Saturday in the shop(s) (2011 Shop Crawl)

Make that eleven shops. Saturday was the 2011 Shop Crawl or for you who only use those large spaces next to your house to park your vehicles, Garage Crawl. And what is a shop/garage crawl? Much like a Pub Crawl or Blues Crawl but without the cover charge, expensive drinks, and crowded tables. Oh, and this one involves bikes. Big bikes.

I’m not sure who thought of the Shop Crawl, but I’m giving credit to David and Piper Ayala, after all they did send the invitation, organize the event, chart the course, lay the ground rules, and keep us moving. Piper also dubbed the event the Route 69. Of course, the idea could have sprung from the engraved and painted, beer and Captain splattered, if-this-concrete-could-talk floor of the Ayala garage during one of the many Friday afternoon gatherings of the Ayala Custom Shop Fuxx. Who really knows, except last Saturday was time well spent.

So, it begins with what David likes to call his Mexican Blackberry.

The list of who’s in, who’s out, who’s volunteering their shop/garage as a stopping place to stretch legs, de-numb butts, guzzle a water or beer, have a snack and hit the road to the next stop. It all began at Everybody’s Restaurant at 9:00. Oh, make that 9:00-9:45. And I mean, 9:45.

David, or “Big Ben”, kept us in line and on time with his Piper-created itinerary, calculated down to the seconds in order to have us at our Last Stop before sundown. 15-30 to ride to the destination, 25 to chill, five  to road-prep. Give or take.

“10 minutes!”  This became the motto of our Shop Crier, but hey, it worked. We left Everybody’s Restaurant at Hillside and Harry and headed southwest to our garage. Our garage is Brad’s second home,  and while it is small and crowded, it is much-loved by the Bearded One. After all, it holds everything VW and then some. The morning was still cool with the sky cloudless and bright, and at one point it felt like a morning in autumn, with no hint of the heat to come.

We then headed north to Pauly’s, where we were scheduled to arrive at 11:00. By the time we reached Pauly’s, the sun began to remind us that summer was only a week and a half away. Pauly’s pool was tempting, but when Big Ben announced “10 minutes!” it pulled us back to the reality of bikes and roads. None of us were complaining.

If I were to write about each stop, my post would be just as long as our 13 hour ride, so let me just hit the highlights, and there are many. Each shop/garage was as unique as its owner, the tell-tale signs of personalities hanging on the walls in the shapes and colors of Mattel Hot Wheels, pin-up girls, nudie calendars, black and whites of Steve McQueen, splashes of black and orange, beer banners, barbershop chairs, antique gasoline pumps, primered cars, the hatch of a VW bus, a Union Jack, more than a few Stars and Stripes, and Frigidaire’s stuffed with ice-cold beer. These are the original man caves, the truest of castles.

And the ride? Well, there’s no describing the ride. We rode from one side of town to the other, encompassing the southwest, north, south and east sides of Wichita, including Andover and Derby, riding past golf courses and Mid-Continent airport, through congested traffic and empty roads alongside fresh-cut wheat, zig-zagging amidst the garden tours of College Hill and skillfully maneuvering dirt and rock roads. If you’ve never been on a bike or been a passenger, you are missing a view, an experience. Every time I perch precariously on the back of my husband’s self-built Big Twin, I remember two quotes:

“Whatever it is, it’s better in the wind.”      and    

 “Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of the car window.”

As for the view, I find I notice things on a bike I’ve missed repeatedly while driving in my car. On a bike you are more alert for obvious reasons (that would be the idiots on four wheels), but you are also vividly aware of your surroundings. There is no containment, no walls of steel blocking you from what is all around you as you ride down the road. The view is open. You are open. It’s amazingly scary and euphoric. And again, I can’t truly put it to words, so if you ever get the chance to see the world from the seat of a motorcycle, do. Even if it is just once.

All in all, it was an amazing day. 15 awesome bikes. 11 fun-filled stops. 22 great people.  No mishaps. No breakdowns (by bikes or people). The sun was warm on our faces and arms, but the stops were rejuvenating, the company familiar. There were the few odd spaces in the floors of some of the garages reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs (I kept looking for the bucket with lotion), and one too many swimming pools to be tempted, but other than that, a learning and laughing experience.  As well, we shared time with the most uninteresting man in the world who shared “I rarely drink beer, but when I do it must be free.”

By the time we headed our separate ways into the night, we were exhausted but content. So remember: Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.

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