The Ride of False Pre-Conception
Had a great time on a group ride today that I put together based on several pre-conceptions.
- The forecast called for temps in the 50’s to high 50’s.
- The same forecast said sun or mixed clouds.
- On Super Bowl Sunday (today) the roads would be empty.
- I would take back roads that I know very well
- It would be a small group I could lead easily.
The theme for the day became apparent early on. Essentially, I was wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Had a great time anyway.
Since the temperature was just below or above 40 degrees at the start, that was OK. Overcast, but not raining, so that was OK as well. I got to the meeting place I’d selected about ten minutes early, as I usually do for rides I’ve invited others on, and to my surprise I was the 6th person there. I think a lot of people had the same idea I’d had. I’ve known these people and ridden with them for years. We were joined by other old friends and a couple of new ones, for an even dozen.
Leading a group of a dozen motorcycles is a tad tricky, but it can be done. In this case they were all experienced riders, which makes it easier. The range of displacement of the bikes ranged from 250cc to 1600cc, with engines of 2, 3, 4, and 6 cylinders, and small to big sport bikes, sport tourers, dual sports, and a luxo-tourer. That can add complexity as well.
Since I was not being paid to lead the group, I did not hand out a printed list of the route. Instead I presented them with my vague idea for the ride, which was fine with all. And then I changed my mind. Several times.
The first problem is one I’ve never dealt with before in riding ahead of or in any group. I came to the end of a winding road that some of the folks had not been on (I love it when I can achieve that). I was at a stop sign and about to turn right. I was also on a pretty fair downhill slope. The bikes filled in behind me until we got to six. Hmmm. I expected some break in the group, as some of the riders prefer a faster pace and/or are on slower bikes. Nothing happened. No more bikes. Finally I asked Jeff, waiting next to me, to go back and see if there was a problem. He turned around and left. And nothing happened. For a long time. Convinced we had a problem, I drove ahead and made a U-turn on the busy highway and headed back. As I rode up the hill and the others began to follow me, I realized my error. All 12 of them had been there, but because of the bike placement and the hill I could not see them.
I hate to have the group make a U-turn. Turning a bike around on a narrow road with a high crown and big ditches can be dicey, particularly when you have a group. People want to make sure they do not delay the group and they sometimes rush themselves into a problem. Guess how I know that? So my error meant the group had to make a U-turn – twice. And we were not done.
Part of my hazy plan was to ride the back roads around and behind Duvall and then circle back for coffee. A friend had let me know earlier that my chosen coffee spot is closed on Sunday. But I remembered a bakery next door! As we were heading back to Duvall, I realized that when we reached the bakery we would have only covered about 25 miles, which seemed a ridiculously short distance for a break. So I changed the plan. The little place at Snoqualmie Falls has great cocoa – better idea!
On the way there another error became obvious. Many of the roads were busy, particularly with people who’d had the same idea I did. Lot of folks on bicycles, and an enormous car club of mostly Audis and Porsches. Don’t know who they were, but there were more than 50 of them. Doing the same thing we were doing. One was a silver Porsche 911 with a Go-Pro suction-cupped to the roof. Don’t you think that would get you a lot of attention from law enforcement?
Another error. The Super Bowl would not start until 3:30pm. It was now only 11am. People still had lots of time to get in our way and still get to wherever they were going for the game. Oops. Oh well, carry on.
At Snoqualmie Falls, Dan “the new guy” reported that the license plate had fallen off his BMW. He’d made a custom aftermarket mount which failed the vibration test. No problem Dan, we’ll go back and pick it up after cocoa and this terrific little loop I know just past Snoqualmie Falls.
Several people with other rides to get to, a Super Bowl to watch, or whatever, split off at this point. We were down to six.
I did not know of the recent road construction, and my little loop no longer exists! I did find a small road I hadn’t been on before and thought it might T into the loop. Nope. Dead-end. Another U-turn.
We looked for the errant license plate for many miles back to north of Carnation, and then gave up. Another U-turn (!) to one of my favorite back road routes. About this time I realized I’d made no plans for an actual end point for the ride. So I chose to just ride back to the starting point, using different roads, and that way the remaining folks could decide on their next step. I had tweaked my bad right knee yesterday, and it was telling me I needed to stop.
So at the end of the day, pretty much nothing went right. And it was fantastic. Great people with a sense of humor and adventure that are so happy to be out riding again after the months of punishing cold and rain. Awesome! I may plan much less in the future.
Copyright 2016 David Preston