I recently revved out of town for a night of motorcycle camping. I’ve dreamed of doing this for years and I finally have the bike for it, a 2009 Kawasaki Versys 650 outfitted with full luggage, windshield, handguards, engine guards, and a phone charger from the battery tender line.
I love that bike. It’s comfortable and easy to see (and be seen), but it’s got a Kawi Ninja engine and it can really rip, even when you’re up at speed. It will carve up twisties with no problem, it handles gravel roads just fine (even with the stock street tires), but even at sixth gear at 85 mph on the freeway it still has plenty of juice to zip away from lousy drivers. With about 64 hp and 61 Nm of torque and a top speed of 124 mph, it’s an awesome machine.
So I headed West, as all young(ish) men do, interstate 80 to Pennsylvania, then back roads to a campground in the middle of the state. I love those lonely back roads. They’re quiet, intimate, and they link one to the small towns in America that are still home to millions of people, worlds away from the urban and suburban trails I usually tread.
I even found a bit of gravel.
Eventually I made it to the campground. I got a fire going and enjoyed some pizza and pop tarts for dinner (yeah, yeah, not so healthy . . .)
It was a sweet spot, with a stream running just a few feet away. It was cool enough to keep the bugs away, but not so cold that I couldn’t sit by the fire and sing Dhrupad for an hour as it got dark.
I slept well and was back on the road by 6:30 a.m. I never leave much later than that. I’m up early and always excited to get back on the bike. I put in my ear plugs and don my fabulous Shoei full-faced helmet and off I go on that intense meditation, not so different than Dhrupad, actually. The feeling of that machine working right underneath me, completely connected to the road, and the undulations of the highway, is beyond description. The stakes are high, and so is my concentration, higher than almost any other time in my life. I was home by noon, refreshed and shiny, glad to be alive and able to ride that impressive bike throughout this diverse and epic country. I’m counting the days until my next adventure.