Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shark Week Wednesday - A Rainy Day Off

Wednesday in Maine was a rainy day that would have been downright gloomy anywhere else.  Indeed, it appears the northeast had record rainfall and flooding in some urban areas throughout the day.  Interestingly enough, it had no negative impact on my day whatsoever.  I had ridden about 2,500 miles over the previous five days and had planned a day off the saddle on Wednesday.  The rain just solidified my plans.  Some Shark Week attendees rented cars and drove to local sites; others did laundry.  Many like me just hung out and talked with others who were also on a day off, whether forced or planned.

I hung out for a while in the hotel lobby where I could get decent internet access and work on this blog.  I must admit that I also peeked at my work email for just long enough to realize I didn't want to do that again anytime soon.  While I was loitering in the lobby, I enjoyed an engaging conversation with Scott, the hotel’s third generation co-owner who races motocross in the area.  I don’t think I ever passed through the hotel lobby, bar, or restaurant when I didn’t see Scott working.  The reward for self employment has a high cost.

Later in the afternoon, an impromptu game of Shark Week Bullshit Bingo started up with about forty people playing in each of several rounds.  The rain, the game, and the fellowship gave everyone a much needed day of rest.  Many of us had been up until 2:00am that morning enjoying the previous night's festivities.  Sleep is a precious commodity at Shark Week.

The rain continued into the evening, which meant the hotel restaurant and bar were going to have a banner night.  I always do my best to avoid eating hotel restaurant food, but this time at dinner, I had no choice.  Always looking for the good in any situation, the company and conversation were great, but eating the restaurant food served as a reinforcing reminder as to why I avoid doing so.

After dinner, an impromptu hotel hallway party kicked off in the main building that was fully occupied by Shark Week attendees.  Well, I sure hope it was because this was a rowdy bunch.  When I got there, most of the people had dragged the tables and chairs from their rooms into the hallway and were using their trash cans as coolers.  At one end of the hallway, the Canadians had laid out some yellow police tape in a Canadian border effigy.  Gauging from the uninhibited crossing traffic, this border turned out to be as porous as the US southern border.  At least these migrants spoke English and brought beer, booze, and snacks to share with the indigenous population.  Among the bottles, cans, and bags of snacks were a couple of mason jars filled with fruit flavored moonshine.  The cherry jar looked appealing, but I abstained.  The pineapple seemed to be the most popular, although it didn't appear everyone liked it.

Kids in the Hall
Diligent Border Security on the Job
I knew all to well that tomorrow would be another early day of riding, so I scurried off to my room around midnight feeling glad that I was in a separate building where I could get some sleep.  As I quickly walked through the rain to my building, I replayed in my head several of the conversations I had with the folks in the hall, many of whom were Shark Week first timers.  The consistent comment from most of them was how warm and engaging this crowd was compared to other bike related events.  I can't count how many times I heard statements like "I wish I knew how much fun this was in previous years..."

At one point, a rider who goes by Northwoods Maine on the forum came strolling through the hall party.  He is also the official host for this year's event and was carrying the ballot box containing the votes for next year's event, Shark Week V.   On Tuesday night, the group met to see and hear presentations from prospective forum members vying for the opportunity to host Shark Week.  This year, pitches were thrown by North Carolina, Nebraska, and Texas.  Each forum member in attendance was given a ballot when they registered upon arrival and the ballot box was placed in the hotel lobby where it sat until Northwoods retrieved it for counting.  We would find out who pitched the successful bid at the awards banquet on Thursday night.  I mention all this now because when Northwoods walked through with the ballot box, damn near everyone in the hallway pronounced that they were going to Shark Week V regardless of where it was to be held.  Although I felt the Texas contingent's presentation was most complete, I also knew the vote would be close.  We would all find out just how close in 24 hours.  The anticipation didn't cause me to lose a wink of sleep.  I set my alarm, but knew that it wouldn't be needed.