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Monday, December 3, 2012

All Good Things...

The venerable Concours (C10) out on the Parkway last summer.

A couple of weeks ago the inevitable happened - someone answered my Craigslist ad where I had listed my Y2K Concours for sale...

When I had bought the Yamaha FJR1300 earlier this year, the deal with Mrs Shutterpilot was that at least one other bike in the barn had to go. As the FJR was the supposed direct replacement for the Concours, it was logical that it was "Connie" that had to go. Logical, of course, unless you were her pilot for over 12 years and almost 60,000 miles across 19 states or so. And had never before sold a bike I anyone...ever (and why the bike barn is getting full).
I had recently performed quite a number of upgrades on Connie just before finding the FJR to bring home - ain't that always the way. I guess in my attempt to justify another bike, I had to make sure Connie had nothing new to give me.
But after the email from the potential buyer, and my agreeing to meet them to discuss the purchase, I took some time to go over Connie one last time, tweaking the controls, lubing the pivot points, and making sure she looked her best after all those long trips on the road over the years.
And I'm glad I did. It was good to spend one last time wrenching on the bike and getting her in tip top shape.
The buyer, and now Connie's New Owner, was about the nicest guy I could have sold her to, and was keen on putting her Long-Distance capabilities to use on some future planned rides, including an Iron Butt 1000. Good on ya mate! So as sad as I was in letting her go, it felt right that this was going to be her new owner/pilot, and I was glad I was turning her over in the best shape she could be in.
I had not anticipated, however, how strange it was to see someone else at the controls as New Owner took her out for a test ride. I felt both betrayed, and guilty for betraying her too, of all those miles and years in the saddle that we shared. For a while I didn't know what to make of what I was feeling.
But the beaming grin on New Owner as he returned from the ride said it all, and reminded me of the smiles Connie used to give me during a ride, and how that smile had faded enough to cause me to start looking at other bikes. New Owner had also brought his pre-teen son along, and the way Dad and Son grinned at each other over the new-to-them bike was priceless. This felt right, New Owner-new bike-and new generation united for a new chapter of adventures.
I helped load her into the trailer, pulled the plates off, and surrendered the keys; sad and happy at the same time. I left them to finish tying down the bike, as I didn't really want to see them drive off with her, but content in the knowledge that this was as good as selling Connie could go.
So with a mix of pride, melancholy, and satisfaction, here is a photo retrospective of my venerable Connie over the years (and yes, boys and girls, most of it was on FILM):

1st ride ever - bringing Connie home from the dealer

Only 8 miles on the Odo

An early ride in 1999 with my friend Jim and my eldest daughter
The Connie and I are far right, Jim is in all red near his PC800
My eldest and I on the parkway, 1999

My other daughter and her brother try out the new Connie, 1999

Before I built a garage!  Poor Connie.

1st time at Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground
Crossing the old wooden bridge into the BRMC

Pillion and me at BRMC with our new bike,  circa 2000

The ostensible reason we bought the Concours was to accomplish the dream of a big ride out west. In June of 2000, we took off for 4 weeks on the road heading out old Hwy 20 to Yellowstone National Park, Tetons, and some camping time with my brothers-in-law. This ended up truly being the ride of a lifetime, the best 6,000 miles I ever put on her...

Somewhere near Chicago, the left mirror broke, and we were
able to effect repairs in Elgin Illinois.
It had nothing to do with me fiddling with it for the previous 1000 miles.

Somewhere in Iowa on Hwy 20


Its hard to see, but that's a rainbow that opened up right after I got that ticket.

Damn we look heroic!

Behind Mt Rushmore - That's Washington's head above.

When I look at this photo taken by Pillion, it makes me feel like I felt
on this trip , and riding the Connie in those early years.

The Connie was a great ride in these wide open spaces.
I remember the pass after this photo was awesomely curvy.

Our first close-up with a Buffalo in Yellowstone

Riding around the Tetons was an indescribable experience

The cattle grates out west were big - real big.

Connie finally gets a garage. Here she shares space with a GB500

Over the years, I've become chief mechanic for my fleet due to the
dearth of qualified mechanics in my area. Here's some of the bodywork
removed during some routine maintenance

A recent photo of the Concours outside the bike barn in touring trim

The Connie out on one of our last rides up to the Parkway.
While I was searching for these photos in our old photo albums, it became obvious that I have to say I'm thankful for my wife's enthusiasm for long-distance riding. Its made all the difference in the world to me. For so many, motorcycle riding is a solitary endeavor. And there's a need for that, as I too need a good long solitary ride from time to time. But that trip out west? It would have been a much more meager experience if I had not been able to share its ups and downs with someone. And it was my wife who made all those photos during the trip which are so precious to me now (my memory just plain stinks). And its her countenance I've relied on for our other rides to Daytona for all those bike-weeks, New York, Kentucky for Honda-hoot, Mid-ohio for Vintage days and on and on.
I hope Connie provides many good memories for her New Owner, and I'm certainly looking forward to making miles of memories on the FJR that replaced her (see The Big Ride, June 2012).
Motorcycles and Motorcycling have been a big part of my life, and of my relationship with my family. If you've not already discovered the joy of riding, maybe its time you considered it.

Thanks to my wife for all the photos, miles, and smiles...

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