the piers that held up the temporary grandstands for the Olympics that were still in place. The outer structure of the stadium still stands, but the interior has been converted to a football field for

Indianapolis MotoGP Weekend

Though I missed the first edition of the MotoGP round at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2008 – known to many fans as the “hurricane year” – I attended the 2009 event more-or-less by accident. I’d planned to do a test run that weekend for a cross-country trip I had planned for 2010 to Salt Lake City for the World Superbike round. The first stop on the 2010  trip was to be a Super 8 in Greenfield, Ind. – about 45 minutes from the speedway. I didn’t realize that it was MotoGP weekend until I pulled into the hotel parking lot and found a small fleet of sport- and sport-touring motorcycles.

I extended my stay by one night so I could go to qualifying day on Saturday and attended the event every year until its final edition in 2015. 

The highlight of my years attending the Indianapolis MotoGP round extend beyond seeing the world’s best road racers take to one of the most iconic racetracks in the world. I also made a lot of friends among the group that stayed at the Super 8 every year – many of whom I still keep in touch with or see at other motorcycle events. I also got my first exposure to flat track motorcycle racing thanks to the AMA Pro Racing round that took place at the Indy Mile for several years during MotoGP’s run at IMS.


One thought on “Don’t wait too long to take that trip

  1. And time gets away so quick.
    We talked about riding around Tasmania here in Australia before we had kids. Now our eldest is nearly 30! Where does the time go.!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s