Tonto Basin, AZ (April 10, 2017) - When people ask if I have named my motorcycle I respond, "Mr. Burgess!" The 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 was smiling and grinning. "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 just seemed appropriate that the driver that nearly killed me should be remembered by naming the cycle for him. Hence, "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, and it wasn't until today that we reached the milestone. I couldn't be happier that we rode beyond that mark while transiting the Tonto Basin on AZ State Route 188. It was a beautiful sight.
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, a bird strike that cracked the windscreen, tumbleweeds hitting the cowl at high speeds, lots of cold weather, potholes and rough roads, and a full day of heavy rain while leaving California. Throughout it all, Burgess hasn't failed to start, has remained upright, and has handled the heavy winds and storms with the agility I have come to expect from a great machine.
Last night was spent in a mountain top campground at 7,000 feet. Burgess never once complained about the steep switchbacks on the ride up, or the quick stop for cattle and coyotes in the road on the way down the other side of the mountains. He has become a friend, and friends don't complain when having a good time. The weather was perfect today, in the low 70's, with a clear sky and no wind to blow me all over the scenic highway.
Ten miles prior to the mark I began watching the odometer intently, not wanting to miss the exact moment when the machine and I hit the milestone. 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 days in the last couple of years in which I didn't think I would be able to reach this spot. I pulled over, took a shot of the odometer and another of the bike, and then sat for a moment to take it all in.
Humans don't have speedometers, odomoters, or any other gauges to reveal our history and current condition. We only have memories of those moments that meant the most to us, for good or bad. My time with Mr. Burgess has been a positive experience. He has taken me to all four borders of the USA; over mountains, to the east and west coasts and the Gulf coast. The travel has introduced me to new friends and renewed old friendships. I can't ask for anything better, other than to find the strength to stay in the saddle for another 100,000 or 200,000 miles more.
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. We have a good friendship . . .