Lately, I have very little spare time with school, and damned Sev addicting me to Scott Bakker’s series. So I’ve taken to writing these in class, while I’m supposed to be taking notes. I know, I know not a good formula for success, but these summer sessions are horrible! 2 3-hour sessions a week. Yeesh! Here’s some of the latest stuff that’s been happening.
Friday June 16th
A couple weeks ago jjhotrods, fellow TMW member contacted me regarding possibly riding to Sturgis on the River in Davenport, IA. Having never gone to a biker rally, it sounded like a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than the standard hundreds of bikes, lots of beer, tons of camaraderie, dozens of shopping opportunities, and some large group rides. Their website promised a stunt show and a Scooter Girl contest, which I admittedly was looking quite forward to. After numerous e-mails/phone calls Raymond (jjhotrods) and I finally worked out that we would meet at 11:00 in DeKalb, IL roughly 70 miles out of Chicago and then ride the rest way together.
Immediately the ride was plagued with problems! Apparently the Super 8 Motel (keep yer dirty minds
to yourself!) we were supposed to meet at had been demolished, replaced with a gravel parking lot for the park district. Not being the least bit familiar with the area, I was about to turn around find the nearest gas station and give Ray a call. Luckily, just as I was making my u-turn I saw a motorcyclist with a white helmet looking rather perplexed in the gravel parking lot. Figuring he matched the description Raymond provided me over the phone, I rode in and introduced myself. After a few minutes of oohing and aahing each other’s bikes and a short refuel we hit the road.
Even though Raymond is only two years older and has been riding for three years, like myself, I was nervous about riding with him. I wonder if you guys have felt that way for your first ride with another TMW member? The atmosphere is quite different from riding with your friends, where quirky goof-ups, stalls, or embarrassingly slow turns add to the merriment and delight of riding. Initially it was akin got standing upon stage and performing for the first time. With these sudden feelings of incompetence, I opted to let Raymond lead. After a dozen miles I began to relax my grips on the handlebars, not by choice but due to simple muscle failure.
With all my attention on making sure I didn’t veer out of the left tire tracks, switched lanes when Raymond did, and trying to be a good rider I didn’t notice the Vulcan death grip I’d enacted on my bike. It’s a miracle the Aero didn’t give up before we reached Davenport!
Cruising along at 70/75mph on the interstate for 200 miles leaves one plenty of time for thinking or singing. I tired of the former rather quickly, and soon deteriorated into chants of “Hakuna Matta! It means no worries for the rest of your days…” Followed by “Ice, Ice baby!” If my random head bobbing confused Raymond or the truckers I’ll never know. In retrospect, I should have timed my head bobbing with slight weaves in my lane. Next time!
By the time we reached Davenport, it was a crazy 95F. My body chest and arms were sore, and I was dripping sweat all over the place. While the Draggin jeans offer a lot of protection they have little to no ventilation, and I’m not starting to ride with my fly open
so don’t bother suggesting it as one of my friends did. My upper body on the other hand was relatively cool while we were going over 20mph. As we got off the expressway and crossed over the Mississippi I couldn’t help but notice all the river boats casinos. It instantly took me to Huckleberry Finn and his adventures on the river. For the minute it took to cross the bridge, I imagined living on a raft exploring the river as Finn did. Ever since I grew up reading Enid Blyton (British children’s author, not very popular in the U.S.) novels I’ve wanted to live on a body of water. Several of Blyton’s adventures took place on the English Canals, and involved houseboats. Whenever I think of them, I’m reminded of Huck saying, “It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.”
My daydreaming was quickly interrupted when I noticed Ray next to me. Eh, how did that happen!?
Having been brought back into reality, I started to notice the dozens of bikers around us. While we stopped to recheck our directions at the next gas station, there really was no need, as all the bikers were heading towards the event. The rally was located on the waterfront on a several acre grass field, which was filled with billowing tents. It was great to be waved past all the cars, since there was no admission fee for bikers. Though since the gate check ladies were women in bikinis I was slightly envious of cagers for a minute.
My spirits were pretty high as we cruised into the rally and parked. Gary, a mid 60’s Shadow rider, pulled up next to us. As both of us struggled to lock our helmets under our saddle bags, and cursed the idiot designers who could not foresee or care for this problem a friendship blossomed. The three of us wandered around the fair, perusing through all the tents, and eventually winding up at the food court. After a refreshing meal, my spirits quickly began to sink. Perhaps it was wandering through the lumbering heat carrying a jacket, or the fact that this rally was more concerned with selling products than anything else. Even though we arrived at 1:00pm and the rally started at noon, we were early. The festivities didn’t really start until the sun set, and the group rides for the day had not been organized. After speaking with one of the event staff, who was unaware there were any group rides at all, I became convinced this wasn’t a very well organized rally. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay much past 6:00pm as I had to be at work the next morning.
On the bright side the stunt show, which happened every two hours was phenomenal. Watching these guys on TV or the internet simply does not do them justice. At home in our cushy comfy lounge chairs, with a cool breeze from the air conditioner we are unable to connect with the real danger of these stunts. After all we’ve seen them done a hundred times better in movies, and are conditioned not to be affected by the danger the danger these stunts pose the fragile human body. I’m as guilty as anyone else regarding this, and never gasp or pray nothing goes wrong when I watch a clip from the net. However, watching these guys charge up a ramp, flip with the bike in mid-air, and land on the other ramp is terrifying. I know we don’t have a lot of respect for stunters on this forum, but the professionals who aren’t the idiots on the street really do deserve our respect.
With my next update, I’ll finish the story and talk about the ride home. For a large portion of that ride we opted not to take the expressway and followed the Mississippi north. Take care.