From the ages of 19 to 26 I would bet good money that most people that came into sight of me saw me only as a blackish blur. I rode sportbikes on the street the way that Dr Rockso does cocaine. In the battle of Go Big vs Go Home I always went big. Splitting cars at 155mph on the freeway, 120 mph through a fog bank, 170 mph runs down the coast… I’ve long since forgotten how many times I was pulled over. I remember at least 8 citations and one arrest. I can’t imagine a way in which I wasn’t the worst traffic criminal in the state of Washington on several different days (short of DUI’s). That all changed on August 4, 2012 on an early morning ride to Mt. Baker. That morning it became crystal clear that I was going to get killed chasing a rush. I was taking risks that were outrageous and feeling nothing, so I decided to hang up my spurs.
7 ½ months later, when the CBR1000RR I was riding was totalled by an SUV driver that wasn’t paying attention, I knew my days of riding sportbikes on the street had come to an end. Instead I had been increasingly intrigued by a class of bike that was basically the polar opposite of my CBR.
The so called “adventure” class of motorcycle is built for long range touring and moderate off-road use. It’s like if a Goldwing and a dirt bike had a child with knobby tires. After the CBR got rear-ended I had a couple of weeks to think about what kind of bike I wanted to replace it with, and I couldn’t stop thinking about adventure bikes. I grew up backpacking around the northwest but no longer had the time for 50 milers, so this type of bike would offer me the opportunity to go deep into the mountains, see the views I wanted to see, challenge my technical riding skills, and give me reasonable gas mileage in the process.
It was with these criteria in mind that I settled on the KTM 990 Adventure. My reasoning was simple: KTM makes fantastic motorcycles, and I didn’t want to be able to blame the bike if I crashed while off-road. With this logic fresh in my mind I bought a 2008 KTM 990 Adventure from Lynnwood Cycle Barn. It was used (a first for me), it had extensive modifications, and most importantly it had a mere 7500 miles on the odometer after someone had owned it for 5 years.
Riding it home I had an overwhelming case of buyer’s remorse. After spending 7 years on bikes designed to do nothing but go very fast I had a hard time accepting that this bike was never going to accidentally wheelie or outrun anything faster than a 350Z. I was used to relative vehicular omnipotence with the CBR, and I suddenly felt very out of place. This lumbering, lazy, spongy bike was what I had wanted so badly?
Luckily I chose to take it offroad the same day. Once I left the pavement for the first time ever on a motorcycle everything started to make sense. Riding up the North Fork Road near North Bend I slowly lost the feeling that I’d made a terrible mistake. When I stopped at a gas station later and was able to put my purchases into the panniers I felt even better. When I got home that night after roughly 200 miles of riding and I wasn’t sore I knew I had made the right decision.
It’s been love ever since.