Riding among many other motorcyclists can be a high-volume affair. Supporting slogans such as ÔÇ£loud pipes save lives,ÔÇØ motorcycles ÔÇô especially in groups ÔÇô have been known to send people running with hands cupped over ears. BMW motorcycles present a notable exception. They run quietly; at full throttle a BMW typically sounds like a washing machine in its final spin cycle. (Interpret no implication that BMW bikes are underpowered as I am referring to an industrial sized washing machine ÔÇô one that could easily wash a blanket or half a dozen stuffed bears).
Approaching West Bend Wisconsin last Thursday, all must have noticed the progress of thousands of washing machines speeding toward a common location. It was the thirty-fifth BMW Motorcycle Owners Association (MOA) national rally. It was the second that I have attended.
A lot happens at a four-day motorcycle rally. Experts conduct seminars. Riders explore the region. Vendors pitch their products. Most importantly, friends meet.
I canÔÇÖt readily count the number of people I met up with. Several were familiar from my local BMW Bikers of Metropolitan Washington (BMWBMW) club. Others were previously known to me from the contributions theyÔÇÖve made to the MOA and/or the Adventure Rider (ADV Rider) forums. And of course new friends were made.
I was among thousands of people with specific interests in the exact activity IÔÇÖve enjoyed since late April. And IÔÇÖll admit that I did indulge a bit. This is an only-mildly-edited version of what I had to say to the ADV Rider group:
ÔÇ£Um, hello. That rally pretty much ruled. I didn't do so much over the weekend that was motorcycle-related. Instead, I made the failsafe decision to focus on beer. This can be justified by mentioning that after leaving home 10 weeks ago and riding 17,000 miles, it was time to flip the miles/beer ratio, at least for a couple days.You get the idea.
I am quite sure that I met more than one ADV rider. . . .and I do recall that you all were a pack drunken messes ready with distasteful commentary. As such, I thank you for being there when I needed you most.ÔÇØ
I did manage to do a couple of constructive things at the rally. For one, I took the Motorcycle Safety FoundationÔÇÖs Experienced Rider Course. When later asked what I learned at the course that I havenÔÇÖt learned in prior years (and more specifically, in prior months), my answer is, ÔÇ£I learned that I can maneuver just fine, but IÔÇÖm really good at stopping.ÔÇØ Certain buffalo-related incidences excluded, this is consistent with my stand-still-until-the-danger-passes approach to most things. I also went for several runs, mostly in search of coffee.
I should have mentioned this in a prior post but I forgot. . . Somewhere up in British Columbia I broke the frame of my riding sunglasses and while in Missoula, I bought some more, and having recently heard that polarized lenses provide good light protection, I selected a polarized pair. Funny thing, when I first put the new glasses on, all was fine ÔÇô but when I lowered my helmetÔÇÖs face shield, a whole new world appeared before me. It seems that some property of the face shield interacts with the polarized lens such that certain sources of light (reflections from car windshields, bodies of water, some well-worn sections of the road) appear to have distorted colors. The distortion is dramatic at times. An oncoming windshield can appear as bright purple, then in an instant appear as orange, then perhaps neon green. It takes some getting used to, but the distortion does not impact oneÔÇÖs perception of depth or speed. So who cares if a silver car is suddenly hot pink? And then turquoise? Truth be told, IÔÇÖve overstated the impact here ÔÇô it is not the case that the entire world changes colors infinitely. It is the case that ÔÇÿpatchesÔÇÖ exhibit the condition, sort of like a grouping of ÔÇ£hot pixelsÔÇØ in a digital image.
Leaving the rally, I rode for several days with my friend Jim (a.k.a. ÔÇ£JimVonBadenÔÇØ on the forums). He and I had similar plans to loop up and around the great lakes on our routes back to Virginia. We both had grand images of what a place named Destruction Bay must look like ÔÇô surely it would be spectacular to see, a combination of treacherous rocks, unforgiving waves and the scattered remains of boats who took a chance.
From West Bend, Jim and I headed northwest at first, barely missing the western edge of Lake Superior. We passed through a bit of Minnesota, then into Ontario were Destruction Bay presented a stifled post-industrial downtown area. It did have a Laundromat, so we were pretty happy about that.
We passed along the northern shore of Lake Superior and enjoyed riding through winding, pine-lined roads and getting periodic views of the lake. The lake, by the way, was brilliant blue ÔÇô and through my miracle glasses, also lime green at times and sometimes also lavender.
After Lake Superior, we passed over Lake Huron and earlier today we parted ways, with Jim heading south to home and I making one last stop ÔÇôin New England- before I too return to the DC area.
It turns out that Jim and I rode and got along quite well together ÔÇô IÔÇÖm glad we made the trip together. Note also that Jim is very savvy with motorcycle mechanics ÔÇô so heÔÇÖs a good guy to have around for all kinds of reasons!
Heading eastward toward Ottawa, I continued east along the Trans-Canada Highway. At one point, I found myself riding with much spirit along with two Harley Davidson riders. A moment later, the three of us were parked on the side of the road, having been flagged down by a policeman. He seems to be of the belief that I was traveling 141 km/hr in a 90 km/hr zone. I refuse to believe such nonsense as that is the hallmark of someone far less responsible than I. It seems that IÔÇÖve been invited back to Ontario next month. There seems to be no ÔÇ£decline with regretsÔÇØ option on the RSVP card. . .