Today was our monthly Star Chapter 123 ride (a group of mainly Yamaha cruiser riders who get together and ride the back country of San Diego and Riverside counties). It was the chapter ride where we needed to nominate candidates to stand for 2010 President. We have the best president ever, in Don Davis, and every year when it's time to nominate candidates for the position our Vice President, Steve Thompson (also the best VP ever) sets the stage with a comment that usually goes something like, "Anyone who wants to nominate someone other than Don for president needs to get by me first". If you knew Steve, you would appreciate what a super friendly, easy going guy he is, even with his strength, size, and position as a police detective. He's only kidding about the threat, but he's not really kidding when it comes to his desire to keep Don where he is.
I didn't ride today, recent surgery meant I followed along in the sports car at the back of the line of 30 bikes. This was an incredible view, watching the harmony and flow of 30 bikes with great riders in formation winding around the twisty roads, and up and down the hills as we crossed canyons. Zen for sure, until I got separated at a light from the string of bikes and had no idea where they'd gone. Our fearless tail gunners Tim and Julie pulled over and waited until I caught up, then we headed on. They have a tough job, along with our other tail gunners Yosi and Maryanne, Roy, and Judy, blocking traffic when we pull out of a gas stop so 30 bikes can head out together safely, and when someone has trouble or falls back, it's their job to stay with them and work things out. Today it was their job to keep their eyes out for a straggling 350Z!
Perhaps it was because I wasn't actually riding today, so I was slightly removed from it all, but I observed a quiet calm leadership, and a rhythm to the unwritten and unspoken rules of our road. Don sets the rules and this large group, family really, follows them with ease. He is calm, firm, and clear. No apologies, it just is. Whether it's who holds other positions like Treasurer, Secretary, and his trusted VP, or who will shepherd first time riders. Our group is so large now that 30 bikes are hard to get out of the city and onto the open country roads. As Don explained his new thinking of splitting us into 2 groups for the first leg of the ride, no one flinched. He made it clear that in Star 123 there are no cliques - we are ONE, 2, 3 - ONE group, ONE family.
And we are.
There could have been jockeying for position, or sideways glances. Not in 123. It's just the way it is going to be, stated calmly and clearly. We have a group as diverse as the human race itself I am sure - police, teachers, fire fighters, a rocket scientist, nurses, business owners, engineers, legal aid workers, custom bike accessory sales managers, military (enlisted and retired) from all branches, including a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Marines, but when it comes to leadership everyone is clear about the rules of our road. No one pulls rank. No one throws 'tude or plays politics.
Maybe it's the throaty purr of the engines on the bikes we ride, or maybe it's just that everyone is thankful for each other's friendship and community. Whatever it is, we all know at the start of the day, or after a stop on the way, when Don picks up his helmet and walks toward his bike, not a word spoken, it's time to ride. Tail gunners hold firm in their position, and we pull out in formation and head on down the road.