Streeterville ScramblersWe Ride the World

2020 Vintage Ride Report

July 27, 2020

Disclaimer: The club describes itself as having a great appreciation of humor and irony. If The Dear Reader detects anything other than humor and irony in this Ride Review, The Dear Reader may want to retrain in these areas. See the club website for more clarity.

My invite to this fun came a whole month before the ride and asked for a RSVP. Its always impressive to see an organization get their ducks in a row well in advance of the ensuing normal chaos of launching a show on the road. Because I was doing an RSVP, I offered to ride drag or anything else that needed doing. Riding drag for this outfit is not for the faint of heart as any damn thing might happen. My offer to ride drag was accepted. Because I didn't wish to appear as some sort of slovenly slacker, I spent the month preparing for the ride by sleeping properly, hydrating, dieting healthily, and meditating. Bike prep consisted of getting a new power cord for my GPS as oil and air had already been done in February. As a last second thought, I checked that my 25 foot tow strap was in the pannier where it was supposed to be and it was.

Rolling into Walker Bros. Pancake house, my heart soared when I saw all the bikes on this warm but gloomy day. Happily, I met our ride leader and his son (son and grandson of John Young) right away and got myself oriented. Rumor had it that John Young and bride would be following in a restored car of reknown but I couldn't find him or car. Riders having breakfast outdoors did not seem to be moving as the 10AM start time neared? They looked to be rooted in their chairs. I don't know how our ride leader did it but they were up and moving and we missed our start window by only 21 minutes. Granted, a developing mist might have slowed the start. Or it might have hastened the start as riders donned rain gear in a rush to ward off personal dampness?

14 bikes by my concentrated count including my toes as an imaginary aid. One bike was 2up with matching jackets having hi-viz accent color making them easy for me to spot. I am a big fan of 2up as most of my lifetime best rides were 2up. Seeing a bike with 2up always puts a smile on my face and makes me pay close attention to how the couple does things allowing me to steal their best moves for my 2up fun. Oldest bike might have been a 750 Honda sans its baffles with a rider daring the elements of the day in nothing but jeans and a tee shirt. 2nd oldest bike may have been a Guzzi? 3rd oldest bike may have been a beemer. One or two other riders seem to be light in waterproofs? Near the end of the group was a rider who exuded competence whom I was so looking forward to following and stealing better style for myself.

Our rider leader did a magnificent job of timing the traffic light so that the whole group was lined up to make the green. My confidence in the group ride ratcheted up several levels seeing our leader's mastery in action. By this moment, our misty moisture had slightly increased to a mighty mist or maybe a really heavy dew? My Roadcrafter's right sleeve was beading water nicely while the left sleeve seemed to be more absorbent. The portent of this escaped me at the time.

Perhaps a half mile from the start, 6 of the bikes turned off route. As I had signed on to ride drag for the leader, I stayed with him. Alas, the rider exuding competence went with the group diverging and my heart was shattered. Somewhere in my mind was a tickle of gratefulness that my group was down to a more manageable 8 riders which was only a small consolation to my shattered heart. It took a few miles to collect the pieces for later reassembly and focus on my drag riding duties. Thankfully, the mist turned into a light rain and hid my teardrops.

I don't know who put this route together but it had the feel of a John Young Special? We soon got off the main routes and were enjoying all the little back roads with hardly any traffic. The rain had picked up to a level where I decided that I would be grateful to see it quit at any moment and sooner would be better. The rain's saving grace was that it was a 'warm' rain and we were riding moderately. Still I wondered how the riders w/o rain gear were doing. Many moons ago when I knew even less than I know now, I got caught in a summer down pour soaking my jeans&tee in about a half mile and bursting out of it. At 85 degrees and 30mph, I went blue-lipped, un-controlable shaking hypothermia in 1/4 mile. This memory made me take a mental inventory of my gear and I noted that I didn't have any appropriate garbage bags on the bike for emergency rain tunics that I could offer. I decided that my pre-assumption that this club had its shit together made me forget this item and that I should add it to my "Drag Rider Checklist". This note-to-self incident set in motion my time honored mantra, "There's no fool like an old fool" that reverberated for several miles.

First drag rider moment came when we had to make a right to cross the Fox River. Heavy traffic was locked up on Algonquin Rd from the traffic ligh all the way back up the hill and around the curve making the right turn problematic for a group. So, I got out there in the lane and activated my hazards and when the moment arrived our group made the turn. Easy-Peasy. The subsequent right turn immediately after the bridge posed zero problem if doing all this in a 'decided' rain is not an issue with any rider. Our deeply-caring ride leader pulled off into a wide spot to check on all of his followers. He looked back and I gave him a thunbs-up. As we pulled out, I noticed a few bikes rolling up behind us. The earlier divergent group had re-joined. I stayed in position behind my 8 bikes as they followed.

Then the-hell-of-it happened. It started out as a WTF moment as we caught up to a parade of stop&go cagers (0-20mph) whose source of difficulty was unknown. As cagers turned off, we got closer to some flashing lights. And the stop&go thinned out to a sort of 10-12mph slow ride. Some sort of bicycle event honoring first responders escorted by 2 police SUVs and 2 moto-cops rolling along just slowly enough to make riding in 1st gear on my GS annoying to me. Depending on how well one's bike performs at parade speed, it might not have been so annoying for other riders. And the rain continued to fall well enough to divert some of the 1st gear fun to figuring out which set of rain drops on the visor reminded one of which star constellations or which range of riding cones aligned. It might have been 20 minutes of this? Or maybe 45 minutes of slow riding? Or maybe the sun had set and risen in due time but the calendar had not changed page? And this happened in a place where re-routing seemed to offer no respite. Nobody dozed off and rolled into a ditch or hit anything. When we finally did break free, I no longer bothered to note how the rain fell in my elation to be able to shift a gear.

Next moment of note had us riding into the Broken Oar parking lot. Or illustrious ride leader was having trouble with his phone/gps losing reception and killing the route prompts. Enough riders diverged from the parking lot that by the time we left, we had 5 riders in our group intending to complete the route including our Guzzi and 750-4. Somewhere along the way the rain quit and the ride got delightful despite the continuing overcast. Our rider leader missed a turn and decided to make 3 rights and a left to get us turned around. Traffic made me miss the left and it took me a while to catch up. Somewhere about this time, a rider pulled off into a parking lot sans any signaling that I could see. It took me some distance to turn around and see to his fun. By the time I got back to him, he had sorted a left footpeg coming loose. Our ride leader waited for us at the next turn as is the traditional way of doing things. Also, our 750-4 rider waved good-bye and went his own way.

Nothing much happened after this except for an enjoyable ride to destination. But I was surprised to see that we arrived only a minute or so after many of the riders who left our group at the Broken Oar. They said that they had completed the route too. The bike show was fabulous. Vincents, Rudges, Panthers, etc. John Young received a club honor. Atta boy, John. Info of which can be found on the club website. Sandwiches were served and I had a 'spicy' as befits my public persona. Very nice to see so many people and more so due to the lonely months of Virus SIP.

All: Thanx for the invite.
I had a pretty good time.

Fran Kokes

Read "Two Old Guys Get Crushed" by Fran Kokes

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