Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Motorcycle Monday

My day started yesterday by riding out to the beach to serve as an Iron Butt Association witness for a couple of riders from California. They were riding a 100CCC (coast to coast to coast in 100 hours or less.) As part of their certification documentation, they need a witness at the turn-around point, which in this case was Jacksonville. The 50CC is the ride I really want to do (coast to coast in 50 hours or less.) For some reason, that ride appeals to me. I suppose from an outsider's point of view, it sounds exciting to say someone rode coast to coast. It is extreme riding at its simplest. Saying that doesn't seem right when considering the true "extreme" rides one can do for certification in the IBA, but it's a pure ride and one that I will do.

The two fellas I met were very nice and great to talk with. We spent nearly an hour talking about California, its political and economic disastrous state-of-affairs, weather, the Iron Butt Rally, our motorcycles and of course, Florida's humidity. I took a few pictures of them, signed their paperwork and sent them on their merry ways back west. Harold understood what I said about the excitement fading with the miles as you complete a ride. He said at that point he felt like he did the tough part... he made it to the right coast. The rest of the ride was merely him riding home. It's odd how a ride can transform from an incredible challenge into a ride home. I experienced a tremendous let-down after completing the IBR, one that took me by total surprise and one that I'm still dealing with some three weeks later.

I know their excitement will return as they approach the Pacific Ocean. Completing their ride is truly a motorcycling achievement and one that will be worth telling others about in the future. I'm honored to have helped in the small way that I did.


For over a year I've been thinking about going to a local motorcycle club's meeting on a Monday night. The Atlantic Beach Vintage Motocycle Club (ABVMC) has been meeting "out at the beach" for a few years and I've always wanted to go but never made it a priority. Sometimes it is easy for me to convince myself that I can't fit in anywhere and so I stay in the shadows, alone. I'd say to myself, "You don't have a vintage bike," knowing that didn't matter. It was a convenient, albeit, lame excuse to talk myself out of going. Something finally clicked in my head yesterday and I counter-convinced myself that the time had come to go mix and mingle among the motorcycles and be social. I enjoy being around bikes and occasionally the riders of those bikes, so I emailed PirateJohn to confirm the club's meeting time and told him that I'd most likely show up on this, the 138th time I'd asked about the gathering.

Sho 'nuff, I went... and I'm glad I did.



In addition to PirateJohn, I knew one other member and had met another two as casual acquaintances while on a trip last fall. The other member I knew, Sam Taylor, is the one I credit for one of my favorite sayings about how I look on a sport bike. He described himself as looking like "a monkey fucking a football" while riding his Moto Guzzi one time and that saying has burned itself into my library of things-to-say. Sam is the publisher of the local independent arts/entertainment/opinion newspaper, The Folio. He and I met at The Rooster, a well-known biker bar, when I was finding my way into the motorcycling world. We were the only two folks who would show up wearing professional attire yet we managed to fit into conversations on every visit we made to the scary-from-the-outside bar known to every Harley rider in a 25-mile radius of Jacksonville. I enjoyed my talks with Sam because not only was he a wise businessman, he was entertaining and enlightening. It was always a treat to have a little Sam-time.

It'd been a little over a year since I last saw Sam so seeing him last night was wonderful. He shared the great news that he was engaged to be married in November and better yet, I had the pleasure of meeting his bride-to-be. She has a history of dirt/trial riding so we spent some talking about my interest in going off-road. They offered me the opportunity to try one of their Sherpas some time, which I just may do.



When I emailed PirateJohn yesterday, I asked him if he knew who the two guys were whom I met while at Two Wheels Only last fall. I described them as: a guy who rides a Tiger and a guy who rides an old Wing with chrome fenders. Great descriptors, no? Surprisingly enough, he knew who the Tiger rider was, Rich, but I didn't get John's email informing me of Rich until after I got home. That was ok though. Ironically, when I rolled into the parking lot at Appleby's, the first person I saw was RICH. He was talking with John and when I got off my bike, he was pointing at me. Apparently, he remembered meeting in Suches nearly a year ago. Once I removed my helmet and dismounted Thor, I walked over and we laughed about inquiring about the other. It was nice chatting with him again and we agreed to stay in touch.



While working at CSX a few years ago, a co-worker introduced me to a friend of his while we were out to lunch. The friend, Phil, was at the gathering last night. Phil and I saw each other at a gas station about a year ago south of Jacksonville while we were both out riding. He was on his way into town with a group of riding pals and I'd been out geocaching when we stopped for a fill up. He recognized me even though it'd been well over a year since we saw each other last. I was introduced to his pals and we talked about riding and my bike. When I saw him last night, once again with four of his riding pals, I approached him and spent the next couple of hours yakkin' about the IBR, riding, bikes, great destinations, motorcycle camping, etc. Phil and two of the guys had just rolled into town after spending a four-day weekend in the mountains. They camped at TWO and rode in parts of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with those guys and we left saying we'd stay in touch and try to share some riding in the future.


The End

I had a really nice evening.


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