I pulled out of the driveway, throttled up the engine, and stalled. The morning was cold and I was just starting to get used to the clutch of my new motorcycle. Soon, however, I was on my way. It was 7 in the morning
and I was eager to begin the first leg of my cross-country journey. Ithaca, New York, to Ashtabula, Ohio, is not a particularly enjoyable ride; the roads are in pitiful condition.
Route 86 cuts through New York State’s Southern Tier. It is straight and clogged with tractor-trailers. Hills and moraines formed during the ice age are covered in a thick canopy of trees. For those who enjoy rural vistas, this route
delivers something special. After that comes a fairly bland stretch of 90 into Ohio, it’s all concrete and suburbs.
I enjoy riding motorcycles so much because it makes me feel alive and connected to the world. Driving in a car is like I am being run through a program. I sit with the AC and radio on and drive. Everything works as it is supposed to, traffic laws are obeyed and the process becomes surreal.
On a bike, everything feels so much more real. I’m in the open with nothing more than skill and luck separating me from the ground. The wind is in my face. At risk of sounding cliché, the word is freedom.
This cross-country adventure will stretch from Ithaca, New York, to Missoula, Montana. I will be sharing my observations, thoughts, and experiences along the way.
— Virgil Thomas