Heading for the Highways

Several times each year, Scott Robinson packs enough clothes for a week, kisses his wife Cindi goodbye, jumps onto his Harley Davidson, then heads for the highways that crisscross the country.

Unlike the stereotypical Harley Davidson rider, Robinson, a retired orthodontist, is neither loud, boastful nor covered with age-faded tattoos. He’s low key and laid back. Definitely not a fanatic who lives to ride — just a guy who likes to go on several road trips a year. Now, seven years into his retirement, he has hit his pace. Sometimes, he likes strolling the streets of Columbia; sometimes, he rides his bicycle to McBaine; and sometimes, there’s nothing like opening the throttle and gliding down a country road on his Harley. Considering the years ahead, he says, “I don’t have big plans, but I’ll probably take longer motorcycle rides — maybe for two or three weeks. I’ve already ridden to Wyoming, Florida, Texas and all the points in between.”

Robinson owns two Harleys and a 1976 vintage Vespa scooter. When he bought his second Harley about four years ago, he considered selling his older model. But Cindi, who understands the pleasure he gets from riding, easily convinced him to hold on to the older one, which he had for 13 years. “She looked at it and then at me and said, ‘You don’t want to sell that,’ and I didn’t.”

Robinson rides with two different sets of friends. One group is from St. Louis and consists of another orthodontist, a CPA, a chiropractor and a jeweler. The other group of about 10 friends is from mid-Missouri. Then there are other groups of friends for other types of trips. There’s a group of golfing buddies who go to Palm Springs each year. There are his friends who travel to MU football games and sometimes hang out together at the Blue Note or other downtown restaurants; friends from his old southwest neighborhood; other orthodontists who are friends; and friends from the charitable and civic organizations he has been involved with over the years. For a guy who tends toward understatement, he has amassed a large network of friends and an even larger network of former patients and their families.

Thousands of mid-Missourians know him as the orthodontist who worked on their kids’ teeth. Before selling his practice back in 2012, he logged in 26 years as a full-time orthodontist. He still keeps his hands in the business — literally — working about four days each month at Robinson and Ries Orthodontics. His part-time schedule allows him to do what he likes best — teach the staff while treating patients and getting to know them and their families. The arrangement also frees him from the time-consuming responsibilities of running a major orthodontics practice with more than a dozen employees. “For me, although I miss my work, I don’t miss the actual running of the practice,” he says.

Retirement for Robinson means having the same interests that he had in the past but now doing more of what he wants and less of what he doesn’t. It also means more time with friends and family. He and Cindi have two grown sons who live in Columbia, plus a two-year-old granddaughter, Ruby, and a 12-year-old grandson, Preston.

A young retiree, Robinson is only 62 years old. Although he grew up in a small town in Illinois, some of the friendships he has made in Columbia go back for decades. Richard King has been his friend during his working years and now in his retirement. “We’ve gone on golfing trips, to football games, concerts — the whole deal. And in all that time, I’ve never seen him get too excited about anything. That’s who he is,” King said. When asked whether there are other activities he enjoys doing with Robinson, King laughs and answers. “Every now and then you can take a few bucks from him at a poker game, which is kind of fun.”

When not with a group of friends, Robinson’s activities include yard work, taking walks or bike rides or catching up on his reading. Although he and Cindi have grandparent time with Ruby at least once a week, Robinson also enjoys regularly spending time with other children. As a volunteer at West Boulevard Elementary School, most weeks he puts in an hour of one-on-one time tutoring kids in reading or helping them with their homework assignments.

Whether he’s rolling down the highway on his Harley or rolling Ruby in her stroller on the way to her favorite place, the Columbia Public Library, Robinson has a sure sense of the journey he’s on. “It’s interesting the way your time fills up,” he muses. Then, describing one of the gentle pleasures of being retired, he adds, “You have more time to do things, and you spread it out a little more.”

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