Thursday, January 29, 2009 go on pilgrimages

Often (I'm confessing to you here) I feel old. I ride like an old guy; maybe I even write like an old guy. I say to myself: You never DO anything. You never test yourself, never do hard stuff, never take risks. 

I know I haven't changed much inside. My heart still harbors most of the same passions I felt years ago. I don't often act on those passions, don't put myself in new or uncomfortable circumstances in response to those impulses. 

I've wanted for years to ride my motorcycle to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Buddy's West Texas hometown, on February 3rd, the day the music died. Why should you care? I'll try to explain. Why Buddy Holly? I don't know that I can explain. 

I've never been to Graceland and wouldn't walk across the street to visit there. I wouldn't ride across town to meet Chuck Berry, wouldn't care to visit George Harrison's grave or Jim Morrison's. Would I ride 1,000 miles to visit my parents' graves? I don't know. I went to my father's funeral and watched the box go into the ground, but I've never been back and probably won't ever go. 

I've lost other people, family and friends, over the years but never wanted to visit their hometowns - only the one guy's, Buddy Holly's. Maybe it's like Harley guys used to say: If I have to explain, you just won't get it. 

Holly only had a two-year career, y'know. Whatever he did that we remember he did in those two years. I liked his work then and feel it still stands up today. My musically savvy friend Phil says that musicians who control their own output owe a debt to Buddy Holly; he asked for control and got it. The Beatles were called the Beatles because Buddy's band was called the Crickets. Lubbock, weirdly, is rock 'n' roll holy ground. 

For whatever reasons, I still think of Buddy Holly, dead 50 years this February 3rd. If you think that's just too strange, cut me some slack. Leave me be with my idiosyncrasy.

My idiosyncrasy and I live in eastern Colorado, not far from Kansas to the east, a few hours from the New Mexico line to the south. Lubbock is not all that far from here by western US standards: seven or eight hours in a car - or one day's hard ride. Maybe.

The idea is to be there to visit the grave and the super-cool Buddy Holly Center on February 3rd. If you've read this far you probably know: That's the anniversary of the Iowa plane crash that killed Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, who was known as the Big Bopper. 

On a nice spring or summer day, you could ride from Denver to Lubbock between sunrise and sunset. February days are short. The weather is unpredictable. If the wind's blowing or it's raining or the bridge roadways are icy, you might not make it in a day. Probably you wouldn't.

Here's my idea. I plan to ride to Lubbock. I've seen Buddy Holly's old Ariel 650 twin in Fort Worth at the BMW store. He was a rider, at least casually. I feel it's appropriate to ride there, to do this pilgrimage by motorcycle.

If I can't ride there, if the weather looks too awful or the bridges are too scary or it's just too damned cold, I'll rent a car. I'll get there somehow for the 3rd. 

Here's where you come in. Maybe a few of you miss Buddy Holly the way I do, or loved the music or the glasses or something about him that you can't even explain. If that's how you are, and you'd like to pay your proxy respects in Lubbock on the 50th anniversary of the crash, here's what to do:

Email me your snail-mail address at 

I'll check my email on the computer in the motel lobby just before I go to the Center. I'll write down your address. I'll pick up a souvenir postcard at the Center and mail it to you from Lubbock, Texas, on February 3rd, 2009, the 50th anniversary of the day the music died. 

The plan is to be there midday on the second. There are evening seminars on Buddy's musical legacy on the 2nd and 3rd, and a reception after the seminar on the 3rd. Both days feature Center tours and screenings of Paul McCartney's The Real Buddy Holly Story.

Perhaps, in your heart, you'd like to be along on the ride. If you can't make it but you'd like to follow my trip, here's the route and probable dates. Check the weather for Denver and Lubbock. See if you think it's doable on the motorcycle. If it's doable but not easily, decide for yourself if it'll take one day or two. I'll use the same route riding or driving.

There's an I-70 on-ramp a few miles from my home. I'll travel I-70 east to Limon, CO, where I'll turn south on US 287 through the OK panhandle and into the TX panhandle. I'll spend the night in Amarillo (if I get that far) and head south to Lubbock the next morning. 

Postcards are on me. Be my pleasure. 



beth h said...

Maynard! PLEASE send me a postcard from Your Own Private Mecca. I'd be thrilled to hear how it all goes.

I agree with you that pilgrimages are very, very important. That's why I want to spend my 50th Groundhog Day birthday (a few years away yet, but I need time to save up) in Punxsutawney, PA watching the Phil The Groundhog pop outta his hole. If I make it there, I'll send YOU a postcard.

Earle Young said...

Yeah, you write like an old man ... kidz theez daze kan't rite a lik.

Russell said...

Have a great trip, too bad about the date though. I've done the trip the other way a few times. Once on a big K Bike, but in July (no problem there). And once in my car in October or so (also a piece of cake).

No matter how you do it, should be plenty of time for instropection and coming up with future blog topics. :)

Don H. said...

Hey Maynard - Im glad I found your blog! Loved reading your stuff in Velonews and the Riv. Reader.
That GB-500 is a classic...I always wanted one!

philcycles said...

The best thing about riding like an old guy-both bicycle and motorcycle-is that we're STILL ABOVE GROUND.
Phil Brown

Dan Brekke said...

Hey, sorry I missed this. I'm just young enough to have missed Buddy Holly. But oddly, my kids didn't, because "The Buddy Holly Story" was a hit at our house when they were at an impressionable age. The movie was followed by Buddy Holly recordings, several of them. And the apex of our Buddy Holly experience was when my younger boy decided, at age four, that he wanted to be Buddy Holly for Halloween. He went around the neighborhood in his white shirt, black jeans, narrow black tie, and black-framed glasses. He carried a toy guitar. It made his night when one couple answered their door and said, "Wait -- you're ... Buddy Holly!"

One other thing: Storm Lake, Iowa. What a name.