MY STORYMeet Craig Ripley
My story is not all that different from every other middle-aged motorcyclist.
Like many of you, I rode during my early twenties, only to move away from motorcycles as I got caught up in the process of making a life. Later when I had the time and money, I was able to return to one of my earlier passions.
I bought my first bike in 1980, a red Kawasaki KZ440. That was a great little bike, serving as my main mode of transportation for several years. After a couple of years, I traded the 440 for an 81 Kawasaki Z1R 1000, which had been sitting on a dealership floor for a couple of seasons. Eventually, I sold the Z1R when I decided to move from Texas to California.
While attending college in California I kept my love of two-wheeled vehicles by becoming an avid bicyclist. With more than more than two decades of cycling experience, I have to admit that I have many more miles on a bicycle seat than I do on a motorcycle saddle—but I am working to change that.
After a 20-year absence I finally decided to purchase a new motorcycle in 2006. Having previous good luck with Kawasaki products, I choose a Vulcan 900 Classic LT. Having been away from bikes for an extended period of time, I felt it would be a good idea to start with something in the "middle weight" category, however I still wanted to be able to hit the road for extended tours. The Vulcan turned out to be an excellent choice. It was my reliable companion for several weeklong trips into Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
While the VN900 was a great commuter and handled the back roads admirably, when I headed out onto the open road it was a bit light and got pushed around quite a bit. Passing big trunks was always an adventure.
My week long trips in the Northeast were great but I started to dream about extended trips to visit some of my old stomping grounds out west. For those adventures I would need a bigger, more comfortable bike—at least that is how I rationalized it—so I started to research touring bikes.
Eventually I settled on the Victory Vision, mainly because it is the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden, or sat on for that matter. When I originally wrote this the Vision had taken me down the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2010 and was about to embark on a 7000 mile trip to Arizona and back.
From there, the Vision took my wife and I to Nova Scotia, around the Northeast and along the beautiful roads of the Appalachian Mountains, several times. Its final trip was an almost 12,000-mile ride from Boston Massachusetts to Los Angeles California--and back-- over the course of 58 days. That year, in 2019, I turned 60 years old and this was my celebration ride.
The Vision has since been replace with a 2018 BMW K1600 GTL. My wife and I are looking forward to many more adventures with our new companion.
Along with the amazing adventures I was fortunate to take on my Vision, I also purchased a 2015 Yamaha Super Tenere for the purpose of riding to Alaksa and back. That dream was realized in the summer of 2017 over the course of five weeks. I was joined on that trip my two friends, Peter, and Steven.
The trip to Alaska sparked my interest in adventure riding and I have now acquired a 2020 Yamaha WR250R with the intent of trying some of the BDR routes.
This web site started with the idea of documenting my adventures. I wanted to share my experiences with my family and friends, and since I already had a personal page, it was the logical conclusion to host it on craigripley.com, which has now morphed into Living Off the Slab.
Where it will go in the future? Who knows? You will just have to stick around and see.