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Lean Angle – Spontaneity

By David Hilgendorf

It’s fun to turn down an unfamiliar fork in the road. To choose a ride route based on how twisty the roads look on a map. To take the long way home, gaining a few extra hours in the saddle. However, random adventures on a motorcycle often leave riders in unfamiliar territory. Sometimes, even when we plan thoroughly, there is a need to improvise.

We’ve all seen riders parked under a freeway overpass, waiting for the rain to stop. Make it a point to buy and wear all waterproof gear, all the time. If you live somewhere hot, where perforated gear is standard, get a lightweight, packable rain suit, to be left on the bike for unexpected weather. A waterproof layer can also be used as a windbreaker when it gets cold. Staying warm and dry means riding longer and farther, and more spontaneously, both comfortably and safely.

Always carry a smartphone with GPS and data service while traveling. It’s an easy way to figure out where you are or where you are going; find food, lodging, fuel or mechanical services; contact someone for help; or make alternative plans at the last minute. When traveling spontaneously, look for lodging while eating dinner, typically before dark. It’s a perfect time to decompress, and decide how much farther to ride before resting for the night. Looking for last-minute lodging online will almost always identify something available within a reasonable distance, provided you aren’t looking in a city like Sturgis or Daytona during a rally.

When riding where there’s no cell signal, you can find free Wi-Fi at most truck stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotel lobbies. Don’t forget to download offline maps directly to your device.

Rely on friends to point you in the right direction. Last year, a friend was coming to Milwaukee for Harley’s 115th anniversary rally. I put him up for the week and we spent several days touring the area, which he was unfamiliar with, and experiencing the Motor Company lifestyle, which I was unfamiliar with.

Last November, I spent a few nights in Asheville, North Carolina, with MCN contributor Art Treff. We visited Overland Expo, had drinks with Mark Barnes (Page 40), and rode through the Blue Ridge mountains on Hugo Moto’s Sportster dirt bike conversions (MCN 1/18)—all firsts.

This summer, I rode through New England, leaving only Alaska and North Dakota on my 50-state bucket list. An East Coast friend planned the basic route and we chose dining and lodging options during the ride. Helmet communicators helped immensely in keeping both riders on course.

On this month’s MCN deadline, Harley-Davidson invited us to ride the new LiveWire. We said yes, at the last minute, and squeezed it into this issue. More time was spent in airport delays than riding the motorcycle—worth it.

All these trips were done without advanced planning. Each instance of spontaneity is an opportunity to see the larger motorcycling world from someone else’s perspective. Every location has something new to offer explorers.

Everything works out as it should, because improvisation is what it means to be spontaneous. When your next riding opportunity presents itself, just say yes; then ride, eat, sleep, repeat.

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