Always On Liberty: Switches Gears
By: Lisa & Dan Brown
When we first started our RV adventures in 2014, we purchased a brand new Heartland Cyclone 5th wheel toy hauler to haul our two Harley Davidson motorcycles to tour the country. It was like having the best of both worlds; RVing and motorcycling…and people definitely turned heads as we pulled our big, gray monster, Liberty, behind us…all 44′ of her! She was equipped with all the comforts of a tiny home; king size bed, spacious bathroom (for an RV), galley kitchen, huge TV, loft sleeping for little guests (we used it for our galley and craft storage) and of course the 12′ garage that stored our two Harley Davidson Softail motorcycles. We had it all, including the kitchen sink!
We both were street bike riders for many many years. At the time we started our RVing adventures, Dan owned a 2001 Fatboy, and I owned a 2001 Heritage Classic. Both were about 700 pounds of shiny steel – each with their own personality. Dan’s custom-painted blue flame ride was named ‘Scout’, as he had been previously owned by an Army Soldier who was a Scout. Our son was also a Scout in the Army, so it was quite fitting to give him that sturdy name.
My ride was pretty special. ‘Silver’ was my 25th wedding anniversary gift from Dan. Silver, like the Lone Ranger’s steed, had ‘get up and go’ pep. He always started at the turn of the key and his engine and straight pipes told everyone I was coming. He was always meticulous, and I always kept him show room pretty. He took me on so many great places and rides; too many to list (read on).
We rode some awesome roads through the battlefields of Gettysburg, the Pine Mountains of Georgia, the Emerald Coast of Florida and even represented at Rolling Thunder in Washington D.C. Our steel horses led us through the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia and Appalacians of the east coast. We enjoyed riding the twisties through the mountains and canyons of Colorado. We rode them up to some of the highest peaks and down to the salty coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
When our day of riding was complete, we returned home to our Cyclone toy hauler, Liberty.
However, sadly, that was short-lived…
It was quite unnerving because we were always riding unfamiliar roads and, to be quite frank, drivers in other vehicles (we call them cagers), didn’t (and still don’t) pay attention to the road; and that included motorcycles. We’ve had some near misses and scares. Even as conscientious and skilled riders that we were, each time we threw our legs over our saddles, we always prayed we’d return in one piece…alive.
Then, there was the necessary maintenance and keeping them cared for as we had previously in our sticks & bricks two-car garage. But this proved quite difficult on the road.
And then there was the stowing part…
When we initially set up our toyhauler garage to haul our scoots, we purchased two Condor motorcycle chocks to seat the front wheels and used ratchet tie-downs to secure each bike to the pre-drilled D rings in the floor of our toy hauler’s garage. They were quite stable as we pulled our Cyclone down the road. Getting the first bike in the garage was easy but trying to squeeze the other one in turned out to be more hassle than it was worth.
That and the maintenance and cleanliness logistics were more than we were willing to stress ourselves over.
We decided to shift gears about 9 months after starting our RV adventure…
We reached our limits and the fun factor wasn’t there loading and unloading, keeping them maintained and clean. In other words, they became a logistical nightmare for us as full-time traveling RVers.
We mutually agreed it was time to make a decision…sell them.
Two years later, while visiting our friends back where we started our RV ventures in Kentucky, we took Dan’s Fatboy to a friend of ours who owned a motorcycle repair and consignment shop (hi Gordon!). We held onto mine…no…make that “I” held onto mine thinking ‘maybe, just maybe’ we could two-up with just my Heritage.
I had a terribly difficult time letting go of my motorcycle. I logged over 60,000 miles on my Heritage. We went on many trips together but I also rode several solo long-distance trips. I rode that Harley for over 25 Fallen Heroes as a Patriot Guard Rider and to send off and welcome thousands who were deployed. So, you see my quandary.
But, there finally came the time I had to sell Silver.
(NOTE: I blogged a heartwarming blog about letting go of my Harley, Silver Linings last year. I hope you read it.)
About the time we put mine on the market, we traded in our Cyclone toy hauler for a Heartland Landmark 365 luxury full-time fifth wheel with more desirable living space. I wanted a bigger galley kitchen and Dan wanted a better sitting arrangement in the living room area, not to mention wanting full-body paint. Even though Liberty measured a total 44 feet, our former toy hauler only offered 30′ of actual living space with a much smaller kitchen and less storage. We had batted around the idea of making a lounging room/office out of the garage but it lacked a separate air conditioner so we scrapped that idea because we still had the galley kitchen and internal storage issue.
It wasn’t too long after we bought our ‘now’ Heartland Landmark Ashland (the video above gives you a tour of it), our son returned from one of his Middle East deployments and bought a dual sport “adventure bike” motorcycle. Those who aren’t familiar, dual sports are made for both asphalt slab riding and off-road and trail riding.
We became interested in this new kind of riding (well, new to me; Dan had ridden dirt bikes in his youth). We agreed to go with it and while taking care of things in Texas, we found a pre-owned Idaho Tote to haul behind our new 5th wheel. A couple months later, we bought two Yamaha XT225 dual sport motorcycles while we were in Utah. Though they had smaller engines, they were quite versatile in travel, allowing us more freedom riding.
We were soon on our way to new adventures…
In the summer of 2016, our first year owning the adventure bikes, we rode along the Continental Divide between Idaho and Montana (single track through the woods) through the Bitterroot Mountains. The next summer, we rode to Needles Highway and the Iron Highway, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota, as well as the rocky deserts in southern Arizona and Nevada.
But once we left the southwest and Texas, we found ourselves riding them less and less due to the lack of open trails, fenced and gated properties, etc. So once we got back on the road and settled in Kansas for a week, Dan loaded them one more time making the decision to sell them once we got to Nevada that following October.
They sold immediately after listing them on Craigslist in Pahrump.
So, as I blog this, we are now ‘cycle-less’. Though they provided awesome opportunities to see parts of America that couldn’t be seen from the highway, we are opting to seek other adventures.
Even though our riding adventures were short lived, we certainly can’t say we didn’t try. For now, Liberty’s stern is bare; no trailer and no bikes.
What will our future of recreation bring? Who knows? It’s our ride. It’s our journey.
*Lisa Brown (Always On Liberty) is a paid contributor to the Heartland Blog. All opinions expressed are her own.*