My father would always tell me that you get to really know people in three ways:
- Travel a long distance with them
- Conduct business with them
- Spend an evening overnight with them
Needless to say, I got to know Eric, Chris and April (Chris’s wife) really well in our trip to Florida. I learned that Eric is still a first class a**hole (I still love him the same however), Chris knows more about all things mechanical than I will ever know, April is the most self-sufficient and independent person (man or woman) I have ever met and Jonathan has a family or friend in every city in the United States of America.
We began our journey together meeting at Eric’s house around 4:30 am on Wednesday morning. We had initially discussed leaving the evening before however Eric shared that he would much rather leave early Wednesday morning. I was actually a bit relieved because I had just flew in back from DC Tuesday evening and really could have used the extra sleep prior to our trip. Unfortunately (and interestingly very similar to last year) we didn’t head out at the planned 5:00 am time as we still had to load the bikes and had to figure spacing and placement of the wheel chocks on the trailer to ensure everything was able to be securely tied down and wouldn’t bang up against one another on the 18 hour planned ride time to Florida. After some relatively quick loading and tying down of the bikes we briskly made our way to Florida at around 7:00 am. Luckily we didn’t hit too much of the morning rush hour traffic so leaving a few hours late didn’t translate to us getting to FL four hours than we had anticipated.
Unlike last year, we planned on going about the Florida trip a little bit differently. Instead of making our way to Ocala and then down through Homestead to the Keys we opted to stay in central Florida the four days we would be in the Orange State. This would make for a little bit longer initial trip down however allowed us to explore more of the state and focus on taking our time and riding without feeling rushed trying to get to the keys. With about 18 hours of riding non-stop from Indy with only the essential gas, bathroom and stops for food we found ourselves around five miles from the house we rented when out of the rearview mirror we saw red and blue lights. It was pretty close to midnight and Chris was at the helm of the truck. The officer who pulled us over was nice enough and informed us that brake light on the trailer was out and then promptly asked for Chris’s license and registration for both the truck and the trailer. Lucky for us we didn’t have to fumble around too much before handing it over the officer who after a quick check came back and had us on our merry way. That would be the one and only time we’d have any run-ins with ol’ Johnny law during our trip.
We arrived at the house at around 12:30 am and noticed that Johnathan was already there with his bike still in the back of his new pick-up truck. Knocking on the door proved pointless because even though the lights were on in the house it seemed as though Johnathan was already sound asleep. After locating and punching in the key for the lock-box we made our way inside and quickly checked out the accommodations. The house was fairly large with a central living room, open kitchen, in-door pool and five bedrooms at each corner of the ranch styled house. You could tell the house was built in the 80’s however it was clean, spacious and had a garage where we’d be keeping our rides. Everyone was really tired, exhausted from almost a full day of driving so naturally we did the only logical thing that five responsible adults would do when greeted with +32 degree weather in early January – we peeled open the bottle of Scotch that Johnathan brought and proceeded to down a few and marinate in the (what seemed to us) beautiful Florida evening weather! WELCOME TO FLORIDA EVERYONE!!
After said celebratory beverages we had a quick huddle and everyone was of the mindset that after some rest they would wake up when they felt right and get some riding in their leisure. I on the other hand was a little bit anxious to get on the multi and discover some fun roads to ride on as soon as I could. I did some initial research (and although there are a few twisty roads if you look hard enough) Florida proved to be more of a ‘destination’ riding type of environment more so than a thrilling ‘just go out and ride’ type of place. The next morning with the temperature at around 45 degrees I hit the road and headed north towards the fabled ‘Tail of the Gecko’. Although there were some sweeping corners and a few tight 90 degree turns they were still few a far between – a theme that I would find consistent for the remainder of the trip. I kept riding east till about 1:00 pm and with the temperature now at a balmy 55 degrees then decided to make my way back to home base. Along the way I came across a fantastic Latin restaurant and treated myself to some Lechon (slow cooked and pulled pork) with a side of Puerto Rican rice, a Cuban style empanada and tostones (smashed and fried plantains). The meal was filling and savory and put me in the perfect mindset that I was in fact in Florida, riding my multi in early January – life is good.
In making my way back to the house I found signs for a beach on a strip of islands just south of where we were staying. Having made some decent time I decided to venture to the beach – I’m sure glad I did. Only 15 minutes from the house and over a toll bridge separating the island town from the rest of Port Charlotte where our house I stumbled across what seemed like friendly resort city filled more with people on bicycles and golf carts than cars. The beach that I found was something out of a post card. Pure white sand, slow and soft surf crashing on the beach. I sat down and just stared into the sunset for a good 30 minutes. It is at this point that I decided I needed to head back before it became too dark and join up with the rest of the crew.
I’ll stop here only because the rest of the trip offered us many more exciting adventures and something that I suggest everyone who is part of the Indy Ducati group experience. I had my moment of peace, sun and adventure in the dead of winter and I couldn’t have thought of a better group of guys (or gal) to have spent it with. RIP Monster ROB – I’m glad we were able to honor your memory on the trip and I really look forward to doing this same trip again next year.
Article written by Jamal Malik – iDesmo Member