Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Riding Motorcycles in Tampa - Part 2

Ah, the saga continues! I know that you have all been just aflutter thinking about the next chapter of this adventure, and I'm sorry if you have lost sleep due to the anticipation of the post like a kid on Chistmas eve. Well, come to think of it, if you have lost sleep waiting for one of my irregular posts, you may have bigger problems and should probably seek some counseling.

Enough of that and on with the story.

Tampa Riding - Definitely warmer than home.

We headed north from Rick's house on roads that seemed covered with an unimaginable number of traffic signals. Here is my written impression of Tampa driving. Roooaaaaarrrr up through 1st and just as you hit 2nd gear, hit the brakes for the red light, sit and wait, repeat... Aren't you so lucky to have wasted your time reading that little gem...

Eventually we got to some open roads, and I noticed that motorcyclists gravitate to the same roads that bicyclists want to ride. Open, low traffic and fun with loads of twists. We warmed up our tires on a series of turns and got going on a great loop around San Antonio, FL.

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The turns in Florida that we enjoyed leaning through are very different than in Alabama and Georgia. At home the turns are sharp and winding around the mountains and amazingly fun to navigate. The Florida roads and turns are more sweeping and open. You can carry much more speed into and out of these big turns than at home. I found myself slowing to a good entry speed for a turn ala "mountain road style" and that was practically walking pace compared to what was actually possible to safely travel on these rides. After finding myself well behind the group because I slowed so much for the first few turns, I began to get the idea. We drove through turn after turn on all these new roads in the warm weather. It was great to explore and see new places. When I left Alabama it was 35 degrees, so I had to use my day-glow winter riding jacket, which is possibly the ugliest yet most practical piece of clothing I have ever owned. Thankfully, Nathan had packed every bit of riding gear he owned (and then some) into the truck, so he loaned me a cooler (in both the sense of insulation and looks) jacket to use while we were there. Travelling and packing everything onto a motorcycle does limit what one can carry, so had resigned myself to riding in the horrid looking and overly warm winter jacket in Florida. Nathan's loaner definitely made my days of riding more comfortable. Thanks!

We pulled into a gas station as a rest stop and ran into Bruce. He was one of the most hyper guys I have met, but that personality trait seemed to fit since he was a very good, and fast, rider. He was one of those guys you would love to sit down and listen to as he told stories, and you most likely wouldn't need to say anything to keep the conversation going! We decided to all ride a bit more after talking for a while, and that was when the "Revenge of the Ruben" occured. Perhaps, I should have noticed that Nathan had taken a prone position on top of the picnic table as we talked. He was looking more and more green by the second and after a few more minutes he sat up, dejectedly shook his head in a sign of surrender to the nausea, and went to yak behind the dumpster. The poor guy was really sick. I have no idea how he rode as well as he did while feeling that bad. We opted for a couple more sweeping turns while making a short trip home to get Nathan into bed. Bruce led us out and wow, that guy can ride. He would calmly drive through the straights so everyone could ride staggered, and then as a turn approached, I could hear the motors wind out and we would all drop into single file. One after another we all would lean into the turn and roar around it. Then everything would slow down to re-group. It was a great safe way to enjoy the roads. I learned a load about riding from watching Bruce, Rick and Nathan.

By the time we got home, Nathan was looking just exhausted and he poured himeslf into bed. We all sat around for a few mintues nervously wondering if he had the "Stomach Bug" that had been going around. That was a big worry, because if he had contracted it, we would soon all have it and the weekend would be ruined. I could imagine getting the bug and then having to ride back from Tampa while fighting back nausea the whole way.

While poor Nathan slept off the Ruben, Rick and I played with a very cool track bike. That thing sounds exactly like something I should never EVER own.

What do you mean? Of course it's totally legal to have it on the roads...

In the end, Nathan had been attacked, not by a vile stomach bug, but by the vile Ruben from the night before.

We had been asleep so little and done so much over the last 24 hours that it felt like it had been days since we had made the trip down with that fateful sandwich, but it had only been 8 hours or so. Nathan slept the whole evening and into the morning and awoke hungry and happy. Much to the relief of us all.

The next day it rained and we missed out on our planned boating and riding, among other entertaining things, but we did have loads of fun playing the worst games of pool and darts ever. I swear a game of pool took hours to finish. We couldn't hit anything, and I was the worst without question. In hopes that nobody would actually notice how miserablly we were playing pool, we did the smart thing and stopped. What to do next? Darts! We can't be that bad at that! Right? Perhaps we should have just hopped in the truck because we all looked...well...lets just say we look silly throwing darts. Rick has a nice unintentional pirouette after a throw and Nathan has a "fabulous" flair to this throws. I'm sure I looked just supremely studdly...as usual. We laughed about those games for the rest of the weekend.

Next - Hanging out, Modern Warfare, and things to do with an empty parking lot. Don't lose any sleep while waiting for the next installment my loyal readers!

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