Sunday, July 31, 2011

After Going InZane, It's Okay to End Up With More Baggage

When I went to the awards dinner, I really didn't expect to win anything.  My poker hands were lousy (but not lousy enough to win the worst hand contest), even though I bought raffle tickets, I usually don't win the good stuff, and even though I had planned to, I did not enter my bike in the beauty contest.   So, I was really there for dinner and some socializing.  For those keeping score, Jody was right, there was barbecue – – even though I was, also right because I said we were getting chicken.

There were many certificates given out.  Person who rode the longest distance, oldest rider, youngest rider, some prices for the bike rodeo and a special award for the rider who was newest Valkyrie rider.  Guess who won?

Well, I'd only been on the bike for 2 1/2 months even though I’ve put almost 4000 miles on it.

As a whole, our table was doing very well with raffle prizes.  I won some bike wax, a sticker, some Seafoam (courtesy of Grumpy's Custom Parts) and a doo rag.  As the evening wore on, each of us at the table had won a couple of different things except for Jody,  who went the entire evening without winning anything until the very last drawing – – which was for a prize valued at over $600.  Any guesses as to who won that one?

In the end, the real winner was Camp Quality, a very worthy cause.  Aside from individual donations that were made, a bucket was passed around that netted over thousand dollars… VRCC handed them a $7,500 check at the end.  Valkyrie riders are very generous.

I do wish to thank the people who shared the table with me: Momz (and his wife whose name I did not catch), Banker, Jody, JJ, Turtle Dove & GreenDragon.  Thank you all for the good dinner conversation and for sharing a bottle of wine.

Then came the time to say goodbye.  I packed up my doo rag, Seafoam, sticker, bike wax, event T-shirt, InZane pin and my framed Certificate of Achievement then got ready to head out.  Prior to leaving, I was hoping to get my bike blessed since I had heard that was part of rally as well.  Since I did not own the Valkyrie when the annual blessing happened in Baldwin earlier in the riding season, I wanted to be sure to get my bike blessed while I was here.

I noticed a fellow biker wandering through the parking lot and I knew he had been sitting at the biker ministry table.  Therefore, I walked up, introduced myself, and met Loren who was a Chaplain.  I asked him if he would please take a moment and bless my bike.  He smiled and explained that it was more important to bless the rider than the bike but he would be more than willing to do both. 

We went over to my bike and he said a brief prayer for the bike and or the rider.  I have to admit, I've never heard a prayer that included good mileage and mechanics, but I was grateful for it.  Which brings me to one failure that I made that day: I meant to hand Loren a donation for his group and forgot all about it because I was in such a hurry to be headed home.  So, Loren, drop me an e-mail or someone drop me the ministries' address and I will be glad to send it on.

Overall, I had a great time.  I wish I had been able to stay for the entire event and maybe next year I will be able to go to Arkansas and do just that.  It may have been an advertising slogan back in the 70s, but good things do happen on a Honda -- and even better things on a Valkyrie.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

If You Are Going InZane, Joining In Is Half The Fun

After getting parked, I wandered over to the registration table to get signed in.  Everybody there was real friendly and curious about me --  they wanted to know where I was from and what my name was and things like that.  I thought it was because they were interested in me as a person but I came to find out that they were just looking for my registration form.  Once I got my packet of stuff and name tag (which I never wore) I was sent down to the raffle ticket part of the registration table. 
K-Dog's Rune

At the raffle ticket table I met Sparky51.  We had actually conversed online earlier in the week when I volunteered to help sell raffle tickets.  When in doubt or if you are ever going to an event you've never been to before and they're looking for volunteers – – do. 

Usually the best thing you can volunteer to do is to tend bar.  However, failing that -- offer to help with anything to do with gambling.  The reason is easy, if you don't know these people a quick way for them to come to you is to either give them a drink or sell them a chance to win something.  Since the bars weren't open, gambling was my only choice.

I ended up staying longer than I was supposed to but I was promised time and half.  Actually, I guess I was paid in blueberries.  After making pies, there was a bowl of left over blueberry pie filling in the kitchen.  Near the end of my shift, this bowl made its way to the table with a stack of spoons to be shared by all present.  After some discussion, it was determined that whipped cream or ice cream would make this tasty snack even better.  The bowl disappeared then reappeared a short while later with ice cream on top of the blueberries.  The volunteers rejoiced and ate of the bowl.  Thinking back, this was probably a bit riskier germ-wise than a double dipped chip, but volunteerism strengthens the immune system.

After I put in my volunteer time --- I spent a little while wandering through the parking lot and looking at the various bikes.  I was really stealing ideas for improvements on my own bike but I was also enjoying looking at what other people had done creatively to theirs.  I'd never seen so many variations on a theme.

The next group participation thing that I took part in was the Poker Run.  The only Poker Run I had ever been on before was done en mass with several hundred riders going from location to location to pick up cards.  This one was a bit different in that everyone was riding the route in small groups.  Right after I got mounted up there were four bikes getting ready to head out, so I just tagged along with them. 

Membership of our group changed several times as the ride progressed; some people joined while others left.  In the end we were a group of 7 and had a trike riding with us. 

The ride was 102 miles through small towns and country roads around the area.  Some places I had been to before, like Charlevoix, other places were brand-new.  It was all pretty and a good site seeing ride.  
I rode last in the group so that I could shoot video and get pictures of everybody else.  Riding in this position also prevented me from being responsible for any of the navigation, that falling to the bike in the lead.  So, now I can safely razz that person about the number of times we got lost.  Actually, we only got lost twice and not that badly.  But we did get lost.
The problem with joining a ride the way I did was that I never had a chance to find out who I was riding with.  I do know that midway through we were joined by Valky Claus, who was from somewhere in Texas.  Aside from that, I'm not sure of anyone's names or where they were from except for the bike directly in front of me that was from Canada -- I know enough Canadian that I was able to read his plates.  (Note: if it was you I was riding with, please let me know and I will add your name to this rather than leaving you anonymous – – unless you are leading and got us lost then you might want to remain unknown.)
My Valk among the other Dragons
My poker hands actually started out very well, I was going for a straight in one hand and a straight flush in the other.  That ended when I picked up my fourth card, which shafted one hand completely and left me with a pair of 8s in the other.  Not exactly the way I had planned on the whole thing ending up.  However, I did have a great time on the ride and managed to come up with a nice video from it.


Friday, July 29, 2011

To Go InZane: First Ride 250 Miles North

As I've said before, I am not originally from Michigan.  Therefore, what I know of the state is based on what I've seen in the past few years and not what I've seen over a lifetime.  To be honest, like many folks what I knew of Michigan before I got here was Detroit.  That is the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Most of what I had heard of Detroit over my lifetime was negative.  In fact, that whole side of the state, due to the failure of the auto industry, is not some place I would ever really want to go.  However, the western side of the state is something very different.

They are running a series of ads, both on TV and on radio called Pure Michigan.  Tim Allen does the ads on the radio, he used to star in Home Improvement, and they feature vivid descriptions of different cities across the state and about how great they would be to visit. 

As I rode north of Grand Rapids and continued to head towards Cadillac, I found myself replaying those ads in my head as I looked at some prettiest country I had seen in a while.  There were rolling hills covered in trees and lush vegetation with little towns in housing divisions tucked into them.  In some ways, it reminded me of Germany.

There are a few rules about constants that I've run across in my lifetime.  One is that if you're going to take insurance while playing blackjack you either always do it or you never do it.  Another is that if you going to use a GPS you either obey it or ignore it all the time.  Now occasionally, a GPS will take longer routes than necessary but overall it will keep you from getting lost.  On this day I am fairly convinced my GPS was trying to get me to take it off my bike and throw it as far as I could at the very least I'm convinced that it was psychotic.

First, it took me off a two lane Blue Highway onto a smaller county road -- no big deal.  Then it took me from that road onto a smaller lane and a half country road, after a mile and a half or so that road turned into a patch.  What I mean is that when I looked at the road I could see at least eight different types of materials used to patch the road that created one of the most unfriendly services for driving I had ever been on.  While I was counting those eight different types of materials, I noticed there was nothing identifiable as a base – – in other words, the whole thing was one giant system of patches.  Next, the GPS told me to take a left from that road on to Nightmare Lane.

For me, the worst driving surface imaginable is loose gravel.  I suddenly find myself on a loose gravel road and according to the GPS; I would be there for at least 3 miles.  I slowed to a crawl and had my legs hanging off the bike in case I started the slide.  Eventually, the gravel road led me to another two lane county road.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned onto the county road and about 10 miles later found myself turning back onto the road that I had left when I began this adventure.

I pulled off to the side of the road, and I stared GPS.  It stared back at me.  I didn't hear any laughter but I'm fairly sure it was smirking at me.    

I pulled into Shanty Creek about an hour later than planned, but when I pulled in the parking lot, and found myself surrounded by at least 200 other Valkyries, I felt very good about life in general.

I had arrived at InZane XI.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Dragonflies Are Easy To Mistake For Helicopters

Because I was raised living on military bases, the stuff that I saw as a kid was very different than other kids.  As a result, when I was about six or seven and saw my first dragonfly, I was convinced that it was some sort of miniature helicopter.  After all, I had seen Huey Cobras and Chinooks my entire life.  It was a long time before I got close enough to one to know that it was indeed some sort of insect.

Tonight I noticed that the tree by my front door had become some sort of resting place for dragonflies.  I took a minute and watched them, remembering what it was like when I was a kid.  Seeing one for the first time...wondering how the Army was flying those little helicopters.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

It Is Just That Simple

When I first saw this, I blew past it without reading all of it.  Then I went back an read it and realized it was  wanting this, that led me back to riding and got me in the saddle again and started me writing.