Solo 60: Another First of Firsts

There are a few things in life that once you’ve experienced, you just can’t go back. Your first kiss, the loss of one’s virginity (good or bad experience), your learner’s permit and license, marriage, holding your first-born child (hopefully not at the loss of the virginity at an early age), the list could go on for quite a while. But, after riding a motorcycle on my own for the first involving three counties, the smile that broke across my ever so ugly mug could have very well shattered my helmet. I mean, where has this been all my life? Why, in God’s great name, have I not done this before? Hell, I’m fifty freakin’ seven years old and I’m just now experiencing this?!? I have to admit I’ve done some foolish things in my life (some with a grin, most without), but waiting THIS freakin’ long to pull the trigger on riding a motorcycle? Geeze. What a moron!

I know, I know. A decision of this MAGNITUDE is not one to be taken lightly. If you are single, the decision is all yours, and yours alone. There is no so-called safety net in case you fall for the “BIGGEST, BADDEST RIDE AROUND” when you are just learning to ride. So, how am I doing now? It has now been three weeks since this adventure began and here today is another first of firsts: my own solo 60-mile ride. The first week was acquiring a bike and refining all the skills I learned in the rider’s course. Last weekend was a ride-along with an experienced rider. Yes, since I got my ride, I’ve ridden to work more often than drove and even made a trip or two elsewhere for other reasons. Today’s ride was all me. You know the line about the best laid plans? Two thoughts on that later.

I had already checked the weather and it would be perfect for riding! I laid out a route south to Jesup, then west to Baxley, north to Glennville, and then east to home. That was the plan. I’ve ridden down to Jesup and back a few times now so know that portion of the route well enough. But since I knew my phone was going to be updating while I rode, I made a snap decision to change the ride up and stay on roads I already knew fairly well by car. That’s why the best laid plans rarely survive first contact.

The change meant I would be going west to Glennville to loop up to Hwy 144 and across Fort Stewart, swing by Holbrook Pond to check out the dog park for tomorrow (three big dogs will NOT fit on the bike no matter how much rope you use!), and then home through post. The ride was pleasant and social distancing was maximized as there was little to no traffic once I passed the little old lady who did not appear to know where she was going (passing was yet another first).

The outbound leg of my ride was Hwy 196 between Hinesville and Glennville. It is one of those sleepy yet well maintained roads that sees most traffic Monday through Friday to and from Fort Stewart early mornings and late afternoons. Other than that, it is a smooth rode with hardly any challenges. Perfect for a solo ride. The inbound leg was Hwy 144 which most logging trucks use to cut through on between the tree farms and the mills (trees are a cash crop in Georgia). Some of these trucks have seen better days and the drivers know MPs (Military Police, Mr. Prick, Mud Puppies, whatever…) rarely pull them over for violations other than speeding. That kind of makes 144 a driving hazard at almost anytime of day. But not this morning, so I must have timed it right. The only thing going on along 144W was the controlled burning that was visible from the road. Thankfully the smoke did not make me sneeze; that would not have been a pretty sight inside the helmet. Anyway…

I still came back to my earlier thought of why it took so long to take the jump to riding a motorcycle. I mean, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was first stationed here in 1981. That’s almost 40 years!! That’s a lifetime for most! All I can say is thank God for second chances.

Jeff Allmond

21 March 2020

As promised, two thoughts about plans:

  1. As I described, the plan I mapped out last night failed first contact. Instead of taking the left to go the mapped route, I changed my mind and stayed on roads I know rather than take the chance of getting lost on roads I don’t. Remember, I am still rather new to this riding thing.
  2. Having a planned route that you can leave with someone while you are out is more of a safety net of sorts. When there is a definite destination or purpose to the ride, this is often the better option. People will have an estimate of when you are expected back and will have an idea of when to really start worrying when you’re are overdue.
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