When I first started riding motorcycles, I really didn't have anyone to go riding with. I had one friend for motorcycle-help, etc., and other than that I was on my own. I quickly discovered that he could not be bothered to go for rides like I wanted, and also that he was terrifyingly overconfident and underskilled mechanically.
I think we went for a ride once in the hills, and never again. Too busy, his bike crapped out, whatever. I rode alone for probably the first year or so. Head into the hills as early as possible Saturday and Sunday, most every weekend. Before that, I used to be quite a lush, drinking all my friends under the table all the time, staying out late, closing all the clubs... The motorcycle changed that. A night out meant I could not get up at sunrise to beat the traffic. A night of paying for drinks in a club cost the same as a pair of brake pads.
Nothing else could ever have competed with my drinking habit. But, motorcycles, THIS I was willing to sacrifice for.
By the way, you can ride by yourself forever and ever and not improve much at all. I really started to improve much later when I hooked up with other riders, starting with Monday Night Ride. That's another story.
Anyway, I'd get up as close to sunrise as I could convince myself and hit the road. South, always, since I know the Santa Cruz hills somewhat from camping as a kid, and my sister lives there in Boulder Creek. I pulled over for bikes and cars alike, and kept going. I knew that if I caught up to someone, they had no business being on the road. I'd run cafe to cafe, up the hill, down into the Valley, back over into Santa Cruz, stopping here and there. And then come home when it got dark. Still alone. Rinse, and Repeat.
Eventually, I found my people. A smack talking Texan and lovable Irishman, various other unseemly characters. Rides happened, shit was talked, smiles were made.
This weekend seemed like a return to the normal. The past year was interrupted with various things, the new job, the best friend with cancer, the boyfriend who never wanted to do a goddam thing. Work settled down, chemo worked, I lost the deadweight.
Friday I did NOT go to the tiki bar with the aforementioned dearest and now cancer-free friend. We did NOT order drinks by color, then adjourn to the Crowbar for some Motley Crue and Barry White. We did, however, on Saturday, get dirt tires mounted on my wheels for later, change my front brake pads and then spirit ourselves off into the hills to find trouble. One of my very favorite roads is Old Santa Cruz, just across from Bear Creek at HWY17. But it was dirty and wet. Charles is out of practice and also tire tread, and waves me forward. A nice stoppie stunt at the stop sign for Summit road (not mine) and then we take off down the road straight ahead. No one I asked knew where this road went, and I'd gotten curious a few weeks back. But that day, with the big sportbikes in tow, I'd left it for another day, and I'm glad I did. It was as close to dirt riding as I can get right now; what a mess of a road. I liked it, and it spat us out on 17 just past the safety corridor. Into Santa Cruz for ice cream, and then a quick jaunt down 9 onto Bear Creek and back into the valley. It was a short ride.
The evening was spent with lots of food, and Guinness, and good friends. And a really bad/good movie. Perfect, and we did this instead of the Mardi Gras party because we wanted to get up without hangovers, so that we could ride Sunday.
Sunday was perfect as a day can get. Well, except a perfect day would have fewer cops. (boo, but then, I managed to get home without a ticket so I should not complain) On the bike by 9:30 or so, and off and home around 5:30. THAT's how it should be! Friends did a short ride in the morning, up Mt Hamilton, where we got a stern talking to by the cop (which I'm still sure was not meant for us, but for the crappy sportbikers who were making their way up around the same time. They sucked!) Then to the Junction, where the rest turned around to go home to take care of other things. I headed off into the East Bay.
The East Bay is a giant black hole, which I cannot enter without getting lost. Mines was perfect, except I got my socks wet flying through puddles at speed. Into Oakland for lunch. I've been promised many rides to show me around the roads in Oakland, but most flake out. I've been up there once or twice, but know nothing. Fucking flaky people! Today I finally decided, like all other things, best to do it yourself.
So I looked for an in to the hills for a while, finally found a familiar road and switched back to Claremont, and away we go! Up and down there for a while, too many 25 mph cagers here! Circled back to the wall to try to find a DRZ I had encountered, surely he will have a better road in mind? Luck! I chatted with a nice greyhair on a DRZ, very very nice, and asked where Redwood was. Someone told me it was twisty, and dirty, I explained. I want to go THERE! They gave me directions and warned me that it was dirty, and away I went. Redwood is a beautiful road, but it is not super twisty, and really really not dirty. I liked it quite a lot though, and I think I actually rode it once before. In to some god-forsaken suburb for gas and then back into Redwood, up and down Skyline a bit, then back to SF. Came across the DRZ guy on my way back, he was excited to see that I'd found my way.
And home again, with not a damn (practical) thing accomplished for the weekend. And it feels great. I am tired, and sore, and, uhh, satiated. A day on the bike is a day at home.
But, now as ever, I ride alone. Still yet to find someone to keep up with me. I don't mean that in a speed way; the friends I rode with this morning WALKED away from me on Hamilton, as I'd expected.
But, is there someone to spend the days with, someone who will ride as much as I do, taking the unknown roads, trying get lost, running away from our shadows?
Shit, I don't even want to find someone to fall in love with; I just want to find someone who's in love with their bike, the way that I'm in love with my bike.
sighs and such...