Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: How to put 100,000 miles on a single motorcycle, Christine style.


How to put 100,000 miles on a single motorcycle, Christine style.

In February 2006 I was in the showroom of Out the Door Motorsports in Los Angeles waiting for the service department to finish prepping my brand new yellow 2005 Suzuki SV650N so I could ride it home that day. While I was killing time in the showroom, out of the corner of my eye I saw a shiny silver 2006 Yamaha FJR1300A on display.

I immediately fell in love with its contours and its sleek design. That sport-touring motorcycle captured my imagination and I dreamed of the places I could go and sights I could see with a powerful, mile-eating machine like that. After reading its specs and realizing that it was a 1300cc, 147HP monster with luggage, I thought to myself, "There is no way I'd be able to ever ride that kind of bike."

Fast forward fourteen months later. In between my studies at USC, I spent my weekends with my Suzuki riding with different types of motoryclists and learning the ins and outs of that 650cc, 70HP, 90° sport V-twin, flogging it through many a canyon and even state-hopping through California, Nevada, and Arizona in the process. Some weeks would find me nearing 700-900 miles a week on the bike. Additionally, I took advantage of every possible test-ride event I had access to, hopping on everything from cruisers to scooters to the Honda Goldwing (the largest motorcycle in production at the time) and any other type of motorcycle I could get my paws on. All that saddle time paid off as I became more comfortable with motorcycle riding and the quirks of the many two-wheeled machines available in the market.

Here's Irene, my 2005 Suzuki SV650 in Monterey, CA on her final long-distance ride to San Francisco before I acquired Eleanor. This bike was named after the character Irene O'Dare of the musical "Irene," the first videotaping/DVD production project that fully launched my videography business into a profitable venture for the next four years until I relocated to Columbus, OH.

And as soon as I settled into my first real full-time job as a high school teacher, I retired that yellow SV650 after 20,000 miles and acquired that long-desired Yamaha FJR1300A, grabbing a 2007 model in Black Cherry on April 26, 2007. It was hand delivered to my work on April 30 and I rode it right out of my parking structure, watching the odometer hit "00001" as I approached the entrance to the 110 South freeway in Downtown Los Angeles. And that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that would span what is now 39 states and many landmarks throughout the continental United States and Canada.

Eleanor's first ride through the canyons of Ojai, CA (May 2007).
I dubbed this motorcycle "Eleanor" after a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that I often used to motivate myself to battle through challenges: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I felt that earning this bike after my hard work through my years in school was a culmination of many of those dreams. After a Corbin front seat upgrade and a Givi topcase adapter at 1200 miles for additional comfort and luggage space, I took the big jump that summer and rode from Los Angeles to my very first Women On Wheels® International Ride-In in Springfield, MO. The route home became a 4000-mile additional trek through Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, and back down to CA and Eleanor reached the 10,000 mile mark in three months in July 2007.

In December 2007 through an ad I placed on Craigslist looking for a fellow motorcyclist to ride with through the Palos Verdes Peninsula, I met a young man named Matt who rode a 2000 BMW K1200RS, an unusual choice for a rider under the age of 45. After a fun local ride through various parts of Torrance, San Pedro, Palos Verdes, and Rolling Hills, CA he invited me to join him on a Christmas ride on Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I said 'yes' on a whim, much to the surprise and concern of many of my friends - one of them even gave me pepper spray for the trip and advised me to carry a knife. I brought both items and never needed either one; Eleanor hit the 20,000 mile mark on Christmas Eve and I earned a good friend that vacation and a boyfriend not long after that. A little over 40,000 miles later in July 2009, we took a two-up ride on Eleanor to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA where Matt asked me to become his wife in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

We relocated to Columbus, OH in early September 2009 after the economy took a nosedive and both of our jobs in CA. Eleanor embarked on her second cross-country trip that year, the first being a 6200-mile round-trip trek through thirteen states for the 2009 WOW International Ride-In in Kerville, TX in July. In 2010, Eleanor and I accomplished many feats such as riding all the way to the East Coast, visiting all 13 original colonies, riding past Niagara Falls and through the province of Ontario, Canada, and an Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000, completing a rain-drenched and difficult 1000-mile ride from Columbus, OH to Spartanburg, SC and back through West Virginia in 22 hours. And if you thought she wasn't done traveling, Eleanor took Matt and me to Chicago, IL for our wedding on October 6, 2010.

Here's Eleanor prepped with trailer in tow to take us to Chicago for our wedding (October 2010).

On February 18, 2010 at 10PM Eastern Standard Time, Eleanor reached 100,000 miles on her odometer in Columbus, OH, 1394 days (3 years, 9 months, 23 days) after I purchased her in Long Beach, CA. To put it in perspective, I averaged nearly 72 miles a day on her saddle, which is nearly the one-way distance from Columbus to Dayton (or for my Southern CA friends, Torrance to Fontana).

Now she gets to make use of ALL those odometer digits!

In the near four years I have traveled with this faithful friend, we've seen more together than many motorcyclists will ever see in a lifetime. Eleanor was there for every crazy, 120-mile day commute through four of the worst freeways in CA. She was there when I found my husband, co-pilot, and best friend. She was there when we moved across the country to our new home in Columbus, OH. She was there when we got married. And she's still here, ready to go somewhere on a moment's notice.

I can say without a doubt that motorcycles changed my life forever. And it all started because I worked hard on a small motorcycle to prove to myself that I could ride on whatever I wanted to ride and ride wherever I wanted to go.

Here's some other fun milestones to add.
States crossed: 39
Countries visited: 2
# of WOW Ride-Ins: 3
Longest Round-trip Ride: 6200 miles (LA/Columbus/Kerville, TX/Roswell, NM/LAX)
Longest Single-day Ride: 1098 miles (August 2010 - Columbus, OH to Spartanburg, SC and back - Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000)
Miles since Matt and I have been together: 80,000 (and counting)