On April 8, 2021, at 8:47 p.m. near Sarasota, Florida, my 2001 Honda Aero 1100, a trusted traveling companion for the last 14 years, met its unceremonious end when the driver of a car ran a red left-turn arrow and crossed my lane of travel.
I bought my Aero in 2007, and ended up owning it longer than I’ve owned any other motorcycle. To say that it was a great bike is a major understatement. The Aero was steadfast, reliable and enjoyable for many magnificent motorcycle tours. Recently I had the thought that it might be the last motorcycle I’d ever own. Drawn to its classic styling, even after a decade and a half owning the bike, I would still smile when I looked at it parked in the garage.
Yeah, okay, so I loved the bike.
When I bought the Aero in 2007, it already had a windshield, auxiliary lights and highway bars, and within a short time I added a Corbin seat, Champion hard saddlebags and a throttle lock. Once outfitted, the bike was completely comfortable and suited for long-distance travel. I rode many 12-hour-plus days without complaint. Together, we logged nearly 100,000 miles from coast to coast.
Some of the best of these rides have been documented in the pages of Rider. Riding the Aero the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway culminated in my first article published in the magazine, “A Ride on the Ridge,” in the July 2009 issue. Living in the Atlanta area for many years, we explored well-known roads, like Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway, and hidden gems throughout the Southeast.
When I moved to Seattle, Washington, in 2010, I rode the Aero through the Ozarks, on Route 66 west of Flagstaff, over the Hoover Dam and through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. While living in the Pacific Northwest, new routes up and around Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and the Cascades, as well as east into the high desert around Yakima took us through some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. More unforgettable memories and and more features in Rider, such as “Olympic Peninsula, Motorcycle Heaven in the Northwest” (May 2012) and “The Cascade Loop” (January 2014).
One of my most memorable rides was taking the Aero the “back way” to Idaho on the Brownlee-Oxbow Highway, along the Snake River and into Hells Canyon. On all these rides, through hundreds of hours and countless miles through some of the most deserted roads in America, I never doubted that the Honda would get me there and back. Many times I patted its tank like a cowboy pats his horse.
In 2016, at a career dead end and financially tapped out, I moved to southwest Florida, where my extended family lived. With no income, hustling to find a job and get back on my feet, the logical thing to do was sell the bike. Sadly I did, but I told the buyer, “When you buy your Harley” — everyone rides them here — “I want first call on buying it back.” Fourteen months later, my Aero came back home.
Our last tour was just a few weeks ago, a whirlwind five-day, 1,000-mile ride around northern Florida, with overnight stays in Cedar Key, Apalachicola, Jacksonville and Crescent Beach. A lovely ride.
But now it’s gone. Due to a split-second error by an impatient driver, the Aero suffered terminal front-end damage. It’s never easy to say goodbye to those we love. My Aero will be missed, but I’ll always have great memories of our years and miles together.