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Tucker: Revving engines is sound of adventure

Posted: March 19, 2015 9:12 a.m.
Updated: March 20, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Flowers are blooming, the sky’s blue and it’s motorcycle-riding season.

Because my office is close to the corner of Broad and DeKalb streets,  I can often hear the rumbling of engines from bikers who stop for the traffic light on that corner.

In fact, because of the length of time it takes that light to change from red to green when you’re on Broad Street, I can often hear them for a long time.

Word is, a guy on a Harley pulled up to that light Tuesday morning and it didn’t turn green until Thursday afternoon, so he had to sit there revving his Hog for a long time.

Poor fella had to drink a couple dozen bottles of Five Hour Energy just to stay awake.

OK, OK, no more of that.

For hard-core bikers, a road trip isn’t about arriving somewhere, it’s about being out there. As the old T-shirt saying goes, “The journey is the destination.”

I’ve never been a motorcycle enthusiast, but I like people who are.

The Maine island where Wife Nancy and I spend time is a big biker destination, and I’ve observed that the smile factor from bikers is far higher than from people driving four-door, grey sedans.

Those guys -- with their ladies often sitting behind them -- love the sounds of crashing surf and pulsing engines.

A few years ago, my friend Jay Bender, a Columbia media attorney who’s now teaching at both the journalism and law schools at USC, took on The Four Corners, one of the great challenges of hard-core motorcycling.

The rules for this ambitious journey are simple:

You have 21 days maximum to ride from your home to the four corner cities of the continental United States -- Key West, Fla., in the southeast; San Ysidro, Cal., in the southwest: Blaine, Wash., in the northwest; Madawaska, Me., in the northeast -- and then back home again.

To prove you've done it, you must provide photographic evidence you and your motorcycle made it to all four towns.

Jay hit the road on his hefty BMW touring bike and beat the deadline back to Columbia after logging more than 10,000 miles.

“I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing,” he says.

Another time, he rode from Key West to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and spent the night before turning around and riding back.

That one’s called Corner To Corner.

Some of us have questioned his sanity. As you might guess, he has an understanding wife.

There’s a lure to the open road, as anyone who’s ever been bitten by wanderlust can attest. And for bikers, there’s no substitute for a long ribbon of highway and two wheels beneath you.

But bikers are aging. Boomers grew up with the culture of “Easy Rider” but now many have graying hair (or no hair at all), aching knees and a long list of prescription drugs.

Realizing that, the folks at Harley-Davidson starting making tricycles a few years ago. I've talked about that with you before.

After all, it’s a lot easier for an aging biker to sit on a nice, stable, three-wheeled vehicle than it is to balance an 800-pound, gun-throttled two-wheeler.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter whether there are two wheels or three -- there’s still the open air, the winding highway and the sense of daring that bikers have always had.

Some people complain motorcycles are too noisy, that bikers like to rev their engines too much at that Broad-DeKalb traffic light. And yes, I can hear them just outside my office, throttling them up to ear-splitting levels while waiting for the green to appear.

Hey, it’s part of what they do, and it doesn’t sound annoying at all to me. It just sounds like adventure.

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