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Francois_Dumas

I have taken a sabbatical from riding

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Francois_Dumas

 

And I have hesitated a long time to tell you all (as if anyone would be interested, really).
You would think your life will quiet down once you get older..... well, not so. Time passes more quickly, or so it seems, but things have not become more quiet for Nina and me.
When we found a partly renovated house in Italy by chance, back in 2013, our life changed dramatically.

 

One of the reasons I wanted to settle down in south of France was the riding weather and beautiful nature. As it happened, Italy offered itself first, and had the same attraction..... but much cheaper. So we took the plunge, bought the house in 2014, sold our holiday apartment in France that same year, and our Dutch home in the Spring of 2017.
Shortly after we got back from our first longer stay in Italy in 2014, working on the renovation of the first floor and adding a terrace and patio to the house, my Dad died. We were very busy with him the last two months of his life, and then we had to sell his house and decide what to do with the contents.


Then some jealous idiot set fire to our entirely renovated 1st floor in January 2017, so we were back to the start at that year. Lots of stress, doubts, work and money lost. But we persevered, stayed, integrated in our village, and fixed it all up again.

 

That fire came a few months after our unfortunate trip to the UNRally in Montana in July 2016 ...... unfortunate because I crashed on Larry’s KTM on our first ride out, still in Colorado. It turned out to be a real special visit that way.

 

Back home it took a while to get my gear replaced.

Then some jealous idiot set fire to our entirely renovated 1st floor in January 2017, so we were back to the start at that year. Lots of stress, doubts, work and money lost.

But we persevered, stayed, integrated in our village, and fixed it all up again.

And I didn’t ride much because of winter (much colder than anticipated), the fire and subsequent troubles, selling our house in The Netherlands in June 2017, and arranging all our stuff to be moved to Italy in July. Oh yes, and sell our two cars.
The movers then took my RT and GS back to Holland so a friend of mine could sell them there. Much easier than trying to import them into Italy.

 

I also had to close down my two little companies, because that too was too cumbersome to move to Italy, what with all regulations, taxes and additional cost. I wasn’t making much money with them anymore anyway.

 

By that time (end of Summer 2017) my two main computers also locked up, we finally got some money from the insurance, although much less than the actual damage, were driving around in a little second hand Toyota Yaris, had no larger car and no motorbike, and were starting to arrange restoration of the 1st floor.

 

Today we are early February 2020, and I haven’t been riding much since End of 2017, when I bought a new 1200GS here in Siena, Italy.

The bike will be 3 years in September this year, and I still only have little over 3000 km’s on it.

 

I am ashamed, in a way. But should I be, really? I mean, life happens, right?

 

Apart from all the anxiety, stress, fun, vacations, events and life above, there were (maybe unconsciously) a few other reasons not to ride much.

 

First of all, lets face it, there was that stupid crash. In hindsight it probably affected me more than I was ready to admit in the beginning. We have a LOT of gravel and potholes here in rural Italy, and I am simply very hesitant about bends in the roads...... especially with Nina on the back.

 

The something that bugged me from the start..... the brand spanking new GS would sometimes just quit. As if the throttle was closed. It happened doing 100 mph on the highway the very first time, and that was scary.

Italy being what it is, slow, it took me two years to get it finally fixed. Turned out to be the throttle electronics in the handlebar were faulty. I had to Google it myself, and move to another dealer, to get it solved. But living in a remote place it sure stopped me from using the bike much, especially after the first ‘repair’ only worked for 2 months and after that we were stuck again dozens of miles from home.

 

Then there’s the age thing. When in the US in 2016 I was still ‘only’ 64, not yet on the magical 65, and feeling and thinking like 35..... or so I like to believe.

The latter is still ‘true’, but meanwhile I am closer to 70 than to 60. To some optimistic people that is not an issue, but I suddenly started feeling old and running out of time.

The fact that my toes and hip hurt (and the latter didn’t improve after the crash), and other pains joined in, doesn’t help to ‘hop’ on the big GS. (Maybe it is time for a smaller bike?)

 

Last but not least, Nina is getting older too, and having trouble with her back and shoulders after 40 years of hard physical work, and she is not getting on the back with that much enthusiasm either anymore. That kind of halted any plans for longer rides.

 

The reason to write this all down NOW, is that I got the GS started again recently, and went for a ride. It felt good after the first few miles and looking back I was thinking why the heck didn’t I do this before?
Well, see above.

 

Do I regret things? Not really. I am not one to regret much. One makes decisions, some right, some wrong, but life goes on. Buying the expensive new GS here may have been one of my lesser decisions in life, maybe I should have opted for a smaller GS850 or so. But things are what they are.

 

So until I am totally locked up in all my joints, too old to think and react, or maybe even worse, I will ride the GS a bit more often again and hopefully shoot you some smartphone pics to go along with it.

 

Wishing you all many happy and safe miles and possibly a better brain than mine.

 

Keep on rollin’......

 

Francois

 

 

 20200203_163349.thumb.jpg.c255745792216175b459736e6988e367.jpg

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tallman

BTDT

Finding the right time, moment, to admit that things change, is difficult.

You make a choice, or it might be made for you.

It has taken years for me to get past no longer riding.

:5223:

Still see our friends from BMWST.

Still have riders stay with us.

Still talk motorcycles.

 

Picture of the last time I rode the GT.

Had to meet semi-truck that was picking bike up for new owner.

Mixed feelings. I can ride, sometimes. But. Not 2 up, not consistently.

And, most importantly, I can't predict when total fatigue hits

and stops all activities which can be problematic on a bike.

Beth and I rode all over the country together.

We have a lifetime of riding memories.

You do too.

Best wishes.

:lurk: 

 

 

Tim GT leaving.jpg

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MariettaMark

Very interesting read, thoughts I’ve struggled with myself at this age. I’m sure there are others. Your life certainly sounds event filled but it also sounds full. Good luck with your riding!

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Francois_Dumas

The reason I posted is indeed because I felt there might be more like me. We cannot all be as lucky as Paul and Marty, fysically and mentally, and ride over 80. Not that I gave up yet, but have started to keep the possibility in mind and trying to no longer think as a 35 year old 🤔😉😁

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RandyShields

Thanks Francois.  Yes, your thoughts resonate with me and I'm sure, a number of others.  Several of my riding friends have taken breaks from the sport for shorter or longer periods of time over the years, including me, for any number of reasons.  Along with the life, age and health issues noted above, there is always the whole interest thing. 

 

My thought -- ride when and if you want to, if you can.  Don't ride if you don't want to, or can't.   Or in other words, never ride because you think you have to. No explanations necessary.

 

Best, 

 

Randy 

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Bud

We will all have to make that decision some day. Hopefully when we do, we have enough grace to do so on our own terms.

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RPondaRoad

I really liked your post Francois...I turned 72 years old in April and like you, I have learned the meaning of "ebb and flow".   My story is a bit different than yours, and I don't tell it often, but sometimes think I should in that it may offer insight to others.  

 

My non-working life was built around bicycling.  My wife and I rode between 6,000 and 10,000 miles every year.  Most of that riding was in the mountains here in California, but also in France and in the Alps and Dolomiti in Northern Italy where our second home is.  Our social life was mostly on the bike too, and our cycling companions were our closest friends.  My off bike interests were cross country skiing, running, hiking and mountaineering.  If my body wasn't moving, I was thinking about where it was going to be moving next.  

 

15 years ago at 57 years old, I was stricken with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.  Although we who suffer from the disease don't like it, it's also called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  The disease is a patho-physiological nightmare.  It robs those who have it from the ability to do any exercise at all without paying a steep, steep price.  And, the kicker is that one doesn't pay until after the exercise.  For instance, if I take a short walk,  one or two days later the fatigue will hit and I'll be in bed for days or a week.  This also comes with terrible heart and breathing irregularities, and periodic cognitive issues.  While some are confined to a bed and have to be hand fed for the rest of their lives, I'm in the upper moderate to the lower part of severe category and sometimes have periods when my symptoms are slightly lessened for a few days to a week. 

 

So, the athletic me was gone and replaced with a couch surfing version.  For years I was housebound. Even the simple task of going to a store and walking a few aisles would (can) put me down for days.  And, even though I tried at first to "work through it", any energy expenditures price tag made the effort to costly to bear.  But this wasn't cutting it...I so wanted to be outside in a manner that my senses were not separated from my surroundings that I hatched a plan.  I'd learn to ride a motorcycle.  At 67 years old. 

 

My wife didn't kill me...actually as a star athlete and outdoors person she instantly got it.  No, it was the MSF classes that did that.  I don't know how I got through it, but I did.  But that was only the beginning.  The learning had just begun.  Riding my little Honda Rebel would just waste me at first...but then I learned to be more efficient.  On the bicycle, my wife and I always toured together, even having crossed the U.S. during our honeymoon in 1983 and I soon wanted to do that on my motorcycle.  I upgraded to a mid-sized Honda CTX700 tourer, fitted it with bags and a top box for her to lean back on and learned to ride even more efficiently so that we could go out for multiple days.  It was all such a learning experience and it wasn't just the motorcycle that I was learning.  I was learning how to live within limits.  I could ride...but only for a few hours.  We could tour, but only if my wife did the hotel check-ins, food gathering and was willing to go sightseeing on her own.  For a guy who lived a life style of goals and not limits this was and is even today both difficult and often frustrating.  

 

The CTX was a great first tourer.  I learned so much while riding it.  I put 47,000 miles on it in three years.  I wanted more comfort on the bike to ensure that my wife would continue to climb aboard so I bought a 2018 R1200RT.  The learning curve once again was steep, but in the year and a half that I've had it I've put 26,000 miles on it.  So, in 4 1/2 years, this sick old man learned to ride, has owned three motorcycles and has ridden 73,000 miles.  On every "good" day I ride for an hour to an hour and a half.  When we tour, I have a limit of 250 miles a day and know that if the fatigue overwhelms me that I'll be in the same hotel bed for days.  Last year I did my first solo tour and was brutally reminded of my limitations during the tour and while bed-home bound for the next month.  

 

But motorcycling...it has saved what is left of my former life.  It's the wind on my face.  It's my new way to climb up into our steep mountains.  It's how I experience the change in seasons.  I can once again feel the weather on my body.  And when I'm on that big ol' RT and moving through the twisties like I did on my bicycle...I can feel my freedom.  I'll cling to that with everything inside of me.  

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Rinkydink

Great story RPondaRoad.  You are an inspiration to all of us. I’m almost 64 so not too far behind you. 

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chrisolson
On 2/9/2020 at 9:04 AM, Francois_Dumas said:

Keep on rollin’......

 

Francois ... good to see your post ... you've survived the not only the virus but also the associated social upheaval.  Keep well and do get out and ride occasionally  !   

 

Still riding here .. but the pandemic sure has put a dent in touring.   Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to travel again in the future.   Local  rides are it for now, just to get out  and maintain some proficiency . 

 

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Selden
On 2/9/2020 at 11:04 AM, Francois_Dumas said:

I am ashamed, in a way. But should I be, really? I mean, life happens, right?

 

Thanks for the long, pained sharing, Francois. Shame is not the appropriate reaction. Embarrassed, frustrated, angry perhaps. Getting old sucks, but look at the alternative. 

 

I am still willing to ride, although I have switched to a much lighter F700GS, which requires less muscle for everything than my old 1999 RT. I took the RT out for a ride yesterday, and while I still love it, I have no regrets about putting up for sale.... if only I could find a buyer!

 

I know that Italy was hit terribly hard by the pandemic. Where I live in North Georgia we have had only 30 cases since March 21. Not so many, but our local hospital has only 12 beds, so I am doing what I can to avoid becoming a patient.

 

I'm going to be a complete son of a bitch to live with if I have to stop riding, but it's inevitable. Marty Hill is my idol.

 

Hang in as long as you can. 

 

Your story about fire damage to your "new" place in Italy revived memories. I grew up in this house, which was started in the 1700s, finished around 1818, and firebombed by teenage arsonists in February 2007. It was one of four "Van Dyke" houses in New Castle, Delaware.

 

Quote

 

In April of 1801, Senator Nicholas Van Dyke bought 141 acres of land near the town of New Castle as a farm and summer retreat for his family. He built the present house, apparently in several stages, from 1801 to 1818.

Nicholas Van Dyke had built his town house in 1799, directly opposite the Amstel House, where he had been born in 1770, son of a governor of Delaware.

 

 

Fortunately, nobody was injured. The bastards were never charged.

 

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Francois_Dumas

That's terrible Selden :(. Looks like the houses in my Dutch town of birth. They never got the arsonists here either.

... Not that they tried. People around us say they suspect who did it and that they still live near. Italy...... Will get the GS out as soon ad I am allowed to, but has been yet again postponed, mow till May 28th 😡😡😡😡

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Selden

New Castle was previously named "Nieuw Amstel" and was part of a Dutch colony. This house, called the "Tile House" was demolished in 1884:

 

bird1822.jpg

 

The Zwaanendael Museum, aka the de Vriis monument, was built in Lewes, Delaware in 1909:

 

Zwaanendale-Museum_9_13_2017.jpg

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Francois_Dumas

The bottom picture: lots of houses like that where I come from..... so that explains :-)

 

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Marty Hill

Selden, no computer for 5 days so just saw your post about my being able to ride at my advanced age.  I started riding at 59 so I've been given a bit of slack to enable me to ride longer.  Just watched 84 slide by and am glad my daughter is here so I have great company.  Hope to see you on the road after this mess is over!

Marty

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