Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Free Wheelin'

Publisher Rathjen weighs in on different things pertaining to motorcycling. Sometimes a bit hard to the point and slightly abrasive, his Free Wheelin’ column is not afraid to make a stand on issues that he feels are of importance to riders and riding.

Name: Brian Rathjen

Current Rides:

Kawasaki KLR 650, BMW R1200GS

Favorite quote:

If you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right.

- Henry Ford



noun: list

A number of connected items or names written or printed consecutively, typically one below the other.

When we begin to get ready for a tour – whether it’s on one of our machines or to some place that will involve air travel, we eventually get to the lists.

FWList1118Lists are great things and I began dutifully following mine by watching Shira’s dad, Irving, who had a list for everything… even the punch-lines of his jokes.

You want one of them?

An elderly husband and wife visit their doctor when they begin forgetting little things. Their doctor tells them that many people find it useful to write themselves little notes.

After the millionth time forgetting something that was crucial for a trip, he said to me… “BRIAN, WHAT YOU NEED IS A LIST.” Please insert a bit of loud lower eastside New York Jewish flavor to this voice.

As with most things Irving was right, and thus my intro to the world of lists began. Today there are two legal pads on my desk at all times – a larger pad and a small one.

They are like my own “Honey Do” list with the larger for things that must be done and the smaller to write down quick notes – like the name of the person who just called or a thought for a Free Wheelin’. This very article began on a list.

When they get home, the wife says, "Dear, will you please go to the kitchen and get me a dish of ice cream? And maybe write that down so you won't forget?" "Nonsense," says the husband, "I can remember a dish of ice cream."

I have two standard lists floating around my computer; Bran’s Tour List and Media Trip List – as both trips work in different ways.

We had a trip quickly approaching and so, on a soggy Saturday after we caught up on MotoGP, both Shira and I printed out our respective lists and began to gather what we’d need for the upcoming tour.

I have found that, over the years, I simply change the items on the list for what I feel I need today – compared to a few years back. The list, as far as my Mac thinks, is the same one – I have just been adding and deleting things as needed.

While updating the last incarnation – adding my SPOT Tracker and the need for two of every data cable, I realized how this list was probably a bit different from, let’s say, a decade back. Too bad I did not save the original.

I said this out loud and about 30 seconds later Shira put a copy of the very first “Brian’s List” in front of me. This is why we need great women, boys!

Speaking of which…

"Well," says the wife, "I'd also like some strawberries and whipped cream on it." "My memory's not all that bad," says the husband. "No problem - a dish of ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream. I don't need to write it down." He goes into the kitchen; his wife hears pots and pans banging around.

So I got a chance to compare what was important a decade back and what is important now. More or less it is kinda the same, but there are a few big differences.

First off I have finally realized I will not wear half of the clothes I bring on tour. Looking back I wonder why I just didn’t have a steamer trunk. Three pants have become two, six riding shirts have now become three - all Merino wool.

I guess I felt the need to differentiate between cameras with a Nikon D100 and Canon Powershot 500 coming along. Both now reside on the shelf of helpless technology next to my streamline princess phone and semaphore flags. Hell, why didn’t I just bring canvas, brushes and paint?

Altec inMotion Speakers? Oh, right… when we were those people. Oh how true this is… as I had two boxes to be checked – one for a corkscrew and one for a “back-up” corkscrew.FWSepia1118

Ohh, you crazy kids. Now I wake up the time I used to go to bed. Maybe I should go to confession.

The most dramatic difference is the box for a Garmin GPS V. Once a pride and joy – it now lives in a sepia-tone world.

The one thing that has not changed is my choice of traveling hat – Shira got me a Stargate SG-1 baseball cap years ago and it still travels with me everywhere. We don’t want things to change too much.

Oh, Dad’s punchline?

The husband finally emerges from the kitchen and presents his wife with a plate of bacon and eggs. She looks at the plate and asks, "Hey, where's the toast I asked for?"