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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MountainFest 2011

For me, this event started with a secret, but in hindsight, not much of a secret. Ya see, friends of mine had made the run to Morgantown, West Virginia, early to catch the opening day of MountainFest and to score a prime campsite. And of course, they hammered on those of us still stranded in corporate America, letting us know how much fun they were having. Something about stripper poles being erected next to their campsite, as I recall, along with having "swinger" neighbors running around the campsite naked.

That stripper pole thing wouldn't leave my mind, so job be damned, I bailed on work a day early, secretly planning to arrive unannounced to surprise peeps. (OK, so that's not much of a secret, but no one knew, and it was all I could do on short notice.)

So Thursday morning I was up early, packed, & caffeined-up by 10, rolling out without telling a soul. I ran the minivan-slalom around the Capitol Beltway, surviving that stretch of motorcycle Hell. From there I headed up I270, onto I70 west to Hancock, MD, where I stopped for lunch, gas, and to stretch my legs. I prefer small diners whenever I'm on the road, and Little Sandy's Restaurant in Hancock filled the bill to a "T". Debbie fed me, treated me like a King, and charged me just about half of what the same meal would have cost around DC. No orange shorts, but hey, I can overlook that for an decent meal early in the day.

Turns out that some secrets are doomed to exposure, even if you tell no one, and here's an example: After eating, I rode to the gas station just down from Little Sandy's. Turning in, I was STUNNED to see my sis, Beverly, standing right there in the middle of the parking lot with her old man, John, who was pumping gas into their Harleys. Bev looked at me; I looked at Bev, and I don't think either of us knew what to say! They were also on the way west, and had left Hanover, Maryland that morning.

No matter how you figure it, the odds on us being in the same station at that precise moment in time are beyond calculation, but the word was out: Cowboy was on the way, and it was no longer going to be a surprise.

After a few smiles, we decided to ride together up to Little Orleans where Bev and John were going to stay the evening and finish up their ride the next day. I was going all the way, so I waved goodbye at Orleans Road exit off I68.

So if you haven't noticed, I was still riding the Joker for this trip. My Softail Custom is STILL in the fucking shop, and I hope the Hell Harley Davidson can find the right paint formula and paint my goddamned fenders one of these days. That's my traveling bike, and it's been in the shop forever. No fault of Patriot HD, by the way. It's Harley D's paintshop that's the holdup.

I wrestled with the idea of trailering the Joker, knowing the ride was 223 miles, one way, and further than I'd ever ridden that little bike. Still, I'm one of those dickheads that love saying "I rode mine!", and have ragged on trailer peeps unmercifully for not riding, so after some minor nudging by Bev, I decided to ride it.

I'll say this...I learned something....two things, actually, from riding it. One: That was too damned far, and when I got off the bike in Morgantown, I could hardly walk. Cramped legs, numb hands, and a bad, bad case of Saddle Sores. 

The second thing I learned from my Bro, John: John let me in on the magical healing powers of corn starch. A handful of corn starch in the boxers made Cowboy a happy camper. It didn't cure the cramped legs or numbness, but WOW did I feel a sense of relief between my legs. Damn near as good as that little girl I met in New Orleans last year, but I digress........ 

This corn starch stuff may be TMI, but when the heat rash or rawness hits from riding, use corn starch for relief. Ideally, use it before you go, and don't be stingy with it. Nothing else works as good. Nothing. Thanks, John!

In Morgantown, the peeps in my crew that weren't camping scored lodging in Waterfront Place, a 5-Star hotel that is super nice, and seems to love bikers. Interestingly, they mixed us in with teachers, sports folks, and a wedding or two, and it all works out. Especially the part with the weddings, or maybe it was just with the bridesmaids.....Anyway, we all got along! Yeeehaaaaaa!

We basically ignored parking regulations (real outlaw stuff, right?), and took over the hotel's semi-circular driveway. The curb out front is an ever-changing bike show, and you'll see just about every kind of bike imaginable if you sit there long enough. 

 But one bike stood out among all the rest. It was a Buell work-in-process chopper with the seat from Hell. The bike was out of New Jersey, but the guy admitted to trailering it in before riding it around town. His ass had to hurt. Even more than mine! Hey, maybe I could have sold him some corn starch! Check out the "seat".

At Mylan Park, the official venue, there were bike shows, bikes, vendors, girls, more girls, stunt acts, and some serious musical entertainment, including Grand Funk Railroad, Montgomery Gentry, and Ted Nugent!

And now I'll repeat something John said, which is right on the money. This event serves double-duty, and is also something of a carnival/party for townspeople, including kids. John says he's pretty sure the promoter never actually knew about a Ted Nugent show before booking him, LOL. Ted, thankfully, didn't tone it down a bit, and was as outrageous as ever. It was hilarious to see the expressions on faces when he went onto one of his rants starting with "Hey, you crazy motherfuckers out there! Welcome to the Ted Nugent show!"

Here's some pix of the weekend, and for even more pix, check out the link on the right hand side of the blog labeled MountainFest 2011 Pix. You'll need a Snapfish account to view all of 'em, but it's free so suck it up and register. There's a smaller album on my Facebook page.

Grand Funk Railroad!

Ted Nugent!

I was also fortunate enough to meet Bob Tyson who has written an awesome book, Harley Davidson Memories, with a forward written by Jay Leno. It's a collection of photos and family memories Bob collected, and he was kind enough to share his experiences with writing a book. Bob may have been the kick in the ass I needed to give book-writing a try myself. I've sure thought about it long enough.

And after all that, I called it a day....and turned in. Well, several days actually. It was a great event, I had loads of fun, and can't wait until we all do it again. Check out MountainFest if you get time next July. It's worth putting on the short list.

On the ride home, just after I went through a mountain pass, my ears popped and at about 80MPH, I did a big yawn to un-pop 'em. Ooops. My helmet snap popped and away it went. I finally got the bike stopped, looking back up the mountain to see the helmet lying right on the lines dividing the lanes, with cars and trucks swerving to miss it. Musta been a 1/4 mile away, and I ran back up to try to get it.

That damn thing was out there, right in the middle of I68, and I needed it to get home, but to my left, the roadway was totally blind, right at the crest of the hill. If someone came over the hill, I'd have been like a squirrel in a Geico commercial. I waited until I couldn't hear anything coming (I can't hear anyway...what a fucking joke THAT is!) and darted out, grabbed the helmet, and literally dove for the shoulder. That musta been hilarious to watch. Fortunately, no one was.

I was very relieved to find out the helmet snap hadn't broken, and aside from some road rash, it was in good shape. I walked on back down, strapped it on, and reminded myself NOT to yawn real wide any more. Not sure what the Hell I'd have done if the helmet got crushed, and it's a small miracle no one hit it.

Got home safely, however, and unwrapped myself from the bike. That night, and even more the next morning, I became certain I'd never ride the Joker that far again. Fuck that. I felt like I'd been on a Wave Runner all day in choppy water, but at least I didn't have those Saddle Sores. Corn starch rules! Thanks, John!

Ride safe,

PS As I ended this post, I realized that I never did see the stripper pole......Dammit.