Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

The Last Weekend?

It's the last weekend in September -- and it's been a glorious one weather wise, sunny and clear, with temps in the 70s. Given the "joyus" news on Friday from the IRS, I needed this weekend to clear my head.   Saturday the HOG chapter had a private "Experienced Rider Course", which was a six hour session of riding drills in an empty parking lot.  Six long hours of doing "figure eights" in a box, slow riding techniques, and practicing emergency stops and swerves.  All good skills to keep honed in order to stay safe on the bike -- but also somewhat mind-numbingly boring on such a nice day when I really NEEDED to get out and ride to clear my head.

So today I headed out late morning all by myself, with no particular destination in mind.  I dressed in my Carhartt riding pants, and a sleeveless flannel shirt, and wore my light leather jacket.  As I pulled up the drive I had to decide left or right, and for some reason turned left.  As I headed north on 35th Ave I could see Mt. Baker looming in the far distance up along the Canadian border, so I aimed for that.  As I worked my way north towards the city I decided I'd head up towards Baker and take the windy back roads through the farm country along the Stillagaumish and Skagit Rivers.  This ride has always been one of my favorites as the road is lightly traveled, through some gorgeous farm country, all the while with Mt. Baker looming on the horizon.
The fields have been harvested, and the fall leaves stating to turn.  The bike was running great, and I took of my jacket and rode in my sleeveless shirt, with the sun on my arms.  My mind blanked, and all I saw was the road.  It hardly seemed like the last weekend of September.  This weekend is also the Oyster Run, the last big bike rally of the year in Anacortes, and I passed several hundred bikers on the road either headed to or from the ralley.  As I neared the town of LaConner I decided I could head over to Anacortes and check out the ralley for a bit, so I turned and went over the Swinomish Channel Bridge and onto the Reservation and  up to Fidalgo Island.  

As I neared the island it looked and felt like a mini Sturgis.  I think every biker in Washington State had to be on Highway 20.  As I was heading into town I passed a 5 mile long line of bikers getting out of town, and made a mental note it would be a long traffic jam out of town so I shouldn't stay long.  Downtown Anacortes was packed with bikers and bike vendors and motorcycles and food booths, and like Sturgis it has a quaint downtown, so only the cooler temperatures gave it away that I wasn't in South Dakota.  That and the God Damn Republicans of Skagit County had a booth at both ends of the town with Dino Rossi for Governor, and McCain for President signs and posters of Sarah Palin on a Harley.  They got a few honks from bikers but I gave them a single fingered salute.

The ralley had dueling "Christian" biker clubs too -- with one club proclaiming on their jackets "Riding For The Son" (I guess Jesus can't ride his own bike).  The other offered a drive-thru "biker blessing" tent, where you could ride your bike in, be blessed, and ride out.  I wandered for a bit, then decided I'd head home -- I can only take so many biker-babes-in-bikinis after all.  That 5 mile traffic jam had now turned into an 8 mile traffic jam, and despite the cool temperatures I saw a number of bikes break down and overheat.  I decided to retrace my route and get off the main road and away from the traffic, so I welcomed the turnoff to the Indian Reservation.  My bike instantly cooled down and I loved the quiet back roads through the Skagit Valley as I headed south towards Seattle.  

It saddened me to get on the freeway at about 530pm just north of Everett, but I had no choice -- I'd run out of backroads, and the sun was going down.  It seemed as well that the sun was going down on the riding season -- I'm not sure how many more nice weekends we'll have.  I know there will be a few, but not the consistent string of them like we have in the summer, and that made me melancholy as well.  I'll ride anytime of the year, but once fall starts in earnest, then winter, with the short days, and colder temperatures, time seems to limit the riding.  Add to that the IRS again next week, and the pending election in November along with the legislative session means once again my time is at the mercy of my clients and the political process, and my life becomes controled by forces other than me.  

So for one last weekend for a while, I was in control -- for a bit over 200 miles, and a day in the sun, with my fists in the wind, and my mind was free.  One last weekend for a while anyway.


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