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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sparks rally

Friday night, we dropped our boys off at my mom's, gave last minute instructions to the homestead sitter, and loaded up the bike with our camping gear.

We saddled up later than we would have liked to, about 8pm. We had a couple hundred miles of road ahead of us, and knew we wouldn't make it by dark. A few blocks before the highway on ramp, we ran out of gas waiting for a passing train. What fun we had pushing our shovel 3 blocks, in the ghetto, to find a gas station. We took the sidewalk.

Gassed up, we once again headed to the highway. Making decent time as we passed everyone on the toll road. If you have ever drove behind a bike and wondered if we all knew each other, because of all the waving that goes on between passing bikes, well we do know each other, in a way. We saw quite a few bikes headed in the opposite direction, they were running, while we were headed straight for trouble.
That picture doesn't look like much, but when you are cageless, it means pain. But that is still in the distance. For a time we were fine, enjoying the cooling ride. My husband and I ride topless, lidless, bucketless, without a helmet. All I have is a one dollar handkerchief to keep my hair from knotting. Right outside of the toll booth, just before hitting the state line, my rag flew off my head. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. Just because you tie it so tight that it digs into your skin, doesn't mean a thing when the wind hits you just right.

Our tank holds about 90 miles worth of gas, we could go farther, yet pushing a bike because you tested it, really isn't as fun as you might think. We pulled off the highway and gassed up. My husband went inside to catch a weather report, while I waved at some passing bikes. There was some scattered showers south of us, in OK City. Our turn off was before then, no worries.

We passed the bikes that I had waved at earlier. They had pulled off to have a smoke. We continued on. Suddenly I ducked my head behind my husband's back. It had begun to sprinkle. If you have never been on a bike when it rains, you have no idea the feeling. Imagine pins and needles piercing your flesh, repeatedly and rapidly. The rain became heavier, thicker, faster, and it was now dark. Bridge one passed us, and I tapped my husband's leg. No response. Bridge, two and three passed, four through seven passed. We started slowing down, it was now a down pour and little could be seen by us. We slowed down to about 50 mph, and a diesel doing the speed limit, or more, 70-80 mph passed us. That was it, we were done. The splatter from the highway that flew off the tires of that passing truck, hurt and soaked what little bits of dry clothing we had left, everything except what was under our leathers.

We pulled up under an overpass, and hopped off the bike. We sought shelter and a barrier between us and the passing vehicles. My husband saved a bull frog from the road and I called my mom and asked for a weather report. The storm was massive and barely moving. My husband and I talked it out. Our best bet was to duck and run to the nearest town and get a hotel for the night. 10 miles later we found ourselves at a Best Western in Guthrie Oklahoma. I checked us in, dripping all over the lobby. A woman and daughter checking in before us, informed me that I was wet. I smiled and thought, thank you for telling me, I wouldn't have noticed. The price to stay for a few hours was outrageous. There was a car show in town, so the rates had been doubled. But it was pay or pain, we paid. We rode off to get a bite to eat, then planed on hitting up the hotel bar for a warmer, but the bar closed too early. So we headed up to the room to get the moist off of us.

We crashed hard, and woke up early. I spent the morning in the bathroom with the hair dryer, attempting to dry out our clothes. It took some time, but I got the dampness to a tolerable level. I did pack a change of clothing, but I knew we were going to get wet again, and wanted to keep that change dry for as long as possible.

We rolled out around 9 am. The sky looked threatening. We turned off the highway onto a toll road, and promptly missed our exit. We literally spiraled to the camp grounds, missing one more exit before we saw bikes. What should have only been an hour ride turned into three. We were finally in Sparks America Campground.

We pulled in around noon, and I called our buddy. He wasn't answering his phone. We hung out around the stage watching the contests for four hours, until we spotted his bike. Finally we could unload. By that time though, my husband and I had a nice warm buzz going from a few beers.

After unloading and making camp, we headed to the site of the ceremony and helped decorate the spot.

Once everything was in place, we were back at the camp site. Our buddy asked if we would sign as witnesses on the marriage licence, we agreed, and hiked up to where the pastor and the church's camp was. I didn't get pictures of their camp site. They are a bike ministry that attends all the events, doing wedding, baptisms, blessing bikes and Sunday services. No matter what the church group that handed us cold bottles of water and a prayer as we turned off onto the long dirt road to the rally might think, we are not all heathens.

We signed the paper, sealing our buddy's fate.

While we were gone, our buddy had to leave, so that the bride could change. We headed to the site were it was to be preformed to start getting the bikes lined up. Unfortunately the nude slip and slide as going on, and we had a hard time getting bikes moved.

Our buddy wasn't looking good. He was nervous and almost to the point of throwing up. I handed my camera to my husband to have him take a blackmail photo if he indeed vomited, and went to buy him some water. On the way, I found the bride trying not to pass out. I brought back water for the two of them. Soon they were feeling better and most of the bikes were lined up or moved, and they could be wedded.Pastor Pickles preformed the ceremony. It was short and to the point.

The elbow in the picture is Pictureman's. I have a few of his backside because he kept popping up.
My husband and I zip-tied the just married flag, that the bride's mother bought, to our buddy's bike.
Bubbles filled the air as tough looking bikers, and my husband, blew them toward the couple.
The couple then rode off, and we followed. Our group has customs and older bikes, we made as much noise as possible as we rode through the campground. The contest announcer was drowned out. We let the entire rally know that we were happy and celebrating this couple for a very noisy 10 minutes. After everything was said and done, we ate and enjoyed the rally. Black Oak Arkansas played, and I am apparently not old enough to know their songs. I know them, but not their music. We headed over to the burn out pit, where the wedding party threw smoke. We were all impressed with one member of our group. His old panhead threw smoke like fireworks. Little puffs would shoot up into the air and exploded into streaming smoke. Of course the was little bits of rubber coming off his tire, some of which made it down his shirt.

We didn't find sleep until after 3 am. And slept until 8 am. It was time to pack up and head home. We decided to play follow the leader, we were all from the Wichita area. Most of the ride home wasn't too bad. We avoided the main highway because of storms. We still rode right into one. We followed the grown-ups in a duck and run, to the nearest shelter, a 30 minute ride in the rain. We waited for almost an hour for things to clear up before we were told to saddle up again. We ran to Stillwater. The bride had never been to Eskimo Joe's, so a detour was needed. We pulled in just as the rain picked up. We walked inside and one of the grownups informed the hostess that we were headed to the bar. She said ok, and we went up. The three girls in the group of nine, took off our gear and ran to the bathroom. First I asked the busboy were it was. We were gone for about 5 minutes.

I have never been discriminated against, at least knowingly. This time I was. I saw it, and felt it. We were kicked out of the area. The bar decided to close. No one told us that the bar was closing before that moment. They had plenty of time. We were not loud, we were not rowdy, we were wet and wanted to eat. We were also dress from head to toe in leathers. It was obvious that we were bikers. We walked down the steps, and one of the grown-ups talked to the hostess, loudly. You are not allowed to call us out when we did nothing wrong. No one else was asked to leave. Oklahoma is known to not serve bikers because we are bikers. We were not real happy, and the grown-up informed the hostess that they just lost 9 paying customers. We walked outside and stood under the awning. It was pouring. We talked about running across the street to another bar. None of us had eaten since 9 am, and it was now 4 pm. We just wanted dry and food. Soon someone poked their head out and told us that they were getting a table ready for our group.

We ate and dropped more than $100 easily there. Full, and still a little ticked at the staff, we had to duck and run yet again. Soon it was dry, we found a path between storms. When I am on the bike, and it rains. I duck my head behind my husband. Rain pelts my skullcap, water streams down my face. I close my eyes and listen to the bikes ahead. Listening for the sounds of downshifting, to know when to brace my feet on the pegs for a stop or slow down. I listen for the Buddy beside us. I feel the bike under me, feeling for curves. I close my eyes, and it feels like flight.

We pulled in at home around 730pm, sore, wet, tired and satisfied.


Faren said...

I love this post. I think I spent a 1/3 of my childhood at home, 1/3 in the cab of Dad's eighteen wheeler, and 1/3 of it on Dad's bike. I love riding. Unfortunately, I can't stand any wind noise with this headache, I don't travel much in a car, let alone on a bike/trike. Dad is going to Coffeyville,KS next week for a trike-in, wish I could go. We even made it up to Sturgis one year, though we actually spent almost all our time at the trike campground.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to get my trike going. It will not go over 55mph, but still. . . What type does your dad have?

Stephanie Appleton said...

Sounds like a fun, interesting albeit wet trip!

Faren said...

He has a vw rat trike that him and a friend built. I have a trike website
I really need to update it. To see dad's trike go to the Types page.
I have also maintained(not very well mind you) the local trike club at
There are a lot of pictures on the last one. Now I feel like I need to do something with these sites.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, we had a great time, even wet.

Faren, will go look.

QT said...

We are headed to Algona at the end of the month and I sure hope I don't have to do the wet thing - not fun at all! The trip sounds like it was a good time, tho.

Jeff Roberts said...

Reason #2 why I started hitting the "Next Blog" button: Curious how other folks live. That was certainly interesting.

Billy said...

Great writing. It felt like we were right there with you. Awesome. Looking forward to Wednesday!

The Fool said...

Thanks Phelan. Way cool. It's just all too real. Been there on the same rounds. Nice shovel...great post.

And it doesn't matter if a trike doesn't go as fast. It carries the beer one let's it stray too far.

And even wet. Put a shit grin on and keep that face to the wind. Find your grit. Kudos!


Anonymous said...

qt, no rain vibes! Have a good time.

jeff, I thought you said you had a bike. :D So what is #1?

abba, thank you, and same here.

Fool, you are right, can't leave the beer behind. ha!

Unknown said...

55mph? That's fast! Spangle hitched to my waggon will only do 30mpday, 60 if really pushed..... & maybe 60 hitched to my trotting cart :) At best I can do 6mph on my trike, which spends most of it's life upside down needing repairs

Bob Westbrook said...

Love the scoot. Miss those times I had in Ohio that you brought back to my memory with this. One of these years I'm gonna have a pig roast on this farm. I'll be sure to let you know cause you can bring the crowd. BLack Oak's still around??? Cool, gotta catch that gig sometime.

lisa said...

Sounds like a great trip! I didn't know Black Oak Arkansas was still playing-cool!! Did they do "Jim Dandy to the Rescue"? That's my fav song of theirs. Too bad some business people are so ignorant about bikers, but at least they came around enough to get you fed. Now all you guys need is some rain gear! :)

Phelan said...

Killi, that is when I am not useing the stock engine. It goes much slower than that.

Bob, thanks. And let us know when that pig roast is.

Lisa, I think they played it. But it was hard to understand him. My husband kept sying, you got to know this one.

I think the only reason they let us in was because they didn't want us standing out front.

Anonymous said...

I completely missed this post, the first time round. It's really great--well written and *vivid*! I think this was in the thick of going to the storage shed every coupla days.

Anonymous said...

Hi , i came here via a link from another Blog and really enjoyed the read. Reminds of of the old biker magazine stories i use to read decades ago, and the traveling in the rain i felt i was there with you.
Personnaly i like some kind of rain suit if travelling all day thtrough the rain, but still it hurts when it hits your face.
Once had to ride for a booked ferry so couldn't stop and the rain was sidways on 'cause of the wind, at night .
great read thank You.
Old FLH, somewhere in europe.

Anonymous said...

PS: Like the Bike !! Shovels Rule.

Phelan said...

Boots, welcome and thank you. After this post I decided to move all my riding stories over to a new blog,it is down for the winter, but you can find it over on Following the Yellow Brick Road.

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