Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bike Week, and serious motorcyclists

I hate to say it but it's been a relatively sedate last few weeks on the ol' Pirate's homefront. Most of my spare time has been devoted to working on the motorhome in anticipation of future travels, and writing a bit here and there.

Bike Week, that sacred event here in Florida, kinda came and went. The weather for much of the event was rainy or windy, and sometimes rainy AND windy, so many of us just stayed home. Yours Truly did take some time off from The Day Job to attend Bike Week but I got about as far as St. Augustine before I ran into some friends and we wound up hangin' at the pubs in that area.

I guess that after a decade of Bike Weeks and Biketoberfests the loud-pipes-saving-lives thing has lost some of it's sparkle. Along with some of my hearing, but that's another point.

BMW was supposed to put on a party, and in the past their Bike Week events were great, but the BMW gig conflicted with the annual Iron Butt Association dinner. And the IBA dinner is a "must do" if you can get in.

You have to admire the IBA crowd. People ride into Jacksonville just for the dinner, to meet and greet, and then head back out to the far corners of the nation. In early March. When it's snowing everywhere else.

Some friends of mine met the week before in Jacksonville for bar-b-que, and then proceeded to ride westward. To the coast. And then to turn around and return. To Jacksonville. All in 100 hours.

When I called Tom Coppedge to check on him and to make sure that he had returned safely from the west coast (the winds that day here in JAX Beach were some of the strongest that I have seen in 5-6 years of commuting by motorcycle) Tom calmly told me that not only was he safe in Jacksonville but they he and a few others had arrived early from the trip back from the West Coast so they had actually been out riding that night to Tallahassee in order to claim that they had ridden 5,000 miles in 5 days.

My back hurts just thinking about it.

At the IBA dinner my other long distance riding pal from the Florida Keys, Tom Sayer, was recognized for his ride from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the very end of South America. And return to Prudhoe Bay.

Now, just for the record I can state for a fact that Tom didn't just ride straight from Prudhoe Bay to South America. At some point he rode back to his home in the Keys, and then he and I rode a hard several days to get back to Mexico. That's some mileage on two wheels.

Tom's ride was actually a few years ago, incidentally. The IBA is a little slow in authenticating those certificates. Especially for a ride like Tom's.

All in all, good clean fun for a bunch of us old dudes that are either retired or nearing retirement. There is no posing with this crowd, they are all riders, pure and simple.

Another thing about the Iron Butt Association functions is that it does tend to draw and interesting crowd. The people who write quite a bit about and for the motorcycle industry, and the folks who dedicate their lives to serious motorcycle touring all seem to show up.

Besides, where else can you spot a motorcycle with diplomatic plates, right?

Or someone hauling their dirt bike behind their Gold Wing?

We've got some seriously adventurous riders in the IBA, I'll tell ya.

Another gig that Ms. Deborah and ol' John attended was a meeting of the Ton Up Club. The Ton Up crew is a national organization that's devoted to ... well ... exactly what I am not sure. Ton Up refers to riding 100 mph on a vintage motorcycle. Preferably a vintage British motorcycle. Presumably with good brakes. They always throw a Bike Week bash at one of my favorite Brit bars in St. Augustine and hire a rockabilly band or two so the world becomes a perfect place, at least for a few hours. And as an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to not only run into a number of friends from our old vintage club and the ADVRiders but the Brit Pub also had a well worn copy of my book on top of the video machine for all to read. Sweet!

So Bike Week means many things to many people. It's a tremendous motorcycle gathering spread out over many, many square miles. And there is something for all.

It's just that I think that I am done with the crowds, bad food and warm Budweiser of Main Street.

At least until I miss that again.

Which may well be as soon as next Biketoberfest.

Y'all have fun!

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