Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Many Left Turns...

I know that anyone who reads this won't get the inside joke in the title, so let me explain. I met my riding buddy, John, who Nancy refers to as my BFF, back in 1999. That was the first year I rode a motorcycle to Sturgis, SD for the rally. I went with Lyle, who was my patrol sergeant back then, John, who was Lyle's brother-in-law, and Jesse, who was John's nephew. That first year there were a total of 5 of us. We met up with Garth, from Castlegar, British Columbia, once we got out to the campground. In this small group, almost all of us were, in some way, involved in Law Enforcement. I was a Deputy Sheriff, Lyle was my supervisor, John's wife was an agent with the ATF, and Garth was a dispatcher for the RCMP. I think Jesse had just graduated from high school.

The group stayed the same for several years. Then it started expanding. Lyle's brother Larrie and several of his friends started coming along. The list of who was in our group grew every year. At one point, it had grown to 11 or 12. As to be expected, this caused some bad vibes at times. It's pretty hard to get 12 people to all agree on just about anything. Even trying to figure out where to go for breakfast could turn into a long, heated discussion.

Departure dates and travel plans were a mess some years. One year, I thought everyone was going to Sturgis for the last few days of the rally and then stay there for a few more days and enjoy the nearly vacant Black Hills... I scheduled my vacation time around those plans. I apparently didn't get the updated memo that year, because everyone headed to Sturgis on the usual Thursday before the official start day. I showed up mid week like I thought was the plan... A few days later, everyone was gone.

The problems can't be blamed on any one person. It's just that there were issues with conflicting personalities.

So, what does all that have to do with the title? Well, one day my buddy John was leading the too large group on a long ride through the Black Hills. Traffic can be pretty intense at times with 500,000 motorcyclists all out joy riding in such a small area. One of the riders in the group made a snide remark about planning, and the route making too many left turns for his taste... This didn't sit well with John. I think there were a few remarks about, "If you think you can do better..." or maybe it was even more colorful than that. I don't remember.

I know, this still doesn't explain the title...

I spoke with John last night about getting on the bikes and going out for a ride today, and we agreed it would be a good day for it.

This morning, he called me up and told me he had been looking at a map and found some curvy roads to ride. I quickly got on the computer and brought up Google Maps. I followed along as he laid out the route he had been thinking about. It started with me riding 20 miles to his place. Then, "left on this road.... Left on B.... " We were going to be making a big counter-clockwise loop. I reminded him of the comment someone made about "too damn many left turns". We, He, can joke about now.

We ended up down in Ladysmith, and stopped for a photo opp at Old Smoky.

We had lunch at La Casa Mexicana Mexican Restaurant. I forgot to bring my camera in with me so, sadly, there are no pictures of the meal. Both John and I were glad we stopped there. The food was very good!. I think Nancy and I will have to go there for dinner some night.

I put 179 miles on the Kawasaki, the weather was perfect, sunny, no wind... It turned out to be a nice first ride of the season. Even if there were too many left turns. ;)


  1. Group riding is always problematic. I often organise breakfast rides which are up to 200 miles and there can be 6 -12 bikes. I can cope with that for a half day ride but longer than that it's just too taxing. You're always waiting around, mucking around, everything takes longer. It's like herding cats!.

    I have a couple of mates that I regularly ride with who I just instinctively know what they are doing/thinking and we've done tens of thousands of miles together with many 1000 mile days and it just works.

    Others I just find hard work to ride with as you just never know what's going on in their head.


    Oh - I've installed a sports touring screen on my ZX14R and will be off riding next weekend so I'll be interested to see how it goes.

    1. You're right, riding in a big group is a lot like herding cats! A big group can even make something as simple as stopping for fuel an adventure too. Some people seem to take forever, while others get anxious waiting and want to leave.
      I think my favorite way to go is alone, or with one other person. I think my large group days are behind me.

      Good luck with the new screen!

  2. Isn't it funny how a phrase from years ago still sticks with you and you can work it into conversation now? Funny how our brains work.

    Glad you got out for a ride. It looks like the perfect weather day.

  3. Glad you got out for a spin, Erik.

    Group riding demands so much discipline from everybody, and not everyone is cut out to follow the rules set for the occasion, those are the one that scare me, and this is why my enthusiasm for such events is very limited.