Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rider's Roost. Ferguson, NC. 2015. (by Jen Keller Skarsaune)

Almost every year for the past 12 years on a weekend in June I have found myself at the Rider’s Roost Campground in Ferguson, NC. It is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and surrounded by great motorcycling roads… and also some dirt roads if you get far enough off the beaten path. It is often the case that you set out from the Roost with a group of riders who have no idea where they are going but someone claims the lead and you just hope like hell that this really is going to be the short ride you intended to take. Then you find yourself on some kind of crazy adventure that becomes a half a day excursion that, without a recalculating gps, you may never return from and you are just elated that when someone’s bike breaks down it happens after finding civilization again. This was the story when I pulled into the liquor store parking lot, pulling the trailer, to load up Vince’s bike. His chain broke and put a hole in the case, 20 minutes from my house. After many times being on the other end of such a phone call it was actually quite nice being the one coming to the rescue. Chuck and I hauled Vince’s bike back to the Roost while Vince rode bitch behind Jay. So memories are made, and each year as we reminisce, we all laugh. There is a lot of laughter at the Roost. Smiles and hugs and true friendships. Every year it fills me up, it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, and then it is over until the following summer. I have to think there will always be a "next summer at the Rider’s Roost".

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16, 2012

Today marks the third year since I murdered a deer with my motorcycle. Somehow I managed to survive with minimal injury. I feel very fortunate to be alive having lost a few friends to motorcycle wrecks months before, one of them also involving a deer. I was released from the hospital the next day and spent the following few days repairing the bike. I had started traveling in May, taking trips around the Midwest: Michigan, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks.
Three days after my accident I was supposed to leave for an annual trip to NC that I'd been taking since 2003. I still went with my friends Scrap and Jennifer, although the bike was on my buddy Scrap's trailer with his and Jen's. Originally we were all gonna ride down, as usual, but they wouldn't let me miss it and the trailer was the only option as I was not able to ride immediately after the collision. The bike was up to it, but I wasn't. I was still a little broken and hopped up on painkillers. I spent the week with some dear friends I'd made over the years since going to the Rider's Roost campground in Ferguson, NC.

After returning to IL a week after my accident, Jen and I hit the road, each on two wheels, heading to New Orleans to visit our friend Clint, then riding back up to IL to join my Flatlander brothers and ride to another annual meet in Muskegon, MI that I'd attended since 2009. After leaving MI we remained on the road until October, zigzagging our way across the western United States. We rode to twenty six states, close to 30,000 miles, that year. It was epic.

Today also marks the day that I'd usually be leaving for that NC meet at the Rider's Roost, but not this year. Circumstances have kept me "home" this time. I'm working toward changing those circumstances.

I am constantly reminded to live, to live life, and enjoy it. It's quite short in the broad scheme, and we only get one go at it. Make it count.

To quote a cheesy mass produced sign that you can buy at chain stores: "Live. Laugh. Love."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

I clocked out a little later than planned Thursday, which put Scrap and I on the road a little behind schedule. It was pushing six as we rolled down I-74 toward Indy. Not even forty miles from our leave out my bike dropped two cylinders and I coasted to the shoulder. I still had power and had just topped off the gas tank. No idea. Thought maybe I had an electrical issue. I stomped on the kicker and it fired up, idling high. Got it toned down and continued southeast.

We came along Edinburgh, IN along I-65. We’d made it a few hours south of Indy, about 4 or so hours on the road already and the sun had disappeared as the temps dropped into the high thirties. We stopped for the night at a Red Roof Inn with a Waffle House next door, grabbed some brinner and hit the sack about 11 pm. I tossed and turned all night, partly due to being anxious and light coming thru the blinds, and also because of Scrap sawing logs on high.
I awoke to the trucker clock around 6:30 am. I’d only gotten about 3 hours sleep, but knew it was a lost cause to try'n stay in bed. We wanted to be rolling south by 8. We made Louisville about an hour later but lost a little bit of time there when I needed a fuel stop. I merged off at an airport exit thinking there’d be a filling station close to the freeway. Wrong. We had to wind our way into town to find one, where we got stuck listening to some local yokel in the parking lot ramble on about patch clubs.

Once back on the road, the sun began to do its job as the crisp morning air became more of a cool breeze. We bopped on down the road zig zagging the Memorial Day weekend traffic, only stopping when needed for fuel and a stretch until the bike died for the second time. We had gotten off on US 25 for a bit before deciding to get back on the freeway. Just as we approached the interchange, pffft, I coasted into a Road Ranger when the bike died, same symptom as before. I did a quick check over, shrugged and kicked her to life. Vroom! High idle, again. I adjusted, revved, and we pulled back out to the light.
We made good time while on the freeway, but the two lanes slowed us down on the back end. We did get to ride through a tunnel and see some beautiful countryside, the mountains and lakes of Tennessee. We stopped quite a bit double checking our route, the directions I had written on my tank didn't always jive with what was happening along the road which made me second guess our route. But we were in fact on point, just moving slower through the mountain towns than we'd figured.
Once the scenery began to get familiar I knew we were getting close. I'd passed this way many time over the last decade going to the Smokeout or the Rider's Roost in North Carolina. We got to Jen and Chuck’s twenty three acre compound around 7-8 pm and were greeted by our friends that had already arrived. We downed some cold beers and caught up around the campfire before calling it a day.

Saturday morning we awoke in our tents during the 6 a.m. hour. The temperature was 38 degrees and neighboring roosters were cock a doodling as we emerged from our soggy tents. Wedding day preparations were to begin after a breakfast run. After being reminded of the 3:30 "show time" by the bride, some of us bailed out for a late lunch around 1 p.m.

The ceremony was beautiful. A hand made pergola by Jen’s brother Jeremy was set at the edge of their field with a backdrop of trees that were in the forefront of the mountain range at their backyard’s horizon. Camera shutters “chook chooked” as Jen’s father walked her up the aisle, between the hay bales, to her awaiting groom. Our preacher friend Jay officiated as two people I’ve known for many years, and think very highly of, gave themselves to one another.
Following the ceremony, Chuck and his friends jammed acoustic for over an hour, playing some Old Crow Medicine Show, John Prine and other similar tunes before taking a break. The cake was cut and shutters snapped as the newlyweds slow danced to their song.

The crowd lessened a bit as the sun set over the mountains. We dragged coolers and wheelbarrows full of firewood over to the pit. The jam session continued around the fire. While the players had dwindled to the groom and a friend, the singers multiplied. Many of us sang along to songs made famous by the likes of Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, Skynyrd, and others.
When the newlyweds decided to hit the sack, the rest of us hung for a bit before we found our way to our tents. I slept more hours this night than I had since Wednesday, about 6 hours. Trucker clock got me once again and I was awake between 6:30-7. As I emerged from the tent many others were already standing around sipping hot coffee.

Everyone was loading up, packing their gear, preparing for the trip home. Scrap and I got on the road about 9. We’d planned for 8, but as things go with us Flatlander types, an hour late was still damn good timing.

For our return to the corn desert we decided to forego the two lanes except to get us to the interstate. We found I-40 to Knoxville where we picked up I-75 to Lexington, KY. There we jumped on I-64 west toward Evansville, IN where we grabbed the two lane again, shooting Rt. 41 north to Vincennes where we met Rt. 50 over into IL.
We were pressing for home but decided to stop in Lawrenceville, IL at our friends Mindy and Dirka’s place, within four hours of home and only about an hour before dark. We were greeted with taco fixin’s, a half keg of cold Old Mil Blue, and great company. The right decision was made to stay.

After a tasty breakfast whipped up by our friends, we pointed our front tires north under an overcast sky. The forecast said 100% chance of rain. We both acclimated ourselves to our wet fate and left Lawrenceville toward home.
Somehow we made Greenup dry as a bone. The roads were wet but we so have been right behind the front. We pressed on and made Charleston in what seemed like minutes. Headed west we split at Mattoon. I took I-57 North and  Scrap continued west on Highway 121 toward Capitol City.

Within five minutes of our separation we both got slammed with a short downpour, yet we dried out before each of us got home. I blazed along I-57 drafting SUV’s and Semi’s just before passing them. The wind was at my back and I was sailing.

While riding 1400 miles along the frequently traveled roads of our great country this past weekend, I remembered the friends and family members that are no longer with me on this wild and wonderful journey. Then, I would think about the future.

I thought about how fortunate I was to have spent my Memorial Day weekend with two old friends starting their life together as husband and wife. What a great few days spent with old friends while meeting new people that hopefully become the same. This is what it's all about: living, experiencing and loving life.

Friday, May 1, 2015

My man Vinnie representing the S.G. out New Jersey way!

Dig his latest CB750 chop. 

Not to sound like some dumb ass hippie, but to me this image from Easy Rider used in the article linked below, represents something far away from the words "fiscal" and "profit".

I do realize that the world revolves around money as much as it does the sun, and this is the idea that the factory wants to sell. So be it.

Just know that spending a bunch of money on a motorcycle and dressing up in a bunch clothes with logos all over them for the weekend to go bar hopping is not "this". I've done "this", ridden across the country and lived on the road, and it is a whole other experience.

Harley Goes Whole Hog Against Discount Pricing