Lieback’s Lounge October 2018

Besides meeting with family for some wine and cake, I’ve never had any specific birthday rituals.

Hell, I barely remember my birthday—or age—never mind look forward to some ritual at the end of every September.

I have friends that have stuck to the same regime on every birthday; one hits up Atlantic City every year, and another fully unplugs from electronics for the entire day. The others? Well, I just won’t say.

As for the unplugging, I’ve learned to do that most Sundays, typically after I cover whatever motorcycle racing is on for that day. And AC? I gave up gambling years ago, and haven’t actually watched an entire NFL game since.

Ducati Supersport S

But things may have changed for each year going forward because my birthday last month was one to remember. I wasn’t into the plans at first, and then two things quickly convinced me to change my mind—my wife and Ducati.

Ducati has one test fleet available for East Coast journalists, and it’s in the heart of SoHo. A few days before my birthday, Ducati notified me that a few test bikes were available, including a Supersport S. I rode that bike once, and immediately pegged it for a super sporty touring bike.

Because I was traveling the following week for some embargoed motorcycle product testing down south, I wasn’t up to driving to NYC with the wife via car, and then having her follow me home, though that was my initial plan. Then Pam reminded me that I should take a break and relax.

Her plans brewed quickly. Why not take our son Enzo to daycare a bit early, and grab a bus to NYC.

I Googled the local bus company, and saw a shuttle ran to NYC daily, scheduled for a 10:15 a.m. arrival.

The trip was only 2.5 hours, and the energy would be high because there’d be zero driving.

Emails with Ducati were exchanged, and the bike would be ready on my birthday. I booked the bus, and was hoping for a relaxing day.

History does speak for itself, and these types of events typically don’t go as planned. This is exactly how my birthday morning started. While I wrapped up some emails, Pam took Enzo to daycare.

When she got back, I was actually ready, but traffic wasn’t moving. I hustled, and the mind was scrambled because I was certain we’d miss the bus.

Immediately when we pulled in the parking lot where the pickup point was, the bus arrived.

Happy Birthday to me. I was on time.

Once aboard, the mind relaxed, and the trip to NYC was flawless. It felt good not to pay use the E-ZPass to pay tolls the tickets are now $49 per person one-way trip—something I remember costing like $25! Plus, it’s always recharging for the soul when one doesn’t have to drive in Manhattan.

One Starbucks and an Uber later, we arrived at Ducati NYC. The bike was ready, and the energy was high.

Pam and I spent some time looking at various bikes, enjoying the conversation from the crew there. We soon realized that we had to get home before our son got out of daycare.

After stuffing the bookbag with all the unnecessary gear we brought—it was hotter than expected—we made our way through the city quickly, exiting Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel. After a quick blast down 78, we toured east across New Jersey towards to the Delaware River.

I hauled, as always. Totally focused at the fun riding at hand, I couldn’t stop thinking about that back seat on the Supersport. I would never ride on that pillion seat—ever. She was happy somehow, even when we returned home nearly 200 miles later.

We stopped only one time between NYC and Northeast PA, eating at the Readington Diner in Jersey. We will return for the food—especially the French onion soup—but also the needed conversation.

It had been months since we had been alone together via motorcycle traveling and eating at an unknown-to-us places, talking about nothing special. These times were many in the past, and at that diner I quickly realized that I took most of those past moments for granted.

Damn, did I miss those times. The riding, too—especially hitting triple digits with a passenger. There’s something about trusting not only your ability to push a motorcycle, but push it with a passenger that is confident in you.

The ride home was as relaxing as the dinner talks and those triple-digit speeds, something passionate motorcyclists with equally passionate partners who ride understand.

When we arrived home, wifey was a bit saddle sore. If I were her, I’d be complaining for sure, especially after I took another look at the back-seat ergonomics that are seemily built for Italian teenagers.

Whatever the case, when you have an opportunity, you must take it, which brings me back to thinking about birthdays.

I was never one for birthday rituals. At 39 years old, I think I found one.

I want to reenact this trip every year, thought maybe on a bike built for comfortable touring. And, of course, one that easily tours to unknown diners in triple-digit territory.