Motorcycle duo making most of journey

Published: Thursday, June 19 2008 12:01 a.m. MDT

Bob Chase, left, and Buddy Rosenbaum ride in Provo Canyon after a stop in Orem Wednesday. The two are traveling 3,400 miles across the U.S.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

OREM — Five days into their journey across the U.S., Buddy Rosenbaum and Bob Chase pulled into town Tuesday night more than four hours behind schedule.

That kind of setback could agitate anyone with a point-A-to-point-B mind-set. But for the longtime motorcycle enthusiasts — 72-year-old New Yorker Rosenbaum and 71-year-old Chase of Fremont, Calif. — it's the journey, not the destination, that counts most.

"It's the getting there, it's not the where," Rosenbaum says. "It's the process, and that's very enriching."

The duo has covered 1,000 miles of highway since they pulled out of Lincoln Park in San Francisco on Friday. They plan to travel 3,400 miles along the Lincoln Highway — the nation's oldest, longest transcontinental highway — blogging and updating online viewers as they go. Rosenbaum and Chase have another 2,400 miles to go before they arrive at Times Square in Manhattan on July 14, but, even on Wednesday morning, they aren't rushing to vacate town.

Instead, they sit in the Vespa Motor Scooters showroom at 45 W. University Parkway, both with a cup of coffee in hand, while mechanics give their three-wheeled Piaggio MP3 scooters a look-over. The sun rises higher in the sky, turning the pavement lava-hot, but Rosenbaum and Chase are content to talk life, age, friendship, highway philosophy and scooters for a while.

The two love to talk. It's one of the reasons they prefer the openness of scooters to the confines of a car.

"You meet more people that way," Rosenbaum says.

The list of places Chase and Rosenbaum have traveled over the decades reads like the table of contents of National Geographic. Chase, a semi-retired businessman, has breathed both the sweltering air of North Africa and the misty vapors of the Scottish Highlands. Rosenbaum, a retired executive leadership consultant, has crossed Tunisian deserts and ascended Himalayan peaks.

The two met in the late '90s during a three-week motorcycle tour of the German Alps, and they've completed many road trips together since then.

The years have rolled by, but Rosenbaum and Chase don't say they're aging — they call it maturing. Aging connotes slowing down and scaling back, Rosenbaum says, and that doesn't accord with him.

"I like to think of it as going through new passages," he says, "going into new chapters."

"Age is a state of mind," Chase adds.

Their mind-sets stay forever young, but a few years ago they noticed they had a great deal of difficulty tilting their heavy, 1150 cc motorcycles off the kickstands. The realization their bodies were aging was frustrating, but not enough to force them to park their motorcycles in the back of the garage.

"You don't have to give (what you love) up," Rosenbaum says. "You have to find new ways to express it."

And that's how Chase and Rosenbaum discovered the three-wheel, 500 cc Piaggio MP3 scooter. The scooter's three-wheel design offers stability and an electro-hydraulic suspension locking system, allowing the scooter to remain locked upright to relieve the rider from having to physically lift it while at a standstill. And the 60 miles per gallon is a nice perk, too, Chase says.

"With today's gas prices that's a consideration," he laughs.

While traveling along the Lincoln Highway, Rosenbaum says they're invigorated.

"On the bike, your senses are awakened," he says. "You smell, you feel, you touch — you're alive in ways that simply doesn't happen when you're ensconced in that motor vehicle."

The trip from San Francisco to Manhattan takes a week (provided you drive eight hours per day), but Rosenbaum and Chase say they prefer to meander because they discover things that would otherwise go unnoticed. And sometimes they prefer seeing nothing at all.

"Seeing fewer Starbucks, seeing fewer Wal-Marts, seeing fewer strip malls ... that's kind of fun," Rosenbaum says. "Because America is getting to look more and more the same."

As the two load up their scooters to head out of Orem, they stop at the Texaco on 800 North, just outside Provo Canyon. A young man gassing up his white Honda leans over and gawks at Chase's scooter.

"How do they handle?" he asks.

They handle great," Chase replies. The two talk until the man's tank is full.

"It happens every time we stop," Chases smiles afterwards.

Though the two have passed through many new passages, they say they're not planning on stopping any time soon.

"We have eternity to rest," Rosenbaum says. "Now's not the time."

The two finally leave town through Provo Canyon around 3 p.m. An hour later than planned. But who's counting? They've got time.


E-mail: jdana@desnews.com

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