Editor’s Note: When it comes to jumping on your bike and taking off on a road trip, you’ve basically got two choices. You can go it alone and enjoy the serenity of man (or woman), machine and the great outdoors. Or you can participate in the camaraderie of a group ride. That’s a personal decision, of course, but what we present here are two differing opinions on the subject. Today we hear from Patrick Garvin, who apparently isn’t into group hugs — or rides. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Jake Herring on the wonderfulness of riding with others.
I Ride Alone — With Nobody But Myself
It appears that large portions of our culture as motorcyclists have taken to riding in groups. Great bunches of people moving as one — and not moving particularly fast. To be sure, a lot of these organized events are poker rides and charity events. Things of that nature. And that’s all well and good.
But I have to tell you, I recently attended my first poker run and I bounced out of there after Stop No. 3. I understand the thinking behind charity runs, but I’ll make my donation at the office, thank you very much. I mean I just don’t see the purpose of hundreds of bikes jammed into a large pack and disrupting traffic.
First off, there’s the safety issue. The fact that most likely I only know a few of the riders in this enormous pack of riders means I don’t know the skill levels of those with whom I’m sharing this roadside grunion run. Any one of them could pull a bonehead move and bang into another bike, causing a domino effect — with 700-pound steel dominos, no less!
Secondly there’s absolutely no pleasure in putting around town from point A to point B, navigating at a snail’s pace while my bike’s cooking the inside of my thighs. And that brings up another point — where the heck are we going on these poker runs? Many poker runs involve at least one stop at a tavern, and most of them include several such stops. What kind of message does bar hopping on motorcycles send? That’s a terrible idea!
And probably the least palatable part of this pack predicament is the fact that you’re spending most of your time fending off all the bikes around you instead of enjoying an actual ride.
What about riding with friends, you ask? Sounds good on paper but listen to this: Somebody innocently suggests everybody ride over to some local hang out spot. What generally follows is a period of waiting around for everybody and their mother to get their coat on or go to the bathroom or get gas. Then someone decides they want to buy a snack as long as they’re already at the gas station.
Before you know it, the day’s half gone. And then, once you get underway, there’s always someone who doesn’t want to go on certain roads or Billy Ray doesn’t want to ride in the back or Johnny Boy wants to stop every six miles to take a picture.
And with that many people, there’s always a reason to stop every 45 minutes, leaving little time to actually ride. Generally this day ends up being like your last family reunion where you said you’d go, but you really wanted to leave, but you ended up staying anyway, and then you vowed you’d never do it again.
My idea of a great ride is gearing up, throwing a leg over my bike and hitting the road as the sun starts to climb in the sky. I don’t have to worry about my destination; I just roll on the throttle and head in the direction of a curvy road. Hell, half of the time I just check the map for the road with the most bends and head that way. I can set a blistering pace through the corners without having to worry about anybody keeping up.
If I want to jack up the occasional wheelie, I don’t have to worry about startling anyone. I can just hang it out there to my heart’s content. Sliding through corners on the back road two lanes is completely encouraged by the entire group (me). Or I can cruise along in solitude at whatever rate of speed I like, taking in the scenery at my leisure and not stopping until the gas light comes on. Or I can hang around at a roadside pit stop as long as I want.
Because when it comes to taking a vote, I’m the only one holding a ballot.