Riding is therapeutic. Hence the adage: “You’ll never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist’s office.” Truer words have never been spoken. Sometimes getting away from it all when things get tense is the only plausible idea. And an extended two-wheeled adventure to rediscover “you” is definitely a great way to restore some much-needed sanity. I was in dire need of a vacation. My soul needed reviving, and one of my favorite quotes from The Shawshank Redemption kept popping into my mind: “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” Since this was around the time of the Republic of Texas (ROT) Rally in Texas’ capital city, Austin, I focused on getting there any way I could. The timing was perfect too; I’d just been introduced to a couple of gentlemen that were also looking to escape the grind. They, like I, needed to find solace in a good old-fashioned road trip.
The Three Amigos
My father-in-law introduced me to his friend and ex-business associate, Jonathan O’Connell. Jonathan was planning an epic roundtrip motorcycle journey from his hometown in Riverside, California, to Chicago. I was intrigued by this story since the real humdinger was Jonathan had never ridden a motorcycle before. Never. Not even a dirt bike. I admired his passion. I wanted to meet him. I asked my father-in-law for Jonathan’s contact info because I was interested in doing a piece about his story, his trip, and why all of a sudden he wanted to pack up and ride more than 4,000 miles on a mode of transportation he was completely unfamiliar with. I gave him a call and while conversing, that still small voice in the back of my mind kept saying, “You need a trip like this.” We eventually met face-to-face. I wanted to help him out in any way I could, especially in selecting a motorcycle fit for an adventure of this magnitude. The 6-foot 3-inch lanky Irishman immediately reminded me of Christian Bale’s character from American Psycho: calculated, nicely dressed, slicked-back hair, a calm and cool demeanor, intelligent, but a certain something you didn’t know if you liked. After talking, we developed a nice rapport. Jonathan mentioned one of his best mates, Zach Taylor, would be embarking on this adventure alongside him. Zach also had no riding experience whatsoever. None. Their story was starting to make more sense: two guys grinding away, trying to get ahead in the financial industry as brokers; high-pressure, high risk, insane hours, and when starting out, no reward. The pair developed certain camaraderie with hopes and dreams of owning the company they worked for some day. Since they’d spent most of their days trying to get ahead, they lost track of who they were as individuals—we all do at some point. Some serious soul searching was needed for both, and a three-week motorcycle trip was just what the doctor ordered.
Gettin’ ready to hit the road.
I got in touch with Zach since I was interested in his story as well. Zach gave me his backstory, which sounded very similar to Jonathan’s. We developed a good relationship and in the short time that passed, the three of us grew closer from phone conversations. One day I threw caution to the wind and mentioned my interest in joining them on their trip. My idea was to ride with them for a portion of the way, and for their graciousness, I’d reward them with an introduction to one of the most notorious biker parties in the world, the ROT Rally. Once the rally concluded, we’d part ways. They would continue on to Chicago, I’d return home. They agreed without hesitation.
Jonathan and Zach were set on going the Harley route. They went opposite ends of the spectrum. Jonathan found a deal on Craigslist for an ’08 Road King he couldn’t pass up. Zach, on the other hand, went with a Forty-Eight Sportster. Yep, he wanted to ride thousands of miles on…a Sportster. His friends thought he was nuts. I applauded his cojones. It took guts to ride that bike such a distance being a new rider. The only issue was the Forty-Eight’s 2.1-gallon gas tank would require multiple gas stops along the way. As for me, I’d been itching to get some seat time on a 2011 Cross Country. I had a limited amount of time with that model during the 2011 Victory press launch. The previous year, I’d become familiar with its sibling, the Cross Roads, on another long-distance trip. I absolutely loved that motorcycle. And the Cross Country comes with even more goodies than the Cross Roads: full fairing, fairing speakers, iPod capabilities, standard cruise control, and a lock-and-ride trunk that can fit up to two full-face helmets (trunk comes standard on ’12 Cross Country Tour). This bike was ideal for this long haul. It’s also outfitted with a 106ci engine that boasts 92 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque that delivers its power to the six-speed transmission with overdrive. I really liked the Cross Country’s 26.25-inch seat height. I could easily touch down without tiptoeing because of my short inseam. Another nice feature is the monoshock rear suspension that can be adjusted on the fly via Schrader valve positioned underneath the right side cover. The provided hand pump made it easy to fine-tune the rear travel based on my weight and how much cargo I was carrying. On paper, the Cross Country would seem like a heavy SOB, but at 765 pounds dry weight, it’s astonishingly easy to maneuver in parking lots or when flipping U’s. I picked up the Cross Country just days before our departure. It was brilliant. I dug the Two-Tone Pearl White and Vogue Silver paint scheme. And since there was so much storage space available, I could have easily gone on a yearlong trip.