Jun 26, 2006

smoke out vii rally...

what a weekend!!! here's a not so quick recap of the weekend including some pictures.

it started out friday with the crew finally arriving. i was expecting them around 5:00pm, including the scheduled stops they had to make. around 1600, the skies opened up for about an hour and dumped so much water. i was afraid they were caught in it. by bro called at 1700 saying they were about an hour away - and hadn't run into any rain. cool!!! at that point, i was expecting them at 1800. but they didn't show up until 1900. little did i realize when my bro called, they had just stopped for gas and beverages. not only that, they did in fact run into rain the last part of the trip, slowing them down slightly. anyway, it was good sight to have them show up...

we managed to cram all eight bikes, plus mine, into my garage, as evidenced below. although we didn't need to, we could have probably gotten one more in if they would have parked a little closer together...




after they unpacked, changed out of their wet clothes, it was time to dig into the bbq and beer, sit back, relax and give each other a hard time. good food, good friends, good times...



my neighbor, stanley, - the one who's planning on traveling out to sturgis with us - finally got a chance to meet the "gang." this would be the determining factor whether he would actually go on the trip with them or with his own riders. as most guys do - they'll start to give each other crap about whatever... but frank's comments usually go over the top - he usually goes for shock value. not to worry, stanley fit in with the guys. we all laughed, joked and feed each other crap...

the next morning arrived and it was time to head to the smoke out in salisbury. we weren't sure about the weather - they were calling for thunderstorms throughout the day... but that doesn't stop us!! as usual, this crowd will sit around, talking, drinking, and kibitzing all morning long. but you better be ready to leave in thirty seconds. once someone gives the word, these guys jump on their bikes and are out of there quick... finally at 1100 the word goes out and we're outta here. sometimes i wish i could be a bystander and hear the racket that goes on as we leave - i'm sure there was one. but, i wouldn't trade that for actually being on the ride...

in all, we had eleven bikes. and i got to lead them all as i was most familiar with where we were heading... it was a good experience leading a group that large. i don't mind doing it as long as i know each of the riders in the group. i wouldn't want to lead a large group like that if i didn't know everyone - too much to worry about. so we headed off on some back roads until we got to interstate 85. it was a nice ride through the two lane twisty roads. it wasn't necessarily a cool morning, but it was cooler than expected. then we hit interstate 85. interstates aren't the fun to drive along and the only real reason i like to take them is if i have to get somewhere quickly. this was obviously a reason to take the interstate this time.

other than a couple of bozo cage drivers, the ride on 85 was okay. twice, a cage almost wiped out a couple of us. you would think with a group this large, it would be hard to miss us. but i guess some cagers have their heads so far up their asses they don't notice anything. a couple times we'd come up on a slower driving cage. as usual, we'd pull into the left lane to pass. then the cage would speed up, not letting us pass. we could have been asses ourselves and just throttled past them, but no, we'll just putt along at our speed. this happened a couple times and made me start wondering why... why do people do that?? they're content to go slow until someone tries to pass them. oh well - i wasn't going to let it get under my skin and ruin a perfectly good day...

so we get to salisbury and make the requisite beer and gas stop before heading into the smoke out. everyone loads as much beer and ice into their saddle bags as they can fit. we also pick up a few snacks and consume a beverage or two at the gas station. once we're satisfied, we head into the smoke out.

now the smoke out is what i like to think of as a grass roots rally. you won't see many high dollar choppers that you're used to seeing on tv - unless of course builders like kendall johnson, billy lane and paul cox bring theirs along. which they did. no, at this rally, you'll see a lot of true choppers - the kind that have been built in garages, from left over parts of other bikes. and that's what i like to see. although some of the bikes looked like they might not run at all.

the smoke out is also about buying and swapping parts - lots of used parts. enough parts that you could build a whole new bike using parts from all the different vendors.

and of course the smoke out is about see all the scantily clad hotties walking around. and watching all the redneck guys, who act like this is their first time out, shouting for the women to get naked on the mechanical bull.

the day was spent walking around the rally looking at bikes, parts, people, bands, whatever there was to see. we lucked out with the rain, as it didn't. it was hot, though. just stepping into the shade seemed to drop the temp ten degrees. every once in a while, a breeze would blow by.

during the smoke out, some dood was riding his bike through a field and dumped it. i'm not exactly sure what he was doing, but apparently his bike flipped end over end a few times. he spent some time in the ambulance - luckily he got out of there with only a bandaged arm. his bike wasn't so lucky. i saw him riding around later (unfortunately i didn't get a picture). he looked okay but his bike was torn up. from fairing was missing the headlight and scraped up on one half. both saddlebags were torn up. he'll probably be hating life when he sobers up.

so we walked, and walked, and walked around for hours. didn't sit as much as i wanted. it seemed every time i got back to the bikes, someone would come by and offer to walk another loop around the rally. of course, fearing i might miss something, i couldn't just sit there...

about 2300 we all had enough and decided it was time to head to the hotel. we get our gear on, get everyone gathered and head out. the hotel we stayed at was about 20 miles from the rally. on the way there, we have to pull over for clarifications on the directions. wayne and frank are looking over the directions trying figure out where they are. i head over to offer some assistance. the confusing part was we have to get on interstate 85 business. which we were on, until we pulled over to clarify the directions. it was confusing because the directions, as most mapping services will do, adds another line item each time the road changes - even though you may actually still be on the same road. our directions had interstate 85 bp, bl and br. in reality, these are the same road. they were confused over this. i told them it was all part of the same road - we just need to stay on 85 bypass until nc8. off we head...

we go riding along... however, to stay on 85 bypass, we actually had to take an exit. i wasn't sure if frank knew this or not - he was just looking for nc8. it wasn't actually an exit, it was more of a split. as we get closer and closer, i'm not sure frank realizes he needs to exit. i'm about fifth in line. i break out of the line on the right and race to the front. i'm trying to motion to frank to follow me. as i'm doing this, i'm starting to take the split. i'm looking in my mirrors and some of the bikes are following, but frank it heading straight on the other road. bummer...

here we are - separated and not really knowing where we're going... and now i'm leading... i stayed on 85 bypass until we got to nc8. once we pulled off there, i didn't know the rest of the directions, so we pulled over. this was also a good time to figure out if we lost anyone else. we did - jamie decided to follow frank. jamie, when will you learn?? we decided to head on to the hotel and frank and jamie could catch up to us there. unfortunately, getting to the hotel wouldn't be that easy - the directions were crap. we ended up calling the hotel and getting good directions. we finally made it to the hotel. while we were checking in, frank and jamie called the hotel and were getting directions. they weren't too far away.

by the time we pulled our bikes around the back of the hotel, frank and jamie were pulling up. of course, getting split up and lost became a lot funnier when we were all back at the hotel.

the next morning it was time to head back home. the skies looked a little overcast and they were calling for thunderstorms. would we be as lucky as the day before, or would the skies finally open up on us?? stanley, donnie and i decided to take a different route home - rt64. which would be a nicer, non-interstate ride for us. they rest of the crew too the interstate.

the ride home was awesome. we did manage to get a few sprinkles, but not enough to make us pull over and don our rain suits. we were in and out of sunny and cloudy skies about half the ride. then the skies cleared up and we had sun - making for a great ride. we got home about 1100. luckily, because about an hour later, the skies opened up and it rained the rest of the day. unfortunately for my brother, they hit rain most of the way back. and what would have normally been a six hour trip took them nearly ten hours. but, they made it safely home.

the smoke out was fun - as usual. but it didn't seem as good as last year. didn't seem like as many people, and the vendors seemed to pack up a little early. but it was still a good time. riding with my brother and friends - how can you not have a good time??

here are some pics of the rally.

again - a special thanks to my wonderful wife. she does the majority of the work in getting the house cleaned, all the food together and making sure everyone is comfortable when they're here. not only that, once we all leave for the rally, she gets stuck with the mess to clean - including all the wet towels. thanks boo... you're the greatest...