Many motorcycle related events have taken place over the past few months including the Distinguished Gentlemen's Ride (DGR), Barber, and the Victory Moto Show.
Hundreds of riders from the Savannah area participated in the annual DGR event in late September to raise funds for prostate cancer and men's mental health.
I was one of those riders.
Because it was my first large group ride, I did not know what to expect. Initially, a smaller group of us met at Coastal Empire Moto where we gathered for breakfast and some photos.
This Polaroid shot captures most of the ladies at the pre-ride meet-up. I'm the one not looking directly at the camera (located far right from center).
Of course, men were there, too. Obviously, they did not make this photo.
All riders congregated at a restaurant called Collins Quarter where we saddled up and began our scenic route. I had no idea how inspiring the ride would be. Hitting the throttle with so many motorcyclists was exhilarating! A warmth came over me as I pondered the vast number of individuals united for a cause while on two-wheels.
The experience left me speechless.
Following the ride, all participants were invited to Coastal Empire Moto for beer and barbecue. Unfortunately, I had to say no to the roasting, suckling pigs because a few weeks prior I had chosen to cut meat out of my diet for a body reset. Instead, I opted for salmon (still meat -- just the oceanic version of it).
Fundraising for DGR continued until the last days of September.
Savannah raised close to $10,000: not too shabby!
A few weeks later, I found myself with an opportunity to attend the 13th Annual Barber Vintage Festival. Thousands of enthusiasts make the trek to Alabama year after year to covet, to swap, to purchase, and to race vintage motorcycles. You basically set up camp there and ogle with mouth wide open at all the throwback Indians and Harleys and Triumphs and BSAs and Hondas and Nortons and the list goes on and on.
Like DGR, Barber was another "first ever" experience for me. As you can imagine, I had to visit the iconic Barber Motorsports Museum. Anyone who has entered its doors knows it is a sacred place where countless, pristine motorcycles reside.
While there, I also had a chance to see professional motorcycle racing. My favorite was watching the races involving both cycles and sidecars. Seeing those sidecar passengers/racers manipulate their bodies on those lightening-fast machines is an image I will never forget.
The festival also boasts a huge swap meet where people barter with one another for anything motorcycle related. If you walk around Barber, like I did, you might run into the ring of fire were skilled drivers go round and round in a tightly confined cylindrical space. It's almost unbelievable!
I definitely see myself at Barber next year.
In November, one of Savannah's LITAS founders -- Anna Heritage -- put on a successful Victory Moto Show where funds were raised for the tiny house project for local homeless veterans. Service Brewing contributed its industrial space and its delicious beer. Although it was a blistery, cold evening, the event was a huge success. Kudos to Heritage for masterminding such a memorable night! (I see her running for political office someday.)
Bad news struck.
Really bad news.
My former colleague Charles Koeniguer passed away on November 16th.
The man whom I sometimes butted heads with in education... the man who saw me out on my 2016 motorcycle road trip... the man who told me one should never begin a journey alone... had died.
He, too, had been on his own journey with cancer and chemotherapy, with brain tumors and CT scans, with Moffit Center road trips.
Although his death was imminent (he opted out of life-prolonging treatment in early September), the news stung.
It stung and lingered...
I was grateful that I was able to pay my respects to both Charles and his wife Linda while visiting Florida over the Thanksgiving holiday. His death served as a reminder to embrace life while present in it. I also admired the heck out of him for having the courage to surrender. (Sometimes, one has to surrender to death in order to extract all that life has to offer.)
Thank you Charles for impacting my life!
I closed out my 2017 motorcycle riding on Sunday, December 10th with nearly a dozen LITAS riders. Heritage led the all women's network through some windy back roads; I held up the rear. Along one of those roads, I broke my caboose protocol. Along two-lane Pine Meadow Drive, I veered to the right of the group and cranked the throttle up to 85 mph on the straightaway called Pine Meadow Drive. I could not pass up the opportunity to see how fast I was willing to go. Had I crouched my body over the tank, I might have hit 90-mph!
Better luck next year.
(Thank you Erin DeYoung for taking that photo of me during the DGR event.)