Who You Meet on the Road

On my Sunday’s ride, I encountered a fair number of motorcyclists both on Highway 61 (slide whistle implied) and on the dozen or so county roads I traveled. The first group, or two groups, were a pair of very large cruiser pirate packs on Highway 61 a few miles north of Lake City. I’d estimate that there were about 50 loud, plodding and waddling traffic-clogging pirates traveling two-and-three-abreast in each of two groups. Or, maybe, it was just one huge pack of pirates with an intermission in the middle? There was a line of cars that went back at least 3 miles well into Lake City. Lots of pissed off cagers and not a cop in sight. If there were two legal exhaust systems in that flock of bikers, I missed them. That group pretty much reminded me of the greased-up “cool kids” from high school who would get jobs sacking groceries when they turned 16, buy a car a few months later, prowl the halls of school terrorizing the “geeks and nerds,” wearing their big brother’s letter jacket since they’d never played a sport successfully, and 20 years later they’re still sacking groceries, driving the same beater car, living in their mom’s basement, bitching about how their ex-wife(wives). screwed them in the divorce, and getting all dressed up like a pirate for their twice-a-year Harley outing with the other Born Losers. So many scowls in one place. You’d think they’d been drug to church on a sunny Sunday.

There were a few downed or stalled bikers along the road between Frontenac and Lake City and even more distributed throughout Lake City. There was a police car stopped behind one group of biker goobers, fending off traffic while the bikers tried to haul a hippobike out of a ditch. There were two hippos down in front of a Kwik Trip at the west end of town with a couple of riders sitting on the asphalt holding their heads as if they’d fallen down in the parking lot and cracked their un-helmeted skulls. Another half-dozen pirates stood around helplessly watching the Agony of Disability. As I passed that group an ambulance roared up behind me, sirens blasting, and pulled into the Kwik Trip.

On US 63, heading southeast out of town, two more hippos were being rescued from a ditch by a towing company winch and some black leather clad menial labor. One of the cruisers was some kind of full dress mess and there was a lot of busted plastic scattered along the roadside.

There is a weird-assed mostly abandoned mansion a few miles off of 63 on County 15 that I like to check out intermittently. Someone (or someones) have made irregular attempts at restoring this old place and I like to check out the progress (or lack of) occasionally. So, I did. It actually looks more disheveled than it did before the “work” began several years ago, but it does look like someone might be living in the carriage house.

After some mindless meandering around the twisty county roads south and west of Lake City, I started heading back home. A big pack of motorcyclists (not bikers) were congregated at the intersection of County Rd 5 and 2. Must have been 20-25 of ‘em, all decked out in leathers, Aerostich and ‘Stich clone gear, full-face helmets, and mounted up mostly on sportbikes. Passing that bunch of riders was almost like having a cheering audience for some performance I didn’t know I was doing. Without having the slightest idea who I was, I absolutely had the feeling they were happy, no delighted, to see me. I don’t remember ever having that many people energetically waving at me. I ride earplugged, but I’m pretty sure there was cheering and encouragement going on. Don’t know why, but they were definitely a friendly bunch. In high school, they’d absolutely have been in the glee club, probably the chess club, band, drama, and debate, too. Definitely nerds and geeks, my people.

Motoring along on a “limited maintenance” road west of Lake City, waved at a couple of guys (I think) on big adventure touring bikes as we passed each other in a cloud of dust. An Africa Twin and a big GS Beemer, if I remember right. Definitely geeks. I think one of them was signaling some kind of warning to me, but I don’t sign competently and I kept motoring along until I came up to a fairly slow-moving black pickup that, eventually, slowed to a stop in the middle of the road. Some California paranoia crept into my mind and I seriously considered blasting past the truck on the right to stay away from the driver’s side door and the weapon that can be. Most of my California reflexes have been dulled by witnessing too much Minnesota passive-aggressive behavior and I passed the pickup on the left at a moderate speed and got moving again without incident. A few miles down the road and I heard a police siren. I was approaching US 58 and initially thought the cop was ahead of me on the highway, but when I checked my mirror it was full of that black pickup and flashing lights. I pulled off and he passed me moving fast. I don’t know what the weird thing with blocking the road was about, but the sirens weren’t for me and that’s about all I cared about.

I managed to turn what could have been a ten minute ride home into another 45 minutes of meandering, but I still got home in plenty of time for the bicycle ride I’d promised my wife I’d do. There was absolutely no point in my Sunday ride. I didn’t go anywhere, didn’t stop anywhere, didn’t even need to stop for gas, didn’t do any errands, didn’t bring home lunch. Totally pointless and about as much fun as I’ve ever had on a motorcycle; at least on the street.

 

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