A time existed when I would climb on a motorcycle in any kind of weather, at any temperatures, and ride off into the hills and dales day and night.
That was then, this is now.
Enough of the cliches. The thermometer on the back porch reads 19 degrees. Thanks to still air, there isn’t a wind chill to drive the “feel” lower. Doesn’t have to. It’s cold. Damn cold.
Temperatures in the mid-to-lower 30s all day Saturday kept me near home. Work inside mostly.
A planned ride to Petersburg to participate in the Harley Owners Group All Chapter Challenge, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is iffy.
It will take more than three hours to get there by any route (the most direct if on U.S. 460 East out of Roanoke), which means leaving around 8 a.m. and it will be noon before the temperature here reaches 45 — my minimum temperature for riding nowadays.
That means leaving at noon and that’s too late to reach Petersburg to participate and it will be approaching dark by the time I get back and Amy, understandably, has a problem with me riding at night because it was in the dark of night when I had the great cow encounter with my Harley on Nov. 9, 2012.
So any riding will come in early to mid afternoon and will be close to home.
Does this make me a wimp? In some people’s eyes, perhaps. A probably called those who let the cold keep them off a ride “wimps” in my younger and wilder days.
Let’s hope I’m more cautious nowadays. Yes, I still ride a motorcycle. So does Amy on her Can-Am three wheeler. But at 68, I have slowed down, not only on a bike but in life itself.
Doctors say I should ease up even more. Taking it easy is not easy for a Type A personality and workaholic. I love what I do in life and much of it revolves around the written and visual presentations of a newsman.
Work is what I do. Work is my primary hobby. Work, I believe, keeps one alive and alert in his or her later years. I sit in courtrooms and meeting rooms for long hours in an attempt to keep local residents informed about the actions of their government and criminal justice system.
I travel up and down the sidelines of high school sporting events to try and capture good images of our young athletes excelling in the gyms and athletic fields.
I photograph and film action on the streets of Floyd, on stages at The Friday Night Jamboree, Dogtown Roadhouse, Wildwood Farms General Store, Chantilly Farms, Floyd Fest and other venues to try and capture the music culture that helps shape our areas.
Sometimes I have to write stories that put people in a bad light, committing crimes that shock many of us, trying to mislead us in elections or defraud us with schemes. I don’t like to write such stories but it has to be done to fulfill the role of a journalist.
Am I perfect? Not even close. I’ve made monumental mistakes. I’ve had to write corrections to stories that I got wrong. Not often but even the need for even once correction is one too many from my point of view.
I’ve apologized for opinion columns that went too far and made mistakes in conclusions. Those columns and news articles mistakes account for less than one percent of what I have done as a newsman, columnist and photographer but, again, even one is too many.
If someone feels that something I have written has harmed them or someone they know and was incorrect, I ask that you let me know via email and I will take a look at what was done. If I can confirms that a mistake was made, I will issue a public correction and apology. Please, do not just say something like “you lied about my sister-in-law in a court.” Provide details and names so I can confirm whatever mistake you feel was made.
When I watch the political process in this nation become more and more of a carnival, I both shake my head and feel real shame for the 12 years I spent as a political operative (including five of those years heading up what was then the largest political action committee in Washington).
I helped create the mess that exists in Washington today. I made a lot of money but I skirted the law with unethical and immoral activities to win elections and promote single-issue causes that did nothing for help the nation or its people. I will spend what ever days I have left in this admitting my shame and working to correct the damage.
Finally, as most know, I am a recovering alcoholic. In less than two months, I will accept a chip for 22 years of sobriety. This period is something I can point to with pride while realizing I am there but for the grace of God and the support of a loving wife and many good friends. I also know that I am always just one drink away from failure.
Like the approach that those of us face in recovery, I face — one day at a time — a life that I hope has been well lived with acknowledgement of mistakes and failures.