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Two ways to see America

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image Bill managed to add Alaska to the list of states he's visited. Photo Larry Troutman

He’s been riding motorcycles since he was a kid on his grandfather’s farm. She just started in 2000. Now they’re both riding hard and fast and seeing everything they can.

By PENNY FLETCHER

SUN CITY CENTER- He’s been riding motorcycles since he was a kid on his grandfather’s farm. She just started in 2000. Now they’re both riding hard and fast and seeing everything they can.

Bill Royal and Eve Blazur often leave their Sun City Center home and stay gone for days. Last year they each rode more than 40,000 miles, sometimes together and sometimes apart.

“Bill likes to see how many miles he can go,” Eve explained. “And I like to stay at a destination and enjoy it awhile so sometimes we go on separate trips.”

Sometimes they go part-way together, and then split up to ride alone or meet with their friends. It all depends on what it is they want to see.

Born on MacDill Air Force Base, Bill, now 59, was living in New Hampshire before he came back to Florida to care for his aging mother.       

The couple met on line and originally were in Fort Lauderdale before moving to Sun City Center in 2000.

After two years of riding on the back of Bill’s motorcycle, Eve said she wanted her own bike. July 4, 2001 she got it and it’s been on the road practically ever since.

They ride two different types of bikes and have two entirely different views of what makes a desirable ride.

“Bill likes to see how far and fast he can go,” Eve explained. “I’ve visited 43 states and spent lots of time in National Parks. The list she produced showed 47 National Parks ranging from California’s Redwood Forest, Mount Rushmore, Niagara Falls and the Florida Everglades. Her goal is to visit all 48 connected states and she only has five left to go: Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, Bill has visited and had a photograph of himself taken, in front of every state capitol building including Washington D.C. He has visited every state except Hawaii, which he cannot figure how to get to on a motorcycle.

“People driving cars don’t realize that curves and turns and winding roads are fun on a motorcycle because they usually don’t like to encounter them driving a car,” he said. “But a bike has more maneuverability. It leans to the side. They’re actually safer than cars except of course if you get into an accident.”

Both wear complete armored gear from boots to helmets and gloves. They call this “AT-GAT” which is the cyclists’ acronym for “All Gear at All Times.”

Bill has had one serious accident and Eve has “slid” once, falling and landing in a ditch but not sustaining any serious injuries.

“The average rider puts 5,000-to-10,000 miles a year on his or her bike,” Bill said. “Last year, we each put on more than 40,000.”

Eve said she likes to ride because she feels like an extension of the bike.

“It’s enjoyable. It isn’t just transportation,”  she said.

Eve, who has lived in many parts of the world including several states and Puerto Rico, quit an office job in 2004 at 54 and has future plans to visit and revisit many places in the United States. She, now 62, said small town life intrigues her and either the people there completely ignore her or “completely want to be me.”

In order to start riding her own bike — a Honda VTX 1300CC “cruiser,” Eve took the Florida Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and got a special classification on her regular driver’s license.

Bill, however, started riding as a child on his grandfather’s 40-acre farm and at 16 rode a bike for transportation before owning a car.

Both belong to the Motorcycle and Sport Touring Association and Bill is the Florida State director for it.

The Touring Association has a monthly luncheon somewhere in the state and people ride to that and get together for camaraderie and riding as well as food.

“People think there is a motorcycle club in Sun City Center because there are so many riders here but actually there’s no club. Just people who get together and ride,” Eve said.

But many people who live in South County do belong to the touring association.   

The Florida club is part of a national Touring Association. Bill is also affiliated with the TBA (Iron Butt Association) which to qualify, you must have completed 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours. The man who started the IBA had touched all 49 states in seven or eight days, and ended in Hyder, Alaska, which is why IBA members annually celebrate there.

Eve did not go with Bill to Hyder. Instead, Bill went with his friend Larry Troutman. Bill said he likes the thrill of riding back roads and curves more than finding a destination to visit.

The two also attend annual events put on by STAR, which stands for Sport Touring Association Rendezvous. One year these are held East of the Mississippi River, and the next year West of it.

Bill also rides a Honda, but not a cruiser. His is a bigger “tougher” bike; a Honda ST 1300 in the Sport Touring class.

Gas mileage can range from 35 miles per gallon upward. Once on a trip out West Eve said she got 75 MPG.

“We’re seeing more and more people use scooters instead of cars because of gasoline prices,” she added.

Both the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association and the IBA have websites. To find out more about them, visit or  www.sporttouring.us/ or www.ironbutt.com/about/default.cfm.

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