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A very interesting weekend, part 1

June 23, 2007

Walking in Stellar Pizza’s front door, the song blasting from the speakers seemed entirely appropriate: “You Shook Me All Night Long,” by AC/DC. The place was filled with big guys, some with scraggly beards, some with ponytails, some with both. All were wearing leather jackets or vests emblazoned with names like Nomads, Gypsy Jokers and Hells Angels.

If you’re a regular at any bar in Georgetown, you probably saw the poster for the Poker Run, presented by the Nomads and the Hells Angels. They had extended an invitation to the scooter community to join the ride. “Don’t worry, these guys are cool,” Sugarbear told us.

I must admit, being able to say I rode with the Hells Angels held considerable appeal, yet another entry on the list of things I never thought I’d do in my life. So here I am.

Sugarbear is there, so is El Dorko (who won’t be going on the ride) and Scott the Printmaker. Chewy and Doc & Tiny show up shortly thereafter.

Poker runs are pretty common group activities in the 2-wheeled world. You get a card, and ride to various places where your card gets marked, stamped or whatever after drawing a card. Best hand at the end of the ride wins. Unfortunately, you can’t throw cards away and get new ones, like you can in the sit-down game.

Time to roll. I have no idea how many bikes left Stellar, but it was a sight I will never forget… the biker movies from the ’60s have nothing on this. Sugarbear suggests we stay toward the back of the pack, but Doc & Tiny jump right into the thick of it. Sugarbear says he’ll catch up.

I really don’t remember, but I think we turned left on Lucile Street. There was a police car watching the group, and in about three blocks, two motorcycle cops swooped in and pulled people over. A couple blocks later, a police cruiser that appeared to be blocking traffic for the group did a donut and went after more bikes.

There are more cruisers and motorcycle cops watching us as we head for Hooverville, the next stop. The group has been separated, but it’s not that far and everyone comes back together on 1st Avenue South. Stopped at a light, a woman on a Harley says hi, then says, “You guys have got balls. I admire that.” Looking at Chewy, she exclaims, “she’s really got balls!”

I’m holding a 9 of diamonds and a 5 of clubs as we’re rejoined by Sugarbear and joined by Not At All Evil K. Sugarbear tells us the next stop will be the Buckaroo Tavern in Fremont, so why don’t we head there early. Okay.

I’m really glad I have Safety Ed’s GT, as we get to Fremont via the Viaduct and Aurora. The Buckaroo is a familiar place to me, being not far from home. You’ll usually find sportbikes (or if you prefer, crotch rockets) in front of the place, but as one patron said, “hey, this is just like back in the day!” as the Harleys arrived. Before the foo-foo boutiques arrived, Fremont used to have a lot of biker bars.

We procure liquids (Diet Coke for this rider) and draw our cards. “You’re in the running for the worst hand,” says Not At All Evil K, revealing a knowledge of the finer points of poker equal in depth to her erudition on playing the ponies.

We’ve been admonished to ride with the group this time, so we take up the rearmost position heading down the hill. Soon we’re on Leary Way, headed toward the Ballard Bridge. I catch a glimpse of 50 mph. I’m glad I have Safety Ed’s GT.

I can only guess, but it seems the patches on the backs of most riders’ jackets help considerably in getting other drivers to yield to the group. Did I mention it’s a really big group?

As we approach the Sculpture Park, I’m guessing we’re taking the Viaduct. There are people on the bridge, looking down and waving. Most riders don’t, but I wave back, wondering if these people realize just who they’re waving at. I’m stopped behind a couple on a Harley with an Idaho plate and a “Support Your Local Hells Angels – Spokane” sticker. I can feel the Harley’s exhaust pulses blowing my pant legs up against my ankles.

Uh-oh. There’s a tan Corolla up ahead, enmeshed in the group, whose driver seems to want to turn left in spite of being utterly surrounded by bikes.

Oh, please, let’s not have our own version of the Critical Mass melee in San Francisco. One biker raps the Corolla’s door with his fist, but otherwise everybody chills out and flows around. Up toward the Art Institute of Seattle, I can see flashing red and blue lights. Are more people gonna get busted?

No, the cops have a maroon Camry pulled over for, I don’t know what. The group takes the ramp to the Viaduct.

This time a gray Honda Civic finds itself in the maelstrom. I’m a bit hesitant to whip around until I’m reasonably sure the Civic’s driver isn’t going to freak out, but once I get around, most of the group is far ahead. Not At All Evil K has her Stella cranked hard, and she has assumed the Tour de France aero crouch position. Not a bad idea, I think as I do likewise. We’re gaining on the pack, but I can’t help sneaking at glance at the speedometer.

Seventy. Once again, I’m glad I have Safety Ed’s GT. I’m also glad the cops aren’t behind me.

The group hops off the Viaduct at Safeco Field. Some have made it through, but the riders immediately ahead get stopped by the light (and aren’t inclined to run it, given the game-day police presence).

A motorcycle cop looks at Not At All Evil K’s Stella, then the Hog in front of her, and remarks, “now that’s a picture.” The cop then tells us he’ll block the intersection for us if the light changes before we all get through. Wow. I guess they just want to get rid of us.

We’re bookin’ down Airport Way, past Stellar, past Big People, heck, past 9lb and Smarty Pants. Then the guys at the front stop, and one asks, “is anyone from this town?” We’re lost. This is funny, but I don’t laugh too loud.

Sugarbear takes the point and leads us to the ride’s final destination, Pig Iron BBQ at 1st & Findlay. He’d remembered Pig Iron was a sponsor, and guessed this was where we needed to be. We draw our last two cards, and chow down on free burgers and dogs.

My hand is a 9 of diamonds, 2 of clubs, 5 of clubs, King of hearts and 5 of hearts. A really crappy hand. So crappy, I win a prize!

Throughout the ride, the bikers have been gracious, several expressing curiosity about our rides, and thanking us for coming along. Sugarbear is disappointed that more scooters didn’t show up, but I suggest the “Hells Angels” part might have scared some folks off.

Wait ’til you see what I’m doing tomorrow. Favicon


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