Douthat State Park
 
The weather gods gave us a pass this weekend. We didn’t get rained on once and yet storms were on the move all day Saturday. While having lunch at the Griffin Tavern in Flint Hill Virginia, the cook kindly came to our table to warn us of an imminent storm. He said to go out back behind the restaurant for a gander at what was coming. Sure enough in the near distance was an opaque widow’s veil blanketing the foothills – hard rain. The guys began scampering about preparing for the big splash. I suggested, “not so quick.” Experience has learned me that hard rain headed my way is usually accompanied by wind and the scent of rain. In this case there was neither and ultimately we never felt a drop.
Next time you’re out riding, before you scramble into your rain gear, wait – determine whether the weather is actually moving toward you. If the wind doesn’t kick up, and you don’t smell ozone, chances are you’re not going to get (too) wet. 
Sunday morning, we each rode over to a gas station to top off our tanks. Since I was the only one riding a BMW Adventure with my range (miles to empty) down to a single digit, I took on the largest fuel load of nearly nine gallons. Yet I was first to finish the job. I pulled away from the pump and waited for the others to gather. I recalled my early days riding with more experienced motorcyclists. Several times I was teased and called “Last Guy Larry.” He’s the guy who’s last to get his act together after a fill up or a bio-break fumbling with his gloves or his key. He’s the guy who forgets to buckle his chin strap after pulling on his gloves – God love him.
 
Here’s what you do to ensure you’re not “Last Guy Larry.”  Remove your motorcycling credit card from your wallet and place it by itself in an easily accessible outside jacket pocket. Then stow your wallet since chances are, you won’t need it. When you roll into a gas station, pull up close enough to the gas pump where you can simply slide your gas card and fill, all while sitting on the bike. Since I’m left handed, I try to pull up to a left side pump too. Your gloves go in a specific place and the first thing you do before you slide, is reset your #1 trip meter. The #1 is your most reliable gas gauge. I rarely forget to reset it.
 
L to R Matt, Andy, Jesse, Jim, Darryl, Mike
 
I enjoyed a unique mixture of enthusiasts this weekend. For the first time, I had more be-backs than newbies. Matt, and Darryl were first timers from London, Ontario. Andy, Jesse, and Mike were each back for a second go-around. As is often the case, the second time around’s the charm. There is a noticeable increase in both smoothness and speed for the second timers that the newbies can’t match. None of it looks fast though. That’s the difference. A smooth rider shows little movement, just an uncanny effortlessness disappearing down a road. By giving nothing away, an observer is left asking how in the Sam Hill can a rider ride like that??
 
Matt and Darryl got a Workshop workout, especially Darryl. He came to the mountains riding a big dog, a ’91 Honda Goldwing. He proved to himself and to the rest of us that the Wing absorbs anything thrown at it. Over hill and dale we rode, and once Darryl brought his power band to bear, he never lagged behind.
 
Matt commented several times just how important it was for him to keep a continuous eye on the vanishing point. Riding the powerful BMW K13GT, he needed to! Sure, he knew all about the vanishing point from magazine articles and books he had read, but putting the visual skills together and disciplining himself to continuously use them, was something else again. His improvement in situational awareness and bump in confidence was very significant. Big grin.
 
Jesse came back on his Kawasaki Connie 14. More than once, he told me that riding smooth to the Workshop’s standard was his “art.” Joy was etched all over his face during our two days together.
 
Andy commented just how great it was to get away from the rigors of Manhattan. Time is precious with kids to raise, so having me as a guide showing him on his BMW 12GS around the mountains all the while reviewing the skills made for a great 4-day getaway.
 
Finally there’s Michael. There’s a saying that it is “more fun to ride a slow bike fast.” Not fast speed wise, though few could keep up. Fast meaning Michael squeezed every rpm out of his black BMW thumper and demonstrated just how pilotage trumps fancy, faster motorcycles every-single-time. I tell you, a show he put on!

See you in third gear.