Summer Storms On…

“The strongest of bonds very often have nothing to do with flesh. Sometimes it’s longing that yokes people together, and in ways that are not understood but still endure all things.”

That quote is from Billy Coffey’s novel, “Some Small Magic”. If you enjoy a suspenseful story with plenty of surprises, you should check it out for yourself. At the time I read it, those particular lines really stuck with me. Although the plot involves an amazing journey, the book has nothing to do with motorcycles. Yet I feel those words come close to explaining the somewhat indescribable way some riders relate to each other- the tie that binds you to kindred spirits. That connection to those fellow adventure seekers who need to ride, yearn to take to the open road on two wheels, and who can become lifelong family through those experiences. I feel thankful and blessed for the friends I’ve made through a common love of riding.

For example, over 10 years ago, I “wandered” into an online motorcycle forum where you could find tips on maintenance and other repairs. What I also found was a virtual atmosphere so much like what you have in actual bike shops that it felt like home. Not only could you find valuable technical support there, but a lot of laughter too. At one point, a couple of “regulars” opened their home to everyone for an in-person meet. Reunions with this crazy cast of characters have been held once or twice each year in different locations since.

My first chance to attend in 2007 turned out to be one of my favorite road trips, not only because of the adventure itself, but the company. I’ve thought of it often this summer because it’s been a stormy season, and that vacation involved riding through the worst thunderstorm I’ve ever encountered. While getting caught in the rain is just a part of riding, getting caught in a rain-gear penetrating, frog-strangling cloudburst is admittedly not my favorite. In this case, a deluge hit four of us as we rode the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway into New Orleans. I’m not sure what made the visibility worse, the torrential downpour or the glare coming off my white knuckles as I held onto my grips for dear life. I spent my time on that bridge praying a gust of wind wouldn’t push me and the Sportster right over the side, and that I wouldn’t run over the buddy riding in front of me because it was so hard to see. Reaching the city was a huge relief despite flooded streets. We all put our feet down in knee deep water at the first stop, exhaust pipes gurgling bubbles just under the surface! Reminiscing on that and other memories from the trip during the latest gathering with these good friends in Bryson City, NC was a highlight of my July.

Gettysburg Bike Week is another well-anticipated July event, and this year was a blast. G'burgI think Gettysburg is a place everyone should visit at some point, and when you ride why not take in the town’s history, local businesses, and welcoming atmosphere along with with thousands of others on two wheels? The roads around the area make for gorgeous rides through scenic farmland and shaded mountains, depending on the direction you choose. Cruising through the monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park is a must. The town is full of vendors and activities to investigate, as are the grounds of Battlefield Harley Davidson. Conveniently down the road from the dealership is Earle’s Inn Pub & Grille, a great place to cool down and get a burger. Head to the Allstar Events Complex for more, including the Parade of Chrome on Saturday night and live music throughout Bike Week. The 2018 Friday night lineup featured Lita Ford who put on an awesome show. I noticed she’s making the rounds at other regional venues and bike events this fall and would recommend that you catch her if you can.

Meanwhile on a hot August day, I finished collecting the marbles I need for the ABATE of MD Marble Run! This may come as a shock, but after my last stop I had to race home to get there before the gathering black clouds started leaking profusely. (I did mention it’s a stormy riding season in the Mid-Atlantic, didn’t I?) Completing the run early cleared the calendar for other events coming up in the next couple of months, but I really had fun discovering new places and meeting new folks. There’s still time to try your own luck, get a book and check out the stops on the run. Prizes will be awarded at the After Party on October 6th at the Frederick Moose Lodge. See the Frederick County, MD Chapter ABATE page on facebook or email me if you need more details. While you’re at it, send me suggestions of any good books you’ve read lately. I always like to keep something handy in case I need to sit out a rainstorm and these days it seems one could come along any minute!

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Where to?

1-Do you want to go for a ride?

2-Where to?

Luckily the answer to question 1 is almost always an immediate “yes”. However, getting an answer to question 2 can be a bit trickier. It’s similar to asking someone what they want for dinner. If you’ve ever argued with your family over that decision you probably already know what I mean. And if you are riding solo, there are still times question 2 could be hard to answer. It’s like the options become overwhelming. If you’ve ever made your closet resemble a ransacked crime scene while you argue with yourself over what to wear, you surely know what I mean! My fridge is once again getting pleasantly wallpapered with flyers to remind me of nearby events, rides, and rallies now that spring is here. However, when some free time comes along where a ride is certain but the destination is not, how do you answer the question, “Where to?” This year, I’m finding solutions as well as new roads by taking part in a season-long run.

The 2018 Marble Run, to benefit the Frederick County Chapter of ABATE of Maryland,marble run Inc., is underway and wraps up with an After Party on October 6th in Frederick. This scavenger hunt of sorts is simple: buy a book, ride to the participating locations, keep track of your marble colors in the book, have a good time at the party, and see if you win a nice chunk of gas money! While cash would be nice, I think the biggest payoff of this run is the adventures I’ll have, discoveries I make, and people I meet along the way. There are marble stops in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, some at places I already know and make a point to ride to often. Yet some are at cool spots that I didn’t even know were there. For example, I pass through the town of Lovettsville several times a year. Turns out there’s a great coffee/tea/shake shop just around the corner and off my usual route, that I might not have found out about if I hadn’t ridden there to score a marble.

In addition, it’s my opinion that anyone who rides a motorcycle should be involved with and support a motorcycle rights organization like ABATE. Are you unfamiliar with ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments)? Having been a member of the organization in three different states now, I can tell you it’s made up of a group of women and men who fight hard for our rights and freedoms as motorcycle riders. I encourage you to find out more about ABATE in your state, find a chapter meeting near you to attend, and join! If in Maryland, see www.abateofmd.org. Also, try your luck on the Marble Run for a chance to win at the After Party. There will be live music from regional classic rock favorites Special Delivery, a good time with others in our riding community, and the knowledge that you’re helping to protect our rights on the road. Because freedom isn’t free.

Saddle Soar

I headed to the refrigerator the other day to grab a cold one, and it occurred to me things were looking a little bare. Not INSIDE the fridge, that was well-stocked with plenty of food and drinks. It was the OUTSIDE that seemed to be a bit sparse for some reason. Then I realized that a few months ago, I was sticking flyer after flyer of rides and events I wanted to go to on the side of the refrigerator as a way of saving the dates. Now those happenings have come and gone in a flash of fun, the handouts have come down, and the magnets on the fridge are looking lonely! Guess it’s time to check the calendars for the upcoming weeks and do some planning.

One rally I look forward to each September is OC BikeFest/Delmarva Bike Week. goofin off 2012There’s plenty to do which makes it easy to find something to suit your mood. You can get wild and crazy at any number of cool places, or wild and quiet by checking out the feral horses a quick ride away at Assateague. I’ve seen a lot of awesome concerts there, and I think this year promises more with Kix and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the lineup. In addition to the live shows, I’ve had a great time in Ocean City along with my boyfriend at past rallies. We’ve seen the sun rise over coffee, walking on the beach, and the celebration the sunset becomes when watching it synchronized with music at Fagers Island. But a favorite shared memory actually happened after we’d left the oceanfront and were on our way home.

He was on his Road King, and back then I was riding my Sportster. We left the beach very early that morning, between that and the fact you never know what the weather will be like each year, it was a chilly ride home. On what we figured was the final fuel stop, we decided warming up with some coffee was in order before wrapping up the last hour of the trip. As we stood next to the bikes treating ourselves to that dose of caffeine, a man came over from a nearby van to chat with us. He admitted he had always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but had a disability he felt made it too unsafe. He was the driver of the van however, turns out it was a church group out of North Carolina made up of mostly older folks. While we talked, the van passengers started filtering back to the vehicle from the gas station to join the conversation.

After a few ladies asked me questions about how it was to ride by myself and what I wear to keep warm, one of them wanted to know if she could pose next to my bike for a picture.

“Sure, you can sit of them if you wa-“

That was all it took, before I could warn them about hot parts or anything they were off as if afraid we’d change our minds. It was like watching a few dozen elderly transform into a wild pack of kindergarteners set loose on a jungle gym for the first time. We juggled cameras thrown at us, taking picture after picture as they scrambled on and off the bikes squealing, laughing, and striking poses. Finally, once everyone had their turn and the chaos fizzled out, we parted ways as they all waved frantically while we rode off. Much later, as we reminisced about our vacation, we realized that in the middle of the parking lot confusion neither of us had taken pictures of them with our OWN cameras.

I regret that oversight,fagers island sunset 2012 but the memory works to the front of my mind a few times a year, especially around OC Bike Week. It brings a smile to my face as big as the ones we saw on them that day, joy as contagious as theirs continues to lift my spirit. And that’s my kind of post-ride saddle “soar”.