Editor’s Letter – April 2022: I’ve Got A Spring In My Step

Well, I somehow managed to escape the “winter of severe illness and death” unscathed, and I am very much looking forward to the fun-filled spring and summer on two wheels. Spring and summer have not worked out so well for me the last two years, and not just because of all the arbitrary COVID-19 restrictions. I shattered my right fibula and tibia in 2020, and was stuck with regular visits to an infusion center for cancer treatments last year—yeah, not fun, but I’m still here and still riding.

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions, probably because I didn’t see January 1 as a major signpost, despite the annual odometer clicking over another number. However, I am committing to expanding my world this spring and summer by riding places I’ve never set rubber.

It’s not like I haven’t been riding new places all along, because I have. Still, even with all my riding, there are some spots in my general vicinity that I’ve yet to ride—most of them off-road. I have urban Southern California covered. In testing city-focused motorcycles, I know every major and secondary boulevard, avenue, and street quite well—and I love that. “You should get to know your town just like I know mine,” Joe Strummer sang in The Clash’s “City of the Dead,” as he quoted legendary guitarist Johnny Thunders. That stuck with me.

I got started on this project in the fall. I had never ridden a dirt bike in California City, even though I had heard of the area for decades. I did ride through it a decade ago on a BMW G 650 GS Sertão on Randsburg Mojave Road. Although I noticed all the graded dirt roads to nowhere, something didn’t draw me back. It may have been because of the other adventures I enjoyed on that ride, including the Burro Schmidt Tunnel.

Now that I have been to California City frequently over the winter—my favorite mountain trails are snowed in—I’ve become a fan. You might enjoy reading my review of the 2022 GasGas EX 350F, which features photos from the area, and more Cal City tests are coming.

My to-ride list locally is growing fairly rapidly— Honda Hills in Hesperia, Baldy Mesa in the Cajon Pass, and Freeway Ridge near Lake Isabella. These are all places that I have driven or ridden past countless times over the decades, but never explored—no more. This spring, I’ll be leaving tracks in all of those places, and sooner rather than later—how does this week on a 2022 Husqvarna FE 350S that I’m testing sound? After I ride there, I’m off to Turkey Flat near my sister in San Luis Obispo—I have no idea what that’s like, so I intend to find out.

Stretching out from that, I have some runs to visit my dad in Williams, Arizona, planned. Our Jerome or Bust! dual sport ride came from a trip to Williams, and it was my destination for my test of one of my all-time favorites—the 2021 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Revival. There are plenty of roads—paved and unpaved—to ride in northern Arizona, and I’ll be making the trek out there, regardless of how expensive gasoline gets.

I haven’t been out of the country since COVID-19 showed up, and that’s a summer project. International travel is unpleasant enough, and I’m holding out until I don’t have to participate in mask kabuki theater for hours just for the “privilege” of flying. Once that restriction is gone—politicians already ignore it, predictably—I’ll strap myself in a seat and head to Jolly Old England for some two-wheeled fun. Although I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, I won’t reveal any spoilers here.

I’ve got a spring in my step.