Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About On The Mark

Having piloted a motorcycle for many years, Mark has many thoughts floating in his helmet and he's ready to share them with us.

Name: Mark Byers

Current Rides: 'Honestly, his stable is in such a constant flux that we can't keep track of it. If you need to know, just ask him.

Favorite quote:

If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.

- Winston Churchill

Planning for Catastrophic Success

It hasn’t been that long since life became an eternity of Saturdays. The New Year had promise: lodging was set for the Backroads Grand Tour. The lawn was fertilized and primped in hopes spring would bring a lush, green covering to the place Emma likes to play. Emma’s days were full of riding the bus to kindergarten and back, with many adventures between.

There were new bags on the Vstrom in anticipation of camping trips with my friend Doug, along with a new set of 50/50 tires I was crazy to test. A new Christmas tent and a happy-birthday-to-me sleeping bag completed the ensemble. I was hoarding leave to make sure I had plenty for the Grand Tour. I spent February on the road, recruiting and shaking hands in the crowded confines of booths from West Virginia to Virginia to Florida. It was great.


Little did I suspect that there was this…thing…out there. It burst out of the chest of someone in China like the Xenomorph in the Alien movies. At first, it was just another one-liner in the news; after all, we’d been through the swine, bird, pig and other influenzas. Heck, this year I finally got my first flu shot. I figured with all the handshaking, it might come in handy.

Meanwhile, the motos waited patiently. A few needed care: a battery here and new turn signals there, plus general preventive maintenance like oil changes and washing. I figured there was plenty of time. I even acquired a pretty tasty XR-250R dirt machine. It needed some minor work, but the internet provides (and The Dude Abides). Then the news got bigger: something was definitely happening in Asia. A lens I ordered for a camera was suddenly delayed by supply chain problems.

It’ll never be a problem here, I told myself: once it hits the Pacific, it’ll burn itself out. Except, it didn’t. It landed on my doorstep in the form of a guy at work who came back from a trip abroad, exposing two of my employees. Then, another one was exposed by his roommate. Thankfully, none of them got…it: the virus that ate the world. A co-worker’s wife got it, but after three weeks, she’s tired but OK. It’s been six weeks since my group went to telework, but I’m glad we’re working. So many people are struggling.

The commute is easy: I make a bagel with cream cheese in the kitchen, along with some hot tea and then retire to the dining room table, where my computer lives. I have a nice view of the back yard and a little of the front. I don’t like telework: I like to visit my employees, but I’m getting by with emails and calls, but it just isn’t the same as the face-to-face contact.

The other problem with telework is that I notice the stuff that needs doing around here. Some days, either before or after an interminable conference call, I just go mow the yard. Time is meaningless and I might as well get some sunshine: I can always review that report after dark. That diseased tree is down, split, and neatly stacked, ready for next winter. It’s actually been a great primer for retirement: I realize that there are no end of things to keep me busy.

I think of my Backroads friends often, and of the moments lost because we can’t be together as much as we’d like. I participated in my first Backroads Zoom happy hour Sunday and it was a hoot, although I realized that not everyone can talk, so it’s better to keep it kind of small. I think I’ll let some other kids play next time, either by staying off or by muting myself. We’ve changed all our reservations for the fractured Grand Tour, hoping to preserve a bit of that vital fellowship with our magazine family.

Betsy is quietly quilting enough to cover the earth, doing a ten-million-piece jigsaw puzzle, and taking photos of the two rabbit families living around the house. I’m still making dreams come true, hiring young people who are thankful for a first job in these times. All-in-all, we’re very lucky. We’re trying to help some of our local food businesses with takeout orders, so my spring fitness plan is more like “I’m tryin’ to fitness whole cheesesteak in my mouth.” We can only hope that our Backroads family stays safe and healthy in these times and that we’ll see you soon at some great destination.