This post starts sad but turns upbeat.
I just reached a terrible decision: to stop riding motorcycles. For months the prospect of this tore me up; I couldn't accept it even as its inevitability became manifest. My eyesight simply isn't good enough to ride safely anymore. Hell, I can't walk alone in a crowd, how can I pilot a dangerous vehicle in busy traffic?
Motorcycling has been central to my life for 25 years. A core activity and the source of many joys. After learning how to operate the basics in 1997 I took several MSF training courses to improve my riding skills. Later I graduated to sportbikes capable of high speed and nimble handling, hitting 140 mph at the racetrack. Equally pleasurable I expanded into long-distance touring. I traveled everywhere on my bikes, even carrying a tiny tent and camping in the woods. Best of all I met dozens of interesting new friends. Despite vast differences in background we easily bonded over our common passion. Through motorcycling I discovered a whole new world. But you already know this from my frequent accounts here of two-wheeled adventure.
Motorcycling gave me what I craved when I needed it. During the second half of my adulthood (ages 40-65) riding was a sumptuous feast I consumed voraciously, always putting a smile on my face. Who'd want that to end?
After much deliberation I've finally come to peace with this situation. It isn't really a decision at all but simply recognition of facts. The only choice I face is how to react to the news. I can't get better eyesight.
Instead of despair I'm choosing to be grateful for the wonderful life I had on motorcycles. I was lucky to incorporate them into my life and enjoy a glorious, 25-year riding career. Let's focus on that, not sadness.
In the best movie of all time a middle-aged man (Rick) fell in love with a beautiful woman (Ilsa) during WWII. They spent marvelous time together in glittering Paris. Suddenly, however, Ilsa left Rick with no explanation. Rick was crushed by the cruel loss of love. Years later Ilsa returns to Rick's cafe in Casablanca. She approaches Rick but he's in terrible pain. Rick rejects Ilsa's overture with bitter hostility. Ilsa finally explains to Rick why she left him; it's a story of patriotism that Rick ultimately accepts. He re-considers his view of their past and realizes he should build a new future for himself without her instead of remaining stuck in howling agony. The film ends with Rick and Ilsa parting again, only this time Rick is in good spirits. He tells Ilsa: "We'll always have Paris," referring to their enchanting love in that city before fate split them apart.
I'll always have motorcycling. I will carry it in my heart forever. I appreciate what riding gave me even as that now ends.