There is almost something sacrilegious about pulling the covers off of the Dragon Princes so early in the morning. Surely, she does not mind as the only thing that counts with her is that her tank be full, tires have the right amount of air and the oil be at working levels. Other than that, she lives for the key to be turned and then its giddy-up go. The load, destination or riders matters not. Just do it is her byword.
Today the ride is to Cambridge, Cumberland, Newport and back for some 2,500 miles. The mission is reflected in the flags she flies which is to create a sense of awareness surrounding the women and children in the jails and prisons of the nation. Today she flies them up and down the east coast. Next summer she flies them from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska. Between now and then; who knows.
Whereas a zero dark thirty departure is not new to the Dragon Princes; the cold was. By Stark it was pull over and put on the sweat shirt. By Jacksonville it was pull over and change gloves. By Georgia it was pull over and put the face mask on and by South Carolina it was pull over and put the lined chaps on.
Now a whoosh I am not. However, much less am I a fool. Over a year ago, I knew at some point there was going to be a need for a set of chaps. It seemed as if all the chaps had liners and I thought it was rather whooshie but got a pair anyway. Let it be known, on more than one occasion I have warn them and each time it was with the liner and I am so glad that liner was there. As I was traveling through the South today, asked the temperatures at the gas stations and got from 41 to 57 degrees. That may not be bad to a New Englander which I am but at highway speeds plus ten miles or so an hour that is down right cold with a Capital C.
Now, there are multiple me’s inside my skin. There is the infantry soldier with 24 years of service between the marines and army. There is the Latino who carries almost 8 years in Latin America and dearly loves his nappy poo or better known as a siesta. Then there was the soldier who contracted a case of malaria in El Salvador. There is the man who suffers from sleep Apia and has to go down on short notice. Then there is the old man in his 70th year that just gets tired and needs to rest. Don’t know who or how many conspired but found a place to pull off of the highway, shut the bike down, put the helmet under the head and cut a few Z’s.
About 12 hours after we started, it was time to stop. It was getting dark, the temperature was dropping, my knees were going numb and my hands and feet we not able to properly work the brakes and gears. So we pulled over in a place called Wilson, NC got a hamburger and found a place to sleep. It had been one hell of a run and the flags were in taters. That is OK because it is not about the flags which can be made stronger for the next run. However, got to say that I could relate to the tattered flag because that was the way I felt. Yes, they traveled over 550 miles today and tomorrow there is another 650 miles to go.
Oh but the end of they and thank the heavens above for a bath tube. My hands and feet were so numb that I had to fill the tub three times with hot water over an hour long soak. Now there is only one tub better than this and that is on the third floor of the Cambridge Zen Center where there is an old iron tub with four claws that a person of my size can totally submerge in the tub at a time. This I will do on my arrival in Cambridge tomorrow.