October 2, 2013
"On the Road to Sturgis" by Gypsy Wango Tango

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The Allman Brothers were singing “Midnight Rider” as I slowly packed up and rolled out the driveway headed to the 2013 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. My friend Ray Delaney had asked to ride with me this year and I welcomed the company for the long trek north.

I work the night shift so I usually left in the evening for Sturgis; hence the song “Midnight Rider” was fitting and made me smile when it came on. Like most day shift workers and first time attendees of Sturgis, Ray had been chomping at the bit all day to get on the road. I assured him that we would make better time leaving Sunday evening due to less traffic and cooler temperatures.

He reluctantly agreed and we left the Porter TX area around 6:30 pm. Ray soon realized it was an optimum time to ride when the August temperature begin to cool down to a tepid 80 degrees, in comparison to the 100 degree sticky humidity that earlier in the day was melting our senses and turning us into cooked pasta.

Soon we had distanced ourselves from the city traffic and rode handlebar to handlebar as our fresh tuned Harleys growled and rumbled in unison. We were like two lions on the hunt, exploring our new found freedom, as the constraints of time faded away. Nothing matters but being alive when you’re in the wind discovering adventures unknown.

My Harley Road King purred through the hand grips invigorating my senses as I rolled through the Texas countryside. I breathed in the evening air scented with fresh cut hay and honeysuckle. All my troubles and worries begin to slide into the wind and were left on the roads behind me. Feelings of youthful exhilaration returned and I began to smile.

Far away from the flat land of sea level Houston, the land turns into twisting back roads winding through rolling hills, and thick evergreen forests. It takes time to ride throughout this great state, but once you do, you’ll appreciate the ever-changing terrain of Texas and marvel at its beauty.

Rolling back on the throttle, the Road King responds with an approving roar. I lean into a curve and fixate on a focal point on the horizon. The motorcycle’s acceleration generates centrifugal force that pushes me into the pocket of curve and I feel like a kid as I enjoy this natural amusement ride.

Riding twisty roads is the biker’s rush, much like a surfer shooting a pipeline on a large wave. The apex of a curve is the sweet spot. This is the point where all your riding skills come together, body position, leaning, how much to push down on the inside hand grip, correct throttle speed, and horizon focal point. It takes practice to become fluent. You always need to know where the sweet spot is for you and your motorcycle. Too much throttle and not enough leaning and you’ll have to brake or do some off road traveling. Too much lean and not enough throttle could make you low side, with road rash awaiting you. Once you master curve riding techniques, motorcycle riding becomes much more adventurous.

On through the night we traveled, making good time while having a good time. We stopped briefly in Centerville, TX at Woody’s Smokehouse in hopes of visiting with Captain Too High, a retired Gypsy MC Intl. Lifer member from the Gypsy MC Houston Chapter.

Captain Too High has worked at Woody’s for several years. Gypsy bikers headed north on I-45 usually stop by and say hello to the Captain. His beaming smile and unforgettable laughter are infectious and you‘ll find yourself smiling and laughing as well. Woody’s Smokehouse also has some great barbecue and smoked beef jerky, so it’s a good place to stop and eat while you‘re traveling.

Unfortunately the Captain had left for the day, so I scribbled a note bidding him salutations and good fortune from all his Gypsy brothers and sisters. The lady at the checkout line pinned it to his time card with a smile saying “ The Captain loves you Gypsys.” I smiled back and wished her a good evening and headed for the door.

Not much at this point was too memorable, just riding with Ray north through Texas as the sun set. It was soon dark and visibility was still okay but more care was taken in the darkened curves of the road. I had just ate and had a full tank of gas. Now was the time to ride hard and far as possible.

I have no radio on my bike nor do I wear an iPod. Riding through the night on the long dark highway, random thoughts flowed and ebbed through my mind like children playing in a large house, running from room to room. My reflections were more like a mental purge, as if I my brain had received a divine signal from the cosmos and all my past experiences were being played back in my mind for me to view.

Moments from my adolescence would appear and vanish. Holiday memories with family, my children’s youthful escapades, and good times partying at Gypsy MC Intl. rallies also danced about in my head. All these flashbacks were accompanied mentally by classic rock soundtracks buried away in my subconscious for years. It was ultimate motorcycle Zen, with much needed wind therapy for this traveling Gypsy.

Ray was riding a new Harley Ultra Classic with a touring package. He loved that bike and it was hard to keep him under 90 mph. Soon we were bored and the handlebar to handlebar riding became a cat and mouse “Catch me if you can” routine, where one rider would zoom ahead nearly out of sight challenging the other to catch up. When Ray was riding in front of me I noticed his brake lights were configured in a pattern that from a distance looked like a red winged skeleton. I know fatigue was setting in a bit but it was creepy to see that visage looming ahead of me late at night on a dark road.

We had now been on the road for ten hours and my lower body parts were becoming nonexistent. I felt like a Centaur except half Harley/half man. We were approaching the outskirts of Amarillo when we noticed a fresh killed deer in the boulevard of the road. It looked as if an eighteen wheeler had struck it. Ray and I looked at each other and we both agreed it was time to call it a night. We stopped at the same hotel I had stayed at the year before when I traveled to Sturgis.

Funny thing about traveling, we’re all creatures of habit and you’ll find yourself developing landmarks and stopping points on repeated trips. I’m sure long haul truck drivers are familiar with having their long treks incremented with favorite truck stops and rest areas. I found myself many times on this trip to be wonderfully lost in the countryside until a building, a town, or some eye catching sight would jolt me back to reality and I would say to myself “Okay I know where I’m at.”

Ray and I left Amarillo around 2:00 pm the next day and rode through Texas and into Clayton, New Mexico. In between Clayton and Raton Pass New Mexico, is some of the most beautiful untouched landscape I’ve ever seen. It always feels very spiritual to me when I ride through this area.

Riding down that long stretch of New Mexican highway, I can see blue mountains on the far horizon and miles of open desert prairie in between. The sun is shining but there are also black clouds far away. I can see it raining maybe ten miles ahead. The rain fall is reflected by the sun and appears as thousands of shimmering blue streaks falling to the desert floor. I know soon we’ll be baptized by this summer storm, but I just let the angst of the thought pass. Rain is inevitable and part of riding a motorcycle in this world.

The wind begins to cool and whip us about like kites on the road. I accelerate the Road King to gain back lost velocity. Soon the rain comes, cold wet drops stinging on your face and making you gasp for air. Nowhere to stop… keep riding… I begin to hear a song in my head “Riding the Storm Out” by REO Speed Wagon.

It’s coming down in sheets now, not a dry spot left anywhere on my body or bike. I keep riding and shivering in the cold rain, while a part of me is excited and happy. I feel alive pushing the edge of the envelope in this natural phenomena.

In less than an hour, we pass through the rain cell and back into the sun. The temperature begins to rise, warming us, while the sun and desert wind dry our clothes. I stop shivering and begin to relax again. I can smell desert flowers in the rain cleansed air as we pick up speed and cruise towards the distant mountains of Colorado.

We ride down Interstate 25 through Raton Pass and eventually stop in Trinidad, Colorado. It’s late in the evening and I can see nothing but inky blue skies ahead in the Rockies. We decide that rain in the desert is one thing but to ride through mountainous passes in the downpour is out of the question. We find a Holiday Inn and crash for the night.

I wake up early the next morning and have some coffee, while enjoying the Three Stooges on TV. Maybe I’m feeling loopy from the new altitude, but I find the Three Stooges remarkably funny and Curly is a comic genius. I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to say I stayed in a Holiday Inn and I feel great… okay there I said it.

I did feel great and Ray and I knocked down some serious Interstate miles as we burned through Colorado. Stopping only once at a truck stop named “Biscuits,” which had a plethora of humorous characters and cute Southern Belle type waitresses that called everyone “Honey, Sugar, and Baby”… ah you know the type… but they were nice ladies. Everyone was so nice and friendly and laughing a lot… then I remembered marijuana is now legal in Colorado.

“Yeah Honey” said one of the waitresses “You can go right down the road here to the Hookah shop and get baked. You don’t even need a medical script anymore.” She said with a smile. She had ample visible cleavage and was lethal with her fly swatter. I smiled and looked at her… in the eyes and said “Lady I’m on my sixth cup of coffee just trying to stay awake and make it to Sturgis. Why in the hell would I want to get baked and probably pass out in a corner with a Snickers candy bar?”

She laughed at my remark and said “Sturgis?” Her face lit up “I love Sturgis. Why don’t you come by here next year and take me?” she said batting her eyes at me as she took out another fly with her deadly swatter. “I will definitely do that,” I said. She knew my reply wasn’t totally sincere, but she seemed to appreciate the gesture.

Caffeine is a powerful drug. Seven cups of coffee and I was rolling down the highway with serious intentions of making Sturgis by nightfall, and the next closest bathroom. Wow, seven cups… seriously, next time I’m sticking to Five Hour Energy Drink.

We made a pit stop in Denver for gas and temporary relief of urinary discomfort.  Wyoming was our next major stop and we reached Cheyenne that afternoon. We filled our gas tanks and ate at Wendy’s in a big truck stop off of I-25. Ray suggested a different route from the previous year’s route to Sturgis. Last year I went up 85 through Lusk and into New Castle. This year Ray and I went straight up I-25 to Lusk and then over to New Castle. I’m always up for trying a new route. The new route showed me some of Wyoming’s beauty that I hadn’t seen before, but I liked last year‘s route better. I will get off the interstates and travel back roads like Hwy 85 when travel time allows for it.

Once we reached Lusk, we picked Highway 85 back up and traveled towards New Castle. From Lusk to New Castle is a long ride through the Wyoming Badlands. Make sure you get gas in Lusk before you take off.

The Wyoming Badlands is scenic landscape with buttes and mesa on the horizon. Sometimes I expected to look up and see a lone Cheyenne or Sioux brave on horseback atop one of the mesas, watching us as we passed through his land.

Law Enforcement was having a field day with bikers on Highway 85. The speed limit through this vast desert land is 65 mph. The police were writing speeding tickets to anyone who got bored and throttled back over this speed, and we passed a lot along the way who had succumbed to the “Need for Speed Demon“.

Many a dedicated Wyoming State trooper had numerous bikers pulled over and were counseling them about this demonic affliction. They also left the visibly upset victims instructional notes, that included an address where the now comforted motorcycle enthusiasts could send money, to show their love for the good state of Wyoming.

We reached New Castle, Wyoming late that evening. We filled our tanks at the local gas station and headed towards Lead, South Dakota on 85. After arriving at Lead, you come into Winter Sports, Deadwood, and then Sturgis. The ride from New Castle to Sturgis on 85 is a beautiful ride through the Black Hills. As we rode, the sun was beginning to set and the temperature began to drop in the canyons.

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I welcomed the cool air and smell of cedars on the rolling, twisting canyon roads. It felt more like early autumn than the hellish, humid August heat we had been enduring. Eventually we had to pull over and put on our leather jackets. We also began to encounter a lot of curves, switchbacks, and hairpin turns on the road. It was tricky with sunglasses on, one moment the sun was in your eyes, then it would be lost behind a hill and you had to peer above your glasses to make a curve. This wasn’t the way I wanted to end an all-day ride, but after a while I forgot about everything except making the next curve.

It was dark when we rolled into Deadwood. This was our first encounter with the mass crowds of bikers attending the Sturgis Rally. The town was packed with motorcycles and bikers walking the streets checking out Deadwood’s saloons and casinos. We were tempted to stop, but knew we were better off continuing to Sturgis.

The road from Deadwood to Sturgis changed into big sweeping curves through the rolling hills. It was quite a challenge going around a curve in the dark when motorcycle headlights were coming at you like strobe lights in the opposite lane. There were so many motorcycles everywhere. The road felt like a migration of metal locusts roaring beside you, and coming at you in the darkness. Most of these bikers were experienced riders or they would not have considered this time of the day to ride.

Motorcycle riders at the Sturgis Rally come in all shapes and sizes; I saw so many makes and models of two and three wheeled vehicles. There is no hate or judging here at Sturgis. Everyone is here for the same reason, the love of the open road and the wind in your face… and to party of course!

It was close to eight thirty when we pulled into Sturgis. The temperature had warmed back up now that we were out of the Black Hills. Lazelle Street is the main road that runs through the nightlife of Sturgis. Most of the bars and saloons like One Eyed Jacks, EZ Riders, and the Knuckle are located in town, while others are located out of town near the Sioux and Cheyenne’s holy place called Bear Butte.

Lazelle Street is always jammed up with bikers and people from one traffic light to another. This is why some people come to Sturgis. They want to experience the madness of the crowds and the nightlife that Sturgis is legendary for.

I live in a big city, so I detest traffic jams.  I’ve always regarded this street scene as a major fuster cluck. I like it in small doses but I mainly come here to ride …. okay hot women, good cigars, and fine whiskey are very motivational too.

Last year at Sturgis, some locals had shown me how to travel through the town’s back alley ways bypassing all of the traffic hoopla. So this year I was road wise and ready to make a move to free myself from this two wheeled gridlock.

Once I reached the Sturgis supermarket, I shot through its parking lot and jumped on the back alley road. While navigating the back alleyways, you have to go slow, honk your horn, and rack your pipes in certain places to get the drunks to move out of the way. It certainly beats overheating at a red light on Lazelle, while a couple of RUBS exchange greetings in front of you like two excited puppies sniffing butts at the dog park.

Not that there is anything wrong with being friendly, but please gentlemen, pull over and discuss your aftermarket Harley attachments at the curb. You’ve already ignored two green lights and I know those fine looking women crossing the road in front of you appreciated it too, but damn it man, we need to be moving forward!  Okay, so you get my drift why I like the alleyways.

Finally reaching our destination a.k.a. “The Yard,” Ray and I pull up on the gravel driveway in front of our campsite. During the Sturgis rally, many townspeople turn their yards into hostels for bikers. Most of the hostel owners provide the camping bikers with a tent/RV site and basic camping amenities which they charge a price for on a daily basis. This rewards the yard owners with a seasonal surplus income.

Most bikers will migrate annually back to the same yard to stay. Such is the case for me when I returned and stayed at David and Toni Fisher’s yard. David and Toni are great hosts, with some bikers returning to the Sturgis Rally and their yard for over a decade. Their yard feels more like a deer camp, and is a far cry from the revelry and debauchery usually associated with the large campsites depicted on numerous television shows about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Most of the large campsites such as Full Throttle Saloon, Buffalo Chip, and the Broken Spoke are located a few miles out of Sturgis. All of their entertainment and livelihood is self-contained within the confinements of their campgrounds. They are nice places to visit and see a concert at, but for me personally I don’t care to be around that many people for my entire stay at Sturgis. Some people love the large crowds and parties and that’s what they travel to Sturgis for. I’m down with that, their money keeps the Sturgis Rally on the map.

The Fisher’s yard is near downtown Sturgis and all the downtown bars are within walking distance. You can even hear the music from EZ Riders Saloon a few blocks away. One of my favorite pastimes at Sturgis is to sit in the yard’s pavilion late at night and swap stories with other bikers from all over the country, and the world. I have met people from the U.S., Canada, and Australia while camping there.

After saying a gracious hello to the Fishers and alumni’s who also returned to stay in the yard, I set up my tent accompanied with a very comfortable air mattress. I turn in early, tired from the day’s ride and elated that I had finally arrived at my destination. Soon I’m being lulled to sleep by the rumble of Harleys as they cruise up and down Lazelle Street.

The cool night air of Sturgis is clean and clear and I sleep soundly. The ghosts of old school bikers, and native Shaman ride into my dreams through an ancient mist, challenging me to ride the canyons at sunrise and feel their spirit left behind in the surreal beauty of the Black Hills.

Sleep is overrated at Sturgis. You can’t wait to get up and see what the day brings. You will run until you drop and then sleep a minimal amount, with coffee or other stimulants to adjust for the sleep you’ve lost. Eventually nature will take its course and you’ll have one of those extended “Wow I must have been really tired” power naps.

I started the day with a shower in the yard. The shower is cool; it’s an enclosed room with a shower head but no roof. I often wondered what it would be like to be showering and it started raining. It would be interesting I’m sure, but drying off would be a challenge. Once dressed and the Road King was warm, several of us headed to the local VFW hall for breakfast. It’s a good steam table buffet that Mickey D’s couldn’t touch, plus your money is going to all those old wonderful military vets there to greet you with their caps on stating what ship or where and when they served. God Bless them all.

After breakfast and much needed coffee, several of us ride out to Vanocker Canyon. It’s a great road just outside of Sturgis with big sweeping curves through a beautiful forest. The speed limit is 45 mph and perfect for this ride because braking is minimal at this speed, which leaves you feeling like a large eagle soaring up and down the canyon walls. Most riders are non-aggressive and not trying to impress with high speed riding skills. There are some that do though and it’s always best to wave them by. Besides you’ll pass the majority of them later as they are signing a ticket for the State Trooper.

Bikers getting tickets at the Sturgis Rally are like baby turtles making that first mad dash from the beach to the sea. The Law enforcement are like sea birds swooping down on you when you least expect it. Someone told me that 90% of Sturgis’s annual income comes from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

That undoubtedly includes their Police Department. So take a chill pill and enjoy the ride Clyde. Life is too short so slow your roll and don’t pay the toll. Catchy phrases aren’t they? I’m not sure if I made those up or they are from Deborah Harry singing an old Blondie tune.

Once through Vanocker Canyon, we continue on to Nemo and then to Rapid City. In Rapid City we ride down Hwy 16 to Mt. Rushmore, and then through Custer State Park and up Needles Highway. I wouldn’t recommend Needles Highway for the novice motorcycle rider. It has some hairpin 10 mph curves going uphill. They are the kind of curves that makes things pucker and I’m not talking about your kisser.

I only mentioned the hazards of Needles Highway because I know the majority of Gypsy MC bikers that just read that part are now once again fully alert and making a mental note to ride Needles Highway when they attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

We pass back through the town of Custer and head towards the historic town of Deadwood. What a great town, I love this place. It’s a beautiful old mining town mixed with modern gambling casinos, and some cool bars. Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and other old west legends helped put this historic town on the map with their notorious lifestyles. The “Dead Man’s Hand” which is Aces and Eights, was the hand Wild Bill was holding in while playing poker in Deadwood saloon. He was fatally shot by a man whose name I won’t mention, but his name is found on a sign in that town.

I just can’t let the name and legend of Wild Bill be synonymous with some coward who shot him in the back of the head. Wild Bill always sat facing the door while he played poker for this very reason. The one time he didn’t, he gets whacked. R.I.P. Wild Bill, you were the man!, and probably would’ve made a damn good biker!

If you visit the Deadwood museum you can see the cards Wild Bill was holding along with numerous pics of him, Calamity Jane, and many other pictures of early Deadwood times. I did some gambling myself at the Silverado Casino. I call it “contributing” instead of gambling due to my skill levels. I lost some money but had a great time. Silverado has a great “King Crab Legs and Prime Rib Buffet” that was awesome.

I also visited the Deadwood Tobacco Company and Cigar Bar. It reminded me of a New York store front because they are located below street level. You walk down a flight of stairs from the street to reach the front entrance. They have a nice bar with a large walk in cigar humidor.

A blues band was playing some Texas road house blues. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had Shiner Bock beer too. I settled into an over sized leather smoking chair and enjoyed my bottle of Shiner Bock, and a fine cigar while listening to some good blues. I loved that bar and didn’t want to leave but it was time to go. Deadwood Tobacco C
ompany and Cigar Bar was a perfect ending for the day in Deadwood. I plan on visiting it again another time for a longer stay.

My time at Sturgis was kick ass. I visited some great saloons like EZ Riders, Full Throttle, Broken Spoke, One Eyed Jacks, and the Dungeon Bar. To elaborate further on my social activities at these establishments during the rally would be reminiscent of a long winded hunter telling you about stalking and slaying a thirty point buck. You get the drift. Like the Gypsy MC Intl. Houston Chapter always says after party time… A.G.T.W.H.B.A.!  This means “A Good Time Was Had By All.”

The ride back from Sturgis is another story in itself and better left for another time of raconteur. If you ever visit the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally you’ll have a great time on whatever level of partying you’re looking for. It’s a beautiful place to ride and visit. Just remember don’t speed and there are plenty of public restrooms you can use. These two simple rules will greatly lessen your chances of incarceration and paying hefty fines. I love attending the rally and every year brings new experiences. I hope the same goes for anyone who makes the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the future.

August 7, 2013
"Respect" by Truck

Our pack of five sped down the Beltway at 80. Every time you get on the road is a potentially memorable ride, and this one was unforgettable.

BigJew and I led the pack handlebar-to-handlebar. Two hangarounds rode right behind us, with Mouthpiece closing the pack right in the middle, fast and calm. It wasn’t a long ride, just 24 miles if you’re counting. But it was one of those that you wished lasted 2400 over many days.

My first serious ride with the Gypsys was with a pack of serious riders up into Oklahoma and Arkansas. We even wound up at one point into Missouri. I could not get enough. Almost six days of nothing but miles. Over 1600 if you’re counting. And it is where I learned to respect a handful of riders who still to this day make me a better rider.

On the beginning of our third day, Raoul, Bill the Cat, and Eyeball led a pack of twenty bikes through the twisty hills of eastern Oklahoma. It was the Houston chapter’s open ride to Papa Jack’s resting place. As the new guy, I started toward the back. But from time-to-time, especially after some aggressive curves, I was waved ahead, eventually riding next to Jester with the other three just in front of us. That day was the day that solidified my decision to go full bore at becoming a member of the club. It was a memorable ride filled with mutual respect.

Fast forward up to the present on Beltway 8 with our pack of five. A single moment. As our motors roared in tune, a single rider on a V-Rod came up beside us. He rode up to where he was even with me and BigJew, looked at us, and waved. We waved back. But then came the key moment. In an instant, he pointed ahead of us with an inquisitive look in his eyes.

If you have ever spent time on a bike, you know that there is a certain code language filled with signs and looks. Once you have been at it a while, you know what they mean. And as the guy on the V-Rod motioned and glanced, we knew exactly what he was asking. He was asking to go in front of our pack and ride on.

We waved him ahead and nodded in his general direction. He rolled on the throttle and blasted up the highway most likely doing somewhere between 90 and 95.

Our pack of five eased into the County Line Bar and Grill, and it wasn’t long until we were talking about the guy on the V-Rod. We asked one of the hangarounds if he saw everything that played out, and if he understood what happened.

Do you know why he waved, and what he was asking?

Yes.

Why did he do what he did?

Respect.

December 26, 2012
"Gypsy Blessing" from Wango Tango

I’m was sitting on my front porch listening to the big wind blow through the trees tonight. Dead leaves were dancing all around with their scratchy scurrying sound. The clouds were blowing by like fast birds in the wind.

Across the street at the elementary school, I could hear the faint sound of the metal clip on the flag pole rope clanking against the metallic flag pole. Farther away, the Catholic Church’s bell also chimed softly, intermittently, but there is no Sunday service to announce, only the wind dancing to the Sacred Earth song and wondering if anyone is still listening. 

R. Carlos Nakai’s native flute joins in the celestial harmony from my radio. I hear it all, and the cool night air stills me, slows me down, to reflect on my past and my good friends. Life is precious and short and I hope to celebrate this special time of the year with my Gypsy brothers and family as we end another year and begin a new one. 

Let us never forget those Gypsys who have gone before us, and welcome the new members who will wear the Gypsy Gold into the future in never dying new adventures.

December 18, 2012
"Gypsy Holiday Wind Therapy" by Wango Tango

So the holiday season is here again with all its activities for Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Mayan calendar planning, etc. This time of the year also brings about undue stress in people causing an assortment of maladies such as melancholy, depression, Mad Hatters syndrome, and football game addiction that usually result in you having low feelings of self-worth or thinking that somewhere there is a Gypsy dartboard with your picture on it.

This is totally not true…Only the Big D Chapter plays darts. Just kidding…

Hey come on Gypsy brothers and sisters and really cool independent people who are enjoying this article, you are loved; always remember that you are loved. I don’t care who you are: Someone somewhere loves you. Thank You Mom I promise I’ll call you Sunday… Ahem…

Okay if you ride you know the best thing for the blues is “Wind Therapy”… Can I hear it again brothers and sisters? Feeling blue and wanna feel brand new? “WIND THERAPY.” That’s right. Nothing clears the head better than a two lane back road on two wheels at cruising speed. Breathing in that fresh air, wind blowing through your hair, farm animals everywhere… BUG! BAM! Ewww… squishy… tastes like Grandma’s boiled squash.

Anyways, your bike is running good,you feel good and your spirits begin to lift. Wind Therapy people… Best thing for a bad head. What’s that? Can’t get out for a ride? Is it the weather, work, run over by a jerk, got the flu, cold, or going berserk? Don’t worry cool cats and chicks, Uncle Wango has got the home remedy cure for your Wind Therapy!

First you need a big floor fan with a long chain to change speeds with. Find a recliner or some kind of comfy chair you can use. You should have already put on your riding gear. I know you’re indoors but you need to feel real. Colors, sunglasses, motorcycle boots, do rag, jewelry… ok you can leave your pants off. I want you to be comfortable. Besides, you can be practicing for the Breezy Ride this way.

Next duct tape the long fan chain to your left boot. This will be your gear shift. Low speed, low fan, high speed, high fan get it? You can use anything for handlebars. You may have some laying around. If not, a couple of lapdogs or cats will work fine if they are wind resistant. Most dogs are, and their ears can double as streamers on your handlebars. If not, air handle bars will work, plus this will strengthen your shoulders for the real riding. Ok! You’re going to need some good tunes and a rocking jukebox machine to float them around the room. If you’re really blue and need to shake up those chakras, I would go with “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf… It’s a timeless biker classic that will have you feeling tough and leathery in no time.

Time to get started! Kick that fan on with a left boot pull… Feels good don’t it? Is your motor running? That’s right! Jam to the tune! Make some South Park Biker’s Harley sounds “Brap Brap Brap!” Hell yeah! Now pull back on that fan and kick it up to the next level while you roll that Chihuahua’s head back! Rack out those Vance and Hines pipes… “Bwaaahh Une! Bwaaaahhhh Une!”

I know you’re feeling better…I can see you smiling! Eat some Oreo cookies so it will look like you have Love bugs in your teeth. Now lean back in that recliner and ease off that Chihuahua’s head cuz his eyes are bugging. Imagine you’re riding the Sisters… The roads in Bandera! Well hey it’s your ride… But concentrate! You don’t want to take out the couch.

Okay now you’re nearing your destination. Slow the fan, I mean your bike down… Give your pooch a little forward head roll and pet it to lessen the trauma its feeling. So here you are… Cruising through town, all the babes or (dudes for the sisters) are watching you. Let your sunglasses slide down a little and look over at them and do your best Matthew Mcconaughey impersonation “Alright alright alright.” Good job, they’re digging it, and you’re looking good now… If you feel really confident maybe throw a Gypsy Big Jones one liner at them like “How Yeww doing?” Don’t confuse this with Joey from the “Friends” TV show…It’s totally different.

Let’s take it to the next level and add aroma therapy and live action riding effects. Change the tune to “Riders on the Storm” by the Doors. Setup a spray mister in front of the fan and have the mister hitting you mostly in the face, so you can only see out of one eye while you spit out the side of your mouth. Keep saying to yourself: “If I just follow the tail light in front of me everything will be alright.” Dump a glass of water down each boot if you want to go hardcore.

Next take a sunlamp and put it directly above your head. Change the song to “The Weight” by the Band. Imagine one of those summer rides where your butt turns to grilled cheese on the bike seat. Good times right? Just keep saying to yourself, “I may be cooking but damn I’m good looking.” This will make you feel one with the Texas heat. Clint Eastwood would be proud of you.

If you want to take a sea cruise then simply make a tuna fish sandwich, take a bite, and rub some of the tuna under your nose. You’ll be on the Galveston Seawall in no time. East Texas or Louisiana ride through the pines? Easy, when the significant other isn’t looking, break a branch off the Christmas tree and stick it in the fan. You’ll be riding the high lonesome and smelling the evergreens before you know it.

If you’re single, you probably don’t have a Christmas tree so you’re screwed. Yipes! Did I say that? Ho ho ho Uncle Wango was just kidding… Besides you now have three extra hos to hangout with los lonely boy… Have some Eggnog and Fog, it’s Party Time! You bad whammer jammer!

Well I hope by now that this easy to follow at home instructional motorcycle riding enthusiast scenario type article has made you forgot all your doldrums, regain confidence, feel vibrant, refreshed, and happy! Why? Because Uncle Wango wants you all to know you are loved and you rock with your socks on Brothers and Sisters! Also you really cool independent riding type people who are enjoying this article, may the force be with you as well!

So remember when it’s impossible to slip away from the holiday festivities, get your knees in the breeze, with a Chihuahua or Pekingese, and put your mind at ease with some Gypsy Holiday Wind Therapy!

Good Karma, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, and Happy New Year to you all!

GFFG

Gypsy Wango Tango

December 10, 2012
"A Year & A Week" by Truck

It was exactly one year and one week ago that I put on colors. What a great feeling. My prospecting time with the Houston chapter was great. I never had to do anything stupid; it was all constructive, aimed at making me a better Gypsy. The brotherhood we shared (and still share) was/is one of the best things in my life.

This past Saturday we hung Prospect colors on our two hangarounds, thus continuing the circle of brotherhood. It made me feel downright sentimental, especially since my road name patch finally came in. Last night, as we sewed on the road name to my colors—(“we” meaning my wife)—it was a true feeling of completion, no longer feeling like something was missing. Any other patch from now on will just be icing. But the road name… well… that was cake.

To those on the outside this probably seems like just another organization. A guy at a restaurant last Friday commented on my “jacket.” To him, it looked like a fun decoration. But my Gypsy family knows better. Sure, we have people on the fringes thinking about leaving. Some people are more committed than others. But to many of us, this is not just another club. After all, we don’t call it a “Gypsy Family” for nothing.

November 9, 2012
"Midnight at the Waffle House" by Wango Tango

It had been one of those days where I was out of my comfort zone. Things were stressing me out that normally never did. I was nervous and jittery like I had consumed a pot of coffee. I hadn’t of course, I had just woke up and it was 11:30 a.m. I was wondering if I had some strange affliction like cold Chihuahua syndrome. I carried on and rode on in to my job. 

Work was slow and my co-worker didn’t show up, so I was elected to cover his area as well (Thanks Dave!). I managed though, taking my ginkgo biloba pills that are supposed to enhance your memory, and washing them down with copious amounts of industrial strength coffee. That may not have been a great idea for soon after that, my mind awoke with the fury and passion of a drunken poet. My thoughts were racing against each other like a mental quarter mile drag strip. 

Covering two areas at work caused me to miss lunch, so I ate a Three Musketeers bar with a bag of spicy pigskins. I was sure all these wonderful preservatives and sodium would probably enhance my mood, so I washed them down with another cup of the shop’s coffee that resembled used motor oil. I also had to stay over an hour to finish all the extra reports . Mental fatigue had begun to set in accompanied by over caffeinated thoughts pinging around in my head. 

Finally I made it to the parking lot and climbed on my Yamaha Stratoliner. What a great bike… (I hope it’s listening.) I had recently bought a Harley Road King though, and I could feel the rivalry between the two of them, when parked next to one another in the garage. Of course I understand the rivalry was just my imagination, but the thought had snowballed into a complete ideology and repertoire between the Stratoliner and myself on the ride home. The Stratoliner was my original bike and does have a larger engine, but hey, cut the Harley a break, he is older and is still acclimating to his new home. Also, while some people prefer to think of their bikes as female, I’ve always viewed mine as male iron stallions. 

It felt good flying down the road at 80 mph on the Yamaha, wind in my face and letting all thoughts blow out of my ears like bubbles out of a soap pipe, I’m feeling better.. I’m feeling hungry! There is no place to go this time of the night where you can sit down to eat and still see your bike, except the Waffle House. The one by the airport is always slow after midnight, with only the occasional truck driver or strange people with multi-colored hair and body piercings. 

I exit the freeway and turn onto the road leading to the Waffle House. The Stratoliner hesitates and sputters momentarily. I speak to it telepathically “Are we going to do this here? I thought we’ve been over this… I’m not sure if I’m really going to sell you.” 

“Then why did you let my battery run down?!” the Yamaha seemed to retort. “Do you know what it’s like being the original wheels of fire, bad boy motorcycle, and being stuck in that hot, dank garage going no where?!” “ Do You?!” “Well you know…” I stammered, but my words were cut off by the now enraged bike “You and that stupid Mr. Road King!” he growled. “Don’t talk about him like that! I shouted. “He’s old school!, He’s got skills!” 

“Skills!” snorted the Stratoliner, now running hot. “ Who took you up through the Colorado Rockies with power to spare, and oh let’s not forget automatically reset the fuel injected air fuel mixture when we stalled all alone at high altitude?” “You did,” I muttered. “And who did a sling shot around a half mile long caravan of 18 wheelers and RV’s going to Del Rio at a buck twenty with a big bore roar?!” “You did!” I replied louder. “Who has the aftermarket vibrator in the back, ready to share backseat bunny love at the flip of a switch?!” “You do baby!” I shouted “Cock of the Walk!” “That’s right my man! And don’t forget it!” said the now thumping Strat, growling menacingly. “ Now show me some love, rack my pipes and rack ‘em hard!” 

“Hell Yeah!” I replied as I pulled the clutch in and rolled back on the throttle hard two times in a quick motion. The Yamaha Stratoliner roared like a nitro fuel burning funny car, sending an adrenalin approval through rider and machine as we sat at the red light. It also caught the attention of three policemen parked across the street at the Exxon gas station. They walked to the ends of their cars and looked at me, like three junkyard dogs staring through a fence at a fat cat who had just meowed too loud. “It’s your ass now,” muttered the Stratoliner with a low wicked laugh. 

You know, it’s bad enough to contend with the “Old School vs. Modern Metrics” bike debate in my head, but to be setup by a freaking ricer at a traffic light really makes me question my late night delusions! 

The light turned green and I hung a quick left, leaving the officers behind , allowing them to return to their doughnut revelry, probably discussing important topics like “Night Stick vs. Taser” and ”Top Ten Handcuff Take Downs for the Week”. 

I pull in the Waffle House, park and begin removing my helmet and riding gear. I decide to leave my colors on and walk inside. “Hi and Welcome to Waffle House !” all the workers yell. “Jeez do they really force them to say that?” I thought to myself, as I acknowledged their welcome with a half hearted smile and a wave of my hand. One waitress was staring at my colors and asks” Are you a Boy Scout Leader?” Now I got to hand it to her, that’s the best one I’ve heard in awhile. I’ll put that one right up there with “Are you in the Lions Club?” or when the lady at CVS Pharmacy asked me if I worked there. 

“Boy Scout Leader?” I asked, “Why yes I am,” I replied sarcastically. “Well I thought you might be because you have all those cool patches,” she replied with a smile showing her slight overbite. “Oh,” I replied “Good catch”. I really didn’t feel like explaining myself right then, so I stayed a Boy Scout Leader for the time being. “What would you like?” the all knowing waitress asked. “I will have a tuna fish sandwich with fries,” I said. “We don’t have tuna fish here,” she said. “Well ok I’ll take a steak burger with fries,” I replied. “We don’t have fries either,” she said in a slightly saddened tone. “What do you have from the potato family?” I asked as the stress began to build in me again. “We have hash browns,” the young waitress said cheerfully, as if it were a Christmas surprise. “You can get them dropped, chopped, smothered, covered, and browned.” 

“Maybe they should call them the Jeffery Dahmer hash browns,” I joked. The waitress seemed unimpressed with my humor. “I’ll just have them regular, Darling,” I said with a weak smile. “Oh, and I’ll take a bowl of chili,” I added. “Ok,” said the waitress. “Do you want your chili chopped, dropped—” I cut her off mid sentence. “I’ll just have it plain too thanks,” I said smiling feebly again. She seemed perturbed that I had so rudely interrupted her listing the serial killer M.O.’s again. Was it just business for her, or was there a darker side to this waitress chanting the assassination add-ons? 

I looked around the diner, it was empty, but for two other customers at this surreal time of the night… creepy… perfect scenario for a psycho slasher moment.. I could see tomorrow’s headlines: “Biker Killed at All Night Diner.” Victim found “Chopped, Dropped, and Smothered” face down in a bowl of chili. Witnesses state, he had interrupted chatty waitress in the middle of her descriptive diner lingo. Sources later revealed waitress suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and had heart shaped tattoo on her upper arm with the word “Dahmer” tattooed inside of it… 

The waitress’s name was “Cha Cha,” or at least that was the flash name on her name tag. She wasn’t Hispanic, so I guess the name was derived from the culinary sound of a pepper shaker shaking, as a smiling cook shook it over the grill, while listening to some top forty song by the Temptations. Or the name tag could have belonged to a Hispanic girl that worked there before her and she had reluctantly inherited it. I’d like to think it had to do with the pepper and the Temptations because I’m crazy for that kind of rhythm! 

Cha Cha had beautiful dark eyes covered by jet black eye brows and thick dark hair in a braid. She had a weak chin with a pouty bottom lip, that accentuated her slight overbite, giving her a sensuous young female beaver look. As she looked at me and I gazed into those lovely eyes, she smiled and giggled, which sounded like a lovely little beaver giggle as well. 

Suddenly I felt myself being transported back into the old west, long before the white man came. I could hear the rushing water coming from the stream gurgling, bubbling, and I was standing there, a young strong lean beaver, slapping my muscular flat tail on the water, calling for Cha Cha and her back wood beaver love. I could hear the melody to the song “Running Bear” stoking up my beaver testosterone, as I bit through saplings with a wanton passion to take Cha Cha back to my beaver dam and slap some hard tail on her as “Be Bop A Lula” by Gene Vincent was pouring out of my quadraphonic beaver dam stereo that the Hamm’s Beer bear had hooked up for me. 

“Hey” “”Hello?” said Cha Cha, which brought me quickly back to Waffle House reality. “Huh?” I said. “You have my finger,” she said. I looked down and realized I had been playing pinkies with her. “Oh I’m sorry,” I said with a red face. She laughed and said “That’s ok, you were spacing out and I think you were just trying to take your check I was handing you.” Her eyes lit up a bit and I think she was kind of digging it too. “Will there be anything else?” she asked her bright eyes and smile now shooting volts of electricity through me. 

Suddenly I was thirteen years old again in the city pool, blissfully happy as Cha Cha and I bounced up and down with the water splashing around us, accompanied by smiles and innocent laughter ,in some sort of pubescent courting dance. “Hellooo?”… “Wow you must really be tired,” said Cha Cha as she giggled her sensuous beaver giggle. “Do you have jet lag or something?” “No,” I said pausing… “I”… pausing again… “Yes?” she said smiling and waiting for me to seal the deal. “What do you want?” 

I looked at her close and slowly said “I think I’ll have a waffle,” “Oh,” she said, “You sure you have room for that?” suddenly putting her game face back on and sounding like a Lean Cuisine consultant. “Yes, I missed lunch and I’m really hungry,” I said. How could I explain that her simple beauty was melting my heart, much like the cheese on the restaurant grill, and I wanted to stay a little bit longer near sweet Cha Cha. “One waffle drop,” she said to the cook as she smiled at me and walked away. 

Warm wholesome waffle, covered with sensuous blueberry syrup, the melting butter smell, reminding me of popcorn at the cinema when I first saw Elvis in the movie “Roustabout.” The King was so cool, much like this waffle of love.. the first taste was so good, that Elvis suddenly appeared in spotlight standing on the bar, gyrating and singing the passion I felt for Cha Cha the Young Beautiful Beaver Queen of the Airport Waffle House. 

As the King walked towards her singing, he bent down and let Cha Cha wipe the sweat from his brow with the white silk scarf around his neck. When he stood up the scarf slid off his neck in the now screaming Cha Cha’s clenched fist. The King looked at me and winked. I gave him the thumbs up sign and said silently with my lips moving as to not disturb the moment “I’ll save you some waffle”. He grinned his half sneer and gave me his famous double pistols hand signs as he disappeared into the lights…. Damnitman!…Waffle House syrup is a powerful drug! 

We had our moment Cha Cha.. and now it was gone. I wanted to whisper “Waffle” softly in her ear, and give her a sweet blueberry syrup kiss and feel her sexy overbite cut into my lip much like Cindy Ford’s braces in junior high school. 

Bittersweet like the chili and waffle syrup combining, our chance at romance came and went with the sounds of the night, but thank you again, sweet Cha Cha Young Beautiful Beaver Queen of the Airport Waffle House, for making a bad day turn into a beautiful night.

October 7, 2012
"Ashes to Ashes, We All Fall Down" by Truck

That north wind was a cruel opponent. Coming home from the League City run was a chore. Every time we crested an overpass the wind jabbed at Mouthpiece and I like a patient boxer, jabbing over and over again, throwing an occassional right. The traffic was thick, so we held our ground in the fast lane, hoping beyond hope that the tires revolving beneath us would remain faithful until we pulled into our respective garages.

That day had been the revival of a fond memory for me, some of which was relived through our two hangarounds. This time last year, my stay at Fall Down was that of a hangaround longing to be a Prospect. I remember it well. Volunteering for menial tasks, not merely to impress, but more to have any opportunity to get to be around those I hoped would some day be my chapter brothers. I wish I could say that time passed quickly, but it didn’t. But pass, it did. And here we are.

I saw Timberr and Bobby Jo last night before I left, and we talked about this very thing. “Hey, you were just a hangaround this time last year.” Yep. Whole lot happens in a year.

Last year on the poker run I rode with them, Bill the Cat, Wango, and a few others while I was still sizing things up, and certainly being sized up as well. It was a beautiful day of riding with people I would come to know as Gypsy family.

Fast forward a year when BigJew and I took one of our hangarounds to the same place where I ate with everyone last year. Noah’s Ark in Bacliff, Texas is a place of good food, and even better memories. For two hours, the three of us sat on the deck and watched the water, motorcycles, and a few pristine classic cars.

We got on our bikes after a long, relaxing lunch, and rode back to the run site. Hit the throttle hard when the light turns green like a drag racer at the end of the countdown. Dance through the twists and turns as the road winds along the coast, peaceful marshlands, and an obligatory oil refinery scattered here-and-there. Change lanes together as one.

We made it back to Fall Down just in time to meet up with Wango Tango and Millhouse, as well as our other hangaround, and a few friends and family members of the chapter. We embraced, partied, and then partied some more. And then when Mouthpiece showed up, we partied some more. We talked, watched the goofy shenanigans of the afternoon bike games, ate, and began saying our goodbyes.

By the time it was time for Mouthpiece and I to get on the road, the sun had just made its way beneath the horizon. I put on a sweatshirt since the fall air was helping the run live up to its name. We rolled up Highway 6 with all the ease of a baby trying to sleep through the night. Good heavens, we must have hit every stoplight. When we turned north on 288, it was not long before we felt the north wind. Here she comes. Jabbing and jabbing like that persistent boxer.

But a half hour later once we turned together onto 610 and started getting closer to home, we somehow knew that the day had created more good memories for those of us who made our way down. The day ended for all of us differently. Some had left earlier. Some stayed and spent the night. But a good time was had by all.

Take a deep breath. Do the dishes. Let the cigars burn themselves out until next year. Ashes to ashes… we all Fall Down.

September 17, 2012
"Moon Walking With Your Chucks Untied and Other Distorted Analogies" by Wango Tango

A ride or run somewhere is like a a big yellow onion right out of the produce section at the grocery store… Attendees and riders keep slowly peeling off like discarded outer layers of the onion due to prior commitments or whatever…

Slowly you end up with peeps who only need bare essentials like an extra pair of socks, extra t-shirt and a tooth brush. Those people ride irregardless… and those people are… Hard Core Onions!! Yeah!! fresh out of produce… peeled, chilled, and taking the field! And they return phone calls too! Yeah!! Sure they come back funky fried and greasy… but they don’t mind cuz the hamburger girls are always sleazy and riding the breezy…

Note: Opinions expressed by Wango Tango do not reflect the GMCH Chapter’s overall views unless the overalls are being worn by some really hot chick with ample cleavage… Thank You.

August 13, 2012
"Cannonball Back to Aardvark" by Truck

Without a doubt, you would have to be a Gypsy to get the title of this particular article. But if you do, chances are good, it brings back memories.

Remember that time at Cannonball?

Remember that time at Aardvark?

For me, the answers to those questions bring the past year around full circle.

In June 2011 I went on my first run with the Houston chapter. Aardvark. Ride there three hours, do the poker run, hang around, and come home that night. All totaled, 400-500 miles in a day. It was on that day that I first considered becoming a Gypsy.

Fast forward to this past weekend, August 2012. I am now a patch holder in the chapter I love. As a part of my life with the Houston chapter, BIGJEW and I left my house on Saturday morning, just as we did over a year ago to Aardvark. Both mornings provided great riding weather.

Like last year, by the time we got to the run this weekend—Goliad’s Cannonball, if you are keeping track—it was hot. The poker run was a race to the next bar to find the coldest drink. The return to the run site was a time to find some shade to catch up with other chapters.

We visited with our Gypsy family, ate some food, sold some Gyspy hats, ran by Dugger’s house to say goodbye to Bill the Cat, after which it was time to get back on the road. In some ways, the run is my second favorite part of the weekend. My favorite is the ride. Saturday going home was no exception.

BIGJEW and I got on our bikes, started up, and roared home for a couple of hours. Occasionally, a rainstorm would run alongside us like a train. But it was in the distance enough to stay away. Just a show miles away to entertain us.

We parted company once we got back into Houston. I made it home, highlighted the new roads I rode that day on my map in the garage, greeted my family, and went straight for the shower.

Yet another 400 mile day. 

July 9, 2012
"Weather or Not" by Truck

The reflection in the rearview mirrors on my handlebars looked the same: An unwholesome wall of gray blackness like a bad aftermarket window tint job on a 70s Trans Am. That’s what those mirrors above my hands looked like. The cheap color in the sky was the opposite of the multiple oranges and pinks of a beach sunset when people talk about the wonders of creation. This was a hue that caused you to pray for a different reason, especially on a motorcycle.

As I rolled northeast on Texas 31 toward I-45, a giant lightening bolt threw down in front of me miles ahead, daring me to come forward. I could not speed to the interstate fast enough so that I could turn south, and hopefully miss the coming storm. And I did. That one at least.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I turned south and shifted my eyes between the road and the mirrors as I watched the darkness behind me turn blue. The sun came back out in full force as it had earlier in the day. My arms continued to sunburn in the July heat. Only a few minutes later, while blasting down I-45, I hit a three-minute patch of rain, which was just enough to cool me off. It did not bother me a bit since the sun was out, and I knew it was just a little shower.

Little did I know it was a warning of things to come.

By the time the day was finished, I had ridden 466 miles in just a little over 24 hours, all in order to spend time with my Gypsy family. Three of us left Lake Livingston early Saturday morning to ride up to Dawson for the Cleburne/Gatesville run. (By the way, Cleburne, Gatesville, and Dawson only have one thing in common: They are all in Texas. In actuality, they form a 200-plus mile loop, but who’s counting?) On the way to the run, Eyeball, Raoul, and I (Truck) stopped to see Captain Too High at Woody’s on I-45. All of us have roots with the Houston chapter, and it is a long-held tradition to stop at Woody’s. Always good to stop and see the Captain. If you have never been there, you are missing out.

It is that family love that exemplifies why we Gypsys go on these runs. Although the weather was hot and humid, it was worth it to see everyone. And that’s what being a Gypsy is all about. You ride your motorcycle with those you love, with those who love you, all in order to see others you treat as family. It was a great day while I was with everyone.

But alone, well, that’s another story.

For an hour-and-a-half on that late Saturday afternoon, all I could think about was making it home.

I stopped in Fairfield at Cooper Farms to buy some peach blossom honey for my honey. I asked the girl at the counter, “Where’s the peach blossom honey?” She replied, “Right there,” while pointing at a huge display marked in bold captial letters “PEACH BLOSSOM HONEY.” I must have been getting road weary by that point.

It was nothing compared with what was to come.

As I pulled back onto I-45, it was only a few minutes before the sky turned back into that nasty gray from earlier. Only now, it was all around me.

Just darkness.

No rain.

Yet.

But when the temperature dropped what felt like 15 to 20 degrees, I knew I might be in some trouble.

I thought about stopping to maybe wait it out. But something inside me said to push on until I could not go any farther. I made it almost to New Waverly, still about 70 miles from home, when I decided to stop for gas one last time. I pumped the gas, put my helmet back on, slipped on my gloves, and watched the sky turn even darker.

Just go. Get home.

And not a minute later, there on the interstate where it feels like you are everywhere and nowhere all at the same time, the sky opened up. Not just a sprinkle, either. I mean the sky went from dry to sobbing in an instant. You could literally see the wall of water a few hundred yards ahead. It was like a bad amusement park ride.

Traffic grew thicker the closer I got to Houston. Construction has piled up 45 for the past 3000 years between Huntsville and Conroe, and tonight was no exception. With every passing mile it seemed a car was dropped out of the sky right before me, cars out of nowhere appeared before me, forming a conspiracy of cages all hellbent on slamming on their brakes. The double red lights on the backs of the depraved iron vehicles flashed their angry eyes at me, warning me not to come any closer. And since they outweighed me by more than a pound, I decided my best course of action was to slow down. But… when the time was right… I bobbed-and-weaved by the disdainful monsters without a second thought. My Brother, BIGJEW, knows exactly what I’m talking about, because we have done it a thousand times.

For miles, puddles pulled on my Fatboy. The rain came down harder. Thank God for my faceshield and the gloves on my hands to wipe the shield clean every few minutes. The fatty, my faithful steed, seemed to encourage me to keep going. “Come on, Truck,” she would say, “We can truck this out together.” (Like I said, I was getting road weary.)

By the time I made it to the Hardy Toll Road in the Spring/Woodlands area, I was immersed in a baptism of filth. (You should see my bike as I write this.) It felt like these last miles would go on forever. I kept praying, in some ways to talk to God, in other ways just to encourage myself.

"Please, can it just stop raining for a minute."

And you know what… It did.

Just past the old house of Millhouse on the Hardy Toll Road, the sky stopped crying. The roads even seemed dry in some points. The speed demon in me cheered an internal “Yalp!” that would frighten away any gremlins for miles, and the fatty cheered louder as I twisted her throttle as hard as it would go.

We danced through the curves on a road we practically had to ourselves. Each bend in the road might as well have had a makeshift posterboard decorated with the words “Welcome Home!” So good. So good.

Ticker-tape thrown by thousands could not have felt any better than that moment.

But it lasted for only a moment.

In a literal flash, it changed… once again. A lightening bolt struck what felt like a mere mile in front of me. The sound outscreamed my beloved Harley. It made me flinch. The sigh of relief turned into a sigh of “Here we go again.” The sky turned a devlish green.

I pulled my feet back from the highway pegs onto the footboards closer to my brake and shift linkage, and hunkered down for the last few downtown miles as the rain started again.

Each exit, each bend in the road, each overpass, included an SUV riding my tail until I lost my patience and waved my hand back, gesturing, begging them to back off in these less-than-wonderful conditions. Most people obliged begrudingly, although a few held fast to their evil ways.

So it goes. So it goes.

I exited the Hardy Toll Road and pulled onto 610, then down 45, then onto another road. Again… so it goes. I am no longer naive enough to believe that I am the only one to have ridden these motorcycle roads. Truthfully, that is quite comforting. I know that this path that I rode today has been trodden by many before me, especially by my Gypsys.

I rounded on to 59 and took the exit to my house. The rain was beginning to ease up as I pulled into my complex, around the corner, and finally into my garage. I turned off the bike gently, thanking the fatty for a loyal delivery.

If you have been on a bike for more than a few years, you know that feeling. A ride well-ridden, involving hundreds of miles… finished.

As my family came out to greet me, I pulled off my gloves and surveyed my pruny hands. I was completely drenched. As I walked inside, up the stairs, I peeled off my Gypsy colors and hung them on the hanger to dry under the fan in the bathroom. And all the while, I thought about my immediate family, my Bering church family, and my Gypsy family.

Family. Work. Club.

Or in other words…

Jen-Cole-Reese… Bering Drive Church of Christ… Gypsy MC…

And that is all…

Almost.

I kept thinking as I kept giving thanks for being home.

For the Houston chapter members who had to stay home for all sorts of reasons.

For the hundreds of Gypsys scattered around the world we did not get to see this weekend.

And for the group that gathered in East-Central-Where-in-the-World-Are-We… for the run… I was grateful to have been with them today.

When I cleaned up, dried off, and put on dry clothes, I called Super Pickle right after I texted two of my GMCH Brothers that I left back at the run site.

"I’m home."

"I’m glad," Pickle said. "Right after you left came a real turd floater." (That’s "rainstorm" for the uninitiated.)

"Yep," I replied, "I got drenched myself. Different storm, but same wind and water."

"Well I prayed for you, Brother," Pickle assured me.

"I know."

"Well I’m glad you’re home. Go hug your family, and we’ll see you later in the week," Pickle continued. "I love you, Brother."

"I know," I told my friend. "I love you, too."

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