Dog days of summer in the desert. Hot, we hit 122 a few weeks ago, and it's a balmy 117 today. Not much riding, and it makes it difficult to come up with ideas for my September piece which I'm trying to work on. But in the mean time here is the colum for August -- a discussion of "healthy" living for those of us in the biker community...
One of the simple pleasures in life for most riders is the meal that is inevitably eaten as part of -- or even as the very reason for a motorcycle ride. Harley-Davidson’s motto is “Live to Ride, Ride to Live”, which my old Seattle HOG Chapter modified to be a little more accurate: “Live to Ride, Ride to Eat” -- because that’s what we inevitably always did. Even a solo ride will nearly always encompass a stop at or a ride to either a favorite eatery or a new one recently discovered or read about.
Now this can be either a short one- or two-hour ride to a favorite lunch or dinner stop somewhere out of town, or an all-day affair like our chapter’s yearly “Miner Burger Run” from Seattle over the mountains to Yakima with the destination being the venerable and always delicious Miner Burger. If done correctly this becomes a 350-400-mile day long excursion with friends. Or it can be like I used to do quite regularly when I lived in West Seattle, just a quick hop on the scoot for a few miles down to a great joint on Alki Beach.
Nearly all of my favorite rides no matter where I am – will more often than not -- end up at a place with food. It’s no doubt why I maintain a rather ample shape to this day no matter how hard I try otherwise. And I’m not alone, its why Harley tends to sell more XXL and XXXL t-shirts than almost any other size. It’s not that I even need an excuse to get on the bike, but going to get a great burger, or pizza, or steak, or bbq, or, or, or… is an even better reason for firing up the ride. Am I right? You know I am. To me there is hardly anything better than a nice hour or two on a back road to get dinner, or lunch, or when I’m in the desert, breakfast as we have to get out and back before the temperature crests 110 or so.
I’d be happy as a clam hopping on the bike and riding along Puget Sound to get clams at some little joint along Highway 101, or riding up on Thursdays along the backroads of eastern King County to get up to Cumberland’s Taco Thursday, or burgers at Issaquah’s XXX Drive In or a million other favorite roadside hangouts on a summer afternoon or evening in the northwest. It’s just part of the biker life, and a part that we all relish (with ketchup and onions on a toasted bun too).
But alas, I’m not getting any younger, and the 60 I see sneaking up on me is more often than not my age in the mirror and not the number on my bike Angus’ speedometer. And after my latest visit to my doc for my annual checkup, followed by a visit to the vampires in the lab who drained a substantial amount of blood and then a follow up visit with the doc, I got the wonderful news that “at your age we” are now going to do semi-annual visits, and that we now needed to “watch our diet”. (Like the doc is actually going to do any of the actual dieting.) I told my doc -- who looks like he graduated from med school last year at age 19 -- that “I’ve been ‘watching my diet’ since I was a kid – I watch me eat stuff and watch the numbers on the scale get big.” He was not amused, and further told me that not only did I need to “watch my diet”, that I was also going to have to go on a cholesterol pill too. This will nicely complement the blood pressure pill I am already on apparently.
So now I’m figuring out how to make this all work while still adhering to the motto of “Live to Ride, Ride to Eat” that is a part of the biker code. I know I’m not alone in this. Some of you are in the same boat as me. I always kind of snickered at the guys and gals on one of our group rides that would partake of a salad or some other noxious form of sustenance when we’d ride a couple of hundred miles on an adventure. I mean after all that exertion on the bike – the clutching and shifting and breathing clean fresh air and ogling gorgeous scenery and the thrill of the open road – well it works up an appetite. An insatiable hunger that can only be quenched by a good burger, steak, bbq, or massive breakfast that includes lots of bacon. Not some pile of green that looks like it came out of my lawnmower bag and to me tastes like it did too even when drowning in ranch dressing. Might as well just shoot me now and get it over with I’d always used to think.
Well no more. I’m unfortunately I guess a member of that club. It’s painful to admit I’m telling you. The test came the other day as I headed out for an early morning pre-115 degree day ride in the desert and ended up, after 70 miles of twisties, at a newly reopened 1950s roadhouse on CA-74 high above the desert on the side of a mountain along the road where they filmed the classic car chase at the beginning of the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”. I’d worked up a nice appetite after all that turn carving and shifting and deep breathing fresh air while watching for wandering Big Horn Sheep.
The menu had such wonderful things as sourdough pancakes, classic French toast, 4 egg omelets, along with several different sausages and types of bacon, and near the bottom “artisan steel cut oatmeal”. And remembering the lecture from my pubescent doctor about “watching our weight”, I ordered the oatmeal and lightly buttered wheat toast. And truth be told, it was pretty good. It filled me up. And before the temperature had crested the mid 90s I was back home sitting at my computer writing.
Well maybe I can do this. But the real test will be when I’m back in the Northwest and headed up over Chinook Pass on highway 410 bound for Yakima. I have a feeling my doc is probably just going to have to “watch our diet” go to hell in a handbasket as there is no way in I’m going to be able to have a salad while sitting amongst the throngs enjoying a big ol’ juicy Miner Burger, fries and a peach shake. Not gonna happen. Anyway, I’m sure they have a defibrillator somewhere there, and if not, I’ll at least die with a smile on my face after a 300-mile ride over the mountains and a belly full of burger, fries and shake.