17 March 2007

My FIRST Group Ride

The Chief and I just got home from his birthday celebration and my FIRST group motorcycle ride, complete with downtown traffic, gravel parking lots, 20mph winds, knuckleheaded pedestrians, and more. And I did it! And not only did I survive, but I had one rockin' great time.

OK, now the truth--the "group" was just four of us. Today was the Chief’s 59th—count ‘em, 59—birthday, and he wanted to celebrate with a little riding. A couple of his buddies rode down from Dothan, Alabama. He met them in Destin (about an hour to our east), then they rode back by our house and I joined them. Together, we all rode over to the Florida/Alabama state line on Perdido Key to visit a little place called the Flora-Bama. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

The Flora-Bama started out as not much more than a little hole-in-the-wall lounge and package store on the beach near the state line, and grew to a much larger hole- in-the-wall with decks and bars on two stories, live music, the famous annual interstate mullet toss contest, and frequent parties. Over the years, high-rise beach condo buildings have hemmed it in, and hurricanes large and small have threatened it. The most recent was Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which destroyed much of the original package storefront. But in spite of all that, the “Bama” lives on, remaining a beacon to thirsty and lonely travelers of all kinds.

So my first group ride turned out to be a little 50-mile jaunt across Escambia Bay, through Pensacola, and out to Perdido Key and the Bama. The winds were brisk—20 mph plus for most of the day—but the sun was shining by the time we headed out.

Highlights of the ride:

Crossing the I-10 bridge over Escambia Bay in such wind!

The I-10 off-ramp at Scenic Highway—seemed scarier than it actually was. I just watched my speed, kept my head and eyes up and focused on where I wanted to go, and I did fine.

All the traffic and traffic lights, with attendant stops and starts, in Pensacola—also seemed scarier than it was, though it did demand keeping my wits about me.

Crossing the bridge over Bayou Chico—kind of fun!

Crossing the bridge over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to Perdido Key—more fun!

Perdido Key Drive—I had been a little concerned there might be sand on the road. After all, it’s a beach road, surrounded by sand. But my fears were unconfirmed—happily.

Flora-Bama parking lot. I hadn’t been to the Bama in a while, but I remembered the parking lot as an oyster-shell-and-gravel affair—scary on a bike. But the Chief said to just pull straight in and follow him to a safe parking space. As it turns out, they have bike parking right out front and the surface, though not exactly paved, is nicely stabilized and was no problem at all.

Dodge-bird. While we were crossing Gulf Beach Highway on the way home, a mourning dove landed in the road just in front of the Chief, then flew up, startled, when it noticed him. He had to duck his head so the startled bird would miss him as it flew up and out of the way. Whew--shades of Wild Hogs and the crow in Woody’s face!

Coming home in the dark. I had never ridden in the dark, and my real concern was not me riding in the dark, but car drivers (guess I have to get used to calling them “cagers”) seeing my little headlight and recognizing it as an actual vehicle with a live human at the helm.

We got most of the way home just as the sun was setting. We stopped at the Oval Office, local bar-and-grill, for a supper of their delicious burgers and fries, which we don’t treat ourselves to very often.

Things fell apart in a minor way as we were leaving the Oval Office. Earl’s bike wouldn’t start, but a friend at the bar gave him a jump start. While that was going on, I was backing out and lost my footing in the gravel of the parking lot and dropped my bike. Doh! No injuries other than the one to my pride, but I learned a deeper respect for sloping, gravelly parking lots!

Finally we got underway, and it was full dark as we made the 3-mile trip home. Note to myself: remember to take your clear glasses with you on rides, so you don’t have to ride home in the dark wearing your sunglasses, you loon!

Overall, what a fun, fun day, riding and partying with my sweetheart, riding my own bike.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home