I had fun tonight at the Wednesday Worlds and I was glad to have been there. You’ll hear why in a moment. It’s late and I am a little drunk. That’s the befit of an Italian heritage. I’ve been doing a lot of the cooking at home. Sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil, grilling chicken with a glass of Pinot Noir while I watch Anderson Cooper and the nightly news…. We had to change course today due to the chip and seal on one of our favorite courses; 446 and Knightridge. Yesterday Andy Messer, a notable participant tonight, sent me a message about the road conditions. I took the initiative to review the course last night before dark on my motorcycle. The beauty of the moto is that you can actually get a feel for the conditions so much more so than in a car. So I hustled out to Knightridge from my office after work. Upon my inspection, I determined that the course was unsafe and unrideable . On Twitter, I suggested an alternative course or two. More on that later. After inspection, I had to rush over to Karst park to see a daughter’s soccer tryouts. I was behind a bus on one of the secondary roads heading to the park. I was in a hurry and the bus had come to a stop. “Jesus H. Christ,” I said. There was a car behind the bus and I was behind the car. I tapped the horn politely -but not really- and the driver took the initiative to go around the bus, which was dropping off passengers near a school. I take off behind the car. As soon as my leadout gets to the front of the bus she locks up the brakes and I am forced to do the same, laying my 1993 800 Intruder down on its right side as I go ass over teakettle sprawled out on the pavement near the left front wheel of the 3W bus.
I’ve got this trick right shoulder that has a penchant for dislocation when put in extraordinary situations. This was, indeed such an occasion. So here’s the situation if you need a recap. The bus is stopped in front of a school. I instigated the driver of the car (with my horn) to pass said bus. She stopped when she got spooked that someone was crossing in front of the bus. Which was not the case. I was already in 3rd gear and going about 20 mph as she locked them up. In the melee that ensued, I end up on the ground on my back desperately trying to set my shoulder before I pass out from the pain. A crowd gathers, including the driver of the car suggesting somehow that it was my fault that she passed the bus. Of course she’s partly correct, of which I have no recollection. Two young men who were working on their family’s pick up truck’s transmission in an adjacent driveway came to my aid. I remember saying, “Can you pick her up, please.” And I was struck by the care and nurturing that they gave to the motorcycle as I lay thrashing on the pavement, helmet still on, cold setting my right shoulder and shifting it into place like a teenager looking for reverse on a manual transmission. I saw a young girl videotaping the whole scene on a tablet. “Great,” I thought, “What will tomorrow’s newspapers say?” Headline: Executive Director of local children’s agency crashes motorcycle while passing bus in residential area on the double yellow line in a school zone. I was going to jail for a long time.
The men helped me park the moto on the sidewalk. There was minor damage to the right footpeg and the homemade roller bar got a little sideways. But very little damage overall. I was more concerned about the size of the ticket that I was about to get. Within minutes, a State Trooper, A sheriff, an ambulance and a fire truck all converged on the scene, as did a host of other individuals. Bloomington Transit’s Risk Manager was there. Soon, after a brief interview with the authorities, the bus was on its way. I remember the driver saying that it was all on videodeotape and that he didn’t have to do a report and I vaguely recall seeing a passenger giving me the finger as it left. Then the driver of the car was released. I was sitting under a tree, alone, still in my dress clothes from work, next to the moto, waiting for my punishment as the BT Risk Manager took pictures of my license plate and chatted innocuously to me about the situation as I gazed blankly into the distance pondering my fate. In the interim, I called my wife, dialing with my left hand, my right arm laying limp at my side, visible flashes of pain searing my brain with every heartbeat. “Honey. I ran into a little problem on my way to the soccer practice tonight. I’m OK but I was involved in a crash. Actually, I crashed. On the motorcycle. But I am OK,” I said, fighting the tears of pain from my dislocation. “Don’t admit to anything,” she said reflexively as the officer was approaching. “Why don’t you tell me what happened,” said the young officer, looking inquisitively, if not vaguely disenfranchised at the motorcycle. “Nice bike,” he said. “I don’t know much about motorcycles.” I told the story. I told the truth. I said how I was in a hurry and that I was eager to pass the bus. I added the part about my role as a Director of a NFP hoping to reduce my sentence. “License and registration please.” He left to go back to his cruiser, run my plates and check my files. After an eternity he returned with a benign Officer Field Report. No ticket. No warning. No reprimand. Are you kidding me? I was already planning on spending the next 24 hours betrothed to the County’s most wanted criminal. But in the end he said, “You be careful out there.” I replied, with noticeable surprise, “Thank you. Are we done?” Then I gingerly drove to my daughter’s soccer practice.
The previous escapade did, however, land me in the doghouse, albeit largely self imposed. And I spent the evening in the basement (we also have wine in the basement) watching The Hunger Games on Netflix. I made it to the part where Rue gets the business end of a spear and I broke down in tears, sobbing like a baby. Don’t judge me! “What the hell is happening?” I thought. I turned off the show and went to sleep, holding my right shoulder, still in pain despite the dulling effects of the decanted and fermented grapes and copious amounts of ibuprofen.
I arrived at the Sample Gates tonight at 6pm, now in disrepair to a crowd of about 30 riders. I recommended a new route due to the roadwork on 446. I had earlier, done some birdseye review of Bloomington on Google and was looking for something approximating 446 and Knightridge; about 4 miles, clockwise, few stopsigns, little traffic, or wide roads, some climbing. I found a couple of loops and sent them out on Twitter last night, but to no response. At the discussion at the Sample Gates I suggested a +/- 3 mile loop out near the landfill on Anderson, Lydy and Fish, thinking that we could do 8 laps, finishing on Anderson at the usual line. The group agreed, I made the announcement and they set off for a neutral lap while I went home to get on the moto and meet them there.
On my way I met Upland’s Tim Nixon, coming from 446 and motorpaced him a few miles to the start. We met the group at the bottom of Fish and the consensus was that it was a good idea but too dangerous after the slow lap. We collectively abandoned the idea, and the group agreed on the Forest course, 2 laps, up Beanblossom. Off we went. I motorpaced Kevin Depasse and Thomas Walsh back to the group after answering nature’s call at Fish. The pace was as hot as the temperature today and the group split on the secondary steps of Beanblossom. At the top there were 4 distinct groups looking for salvation. Osterman (Scholars) came undone early. Slaven (unattached) dropped a chain, Cox (Riley) and K. Depasse (Bissel) decided on an easy day and let the group go. I picked up Walsh, Nixon, B. Depasse, Calvetti, Miller (BKB) and a few others in the Forest proper and took many of them around through Hindustan and at high speed. Walsh was showing good form after an illness and hung on to the top as did the younger, and better dressed Depasse. They opted to go home after a lap and I turned to join the leaders on Anderson. By the second approach to the climb, Isaiah Newkirk (Harley Davidson) had broken away with Tom Lazer (Motion). Kroll, Messer (Upland), Brauchla (Scholars), Ibold (Brooks), were in hot pursuit. At the top of the climb, Newkirk had 55 seconds and Lazer was part of the chase. At the edge of the forest a few miles later, his lead was down to 40 seconds and he abandoned the effort. The groupetto came together on the descent out of the forest and measured each others tempo through Hindustan. Messer and Ibold got briefly detached climbing onto the plateau but Messer made a supreme and steady effort clawing his way back to the leaders before the descent to Anderson. The group went straight on to the rollers preceding the finish line near Robinson. There was some cat and mouse with Kroll taking an abbreviated but impressive flyer seeing who was able to answer the charge. All were present and accounted for on the final 1K as Messer took control of the leadout with Kroll on his wheel. It was into a headwind, but the speed was still dizzying as riders were shed off the back. In the end, Motion took the win with Upland (Kroll) second and Ibold, resurrected from the dead on the final podium spot. A good day in the saddle for all. including the author, who was glad to have participated, even as just a journalist chronicling the afternoon’s activities that the world “will little note, nor long remember” but made special by the men who ply their trade on the desolate landscapes of Indiana, leaving bits of their being on these roads in a desperate attempt to fulfill a secret promise made long ago.