I really didn’t want to get up when the radio alarm went off in the morning. But I did what everyone does, reset it for 10 more minutes and went back to sleep. That wasn’t the only thing that held me up. Showers can do that. For me, they are the only places you can walk into where time doesn’t exist. Oh, and beer caves at the beer store.
So when I finally got the last directions to Log Town from the man at the farmer’s market in Adairsville (“Just go straight ahead and around that white van and y’all are there.), I was just putting my kickstand down while the other bikers, about 30 in total, black and white, were lifting theirs up. A woman fanning herself with some raffle tickets yelled to me – “just pay me when you get back.” So we all headed out. All sorts of bikes: Harleys of every type (Big Red was the only Road King!), Suzuki Boulevard, Yamaha 750, Honda Goldwings, a few trikes (3 wheel bikes) 2 Can-Ams (two wheels in the front) and a Sling shot – the first I’d seen. Beautiful, but more like a convertible – except for the one wheel in back.
Soon we were heading down the highway. Yippee! Bikers started lining themselves up, one right of center, one left and so on. At the front and back were police escorts. Not that I have any current outstanding warrants against myself but it’s great riding in the pack with the delicious thought: “They’d never find me here! Ha ha!” That, plus the reality that because of the police blocking roads we got to run every red light and cruise at higher speeds than the limit. All making it worth the price of admission alone!
It was hard to find any colors along the two lanes which were mainly forested by oaks, maple and pine. But the pink/white silky flowers of the Mimosa were dappled into spots along the way. Closer to towns there were the crape myrtle in various colors such as: watermelon red, crimson red, lavender, white, coral pink. We rode through the forests of Northwest Georgia passed farms, ranches, wet bottomlands, and fields of corn, some scorched by the drought. Cars stopped along the side of the road and folks waved as we passed. I waved to this thin erect guy waving at me from a corn field only to realize it was a scarecrow.
The guy in front of me had his speakers blaring so I backed off until I couldn’t hear them. I ride in silence. My thoughts are loud enough. But I always reach the right combination of speed, silence and reverence where I am overwhelmed with a sense of awe and gratitude. My church is the open road where I always find hardship, hospitality, authenticity and praise. I open myself to beauty, strangers, risks, doubts, faith and getting lost – all traditional unmarked roads to God.
After an hour we were back. The organizer spoke some tearful eloquent words about who were riding for: Cancer Navigators of Rome – a free service for people with cancer and their families to help them navigate the labyrinth of confusing medical, financial, social, emotional and spiritual services that are hidden in our communities. We were also riding for the memories of those in the community who had died from cancer, including the organizer’s wife – and he read out their names in a crackling voice… “especially little Timmy” and he pointed to the picture of a small boy. Every town has had a little Timmy. Doc said a prayer and then folks lined up for food. Non riders actually outnumbered the riders and everyone was busy filling their plates and buying raffle tickets. A brief presentation was given by a biker talking about Bikers Against Child Abuse. After we ate, the raffle and auction started. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a tall heavy set biker with a Rip Van Winkle beard, wearing a black leather vest, auctioning off a carrot cake. There were about 30 different kinds of cakes people had baked and donated that went for as much as 50 dollars (But I left early). The mood was so brotherly and sisterly and kind that one man even bid against himself to keep bumping up his donation.
I spoke to the few people I knew and others that I didn’t and then I left early. I hadn’t bought any raffle tickets – wouldn’t be able to fit a cake properly in the saddlebag and didn’t want one of the top prizes – a Glock Pistol. (This is Georgia after all!)
I took off and as soon as I was out of town I started up-shifting with my foot. As I clicked Bid Red into fifth, I felt a wave of gratitude hit me like a soft, loving breeze. And I still feel it blowing.