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As Long as We Remember...

November 29, 2011

Holiday Weekend “Efficiencies”

Nick Diaz

So, Thanksgiving break is over. Thursday was one of those outstanding family days, when our grown children, grandchildren, in-laws, and out-laws got together. We talked too much, ate too much, watched football too much (actually, there ain’t no such thing as too much of any of those.)


Then on Friday I took my wife, Marianne, and William, our oldest grandson, to Dulles, where they departed for San Diego. Cousins and football – Chargers v. Tebow’s Broncos.


Black Friday was warm and sunny. What to do, what to do… Shopping? Me? No way, José. A warm, sunny November day calls for just one thing in my book – motorcycling, of course!


After the airport run, I opened up the garage, put on my riding gear, which I correctly predicted would be shed in the foreseeable future. Started the big Yamaha Venture, carefully backed it out of the garage, (carefully, because if it falls over, I can’t pick it up by myself), put it in gear, and took off.


Took off for what?  Simple – as far away from retail stores as possible. One may think that in crowded Frederick County there are hardly any sacred places left that are not dominated by big and small retail stores.


Not so. All I have to do was point the big white Venture north on Old Hagerstown Road, and I’m already in the middle of nowhere, on an invisible road, with hardly any traffic.


I end up near Brunswick, and take the bridge into Virginia on the way to Lovettsville. A right on Route 187 and a long country road, with not a white or yellow line painted on it, and I make it to Hillsboro. Another back road to Round Hill, Upperville, and Marshall. By the time I get to Warrenton, it’s time to head north across the Potomac.


That’s the trouble with winter. Even on a warm and sunny day, such a day is much too short. Barely made it home by 4:30, all the time watching out for deer on the road. (I despise those rats on hooves!). By 5 o’clock, no more sun, temps start to dip, glad to have made it home.


That’s 160 miles in late November. I stole the day. No way have I deserved this generous treat by Mother Nature.


Saturday morning. It’s 36 degrees at 8 A.M. Warm, layered clothing goes on, ready for breakfast at Ingram’s Diner in Jefferson. After too much coffee and a generous serving of eggs and home fries, off to meet old friend Jim Ford near Barnesville, in upper Montgomery County.


* * * * * * * * *


Jim Ford is a special motorcyclist. He uses his BMW to make a living. How many of us could make a living off our avocation? Jim does.


He runs “The Rider’s Workshop – the art of riding smooth.” His website can be found at To quote from the site:


“The Rider’s Workshop is designed for riders who are curious and want more. These riders find riding the same roads to the same destinations no longer satisfying. Their experience may also indicate that their riding skills under-utilize the capability of their motorcycle.


Curiosity fuels a rider’s desire to further explore the riding experience. The purpose of the Rider’s Workshop is to help you become the accomplished rider you aspire to be. If you want to dig deeper and immerse yourself in the riding experience, working toward mastery, the Rider’s Workshop is for you.


The classroom is on the “invisible roads” of the Appalachian Mountains. Except for locals on tractors or in pickup trucks, these roads are virtually unknown, yet offer challenging riding conditions, great beauty, and wild, natural surprises. They run along remote ridgelines and stretch along shaded creeks of clear splashing water.


Participants in The Rider’s Workshop will learn the technique for discovering invisible roads and master the special skills to expertly ride them.


Finally, and most importantly, the Rider’s Workshop is dedicated to teaching safe motorcycling. The art of riding smooth is a state of mind.


Jim is one of the few people who know the roads in the mid-Atlantic area. He and I have known each other for years, although this is only the second time we have ever ridden together. I consider Jim Ford to be “The Roadmaster Extraordinaire.”


Being the gentleman he is, Jim let me do the leading. He was curious about the roads I chose to “stitch” a ride together, with emphasis on smooth continuity, scenic value, and invisible roads that are far from human habitation.


So, three of us cross the Potomac into Virginia – Jim on his BMW, his friend Mark on his black Ducati, (I still say Ducatis should be Italian RED!), and myself on the big white Venture. My solo ride on Friday was actually a preparation for Saturday’s adventure for Jim and Mark. A lot of thought goes into preparing a ride, stringing it together for maximum effect, considering potty and fueling stops, and, most importantly, Lunch!


Yes, some of my roads were new to both Jim and Mark – a source of great pride for me. Nothing like sharing good roads with good friends.


Once we arrived at a country store that constitutes all of Boston, Virginia, we had to turn back – short days, remember…


Total miles on four-lane roads: about 10. Total miles on the day-long ride: about 260, 250 miles mostly on invisible roads. Challenging miles, up-and-down, left-and-right miles, most of which on paved roads with no white or yellow markings whatsoever. Who goes on these roads? Nobody, except “local farmers on tractors or pickup trucks.”


Most miles require riders to pay attention to what they’re doing. Being in the wrong gear entering a curve may result in disaster at worst, and awkward, embarrassing turns at best. Going into a curve at a given safe speed, hitting the apex, and coming out on positive throttle while straightening up the machine underneath.


It’s not riding fast, but riding smooth to be fast. Actually “fast” is a threatening word to some. I should say the more correct term is “efficient.”


“Efficiency” is the virtue I want my 8th graders to develop: doing the greatest amount of work, of the highest possible quality, in the least amount of time, while investing the smallest degree of effort.


That’s what Jim Ford teaches in his “Rider’s Workshop.” That’s what I teach in my Algebra classes.


Math and motorcycling – each is so much fun when efficiency is the operating word.


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