Friday, October 23, 2009

A Toast to Gunslinger

Many of the VROC family will be gathering in Virginia tomorrow to remember our departed brother Gunslinger. If it was not the wedding weekend, we would have been there to share the tears and the precious memories.  Tonight, Rabbi organized a shared event that we do on occasion to celebrate someone in our VROC family.  At 11:00 PM EST today, VROCers around the world would pause and drink a toast in Phil's honour.

As the appointed hour drew nigh, I read Sandy a post made by Viper, a longtime VROC member from Washington State.  I'll share it here for those of you who are not members of the club.  It was hard to finish it because I was getting all choked up.  Here is what Viper wrote:

Some of you know that I live on one of the best riding roads in the northwest. Riders from all over the area come here to experience the twisties and views on the Wind River Highway up to Mt. St. Helens. I see and hear bikes hitting curves all summer long. But yesterday, something happened I just have to talk about.

I was turning off the WRH onto my driveway, stopped to get the mail and heard the roar from over a mile away. The road gently rises from the north  to my drive starting with a nice sweeper about one mile away. From the sound of  it, I knew there were some vtwins on they way, so I stood beside the truck looking  through the mail waiting to see how many of my brothers were out there. Lights started blinking into view in the distance and the deep rumble of long pipes echoed though the valley as the riders snaked into view. No way to tell how many were there just yet, but they would all pass me in just a flash.

The riders slipped from view as the road dipped slightly before bracing the hill. Power was added to many a piston and the thunder increased as the hill  pulled them back into view. I could begin to see the group were running tight and hard, but still could not get a handle on how many there were. I could tell they had ridden together for a long time by the way the held the formation.

On they rode, fast and straight, right into my neck of the woods. When the  were close enough to make out some details, a strange sense of nostalgia came over me  and I suddenly knew I would recognize the riders and bikes. Could it be? A wandering group of VROCers were in the area and didn't let me know first? I would have ridden with them for sure had they called. I felt I should go get my ride  out here right now. But, I knew there would be no catching these guys though. I have ridden  with them before and I just knew they were unstoppable.

Closer now, and I can feel the vibrations in my chest and my feet feel the ground tremble as they came up to the top of the rise. Some had helmets on and some didn't. Hair was flying and leather was snapping as they came abreast of me. I almost fell over I was so week in the knees. I see my buddies! X and Wolfman on the front row. Gunslinger, Kilo, Chuck and Snake were in their wake. Too many to count. Too fast too see them all, or maybe it was the tears in my eyes. Nose to tail, bar to bar, they rode past all  giving the low wave like it was just no big deal.

They didn't expect me to be in the pack and didn't invite. I knew they were just out riding and doing what we all do. As they passed, bits of dirt, leaves, dust and debris blew up and made me duck behind my shoulder to try to keep them in my sight. I squinted to follow them down the hill and into the next sweeper to the south, but as I opened my stinging eyes to watch the tail lights, the sound was gone, the wind had died and there was silence in the air once more.

I never got the count. Too many, of them going by too fast. My ears were  ringing and my eyes were burning and my heart was aching. I miss them all. Those riders in the wind left me with the reminder of these facts:

All too soon, the pack will grow in numbers. Some one else will see them, one day, riding hard and close and I'll offer the low wave as we go by. We all will at one point or another. But not yet. Too many good roads left to ride and there are many good friends here to join with us on the rides.

Enjoy the ride, forever.

VROC #151

Phil, it was an honour to know and share the VROC life with you.  You have now gone on, as have so many of our other friends, but you will never be forgotten.

Rest In Peace.

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