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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

1 comment:

mq01 said...

great blog. i loved this post, and can imagine riding this formation. talk about staying focused and at attention. thanks for sharing your ride with me. it felt like i was there...