So here’s the thing. I definitely stand behind this cause. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day. That is an insane number. We need to get help for these guys. That’s what the One Tribe foundation is all about. So I strongly stand behind it. And yesterday, I lined up with 800 other bikers to ride for it. And I will not do it again.
What started out to be a promising group experience turned into a shit show real fast. A [what might be] deadly shit show, no less. Sitting in the sun for an hour on a hot bike with 800 other bikes puffing out exhaust and noise was not much fun, but it’s doable. I was representing my group – there were about twenty of us there – so it was definitely worth it. But that’s where the worth-itness ends.
We all took off out of the parking lot in two long, staggered lines, and quickly saw that the police were blocking entrance ramps onto I-35, as well as holding traffic up on the highway past our first entrance ramp. Those people at the front of the traffic block must have been pretty stoked about sitting there for an hour waiting for damn-near a thousand bikes to get on the highway in front of them. And as soon as my tires were on highway, we were gunning it. I was up to 85 in a few seconds, just trying to keep up and not let our group get separated. Fool’s errand, that was.
Mine is not a sport bike, but a small cruiser. And while it will probably get me up to a hundred miles per hour, I’ll be at somewhere around 5000 RPMs, and vibrating like the pink thing in a woman’s nightstand drawer. It’s not comfortable. And, may I remind you, I don’t have a windshield. And don’t “ride your own ride” me. I know all that. And practice it. But when you’re in a group with that many bikes, you want not to be the one guy who lets the whole entire group get cut into two large pieces. Well, turns out, I wasn’t the only one.
Less than a quarter-mile onto the highway, and we’re stopping. Unexplained, total stoppage. What the hell? Did someone crash already? Well, to save the suspense, yes. Someone did. We sat for ten minutes, then they started letting us through. There was a guy on his back, his helmet off (or he had no helmet) and his head resting in someone’s lap, who sat behind him. It didn’t look good. I didn’t try to rubberneck and find the bike or anything. I just caught a glance of the guy, and said a quick prayer before goosing the throttle again.
We rode about ten miles up 35 and exited just before the Lake Lewisville bridge, then made a U-turn and headed back. About the last two entrances before we made that U-turn though, were not blocked. Meaning, traffic was being allowed on the highway. They were coming in hard, too. Cutting between the group, cutting off bikers, endangering people. It was wild, chaotic craziness. To be honest, I’m surprised there weren’t a bunch more wrecks right there.
The trip back south was even worse. There was no blockage at all. Cagers everywhere. The group was completely disassembled. Then bikers were roaring past other bikers just to get caught up to where they thought they should be. It was a complete mob ride at this point. I had bikers passing me to get back with their own groups, entire lanes of bikes running by on the left. Bikers everywhere. And other vehicles. Eff that shit. I didn’t sign up for a crowded Saturday traffic fest at highway speeds. I don’t even like to ride on the highway. Much less with traffic.
The group was so dismantled by the time we got back to the exit for the Harley-Davidson dealership that I didn’t even know where anyone was from the Freedom Riders. Then Rob swings past me and his wife, riding pillion, waves me back telling me they’re cutting in. Hey, nice. Someone I know. So we whipped out of the line for the HD party crowd and went on past, then pulled into a private lot to talk about what the hell just happened.
We convoyed home the safe way. I’m thankful for Rob and Heather. They didn’t leave a man behind. Pretty refreshing after a ride like that. I have a lot to think about concerning that ride, and how I wasn’t riding my own ride – I was so worried about not getting left in the dust. I made a lot of mistakes. Wasn’t counter-steering effectively due to the massive wind, going way too fast – just not being my normal safe self. I will be thinking a lot about this ride over the next few weeks until the group gets back together around here. They’re heading to Arkansas next weekend, but I won’t be able to make that ride. It’s a good time for decompression.
I hope and pray the downed rider is okay. I wish I could find out anything. Searching the news sites and the 1 Tribe site yields nothing but people questioning. Shoot me an email if you know anything.
Update: the downed rider was fine, just a little beat up. I didn’t find out what happened, but found he never lost consciousness or anything. They took him to get checked out as a precaution and he’s all good.