Sunburned Head and the Luggage of Life


In today’s note, Ron has some time to ride and think, about bikes, luggage, men, and ministry.. and, obviously, produce some Vitamin D in his skin!

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When my wife and I first married, I had just sold my last motorcycle. We agreed that once the kids were ‘out of the house’ that we would spend our time riding on a new motorcycle ‘across Canada’. Last year – though the kids are not yet gone – she suggested that it might be time, and I jumped at the chance. We bought a 2003 100th Anniversary Harley Fat Boy, and I started riding. Note: “We” did not start riding… that’s just happened this year.

There are people that will tell you that you pick Harley for the brand, for the idea that it’s “Made in the USA”, or for the raw, gritty rumble. I’m here to tell you that we picked it for all those reasons, and more. There is a storied history there, a rich background and nostalgia. It’s clear that other manufacturers build good bikes, and many enjoy them; they just weren’t options for us. Some say that “H.D.” stands for “hundred dollars”, and that you have a money pit once you get one. Well, I wish the limit on a trip to a dealer was $100, and the pit description falls well short as a pit just sits there and doesn’t pull your money toward it. A Harley is much more like a money “black hole”… but again, we’d have it no other way.

On to the story… we had discussed getting saddlebags for the bike, and we started looking around at Harley bags. What we saw were small bags – likely made to fit above the stock shotgun exhaust – in the 550 cu in range. We knew these would not hold what we needed on longer rides, even though we have a T-Bag for the upright. We then started looking at other options for bolt-on bags. Most bags required that you have metal standoffs installed on the bike, or they were ‘throw-overs’ like Pony Express mailbags… neither of these options appealed to us. Then – cue sound of angels singing here – we found Ironbags ( Max builds a bag, from the ground up, on a piece of fiberglass formed to the contours of a Harley, using Hermann oak tanned leather, vegetable dyed, with metal hardware and many options. These bags are a work of art, are larger than stock Harley bags, come in various shapes and sizes, and are generally cheaper “per cubic inch” than Harley bags. We are overjoyed with the result and recommend anyone in search of saddlebags to Max.

So, the ride. It made sense to me to have the bags put on in the shop, if possible, and Max agreed to let me help (even though he must have known this would take longer). I began my ride at 08:30, 48 degrees. I was ready: I had an Under Armor Cold Gear layer, a t-shirt, jeans, and a leather motorcycle jacket. I took County Road O down to Highway 29… so far so good. A few twistys, sun’s out, I’m pretty warm… yeah, at 45 mph. On 29 things changed… a friendly warm 48 degrees in the sun at 65 mph becomes a bone-chilling sub 25 degrees. After two hours of that cold, I stopped in Chippewa Falls to warm up (I mean, have a snack) and then made the final run down 53 and 93 to Eleva.

I arrived at Max’s shop and immediately noticed the clean, simple lines and surroundings. Max has been doing this a long time, and it shows. The brackets, the install, the design approach all belie many years of learning and refinement. It was my honor to see Max at work. This is where nostalgia is built! Max and I put on the bags in around an hour, greased them one more time, chatted for a bit, and then I prepared for the ride home.

I decided to take Hwy 10 back through Marshfield to 13 and finally 97 through Athens. The slower speed caused less wind chill, and the day had gotten warmer. It also gave me a chance to stop at the High Ground Veteran’s Memorial for a few minutes ( I got home and showed the bags to the family at around 15:30. Overall a GREAT ride, successful and enjoyable.

So what? Nice ride.. no learning. Well, not so. Riding that bike gives me time to do little but be left alone with my thoughts, as scary a proposition as that seems. Aside from obvious thoughts about life, how God created us and the world I was driving through, I thought about bags, that is, luggage. By putting these bags on the bike, I would be ensuring that my rides would be longer, and that I would ‘have’ to take more stuff. Isn’t this much like what Christ did for us by setting His example? By giving us His Spirit? What I mean is, Christ multiplied our burdens… when we become saved a spiritual part of us awakens that was lost before. We become sensitive to things we almost didn’t know existed prior to our conversion. While some things pale, in general, our mental burden is greater; but, Christ gives us the luggage to carry these burdens in. He gives us His word, through which we can view a confusing world. He gives us His example which we can follow, and He gives us His Spirit by whom we are led in our daily walk (if we listen). It’s true that our burdens multiply, but with the new luggage, the carrying is made easier, almost natural. Much as the saddlebags are now part of our bike, Christ’s example and word can be worked into our being, allowing us to carry more and take joy in the journey!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 14:36 and is filed under Bikes, Faith, Men's Ministry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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