I don’t usually do this. I’m often invited to ride with different groups, sometimes people want to join me on my rides, other times a tour, resort or a hotel would invite me to visit them and almost always I say “No”. I can list down the reasons why I say no to those invitations, but that’s not topic of this post. I do however want to let you know why I said “Yes” to this one.
This is probably the first tour that I have been invited in that has actual motorcycling involved and that alone got me really interested.
Kara Santos of Travel Up tried their ride along tours and insisted that I should give it a try. She then referred me to their CEO Pat Favoreal and after a couple of days I got an invitation via e-mail. After receiving the e-mail I quickly researched everything that I can about this new kind of tour. There are options that you can choose from, be a back-ride, ride with your own 400cc above motorcycle or ride a rented motorcycle from them.
The third and last option, I think was the most appropriate for me (it’s also been a while since I rode the expressways). After confirming the schedule via e-mail, I got a phone call asking me about the motorcycles that I currently own and use and if I have previous experience in handling bigger highway capable machines. It is to ensure that I aware of what I’m getting into, expressway riding is no joke.
The dynamics of riding a motorcycle on roads like that are way different than those in city roads and it’s really easy to get drunk with power on machines that are above 400cc with an open road in front of you. Good thing I have a little experience in riding these roads since I owned a couple of 400cc motorcycles before.
I noticed there were two other people waiting, a tall male and a female which I thought was a couple at first. But I found out that they were also bloggers who were out to experience this tour/ride. As we were introducing ourselves to one another a big white steed came, it’s hard not to get distracted by this beast of a machine. It’s a 1700cc Kawasaki Vaquero driven by Bigg D. He got down from the bike and greeted me “Good Morning” I extended my hand to shake hands with him, man… I have this feeling that I will be the smallest guy in this group.
Then two more big motorcycles came one of them was a Harley Davidson, not sure of the model but it sure looks new. That’s when I got introduced to Pat the man behind Ride Along Motorcycle Tour. We conversed a little then he advised to open their office so we can talk more inside. The office looks more like a cafe with a very rustic travel feel to it, the design is laid back with motorcycle related accents here and there.
Pat then gave a little background about himself, the company, the motorcycles and the ride. But he kept mum on one thing, the destination. He often repeats the words “It’s about the ride”. Just to keep the excitement going I didn’t bother to ask anymore. It’s already daybreak when the motorcycle that I will be using came, an army green Royal Einfield Classic 500 named Patton.
Pat told me that to test Patton first and to familiarise myself with it before we go out. He mentioned some much needed basics about the bike, for something that was classic looking I was really surprised that it was a fuel injected, he pointed out that I should wait for the red light to disappear before I start the engine, this would indicate that the fuel-injection has kicked in.
I then tested it, it’s definitely torquey. I then decided to put it in second gear to just smoothen out the vibrations and to tame it a little bit, I did some usual basic stuff, testing the brakes, lean limits, stopping and starting the bike. So far so good, Patton looks like he’s well taken care of and he runs and sounds fine, I think we will go along pretty well. After the test Pat told me a little bit more about his characteristics and mentioned he likes high revs, that’s interesting. After a demo of riding back-ride properly we had our prayer led by Pat himself. Then came the words that I have been waiting for… “Gear Up!”. He told me that I’m number 3 and that we are going to ride in formation, and off we went.
Formation riding is probably the best way to ride in a group, why? Because it’s safe. There is a spearhead, a marshall and a sweeper then the rest of the riders all support each other by protecting the lane that they are in. Staggered formation will have each motorcycle on the left and right most part of the lane with 2 motorcycle distances apart, enough to give the rider ample amount of reaction time in case of emergencies. The spearhead would give hand signals to indicate various things such as road hazards, overtaking safety, or if being in a single line is necessary.
I have been to a lot of group rides before, while formation riding is good in theory, a lot of groups break formation when they hit the open road. This is where ego, machismo and all those nasty things men are known for kicks in. But not this group, if they say we ride in formation they will live and die in that formation. This group is about being mature and not about being macho.
After riding the expressway for a brief time we stopped at gasoline station to fill up, rest, pee break, hydrate and wait for another rider, gasoline stations as Pat will put it is “Shangrila” for riders. Then came the “Ratskie” on a 2000 1100cc Yamaha Dragstar that looks as bad-ass as the rider. After a brief chit chat we went on our way.
Not a lot of traffic, this is always a good sign. The two guys in-front of me started to open their throttles and damn those machines are fast. My 550 Einfield was struggling to keep up with the 1200cc+ torque monsters that’s when I remembered Pat’s words, “He likes his rev’s high”. I eased off my throttle a bit and felt the engine sound and vibrations… then I opened the throttle all the way making sure that I shift at just the right moment when its about to hit its RPM limit, suddenly Patton was raging, it unleashed a burst of speed all at the same time calming the handle bar vibrations. “So this is how you like to be ridden…”.
The connection that I made with Patton made me loose all sense of time, place or speed. This is what happens when you feel one with your motorcycle… everything takes a back seat and your’e like in a trance. Pat on his Harley suddenly overtook me, I thought that was very un-characteristic. He then signaled to Ratskie that we should do an emergency stop. So we did, then Pat asked us if there’s anything that missing as he saw a black object fall from one of the riders although he was not sure what or whom it is.
My heart jumped when I realised that my phone is missing from my pocket, then I told him that it was probably my phone. Told him that it was ok, I don’t think it would have survived anyways. He then turned to Bigg-D, “Do you think you can go back and get it?” Pat said. Without hesitation, Bigg-D nodded. After giving him the final instructions he went on, and we went on our separate way to another gas station stop.
A lot of groups say that no one gets left behind but only a few actually do that. Time and again I have seen riders stranded on the side of the road because of an accident, a mechanical failure or just lost because their group left them. This might be my first time riding with them but I’m 100 percent positive that this is not that kind of group.
We arrived at our last stop before we go to our final destination for the day. I took off my helmet and just out of joy I blurted out “Damn, it feels good to ride”. then I felt a pat on my back just after I said that. Pat looked at me grinning… This is a man who knows his craft, we talked about so many things, most if not all are very quotable. But of all those things that gesture stood out the most… That alone explains everything.
While waiting for Bigg-D to come back we had a short coffee and merienda break. Me and the rest of the group started swapping stories about travel, about motorcycles and life in general. Then Pat said “Look at those guys.”, referring to the other riders that were with us. “They have been riding all day and they are always surrounded by bikes all the time on the time of their break they still look at bikes”. Bigg-D then arrived with what’s left of my phone (up to I’m still wondering how he managed to find it) I then thanked him for bringing it back.
“5 Mins” said Pat. In 5 mins we would be gearing up and hitting the road again.
I care very little as to where we are really going. I’m just glad that I’m riding and I’m riding with these guys. This is the nature of the riding motorcycles and this tour gives you an authentic slice of that. True to their tag-line it is indeed about the ride not the destination.
I always ride alone… cheesy as it may sound, but I’m seriously reconsidering riding along.
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