What the Hell?
I must have been busy. Busy doing ... something. Maybe The RatRun, Sturgis, Fayetteville, etc ... Somewhere in there I've managed to dodge a bullet and avoid appointment as Den Leader for the MonkeyBoy's Cub Scout troop. Maybe it was my aesthetically repulsive visage, maybe it was the accidental F-Bomb I dropped at the meeting, maybe it was the way I looked at Lane's mom ... regardless - it was a horrible idea anyway. I don't really need to be an influence on my kids, much less anyone else's. A role model I am not. Instead two highly capable MILF-tastic souls have stepped up to the plate. We're never late to a meeting.
But now the weather is cooling off, the evenings are shorter, my liver and my innards have been taxed well-beyond their legitimate limits, and I have managed to pare down the list of people who think they want to ride with me to the point it's just right ...
So I was little surprised when Doug from 40 on 2 fired me an email to the effect of, "Hey, dispshit? Forget how to spell?" I had completely zoned out, I had no idea it had been this long since I'd graced the illiterati with my small-minded vitriol and one-sided rants. So, you lucky bastards, I'm back. One entry. Print the fucker out. I'll autograph it sometime. If you can find me. If you can keep up. If you buy a round.
Seeing as it's been like 5 freaking months where do I begin ... Well, I think the RatRun was a success, if a hot one. Once again we escaped the circus sans death or arrest - that deems it a winner in my book of little idiocies. 850 riders tracing a course of 150 some miles in heat which just damned near rivaled our inaugural year. Damned near - not quite. As our resident Metrosexual Major said, "I spent time in the asshole of the world wearing body armor and riding in an un-air-conditioned hummvee, but I was never as hot as the first RatRun between 6-Mile and Covington. That was fucking hot."
From the mouths of frenchmen ...
There were some unfortunate instances of what we suspect were dehydration and exhaustion. The Cleo bar managed to completely fuck up and ignore our repeated warnings of incoming hoodlums. Their loss: as all they managed to do was piss off potential future customers, ensure we'll never be back, and lose piles of potential sales. Wakita and Medford more than made up for Cleo's lack of sense and preparation. Can't beat the Wakita Bar. Chris and Co. know how to treat people. And the local school activities groups served up much-needed water and vittles. Damned good vittles. The kind that would have made Jethro bitch slap Ellie Mae and cornhole Drysdale's secretary.
Alma at the Medford bar had her shit so together there was ice in my beer, and I got there late. If she wasn't so damned picky I'd load her up and run off for a week or two. It seems a couple years' experience has allowed her to see right through assbags like me. Not to mention given her an uncanny and spooky ability to guess people's age and temprament.
Philosopher Stone, No Jake Brakes, and The Mike McClure Band took their respective turns pounding out music that did not suck once we were back at the fairgrounds. Surprisingly we had only one 'incident' and it was more humorous than injurous. Especially as narrated by the Mac The Balladeer. Here's a hint; stay off the damned sound equipment. Otherwise we'll send a big drunken prospect after you. Cracked me up ...
So we made money for the scholarship fund, got our friends good and drunk, welded up Matt's 54 Pan, and earned a sunburn. By Sunday when it was over all I could manage was good post-run drunk around the Nault pool with hoodlums. It just don't get any better than that.
Once the dust was settled it was time for Sturgis. Normally the road trip north is an opportunity for extended solace and introspective thought aboard the two-wheeled instrument of death. But not this year. No ... this year I took my wife. The Mrs. The voice of reason. My carnal target. The chick who talks all the way there. And back. Laffy Taffy jokes, musings on classroom ettiquette, random estrogen-generated thoughts, long solliloquies concerning scrapbooking semantics, concerns of the welfare of those we don't know and have never met, tangent-tumbling ramblings of any sort - regardless how mundane - fill my ears when the bride accompanies me. Which is great. If you're Oprah.
Oprah I am not. Neither do I fill the role of Dr. Phil, ask around. And while I dig my wife I knew the only thing which will stress a relationship more than a week shacked up in a tent is traveling there two-up and in constant conversation. Familiarity breeds contempt. We've been swapping goo for 17 years, we're plenty familiar and her contempt is becoming contagious.
So I made a relationship-saving investment. No, not a John Gray book. An iPod. And earbud speakers from Etymotic. Oh hell yes, kiddies! I even bought a splitter with seperate volume controls and some plugs for my chick.
Praise The Lord and pass the mp3s, this thing kicks dump truck loads of ass. Like those dump trucks in Colorado pit mines, with tires as big as bryant gumbel's ego. I have no idea why it took me this long to decide some monotony-busting music would be a nice thing while traversing the twilight zone that is I-70. I never wanted a big radio mounted on a fairing or windshield, and I had no idea anyone made speakers that fit so well in an earplug. I guess I need to get out more. Out of the bars ... Don't hold your collective breath.
I leave the iPod set to the same volume level while riding as when sitting on the back porch ignoring my famn damily. At 70 mph with no windshiled I have nearly the same clarity as porch drinking - at the same volume level. So I'm not pounding my ears with excessive volume levels. I like my hearing, thought I might try and keep what's left.
It's a lifesaving device; this little bitty wonder of technology. And the freaking battery lasts forever.
Unfortunately somewhere around the Nebraska line my bride realized she could control the player. Not to be sexist, but it's so much easier when they're unaware they have so much control - over everything. This is when the Roadtrip Playlist was replaced with random garbage nubian dance hits from her workout routine. The only thing worse than a babbling wife in the ear is Gwen Stefani's 'Hollaback Girl.' Like being forced to watch the Lifetime Network when the remote is lost. I seriously considered running us into a passing semi when The Black Eyed Peas assaulted my aural cavities. "Payback" is what she called it. Payback for 600 miles of my music.
Either way, Sturgis rocked our balls completely off. And I was even able to bring mine this year. Betsy packed them in her purse.
Some great weather came to a screeching halt in Keystone while we attacked "The Bar." 3 hours of rain delay later a night time assault on Iron Mountain Road seemed an excellent idea. Warm, dry, and pricey rooms awaited us in Keystone, at the base of the heads, and we needed to get there. Starting out the prophecy, "We're gonna lose someone on this gig." was born out in a surprising way. Neither the newbie prospect nor our patron saint, Miss Susie had a problem. Instead it was an old hoodlum on a Shovel who filled the role of requisite injury. It wasn't the 600 tons of Satan's Buffalo in the middle of the road that got him. Or the 400 pounds of shit said bos bison placed in our path. Not the winding curving bridges where we can see our own ass on the way up. It wasn't even the narrow, wet, slick roads and their precarious dropoffs that slipped him up. It was making the turn to get on Iron Mountain Road. Too quick a stop, too slick a road, maybe too smooth a tire? Dirt bike instincts might have dictated a foot to stop the fall.
Once to the top we found Wolf with what we thought was a gooned up knee. (14 days later a doctor would determine this was not a twisted knee, but a leg broken just below the knee. Wolf is tough.) So, bravely, four of us volunteered to stay behind guarding a shovelhead with minimal provisions as our wounded comrade was transported to the waiting rooms at the base of the mountain. All alone in the generally packed parking lot tops were popped, darkness was admired, quiet reigned supreme, and Mount Rushmore was lit impressively. Within just a few minutes we watched from our hilltop vantage point as Borglum's distant sculpture disappeared in the darkness. They turned off the lights.
We didn't just close a bar. We closed a National Freaking Monument.
Things progressed from there once we hit the Red Garter bar games and drunken debauchery continued another week as our innards turned to a gooey black muck and "schnoink" became the word of the week. Some high points and things to consider concerning Sturgis in general and our band of lunatics in particular:
- Never leave your camera unattended on a bar.
- Beer is breakfast.
- Hydrate or die.
- Red Bull rules.
- "The Shakes" can be cured.
- Park at the cop shop, they'll get you a cab.
- That thumping noise may be the lock on your front wheel.
- Try to remember Marty's Wife's name.
- Check for photographers before dancing on the bar.
- The girls at Gunner's love us.
- Jeff will teabag you.
- You can be busted back to prospect, mutherfucker!
- Tents are expendable dependent on habitation habits.
- There is a pecking order, and the top may not be who you think.
- Food is overrated.
- Never leave camp without your jacket.
- You don't need all that shit.
- Don't die.
- Leave the patches be.
- Excedrin is your friend.
- It's not a "second wind" if you never sobered up to begin with.
- Lost? We'll be in a bar.
I say it every year, but Sturgis is so much damned fun ... I think I'll go back.
Sure would suck without good friends, though. I'm damned lucky like that.
Fayetteville, while not yet as big as the melee in South Dakota, is quite a gig. I know they advertised Blues and BBQ as being involved somewhere but we never witnessed this firsthand. Progress has been made, however. We actually got out of the bars this year and toured the country a little - on the way to other bars. Eureka Springs is groovy like a free lap dance ... a motorsickle-hostile mayor but a damned nice town. The Pied Piper and the Wagon Wheel win my bar awards for "Coolest Owners In Town." Those girls at the Wagon Wheel had the patience of Job and patrons ala Dante. Quarter-throwing Okies on a full-blown bender. If you get there check out the ladies shitter. Coolest restroom ever.
Fayetteville has, without a doubt, the friendliest locals of any town we have ever invaded. It's not just anywhere you can be directed home by helpful constables while one of your assbag friends tries desperately to pick up the cute redheaded officer. In my defense, she was freaking adorable. With handcuffs. Great smile. Even my bride agreed.
Each time we've cursed this Northwest Arkansas town with our slovenly presence we've been met with the most hospitable and decent locals in existence. If they're not engaging you in conversation and genuinely interested in where you're from they're trying desperately to buy you another round, or ensure you'll be back next year. From the bar owners to the impossibly beautiful co-eds the town reigns supreme for friendly motorsickle destination.
Maybe it's just our winning personalities which win over the natives ... yeah.
As for now I'm trying deserately to convalesce. I need some downtime.
I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year
So many places, and so many faces
Wonder where they all disappear
I didn't ponder the question too long
I was hungry and went out for a bite
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum
And we wound up drinking all night ...
-Marvin Gardens, RIP
I see some dirrt bike Sundays in my near future. The past two weekends have been more fun than throwing a wet burning dog into a 55 gallon barrel of kerosene-soaked monkeys then kicking the whole thing off the top of a tall building into the middle of a Shriner's parade.
The Monkeyboy's XR50 saw a full day of pasture time last week. Two new friends, three dads. I think I may have been the only one battling a hangover. Three kids together tearing up 300 acres and a full day on $3 worth of gas. Reminded me of when I first got loose with a pack of ne'er do wells to raid pastures we weren't allowed to ride. Every kid should have such a chance.
Watching the curtain climbers cavort in the pasture, and the stunning progress even the newest of the riders made in a simple Sunday, makes one take stock of what a wonderful pastime this whole motorsickle gig can be. The real-world education and skills these kids get battling cow shit, cattle trails, and shale pits will pay off ten-fold if they ever manage to convince their mom to let them on the road with a street bike. I foresee a Monkeyboy lobbying succesfully for a 125 and a license when hits 14. I'd be a bigger hypocrite than a TV preacher if I denied him that. So extensive riding off road is an excellent investment in his future and my peace of mind.
It always amazes me how many people have joined the motorsickling craze with zero previous two-wheeled experience. Not even dirt bikes. Not even a borrowed dirt bike in a sand pit outside the protective gaze of parentage. That's just sad. And dangerous. Not only have they missed out on some great youthful activities, they've missed several years experience and instinctual behavior education. When that brain dead exec in the caddy spills coffee and pulls in your lane while screaming in a cell phone it just seems the guy who's dealt with creeks, driftwood, rocks, trails, and bovine fecal material will have an advantage in asshole avoidance ...
Or maybe I'm nuts.
Either way it's unseasonably warm here and I'm headed out for some two-wheeled recreation. If anyone knows of a 4-stroke dirt bike for sale which would fit someone like me, let me know. I'm think a CRF230F or something similar. I don't need anything taller or faster, I'm chasing a Monkeyboy not a trophy. And I'll be needing the use of my lower limbs in the future.
john kerry (amongst others) can suck my fat root,