Sat. Apr. 6, 2002
The sun rose on a clear but cool day for a long
ride. After much planning, deliberation, discussion, and weather watching, the decision had been made and the day had arrived.
We were riding to Dallas to attend the Easyrider Bike show and nothing was going to stop us, not prior commitments, nor missed
meetings, nor important political activities and certainly not the weather. We; Scott H., Fast Eddie, Ron M. and yours truly,
Kent, the recorder of this odyssey, embarked on an adventure that none of us will soon forget. We left Oak Grove, LA at 6:10,
(somebody was late!) for a rendezvous with Scott in Bastrop and then we would hit the road for Big D. The sky was gorgeous
but just a touch on the cool side, the thermometer at the bank in Mer Rouge read
44 deg. F. Thank God for leather and thinsulate! We hooked up with Scott, got a little fuel and beat a hasty exit out of Bastrop,
stopped in West Monroe for breakfast and let our fingers thaw a little.
Fast Eddie leading the charge we made an uneventful trip across the state and didnt stop again until we made the Texas state
line, by then it was time for a little break and some more push water. We ran in to four other brave souls that were riding
to the show, funny how few people actually rode to the bike show. As we made our
way across Texas, the sky turned from beautiful blue with scattered fluffy clouds to an ominous gray. The farther we rode
the darker the sky became, eventually small drops of liquid began to appear on my windshield and visor. At Terrell, where
we were to exit I-20 for Hwy 80 we decided that it was time to don the rain gear. It turned out to be a very good decision. As we preceded to Dallas, the sprinkle turned to
drizzle and then to rain, not a hard rain but hard enough (who voted me to be leader all of a sudden?). I have never liked
driving in Dallas traffic anytime, no matter the situation; good weather, low traffic time period, known destination, familiar
route, whatever. Dallas was never a fun place that I enjoyed traveling. Today would probably go down as possibly the worst
riding conditions I have ever personally ridden in. By the time we got to Mesquite it was raining in earnest and although
we didnt know it at the time, there had been a wreck on the freeway in front of us. The traffic was bumper to bumper and moving
at a snails pace, the rain coupled with the slow speeds made visibility through my helmets visor all but impossible, to make
things better, we werent sure of how to get to where we wanted to go. We knew the address but none of us had ever been there
before. We decided to exit 80 for the also snarled traffic of the service road.
After inching our way to a fuel stop we got some directions and made it to our motel.
We rested briefly, dined at Wendys, thanked God for safe passage and then made our way back onto the rain soaked and busy
I-30 to see the bike show. And what a show it was. Country boys should not be
allowed out at such events without proper supervision. Being an auto mechanic by trade, I was only interested in the machines;
designs, engineering, craftsmanship, etc. My fellow riders, it seems, were distracted. I wont go into detail, but there were
periods of time that some of them could not account for, they said they had been looking at the bikes. But then Nixon said
he wasnt a crook too, didnt he? Hey, Im not their keeper, they are big boys now
and what they do is their business. I am just trying to tell it as it happened. Fatigue and fear of threatening weather helped
us decide it was time to leave. So it was back out into the freeway traffic, still sprinkling, unsure of our route and by
this time it was getting dark. Fast Eddie made a few wrong turns and then it was my turn to lead again (funny how this works
isnt it?). We did eventually arrive back at our motel without injury but not without some fear and trepidation.
This tale would not be complete without mention
of our evening meal. Some wanted to eat Tex-Mex, some wanted Chinese. We settled on a little diner close by, another excellent
choice. There, we met a delightful waitress, whose name escapes me, originally
from Germany she spoke with just a hint of an accent. Her hair was white as snow and her teeth had seen better days, but she
had a smile and personality that made you feel like your were home. She told us stories and made us laugh and brought us the
biggest chicken fried steaks I had ever seen. Yes, they were Texas size. After a quick trip to Wally World for a little shopping
it was back to Motel 8 and time for a much needed nap. We went outside and checked the weather a few times and it continued
to sprinkle on and off.
Sunday Apr. 7, 2002
After watching the weather channel, we decided
we had better hit the road as early as possible to beat the approaching rain and possibly a repeat of yesterdays conditions. We put on our rain gear as a precaution and rode out of Dallas thankfully on dry pavement
but into a very strong headwind. The air rolling over my windshield battered my helmet and caused it to vibrate like someone
was playing a snare drum on my head. I made a mental note to get a taller windshield or just ditch the windshield altogether.
We made good time with very light Sunday morning traffic out of Dallas, through Mesquite, Forney and Terrell. Just before
Tyler we had to make and emergency pitstop, it seems Scotts very expensive rain pants could no longer take the high winds
at interstate speeds and literally shredded with him still wearing them. It was quite a sight, Scott riding down I-20 with
long yellow streamers attached to his waist and flapping in the breeze behind him. We laughed so hard Ron almost dropped his
bike. Somewhere Between Kilgore and the Louisiana border the sky began to lighten and the sun would appear for awhile but
the wind seemed to gain strength and shifted slightly to the south forcing us to lean into the wind at times like we were
rounding a corner at speed. We made one more rest stop before stopping in Monroe for fuel, food and to get film developed
at Wallys place. I hope those of you that read this ask Eddie, Scott and Ron who used the least amount of fuel. Hmmm, maybe
American made is better.
Sunday Apr. 7, 2002
four hours and 20 minutes, 696.2 miles later I arrived back at our starting point, tired and sore but so much richer for the
experience. Many people that dont ride cant understand why anyone does under any conditions, let alone some of the circumstances
we found ourselves in. I am quite sure that it would be futile to attempt an explanation that could possibly enlighten them
. Its like the bumper sticker says If I have to explain you wouldnt understand. But I would offer this, for most of us, our
lives are full of routine. We get up and go to work each day and for the most
part, we do the same things we did yesterday. We come home and deal with our personal lives much like we did last week. There
is nothing wrong with that, I love my life, my home, my family. This routine, this life is what makes adventures such as this meaningful. Were it not for our ordinary everyday existence we would not seek alternatives
to the mundane. Is it dangerous? Well, yes it can be at times. Is it uncomfortable? Yeah, sit in the saddle for 2 hours straight
and tell me it doesnt hurt. Is it scary? Sometimes it is. Is it exhilarating? For those of you that dont ride, you will never
be able to understand what it feels like to be part of the road, you just cant experience it any other way. The wind is in
your face the sun on your back, the smell of burning leaves or wisteria blooms, fresh cut grass, wet sawdust or fried chicken
as you ride past a restaurant, you just want to see whats over the next hill
or around the next curve, you just want to keep riding because you know its as close to being free as youre likely to get
this side of heaven.
Guys, lets do it again. Now if we can just find somebody that likes to ride point with good navigational skills