I woke up Thursday morning early, with the sun. I thought to myself, I'm not ready to go home yet. That was my one overwhelming thought for the morning.
I got up quietly so as not to wake the others in the room, grabbed some gear, wallet, phone and money, quietly brushed my teeth and headed outside. I geared up outside, walked the bike away from the building and fired it up and got rolling quickly, again hoping to let everyone else sleep in. I wanted some time all to myself to really take the bike and myself out for a workout ride; no group to push or pull or try to keep up with, no pillion telling me to slow down in the twisties, just me and the machine.
I decided that a fast paced ride over to Marlinton and back would suit the morning. The trip out to Marlinton, across 219, was a pretty mellow pace because I was heading into the sun for much of it. But I was able to think back on the past couple of days; try to remember all the new faces and names, who's riding which bike, how they got to the event, who had to leave early, what things made me remember one person vividly while struggling to remember a name for another (I'm horrible with names).
My mind tends to work in a very segmented, compartmentalized fashion. I started into a long, mildly-tight uphill turn (a cautionary 45mph marked one for those familiar with the road) at roughly 70 and ahead, about 2/3 of the way through the turn, off to the left side of the road was a younger doe or an older fawn; no spots, but just a little thing. I rolled down the throttle ever so slowly while, in my mind, those thoughts of ponder and reflection were stored in their little box and put back on the shelf while my tactical brain took over. One thing I can say with all confidence (not cockiness) that I've worked hard to get right is throttle control. I'm pretty smooth... it pays to learn this skill above many others for spirited riding. I consider it second only to looking.
Between the uphill and the ever-so-slow throttle hand, I brought the bike down to about 45 just as I came even with the deer. At this point, the deer would need warp drive to catch and impact me, so I said, aloud, "Hi Bambi", then put that deer out of my mind, scanned ahead and found no others. With the path clear of further wildlife, I hammered the rest of turn in 2nd and 3rd gears, the twin rumble and grippy tires doing their job taking me up to a comfortable 80 or so as I exited the turn. Did I mention I love how twins deliver power?
I got back into non-tactical mode; the road ahead was pretty straight and mellow with incredible sight lines for a while, and my conscious mind started thinking about my comfort on the bike during this trip. Handle bars are good, seat is surprisingly good for a stock seat, the tucked knees get a little sore after a few hours, but it's still considerably more relaxed than a full on sport bike. Nothing really to concern myself over as far as the bike's ergonomics are concerned. So I went back to thinking more about The National.
ST.N, by and large, is made up of a pretty awesome group of people and lots of cool people made this trip. Corbeau has the coolest accent. Mr. Awesome leads a good ride. Cablebandit is a quietly confident and talented rider. Everyone who's ever met R Doug or Colleen just falls into an easy and comfortable liking of them. It was great to finally meet BunBun after buying some Givis from him a few years ago. Scratch is always worth a chuckle and a good story. And the list goes on and on and on...
Then I got to the roller-coaster like banked turns just North of Droop Mountain park, and the tactical me had to be in charge for a bit. I rolled through those between 40 and 50, VERY conscious of the fact that I was wearing jeans and not my riding pants at the moment. Hanging off mostly to aid in faster turn-transitions than lean management (due to those wonderfully banked turns), paying full attention to the throttle hand and keeping off the brakes, keeping as consistent a pace through there as I may have ever done, I was giggling like a nutjob in my helmet by the end of them. A perfect run; maybe a little faster on the uphill pass on the way back, huh?
With that fun and excitement behind me, I was free to get back to my thinking... I admit to being a little disappointed in the numbers; we've had more attendance on some of the regional meets, local meets and I think in 2007, the Burger Run was probably about 200(?) people. This group was small. I'm chalking it up to the economy and some of the recent petty silliness after the Ads thing and cat thing, and some of that silliness. Next year, I'm going to push for better attendance and I hope it works.
Butch up, you Nancies, and ride your asses to the national! No fuggin' excuses!
I got to Marlinton, enjoyed a cup of tea while sitting by the river and watching the ducks, generally keeping a clear mind other than thinking about the return ride; where I saw dirt and cruft in the road, which turns I buggered up on entry and which ones I nailed perfectly, etc. I bought a couple of t-shirts, then suited up and mounted up and rode back to Lewisburg, and yes, I tore up those banked turns with just a few more MPH than I did on the downhills. Great fun! I really enjoy the uphill stuff more than the downhill
Got back to the hotel, showered, packed up, loaded up the van, and I rode out towards Staunton (219, 39, 42) while my wife did some local browsing and shopping, and we met up on the road for lunch. I saw Mr. Awesome at a gas station, had a brief chat, then we split ways. A little while later, I packed the bike on to the trailer near I-81 and we had a quiet, comfortable ride home in the van.
Even though the numbers seemed down to me (for a NATIONAL meet), and some of the screen names more familiar to me might not have been there, this was a great gathering and I'm glad I went. Meeting and interacting with many of the ST.N folks always leaves me feeling like the online component of ST.N - the anonymous, silly, repetitive threads about the same old shit - really has no interest for me, for a little while after a meet. Today, I did a brief scan of topics, found the same old crap (except a few new "rider down" postings
) and just marked the whole forum as read without diving into much of it. Meh...
I added my pictures to the pic thread, started this thread, and I'll check back in a few days on ST.N to see what's new. But until then, I'd rather just keep my ST.N National memories as the more important thing; the people who made it all had their own agendas and reasons... some enjoy riding solo, some seek out groups, some swap bikes for the day, some go looking for the less-beaten paths, some just want to ride certain stuff over and over, some cut their rides short and spend their energies on the socializing... and so on.
In short, this was a great meet and I love you guys. Even you, County, you one trick pony and even you ConPilot, you pissed off psychopath!
You missed a great meet. The meets make it all gel into a great part of life.
Thank you, ST.N.