Finally, I hooked up with some other Gold Wing riders. Clearly inviting myself to join a few GW riders I had a night of many firsts riding motorcycles … GW motorcycles! At the end of the day it was one of my best days riding.
As I have said earlier in this blog I made my share of mistakes riding and am willing to share my mistakes and what I have learned in hopes that other new riders can learn from my mistakes. Let me share with my first ride with other GW riders.
Desiring to ride with other GW pilots I went to Facebook and found a post from a local GW’er. After contacting him he got me in touch with another GW’er and just like that I invite myself to join 4 GW’ers on a ride.
First time riding in a group and first time riding with all Gold Wing riders! I have been looking forward to this day for about a month. I feel like I have some experience so that I won’t embarrass myself and hopefully some skills that I can ride with a group. Danger Dave is up for anything!
I commit to meeting this group for a ride. It’s a dinner ride up to Glenville, leaving at 5:30pm. At this time of the year sunset is about 6:00pm. So … obviously, this is going to be a night ride … like dark outside night ride. I have ridden in the dark before … on nicely lighted streets and straight freeways. This ride is going to be 200+ turns up a mountain road and 200+ turns down a DARK mountain road!
The group is meeting at a Chevron gas station about 5 miles from my house on a Thursday evening at 5:30pm. The meeting place is in the direct opposite direction of Glenville 5 miles from my house at what’s going to be the worst traffic I have ever seen on a motorcycle. I leave my house at 4:45pm to give me plenty of time to get gas and travel 5 miles. I stop at a gas station near my house, get gas and back on the road at 4:50pm. Now it begins ….
Entering the freeway to go 4 miles to the exit I see that the traffic is stopped (5 o’clock traffic). I make a decision to take, what I think, a shorter way … at least by time. I immediately exit to a shorter FWY that goes cross town (HWY 204). I travel about a 1/2mile and BAM! traffic is stopped. I’m in line behind a car … stopped. I feel the pressure to not be late … first date and everything … just can’t be late. What am I going to do?
Another first. I made a decision when I started riding that I would not “lane split”. You’ve all seen it or have done it. Traffic on the freeway is slow so to speed your trip up you “simply” drive between lanes; or better said you drive between lots of cars that are stopped or moving slowly. The riders that do this are nuts! They are putting themselves in a very dangerous position! Dumb, dumb, dumb! I would never lane split!
Well, I really had no choice … the traffic was stopped … if I waited in line … I wouldn’t get to the meeting point until 6. So, I made the only decision possible … yep … I pulled in between the only two lanes and rode between all of those “parked” cars. It wasn’t my fault, I was a victim and had to do it😊. This was my first experience “lane splitting”.
There really was a lot of room between the two lanes of cars. I was traveling no more than 10 mph and the cars were either parked or moving at 2 mph. So, there I am on Eleanor lane splitting slowly. All of a sudden, I hear this motorcycle revving its loud engine right behind me! Again, very sporty bike (crotch rocket) … using the engine like a horn … scared the daylights out of me! I gingerly pulled into a lane and let him/her pass. I made my turn and proceeded to make it the gas station with 5 minutes to spare.
I actually felt very comfortable lane splitting. Probably because the traffic was literally stopped for most of my time between lanes. I don’t see me lane splitting at 40 mph when the traffic is going 25 mph. Unless of course I’m going to be late😊
I pull into the gas station and there are 4 guys with GWs. This is going to awesome! I get off my bike and meet 4 GW riders. Super friendly and welcoming. After about 10 minutes of chit chat … mostly me finally being able ask GW owners about GWs, we got on our bikes and fired them up …. well, they are Gold Wings … you really don’t “fire up” a GW … you simply start it (and they start every time😊).
Each of the GWs have a CB radio … and so does Eleanor. Everyone switches to channel 2 and off we go. I’ve never used the CB on my bike … this is the first time using the CB! It was great! Although my push to talk lever wasn’t working too well … but, good enough to say “10/4 good buddy”!
The 5 of us jump on the freeway. I must say this being my first time riding in a group it felt great! Particularly a group of GWs. Another first.
So, we are now at the stop sign before we start the 34 mile ride up the mountain to Glenville. The first 5 miles of this ride I usually travel at 60-65 MPH … the first 5 miles have gentle curves that are very enjoyable. I’m the 4th rider in line in our group tonight. After less than a mile we are going about 70 mph … ok. Soon we are traveling at 75 mph … another 1st … yikes!
After about 20 miles it’s almost dark. It was by my account the fastest trip I have ever made to Glenville … by a long shot! We pull to the back of the restaurant exit the bikes and go inside. Our time at the restaurant was great! These 4 guys were so cool! I’m the new guy but felt like I was part of the group. I made a comment that this trip was really fast. The 1st guy, that led us up the hill, says “oh, we were taking it easy tonight … we were slow tonight”! Are you kidding!!!! It was then I was wondering how in the heck am I going to get down this hill with these speed racers when it is pitch black outside.
I learned during dinner that most of this group has 100s of thousands of miles on Gold Wings. They have been riding for 20 and 30 years. As a reminder I’ve been riding for 5 months with my proud 10,000 miles of experience … which I realized was absolutely SQUAT! All the time thinking I was getting some good experience … I learned I have sooooo much to learn. I have much to learn about riding.
It was a good hour eating and chatting. This group rides like I want to ride … A LOT! I must add that as I was enjoying the conversation I was equally concerned about the ride home. Seriously, it is dark … 8:00pm. We leave the restaurant and saddle up the GWs. Again, I’m the 4th guy in line with one rider behind me.
Before I go any further in the story I need to share with you a saying that a good friend of mine shared with me years ago when all four of my boys were at home. It goes like this: “Every time you add a boy to a group of boys, the IQ of the group goes down by half”. He also added, “There doesn’t seem to be an age limit on this saying”. So, there are 5 of us “boys” … therefore the IQ of the group might be around “not a lot”! I literally have this saying in mind as I fell in line as we all started down the mountain in the darkness.
One other personal item I need to add. I have weird eyes. I had Radial Keratotomy surgery 25 years ago. This is years ago when the doctor slices your eyeballs like a pie and after have great vision. Couple of negatives about the surgery is that 20-25 years later your eyes fluctuate … a bunch. For me, there are days I have 20/20 vision and days where I wear 2.00 and 1.75 contact lenses. Another kind of negative is that when you see lights, particularly at night, there is kind of a starburst effect. The light seems to be bigger than it actually is. My sight this night was average at best, glad I was following.
We take off from the restaurant. And to my liking the trip down was slower than the trip up. Visibility isn’t all that great … no hi beams so as to not blind the guy ahead of you. Therefore, I simply followed the guy in front … I was back about 50 yards. When that grouping of red lights on the rear of his GW moves to the right … I’m guessing we are turning to the right, I follow. The dumb thing about what I was doing is that I would have followed him wherever those red lights went … even off the cliff!
We got down the mountain without incident. There was some good conversation on the CB and all was great.
I will say this about my first time in a group, first time riding up and down the mountain in the dark, first time using my CB, first time lane splitting … it was one my top 3 days of riding! I loved the people! I loved the ride at night and the CB chatter was amazing. Now that time has changed and is dark by 5:00pm, I’ll be making many more trips up the mountain … albeit, a little slower than my first!
PS: I actually never said “10/4 good buddy”. I actually said “Oh S#$T” a few times, but, I don’t think the CB was transmitting!