Location: DFW, TX

Friday, April 27, 2007

BBB + A BABE Big Bend Ride 2007
Another year at Big Bend. This was our largest group yet for the 4th annual ride. We met at TMS ( Texas Motor Speedway ) as we do every year... and yes, Don was late again but what he didn't know was that he was really on time. Mark and I had said 6:45 knowing well he'd show up about 7am ( which was the time we had planned to leave all the time ) . So Don... you were really on time this year, LOL ! Every year Mark makes this several page booklet to pass out to everyone going on the trip. I don't know how much time he spends on it but by the look of it...It's a lot of time. He always plans the routes, hooks up the hotels and a whole lot more. On behalf of myself and all the riders who go every year, we thank you, Mark! Every year you have done such a good job.
This year's riders were: Mark, Don, myself, Rick, Andy, Laurie, Checo, Craig, Barry, and JT. This year we were fortunate to have a pretty face in the group who hung in with the best of us.We couldn't have asked for better weather. While they were having tornadoes and hail storms back home, we had bright sunny skies. We couldn't have asked for a greater group of riders. We were all among good people who enjoy life and the fun it has to offer. We spent the days riding and the evenings laughing (and singing for some). We had a few mechanical issues with some of the bikes (we won't do any brand-bashing but take a guess). It started with JT calling me at 7:30pm the night before the trip in a frantic state. He had found a loose wire, decided he'd try to fix it without calling me, and shorted out the headlight system. But no problem- after bringing the bike over and tracking down the problem we were able to fix it quickly and easily (next time JT call your local mechanic or myself and save yourself an anxiety attack LOL). We also had one bike on the trip lose it's air-breather element. Luckily we all dodged it as it went bouncing past us. After talking with the bike's rider, he admitted he had checked every bolt on his bike except for the two bolts holding the part (LMAO). We had so many good pictures that it has taken me a long time to decide which ones to post. I wish I could post all 600+ pictures. Well, I hope you enjoy the ones I posted.Here we are at TMS where the trip started. This pic was taken just after I told them we were going to be doing just over 500 miles today. As you can see Laurie is about to cry and Checo is thinking to himself " Cuz, I know we're family, but I can still hurt you"... and Craig's got that: Yeah, right your kidding...right ?

And we're off ! A nice pic of our formation riding. Here to the right of the pic you see Laurie as she's saying " Hey guys, how come I'm in back... I thought girls are supposed to go first".
This is Route 170. It is one big roller coaster ride. It gives you a wierd feeling when you're cresting the top top of the hill and all the sudden the road makes a hard right or left or it just drops straight down. On 170 I rode in front and I was able to keep most of the riders informed as to the road condition... meaning things like : rocks, cows ( we had one on the road as I crested a hill and one on the side on a turn ) , deer ( we had a herd on the road as Andy and I crested a hill... One decided at the last min. to cut back across the road in front of me, but we had slowed way down by that point ), ram ( yes, we had a herd of ram again on the road as Andy and I came flying over another hill crest ), gravel, birds, buzzards, and road runners. By the way no buzzard strikes for Don this year... just a few close calls.

This is the story of the three little pigs ( they're all on Hogs ). Here you see Craig leading the pack saying, " hey guys fallow me, I think I can do this... I stayed at a Ramada Inn last night".
Here's Laurie saying " Wow, I never new my bike had a reserve ". And Andy telling her, " hey don't put too much gas in there... these guys will ride forever without stopping if they can ".

Here is Checo saying: "Ah ha, mine's bigger than yours" and me responding: " It's not the size that matters...It's how you use it " .

Here is JT saying: " Wow, I use to think Flower Mound was big... Hey is there a bathroom around here ". Sorry, in order to keep this blog R rated I am unable to show the next pic I took of JT. But JT I do have it and I have been known to blackmail... So when did you say you'd cut my grass, wash my car...

Here is Mark saying: "Ok you guys, who's turn is it to pick out a meal for Elio" ? And you can see Andy praying as he sips his hot tea: " Thank you, Lord for letting me miss that herd of deer on the road... and the herd of ram... and those two cows...Oh yeah, and all those low flying beautiful birds (buzzards) you created. And Craig sipping his Coke saying to himself: " How did I ever get mixed up with this bunch".

Here you see Don saying to Craig : "Oh stop it Craig, I did not park my bike down there".

This is what Don woke up to every morning ( Rick ), need I say more. This is what Rick had to wake up to every morning ( Don ). I think they made a great couple!

If you can't figure out this pic, you have never been on a ride with us.

Here's Barry ready to go. I'm glad he has a large gas tank, he got lost at TMS and it took him a bit to find us....But he still beat Don there. We just loved to hear Barry laugh. His laughter alone would make us laugh.

This is where most of us stayed the second night in Tralingua, Tx. It may not look like much, but it's a clean cheap motel. We have been staying there the last 4 years and it remains a tradition

Here's JT using his "one hand on the bars" technique. Don't let that helmet fool ya. He only has it on because everyone else had theirs on and JT hates to feel left out, LOL !

Here's Andy. I don't know how he does it without a windshield. He and I traded bikes back and forth and at 75 to 80mph you just feel like the wind wants to rip you off the bike. THE MAN IS AN ANIMAL !

Here's Craig cruising down the road. His motorcycle got an unexpected performance gain during the trip. He ran an open carburetor. Hey, no problem with the thin air at high altitude...she's getting all the air she need and MORE !
Here is Rick doing his Queen Elizabeth wave. Nice wave Rick... now look where you're going LOL !
Here is Don...Our catalog man ( he's always posing ) for pics.

Here's Mark, our trip planner and organizer... He looks like he's going really fast... NOT! But that's ok, some people are just happy LOOKING FAST !

Here's Laurie, on her European vacation in Texas. We had to tell her she was still in Texas and that people here still drive on the right side of the road. Here is Barry on his European vacation. After telling him the same, he just looked at us and said " Yeah, right, I know wife says the woman is always right so I don't care what you guys say.... Im fallowing Laurie ! Yep that's our Barry.
I don't know what part of the world Checo thinks he's in... But I would bet they probably don't have any roads there.... Look at the pic...he's just about off the road in this pic. Hey Checo, have you ever heard of "ride in between the lines?", LOL !
This is me ( Elio ) on my riding lounge chair. Noitice the perfect La-Z-Boy riding style. WOO HOO this is the life !!!!
Here's the group as we walked back up the hill to our bikes. You can see JT on the right saying: " What's up with all this walking...why did we even bring our bikes...Is this a riding trip or a walking marathon?" ( JT has never heard of the word exercise ). JT stick with us, we'll make a new man out of ya. Lena, you can thank me later!

We rocked the bar... even though it closed at 9:30pm. That's what happens in small towns.
Mothers, remember, lock up your daughters if you see these guys in your town...that includes your daughters JT, LOL !!!!!!! Here's Andy ( far right) saying to himself: "You know, it's been over an hour...and they said they'd be right out". What, they don't sell coffee and doughnuts here?... Probably not the best place to park when on a motorcycle trip.

Here's Rick asking Laurie : "So Laurie, tell us about these old granny pajamas you wear to bed that Elio's been telling us about".

We've just rode over 500 miles on a motorcycle...YOU DON'T WANT TO MESS WITH US !!!!! JT saying to Andy : "I know how you feel Andy, this walking _____s, but here, hold my hand, we'll get through this together".Here's the group toasting a good day's ride. I think I remember Laurie telling the guys, "wow you guys did a great job of keeping up with me". Here's Laurie saying, "I'm on a road trip with 9 guys... You would think at least one of them would come help me with my bags". Hey guys you think Laurie needs a hand with her bags.........NAH, she's doing fine.
Here's JT praying: Lord, I know I hate exercise, and I really, really hate walking when I have a perfectly good motorcycle, and you've done a good job of keeping me free of bird stikes and road critters... BUT PLEASE, we have two days left and I just don't think I will survive another walk! Party time at THE KIVA!Here's Andy rocking the house... We had no idea we had a rock star in the group. He was bringing down the house. Wait, we now have two rock stars in the group. Go JT, Go JT.....
LOOK !!! It's Big Rick And The Three Buzzards. And the Fun goes on, and on, and on, and ....... I think that was the most fun we've ever had at the KIVA. This is what happens when you get up there and sing... and you're good. Andy, you know this girl is still thinking about you today. By the way she even gave Andy a picture of herself...even though he had to pay for it ( see the money in hand...LOL, LMAO ). GO ANDY, GO ANDY, YOU DA MAN !
This is what it takes to get up on stage in the first place!

The next few pics are of some of the scenery you'll see at Big Bend.
UP, UP, AND AWAY ! Sorry wrong costume. This is me taking a group pic. You set the camera on a timer and you run like *@$#!% to get in the pic.
Here is Laurie looking hot on her bike.
Here's Craig saying : "Well, if Laurie can look that good on her bike... then I should be able to do the same". Craig you did good...another pic for the wife
Don : Can you hear me now ?
Hey Rick, I know you're competing with Don for the front page of the Motorcycle Rider magazine...But hey, move over; you're blocking the veiw Mark saying: "No, really you need to follow me this time. I'm tired of always being in the back...I do have the fastest bike out here... Ok...Ok...Are you even listening?
Build it and they will come ! MORE HORSEPOWER BABY ! Now that's a big air kit. Craig swore he checked every bolt except for those two.... Uh-huh.
Here's JT saying : "Hey Elio, can you come over and read this camera...I can't see what it says". We all wondered how JT was even able to see the road. Hey JT, next time leave the sunglasses at home ( it's that cool factor thing ) and bring your prescription glasses.

Here's Andy saying : "Hey guys go away... I think I see a woman coming". That's what happens when you become a rock star over night...You think all the women want you...LOL !
What a great pic ! This lady is the very reason we can do the things we do. Throughout our history men and women have died to keep what we as Americans cherish the most. And a countless number of others have fought and served in our nation's military to preserve what our fallen brothers in arms have died for. For all those who GAVE SOME... I say Thank you! And for those who GAVE ALL... I thank their families for raising such brave men and women. Every ride I take, I ride for myself and my fellow brothers in arms who are no longer able to join. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Ten Become One…
Buzzards of a Feather
We arrived that cool, overcast morning, each of us being the summation of our different backgrounds and different life experiences, both bad and good. I think the only person who knew everyone from the start, was our illustrious leader Elio. We made the introductions…….and began to ride.
Some legs were longer than others, some were more scenic than others and some legs were excruciatingly straight while others were an adrenaline pumping roller coaster. Whatever the case, I found myself being thankful for the limiting supply of gas from Lori’s gas tank.
As we rode, each of us, at one point or another, held just about every position within the group. I think I both followed every person at some point and found them following me at some point over the course of our journey. I was fast and aggressive at times, knowingly nearing the edge of my riding skill and I also cruised in the back of the pack just mellowing out, enjoying the scenery.
Over the course of our four day ride, I began to experience a certain ‘de ja vu.’ I was reminded of formation flying from my Air Force days. There is a fluidity and beauty in formation flying and I must admit it is one of the more gratifying things I have done with aircraft……but I was seeing it again in our group ride.
As I occupied different positions within the pack, I could see the different responsibilities each rider had in whatever position they occupied. If we were staggered in our formation and I was off to the right, my primary scan was to the right side of the road, looking for whatever threat might dare show itself as we thundered by, but still keeping a watchful eye straight ahead for information filtering its way from the front to the back of the pack. (also watching for various parts and pieces I needed to dodge as they came off the bikes in front of me….you know who you are)
Our staggered formation at the beginning was at times stretched to the point of lacking any cohesiveness. That first day we looked, at times, like we were two or three different groups who just happened to be riding down the same road. At times as we entered a great stretch of twisting and turning roads, we transitioned to a single file formation better suited to the aggressive twists and turns of the road. We thundered on, and began to know each other personally, a little more, with each stop for fuel, a bite to eat, or a good nights rest after a solid day of riding.
And we began to change. I can only describe it as a thing of great beauty, riding in whatever position I held, and seeing the fluidity and grace of movement as our pack transitioned again and again from staggered to single file and back to staggered formation as we met the needs of the road. To a great extent that beauty of movement can only be appreciated by those who ride the line and experience it. Rick summed it up best when he mentioned at our last stop that he really enjoyed observing our group from the back and seeing our group ride. He said we were no longer individual riders but we rode as one.
Rick mentioned it was a matter of confidence and he is correct. During day four of our ride, we entered turns that easily would have dictated single file formation earlier in the trip, but we rode them staggered. We could do this because each of us had confidence not only in ourselves but also in those who were a mere few feet away, doing the same 60-80 mph, riding the line we needed to ride.
Our mutual experiences had melded us into one. We each had wondered how Lori was doing on fuel. We each had sore butts as we rode into Alpine. We each wondered which way the road would break as we thundered over the roller coaster of Hwy 170. Each of us had pressed the road hard, reaping and harvesting the adrenaline, and the serenity, from its winding path. We had each felt the cool morning air. And each of us had contributed to choosing at least one meal for Elio. The ten had become one. We had become the Buzzards.
I felt our unity in a way I had not expected though. As we rode through Mineral Wells and began splitting off to various destinations, I felt loss. As I continued my ride home with the remaining members of our pack, I knew the dynamic had changed. We were at a loss for those who had departed.
I am grateful for having experienced our pack. Each of you made our pack into "the Buzzards." You each contributed to my experience and I am grateful.
Ride Safe………

From JT,
Wow, I still can't get over the awesome time I had riding to Big Bend. What a blast. The only bummer about the whole trip was that it ended too soon. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone I had the opportunity to ride with. You're a great bunch of people, the kind you are proud to call friends and I hope to meet up again for another ride. I also learned alot about riding like a mad man, I can't believe I bought into ya'alls madness, but hey, what a kick in the butt it was. Riding a Road King like a CBR 1000 takes alot of groin, LOL... and Rick, Andy ,Elio, when do we hit the road with our new band, THE BUZZARDS? (you think the world would accept us like Terlingua did? Just a thought). Hey, I came home and started drinking green tea, thanks Don and Andy. Next I will be running or something. Lorie, you rode like a pro. Elio said you got a new bike, that's awesome, I'll have to check it out. Barry your laugh was contagious and joyful. Checo, just a fun dude to hang with. Craig, great attitude in a time of crisis when his bike was falling apart. Mark, bad ass dude on a rocket. Rick, what a great guy to have a conversation with; also road a beautiful Road King. I learned a lot following you. Elio, you're the best man; what more can I say and thanks for fixing my ride before we left. I too felt like Andy as we were heading home and branching off... kind of empty! So hey, lets do it again!!!!! See you all on the next trip. Ride safe, keep your knees in the breeze. Remember, always look up before you look around!
John (JT)


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