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RoosterBoots 03-05-2010 03:43 PM

The Pilgrimage - Part 1
(From "The Incredibly Normal Adventures of RoosterBoots")

It was the culmination of several full minutes of planning. Our bikes were clean and polished, except for Cuz’n Mark’s Honda Shadow. There was too much leather surrounding that bike, most of it wrinkled and moldy.

Getting to Sturgis South, for Cuz’n Mark, was the Pilgrimage. Once there, he could see everybody else’s Honda Shadow, compare notes on performance and buy new luggage bags. Real leather luggage bags.

I pointed out that he already had real leather luggage bags, but Mark pulled one close and opened the lid, showing me the hole that his exhaust pipe had burned into the bottom. He needed something new.

Soon the three of us…Mark, Miz Roo, and me…warmed up our bikes and rolled wheels in a general Northerly direction. First stop…Neshoba County Colliseum. Mark had told several people he knew to meet him there at 9:30 AM sharp so that he could roll into Sturgis like the leader of a bad biker gang.

Speaking for myself, I had issued a standing invitation to the RoosterBoots Fan Club to gather at the same time and place. Lots of people with small minds and powerful machines soon answered the call, promising to gather at the chosen point for the trip to Sturgis. There would be Softails and Gold Wings and Sporties and trikes and all manner of other scoots. We’d have a parade half a mile long. The citizenry of Sturgis would hear us coming fifteen minutes before we arrived. The trees would shake. The ground would rumble. Small children would burst into tears for no reason.

The parking lot was empty. A solitary Hershey wrapper blew lazily across the asphalt. Miz Roo pulled up next to me and popped up her face shield. “That’s some fan club ya got there, Roo,” she said.

History will note that I responded in a civil tone.

Mark asked whether we should wait a little while for his friends to show up. “No,” I told him, “this is a sign from God, Mark. You don’t have any friends. LET’S RIDE!”

And we did, the three of us. Out of Philadelphia, we passed little towns with names like Longino, Burnside, and Stallo. We traveled without stopping, all the way to Noxapater where we paused to quench our parched throats. My skin felt dry, but sweat poured out of my helmet. I worked the fingers of my left hand to clear up the clutch cramps. I imagined that I could still hear the wind roaring by. Illusion? Fatigue? Insanity? I didn’t know. I didn’t care any more. Fifteen minutes on the road can do that to a man.

I shook the bottle vigorously and popped the cap. In a split second, my Yoohoo was empty. I wanted more, but we had places to go and a timetable to keep. I was the leader. I had the map. My gang looked to me for direction, to find them a way through the Tombigbee forest…a trail all the way to Sturgis.

Miz Roo broke the silence. “C’mon old man, the world is turning! Tick tock!” She turned to Mark and pointed at me, saying, “The old fart is daydreamin’ again. Whack him with a stick and let’s get going!”

And so, once again, the three of us burned gas and followed the thin ribbon of asphalt North. North, to Louisville, then North again on Columbus Avenue until suddenly…a sign!

“Sturgis Road”

I slammed on my brakes and planted Stray Dog into a tight left bank, just missing a pile of fresh green grass cuttings and barely making the turn. Miz Roo was less fortunate.

She was trying to adjust her glasses. Vibration had danced them around on her nose until she couldn’t stand it any longer. She popped the visor up and grabbed the frames with her left hand and then instinct took over.

The lead bike was larger than before. TOO CLOSE! Forget the glasses, tap the rear brake and press left to cut inside the Roo’s track, and then the grass clippings got under her tires and she started to drift.

She rode the drift a tad too long. The embankment on the side of the road pointed DOWN, a steep descent into a hardwood bog. Miz Roo straightened up, adding a little power but the correction was too much and she fishtailed back to the left before popping upright on a stretch of good pavement.

Mark hit his brakes in time and watched the girl ahead of him shimmy through her heart-stopping ballet. He pulled alongside her. “Are you all right?” he yelled.

She gave him a quick “thumbs up” and hit the throttle.

By which time I was already a half mile ahead of the group and feeling irritated that they couldn’t keep up. I thought about going back to check on ‘em, but then I saw their headlights in my rear view mirror.

A close encounter, to be sure, but we were focused on our goal. The gang got back into formation and pressed on North through the Tombigbee, then Northwest. Ahead lay Sturgis, and treasure!

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