by Victor Wanchena

Road trips are fun. This summer slipped away from me without taking as many as I would have liked. In reality, I could take 500 trips a year and I’d still be pining for more. Recently, I’ve changed my riding style and began taking trips with friends. Prior to this, I was miles obsessed and the secret to big miles is to travel by yourself. But my need for huge mileage has lessened and I have begun to enjoy the company of others and traveling at a slower pace.

So, now I’m back to being a rookie rider. I am a little uninitiated to group travel and I have committed my share of group travel sins. So here is my incomplete and totally subjective list of rules for group rides:

Don’t do repairs on the road. The rule is to fix it before you leave. Tearing down your motor in a rainy, motel parking lot may feel like an adventure, but makes a lot of noise. The guy in 3B will complain, the manager will tell you to finish up, and your friends will not appreciate you degreasing an engine cover in the shower at 2 AM. Nothing makes your riding buddies roll their eyes faster than pulling out a tool kit when they’re ready to roll.

Don’t make the waitress mad. There are few pleasures in this world that rival a hearty breakfast at a greasy spoon in East Nowhere. I actually goaded a riding partner into ordering waffles at a joint that specifically had “No Waffles” listed in large print on the menu. The waitress went from surly to downright mean. I believe my plate was launched on to the table from about 15 feet away. I tipped well out of Midwestern guilt.

Don’t camp next to light sleepers if you snore. I do snore. In fact, it’s been described as two bears wrestling over a running chainsaw. Well, from the lightly muffled interior of a tent it probably only sounds like one bear with a running chainsaw. In the interest of maintaining friendships I have been instructed to camp at least a furlong away.

Don’t take pictures of your friends while they’re peeing. I not sure why, but I have a weakness for snapping pictures of pristine wilderness being spoiled by my friends relieving themselves. This creates a couple of problems. Most people don’t like being photographed in that moment, even if their identity is not obvious. Also, I end up with few photos that are suitable from framing.

Don’t pretend to know where you’re going. If you’re leading and you think you made a wrong turn, stop, admit the mistake, and figure out where to go. Don’t follow a hunch down a mile long, muddy, clay trail that is really someone’s driveway. As you might guess, that steep descent into a remote mountain valley and into the front yard of a self professed “mountain man” resulted in a tipped over bike and much time lost getting back on track. Though, in my defense, it makes for a good story now.


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