HOW CAN WE BE HUMBLE?
We are the fastest racers alive on the fastest two-wheeled rocket ships in the galaxy. We need to lean on our brakes to let lightning bolts catch up so we can grab them, give them a twist, and re-launch them into the sky in the shape of a Lizard “Z.”
Well…maybe some of us are not THE fastest racers alive, but we certainly ride the fastest bikes.
Well…maybe for some of us, we are not quite riding the FASTEST bikes, but we definitely ride!
And, well, maybe some of us are not actually real, bona fide, smiling-for-the-TV-cameras kind of “racers,” but we do arrive to work faster than our bus-riding neighbors.
And…well…maybe we don’t really catch lightning bolts, but we have ridden in rain, thunderstorms, and torrential downpours all over North America. And perhaps, a few of us have even ridden through…a hurricane?
So who are “we?”
We are the Confederation of Motorcycle Lizards who ride through any manner of wet weather.
So you know one thing’s for sure…we definitely ride. And we ride lots of different bikes. And this tale regards a multi-state race with Ms. Hurricane Arlene a number of years ago (which preceded her more famous big sister, Ms. Katrina).
Now, if you’re a little wiser than a rain-drenched lizard, you wouldn’t partake in such an endeavor. But we ain’t talkin’ about no rain-drenched lizards, ‘cause we ride with rain gear!
So picture yourself in Tampa, Florida, having enjoyed a ride from Los Angeles a week earlier. One day before departure back to the left coast, you check in with Mr. Weatherman in light of the 40-pound raindrops banging on your door only to find him yelling, “Yo! Lizard Breath! Change your riding plans! We are gonna beat this part of the country with the first hurricane of what’s gonna be a whoppin’ season.”
Hmmmmm. So what would you do?
Well…if you are a little wiser than a lizard, or a little less adventurous, you would change your riding plans and stay in Tampa longer while the Sunshine State gets battered for a few days.
Now let’s switch gears and suppose you are a lizard that doesn’t mind a little research. And let’s suppose you learn the speed, path, and landfall (east of Louisiana) of this storm. And let’s suppose your lizard brain figures there’s a chance you can beat this blustery puppy churning away in the Gulf of Mexico by racing around the coast: up through Florida, across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, with the ultimate sunshine payoff west of the hurricane path.
Are you game for a hurricane race? (Those wiser than a wet lizard say “No.”) As for the rest of us…well…we’ve been warned.
With our gear plastic-sealed and ensconced in hard saddlebags and our rider in wet-weather riding apparel, this Lizardman leaps off into the late afternoon of 40-pound raindrops (at least there isn’t much wind to speak of…yet).
Lizardman takes the lead a few hours into the race with our first good news: The rain settles down halfway up the coast from Tampa.
Better news: The Florida Panhandle arrives late in the evening. Now the game plan is simple –- just ride all night and pass well in advance of Arlene’s landfall tomorrow for an easy victory!
Bad news: This particular lizard is fully tuckered out. It’s time for a pit stop in a warm motel.
More bad news: Even with an early departure tomorrow, we’re going to become pretty intimate with the current landfall projection.
After a little shut-eye, the dark-grey, dawn light outlines a bunch of Gulf Coast trees doing the limbo to the beat of a tropical downpour.
Checking in with Mr. Weatherman, he gives us an evil howl, “Yo, Lizard Breath! You ain’t going nowhere!”
Regardless, our sleepy lizard brains calculate that if we ride fast and furious, we can just pass ahead of the most recently projected landfall a few hours west, in Pensacola, and still win this motorcycle race against a raging cyclone.
Good news: Interstate 10 in the Florida Panhandle has lots of trees paralleling the road giving us some wind protection.
Bad news: The rain and winds are off and on, but when they’re on, they make holding a straight line on a motorcycle like riding a bull in a rodeo.
More good news: We finally make it to Pensacola and gas up, a mere 2 hours before the most intense part of Arlene is to make its anticipated landfall.
Bad news: Our earlier tired lizard brain didn’t include in the calculations that the hurricane doesn’t begin at landfall: that’s just the most exciting part. Interpretation: We are gassing up amidst some wildly violent winds and rain that is whipping cats and dogs through the air like shooting animal stars.
Good news/bad news: We are about to hit the most exciting part of the race, passing from Florida into Alabama via the several-mile-long Mobile Bay Bridge. For the studious reader, this also means no trees will be protecting us. Nor hill or dale…or even a beach. We are in for the full exposure. We are about to become fully immersed within the bathing foment of the black-sky, gale-churning, earth-sea-sky doleful vision of free-flying gumbo.
Does that mean this bridge is where we moon the Gulf beast with our naked lizard butts?
Ummmm…no. This is the part where we park our bikes on the lee side of our Pensacola gas station and finally presume enough humbleness to pray that we will race another day.
But this ain’t no praying, wet lizard!
Hence, a little later while wrestling the elements attempting to keep the motorcycle in one lane, through what seems like an endless car wash with all the sprayers and blow driers blasting us at once, we are struck with a panicky question: “Why the heck is this bridge still open!!!!?”
Too bad we can’t stop and take a photo. But since we are on the verge of being swept up, bike and all, and flown like a kite without a string over the bridge barriers and deposited into Mobile Bay, let’s just say we are too preoccupied for a photo. Or any mooning. Nor is there any place to stop, or even turn around, to head back for the lee side of that Pensacola gas station for some impassioned prayer.
Onward through the tempest of Mother Nature’s celestial colonic.
Good news: The bridge is long enough to be entertained by repeated feature-film-length “flashes” of life passing before one’s eyes. Jeez. If ever we make it to the other side of this bridge, I for one, do solemnly swear to live a life dedicated to the good of all mankind!
More good news: In spite of a wobbly, wind-screaming, bleary-eyed, high-concentration, adrenalin-rush of a bridge crossing, we make it into Alabama.
Unfortunately, no champagne and smiling women highlight our arrival.
But within a few hours, we are headed north through Louisiana where the sun shines beams of continuous victory amidst a cloudless sky.
However ill-advised and poorly conceived this adventure was, all is good as we follow the rosy beams over the horizon.
Whether humble or not, Lizardmen of the world unite!
by George Alger
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