Saturday, April 12, 2008

Win some, lose some.

We moved to Frederick, Maryland in February. Much has gone on since my last entry: we've finally purchased a home, things in the workplace are changing for me, Spring has arrived. All of this can be addressed later. For now, I have to stay on topic (to some degree).

I have begun to reach out in an Interweb motorcycling message board composed of a group of people in the Western Maryland area. Normally, I am not very adept at making new friends or acquaintances, so I'd decided that the computer would be a suitable shield for me. I'm not sure that I really even want any more friends than the couple that I have - the maintenance and upkeep of such relationships is simply more than I care to commit to. In essence, my goal is to find other people to share motorcycle rides with, and really nothing else. Not that I don't like other people, it's just that the responsibility that goes along with forming bonds with others is sometimes too much for me.

Anyhow, this group of riders was gracious enough to invite me along for a wet Sunday dual-sport ride. There is really no commitment involved with coffee and riding aside from watching out for the better interests and safety of your riding partners for that day, so it was a good idea for me. We met at the decided-upon 7-11 as a starting point (near my home, conveniently) and I showed up early to drink coffee. Another member of the riding party had arrived already. He is an older-than-me man named Ken, aboard a well-used but very cool Kawasaki KLR650, with the full boat of accoutrement for dual-sport touring and exploring. I want one of these at some point. Ken is a tall, pleasant, laid-back man that, while easy-going, has a very commanding presence. We had introductions and made small talk about motorbikes and riding.

The second rider, Phil, arrived shortly thereafter. Phil was the organizer of this small adventure, and a younger guy, maybe late 20's to early 30's, and I came to understand that he is a county sheriff or other law enforcement officer. He brought a Suzuki DR650 in supermoto attire, like my own DRZ400SM. Phil's machine looked like he'd regularly put it through it's paces. Fast, too. After more introductions, we departed the convenience store lot, and made our way through Frederick on Mt. Phillip Road - a twisty, smooth place to warm up tires and get a feel for the riding style of each member of the party. Phil is fast. He knows how to ride, and I had a little difficulty keeping pace with him. I need to learn better braking into turns, to avoid losing so much momentum. Ken is a little slower, but he is also riding on skinnier, knobby off-road tires, which will tend to walk in turns. This turned out to be good, as Ken and I stayed partnered up in a sense for the remainder of the day.

We followed Phil through twisty back roads and wet gravel/dirt roads, over one-lane bridges (one that doubled as a small ramp.... big fun), through small creeks, and back to the pavement. The initial part of this rice was quick, but well within my riding abilities. During this time, we picked up the fourth member of the party, Lou. Lou rode a fantastic, black, KTM 950 Adventure, and I was immediately taken with it. Astride it in full black leathers, knee-pucks, and Sidi road-race boots, he looked like business. He rode like it too - fast, hard, and able. The pace quickened, and Ken and I found ourselves a little further back than earlier. Right about then, we stopped for fuel. (My tiny fuel tank on the DRZ doesn't afford me much range, maybe 100 miles on the highway - might need to rectify this with a big Clarke tank soon)


After the pit-stop, Lou took over the route planning, and took us on a fast loop of the Sugarloaf Mountain area. A combination of great curves and slippery dirt made for a great time. We were lead down a closed gravel path that terminated at a wide, moving stream.

We did some exploring, crossing, and inspecting on foot to gauge the fording possibilities. After consideration, Phil mounted up and dove right in, crossing to the stony island in the center of the stream. Seeing it done, everyone else followed.



Luo and Phil continued across the second part of the stream, but Ken and I stayed on the island in fear of submarining our bikes in the deeper water.



Back across the stream, the ride was coming to a close. As we made our way back to Route 80, the party split off in different directions at different points along the way. I left off at Buckeystown Pike to return to Frederick, smiling all the way. I was wet, my Suzuki was muddy. I had learned a lot about dual-sport riding that day, and I don't remember so much fun on a motorbike for quite a while (but it is the beginning of Spring, so the riding for the last few months hasn't been optimal). I was also happy to have socialized with new people. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I made new friends, but it was nice nonetheless.




On another note, my old friend Tony, who we just bought a home around the block from, has gone and got a new position at work back in Los Angeles. I was pretty pleased to have a neighbor that we knew well in Frederick, but it was short lived. He has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, so I can do nothing but be happy for him. Even so, I'm fairly bummed that my friend is going away, and that my wife and I will be on our own in Maryland. Maybe making more friends would be a good thing, but I don't have it in me to force that issue. Tony was going to get a new motorcycle this summer, and I was looking forward to mutual adventuring.

Looks like more solo trips.


S.G. said...

Good luck on a new year of romping around on two wheels.

Robin said...

We need to plan that ride out to West (by god) Virginia soon. It would be a good weekend trip.

Jeff Colbert said...

Very insightful article, thanks for pointing everything out. I am definitely going to learn from this.

Looking for the ultimate biker leather jacket, we have a stunning collection of leather jackets, biker leather jackets, long coats, bomber leather jackets and much more. Check us out while everything in the store is on SALE.