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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Moment's Rest

The RFTW leg from Santa Fe to Anglefire is where we are. I'm looking forward to this part; there is a bit of twisties to ride! Last year, I didn't ride in formation due to not being able to join the group until Anglefire so this year a new treat.

For the most part, things are pretty calm. Nothing is amiss. Of course, I'm oblivious to the radio chatter since I don't have a radio. I'm happy to be tuned into The Phantom of the Opera while I'm riding. Even more thrilled to look forward to the twisties at Taos.

While we are on the last section of road before entering the twisties, our Platoon Leader pulls out. No one knows what is going on, but my friend Screamer steps up to the plate and leads on. In this situation, the wing then moves over into the lead position; the remainder of the group moves up in line to fill the gap. Suddenly, I find myself riding wing position. No biggie, since I've ridden a good many miles here. What becomes a challenge is that I don't have a radio and can't hear what is going on nor am I familiar of the rules of the Platoon Leaders and Asst. Platoon Leaders--I've always ridden in the pack.

No worries, we get through the twisties without incident. I'm concerned about the Platoon Leader--I hope that he's well and that he does not have mechanicial issues.

However, the coolest part is the ride up to the memorial. It's a ride up a hill and the motorcyclists waiting the join the Run are lined up the roads. It's pretty cool--two chicks leading a platoon in. At least it's cool in my book.

We park and dismount; the ride is done for the day. Come to find out, our Platoon Leader was having difficulty dealing with the crash. I can completely understand. Even though he had nothing to do with the crash I think it was just because it happened under his watch. I know I would have taken it hard too.

We were in early and it was nice to get out and visit. Dinner was hosted by Thunderbird Harley Davidson and filled out bellies. The folks at the David Westphall Veteran's Foundation are working to put together a program for servicemembers to help treat post traumatic stress. One Navy servicemember through out the challenge to the other branches to help raise money for the program. Navy, Army, Air Force and the Coast Guard all stepped up to a bit of good natured fund raising. It was a particular humorous moment when the Boy Scouts even threw in a bid!! In a very short moment over $1,500 was raised. It was quite touching to see the support of the service members for their fellow brother.

With dinner over, it was time to call it a night. My friends and I chatted a bit and then it was time to get some shut eye. 5:00 am rings very early!

The next leg: Angelfire to Burlington.

Keep The Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

Friday, June 19, 2009

To Anglefire....In Formation

It's pretty amazing how much time gets lost when one gets sidetracked. That would be many many days for me!

The alarm goes off at 5:00 am. Not too bad, of course, I'm used to it. Of course, my typical morning starts with my kiddo, so I'm used to having to dodge people. I'm not sure which is "better"....one six year old or three grownups. I don't have to yell at the grownups, but I do get to snuggle with my six year old.

We get packed up and head out. Pack, stick the stuff on the bike, go grab some grub and coffee and then head out to the meetup site. I find my platoon leader and line up. I'm somewhere in the middle.

Interstate riding is interesting. Usually at speed limit and we ride side by side. I don't mind riding on either side of the lane. I prefer to ride in the left lane with the RFTW. When I group ride, I typically like riding in the right side of the lane. That's because when riding with RFTW, the left hand rider is the "lead". That means that rider set the pace--of course taking into consideration of the rider in front--and the rider in the right lane rides about a half foot behind. So it's truly not side by side riding...but it's close enough. It works well if the left hand lane rider holds pace fairly consistently. Terrible if not.

No matter which lane I'm in, I will hold a constant pace. And I'm in the group pretty tight. One to one and a half seconds behind the rider in front. Yes, I know it's close, but really....RFTW is not about a joy ride jaunt over America the Beautiful. It's like the military marching....those service personnel take that stuff seriously....trust me. For some reason,when I'm in the right lane, the rider rubber bands much more than if I were in the left.

It is an exhausting way to ride. Definitely a mental challenge. And of course, this year there more than 50% FNGs. So even more exhausting.

Gallup to Albuquerque is pretty non eventful. Our gas stop is before we enter the city. We pull through the gas stop and line back up into formation. However, there is a FNG in our group that has been creating all kinds of problems. He just doesn't get the formation riding. Rubbing banding, getting too much distance between him and the rider he's following. It may be fine with a small group riding down the highway. However, in this situation, there are 200 motorcycles already. It can create a traffic nightmare.

The Platoon Leader and his team talk, and decide the best way to handle this rider is to put him in the front behind the Platoon Leader's bike. The person behind him...gets to be me. Something about consistent speed. Oh boy.

It really wasn't a problem. He was pretty much boxed in and couldn't create much confusion and delay (as Sir Topham Hatt says).

One cool thing about doing the New Mexico leg is the support from the state. RFTW has a motorcycle police escort. They close the section of highway that the bikes are on.....either by not allowing any new traffic on the highway and pulling existing traffic over. Boy, I guess the folks that get pulled over are freaked out initially!!

When we did get into the city, there is an interchange we have to take while on the interstate. Unfortunately, one of the riders in my platoon went down. I don't have a radio, so I was unaware of the commotion going on.

I didn't find out until Santa Fe--the lunch stop. Our Platoon Leader was shaken up by the news--of course, it was one of his guys and he felt responsible. That military code of watching over your charges......even if the accident was no fault of his.

The rider suffered a few broken ribs. He was banged up, but would recover. His ride for the year was over, though. I hope he has a speedy recovery!!

Lunch was terrific--it included shopping at the Harley Davidson dealer in Santa Fe. Found a col hat and gore-tex gloves on sale!!! That only makes 25 pairs of gloves for me :).

We pull out, waving to the folks that were seeing us out....this time, I'm riding behind the wing with Rubber Band Man beside me. I'm happy because my dear friend Screamer is the wing and she's a great rider!!! Whooohoooo...I get to relax for a minute.

Or so I think! Well, I do get to relax for a MINUTE!!

Until tomorrow....

Keep the shiny side up!

~The Rainbow Wahine