90 and still flying
Most people are in awe watching President Bush (#41) parachuting from a plane at the age of 90 plus with a smile on his face. That’s cool.
Recently I spoke with a near 90-year-old who enjoys “flying” down a road on a 2007 Gold Wing motorcycle with a Motor Trike conversion with that same satisfied smile on his face. Unlike Bush, he’s not well known, but he’s a happy rider. His name is Fred Martin, GWRRA #142648, and I’m in awe of him!
Fred didn’t begin with a Gold Wing. In fact, he started with a 50 cc scooter at the age of 16. He rode his way through several genres of scooters and cycles before owning his first Gold Wing in ’85 and the present three-wheeled 1800 cc cycle that he enjoys today.
Fred’s riding history is quite extensive and impressive and includes cross-country journeys, one of which took him 9,200 miles from Miami to Vancouver, down the coast of California, over to Texas and across the South on his return to Florida. Although that was in the 70s, he’s really never slowed down much through the following decades.
He has yet to tire of his road adventures, because as he says, every trip has its own flavor and points of interest. One of his favorites was hanging out awhile at the location of Custer’s Last Stand. Hundreds of such places fill Fred’s memory bank. He’s attended numerous Wing Dings and may go to more in the future, maybe even the next one.
Amazingly, considering the number of rides and journeys he’s taken on his cycle, Fred claims only a few close calls, and never any serious damage. Fred is, of course, retired now from an interesting career in the fixture business and has earned his 70th year pin from the Carpenters union. Not bad for someone who began his career as a 16-year-old apprentice in the Merchant Marines. One of his former jobs took him 1,000 miles up the Amazon River to the edge of the jungle in Brazil — an experience he’ll never forget. Indeed, he’s covered a lot of territory in his lifetime, which has taken him far from his Canadian roots.
Today he spends lots of his time playing billiards and golf in his Florida neighborhood, but he still rides every day — weather permitting. However, he doesn’t ride alone. He’s always accompanied by his best friend, an 80-pound brindle mixed breed canine by the name of Sadie. His loyal and constant companion, Sadie, “sits” securely behind Fred in the passenger seat, appropriately dressed in her flight jacket and goggles. She can often be seen with her head on Fred’s shoulder, obviously giving him directions.
Both Sadie and Fred enjoy the “Gondola” roof contraption Fred has rigged up to protect them from sun and rain. Made of PVC pipe and canvas, Fred says it has never blown off while riding. Of course, they pull a trailer to carry needed supplies, including a small tent in case they decide to sleep beneath the stars on a pleasant night.
Fred has been a participant in many Chapter and group rides, but prefers just solo (or rather duet) rides today. That way he can go down any road of his and Sadie’s choosing.
So, if you see a Burnt Orange Metallic Gold Wing with lots of shiny chrome riding along any road, anywhere, check to see if there’s a Snoopy character in the rear seat. Chances are it’s Fred and Sadie. The only thing that may be missing from Sadie’s apparel is a scarf blowing in the breeze. If you get that opportunity, be sure to say hello.
Fred plans to continue going as far and as often as he can astride his beloved cycle with his best friend close behind him. His desire to keep moving on speaks to his basic philosophy, “Do what you can, while you can, for none of us knows what the future holds.”
Frances Johnson enjoyed a 42-year career as a university professor of Communication and Theatre. She has authored four books, written numerous articles for a variety of publications, hosted radio shows and much more. On her three-wheeled 150 cc scooter she supports her triathlon husband on his bicycle rides. These rides have acquainted her with interesting, fun and kind-hearted motorcyclists.
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