Rally time! I landed in Richmond International Airport, full of nervous anticipation to see people, the rally, and my bike again. Fred surprised me at my gate, having landed just half an hour before me. It was all I could do not to jump on him, but with all my luggage hanging off my shoulders I thought perhaps I should spare him the additional inertia.
I don’t remember if we caught an Uber to my bike for pickup, but in a blink Fred and I had gear in hand and my old familiar bike was under me again. We hit the road 2-up to the rally kickoff at Seven Hills Brewing Company.
Jet lag is such a mild term for being transported thousands of miles into completely different climates and social circles. I often assume scooter people all know each other when actually most rallies (with a few exceptions) draw from a more local radius. It’s only in my mind that the entire continent is a jumble of individual riders, who obviously know each other through the unspoken scooter-trash network – I’m always the new one, the one passing through town. This was my excuse for poor manners when I forgot to introduce people; for a change, I’m not actually the new kid. It’s Fred this time, who flew in and didn’t know anyone but me. Whoops.
Fred was without his own bike for the show, so we planned to 2-up the rides. It reminded me of how we met in 2013 at another rally; his scooter wasn’t starting and I had the biggest bike there, so I learned to carry a passenger. We eventually swapped places, when I got tired of awkwardly navigating an unfamiliar city and Fred had been in Gettysburg before – he now holds the distinction of being the first person other than myself to drive my bike. I wasn’t sure if he could tell I was hyperventilating for the first 5 miles of riding on the back of my own bike, but I have since learned to passenge and carry passengers much more calmly. Charlie’s route included steep cobblestone alleys and wet grass, but they were no match.
This year’s gymkhana was rumrunner themed, and involved carrying stacks of liquor store boxes around a course, then whistling with a mouthful of crackers (not sure how that’s rum related but ok). After watching a few contestants I turned to Fred, “My Pelican case is flat, if you sit backwards on my bike we could stack the boxes on top. Think it’s allowed?”
“It’s gymkhana. Don’t ask, just roll up.”
And that’s how we beat the best time by a minute.
The rest of the evening devolved into the usual alcohol-infused rally party. It was a rough following morning, and I still had to organize my gear left at Davide’s and say bye to Fred that day – off to a flight back to Boston. Davide suggested staying in and watching Road the rest of the evening, but neither of us managed to stay awake to the end.
Thankfully, I had deliberately left a couple days to rest before hitting the road again.
I was lucky enough to catch another Monday night family dinner, spaghetti squash pasta with marinara this time. We also made sure to stop by Proper Pie Co, the people who catered Davide’s wedding – the meat pies get him all nostalgic for New Zealand. Maybe it was the cold and damp, but the steamy little pockets of pastry and meat seemed extra good.
It was another reminder that we’re well into November now, and cool weather was coming. Time to head farther south for my winter destination: Atlanta, GA.