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As I pull out Monday morning,
headed for work, peering through the bug encrusted windshield, I think back to Thursday morning. Thursday morning when the Wing was spotless, Thursday morning when my destination was not the everyday grind, but 500 miles away in the "Land of Enchantment", Ruidoso, New Mexico.
The enchantment however, is
not only in the land. Every September, the land in and around Ruidoso comes alive with motorcycles. Motorcycles of every conceivable size, shape, color and creed. Motorcycles from the farthest corners of the earth. Motorcycles from Wisconsin, packing folks from Nebraska, and motorcycles from Nebraska,
packing folks from Wisconsin. And, of course, motorcycles from Ohio, packing folks from Arizona.
This event is, of course, the
Golden Aspen Rally. The rally was originally the brain child of Til Thompson and called the Aspencade. Once so prominent
a gathering of motorcycles as to inspire Honda to give the name to it's top of the line touring mount. Now the rally has changed hands and names but is no less prominent an event.
My trip to Ruidoso was uneventful. Out of the driveway at 6:15 A.M. No need to hurry, so I kept the speed low and the stops frequent. The Wing
didn't act like it was feeling well, but didn't actually run badly. Just not real good. At any rate, it still got me to the Ruidoso city limit sign by 4:00 P.M.
AZ time. (NM time is one hour later) I stopped at the Super 8 Motel to get the evening's plan from Art, then headed to the Sitzmark Chalet to check in and clean up before running out to the convention center to pick up my registration packet for the rally.
Somehow I missed Art & Dody, and John & Thelma McNeil and therefore the steak dinner they we're headed to. So, I headed back to the motel and put the bike to bed before walking next door for Arby's take out. I had no more than gotten back to the room when the sky opened up and really poured. It was not a good night for a motorcycle ride, so the Arby's seemed better than the steak.
Friday morning the clouds were low and heavy. This was judgment day for Gold Wings and mine was going to be in the line-up so, I commenced
to scraping the bugs off. After getting the basics clean I ran up to the convention center and parked where I figured if it started to rain, my bike would stay dry. Everybody else sort of crowded their bikes in around mine and I was penned in. Then the sun came out, and shone brightly on my poor Wing's aging paint. I knew we were in trouble. As a photographer, I know better than to show anything old in direct sunlight, but I couldn't move the machine. My poor Gold Wing didn't even place. It's 120,000 miles showed pretty harshly next to the winner with only 12,000 on the odometer. Mileage doesn't count. It's that simple. I was crushed. The Wing showed no outward signs of grief, but
I've noticed the coolant level is down, so it must have done it's crying while covered, at night. You know it's got to hurt.
The next few days we did the
normal Golden Aspen stuff. Poker runs, the convention center, exploring the area and of course eating. Every
meal becomes a social event at this rally. It's that way.
because the rally itself is a social event of sorts. You meet a lot of people and many of them, the ones you see year after year, become friends.
Meal time is when you get together to chat and catch< up on their previous year's adventures.
This year I did get to ride one of the demo Beemers. A K-1100 LT. It was fun to run around and explore some new roads on the strange, but very smooth riding machine from across the ocean, but as far as performance and handling are concerned... Well, let's just say that it felt good to get back on the Wing.
Not to degrade the Ruidoso experience, but most of it can become old. You know. "Been there done that." How many times can you walk through
the vendor's area? It's pretty much the same stuff year after year. The Friday night stage show has also been the same act every year. An excellent show, but I've seen it now. Several times. It is great to get together with old friends, and meet new ones, but I think I'll take a break from the event for a couple of years. Not forever, just long enough to have it seem new and interesting when I return... And long enough to let the Wing forget the humiliation of loosing a plaque to the likes of those chrome laden newbys that showed up this year.
High mileage should be a badge of honor. Not reduced points.
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