Revving up retirement with a motorcycle


April 24, 2001|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

RETIREMENT IS sweet for Edwin Maxim. The 78-year-old Davidsonville resident and his wife, June, love their five children and 10 grandchildren, and their life enriched with good friendships. Their yard is alive with chickens and geese, and flowers and songbirds.

And then there's the motorcycle.

Maxim's pride and joy is a two-tone teal, Honda Gold Wing 1500. From Canada to Mexico, the bike has carried him through beautiful countryside and great adventures.

The motorcycle, which Maxim has owned since 1993, is a gadget-lover's dream come true. Its progressive springs system gives a smooth ride. The backrests, armrests and adjustable footrests provide comfort over long trips. A coin-holder keeps change at hand for tollbooths. Radio and cassette music pours from speakers on the bike - or right into Maxim's helmet. And an intercom lets him talk with any rear-seat passenger brave enough to take a ride.

Cold can be a problem for bikers. But the bike is not without creature comforts - such as heated handlebars, and "windwings" that help protect his arms and hands.

Spring weather can be inconsistent. Where yesterday offered a preview of a summer, Thursday evening saw temperatures dipping near freezing. Maxim - recently returned from wintering in Florida - rode with a friend Thursday night to a motorcycle club meeting in Eldersburg. He hooked up a heated vest, and enjoyed toasty warmth all the way.

Around the bottom of the motorcycle are blue neon lights. Their glow doubles as a safety feature at night. But Maxim enjoys the effect of the blue light while he rides, reflecting off the pavement and creating a soft blue aura around the bike.

Riding with those lights at night, he says, feels like floating on a soft blue cloud.

A Gold Wing 1500 is not without a cloud-like feel humming down the highway.

Maxim has racked up more than 88,000 miles on his bike, riding from Mexico to Canada and nearly to the Pacific. Only a few states, among them California and Oregon, remain to be explored - and Maxim plans to close that geographic gap.

Each summer for several years, he has traveled to a national or regional gathering of motorcyclists. One year, he hit a Wing Ding in Springfield, Mo., where he joined hundreds of Gold Wing owners. Another time, he attended an Americade in New York state, where all kinds of motorcycle enthusiasts gathered.

Last summer, the Wing Ding was to be held in Billings, Mont. Maxim told his wife that he would like to go, but it was a long way. "How long would it take?" she asked. Five days. "Well, go," she said.

What he hadn't explained was that he meant five days to get there, four days at the convention and five days to return.

In late June, he set off across the country on the ride of his life. He saw elk and antelope, cornfields and geysers. Twice, he had to stop while herds of buffalo blocked the highway. He faced road construction, heat and thunderstorms. And he had a wonderful time.

Reflecting on that adventure, Maxim says he was struck by how fortunate we are nowadays. The pioneers a century ago crossed the same land with no roads, no bridges, no stores, no cell phones and no sunblock - and carrying all their worldly possessions.

A trip that is a happy adventure for a modern American was a true test of endurance for those pioneers, and Maxim says his trip - itself no mean feat for a biker - gave him a renewed appreciation of their fortitude.

Plans for the summer will take Maxim to a Honda Hoot in Knoxville, Tenn., where he will meet with Honda motorcycling enthusiasts from around the country. They plan to talk bikes and bikelore, exchange travel stories, explore developments in the land of motorcycles, and have a good time.

Maxim is an active member of the Annapolis chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. He also belongs to the Daytona branch of the club, which he attends when he is in Florida.

But wherever he cycles, he is known for one particular habit: He waves to cows.

He doesn't wave at horses or at goats, which he also likes. Just cows.

Why? He doesn't know. It's just a habit, and in the motorcycling world it has given him a bit of fame as the biker who waves at cows.

Someone asked him whether the cows wave back.

"No," came his quick response, "but sometimes they wink."

June Maxim has her take on the cows: "Two cows were in the field, and one cow looked at the other cow and said, `Here comes that crazy guy. Put your head down and start eating or else he'll start waving.'"

I don't suppose that cows really wink. But if they could, they should wink at Edwin Maxim. He doesn't just pass them by; he greets them. He doesn't just follow the road; he experiences it. He isn't just passing through life; he is living it.

Crofton craft fair

Crofton Town Club will hold its annual spring craft fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Village Green in Crofton. More than 125 craftspeople will sell handmade items.

Proceeds earned by the club will be donated to local charities.

Information: Janis Davisson, 410-721-5457.

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