SabMag West

A Word from your Host

   We all go into these events hoping for all the best things to happen. Everyone will make it to the event on time and unscathed; everybody will find accommodations to their liking; nothing will happen to spoil the ryde; and the feast will be well-attended and fun. In an ideal world, this would happen. Last year’s Fling was darn close.

   This year we had about 95% success. Going in, we had about 80% of last year’s attendees making it again and a bunch of new folks to add to the list. On Friday, we got a call from Kalifornia Kate, saying that the ‘usual’ campground was full to the brim. Uh oh. No problem though. Pine Acres, just a few miles away, had plenty of space and even better facilities. Kate found it and set things up for the other Fling campers to follow. We had taken all but two of the rooms at the St. George Hotel, and those were friends or family of the proprietors.

   Things came together nicely at the Ryder’s meeting on Friday evening, with all planned members present or accounted for. Maps were handed out, along with directions for each of the four segments. Mention was made of a couple of key ‘features’ of this year’s Ryde. One of these was Railroad Flat Road, which we would not be turning on from the first intersection, but would end up on later. This perhaps deserved more emphasis. The other was the poor condition of Sheep Ranch Road, a nine-mile section just prior to lunch which was unavoidable - and would end up getting ‘mixed reviews’ among the group. Feature #1 would be a lesson learned for next year.

   Saturday dawned warm and sunny, promising some genuine Gold Country heat later in the day. We gathered at the Hotel, the nuthammers heading out first, followed by one large, strung-out group of everyone else. Another lesson learned, as we just didn’t do a good job of pulling the folks together into suitable ryding groups as we did last year. But head out we did, in search of roads appropriate for motorcycles.

   Doe and I led the ‘everyone’ group, stopping at the first ‘pause’ at Scott’s Junction, where Hwy 26 met Ridge Road. We waited quite awhile, doing the usual lie-telling and bike-sniffing. After a good thirty minutes, we forged on. Along Ridge Road, we encountered another group of bikes headed the other way - the Nuthammers, as it turned out, who had taken a wrong turn - at Railroad Flat Road. Surprisingly enough, nobody recognized anyone else, and we rode on over the washboard, patchwork pavement of Sheep Ranch Road, into Murphy’s, and on to the lunch stop. We were surprised to find we were the first to arrive, but it didn’t sink in until after we’d eaten and were hanging around outside.

   Others began to arrive, with tales of an accident. Two of our group had come together - at the intersection of Hwy 26 and Railroad Flat Road. The result was two bikes down for the count, one ryder in the hospital with a badly broken leg, the other with a couple of broken ribs he wouldn’t find until he got home. Fortunately for the fallen guys, the bike behind them was ridden by Jason Grennell, with Milt Obermann, Bob Sunley, and Karen Ferguson right behind. They took care of things and assisted the Law Enforcement and Emergency personnel who arrived. Ultimately most of them continued on the ryde, joining us at the winery with the bad news.

   The ryde went on. Segments three and four were favorites, as the roads opened up and we were able to let our steeds breathe. Some of us took the ‘short way back’ from the last rest stop while others headed back to the snake that is Hwy 26. No further incidents occurred, as we all were just a bit more aware of things. The intense heat (95+ in the shade) probably slowed some people down, although the balled-up rubber in the grooves of my rear tire suggested we hadn’t curbed our enthusiasm all that much.

   The Feast was a pleasure, thanks for the most part to Mark and Tracey at the St. George Hotel. Huge piles of ribs and chicken accompanied by multiple salads and even homemade brownies kept everyone’s appetite happy. It was a most enjoyable end to a very eventful day, but there were two people notably absent. Mark Muelhausen, in the hospital in Jackson, and Leonard MacKey, on his way back to Minden, were missed by those in attendance. Our thoughts were with them.

   In retrospect, SabMag West Spring Fling 2K was still a success. 38 of us enjoyed the event and the camaraderie it brought. The two primary lessons we learned will be applied to make next year’s event safer and more pleasant. What we all realize is that accidents can and do happen. I sincerely hope that all of us remember that, and keep in mind that there is no substitute for paying 100% attention, 100% of the time. The cost of doing otherwise is simply too high.

   My thanks to everyone who attended this year’s event. All of you made it another memory to be recalled frequently. My thanks also to those individuals who helped Mark and Leonard at the site of their unfortunate collision. Special thanks to Jason and Chris Munson, who drove up the weekend after the event to haul Mark’s damaged bike to the repair shop.

   I sincerely hope everyone will be back next year.

- Ron E.