Tonto Basin, AZ (April 10, 2017) - When people ask if I have named my motorcycle I respond, "Mr. Burgess!" Quizzical looks require that I explain.
On December 15, 2006 an 82 year old driver in a Lincoln Town Car pulled out in front of me at an intersection in Mint Hill, NC. The result was a destroyed Honda GL-500 Silver Wing and a major injury to my left shoulder (AC joint). As I was being loaded into an ambulance I shouted. "I am getting a BRAND NEW motorcycle, and THAT guy is going to pay for it!"
It probably wasn't a nice thing to say, but it was true. About 15 months later I purchased a zero mileage Honda ST1300 with the proceeds of the insurance settlement. It seemed appropriate the driver who nearly killed me should somehow be remembered. "Mr. Burgess" and I began our joint odyssey back and forth across America.
I had hoped to make the odometer turn over 100,000 miles much sooner than it has, Life got in the way. But today, while passing by a high desert lake, we reached the milestone. We hit the mark while transiting the Tonto Basin on AZ State Route 188. It was a beautiful sight and I couldn't be happier.
On this trip we have experienced two broken valve stems; dust and wind strorms that have damaged the windscreen track and marred the surface of the windscreen itself, and a bird strike which cracked the windscreen. Tumbleweeds have hit the cowl at high speeds, exploding into clouds of matchsticks. There has been lots of cold weather, potholes and rough roads, and a full day of heavy rain while leaving California made me miserable for for hours. To top that off, we made the transit of Donner Pass in an unexpected blizzard.
Through it all, Burgess hasn't failed to start, has remained upright, and has handled the high winds and storms with the agility I have come to expect from a great machine.
We spent last night camped in a mountain campground at 7,000 feet. Burgess never once complained about the steep switchbacks on the ride up, or the quick stops for cattle and coyotes in the road on the way down the mountain. He has become a good friend, and good friends don't complain when sharing an adventure.
The weather has been perfect today, in the low 70's, with a clear sky and no wind to blow dust over the scenic highway.
Ten miles prior to the milestone mark I began watching the odometer intently, not wanting to miss the exact moment the machine and I reached our anniversary. During the last quarter mile our speed was only about 20 miles per hour. Burgess didn't choke up, but I did. There have been many times in the last couple of years in which I didn't think I would get here. I pulled over, took a snap shot of the odometer and another of the bike. Then we sat for a moment to take it all in. Burgess mechanically sighed as the exhaust pipes cooled and I sighed with him.
Humans don't have speedometers, odometers, or any other gauges to reveal our history and current condition. We only have our obvious scars and memories of moments that afffected us most, for good or bad. My time with Mr. Burgess has been a positive experience. He has taken me to the four corners of the United States; over mountains, across the deserts and high plains, and to both oceans and the Gulf coast. The travel has introduced me to new friends and renewed old friendships. I can't ask for anything more, other than the strength to stay in the saddle another 100,000 or 200,000 miles. That could take years more, and that's the point.
I threw my aching leg over the saddle and fired up for more miles. Burgess, as always, just hauled me down the road without complaint. Ours is a good friendship . . .