Monday, May 21, 2012

Post 006 - Whitehorse and Beyond

Rider & Companion
The Whitehorse Motorcycle Rally was a festive affair with cyclists coming from near and far. The weather could not have cooperated more with blue sky and warm sunshine. I can't estimate the number of cyclists but 4-5 hundred is not unreasonable. Every brand of motorcycle was represented with Harley leading the pack followed by BMW. Many people arrived on trikes. They are becoming very popular.

Whitehorse Gear is in a pine forest with other businesses. As business parks go, it is a lovely and low-impact setting. Well organized parking attendants kept the line of arriving cycles moving into open parking spaces. They provided small disks about 4 inches in diameter to put under kick stands to keep them from sinking into the soft sandy soil. I parked next to Rick who drove his Ducati from Maine. His trip could have been as short as three miles. We were that close to the border. The space where we were filled up in the time it took us to say hello. A large group of Harley riders pulled in. I saw them a little earlier pulled over on the side of the road by a State Police officer. Now, released on good behavior, they were free to join the festivities. What set them apart is they were all retired white-haired school teachers and librarians.

I changed out of my warm but nontraditional cycling clothing into a pair of shorts and light cotton shirt. The dressing room was au natural between two beautiful Harleys. With my camera around my neck and my iPad case over my shoulder, I was digitally ready for any escapades.

Handmade for Bonneville
Parked bikes lined the driveway to the main building. Folks poured out from behind pine trees to fill the road and head to the food tents. Whitehorse is known for its quality food in generous amounts. No one went away hungry. The only issue was standing in line in the radiant sun to get your grub. Everyone was good natured and laughing conversations filled the air. No one seemed to mind.

I strolled through the crowd taking photos. Each face deserved a portrait. The warehouse was open to retail sales. Inside people shopped, picking through every motorcycle item imaginable. Whitehorse stocks over 8,000 products. The number of connecting devices to hold your digital toys on the bike was fascinating by itself. I made a note to stop using duct tape. While strolling the aisles, I ran into the man I rode in with. I recognized him immediately even without his helmet and Harley. He was imposingly large, taking up the aisle really, but only an inch or two taller than me. We introduced ourselves. His name is Joe. I was happy to reconnect. He is an open and friendly guy with a boyish smile. We ended on, "Happy trails" and parted.

Whitehorse started off as (and continues to this day) a publisher of motorcycle books. They may be the largest publisher of all things motorcycle in the United States. I love niche publishers. They are the vanguard of knowledge, whether any one knows they need that information or not. I'm biased and happy to be so.

While standing in a crowded area outside the warehouse I heard my name called. A workmate from long ago named Muriel came ambling up with a big smile on her face. Since retiring  from high tech and banking she spends her time riding around the country on a BMW. A jaunt for her is Wisconsin or North Carolina and back again. It was good to see her happy face and to be recognized in such a large crowd.

All good things must end and I slowly made my way back to Moto Fabini. As I did, I recognized a person I had never met, but had been sent a photo by a mutual friend for identification. Her name is Diane from Rochester, New Hampshire and she rides a scooter too. We were the only scooterists there. We had a good laugh and said we would try to get a ride in together over the summer. I had a Robert Frost moment, "Yet knowing how way leads onto way…" We shall see.

Wise & Wizened 1%er
As I prepared to mount Moto Fabini and make my way out of the Whitehorse Pine Forest Rally, a group of bikes came up to the entrance waiting their turn to exit. There was Joe. We shouted hello and I fell in behind again. At our second traffic light, where the group was turning left, I had the suspicion I wanted to go right. I pulled up beside Joe and asked if a left turn was the way back to town. With a big smile he said, "I don't know. I'm just following them!"

The light turned green and the Harley phalanx roared away with a sound and precision best described by Hunter S. Thompson in Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. I turned too. As the distance between us increased, Joe made a sign that the town was back, "That away." I pulled over to the side preparing to make a U-turn. As the pack receded to the horizon I gave a big arm wave good-bye. To my surprise and delight, a colossal arm silhouetted against the sky waved back. Happy trails.

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