Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lots of bikes on the road

In the last two weeks I have been in nine different states, and have seen lots of bikes on the road, some in groups of more than five, and some twos and threes.  In Texas I saw a group riding north on I-35 that looked very tight, and riding in a formation. I could not tell if it was a club, or a Patriot Guard mission, or just some folks practicing for the Run, but they looked good.  Very good.  There are a lot of billboards out there reminding folks to look twice for bikes and bikers cause we are everywhere.   Just a reminder to my friends that ride, keep your eyes open, and concentrate on what you are doing, because you are almost guaranteed that the big trucks and four wheelers (aka cages) are not paying attention to you.  A biker that is aware of what is going on around him will make it where he is going a lot safer, than one that is not aware.   Remember those cages will not see you until after they hit you, then they will try to blame you for being in their way, so please stay aware, stay upright and visible.  Slowing down a little will help too.

Thanks everyone for reading these words, I will be updating the Runs progress, even though I won't be able to go all the way this year.  I have hopes of joining my Brother and his Wife at Goodland, KS and then going at least as far as Saint Louis, but I still do not know, an probably won't know till the kickstand is up.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time to Start writing again....or Ludlow to Needles...98 miles that gets to me

On Sunday I drove I-40 east out of Bartstow, CA.  and like always, at least since 2007, I tuned my radio to Sirius 60's on 6, for this stretch of road.  It can be pretty boring, nothing to look at but scrub bushes, cacti, and rocks.  As usual there was not much traffic so I sort of let my mind wander with the songs.  I was remembering the toughest motorcycle ride I ever did.  In May of 2007 I rode this section as escort to the RFTW missing man. This is a formation at the front of the pack, and a lot of folks think it is the easiest place to ride in a pack of 600+ motorcycles.  Those folks have never done it, or they would not think like that.  2007 was my fourth Run, and my third All the Way trip.  I requested to ride the missing man formation early, and really did not know if I was even going to be able to do it until that day.  The coordinator had told me that he wanted to have me do it from Ludlow to Needles, but that he would confirm it the leg before so that I could get out of the pack and get into position at the Ludlow fuel stop.   Normally I ride in the fourth platoon, no matter which platoon is in that slot, so that I can communicate with trucks, and relay communication from the front of the pack to the back.  Krazy Karl was doing this job during this leg (he does it way better than I do anyway, his radio is better, and folks listen when he talks.  He says I only have two moving parts and the same stuff comes out of both of them.  I will let the reader fill in the blanks here, one part is a three letter word, and the other is a five letter word.  He is probably right by the way.)
So I got into position right behind the Route Coordinator, and in front of the main chaplain, and Honey Buns, the Missing Man Coordinator, gave me a rundown on what was expected of me.  He then said that he would be watching me and would give me hand signals in my mirror, to watch for them.  Then he told me something that I will never forget "This is a tough spot to ride in, things happen in this formation , sometimes they are good sometimes they are bad, but do not worry I will take care of you, you will do fine."
I sat there on my bike waiting for the "Five Minutes" call ( this usually means the pack is rolling in two or three minutes by the way) and I remember thinking, what the heck is he talking about?   Things happen?  What could that mean?
Well the first thing I did was turn my CB radio off, did not need the distraction especially since I had just been told "things happen in this spot".  I thought I I had turned my satellite radio off too, but I had not, it just did not have any signal where we were sitting.   Then "Five Minutes" came and went and we were rolling.  About ten minutes late my satellite radio started receiving, and it was tuned to 60's on 6.   I was not really listening, I was concentrating on holding my interval and speed with Hammer (Ron Young), and in that concentration I started to feel like there was a bike next to me doing the same.  It was the strangest feeling I have ever had.  There was no bike there, but there was a well the only word I can use to describe it is a presence next to me.  It felt good, and I have never felt safer at anytime on my motorcycle.  The only riding I do is Run For The Wall, and that equates to a little over 6800 miles a year.  I get my practice riding out to LA, and I am pretty good at riding in the pack, but I also enjoy the job I have (more on that in a later post).  But this stretch, it was about 90 miles, maybe a little more, or a little less, was the most intense riding I have ever done.  Not because of the road, but because of the feeling that I could not make any mistakes, and that I had to be perfect because all the folks behind me were riding because of that one missing motorcycle, that for some reason seemed to be there, a little out of phase with us, but there never the less.
Some folks say FNG's should be the ones doing this, others say it should be Nam Vets, and still others think it should be only experienced riders. As for me it does not matter, some one is going to do it.  All I can say is that they better be ready for the toughest ride in their life, because that missing man is watching too, and thanking each and every one of us for not forgetting.