By Brett Peruzzi, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Jim D’Angelo of Marlborough started riding motorcycles when he lived in Arizona during the 1980s. Now, four decades later, the 64 year-old is still seeing the country from the seat of his Harley.
“I took a long break while raising my three children,” D’Angelo recalled. “In 2012 I began riding again. Mostly day trips within 50 miles of home, with long trips sprinkled in.”
And when he says long trips, he means it.
“Once each year I meet family and friends somewhere in the US and ride anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 miles,” he said.
Past trips have taken him across Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada, as well as Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, and Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Closer to home, his favorite place to ride is the Granite State.
“I like riding in southern New Hampshire. The roads are in great shape, and there’s lots of hills and curves to keep me challenged,” he said. “I like Route 118 between Warren and the Loon Mountain ski area, and Route 112 (the Kancamagus Highway) to Conway – there’s lots of twisting turns.”
These days, D’Angelo rides a 2016 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, and before that he had a 2013 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy. He started out riding a 1982 Honda Nighthawk. He professes to having no favorite.
“I like them all,” he noted.
He’s never had a desire to race or ride competitively, either.
“I like to take my time and smell the flowers,” he observed.
D’Angelo grew up in a small town in New York and has lived in Marlborough for 27 years. He spent his career in the electrical engineering and information technology fields.
“Being retired, it’s hard to find others to ride with, so I often do short trips solo. Slightly longer trips are with a couple of close friends from the neighborhood. Long distance trips,” he noted, “are with a collection of friends and family from different parts of the country.”
In addition to his travels around the United States, he’s also rode in the Alps in Germany.
He believes there are a few factors at work that keep him still riding after all these years. “I find new and interesting routes, and travel to some very beautiful places in the country.”
He also stressed that both continuing education and exercise are key.
“I take riding skills courses every couple of years to improve my abilities, and stay in the safety conversation,” he said. “And just as importantly, I keep myself physically fit to make the long rides less demanding on my body.”
There is something very calming about being on a motorcycle, said D’Angelo.
“Riding is therapeutic for me. Focus is paramount, so I’m not thinking much about life’s worries while riding; I’m focused on the road, other vehicles, and the feeling of freedom.”
He also noted the positive changes he’s seen over his decades behind the handlebars.
“There is much more emphasis on safety and awareness,” he said. “There are more training programs available, and social media provides the means to find fun routes anywhere in the country.”
D’Angelo doesn’t find a lot of downsides to his two-wheeled adventures.
“Bad weather, although not fun while in it, makes for great conversation at the end of the day. Aggressive drivers present significant risk to motorcyclists, so slowing down, yielding, staying alert and being nice goes a long way. What I dislike,” he admitted, “are long stints of stop and go traffic.”
He ticked off a list of the positive aspects of riding motorcycles without hesitation.
“I meet many interesting people. It’s fun to hear where other people are from, what they do, and sharing experiences.” Also, he remarked, “I find other riders incredibly friendly and helpful, whether it be giving directions or helping out with a mechanical problem.””
D’Angelo concluded with this advice for older motorcyclists.
“Ride with friends, find new and interesting routes, keep your skills sharp, and stay fit so you can ride well into your golden years.”