Superior Circle Tour: How I Got To This

How did I get to this moment of motorcycling around Lake Superior? It has been a rather indirect path with some common elements: I acquired a motorcycle in my twenties as an inexpensive mode of transport while attending college, but eventually had to give it up and live within walking distance of campus, selling the bike in order to meet tuition. It left a positive experience however, a feeling of freedom, openness and exhilaration, everything Robert Persig wrote in his classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

Marriage and family commitments kept me from re-subscribing to that world, but when my son left for the Peace Corps and told me I could use his motorcycle while storing it for him, I dipped my toe back into that water. His bike needed repairs, and I then used it to commute to work, but I kept getting stranded as it broke down over and over. He described his bike as the equivalent of the Millennium Falcon, which could never reliably engage its hyperdrive. I experienced it as having the clutch fail in a busy intersection.

After repairing it too many times, I realized that I did not need to continue doing this. I could afford my own ride; I could buy my own wheels, but which? So I asked the owner of the repair shop (with whom I was now on a first name basis), “what motorcycle do you NEVER see here? Because I want one of those.” He replied that he didn’t see many BMWs in the shop.

It was unscientific but it was good enough for me. I studied the various offerings from BMW and became intrigued by the touring models. It is a romantic notion I suppose, to head out onto the open road and explore ala Pirsig’s “Zen”, so I tried one at a nearby dealer and purchased it soon after.

That was 2007. It is now 2019, and while I have enjoyed many excursions on my touring bike, few have been overnight, and none have been extended tours as I had originally envisioned. My mileage has only recently exceeded 20,000, which flags that I am a “newbie” with the same 6 months of experience ten times over.

I’m quite pleased to take on the Superior Circle Tour, but I recognize that I am still in training. Maybe I will get the hang of it. There is a danger that I will enjoy it so much that I will want to embark on other such tours!

A 50-second video clip does not fully capture the thrill of coming over the hill to an overlook, but you may be able to imagine the experience. We were not the only ones admiring the scenery. Three women from Winnipeg were bicycling to Newfoundland, about as east as one can go in North America.

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