This story started in 1999, and it’s quite special to me. It’s a story of four friends who are more like brothers, who have somehow managed to keep riding together even when life tries to get in the way.
It all began in rural northern Michigan at a small Christian high school. Nick, Grant, Timmer, and I were four of the school’s approximately 50 students. Back then, we mainly played soccer, basketball, and hacky sack together, all while tormenting the poor faculty. We didn’t have motorcycles yet, but the foundation for lifelong friendship was formed. Eventually, and with great relief from the teachers, we graduated from high school and went to different colleges, but we always got together at least once a year. It’s amazing how easy it was to jump right back into the same old Joe Dirt movie references and laugh about how our English teacher used to keep fried chicken in her filing cabinet.
We all started riding motorcycles at different times in our lives, and at one point we didn’t even know the others were riding. It was this two-wheeled connection that kept coming up during our annual reunions until finally we could ignore the urge no more. The stars aligned, and we each owned a motorcycle at the same time. So in 2009 we trailered the bikes to Mexico to see if we could drink the water. (It turns out you can!)
Fast-forward to 2019. Friends had gotten married, houses had been bought, and I finally have to shave my face more than once a month. It had been 10 years since our Mexico adventure, and we were overdue for another. This time around, we decided to keep the trip in America to make it more logistically feasible. Another friend, Kyle Jones, turned me on to Clemson, SC; he had gone to school there and knew that place like the back of his hand. He gave me a long list of places we should check out, and after reading the list I realized we would be lucky to even scratch the surface of it. With Kyle’s help I laid out four different routes that the four of us would ride in four days—a classic RoadRUNNER Shamrock Tour®. Having one route for each friend was the added bonus. Cameron Muilenburg joined us to document the whole trip on video. (Check it out on RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel’s YouTube channel.)
I also had a personal mission: I wanted to re-create a photo that we took 10 years ago in Mexico. (As a disclaimer, we were younger and dumber back then, so we thought it would be cool to shoot the photo with our helmets off, because, well, we were in Mexico drinking the water and feeling invincible. As we should have known, there are rules for not wearing helmets in the States, but more about that later.)
As winter came to a close and the buds on the trees turned into leaves, we were all geared up to see what Clemson had to offer. The four routes we followed made for a perfect trip.