Fuji Joe was leading our tiny pack of four riders, with his gal Grand Diane behind him. I followed her and my hubs Highway followed me. Fuji was just far enough ahead in all of the turns to keep my eye on, mimic his riding, and get me through each twistie. I found that if I watch Grand Diane, I was too close and I had less reaction time. If I watched Fuji Joe, I looked all the way into the turn, using peripheral vision to watch the lane. That yellow line can be my savior and my nemesis, all in one. It keeps me safe, yet taunts me to stare at it. Not this day, because I was watching Fuji Joe.
The ride from Fallbrook, CA on Route 76 and Route 78 to Lake Henshaw then on into San Marcos was filled with turns. From large, sweeping curves, those of an elegant woman's hip, stretching long and languid from waist to thigh, all the way to steep, tight, switchbacks, reminiscent of the angry arch of the elegant woman's brow. Gliding through the turns, I saw only Fuji's tail lights, and the graceful swing of Grand Diane's Harley occasionally pass between us.
Knowing Highway followed me filled me with security that no one would sneak up behind. We rolled through the hills and turns, the roar of my tiny motor and Collective Soul belting tunes filling my helmet. Songs I know and love, unknowingly repeating the words I've sung so many times while repeating each movement Fuji made, I felt a focus I've never had riding before. The synchronicity of the four of us, the road, the bikes, the music we made as four bikes roared with one sound, filled my heart with collective unison. A Collective of Souls on eight wheels. . .
At The Round Up BBQ Grill in Lake Henshaw we stopped for a meal and to talk; discuss nothing and everything that has happened or will happen. We filled ourselves with iced tea from quart jars, pork and beef tacos, burgers and fries. The view was stunning, the food was good, the laughter lively and the communion harmonious. As we mounted up again and I joined the other riders, who are always ready to go before I am, a thought flashed in my head.
"What if Fuji makes a wrong move? Will I simply follow him off a cliff?"
My mind reeled.
I decided in that moment that I needed to follow guidance, but trust my own instincts.
"You have to ride your own ride," Grand Diane shared weeks ago; good advice she learned from a friend of Fuji Joe.
My body, my motorcycle, my ride; these are my responsibilities. Following good advice or good riding is smart, but what I do with that knowledge I gain is my choice. I can follow a good rider, but making a bad choice because he made one doesn't negate my responsibility.
"Would you jump off a bridge if your friends did. . ." the old adage filled my head.
I bopped Katie Scarlet into first gear and headed onto the highway behind my mentors and friends.
"You ride much better than you think you do. I don't know what you're talking about. You took those turns perfectly. Why are you worried?"
Fuji Joe seemed puzzled. The gripping fear I feel in the pit of my stomach and the riding mistakes I've made have been topics we've discussed a few times.
"I just followed you Fuji. I was going where you were going. I had it made. My destination was you, Fuji." I smiled.