"Daddy? Can we go for a motorcycle ride? Pleeeeeeaaaase?"
I get this a lot. Probably it is a common request in any household containing both children and bikes. Oftentimes my kids see me ride off on adventures for work, returning smelly and dirt-covered with souvenirs and stories to share. That they might someday wish to follow in my passion was, I suppose, a forgone conclusion.
I have never encouraged motorcycle riding in my family, or for that matter, DIScouraged it. It's a dangerous endeavor on its own (I have a seemingly perpetual set of scrapes and bruises to prove it). These dangers are exacerbated by the modern distractions drivers are consumed by. It's a dangerous game to be sure, and as such, I've tried to impart to my children the risk as well as the joy that comes with a two-wheeled lifestyle.
Motorcycles have an ageless appeal, attracting those with a desire for excitement and adventure. I caught the bug at a very young age, and soon it was clear that my daughter Hailey had caught it, too. Ever since her debut ride on a Honda 50, Hailey has bugged me for more. Any trip to the grocery store, the movies or appliance shopping, she would beg to go on the bike. "Maybe next time," I would usually say, and when we did ride 2-up I would avoid anything more than quick, backroads jaunts.
This worked for a while, but Hailey wanted more, and she wasn't letting up. Somewhere along the line I told her we would go on a “big' trip” "when she was older. Amid more pestering, I added another, more specific milestone: "Before your 10th birthday." Honestly, I don't remember ever saying this. But she did and took to reminding me at random moments and odd intervals. And with her nameday fast approaching, it was time to make good on my promise. Plans for the inaugural Father-Daughter Motorcycle Adventure began taking shape.
The itinerary: After equipping ourselves and my BMW R 1200 GS Adventure for five days of riding and camping, we would spend the first night at the 49er Motorcycle Rally in Mariposa, California, taking advantage of the opportunity to see Yosemite. Beyond that, we would crack open a map and choose destinations on the fly. This ride was just as much for her as for me, and I wanted each of us to have a say on where we went. I knew enough about California to keep the ride interesting and figured I would highlight points of interest and see what Hailey found appealing. There was a lot preparation that needed to take place, and little time to do it, so I set to work.