Riding a motorcycle is an adventure all unto itself, but some rides are definitely more eventful than others. Some rides are uneventful and peaceful while others are full of the unexpected. One such ride occurred summer before last.
It started out straightforward enough. Three of us were going to ride the loop that would take us from Laurel, through Red Lodge, through Absarokee, through Columbus and back to Laurel. We met at the agreed upon time and made plans to have lunch in Red Lodge. Everyone fueled up and we got headed south, with Connie in the lead.
We weren’t far out of town when we got behind a hay truck and if you have never had that pleasure on a motorcycle, avoid it. Traffic on 212 on the weekends can be a challenge, so Connie kept checking to see if we could get around and made a break for it as soon as possible and it was smooth sailing…for a while. Connie motioned for me to pull up beside her. She indicated that she was too hungry to wait to eat in Red Lodge so we revised our plan on the fly and agreed to stop at Jane Dough’s in Joliet. (If you have never stopped here, you are missing out and I advise that you make plans for a meal here the next time you’re through.) Lunch was filled with laughter and talk. Connie convinced Jan and me that we NEEDED to have dessert, though I had already eaten plenty. The pie was to-die-for and we were not sad that we ordered it.
We continued on our journey after lunch and much to our chagrin, we once again found ourselves trapped behind the damned hay truck. Connie eventually found space to get us out front again and we continued on for a few miles. Eventually I looked in my mirror and found that Jan was missing. Connie and I stopped in the middle of the highway to try to wait, but it was long enough that I was concerned, so I tried to use a farm pull out to head back looking for her, but instead of gravel, this particular pull out had boulders, so I got myself and the bike stuck trying to turn around. Jan came barreling up at this point, no worse for the wear and jumped off her bike to get mine turned around. All this time, Connie was on her bike in the middle of the road watching for traffic. We were back on the road for a mile or two when we encountered an empty gallon jug in the road. Connie swerved left to go around it and it moved left. She swerved right to avoid it and it moved right. This played out in front of me and I began to laugh when I saw Connie shrug. She gave up trying to avoid the jug which seemed to be playing chicken with her and she ran right over it. It exploded with a loud pop and went flying off the side of the road.
When we made it to Red Lodge, we stopped at the gas station and refilled our bikes, then Jan mentioned that she NEEDED to go to the candy store, so we headed that way. We parked across the street and made our way toward the store. Connie was trying to tell us about her insoles as we walked and once we found a bench she stopped and pulled off her boot to show us. As soon as she had her boot off and the insole out, a very tall man with a goatee and gray hair walked up to us. He was also dressed in riding gear and with his height, he was a rather imposing figure. He asked excitedly if Connie was doing a magic trick. She responded that she was just showing off her insole. The man, whose road name is Doc, stood on the sidewalk and chatted with us for quite some time, telling us his story. It turns out Doc has had a very interesting life. He ran away from home at thirteen and lived on the streets. He managed to finish school and eventually earn a Ph.D. and became a counselor before becoming a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. You can read about it all in a book by Kedric Cecil, called “Wisdom from the Streets” which is available from Amazon. Eventually we all parted ways and Doc strode off down the street, and Jan, Connie and I continued on toward the candy store.
Red Lodge has a great old fashioned candy store with baskets and barrels of “penny” candy. We wandered the store and filled paper bags with our favorites, amid laughter and teasing. Once we had filled our bags sufficiently, we headed for the cash register. Ironically, Jan, who NEEDED to go to the candy store, did not even have a bag of candy to purchase. Connie made her purchase without incident, but we were all still laughing about her magic trick, to which the young man behind the register seemed puzzled and slightly annoyed. I stepped up to pay for my bag and handed the kid my card. He looked at it and asked for my ID. At this point Connie wheeled around and exclaimed, “What the hell are you buying?!” By the look on the cashier’s face, he was less than amused with us, but we were laughing hysterically. He handed my card and ID back to me saying, “Thank you for stopping in today.” The “please don’t hurry back,” was implied. We laughed and giggled all the way back to our bikes about the way our day was progressing.
Once at our bikes, we looked at the time. Even with the long summer days, we were running out of daylight rapidly. We discussed and decided that we had better head straight back up 212 and home, rather than finishing out loop which added another hour and a half or so to the ride.
Even with all of our mishaps, this is one of the most fun days I’ve had on the bike. We only rode about 100 miles total that day, when all was said and done, but we laughed until we cried, relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company immensely. That’s what it’s about, after all. To this day, Doc will seek us out to ride with us if he sees us on a ride or poker run. So many new and lasting friendships are forged and strengthened over bikes.