Saturday, The Loop and a Cool Evening…
Despite the late night / early morning out at Tootsies, I was up at 6:00am for yet another beautiful sunrise. Debbie slept in a bit later than on Saturday, but we had yet another nice quite morning together once she was up and also went out and enjoyed a long walk on the beach to start off our day. It was a bit cooler than I remembered from past Spring and Fall rallies, but still a lovely morning to be out and enjoying the coastline.
We wandered back to the condo around 9:00am to see what Deb and David were up to and to find out what they had in mind to do for the day. It was a tough call to make, but we finally opted to hang with the gang for their traditional Saturday “Yuppie, Hippie, Biker Bar Loop” ride that started off with a gathering at the Beach Bar & Package Store on Front Beach. Our other option was to head east towards Mexico Beach since we’d missed that ride on Friday due to the weather.
Our departure for the Beach Bar was somewhat delayed as our friends Bobby, Carrie Ann, Zack and Katelyn were struggling with a Street Glide that didn’t want to turn-on. They had the bike’s electrical system disemboweled by the time we came down and it was truly a mystery as to why the bike’s ignition wouldn’t turn on. After all kinds of poking and prodding and calls to the local Harley Dealer, Bobby stuck a key in the ignition and it magically unlocked. Well hell, I figured they’d already tried that before they started pulling off the saddle, ECU, battery cover and side covers!
We were finally on our way a bit later than usual and found most of the other folks who’d be going along on the loop at the Beach bar enjoying a variety of libations. Folks at the bar included Mike and Bettianne, Early and Rhonda, Zach & Katelyn, Carrie Ann & Bobby, Ryan & Jeanette, Marla & Stacey, and quite a few others (Donna, Jeff, Rick) but I’m bad at names so my apologies.
Debbie had a couple of Mud Slides — which would definitely be trouble as there’s not much to Miss Debbie for all of the rum goodness of a Mud Slide, never mind two — and she was feeling no pain for the rest of the day: really, I think she was still “enjoying” the Mud Slide effect well into the afternoon. After spending way too much time at the Beach Bar we finally saddled-up and headed for SeaSide and the “yuppie bar” stop on the loop.
I hooked up three GoPros on Blue for the loop ride and got mixed results. One of the cameras had a lens fogging issue and the very short-range, wide-angle lenses on the GoPros don’t lend themselves well to filming groups of people on motorcycles with any really good clarity beyond 5-10 feet. However, I was able to squeeze a 2 minute compilation of about 25 clips into a video short to capture the “feel of the ride”.
Instead of attempting to take over a large section of the original Bud & Alley rooftop bar as we did last year, we ended up going to Bud & Alley’s Pizza Kitchen and having lunch. This was in part because most of us were pretty hungry and in part because the last couple visits to the Red Bar at Brighton Beach (aka, the Hippie Bar stop) were not all that great in terms of the customer experience, e.g., long wait, poor service, mediocre food and cash-only. The Pizza Kitchen was good in that we were able to find a table that would seat the 28 or so folks in our group and a server — bless her heart — who ran her tail off trying to take care of the entire group plus a couple other tables. We definitely overwhelmed the kitchen, but it was a nice day, we were out doors but out of the sun and it gave folks plenty of time to talk with each other.
The next stop was the Outpost for Bikers in Freeport, about 16 miles away. Again, beautiful weather but there was a strong cross wind blowing as we headed inland and north on route 331 across the Chactawatchee Bay. Like PCB, the size of the crowd at the Outpost was way down from previous years… easily 1/2 as many if memory serves. It still had that Outpost feel to it and remained a great place to go and hang out away from PCB proper. I think I heard that they were only able to serve beer and wine, whereas in previous visits you could get mixed drinks and shots… jello shooters were always a popular treat. We spent a little time on the floating dock and under the pavilion chatting with Mike and Bettianne, Early and Rhonda, Zach & Katelyn, Carrie Ann & Bobby, Ryan & Jeanette, and others from the Atlanta group.
We headed back to PCB ahead of our friends as I really wanted to catch a few of the Thunder Beach events; however, by the time we got back into town a couple of them had already wrapped-up and for whatever reason — probably because I was tea totaling all day — I just wasn’t energized. Well, that and Blue’s cruise control began to act up. It had worked fine all the way down from Atlanta and earlier in the day. However, when I flipped it on heading back in on route 79 to PCB it would come on for a few minutes and then self-cancel. That was also weighing a bit on my mind as the 339 mile / 5 hour ride home would not be nearly as enjoyable if I had to manage the throttle all the way. So, I had that on my far-too clear of a mind and the last thing you want when you’re trying to decompress at at Club Stupid is a clear mind: a mild fog seems to work best.
We opted to skip the parade on Front Beach and headed east on Back Beach and Middle Beach to the condo so we could clean up and relax before heading out to dinner. My vote on dinner was Bonefish Grill, as the meals are always exceptional… albeit without a view of the gulf. However, the temperature was dropping into the low 70’s / upper 60’s so sitting outside wasn’t all that attractive of an option anyway.
With jackets on we made the quick 5-minute ride over to Bonefish and grabbed four seats at the bar. Dinner was, as expected, excellent! We had a nice time enjoying a relaxed atmosphere with LSU and Auburn playing on the tele. Unfortunately, all the time spent out in the sun coupled with the very cold night air knocked what little wind was remaining in my sails out so instead of going in search of a good time at Tootsies or one of the other better venues for dancing we opted to head back to the condo and chill there for the last night of our short vacation along the Gulf. We did make one more pass by the Beach Bar and Package Store on the way to the condo to see if any of our gang was hanging out there, but no such luck. So, back to the condo it was. Not exactly how I wanted to end the weekend, but it was probably the right call. Turns out that most of our friends from Atlanta did the same thing, i.e., headed back to their rooms for the same reasons, i.e., just too cold and getting colder!
Sunday and the ride home…
Sunday was somewhat anti-climactic. Miss Debbie and I were up early and busy getting ready for the trip home: she tended to the clothing in the room while I headed down to get the cold weather gear that we’d be wearing. Deb and David were up around 8:30am and I think we finally had everything down at the bikes and were ready to roll by 9:30am local time. It was still in the 60’s when we pulled out of the parking lot so I opted to use our leather chaps, heated jackets under our leather coats, and heated gloves for the first leg of the ride to Chipley where we’d decide if we could peel off any layers.
Having the heated gear was nice because we were able to dial in just a little added warmth to keep the chill off. What works for 60°F on a short ride doesn’t work on a long ride, as the prolonged exposure to the cold begins to draw the heat out of your body and the next thing you know your body begins that involuntary shivering in an attempt to generate heat: definitely not a good way to be comfortable. With the heated gear we never once got cold, and that’s a great feeling and made the ride home quite pleasant.
Well, that is if you discount the inoperative cruise control. Yup, Blue’s cruise control blues were alive and well for the entire ride home. It had been a long time since I’d ridden a couple hundred miles — never mind 339 miles — without some type of throttle lock so that my right hand could have a break. On the bright side, the throttle spring-back tension on the FLHR’s isn’t all that high so a light hand on the throttle is all that it takes to hold the speed steady. But, even still, left to my own devices my speed control was apparently somewhat erratic and generally continued to creep up throughout the ride. My wing-man David was trying to use his cruise and with my constant speed changes he finally gave up and struggled along with a manual throttle control for a good bit of the ride home as well.
Overall, an uneventful ride home.