On a recent trip to Daytona to cover Speed Week, I flew from Houston to Jacksonville where I was to pick up a rental from Adamec Harley-Davidson. But I was in need of a replacement piece of rolling luggage to aid me in enduring the punishment of Bush International Airport. I hate shopping for such merchandise so my bride took control and purchased a hulking box of canvas and plastic, with telescopic handles, retractable wheels and a removable backpack. And as is the norm for me, the more storage space I’m offered, the more junk I inevitably decide is vital for my very survival. I felt obligated to fill it to capacity and was soon saddled with every conceivable electronic device I own along with half the clothing from my closet.

Although I always take my Canon 50D as carry-on when flying, I do pack a throw-down camera, an efficient Canon D30 that has served me well. I now tote a Toshiba notebook so I can conduct business in a professional manner, along with a wireless mouse, a flash drive and various USB cables and the gamut of power adaptors and cords. At Christmas, I received a new MP3 player. It also has a completely different power cable along with two sets of earbuds. And then there is my e-reader—a pretty neat little gadget, with its own proprietary set of power lines and bullshit. And of course there is my primary camera bag (carry-on) stuffed with a flash, batteries, several different lenses, a video cam, collapsible tripod, notepads, pens and credentials. The balance of my cargo container was filled to the brim with a helmet, two jackets, riding boots, toiletries and clothes for a week.

Upon my arrival at the airport, I was told by an unhappy counter worker that my steamer trunk was overweight. So I began dismantling my new conveyance, removing the bulkiest jacket from the bag, swapping the sports shoes I was wearing for the heavyweight riding boots inside, and grabbing a handful of magazines that I always seem to drag along (even though I have the Nook) but never have time to read. That lightened the load enough for me to head to security where, once again I was allowed to remove my footwear and my jacket, wince as they pawed through my camera bag and watch in wonder as they conducted a group discussion to determine whether my tripod was a possible weapon. But I passed the test, reaffirming that, no matter how deviously evil a 60-year-old geezer may appear, I am actually one of the good guys.

During my time in Daytona, most of the clothes were not worn, the e-reader and notebook never plugged in and the tripod never used. I did manage to finish one of the magazines. (I left the remainder for our landlord.) So once again, I overpacked and included a ton of stuff that in my earlier riding days would have been in violation of everything biker. But as long as bagger mania reigns supreme every extra cubic inch of viable bike space will be reconfigured and stretched, adapted to accommodate the hauling needs of a gadget-obsessed demographic. I feel we’ve gotten just a little spoiled.

After 12 years and more than 100,000 miles, I have gotten spoiled by my Road King with its fiberglass bags and oversize luggage rack; ample space for carrying all those frivolous items. But the Road King has been a little sick recently and in need of engine repair. So I’ve had to resort to my stripped-down Shovelhead for most of my travels as of late. And with the bare-bones Shovel, if I can’t strap it on the sissy bar or carry it in my pockets, it’s probably gonna stay home. When riding this particular bike, I find myself challenged by its Spartan capacity and end up limiting myself to one camera with one lens. And unless it’s more than a few days, the clothes I’m wearing are probably the only ones I’m packing. (There may be an extra T-shirt and pair of socks aboard but that’s about all.) As far as the rest of those electronic wonders, not a chance they’ll be hitching a ride aboard that old rigid. Don’t think their delicate innards could handle the vibrations anyway.

So for now it’s back to the basics. A jacket along with some goggles and gloves, a lunchbox-sized bag with socks and a toothbrush strapped to the sissy bar, a camera stashed in one leather saddlebag and a handful of wrenches in the other to balance the load. Of course there is always a cell phone when more than a hammer and some baling wire is required. Other than that, I try to go with the flow and take what the highway throws my way. Besides, if I really wanted all the comforts of home, I’d just stay home.


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