When Women on Wheels® announced Huntsville, Alabama, as the location of the 1999 International Ride-In, I began planning. Huntsville was the trip's centerpiece, but Judy and I made it a comprehensive event by visiting family and friends and doing a bit of sight-seeing in the east.
First, I took off on Big Red and saw relatives in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. A couple of weeks later, Judy flew out to visit her brother and his family in Chatham, Virginia. I wound up in Lynchburg, 50 miles north of Chatham, where Judy met me at my friend Peggy’s. The three of us took off on the “Hustle to Huntsville” with Peggy’s car and Big Red as our transportation. Judy and Peggy took turns driving the car and riding two-up with me. If it rained, they both rode in the car.
Driving the rural roads of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama was mostly peaceful, except for a few near misses when folks driving autos weren’t good at sharing the road. In many cases, it was more nerve wracking for Judy or Peggy, driving the chase car and able to only watch as errant drivers crowded Big Red’s space. Well, they did honk, yell, and make wild gestures, but I’ll bet those other drivers paid no attention.
We arrived at the Ride-In site with a few stories to tell our roommates, Sylvia and Trudy, from Bakersfield. Sylvia had ridden in from Missouri, where she’d been working. Trudy had just completed the Four Corners, riding to each of the four corners of the U.S. in 21 days.
From the list of possible lodgings available, I’d reserved a cabin that would accommodate five people. It was a peaceful place near the lake, where Trudy did fish, and there were kitchen facilities to have some of our meals in. Cool evenings, we relaxed and chatted away on the deck, getting to know each other even better.
With three motorcycles, we could all ride up to the main lodge for Ride-In programs, test rides, and general hanging out with friends from all over the country. The group excursion to Jack Daniel’s country in Lynchburg, Tennessee, found us sweltering in the July heat and humidity. But that’s just part of the deal. The sights, camaraderie, and laughter make up for barely tolerable weather.
I did take BMW’s new touring bike out for a test ride. It was about the same size as Big Red, and seemed like it would be easy enough to handle. I felt comfortable just sitting on it, but when we began to roll and I looked through the curved windshield, I got woozy. Nearly sick to my stomach, I turned around within a mile. “Back so soon?” the surprised-looking salesman asked.
I nodded my head and handed over the keys, “I can’t ride that bike. The windshield’s curved too much for me.” And that was the last time I took any bike for a test ride.
From the first night, when our Georgia friend June rode an Elvis impersonator into the pool party, to the banquet on our final night, that Huntsville Ride-In was one of the best. It was even sweeter to share with best buds.
~ xoA ~